Inquiry through Blended Learning

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Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

EDUC3325 - Week Thirteen Reflections

Well, we are now definitely on the "home stretch". The students are working on their final assignment - "teaching with technology" group workshop. They are all currently putting their workshop outlines together using the BOPPPS model that we learned at the beginning of the course. Next Monday I will be sitting down with each of the groups to review their outlines - to make sure that they are on "track" for an interactive versus a presentation focused workshop.

We also debriefed about the process of working in groups and low and behold - email is for olde people like me. The current way for members of a group to "stay connected" is through cell phone and text messages :)

Here is a summary of our debrief:
a) Importance of creating a project outline and/or charter
- Defining the goals for your workshop
- Assigning roles, responsibilities and tasks
b) Importance of staying "connected" (clear lines of communication) throughout the process
- Using the group project areas in Blackboard to exchange files
- Using Email, cell phone and text messaging to stay connected (post everyone's cell phone number and text message ID in a word document that gets posted to the group area)
c) Importance of using class time to work on the project and identify individual tasks to be completed outside of class time
d) Importance of group size
-Groups smaller than 5 work best :)

EDUC3325 - Week Eleven Reflections

The importance of collaboration and group work for learning was emphasized again for me this week as the EDUC3325 students completed their WebQuest projects. This semester I asked the students to complete a "confidential" online reflection about the process involved in completing their group projects. I asked them to respond to four questions - in order to guide their reflection:
  1. How did you contribute to the success of the WebQuest (i.e., roles, responsibilities and tasks)?

  2. How did other members of your group contribute to the success of the WebQuest (i.e., roles, responsibilities and tasks)?

  3. What were the challenges that your group faced when completing the project (i.e., goals, scope, communication, workload)?

  4. How did you overcome these challenges and/or what recommendations would you make for your next group project?

We're going to debrief on these reflections in the coming week and I'll be sure to post a summary of our discussion to this blog next week :)
In other news, my travels took me to Ohio for the Lilly National Teaching Conference at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. This is my "all time" favourite conference and I have attended the past three years in a row. Milt Cox is the "host or inn-keeper" for the event, which he has coordinated for the past 26 years. What originally drew me to the conference was Milt's pioneer work in the area of faculty learning communities. It's just amazing how he has spread this concept around the globe. The conference is definitely an "intense" event!! I facilitated a couple of sessions - one on using wikis and weblogs to support deep approaches to learning and one on our inquiry through blended learning approach at the University of Calgary. I also hosted a couple of lunch time discussion tables on these topics. As usual, the quality of the sessions, company, food & drink, accommodation and organization was outstanding. I'll definitively be back next year. As an aside - I really do think there was an increase in the number of sessions on course redesign this year. A trend similar to last week's ISSOTL conference. Hmnn . . . I wonder if this is true or just my perception - as I seem to be seeing everything in higher education these days - through the "lens" of course redesign. I really, really appreciate the work that Dee Fink (former President of the Professional & Organizational Development network) has on designing for significant learning. I've linked to my conference notes and posted a few pictures from Miami University below - the university was founded in 1809 as a land grant institution to encourage people to move and settle in the western part of Ohio state.

Monday, November 13, 2006

EDUC3325 - Week Ten Reflections

This past week has been an "experiment" for both myself and my EDUC3325 students. I was away the entire week - visiting my sister in New York and attending the International Society for Teaching & Learning (ISSOTL) conference in Washington, DC. Meanwhile the students were working on their WebQuest group projects. I'll be curious to see how the "group process" evolved while I was away - as the projects are due this coming Wednesday November. On a positive note - I already have the URL for 3 of the projects :)

In terms of my "professional development" week - I had a wonderful time visiting my sister and her husband in New York. All the family came along and we had amazing weather in both New York and Washington. If you are interested you can take a "peak" at our photo gallery from the trip.

The ISSOTL conferenc was a VERY rich experience for me!! You can visit the Virtual ISSOTL conference blog to read the synthesizer reports for each of the sessions. And, I took some pretty detailed notes from the sessions that I attended. I also created a summary of my key "take away" themes and resources from the conference. The themes included:
  1. Course portfolios
  2. Course redesign
  3. SoTL
  4. Decentralized-centralized distributed models of faculty development
  5. Student engagement
  6. Evaluation/research approaches
  7. Learning sciences
  8. Web-based learning tools

Monday, November 06, 2006

EDUC3325 - Week Nine Reflections

Wow, time is definitely "flying by" this semester - and as usual I'm finding it difficult to keep up with my weekly reflections. The focus of our EDUC3325 course this week was on Computer Mediated Communications (CMC) and the WebQuest assignment.

With regards to CMC we had a wonderful Elluminate chat with Dr. Debra Hoven in Australia. The students really enjoyed viewing her pictures of Australia and learning more about the WebQuests that her graduate students had created. Unfortunately, I was the only one who had audio contact with Debra - the students just had text chat access - so after about an hour - the students got pretty restless.

In other news, I "shifted" our EDUC3325 course wiki from Google Docs to The reason for the change was that students were forgetting their passwords to access and edit the wiki on Google Docs. Seedwiki is "wide open" access - which I think is probably easier for them. Time will tell?

Next week I'm off to New York to visit my sister Christy and then onto Washington, DC for the International Society for Teaching & Learning (ISSOTL) conference. I'll be away from class but try and use this Blog to "keep connected" and record my notes from the conference.