Category Archives: Module 3

Climbing a mountain

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What are you learning?… at

So this is the module where I feel that I am climbing the mountain, and I have hit the peak. The planning and preparation has been completed. I feel like I can now have a lot of fun planning and researching activities that will meet my learners needs. I have learned so much about theory and development, now I look forward to practice and engagement.

A Sparked thought

In exploring activities for my course, I came across a great resource  Ted-ed lessons worth sharing. I found a great piece titled:

What Aristotle and Joshua Bell can teach us about persuasion.

What really struck me about this video was the reference to rhetoric and the 3 means of persuasion. This is a concept that I was taught in early philosophy courses, but has resonated with me in the development of this online course. The 3 means of persuasion according to Aristotle are ethos, logos and pathos. In online teaching we need to create a course that has ethos, logos and pathos.

Ethos is the “establishing of character (Russell, 2012),” or in online terms presence. Does the presenter have a vested interest in the subject, expertise in the field, good character, a voice? Pathos is the connection with the audiences emotion. How are we connecting to the audiences? Logos is the logical connection that the presenter makes. The facts, figures and/or claims that the presenter makes on the subject matter.

We are instruments of persuasion in developing our online courses. We need to be able to present ourselves as credible, passionate and logical teachers of our subject matter. We are to pull our audience in (pathos), present them with the facts (logos) and be confident and prepared in our teaching of the subject (ethos). When creating our courses we must think about the power of persuasion. How we choose our words and activities for a course will impact the effectiveness of our course.

Online we don’t have our physical presence, but our words act as our presence. If I label a module simply “Module 1: Introduction,” I will not be conveying the passion that I have for the topic. Words that work online are simple, short, texturized, alliterate and they paint a picture and create questions (Russell, 2012). We want to be careful in constructing our course to be mindful of text, titles, tags, links, and our message (Russell, 2012). This is creating Logos or logic. We want our content to make sense from the audiences point of view, we want to follow the framework of professor Pickett, and create relevancy in our course. We are pulling in what we are known for, our credibility,what we are passionate about with a clear strong voice to create ethos. Pathos is the facilitation of emotional connection to our content. This is the materials that we use to connect with our students. If I just present my students with the facts, and do not give them a connection, how can I expect them to take ownership of the content?

What I Learned from this Module…


So what have I learned so far? I am learning a lot about control and presence. There have been so many great conversations this module about control. I am not sure we ever really defined control. The discussion of shifting from teacher centered to learner centered classroom was tied up in the idea of control. Control is a broad term. Kelly and Kevin vollied around the terms of facilitator vs. control freak. What I learned from their conversation is the realization of balance and an open mind. Of course we as instructors need to have “control” over our course. We decide on the content, materials and parameters of the course. We select activities and facilitate instruction. The when, how, where and why shifts in an online course. I (as instructor) am not trying to get “through” a lesson in a designated amount of time so my when and where shifts. I can offer a variety of mediums through technology and Web 2.0 to enhance content and understanding so my how shifts. The why is where the perceived control comes into play. Why are we learning the content, and why are we engaged in these discussions is guided by the students, and we need to shift and let the students guide through their inquiry. What is it they want out of the course? How can we find answers to our questions? I am prepared to shift my teaching and as we learned in Module 1, shift happens!


In Competencies for Online Teaching Success (COTS)  Larry Ragan discusses the importance of discussion of content, and how we design our courses. In online teaching we are focused on the thought process of instructional design. How do we want interactions to occur, what activities do we want our students to be engaged in and how will we assess our students. We need to be able to thoughtfully go through the processes of course development. He also discusses the need for collaboration among professionals. We need to plan and collaborate to be effective. Being effective involves Social Presence . Professor Pickett discusses social presence within the framework of the community of inquiry. What I really took away from professor Pickett was not just her attempt at developing social presence, but her rationale in the development of trust and community in her practice. She discusses the awareness of students and the professor, in getting to know each other as individuals in the course. We need to put in “energy” to help break through the barriers of our computer screens. We need to get our voice and personality through to our students to connect.


A Preliminary Investigation of ‘Teaching Presence’ in the SUNY Learning Network also leads us into the discussion of presence (I am detecting a theme). Teaching presence is not a one shot consideration. We need to think of our presence in developing curriculum, setting time parameters, the use of technology, the abiding of “netiquette,” and the instructional/learning activities. All of this you must do to strive for presence in your course. Which is the third principle of Effective Online Pedagogy. In (My) Three Principles of Effective Online Pedagogy Pelz discusses letting the students do all the work and establishing inter-activiy in addition to presence. In The Role of Questions in Teaching we learn that having the students do most of the work and establishing the interactivity is complimented by the students ability to ask questions and seek out their own solutions. “Thinking is not driven by answers, but by questions.” 

So what have I learned? I have learned who I am as a learner, and what I appreciate in a professor. I have learned that I need to let my voice and personality be known to my students because that is how we will connect and become emotionally connected to our course. I reflect on Professor Pickett’s introduction by her daughter. I immediately connected and realized that there was a human being behind the words, and she was relatable. This course is challenging and pushes my abilities, but the interaction with students and the professor helps me know that I am not a lone, and gives me space to evaluate my goals and reflect on what my presence is in our class and in developing the course.

Building the course activities

While there is a lot of work to be done, the course activities are set and ready to be tweaked. Once I was able to acknowledge my voice, I tried to make it clear in the development of my course. I had fun creating titles and spaces for conversation and interaction. I pulled in resources that I feel emotionally connected to. I am keeping an open space for students to be present and for us all to jump into this course with the expectation of learning. I suspect I will be learning just as much, if not more, from my students.

Heather (4)


Russell, L. M. (2012). Digital Rhetoric: Doing Things with Words Online.





I must be learning! I am asking myself a ton of questions. I am questioning myself as a learner, instructor and even my purpose. I am questioning educational practices not just from the perspective of an online instructor, but in a face2face classroom too. Professor Pickett asks the question, “are you prepared to change the way you teach?” Thinking driven by questions, process trumping content, what does it all mean?

I am shifting my attitude and outlook. It means I am shifting from standards and uniform teaching to a more learner centered approach. How can I do this?

Celeste has pointed out Instructional Principles for Self-Regulation. The four principles are:

  1. Guide learners to prepare and structure learning environment
  2. Organize and transform instructional materials
  3. Use instructional goals and feedback to present student monitoring opportunities
  4. Provide learners opportunities to self-evaluate performance against a standard.

This is a great response to the concerns that many of us have about giving up control. The deeper I get into the conversation the more I am realizing that the control was never mine to keep. It was a starting point for teaching, but if you don’t pass on the control, the learning is static. The flow of learning happens when we open up the stream of control until it pools around our students and they then open up and let the ideas flow. My role is not to disseminate content, but to guide inquiry and facilitate dialogue. Shea et al., 2003 discuss how we do this. Mary points this out in her post as:

  1. identifying areas of agreement and disagreement
  2. seeking to reach consensus and understanding
  3. encouraging, acknowledging, or reinforcing student contributions
  4. setting climate for learning
  5. drawing in participants and prompting discussion
  6. assessing the efficacy of the process

Maree asks a great question, What proven strategies can we use to help students achieve self-regulated learning and how can we help students recognize this in themselves and apply it to our content?

This leads me to questions.

Are we teaching two courses at once?

Are there prerequisites to being an online learner?

Do we shift a little? Or do we totally shift educational practices?

I cannot help but think about Professor Shea and Professor Vickers course ETAP 687 on Games and Learning. We recently read an article by Linguist James Gee. Gee discusses what we can learn from games. In his article Learning by Design Gee discusses good principles of video game/computer game design. He list the principles into 3 sections: empowered learners, problem solving and understanding. “When we think of games, we think of fun. When we think of learning we think of work. Games show us this is wrong. Games trigger deep learning that is itself part and parcel of the fun (Gee, 2005).”

We are designing our courses to develop a new way of thinking, and this provokes the question of how, and it requires a lot of shifting in expectations, outcomes and development.

Heather (4)