Chapter Two Reading

As I wrote in my previous post, I’ve started reading Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology by Michelle D. Miller as part of a reading group on campus where I work.  I’ve always had an interest in teaching methods and pedagogy, so I thought participating in the reading group would be a good way for me to get back into that mode of thinking.

Chapter two of the book delved more into breaking down the components of best practices for effective instruction overall, then comparing and contrasting face-to-face teaching and online instruction based on those criteria and the findings of some notable studies.

I thought the section on methods for discouraging from students cheating was especially interesting–particularly the mention of how high-stakes assignments tend to encourage cheating.  And that a relatively simple remedy of offering students more opportunities to succeed through frequent lower-stakes assignments discourages cheating–as well as increases mastery.  It seems deceptively simple in its effectiveness.

I also learned the term for the fatigue working professionals experience after a full day at work and managing their personal lives–and the toll it can take on their investment in an asynchronous online program.  It’s called the “third-shift effect”.

I thought Miller’s point about ensuring a buy-in from a learning institution’s IT department cannot be overstated.  Speaking from personal experience, I’ve seen first-hand what can go wrong when department administrators and/or faculty don’t communicate their IT-related needs and expectations–and, conversely, when academic IT departments are not proactive about advertising their services or reaching out to faculty to learn their IT needs.

Next up: Chapters three and four.


Back from Sabbatical

Not really…  But how about back from an unintended work blog hiatus?

2013 was my last post, and that’s really inexcusable considering everything that’s going on with education and technology these days.  I guess I let the day-to-day firefighting get in the way.

So…in an attempt to jump-start this blog yet again, I’m going to start chronicling my reading of this book: Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology by Michelle D. Miller.  Wish me luck.

I really enjoyed the first chapter.  So much so, that it may have subconsciously inspired me to start writing in this blog again.

I like how Miller somewhat de-mystifies the mad MOOC scramble a few years ago.  Yet she doesn’t dismiss MOOCs as mere flashes in the pan; rather she hones in on their potential as yet another tool in an educator’s toolbox.  Specifically, the merit of MOOCs as content in blended instruction or as marketing toward prospective students.

I also liked how she stated the obvious, yet not-so-obvious: As educators, we assume students will be adept at technology.  And while that’s true, it may not be as true as we think.  Students do, however, have high expectations for the technology at their chosen institution of learning–and even higher expectations for that technology to work when they need it to.

I also thought her brief section on course redesign was a helpful spark to get readers thinking about how to begin what can seem like a Herculean task.

Looking forward to chapter 2.

Following Paths

“Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths…”
–Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Perhaps educators need to keep this notion in mind; the idea that students may find uses or applications for current and emerging tools and technologies that don’t necessarily follow the existing well-trodden “paths” for using those tools or technologies. Rather, educators should encourage exploration away from those paths…


I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference for work out of town. And now that I’ve been back home for a few days, I’m realizing that one of the side benefits of being away–even for a little while–is a slightly new perspective.
It’s all too easy to get mired in our day-to-day routine, as we all know, and develop tunnel vision or blind spots.
And I might even argue that taking a vacation doesn’t always necessarily yield the same results (though of course it can) because we expect a perspective shift when we leave on vacation. And I would suggest that sometimes the most profound changes in perspective can result without those expectations; that the unintended shifts in perspective can have the most impact and cause us to look at things quite differently.
Which makes me wonder how I can change my perspective in subtle ways every day…

Dilbert on Leadership

As a follow-up to the Educause Learning Technology Leadership conference I attended recently, I thought I would share this Dilbert strip from 6/30/13.  And while it may still be a fairly typical Dilbert perspective, it does still address an important idea that I think sometimes gets lost in the noise and the shuffle.  There is no one universal approach to leadership–it does depend greatly on context.  And I think the key to that is being adaptable and learning to read people and situations–being observant.