Monthly Archives: February 2014

One paragraph project descriptions

In an effort to scaffold your approach to the project short descriptions, we want you to write one blog post that contains at least three one paragraph abstracts for potential projects. These revised projects should reflect the Getting Real reading and the conversations with the post I.S. students. We challenge you to do less.

Please post these to the Assignments category prior to next weeks class.

Wikipedia Article – Group Assignment

The early mid-term assignment will be to collaboratively write articles for Wikipedia for texts you read last semester, being careful to cite each sentence of summary to the page in the original text. You should make use of the blog posts and discussions from last semester. You can see a list of the potential articles on the Wikipedia course page:,_CUNY_Graduate_Center/ITP_Core_2_(Spring_2014)#Week_4:_2014_Feb._26_-_Wikipedia_Workshop_3_.26_Wikipedia_assignment_1_DUE

You will work collaboratively in three teams. We will sort out these groups in class. You will be encouraged to keep their conversation on Wikipedia talk pages and not in meatspace. The fact that you will be working off of a blog post that you did not author yourself, adds an additional dimension to the collaborative authorship.

The blog posts are summaries of the readings along with interpretations and discussion questions. You will have to separate out the opinion from the summary. (e.g. maintain NPOV and No Original Research).

These are the pages that we’re created two years ago:

Use book articles like these as models for your work:

Check in points:

  • March 5th: Write work plan on the article talk page; if no page currently exists, write it on the sandbox of one team member.
  • March 12th: Begin initial contributions on sandbox. Contributions should be cited.
  • March 19th: Article finished as a draft, and moved into article space. Peer review takes place. Final citations put in place.
  • March 26th: Article Due
  • April 2: Article Due

one last thing

this semester I started using Blogs @ Baruch for my class.

Each student needs to write one post regarding the reading and must write two comments.

THey also write by hand in a notebook which I call the Reading Journal. It is very itneresting that although they could be writing the same things in both medias, they don’t. The written by hand pages don’t ‘dare’ to do out of the box… they write very squarish things.

On the other hand in the blog posts the students ‘dare’ to say they dislike the reading, or how they find it. I have also seen that they respond to each other, they help each other out like when we were reading poetry and one student complained how hard it was and how she didn’t understand anything, another student commented on how she could approach it in another way, what she could do to find it easier…

ok, that’s it. too much commenting.


Additional Mapping, Augmented Reality, and Open Educational Resources

Hi everyone, a number of links to resources that might be useful for you have recently come my way:


Other Resources

Finally, here’s the link to more info on the open educational resources program being held at the GC on Friday 3/7 at 10am that I mentioned in our last class. RSVP by 2/27.

Wikipedia community discussion about paid editing

The Wikipedia community is having a fairly intense conversation about how to deal with the problem of paid editing. This comes on the heels of the contentious departure of Sara Stierch, a notable community organizer, who stands accused of paid editing. You can see some of the conflict on her talk page, though much has been removed, as it was trollish.

The legal department has proposed an amendment here: The conversation is happening on the that page’s talk page. The discussion has been going for less than 48 hours, and there are 150 separate discussion threads.

Taking online classes: sweet dream or terrible nightmare?

Has anyone ever taken an online class? I did. And my teacher was definitely not Bill Pelz. The class was on using Geometry Sketchpad Software to teach Trigonometry and Calculus courses. Some of the rules introduced by Pelz applied to that course – we (the students) did most of the work and we had to find and discuss web resources.  I however, felt like I could have completed the course by reading a book and following the steps of using the software myself. Every week we had to complete a project using sketchpad software, and write a reflection on how we could use the activity in our class (teaching high-school or college) and what were the advantages of using that particular activity – focusing on pedagogy rather than content. The class discussion felt forced, and the comments seemed like they were taken straight from a math textbook – teacher edition. After two weeks, when people noticed that the professor’s only involvement in the class discussion was writing a one- or two-word comment, like “great”, “good” or “interesting idea”, the discussion got even more artificial and useless. Spending a lot of time completing the software assignments, no one felt like discussing the supposed future advantages of using them. Reading Pelz I was wondering what could have been done differently that would improve that course. At the end of the day, the goal of the course was to learn how to use the Software – so maybe we could have had discussions based on our difficulties with working with the Sketchpad, or even discussing any other possibilities of using it, and trying it for something else. The course was offered at Berkley and if it wasn’t online I could not have done it for obvious reasons.  I received credits for taking it that I could add to my professional development requirements. Other than that I considered this course a waste of time, but I get that the course was bad was not because it was on online course, but because the instructor did not use effective online pedagogy.

On a different note, I loved Pelz’s principles (I use some of them in my F2F classes). But the one I would like to try (maybe next semester, or maybe we should try something similar in our ITP2 class?) would be the idea on collaborating the research paper. Using each other for resources, ideas and constructive criticism is what learning should be all about.

Talking about differences and advantages over one style of learning (or teaching) over the other (F2F vs DL) we all are aware of the obvious ones: saving time on a commute vs contact with real people, etc. What I found interesting was what Ugoretz said about asynchronous discussion. Being able to pause the conversation to go and look for other resources, formulate better arguments and to create new ideas without worrying about running out of class time is definitely one of the biggest advantages of online learning.

Effective teaching and learning online: Is it all about time?

What are the advantages that online teaching and learning have over traditional face-to-face educational experiences?

Think of five answers. How many of these have to do with time?

Most of the specific advantages I can think of (out of the blue or taken from this week’s readings) can be reduced to one common denominator: The online environment alters the temporal aspect learning in a way that’s beneficial to the learner. In my opinion, the traditional classroom environment can make learning an isolated act—you spend two hours one or two days per week learning something in class and then you mostly forget about it for the next six days. By removing the physical constraints of classroom learning, the online environment allows learning to take place continuously.

In Joseph Ugoretz’s article “Two Roads Diverged in a Wood”: Productive Digression in Asynchronous Discussion he analyzes the value of digression in learning and discusses how online learning can allow for students to gain the benefits of digression via asynchronous discussion. In this case, the online environment not only provides the necessary time for the discussion to take place (something a limited class period can’t afford) but the prolonged nature of asynchronous discussion gives students time to digest what’s been presented, reflect on it, perhaps check some sources, and then offer a thoughtful contribution.

In Bill Pelz’s article (My) Three Principles of Effective Online Pedagogy he offers insight into effective online pedagogy from his own teaching experiences. The three principles that he offers are essentially (1) stay out of the spotlight and let students do the work of learning, (2) encourage interaction among learners, and (3) maintain a presence in the online learning environment. I think the first two are sound principles in any environment, but in practice may be difficult to implement in limited face-to-face interactions. An online environment, however, increases opportunities to put these principles into practice by allowing the possibility of extended student-student and student-instructor interactions. While this article is more advice for educators (rather than an analysis of online learning), the principles it promotes are taking advantage of the continuous learning experience made possible in an online environment (rather than taking advantage of some other unique dimension of online learning).

For me, time is a central theme in both of these articles. I know that the advantages of online learning are not all about time (I appreciate the point brought up by Joe in the cac.o.phony discussion on the CUNY IT Conference that “…the fa [fully-asynchronous] environment gives students a chance to construct an identity based on their knowledge and thinking–and their communication of ideas–without any barriers or prejudices which might arise (and often do) in the face-to-face classroom.”), so what is it that makes online teaching and learning special? Should online teaching and learning be promoted as just a convenient alternative to traditional face-to-face environments? Or, is there a more fundamental difference with online learning that should be recognized and form the basis for developing effective online learning and teaching practices? With online teaching and learning, are we just gaining time? Or, are we gaining something else that just doesn’t exist in the traditional classroom?

Whose job is it to address the undergraduate tech skills divide?

I confess that I am guilty of thinking of the majority of my students as “digital natives.” While I try to be mindful of issue of access because I am teaching in a public school system, thinking of my students as from post-computer (and these days, really, post-internet) generations, often causes me to make assumptions about how skilled they should be with the basic tech we use in the academic environment, which to me includes email, Word, Power Point, and–if they are not first semester freshmen—Blackboard. But as both the pieces by Maura and Mariana Regalado and Lee Skallerup Bessette note, even when students are surrounded by tech they don’t always know how best to use it.

Leaving aside the first digital divide—the problem of access, a socio-economic issue that feels outside the scope of this class—what do we think our responsibilities are in relation to the second digital divide, skilled versus unskilled tech users in our classrooms? If your course is not geared toward learning a particular technology or software (and is not a hybrid or online course), is it up to you to provide computer help? If for example, you ask for a PowerPoint presentation do you need to provide a lesson on basic PowerPoint skills? What about a Blackboard, which they may not have encountered outside of school?

The Smale/Regalado presentation asserts that a student’s experience with technology in school affects their academic and professional lives so addressing inequities is “especially pressing for traditionally underserved students, who will potentially graduate with less experience than their more privileged peers (who both began college with more tech experience and had more tech access in college).” So, who do we think should be addressing them, and how?

Midterm Assignment: Short Proposals

As we have discussed, your midterm assignment is to create at least two different project proposals that each have at least two scope variations: one full and a reduced version.

Each of the (at least) two proposals should follow this structure:

  1. An introductory descriptive paragraph, which should include a problem statement, and say *what* your tool/thing will do. This is your abstract, or elevator pitch. This should not have the full theoretical framing of the project. That will come in the final.
  2. A set of personas
  3. A use case scenario (where would someone find your tool/thing and how would they use it). Keep it short.
  4. How you will make the full fledged version. This is your “ideal world” version that fulfills all of your visions and fantasies (what tools you will use, how you will get them, how confident you are that all the moving parts will work together, etc)
  5. Your assessment of how much time this will take, and how much of the skills you currently know and what you would have to learn.
  6. How you will make the stripped down version. The stripped down version is the minimally viable product. It is the most *bare bones* version to prove that what you are trying to get at is viable. (what tools you will use, how you will get them, how confident you are that all the moving parts will work together, etc)
  7. Your assessment of how much time this will take, and how much of the skills you currently know and what you would have to learn.

You are welcome (but not required) to repeat the last two steps with scope variations in-between the full fledged and bare bones version.

We would expect two proposals with two scope variations would be effectively in 4 to 7 page range (though you will be turning in online). We’re less concerned with page count, and more concerned with your process (as with all assignments in this class).

You will hopefully notice that you have done a lot of this work already. We’ve structured it this way. Your job here is to combine and revise the work you have already done, fill the holes, and assess each project’s feasibility

The proposals will be submitted as blog posts prior to class on March 19th.

Class that week will be dedicated to workshopping the proposals. The format we will follow will be that each participant will choose one of their two proposals to present orally. You will have 5 minutes to present, and we will have 5 minutes for feedback. Think of this as a pitch. You will want to lay out the project abstract, present very short versions of your personas, give one use case scenario, and then talk about how you would build it, and how long you think it would take.