My First Learning Environment Model

This was quite the experience for me. I cannot lie; I had some serious difficulties with this, mostly due to my own thought process, I think. I also had some issues with the technology, so I apologize if it isn’t as clear as it could be.

I outlined my original plan in this post: my goal here is to create the introductory week module for an online creative nonfiction II class I am currently developing. In this module, I wanted students to do three things: first, become familiar with the course procedures and protocols; then, think through and develop a plan of action for succeeding in an online class environment; and finally, share a short writing exercise with their classmates and me (a 6-word memoir). My initial post outlined the steps for all three of these goals. My first image below is an attempt to create a learning environment model of what that entire module might look like. As I developed this model, I worried that it was overly complicated and combining two many elements.

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With those concerns in mind, I then took a stab at dividing my initial model into two smaller models. This second image is the first half, which focuses on helping students become familiar with the course and evaluating their comfort level with an online learning environment. In this model, I struggled with the “practice” block in particular: “succeeding in an online course” is a separate course that was created by our Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning here at SWOSU, and every student is automatically enrolled in it. Once they take it, they receive a certificate, which they can share with any instructor who asks for it. I decided to make that a required component, as it is a short mini-course that offers success strategies to students. In reality, that is its own LEM, but I didn’t create that LEM and it is not in the class per se; instead, I am sending students out of the course to do it and asking them to upload the certificate and a short reflective essay as evidence of completion and self-reflection/awareness of each student’s perceived strengths and weaknesses in this type of learning environment.

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This third image is much smaller, because I envision this activity as a short learning opportunity in which students read about a specific flash nonfiction genre (the 6-word memoir) and then develop their own memoirs to share with me and their classmates via a discussion thread, which would be graded. My main issue in this section was with thinking about the final block: their 6-word memoir is meant to be an informal writing assignment on the same discussion thread as their discussion of the other 6-word memoirs, but I separated it out here to make clear the discussion of examples as separate from sharing their own memoirs for credit. I also wonder about the “practice” block in all of this. This is a writing class, so practice is always wrapped up in everything we do. Should this final evidence block be a practice block instead? Can it be both? Hmmm.

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LEM Step-by-Step Practice

 

For this first go at LEM, I will be modeling the introductory week module in an online Creative Nonfiction II class that I am currently developing. I’ve taught the class before in a face-to-face setting, but now I’ll be turning this into an online asynchronous learning environment.

The outcomes/objectives for this module are two-fold:

  1. Evaluate their ability to succeed in an online online learning environment through critical reflection; and
  2. Develop a collaborative learning community in which people feel comfortable sharing their writing with one another and offering feedback.

Steps:

  1. Students will go to the introductory course module on Canvas (LMS) and read through the course materials (information block);
  2. Students will watch a short introductory video from me introducing them to the course and providing an overview of the semester (information block);
  3. Students will post a short response on a discussion thread indicating their understanding of course materials. They can also use this space to ask questions they have about the class at this point in the semester (dialogue block with feedback block from me and classmates);
  4. Students will then complete an outside “Succeeding in an Online Class” Canvas course on our LMS (information and practice blocks);
  5. Students will upload a certificate of completion for “Succeeding in an Online Class” via course dropbox along with a short reflective writing in which they outline their perceived strengths and weaknesses as an online student along with personal goals for course (evidence and feedback blocks);
  6. Students will then read through some example six-word memoirs (information block);
  7. Finally, students will develop and share at least one six-word memoir on a discussion thread and offer feedback to one another (dialogue, evidence, and  feedback blocks).

The actions will consist of a mixture of learner, facilitator, and system actions. I will use the start and stop notations to indicate the beginning and ending moments of the module and include the objectives in the objective ID bubbles. I’ve decided to work chronologically through the course, so while this module may look a little different from other modules in the course, I think it’s valuable to work all the way through the course using the modeling technique.

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Gallery of Learning Environment Insights

I decided to fancy up the presentation of images here, and I went with some unusual choices, I know. Given the fact that my previous blog post includes some more conventional spaces, I wanted to expand my thinking. I went with completely informal spaces in this slideshow, I just realized, though I suppose the writing center is kind of in between formal and informal. Many of the images also reflect more of my personal life as a mother, a wife of an oil industry worker, and a hopeful gardener. Learning really is all around us all of the time.

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I’ll use the captions to identify which image I’m discussing here.

  1. Writing center in action: As I often mention, I am the writing center coordinator on my campus, and I spend a lot of time there. I often refer to the physical space of the center as out little dungeon away from home, as it is located in the basement of the library in a little room with no windows and the library computer serve whirring away in the next room. Despite the easy tendency to see the room as depressing due to the gray walls and lack of natural light, the tutors and I have worked to make it feel comfortable over the years. There are computers lining the left and back walls of the center  that are open for use by tutors and writers (I’m orienting this discussion from the door that enters the room), along with one final computer station in the back right corner, where many of the tutors choose to sit while working on online consultations. If I think of the elements of space, form, and time according to the visual diagram in lesson 1.2, I feel like the entity of the writing center sits right in the middle of the axis: we have both a physical and virtual presence for consultations, we conduct both synchronous and asynchronous consultations, and while we tend to think of ourselves as an informal space, some writers who come in think of it as a bit more formal because it is a university service. When I think of the physical writing space specifically, I think of it as a synchronous, physical, informal learning space. I struggle with what kind of learning environment to call it, though: I think I’d consider it…I don’t know. An organizational learning environment? Maybe? This aspect has been difficult for me to work through. Maybe it will be clearer as the lessons unfold.
  2. The bag garden: I included this because I feel like I am always learning through my gardening attempts in our backyard. This is, of course, an informal, physical space that is synchronous. I consider it a group learning environment if my family can be considered a group within a larger community.
  3. Oil well in Hydro, OK: This is a well that my husband owned interest in until very recently. I included it because it represents a setting for his work quite often. I consider is an organizational learning environment, as he shares the site with other interest owners and companies under the common umbrella of being shareholders in the well. It seems to me that this is a bit more of an informal learning space for folks in the industry; it is obviously a physical space, and I think it would have to be considered a synchronous learning environment as well.
  4. The tent: This is a section of my son’s room where we often find him. He loves to sit in that tent and play, read, or snuggle with my husband and me. It is an informal, physical, synchronous, personal learning environment, in my opinion.
  5. The trampoline: When we visit my mother’s house in Kentucky, my son spends a lot of time out on the trampoline. He likes to run around and play games, and he will also take the time to sit in the middle and watch what’s happening around him. I consider this an informal, physical, synchronous, group learning environment (again, assuming that a family is a group within a larger community, since this is a shared trampoline amongst the folks who visit my mom).
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Types of Learning Environments

I apologize for the delay in posting this. It’s been that kind of week (too much going on and not enough time to get it all done).

Here’s my shot at identifying different learning environments. We’ll see how this goes.

 

Community Learning Environment: This is a screenshot of my Twitter feed.  I think when used to interact with people, Twitter is an example of a community learning environment, though it is a curated presentation of information based on who the user has chosen to follow (with some sponsored content as well). The opportunity for individuals and groups to use Twitter to chat and share information, and to archive information through the use of hashtags, is what struck me.

twitter screengrab.jpg

 

Group Learning Environment: Below are a couple of pictures of a classroom at SWOSU in which I occasionally teach. That seems like a quintessential type of group learning environment in my mind, in that it is designed to create a group via class discussion, but the table and chairs are moveable, thus allowing for smaller group discussions within the larger group setting.

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Personal Learning Environment: Below is a picture of my SWOSU office, where a lot of learning (still) happens for me, and in this space, I often move things around on my desk, the shelves, etc. as I need to in order to facilitate my own learning and the learning of my students. It is both personalized to make me comfortable and personal since I am the sole occupant.

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Organizational Learning Environment: I had to think about this one, but I think a university library would be an example of an organizational learning environment for a university. I think this type was a bit harder for me to grasp until I thought of the library, since it is a kind of learning hub where groups (whether those groups are classes, study groups, or even clubs) and individuals can study and learn. Here’s an image of SWOSU’s library (taken from Google).

swosu-library-inside-spots

 

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I’m back…sorta

While my main site goes through some updates, I’ll be using this blog again as part of an online certification I’m going through to become a Certified Learning Environment Architect (CLEA). Find out more about what I’m talking about here.

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Transitions

Remember how I mentioned creating a new website over the summer thanks to a student who is interested in responsive web design? Well, it’s still in development, but http://deniselg.com/ is starting to shape up nicely.

Once we’ve put together everything as we want it, I’ll be moving my blogging over to the site. In other words, I’ll be retiring this version of “essaying the plains” here on WordPress, so be sure to follow my posts over there.  I’m still deciding whether or not to migrate all of my old posts over to the new site. In the meantime, they will be archived here.

I’m feeling kind of nostalgic about this blog at the moment, since it got me through my dissertation, wedding, and the first few years of life on the tenure track. That being said, I’m supper excited about my new website, as it will be where I handle my teaching sites as well as research/personal blogging. Here’s to progress!

Posted in How it’s going, Me, Monthly progress review

Spring semester notes

It’s been a crazy busy semester this spring, and I’m in the middle of final grading right now…which explains why I’m posting, right?

Some spring semester notes (teaching related primarily, but also a bit of a hodge-podge):

  • Never, ever, ever will I ever agree to multiple independent studies in the same semester; I ended up teaching the equivalent of 7 courses this semester (4 regular and 3 independent studies).
  • Responsive web design is cool. So cool that one of my comp 2 students will be designing a super-fancy website for me that will house all of my class blogs as well as this blog (I hope) and follow RWD principles. Check out a short video about responsive web design (created by the same student) below:
  • I’m getting better at balancing the scholarship-teaching-service thing, but I’ve still got a ways to go.
  • Peer tutoring notes: keep the projects, revise the form that students use to keep track of hours, make the D2L forums more interactive, make the “in the center” project due about 2/3 of the way through the semester (instead of at the end with the tutoring reflection): then, it would be case study 1/3 in, in the center 2/3 in, tutoring reflection during finals.
  • Comp II: revise the sequences yet again to give students more time in the persuasive text sequence. Here’s my idea now: 1. interview write-up; 2. annotated bib (& extended memo/position paper?); 3. persuasive text (longer sequence that includes some genre analysis discussion, among other things); 4. research binder with intro memo & completed rubric (the one we have to use for the course assessment, filled out by student). My thinking now is to have students fill out rubric for themselves at the beginning of the semester and again at the end of the semester, then put it in their binders to give to me. Hmmm…..there’s promise here, I think.
  • I’m not really a fan of summer teaching, but if I have to do it, it’ll be online (unless things go horribly wrong this summer).
  • Thinking ahead to fall, and fundamentals of English: require out-of-class feedback sessions (with me or writing center?); change up the letter portfolio assignment a bit (letters to 3 different audiences, including working on a cover letter for a job?). Make everything worth points, especially attendance, and make sure they know where they’re at as early in the semester as possible.
  • WHEN WILL I EVER FINISH THE BOOK MANUSCRIPT, fortheloveofallthatisgoodandpureinthisworld? Ack.
Posted in How it’s going, Inspiration, Me, Random, Students, teaching, Venting

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