Teaching in Online Environments

 

February 17, 2009: This month Provisions explored the world of teaching online. Presenters included Karen McGrath, Professor and Graduate Coordinator, Robert Flint, Associate Professor of Psychology, and Cailin Brown, Assistant Professor of Communications.  

          Dr. McGrath provided an overview of the blogging tool available on Blackboard. Students are encouraged to engage in conversations, post comments, and respond to questions via his or her blog. McGrath’s students are also able to explore other blogging sites and acquire templates for their own use. Overall, the class is designed to give students the chance to see what blogging is all about. Dr. Flint demonstrated how with a few modifications an in class exercise can easily be converted into an on line exercise. Flint’s students were to experience, first hand, some of the physical, social, cognitive, and emotional experiences of a person who is actually addicted to a drug by using ice cubes. The exercise included “purchasing”  ice cubes through a discussion board on line. Finally, Dr. Brown spoke about her Online Journalism class and the role Blackboard plays. Students are able to post story ideas, provide feedback, comment, and upload multimedia into their blogs. Brown talks about how on line journalism is a 24/7 cycle and requires experimenting. 

          Many questions and concerns that were discussed during this session were how to incorporate Blackboard into other courses, how to use wiki and other blog tools, and finally how communicating effectively and appropriately online is an important part of becoming a “digital citizen.”  

          Below you will find the materials in which each presenter shared during the session, as well as links to other helpful and informative resources.

Provisions:  February 17, 2009

Karen McGrath, Professor of Communications

 

The Pedagogical Strategy/Assignment/Exercise

The course is COM 298 Communication Theory.  One focus for the course is computer-mediated communication where we explore a variety of Internet outlets and tools.  One such tool is blogging.  In order to get them “blogging” I do the following:

 

  • I create a Blog using the Blog Tool on Blackboard.

 

  • I post four questions on the blog and provide instructions for the assignment:

In this blog HW assignment, each of you is to answer two of the following questions derived from page 172 in your assigned text book.  You must then thoughtfully respond to two other classmates’ answers using the comments option for their entries.  You can earn 3 points for your entry and 2 points (one for each) for the responses.  The deadline is midnight on Sunday, February 15th. 

1.  “What are the implications of electronic networks for the development of personal, professional, and political relationships across national boundaries?” (p. 172)

2.  “Does being a digital citizen distance people from the ‘lived’ (as opposed to ‘virtual’) experiences of social life and interaction?” (p. 172)  Explain.

 3.  What communication barriers have you come across during your online discussions with others?  What have you found satisfying and/or frustrating? (paraphrased from p. 172)

4.  Have you found yourself more or less willing to disclose personal information in electronic formats?  Explain.  (paraphrased from p. 172)

  • We discuss the assigned blogging articles (see reverse side), discuss their experiences with the blogging exercise as a communication tool, and then I offer my own sample from blogger.com so we can discuss the differences between the two blogs.  

 

  • Last, I share some blogging sites with them for their area of concentration within the department.

 

Works Cited

Hanson, Kim.  “Should the Boss be Blogging?”  Strategic Communication Management 10.2 

(2006): 6-7.

Hathi, Sona.  “Using Blogs to Involve at World Bank.”  Strategic Communication Management 

11.2 (2007):  8.

Marken, G. A. “Andy”.  “To Blog or Not to Blog.  That is the Question?”  Public Relations 

Quarterly 50.3 (2005): 31-33.

Marken, G. A. “Andy”.  “Blogosphere or Blog with Fear.”  Public Relations Quarterly 51.4 

(2006/2007): 33-35.

Schultz, Benjamin.  “Blogs:  Getting Started.”  Business Communication Quarterly 68.1 (2005): 

67-73.

Smudde, Peter M.  “Blogging Ethics and Public Relations:  A Proactive and Dialogic Approach.”  

Public Relations Quarterly 50.3(2005): 34-38.

 

Suggested Resources

Yang, Jonathan.  The Rough Guide to Blogging.  NY:  Penguin Books, 2006.

http://www.blogger.com

http://www.weebly.com

http://www.wordpress.com

___________________________________________________________________________________

Feb. 17, 2009 

Provisions: Teaching in an Online Environment 

COM 568: Online Journalism 

The Assignment: Researching and writing a multi-sourced, illustrated news story for a 

general circulation, Saint Rose-centered audience 

The Blog: Launching, Populating, Content Development 

On Blackboard: Go to Content Area, Click on Blogs 

On the right hand side of the screen, click Learning Unit and scroll down until the end, 

“blogs” then Click Go; 

You will find an option that permits you to enroll each of your students in the blog 

(at the right top corner of the screen is a Blog Tool tutorial for additional help – 

 a number of choices are presented for teachers to enroll each of his or her students 

 One important option: choosing group blog or private journal: 

The group choice enables all class members to view content; the private journal choice 

enables only the instructor to view entries. 

The member settings choice determines who will view blogs. This is where the instructor 

signifies only one student at a time in order to set up an individual blog for each class 

member. (This function is time consuming.) 

          Once blogs are created students may input content using the “new entry” or “edit” 

function under his or her name. This enables the student to upload text, still photos, 

moving images, audio recordings, and links to web sites. 

          Choices abound here. Students may write within the box provided, or import a document 

in to the blog using the icon figures above the blank textbox. 

          From left to right, in the third row of icons above the blank new entry box are the icons 

my Online Journalism class has used most frequently this semester to include content. 

The miniature chain link enables the writer to include a link to an outside site;  the green 

upward arrow uploads files; the green tree image uploads images (still photos, for 

instance), and the green film strip inserts and edits embedded media.

You Tube, Twitter and audio content 

Even a cell phone, universal now, can provide images for blogs. Quality may not be 

award-winning, but it will suffice. Some students own digital cameras and audio 

recorders. Retailers have seemingly infinite choices available on this front. 

Using You Tube or Twitter requires each member of the class to create his or her own 

account at either of these two sites. You Tube acts as a hosting site for students to store 

video content for import to the blog. Twitter is one way students may develop 

“followers” of the 140-character tweets they write in that separate space, which may be 

linked to the blog. 

YouTube.com and Twitter.com are the sites for enrollment in these online environments. 

Signing up is similar to the steps entailed in enrolling students on Blackboard. For the 

YouTube and Twitter functions, though, each student must self-enroll. The biggest 

challenge here is identifying a unique code word. 

These two endeavors enable students import additional content to their blogs. 

On YouTube, students upload video they have collected for a story assignment. This 

requires the student to use a flash drive and camera disc for importing, or emailing the 

image from the camera and then downloading. 

Twitter 

Students in my class are reading a variety of stories on Twitter as they experiment with 

posting their own ‘tweets.’ 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ColumbiaJournalism/2009/01/09/Twitter-for- 

Journalists 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10300600 

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/23/problems-with-your-checking-account- 

try-twitter/ 

The Writing 

Before students post stories on their blogs,  early drafts are posted on Blackboard where 

the teacher and students can provide feedback. The public nature of journalism enables a 

public environment for draft production and editing. Students see draft comments to all 

postings. Research and sourcing are still critical and strong writing will distinguish these 

students from those who master only the bells and whistles. Computer-assisted reporting 

is another component of this course. Students may use databases to develop their stories. 

The focus on writing and research was recently reaffirmed in the New York Times,: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/08/business/media/08askthetimes.html 

Cailin Brown, ProVisions, 2.17.09 

-30- 

___________________________________________________________________________________

 

Addiction Simulation Exercise: EYSKUBE Addiction

Rationale

          This exercise will allow you to experience, first hand (though nowhere near to the same extent as an actual addiction), some of the physical (thirst being analogous to the cravings for drugs), social, cognitive, and emotional experiences of a person who is actually addicted to a drug.

Procedure

          You are to engage in this exercise for 48 consecutive hours, beginning at 10m on Monday January 19th and ending at 10 am on Wednesday January 21st. The more strictly you adhere to the guidelines, the more effective the exercise will be for you.

1. Drug. Your drug of choice is EYSKUBE. You used to be able to “get off” simply on water, but your addiction has progressed way beyond this. You now need EYSKUBE which is a specially processed type of water (ie, ice cubes). This may be considered analogous to progressing from powder cocaine to crack cocaine.

2. Craving. Thirst is your craving for the EYSKUBE. Every time you take a drink of ANY liquid, you must have atleast 2 “hits” of EYSKUBE every 4 hours. Yes, this will be difficult and will require planning. Anticipate! This applies to all drinking situations including coffee, water from drinking fountains, cans or bottles, and even late-night drinks of water after you have awakened from a deep sleep.

3. Legality. EYSKUBE is socially unacceptable and illegal for YOU (not regular people) Do not let anyone see you or catch you using it. This applies to friends and family. The only people with whom it is acceptable to be open about your use are other “addicts” who are participating in this exercise. You, of course, would never order a drink at a restaurant with ice already in it, although you would have to put some in it without others seeing you!!!

4. Tracks. You will need to get a piece of string or yarn to wear as a bracelet. Wear the bracelet at all times during the exercise. This bracelet is analogous to an addict’s needle tracks, so it is socially unacceptable to wear the bracelet. Try your best to keep people from seeing it. Remember, you are trying to hide your addiction from regular people. The bracelet will also serve as a reminder that you are participating in the exercise. 

5. Obsession/Dealer. To stimulate the obsession, availability, and accessibility aspects of drug addiction you will have to access Blackboard to “purchase” your EYSKIBE. Your dealer will be the “dealer” discussion forum on BB. Since EYSKUBE is illegal, you do not want to be seen. You must submit the following information:                                    a. your name                                                                                                                                                                                                     b. are you thirsty now?                                                                                                                                                                                   c. where is your next EYSKUBE beverage coming from?                                                                                                                     d. how much are you purchasing?                                                                                                                                                             e. have you been caught/seen “using”? explain                                                                                                                                     f. have you been caught/seen “purchasing?” explain                                                                                                                           g. has anyone seen your tracks? explain              

At 10 am on Wednesday January 21st this exercise officially ends and you no longer have to maintain your addiction to EYSKUBE. By 11:55 pm on Wednesday January 21st you must log onto the “dealer” discussion forum in BB and post your answers to the following questions:                                                                                                                                                     1. do you think this exercise was an effective means of mirroring some of the aspects of drug addiction, albeit to a lesser extent? please explain.

               2. What did you find to be the most effective aspect of the exercise and why?

               3. What did you find to be the most ineffective aspect of the exercise and why?

               4. Would you recommend that this exercise be used again in future online Motivation classes?

This exercise was originally developed by Todd. C. Campbell of Texas A & M University and has been modified for use in this online course by Robert Flint.

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