New(ish), cool, tool review — Bob, Online Pedagogy, ED 655

Original post.

Review of  Quia is pronounced “kee’ah” if it matters… it is a mnemonic for “Quintessential Instructional Archive”.   I sensibly read the “About Quia” page first after landing on the site.  Quia is more than a site to make quizzes, or learning activities it is an archive of such objects.  The site has been active for 10 years (so not new)  this and its international popularity results in a huge set of resources.  While the site claims to serve students of all ages, I would be hesitant to use the kinds of activities and games beyond elementary or middle school age learners.

I created a 30-day trial profile and immediately linked to activities and created a deer hunting word jumble activity.  I listed 20 words related to the topic and clicked the next button a script generated the activity.  I made it:  this quiz however, I simply linked too:  The tools are simple to use and the outcomes are significantly better then what I remember for elementary school – think drum mimeograph duplicated work sheets.  That said, are they snazzy enough to capture the attention of more privileged students?  On the other hand, perhaps this is appropriate technology?  I think the answers to those questions depends on where one is teaching and what age group.

My original intention was to beat this resource up, however, the more I think about it the more generous I am with it.  If I had internet access but no real IT support, was teaching children, and had $50 dollars to spend, this resource could really have some potential.  I can see this being a treasure trove for home schooling.  I am perplexed that they offer a corporate subscription rate of $200 dollars…  I can see how some of the tools would be useful for HR departments, how supervisors training skills might use it, but the site is clearly for children, or elementary teachers, that impression just does not fit for corporate setting.  A teacher can create and manage a class, in many ways identical to using any other learning management system.  They can link activities and quizzes to that page.  The teacher can enroll students or the teacher can opt for self-enrollment.  I spent a bit of time clicking through to see if the material was fresh and current or older, perhaps outdated.  I found a lot of current material a lot being created and used by elementary schools in the US.  Interestingly, many teachers have made their profiles public and have provided work contact information, hence, creating a learning network for educators.

Along with the core, service described here comes an e-bookstore sub-site that lists materials available online from Quia.  The IXL sub-site appears to be a huge library of learning activities in math or language arts – again, my mind went to home schoolers, but any learner needing additional problem sets or review could benefit from the resource.  Both the e-bookstore and the IXL sites have materials appropriate for high school age learners.  If I were working with K-12 age learners, I would take the resources the site offers seriously.

Review of  Immediately on landing on the page, I concluded that it was for elementary age learners.  I then clicked on the link “For Teachers” and watched the promotional video; I will wait here while you view it, hmm, hmmm, hmmm.  Therefore, again we see how wrong first impressions can be.  This site is aimed at high school and college students.  The simulations are created by a team of designers at University of Colorado Boulder I figured out that I would not be making a simulation but rather using one, for example, this one:

Each simulation has a page from which you can download the particular simulation.  Accompanying the download is a chart of teaching ideas, which appear to be teaching resources submitted by folks using the simulation with their students.  There are also translated versions of the simulations to support international learners.
I played around with the simulation on the introductory level.  I was intrigued with the slider adjustments balancing snowfall and air temperature trying to find where the glacier broke into advance or retreat with each variable.  I could see my classmate using these in her unit on ecosystems.  Alas, I found the toolbox perplexing although I eventually sorted most of them out.  The advanced mode offers graphing tools that far exceeded my interest and attention span – perhaps, an assignment that required me to answer questions that the graphs explained would tease me into understanding.  Since, I am not making a simulation.  I guess I am left to make an assignment….    Maximize one slider variable or the other, snowfall or air temperature use the other variable to stabilize the glacier’s advance or retreat.  Repeat with the other variable.  Explain how these experiments help you understand climate change.  Measure the ice thickness at its extremes measure, the temperatures at these points offer an explanation for the temperature variations.

I do not know, I am making this up, I am no earth scientist.  However, I will wait here will you play with the simulation… hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.  Simply this web site and these resources are the bomb.  I am sure that if I had more of a clue about the topics I would think they were even better than that.  You gotta get some of this.

Review of Google apps or, more specifically Google Classroom.  Google Classroom is an LMS integrated with the Google apps/drive.  On one hand, it is weak tea now.  There is currently no compelling reason to leave Moodle or WordPress, however, given how powerful and pervasive the suite of Google tools is it is just a matter of time for it to become a serious contender too.  Combine it with Chromebooks and with Google Hangouts and it just keeps getting more interesting.

There are quite a few video presentation on using Classroom:

I can see early adoption by K-12 programs, particularly those committed to putting iPads, Chromebooks or laptops in the hands of their students.

Colby is a Google shop and a ton of work is done in this way.  Here I am thinking about administrative as well as academic.  Having a single login and accessing communications, collaboration, storage/archiving, scheduling, word processing, spreadsheet and a classroom is seductive.  It is seductive in terms of ease and relative transparency in getting work done.  It is seductive as well from an IT and management perspective, licensing and installing software is expensive and iterative, whereas having Googles tools in the cloud for all employees/students to access is easy and less expensive particularly for education customers.  As Google builds functionality into Classroom, it will take some time to gain momentum but for sites saturated with Google this will be an easy and logical transition even as the tool becomes robust.  In addition, increasing pressure will be felt to adopt it in higher education as students matriculate.  In truth, I did not make anything with Classroom because I do not have access to it yet.  However, we make stuff with Google apps everyday, all day, so nothing sexy here at all, and yet I am really hopeful that my employer turns Classroom on.  I will seriously consider migrating my employee instruction developed in this class, to it.  According to some of the reviewers, folks with personal domains could set it up and experiment with it.  Personally, I work with Google apps all day long and I do not really see the big deal… what learning curve?  For folks that have a lot of experience with LMS systems I likewise think that once the functionality is more developed it will be as easy as falling down.

Weekly Writing, 5:2 Bob, Online Pedagogy, ED 655

Original post.

I apologize for posting late.  This weekend needed to be about deer hunting, and about fall chores, sweeping the chimney, clearing out the shed and the cellar, putting up a new mailbox before the ground freezes and the snow falls.

The idea of requiring students to present their work via the internet is often met with trepidation by educators. Which concerns are valid? Which are hype? What are the merits of having students present in a public space? In which circumstances do the advantages supersede the concerns? For your writing post this week, weigh the value against the danger of public homework and online student participation.

I wonder what we mean by “public posting”.   In this course, I suppose someone somewhere in the world with too much time on his or her hands could “Google” and turn up our blog site.  Within a LMS “public” has a much smaller definition.  There is also the assignment itself to consider.

My first thought is a reminder of Eliot Wiggington’s self-reflection as he “discovered” his pedagogic practice.  In his chapter “So What Did I Learn in School Anyway?” one of his answers has to do with making real stuff and hence the Foxfire magazine and books.  Publishing whether to a blog or in a print publication ups the ante considerably both in terms of accountability and responsibility.  Certainly, the learner may receive a grade but the potential exists for real world feedback too.  On the accountability side, we see personal benefits from real motivations, for example, not missing deadlines and not looking the fool. On the responsibility side, we see team benefits through self-consciousness in participating in a larger discourse and developing teamwork on the project.  Therefore, school begins to mirror real life, real work and in that way becomes truly preparatory.  The anxiety at the moment one clicks the “publish” button is real.  Learning to manage that feeling is real life.  What if the first time a person really has to take it seriously is their first job – are not the stakes already high enough?

Pause; is it really the work of schools to expose students to real feedback from the wider world?  On the other hand, should not schools be the safe practice arena where development is encouraged and progress celebrated not just outcomes?

This course blog is co-authored by adults, by folks well into their careers, practiced in the workplace and in the graduate school class.  The quasi-public nature or the blog is just part of the games we already play, so to speak.  That is very different from the experience of K-12 age learners.  Yet I wonder if there is a place in their learning for tastes of this experience?  We see so much boredom in K-12 age learners in the classroom, and yet, we see them engaged online in many ways.  In addition, getting the feedback that such involvement guarantees, gender, age, and ethnic origin are invisible online.  Rather, the product, video, tweet, forum or blog post has to stand the acid test of scrutiny.  Let us recall our surfers posting videos of their process developing new techniques.  The comments on any online forum can be harsh.  If the young people themselves are already engaged in this rough and tumble by choice then what are we kidding ourselves about?  Pause; not all young people are so engaged, and the rough and tumble of the internet can decay into name calling and bullying.  Therefore, we have responsibilities too particularly for younger learners.

Returning to the assignments it seems as well that what we are talking about are final projects.  If however, we mean every worksheet and problem set along the way then absolutely we have gotten things twisted about.  A final project should be definition stand up to some scrutiny.  However, being nibbled to death over a problem set is just wrong.  This course is fully public our comments, our work is all visible, we do not have an official back channel, or back stage.  Yet, we are free to create such supports if we need them.  So perhaps, we invert that ratio for younger, less practiced learners, more work done in protected online spaces and less done publicly, yet still some public responsibility.

In addition, that turns us to the matter of scholarships responsibility to the advancement of knowledge.  Unequally yoked with that is the scrutiny of politicians and taxpayers.  Yet both can be addressed in the public display of academic pursuits.  A permanent, and public blog, is a way to engage critics of the schools with hard evidence of process and outcomes in our schools, a shareholders report of sorts.  For scholars engaged in online instruction our course blog might well be interesting and inspiring.  Lurking might well be part of creating a learning community or informing one.  Indeed, I have a dear friend who has taught face to face business classes for many years.  He is currently teaching in the online environment for the first time.  In a very real sense he has been thrown into the deep end.  As we started this semester I thought about sharing the url to the blog with him — letting him shoulder surf, lurk.  I am still pondering the ethical qualities of such an act.  What are my responsibilities to my fellow students, to the instructor, to UAF?

In the end I am certain I have offered no profound or innovative insights into the question.  Obviously I think there are enough merits, enough benefits for learners of various ages and experiences in posting scholarship to the internet, to engaging in a process of peer review to justify such requirements.  On the other hand not everything has to be done in the “deep end” and not always for everyone — we are professionals and as such have the responsibility and artistry to judge appropriate boundaries for the learners we have accountability to.

Wigginton, E. (1985). Sometimes a Shining Moment: The Foxfire Experience. Garden City, New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday.

Professional Demeanor Training Unit, Online Pedagogy, ED 655

Original post.

Library Mission, Vision and Values

Learning outcomes:

  • locate quickly and refer to the Library Mission, Vision and Values statements.
  • memorize the libraries mission statement.
  • list the libraries core values.
  • explain how the mission vision and values inform their daily performance in the workplace.

Learning Resources:

Library Site Specifics


  1. Find the Library Mission, Vision and Values statements in two different places.
  • Print locations,
  • Web locations

Demonstrate this ability to your library coordinator.

  1. In whatever preferred way, memorize this mission statement: “The Libraries are central to Colby’s scholarship, providing scholarly resources and services to advance students’ and faculty’s teaching, learning and research experiences.” Demonstrate this ability to your library coordinator.
  1. Use one of these Mnemonic generators to create a fun (and useful way to recall the libraries’ values)

Share and explain your mnemonic on the forum.

  1. Compose a short essay (500-800 words) that draws from our training and your experiences working at the desk. Summarize the library mission vision, values statement, and relate between our policies and procedures at the service desk and your summary.  Share your essay on the forum and comment on at least two other postings.
Work Ethic

Learning outcomes:

  • explain why showing up for your shift a few minutes early (as frequently as possible), working through the start of shift checklist of chores immediately, and sharing those chores with your co-worker are important.
  • tell why arranging for shift coverage as soon as you learn of your need and if you are ill contact either or both your student supervisor or Branch coordinator at the earliest possible time.
  • summarize how completing timesheets regularly and accurately demonstrates good work ethic.
  • discuss how following through on commitments, like providing shift coverage or any service promise he/she makes to a customer needs to be executed upon and completed.
  • show how to provide peer-to-peer feedback on job tasks while maintaining trust and respect.
  • explain why customer confidentiality and privacy are important both as values and in terms of the law.
  • tell why not abusing password authorizations in any library system or resource is both a legal and ethical matter
  • explain why honesty and accuracy in entering hours in time sheet is an important responsibility.
  • tell why honesty in requesting sick time is an important part of workplace behavior.
  • explain why owning a mistake is important (hint, blame is a wrong answer).
  • discuss why not knowing something is an important signal about his/hers workplace performance.

Learning Resources:

Time Entry

On Duty Responsibilities



  1. View the linked YouTube videos:

Consider two potential meanings: ethical behavior appropriate to the workplace, or the notion that work builds character.

  1. Go to this url, and follow the instructions on logging in. Once you have access view the video training listed below.  It is fine to do this during your regular but quiet shift (please just remember to leave one ear bud out so that you can still hear the phone, or face-to-face customer questions).

Connecting with Peers in the Workplace with Todd Dewett

Coach Todd Dewett outlines helpful techniques for building and maintaining productive coworker relationships.

  1. With the various YouTube, videos and the training video from in mind write a 500-800 word essay on work ethic and ethics in the workplace. Post the essay on the forum and comment with critical and supportive feedback on two other essays written by co-workers.

Learning outcomes:

  • exemplify professionalism through dressing appropriately for workplace, this include appraising his/her wardrobe and selecting clothing, footwear and jewelry appropriate for a library service desk
  • classify clothing inappropriate in the workplace this includes providing examples of clothing in this category and being able to offer reasons for the classification.
  • understand the importance of and practice smiling when you greet customers to convey confidence, enthusiasm and potentially to diffuse difficult conversations.
  • analyze and interpret the tone of the customer service situation and match affect for that tone.
  • tell why being clean and well groomed (and laundered) including using deodorant, yet avoiding strong perfume is important in the workplace and on making good first impressions.
  • think about and explain the impact of tattoos, piercings and gauges on creating professional persona.


  1. View the linked YouTube videos:
  1. Search through your favorite search interface (Google, for example) the terms “business casual for ‘gender’” and “smart casual for ‘gender’” limit your search to images.
  1. Thinking about your probable potential employers search two Human Resource pages, for companies you would like to work for, review their dress code and policy on tattoos, piercings and gages. Summarize what you have learned in a paragraph (300-500 words) and post it on the forum.  Comment, thoughtfully, on three posts by co-workers.
  1. Select two outfits from your current wardrobe that constitute business casual or smart casual outfits. Take a selfie of yourself in each and post the two pictures to the Moodle forum.  Explain your choices in a short description.  We can have some fun with this homework, but let us keep it tasteful.
Work Place Communication

Phone etiquette

Learning Outcomes:

  • explain why answering the phone during the first 1-3 rings is important
  • create personalized greeting that will include the organization name, the answerer’s given name, and an offer for assistance. Explain why this is important
  • execute a correct phone transfer, this includes both operating the phone functions correctly and demonstrating appropriate communication with the customer. Create a personalized script for phone transfers.
  • demonstrate three ways to locate phone numbers for campus or library staff.

Learning Resources:

Customer Service


  1. View these two videos in their entirety.

Imagine that you are creating a Phone Etiquette training video.  Select the most valuable points from both videos.  List them as bullet points and order them in the best sequence for learning them.  Post these lists on the Moodle forum.  Comment constructively and creatively on at least three co-workers lists.

  1. Create your greeting, and transfers “scripts” and practice them on your shifts this week. Report in the forums how you have modified your scripts and what you learned in using them.  Think about what other frequently asked questions you could create “scripts” for post one of them on the forum.

Writing in the workplace

Learning Outcomes:

  • handwrite notes that explain the problem/situation, and answer who, what, where, why, when and provide correct contact information.
  • explain the difference between personal, academic, and workplace writing.
  • write proper workplace e-mail.


  1. View these two videos in their entirety.

Summarize these two videos with a short list of bullet points that capture the important points.  Share your list on the forum.  Comment constructively and critically on two postings by co-workers.

Weekly Writing, 5:1, Bob, Online Pedagogy, ED 655

Original post.

For your post this week, write a metacognitive summary of your experience thus far in developing your unit-sized curriculum plan.

I am thinking about this final project in light of my work.  We have, for as long as I remember, been self-aware of ourselves as a source and place of significant learning.  Even though that learning was not recognized or valued as an aim of the institution.  Alas, over the last couple of years I have focused more on my direct reports and on the overall organization.  I have found this assignment refreshing a way for me to get back to the roots of developing young people as future employees.

I found my conversation with my classmate to be rewarding.  Indeed, she suggested some ways to sequence the online portion of our training and some content as well.  I believe I will steal her ideas with wild abandon.  In particular, she suggested including our organizational mission and vision statements as an opening unit – obvious as the nose on my face.  Alas, I have lived so intimately with those statements over the last three years and as we enter another round of strategic planning, I am again immersed in them – so that I forgot that, my employees might not be familiar with them.  That is a little embarrassing and humbling.  I had as well forgotten about, or perhaps suppressed the memory of the work we had done on creating career paths for our student employees.  I forgot about it because of internal politics and new structural configuration and because my responsibilities became focused on the supervisors of students rather than the students themselves.  This course has reminded me to revisit this project one that was very important to me four or so years ago.  Work that was done and then undone by structural and political changes in our organization.  It is nice to remember this and to find that I still have a passion for it.  Often times our organizational ebb and flow along with eroding our work erodes our spirit — in this case I still feel the importance of getting this right for our student employees.

I am relishing the challenge of using our lms (Moodle) to create a blended/flipped on line learning environment for our student employees.  We (Colby College) subscribe to Lynda campus and we have a wealth of training materials readily available.  Similarly, YouTube offers many interesting resources, even as credible as some of the purchased materials.  Alas, what we build in that lms is behind firewalls and passwords.  So part of my struggle is how to present for the course the work, my version of the work.  I distinguish this because I am running parallel projects simultaneously.  My team met with our Instructional Designer on Friday, for an introduction to Moodle.  Some of the material I have written for this unit was used as examples in that session.  But soon that will become a shared creative space my team will start to create content and conversations will open up about all aspects of including this new tool in our real work.   In truth, I take the greater reward from that process.  Even ten years ago, it was still about me, and my ideas, but anymore I take the greater satisfaction from teamwork from building up my direct reports and their work with our student supervisors.  So there is something artificial in the work I am doing for this course – I will do it, but I find it less satisfying and less rich.

I think that two interesting points of learning or remembering have come out of the course content.  One regards the theories about learning: behavioristic, cognitive, constructionist, and connectionist; the other regards the various taxonomies, not so much about writing learning outcomes, rather more in recognizing that learning and performance are occurring at higher levels whereas we are assessing at levels of adequacy.  Much of our conversation about excellence is because of observation and of fair and if not objective then at least systematic assessment.  However, we talk about it anecdotally, subjectively, more importantly so much more of it is occurring and we are missing it because we are not looking for it.  I am thinking about how to use this insight to create a better workplace, how to capture excellence and duplicate it.