Online Course Creation–Issues Debrief

My Online Course Design class met for the first time last night, and I think it went somewhat well (though it would probably be best to ask my students their thoughts about this!). I used (and am continuing to experiement with) an online adapted version of Stephen Brookfield’s Critical Incident Questionnaire, so will code the results for next week and try to understand more about their perceptions. More about this additional project later.

Overall, I was happy with how the technology (and my teaching, of course!) worked. While the NYU online course system is brand new (the Epsilen Environment), there are a few items that arose that I need to address to try to understand them a little better. I already emailed our technical people about them, and hopefully they will be able to help me determine how to use them better or otherwise open them as help desk tickets or enhancement requests:

  1. Attendance. I took attendance on paper and could not figure out how to enter this into the system afterward. I wonder if this had to be done in real time?
  2. File / Application Sharing. I was able to upload my PowerPoint slides, though when I shared a Word file (and in fact the entire Word application, I believe) I could not tell I was being shared nor could I determine if my students were still able to hear me. I am not sure if I missed the indicators that these were still happening, but I had to go back to the online course screen several times (3, to be precise) to ask my students if they could still see and hear. On top of all this, it seems this did not get recorded in the course archive, so I do not have any direct way of knowing what the experience was like.
  3. Webcam. I tried to use my webcam, though it cast a greenish / yellowing / ghoulish complexion. True, I do try to stay out of the sun, but I do not look like that! Disatisfied with how my laptop’s webcam looks and how crisp and clear everybody else was, I just ordered a new one (Logitech QuickCam Orbit AF) this morning and will receive it on Friday. As one of my students commented about how a webcam helps to maintain attention during a class, I think I need to pay more attention to having a good one that works well.
  4. Share a Web Link. I had trouble sharing a web link. I believe it opened in another window, though as it did not pop-up and come to the front (such as happens with WebEx), I could not be certain that it happened.
  5. Student Names. Probably one of the strangest open issues (that has already been reported to the vendor) involves seeing the student names in the class. They are not visible as names–only as usernames! Correct–I cannot determine who is present by seeing their names, so have to see the usernames and then look at my printed paper to link them up with their real names. I see this as being a strangely anachronistic issue, one that is problematic for me as class facilitator and problematic for the students as we are now part of a class learning community.

As blogging (either private or public) is a course requirement, I am trying to model something about what I am hoping for my students to do. We will eventually have a discussion about ethics, privacy, public persona, Googleability, etc., though I generally do my best to share my thoughts and experiences via my blog without being overly critical or personally confrontational. Hopefully this will maintain (or even increase!) my credibility as a teaching and learning professional.

Online Course Final Preparation Checklist

My online course, Principles and Practices of Online Course Creation and Instructional Design, begins on Tuesday, and while I have blogged about the course several times in the past few weeks, I am now in the final stretch of preparing to teach it.

I created a simple checklist I have been using to track items that need to get done in the next few days before the course begins, and thought that perhaps it may help others preparing to teach online (or others who read this may have some suggestions I missed!).

  • Revise the course website (in the Epsilen platform) to make sure all items are filled out.
  • Take the syllabus which is in Word format and put it in the online course format. This is not necessary, but may help us navigate through it more speedily.
  • Update my bio on the website. I know this was there . . . where did it go?!?!
  • Try to figure out why I can only see from the student’s view, and not the instructor’s view.
  • Email the students again to welcome them. I welcomed them already, as well as sent them some Announcements. No response from them and no log ons to the new system. Will have to email our tech support again to try to learn more about what sorts of log on and navigation instructions they should get before class begins.
  • Finish my PowerPoint lesson slides and discussion questions.
  • Tweak the online communication / platform slide to help navigate students in the first class who get lost with the new technology. Include the help desk contact information here as well!
  • Set up the online grade book.
  • Review the readings for the first and second class.
  • Prepare some specific slides to explain the final project.
  • Post a response to the class forum “Tell us about yourself” question to model it for the students.
  • Prepare to have my computer on and all materials out and accessible prior to the class on Tuesday at 6:30.
  • Get additional treats for my dogs so I have something to give them if they start barking (in the background) while I am teaching.
  • Practice using the online synchronous system a little more (how to share slides, use the white board, etc.). I already did this, but one last practice may help. Anybody out there in the blogosphere want to try this with me on Sunday night EST?
  • Review online class recording features.
  • Review setting student rights for the online classroom space for discussions, cameras, etc.

This is my list thus far. What am I missing?

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (CCK08) Online Course Preparation

Are you one of the 1800+ people who will be participating with the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (CCK08) online course that George Siemens and Stephen Downes are facilitating and formally begins tomorrow?

Want to watch a short online introduction to the course? Click the image to see it:

connectivism course intro