Keep up the Pace and Collaboration

Response to Scott Warnock: Chapters 13 and 14

I like my schedule. In fact, I have a hard time adapting when changes occur. While changes are a part of life, Scott Warnock reiterates a significant point, from chapter 13 and earlier chapters, to keep a schedule.

Beneath the concept of keeping a schedule in an online environment, students need to know, or feel, the presence of the professor otherwise students may not keep up with the OW schedule, due dates, or search for materials. According to Warnock in chapter 13, students are creatures of habit, so the teacher must create a predictable schedule (143). Not new in Warnock’s book, he expresses the importance of predictability in earlier chapters and stresses them again in chapter 13. For example, a teacher sets up two days a week for deadlines. More than one assignment is due on a Monday, but students know when those assignments are due.

According to online teacher Stephanie Imig – whose article “Innovative Writing Instruction: Writing Rewired: Teaching Writing in an Online Setting” that I included in my Week 4 research post — students in her online high school were expected to navigate online guides and links leading them through the writing process (81). The process left students feeling lost in the online environment because they did not have a paced schedule or connection to the online teacher.


From the same school where Stephanie Imig teaches, the calendar is courtesy of connectionsacademy.com. While Warnock does not mention it in chapter 13, an online calendar is another good way for students to have a visual pacing guide for a course. Since most college students are expected to use a syllabus, a calendar can be used for primary and secondary classes.

By having a few small, low-stakes assignments due throughout the week, Warnock writes that students are less likely to procrastinate with online work (146). Students become comfortable in an online environment when they know what is due and when, and the professor makes a continuous effort to communicate with students. Warnock states that one way students know their teachers are present is for teachers to make a video of themselves every other week and post it (146). This way students know that their work is not ignored, and most importantly, they are not ignored by the teacher.

Communication online also involves group work. In chapter 14, Warnock also reiterates, from previous chapters, that group work does not end in a f2f classroom. He uses a quote that stresses twenty-first century organizations looking for technological citizens able to use online communication tools (147). An online or hybrid teacher should remember collaboration is adaptable online. I think teachers in f2f classroom where the use of technology is increasing should also teach students to collaborate in an online environment. CMS, like Blackboard, includes group functions such as message boards or Wikis. Warnock writes that the CMS allows a group of students to set their boards or work, so only the group and teacher can see it (147). In some cases, online collaboration is easier because schedules sometimes disallow students to meet at a library or for a group study. Students can work asynchronously or discuss their projects in a chatroom synchronously.

Warnock mentions a great project for students called the argument website (148). I think this is adaptable for an online high school or traditional high school class in which technology is used. Students work together to form an argument whether it’s an essay or issue connected to a reading. Students form the argumentative writing skills required by most colleges in the U.S.

The argumentative project made me think of other assignments adaptable for an online environment. Literature circles for high school students could be used in an online environment. After students, along with the teacher, select the book they’re going to read, they host online discussions on a blog, message board, or in a chatroom. If students have questions for each other, they can post it on their group blog. The writing allows students to revisit their discussions for a future project, paper or response assignment a teacher gives them at the end of the reading.

Facilitating discussions about what constitutes peer review as an online discussion early in the semester should be a part of collaboration. While Warnock discusses the need for peer review, little is said about preparing students for the type of commentary they should use in a peer review. I think reading peer reviews and practicing online allows students more preparation for the actual peer reviews, and it prepares students for the professional world of academics.

Bibliography

Imig, Stephanie, and Kinloch, Valerie. “Innovative Writing Instruction: Writing Rewired: Teaching in an Online Setting.” The English Journal 99.3 (2010): 81-83. JSTOR. Web. 27 June 2014.

Warnock, Scott W. “Pacing and Predictability: Help Students Get Comfortable in the OWcourse.” Teaching Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 143-146. Print.

Warnock, Scott W. “Collaboration: Working in Virtual Groups.” Teaching Writing Online. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2009. 147-151. Print.

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Projecting Personality Online (Week 1)

Write.

That is the beginning. It is a sentence. You and I know the implied noun, you, is there although it hides from the written form. Just because we, as teachers and writers, sit behind keyboards or look down at tablets while typing does not mean our personalities are missing from our text. Scott Warnock makes an excellent case about the persona teachers show in the online environment. In place of facial expressions, we are left to literally read behind the words. As Warnock states on page 1, the “text of those messages created a personality.”  Through Warnock, other authors’ research, and professional workshops, teachers can find ways to ease their nerves and create the right professional personality in an online writing environment.

In a f2f classroom, my teachers and I, as a teacher, have used icebreakers to connect with students. Warnock suggests using the same tool in an online environment. Using icebreakers online is a great idea because you show that the class is not centered around you, but around the students. You are already building a platform on which you are a facilitator because you include the students’ input about themselves.

A Policy Research Brief” by the National Council of Teachers of English presents an important point, which is rarely mentioned in other courses I’ve taken about online teaching and their course content. On page 4, the council writes that teachers need use “explicit instruction” showing students how to avoid plagiarism in a digital environment. I believe in teaching students how to cite online materials as more content becomes part of the academic and media writing world.

As a journalist, my articles and my pictures were published in the newspaper and online. The most important details with those stories was the name of the writer, from whom information was received, and the photo credit. In other blogs, pictures have been copied from other Internet sources without any credit. As students learn how to write online and create hypermedia content, how do we as teachers keep up in showing them how to cite text, photos, and video? To me, writing online is becoming a three-dimensional world in which MLA, APA, and even AP formats must one day translate into a hypermedia platform. One of my questions is how do we do this? How do we, as teachers, make sure our instruction is explicit and up to date in avoiding all forms of plagiarism in a digital environment?

For the schedule and assignments on the class website, I like how every piece of information is displayed. Just like labels and cards, everything has a neat title. It is in order, and I know exactly when something is due.  As a graduate assistant for the director of graduate studies in the education department, I work a lot with new technologies, researching the digital divide, and the latest technologies schools are using. Most recently, my boss and I have been researching Google Chromebooks in place of iPads because most school districts are switching to them. With the Chromebook I learned about a program called Read & Write Google, which is a tool helping ESL and other students with learning disabilities. It reads text out loud, provides a picture, and text dictionary. I would be interested in researching the online tools that would benefit students with disabilities who are a part of the online writing environment.

 

Becca Bridges