Dead ideas in teaching

If you aren’t reading Faculty Focus blog regularly yet, I commend it to you again with this post on Dead Ideas in Teaching. I still hear these same things discussed among faculty today!!

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Online courses, and Moodle, and Pedagogy… Oh my!!

One of our brilliant instructional designers shared with me an experience he recently had with one of Fuller’s brilliant faculty members.  It went a little something like this:

Faculty member:  I want to do [this] in my course, how do I do that with Moodle?
ID:  Well, you can do [this] in this way.  But, if I were teaching your course, I would scrap [this] and instead do [that].
Faculty member:  Oh, yeah!  I like that!  Hey, wait… how do you know this stuff?
ID:  Well, I’m trained in teaching and have a graduate degree in the field.

This is a common scenario in an educational technologist person’s life.  We’re typically seen as the “Moodle people”.  Those who know how to set up online courses, push the correct buttons, and set the right settings.

Oh, but we’re so much more!!  At Fuller, our Instructional Designers have graduate degrees in fields of teaching, curriculum and instruction, and educational technologies.  We even have an Online Coach with a decade of experience developing and supporting online courses.  We have a pretty good idea about the online teaching and learning experience, which is more than just setting up your Moodle course well.

We will never tell you what to do, but we may be able to offer suggestions about teaching in new ways that engage your students more effectively through new mediums.  And, we also know Moodle!  🙂

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Cap for Online Courses

I’m exploring the limits of online course enrollments per course – or rather re-visiting ways to include more people in online courses.  I’m excluding MOOCs from the discussion at this point, though I would love to know if you’re doing a MOOC.

To this point, our primary concerns have been focused on course quality and we take the position that faculty interaction is key to quality and formation in the online class.  This model, however, is not time efficient for faculty (what educational relationship is??).  As a result, we cap our online courses at 25 students.  Those who have taught online in this model say that’s still too many!

But, I wonder if there are other models or ways to offer high quality, high engagement and interactive online courses and expand this cap?  Do you have experience with this?  Any alternatives or options anyone is employing at this point?  Would love to hear your thoughts and experience!

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Moodle 2… *check*


The Distributed Learning and I.T.S. offices at Fuller have been crazy busy transitioning from Moodle 1 to Moodle 2 over the past few months.  It is now complete!!  We are starting the Fall 2012 term fresh on Moodle 2 and the transition has mostly been smooth.  There have been a few minor bumps along the way, mostly from users assuming Moodle will do/behave one way, while it actually behaves another.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the way these teams planned and executed the transition!  And our faculty and staff are giving positive feedback about the changes, too.

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Power of images in online courses

Copyright Lindee Photo Designs

It’s time for new calendars, most with lovely photos marking each month of 2012. It is also time for Fuller Online students in Winter 2012 courses to introduce themselves, and many of them will share photos of themselves with fellow students and instructors. These images, including smiling families and friends, set in exotic or ordinary settings, of professional quality or snapped with smartphones, are often extremely beautiful. Those of us who’ve worked long in online courses joke that we could produce multiple calendars with these great photos.

The pictures that students post in Moodle Forums or in Personal Introductions in eCollege courses often carry an emotional weight that words alone can’t convey, offering a glimpse into private lives and powerful memories. They tell stories of honeymoons, graduations, family reunions, babies, church and missionary life, adventures in mountains and at sea, and daily life for students in a great number of countries and cultures.

What surprises me most as I admire these wonderful photos in online courses is that in the many small groups in which I participated face-to-face during my Fuller MDiv studies, not once did anyone pull out a family photo, or show us a picture of a beloved pet, or a scene of a kayak adventure or recent dinner with friends. I’m sorry about that. I think I would have learned more about my classmates if that had happened, and understood better exactly what each said in contributing to our in-class discussions.

Fuller Online students are lucky to have a chance to get to know each other in many ways, and one of those ways is through the sharing of photographs with one another. All they need is a little encouragement to do that.

Barbara Bell

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Facebook and the Classroom: Friends or Foes?


A new plug-in has recently been designed that will link Facebook with Moodle. Students can jump between sites seamlessly and do so through a single login. It will also allow students to post their live stream directly from Moodle into their Facebook status updates—thus bridging online learning and social networking. But, should Facebook have a place in the classroom?

Those who have been active in higher education in the last decade have likely encountered the often heated debate on whether or not to allow students to access the internet during class. The argument often draws factions between those who feel that it is detrimental to learning and so should be banned from the classroom, and those who feel that it is an indicator of the future of learning and thus should be harnessed as a learning asset. On both sides of the argument, these groups are able to explain why their own position represents best practice. But, instructors are often left to settle the issue for their own classrooms with no formal parameter either way. In the one extreme, some instructors have gone as far as using “jamming” equipment to block internet access for their students. On the other side, there are those who have begun using personal blogs, Twitter accounts, and social networking as means for students to engage with the content and their peers. Two very distinct extremes both claiming to have the student’s best interest at heart… is that possible?

Is it optimal to leave the issue unsettled and undefined? Is the best practice for advancing education one that requires students to change their learning approach in every classroom they learn in?  And, I wonder, is there a deeper issue at play that emphasizes who should be in the center of the learning experience?

Tommy Lister

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“Don’t Lecture Me!”

Is this really so controversial??
(this is a 50-minute audio – but VERY interesting)

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