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Category: LOC1 Ecampus

Scoring with online content

  October 20th, 2011

Right away I was skeptical about finding online content that is really relevant to my Environmental Law class. Of course, there are so many things about the environment out there, but it sounded like a bit of a long shot to find really targeted and effective content that speaks to the narrow topics in class, specifically about law or policy (not just cool science) that is at a level appropriate for undergrads. Or would take a long time to sift out, and heaven knows that I just don’t have the time.

I am familiar with TED content from personal use, so my first step was to browse the “Environment” tagged videos. Most were too science and application oriented for my Environmental Law class, but I came across a TED debate on nuclear energy right pretty quickly (http://www.ted.com/talks/debate_does_the_world_need_nuclear_energy.html).

Using outside content is helpful because (a) Some people (much smarter than me) have thought very hard about these issues and can say it faster and better than I can, and (b) I can’t provide a debate in my class when it’s just me! Giving them a different perspective of both content AND process is incredibly valuable. Especially when we are dealing with highly controversial issues, such as whether we should be encouraging expanded use of nuclear power.

The web is an amazing resource, but as I get older I notice that I am now teaching people who have only known on-demand media and I realize how much it has actually narrowed our world in some senses. We all have the ability to search out the material that confirms our own perspective, and we don’t have the patience to sit through the material that challenges our perspectives. I think that dynamic is reflected in our highly polarized society, and it is only going to get worse. With a resource like a 20-minute TED debate, we MUST listen to both sides, and if I can get my students to even look at the other side of a debate, I consider that a hit. If they took the steps to seek out more information about the other side, that is a home-run. So maybe I should do a little before and after essay with this—a paragraph about your opinion on the use of nuclear energy before watching the debate, then a paragraph arguing the other side after watching the debate!

One question that I am thinking about as I continue to seek out media: Is it credible to pull media primarily from 1 resource, like TED or another site? Or should I make a concerted effort to bring in resources from different places? And how much?

Christy Anderson Brekken

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Adventures in Zunal Land

  October 18th, 2011

Ok, I’ll admit up front that I did not devote what one could call ‘quality’ time to the webquest assignment involving zunal.com. That is, unless keeping one eye on the monitor and one eye on my son’s homework can be called ‘quality’. But hey, such is life. Something tells me many others out there deal with these same quality issues.

In a way, restricting the activity to simple searches on a handful of search engines was beneficial. It revealed how restrictive it is to use only general words or terms. In my case, I used the word wilderness, or term wilderness management. In future searches, I would be a bit more specific about the topic I’m seeking help with. Rather than simply using wilderness, I’ll try wilderness recreation, wilderness and fire management, or something similar.

I used four search engines: Ted.com, Merlot.org, YouTube Edu, and Science Daily. When entering the term wilderness management, only one of the four came up empty:

merlot.org result for ‘wilderness management’

Success with the other engines varied. The best result was with Science Daily:

sciencedaily.com result for 'wilderness management'

I was reminded of how liberally the word ‘wilderness’ is used in science and natural resource circles. It is seemingly used to refer to a variety of lands containing some type of wild character. Even in the Science Daily reference, I am not convinced that this technology would actually be used in wilderness areas. The Wilderness Act of 1964 mandates that no mechanized use be allowed in wilderness areas. There are caveats of course, but I don’t believe this is the case with the technology referenced by Science Daily.

Overall, though my search results this time around were less than stellar, I the exercise opened my eyes to some new sources of information. I imagine that I will use zunal.com again, or simply utilize one of the engines contained within. Of course, it pays to enter the activity with a specific, focused topic in mind. Otherwise, time slips away (and leaves you with nothing mister, but…)

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Ecampus and Use of Blogs

  October 5th, 2011

Hey Everyone

I haven’t read anyone else’s blog posts yet, and hope there’s not much in the way of redundancy here.

While nothing beats face to face interaction with a student, I do enjoy teaching within the online environment. One of the reasons has to do with that lack of interaction. Specifically, how to overcome it. Students can hide quite easily, and I enjoy reaching out to them via general announcements and individual emails. I’ve called students as well, which on some occasions has shocked them. For the most part, they have enjoyed this effort to welcome them and encourage their involvement.  

Coming into this training, I’ve considered myself fairly competent with regard to Blackboard navigation and overall use. I’m immediately reminded that I’ve kept things fairly simple in the online courses taught so far, which has its benefits for the student user. They don’t need to work too hard when trying to find presentations, assignments, assigned readings, etc.

On the other hand, maintaining the status quo can make things a bit stagnant, and perhaps I need to challenge myself a bit more when designing courses. There are other tools I should start to use, including blogs and journals.

Regarding those blogs,  I’m still not quite sure what the difference is between a blog and a Discussion Board Forum. I’ve definitely gotten used to using the Discussion Board for student interaction, but have a slight hunch it’s perceived as archaic by some students. Kind of like insisting on using a VCR when everyone else has moved on to streaming video. Does anyone else have an opinion on Discussion Board vs. Blog?

I plan on using blogs in the future, but am not certain if I should use it as a replacement for the Discussion Board, as a supplement, or something completely different.  Thanks all.

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Welcome, Course Developing Bloggers!

  July 29th, 2011

What are we doing? Why are we here?

Learning objectives for blog assignments in our workshop:

  • To use social media to reflect on learning and to connect with a real audience
    • Posting your blog entries is one part of what you’ll do here, but commenting on others’ posts is just as important. Who knows? You may also see comments from visiting readers, such as colleagues here at OSU, colleagues from other campuses, authors we’re discussing, or tween pop star Justin Bieber. (Well, it could happen … this is a public blog!)
  • To share artifacts created for your courses
    • Collaboration = Inspiration!
  • To learn from each other’s reflections and creations
    • Two heads are better than one!
  • To bridge the gap from this training to your classroom
    • Blogging begins during our professional development workshop and continues through your first term teaching the course. Hopefully this will help you apply the concepts we study together for the benefit of your students.

How often do you need to blog?

  • Participants will need to post three original blog entries during this six-week professional development, during weeks 1, 3, and 5. Be sure to comment on at least two of your colleagues’ posts, as well. However, you are welcome and encouraged to post and comment more often.
  • In addition, participants are asked to post at least two more times during the term they first teach the course.

What are these categories and tags all about?

  • Categories have been created for you and are based on the learning outcomes for our training. Each post you write should relate to at least one of our class categories. Placing posts within categories is an organizational strategy, but it’s also a form of metacognitive reflection.
  • Tags are up to you. Try to come up with at least three tags for each post.

How long do blog posts need to be?

  • Use as many words as you need to get your idea across. Keep in mind that blogs are not dissertations. Most blog posts are between 100 and 500 words. This one is just over 300, which makes this a good place to stop!


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