Author Archives: Tulsi

Public displays of assessment: The pros and cons posting work online

When it comes to posting class work publicly, there are a lot of aspects to public displays of assessment that affect the interaction among students. As a student, there is often, a lot of hesitation and nervousness about posting or discussing their work publicly. Students may feel self-conscious about speaking up in a face-to-face classroom setting. Often, I, as a student, will worry that what I say will sound stupid and meaningless and that my peers would judge what I have to say. I am more comfortable talking to the professor after class and explaining my ideas to them directly, than I am saying them in public to a room full of people.

However, the virtual world is a totally different situation. In the online classroom, there is a level of disconnect from the peers and professor since there is no face-to-face interaction. As a result, students may be bolder in stating their opinions. Stating one’s opinion anonymously is always more comforting than making it publicly known. While filling out an end of course survey, a student may not want to provide their name if they are giving their professor a bad rank. Online haters often do not realize that their comments reach real people. The level of disconnect makes them able to put their opinion out there, with the comfort of knowing that they are anonymous.

However, while stating opinions seems like it is easier to do on the internet, publishing work on the internet that includes answers to questions and research is a bit more difficult. When there is an open display of the other student’s work, there is always apprehension about the other students. What if they wrote a better, more in-depth analysis than I did? What if we ended up doing the exact same work? Theirs looks way longer than I had intended to write. Do I need to write more?

While I think that publicly posting work does push students to work a little harder on their work, due to the added pressure of more eyes seeing the work, but it does also cause a little more stress each week about whether or not they are meeting the standards of the rest of the class.

Positive classroom interaction and peer assessment based off of the publicly submitted work does help assuaging the fears of some students when they realize other students are also just learning. Often, peer assessment can be good even when there are dissenting opinions, if students approach the issues with the mature outlook of creating better understanding of a subject rather than fighting over the issue.

I think the pros out weight the cons in the question of publicly submitting and displaying work done for a class, as collaboration and interaction is a way that students are able to access opinions and assessments other than their own, thus broadening their learning experience.

 

Work Referenced:

Gumport P., Chun M., Technology and Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges in the New Era, National Center for Postsecondary Improvement, 2000

Unit 5, Week 2: Unit Plan

Unit 5, Week 2

Unit Plan:

The name of the course I am creating a lesson plan for is “Journalism Basics: A comprehensive course on the applications of journalism’.

 

The learning objectives that I have come up with for this course are:

  1. Understand the different basic principles of Journalism and analyze real-world situation according to these principles
  2. Apply the basic principles of journalism in real-world scenarios
  3. Construct effective narratives following the basic principles of journalism

 

For the purpose of this unit plan, I have selected two topics out of the entire course:

 

Topic 1: 5W’s and 1H: The “5W’s and 1H’ is the very basic principle of journalism. According to this principle, a news report is only complete when every question that can possibly be asked about the story, i.e. who, what, where, when, why, and how, are all answered. A good news report covers all these 5 questions in its lead paragraph.

Activities:

  • The lesson will begin with an initial lecture about the concept.
  • This will be followed by case studies of different news stories and class discussion on whether they are effective news stories with adequate information.
  • Activity: Create a mock situation/ take a real event. Require that all students must  report on this mock situation or event. In order to make it interesting, stage a situation like an accident/ shooting scare/ press conference. Have some students be actors playing the parts in the mock situation and have the rest of the students report on it or discuss what different details need to be added to make a complete story.
  • Homework assignment: Find a newsworthy story and report on it. All questions must be answered. minimum of 3 sources.

 

Topic 2: New Media: New Media consists of all news disseminated digitally using the internet. This includes news on websites, through YouTube videos and Twitter and Facebook. Journalism has changed rapidly with the development of technology and this has in turn changed many of the principles of journalism that were once held in high regard. New media has caused journalism to become extremely fast-paced with more emphasis put on “getting the news out first’ rather than “getting the news out right’. Discuss the importance of hashtags.

 

Activities:

  • The lesson will begin with an initial lecture about new media and its changing structure
  • This will be followed by case studies of different news stories and how they are covered differently in print and in new media. Also case studies about famous news stories that broke online (ex: Live tweeting of Osama Bin Laden Assassination and the Fox news fiasco)
  • Activity: Have a mock event/ press conference/ situation and have the students live tweet the event while also working against a deadline to package a story for web
  • Activity: Have students create a 1 minute video of an event and package it for web.
  • Homework: Find a newsworthy story and create a complete multi-media package for it with a written report and photos for print and for the website, 3 live tweets for it with hashtags, and a 1 minute video. This whole multi-media package must tell the whole story without becoming redundant.

 

Proposed assessment:

  • Class participation during in-class activities
  • Peer-assessment of each other’s work
  • Homework assessment based off of understanding and application of journalism concept
  • Final Assessment: Create a complete news package (for print, TV and internet). Assessment based off of understanding and application of journalism concepts.

 

Unit 5, Week 1: Personal Reflections

As I develop this unit plan, I find myself going back to all the journalism classes I have taken, as well as the actual work I have done in Journalism. It is a tough, constantly changing field. There is nothing constant in the field and just the same, there are very few rules but the ones that do exist, are also changing with the advent of technology.

I was developing this lesson plan so that we could develop an effective training program for the staff at our news organization. This training program needs to be created with the assumption that the staff do not know anything about journalism and are starting from scratch because, so often, they are indeed starting from scratch.

Coming up topics that the staff need to learn about was not too difficult because having worked with them as they enter the organization, I was able to already gauge what topics need to get covered with each and every new staffer, whether they have some knowledge of journalism or not.

However, in conjunction to those topics, coming up with engaging activities was really a problem. I wasn’t sure what kind of activities would effectively help them learn the topics at hand, while keeping the staff engaged and interested.

My partners Alda and Kelly, in the group assignment helped me realize how my learning objectives in the concept map didn’t exactly match my learning activities. This was a big help and I was able to fine tune my activities to align more with the objectives of the course.

Article Review 1: Collaboration in a virtual classroom

The 21st Century skills[i] framework that had been developed by the ‘Partnership for 21st Century Skills’ include collaboration as an important part aspect of the skills required for the 21st century that all students must develop to flourish. According to this framework, to be able to collaborate effectively, one must:

  • Demonstrates the ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
  • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
  • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member

Collaboration allows for students to have access to different viewpoints on various topics that they wouldn’t normally have access to in a traditional classroom setting where the teacher stands at the front of the class and teaches out of a textbook. Collaboration, thus contributes to a higher order of learning with a more in-depth view of the subject.

The very nature of knowledge itself is impacted by technology. It shapes what counts as knowledge, how knowledge is produced, how people are involved in the production of knowledge, and how knowledge is valued [ii](Gumport and Chun, 2000). Students, who generally wouldn’t participate in a face-to-face class, now come forward with their opinions through the anonymity that is provided as a result of technology.

As a result, technology has the potential to bring out even better collaboration and thus, a better in-depth understanding of a subject in and of itself. However, effective collaboration through technology is difficult to create due to the disconnect felt between participants that never actually see each other face to face. While designing an online course, or creating a virtual classroom, it becomes especially important to develop a sense of community among the participants by introducing constant collaboration.

The instructor needs constantly try and bring in the ‘human’ element to the virtual classroom through constant collaboration with peers, to make the class an effective learning environment. Collaboration intrinsically requires a mediating tool to foster practices of meaning-making through joint activity and technology is a medium that supports collaborative work.

For the purpose of this assignment, I reviewed the article “Collaborative Learning Using Integrated Groupware: A Case Study in Higher Education[iii]‘. This study was undertaken by four researchers whose intent of research was to conduct collaborative learning using information, communication and technology, for its college students, and evaluate its usage in learning. They designed a platform to cater to individual profiling, classroom interaction and group activities. The groupware they used were Microsoft Sharepoint platform, cloud computing abilities and editing of work real-time, online.

The students participated in various group activities, with simultaneous work and editing of projects. They were able to see other students’ work and comments and the instructor was able to monitor this in real time as well. This seemed to promote students’ interactivity in the class as they were able to make changes and edits even after interactions were made.

Through the study, the researchers concluded that with the use of a carefully planned and designed groupware, a common college seminar can be transformed into a highly interactive and collaborative environment.

My personal take-away:

It is difficult to create engagement of participants in a virtual classroom, due to the presence of so much distance between each other, both physical and virtual. The instructor has to work hard to create that sense of community among the students.

Technology often creates an arms-distance between people. This can be seen in nasty online commenting made by people. These people are not necessarily bad people, but they get a certain kind of anonymity on the internet. Also, a kind of arms-distance is created and people don’t realize their nasty comments are actually reaching other real live people. While this does promote interactions from students who wouldn’t normally speak in class, this does not necessarily promote healthy and productive interactions.

This can be tough to combat, but it is the instructor’s job to create that sense of community through collaboration, so that effective learning takes place in the class. With more positive interaction between classmates, there is more of a feeling of ‘knowing’ each other and as a result, students will be more inclined to learning in the class.

One thing that I feel is very important is virtual meetings. In a class with little or no definitive meetings (even virtually), it is extremely difficult to engage the student and create any kind of collaboration.

[i] Framework for 21st Century Learning, Partnership for 21Century Skills, Washington DC, 2011

 

[ii] Gumport P., Chun M., Technology and Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges in the New Era, National Center for Postsecondary Improvement, 2000

[iii] Iinuma M., Matsuhashi T., Nakamura T., Chiyokura H., Collaborative Learning Using Integrated Groupware: A Case Study in a Higher Education Setting, International Journal of Information and Education Technology, Vol. 4, No. 4, 2014

Unit 4, Week 3: Personal Reflections

I am almost near the end of my Masters program and after the end of this semester, I will have only 3 credits left towards my final project, after which I will receive my degree. During the course of this masters program, the only class I had that was a face to face class, was a public policy class called Organizational Theory and Behavior, which my advisor at the time had thought would be useful to me.

Taking online classes had been a new experience and the very first online class I took was with a professor who was very obviously a professor who preferred taking face-to-face classes. I learnt from this class that without the physical classroom, the teaching tools used in a physical classroom proved quite ineffective in a purely online setting. The professor would have slides prepared and would drone on for 2 hours about the topic, leaving no time for discussion or deliberation. Then he would assign a chapter for analysis and a paper to be written on the subject matter. It was taught like it was in a traditional setting classroom.

On the flipside however, last semester, I took two classes on research fundamentals. One was called ‘Developing and Writing Literature Reviews’ and the other one was called ‘Fundamentals of Research’ and they were both taught by the same professor. What’s more, they were back to back 2 hour classes (4 hours in the same spot with the same professor). I had resigned myself to a semester of boring and heavy topics and droning lectures about research. For the first class, I made myself a giant cup of coffee before sitting down and I was sure I was going to need a lot more before the second class of the evening.

However, I was very wrong. This professor succeeded in taking the two most boring courses from my Masters program, and turning them into an absolute delight to study. He was a young professor and was not unaware of how often his subject of choice was turned boring by the professor. He also had studied how to best conduct courses that were purely online. He understood the need to create a sense of community among the learners and in his blackboard sessions, he would always insist (whenever possible) that everyone speak to each other using not just the mic, but also the video. He would allocate the first 15 minutes of every class for everyone to fill each other in on their weeks and just in general, mingle. And that was just what we needed. We began developing friendships in the class and hesitated less before speaking up. The sense of community that was created was so strong that we were able share a good deal about our personal lives with each other (one woman had a baby and brought her newborn on camera for us to see; another woman shared with us her grief when her assistant committed suicide). Not only was that sense of community a hugely important aspect of the class, but it also brought out a greater sense of learning and understanding among the students. We guided each other and facilitated conversations that were reminiscent of face-to-face group discussions in class. Mike Meuller is a great professor who really knew how to teach online classes.

Personally, from taking so many online classes, I have learnt of some patterns in my own learning. I learnt that without the pressure of a regular timed class each week, I easily procrastinate the work I need to do. For me, nothing motivates more than the pressure of a deadline (occupational hazard as a journalist). However, I also learnt that I truly enjoy the flexibility of having online classes because I am able to juggle different things at once and can then study according to my flexibility.

In the past, I have attempted to take a course or two on sites like Skillshare or Coursera or iUniversity. However, I learnt early on that there needs to be a motivating factor for one to learn, or it takes a lifetime before they do. I would often sign up for a course, but when other aspects of my life would take precedence, I would drop out thinking, “well, I’m not losing anything in the process’. I would always promise myself I would go back and make time to take course. However, it never did happen. Taking online courses as a degree-seeking student is way different from that because there is a lot to lose if you just drop out. You lose out on tuition and GPA in the process. As a result, I have found that online classes can be effective, if there is a driving motivator behind taking the class. This is probably true of any kind of learning/education.

Unit 4, Week 2: Journalism Lesson Plan

 

 

In creating a lesson plan and determining the learning objectives for my lesson plan, I became increasingly aware how important the taxonomies were. The break-up of the different aspects of student learning and student understanding were a great help for me in understanding what I wanted to achieve from my lesson plan and what the students should take away from the class.

With learning broken down into knowledge, comprehension, application, etc. determining the objectives for a lesson became a lot easier for me and I would imagine it would be easier for first time teachers as well. I was able to determine through Bloom’s Taxonomy and Fink’s Taxonomy just what kind of learning I wanted to achieve. My lesson plan is for an intro to journalism class for students who have never taken a class on journalism before. However, while I do want to cover the basic theories, I realized while going through the taxonomies, that my true student learning goal is for the students to be able to apply those principles in real-world situations. I was thus able to refine the objectives of my lesson plan as well as the title of the course and what kind of activities and lectures I was planning for.

Lesson Plan Title: Journalism Basics: A comprehensive course on the applications of journalism

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the different basic principles of Journalism and analyze real-world situations according to these principles
  2. Apply the basic principles of journalism in real-world scenarios
  3. Construct effective narratives following the basic principles of journalism

Concept Map:

Journalism-Lesson-Plan_3puj53g3

Unit 4, Week 1: Situational Factors (Journalism Lesson Plan)

The topic I want to develop a lesson plan for is an “Intro to Journalism’ class which would be the very basics of journalism for the students who want to take a journalism class in high school or are coming into college fresh out of high school. Some of the situational factors I would have to take into consideration for this lesson plan would be age and situation of the target demographic, topics being covered in the lesson plan, intensity of the coursework, etc.

Learning situation: This class would contain about 20 students and would be lower division class in a Bachelors degree program. The class would be a 3 credit class with coursework that is a little more intensive than the regular lower division classes so as to ensure that students get a realistic and complete picture of journalism before the end of the semester. The class would have a face to face meeting for 2 hours each week in which there would be a mix of lectures, guest speakers, group discussions and classroom activities. In addition to this, the class would be assigned weekly homework that would be turned in the day before class, which would give the professor time to go over the submitted work and provide feedback in class the next day.

Expectations of the External Groups: From this course, it would be expected that students gain a comprehensive knowledge of the basics of journalism. This would be a stepping stone for them if they wanted to take more upper division journalism classes in the future. This course would be the gateway to a possible degree in Journalism and would be the very first course any student would have to take in order to move on towards Journalism major. As a result of this, the Journalism department would expect that students coming out of this course understand the general core principles of journalism that they would later learn the nuances of, in further classes. The expectation is that this class is an interesting and engaging one for students, so as to peak their interest in the field of Journalism and to gain more students as Journalism Majors in the department.

Nature of the Subject: Journalism is a highly fluid field. There is never one right answer as to how reporting must be done. However, there are core rules that are generally supposed to be followed even in a fluid field like journalism. The students would be working towards understanding that these core principles are unshakable and around that is built the constantly changing field of journalism. A lot of critical thinking and student interactivity would be involved in this class as students are tested as real journalists as part of assignments for class. Students would have to find new and innovative ways of covering the same story so as to make it as interesting and factual as possible.

Characteristics of Learners: The students taking this class would be presumably in their late teens and very early twenties. These students would be taking other classes as well and this would be a group of people who know nothing about journalism and many will probably not want to continue with more journalism classes after this introductory course. Students taking this class would probably initially take the class because they enjoy writing and that would be their primary reason for taking a journalism class. However, many over the course of this class would learn to enjoy other aspects of journalism like photography or video editing. The group of students taking this class would be very diverse in their academic and personal interests.

Characteristics of the Teacher: The teacher would be a seasoned journalist. They would be someone who has worked for years in the field as a reporter or editor and know tricks of the trade and real world applications to the theories and principles of journalism. This teacher would have real-world insight to give to the students as most of the assignments and many classroom activities would be created to be as realistic as possible. The teacher would have a great deal of knowledge about his own field of journalism and working knowledge of teaching and how to teach.

Special Pedagogical Challenge: I think the special pedagogical challenge would be for the teacher to break the pre-existing ideas that students come in with when they come to take a class on journalism. One such pre-existing idea would be that if they enjoy writing, they will enjoy journalism. Most students, who like writing, do not end up enjoying journalism because there is no scope for creativity or diversity in journalistic writing which always has to be factual, while using as few adjectives as possible. Another idea that would have to be changed is that journalism is only about writing. There are so many different aspects of journalism that do not get as much of a spotlight and as a result, a large group of people who would not take the class because they think they are not good writers and so they are not cut out for journalism.

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating Significant Learning Experiences An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Weekly Writing 1: “Deliberate” experiential learning

Writing Prompt:  In the Benander article, the author contends that “experts negotiate the learning space differently from novices.’ Reflect on your own experiences with that. Compose a reflective essay to describe the differences you’ve observed between novices and experts in your field.

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While I was in high school, I was privileged to hear a speech by the then CEO of the largest bank in India (ICICI Bank). He was being given an award for his outstanding achievements in the field of banking and in his acceptance speech, he highlighted the fact that he was a “deliberate life-long learner’.

Back in high school, his choice of wording didn’t seem very telling to me. But as I moved through more years of formal and informal education and actually began understanding the learning process, it became evident to me that one is always learning through every experience in life. The human mind continually accepts new information and stores it away and learning is a life-long process.

But the word that really stands out from that speech is ‘deliberate’. Being a deliberate life-long learner implies that one is making a conscious effort to teach themselves or to make the effort to learn or re-learn something. By consciously making an effort to learn something new or to re-visit the novice learning process, as was discussed by the Benander (2009) article, one is then able to analyze and understand the process in ways that would otherwise go unnoticed.

I have had formal schooling in two different fields. I have a bachelors degree in journalism and I am now working on my masters degree in education. Professionally, I am the managing editor of the student newspaper at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. I find that when I revisit tenets and basics of journalism with my staff as I try to guide them (many of them being freshman in the journalism department) I am able to consider my own experiences as a novice in the field, not too long ago, and I try to empathize with them more. However, when I myself attend journalism conference by journalists of greater caliber and years more worth of experience, I am floored with how much I want to absorb from them in order to bring back to my own staff.

The author of the article, Benander (2009), highlights that revisiting the novice experience in a different field will give the expert   a renewed sense of understanding for the novice experience. I would have to agree with the premise and conclusions of this article (Benander, 2009) due to the two extremely different perspectives of an expert and a novice. However, I believe that if an expert, revisiting the novice experience in a different field, wishes to achieve a greater understanding of their learning process, they must be “deliberate’ in their efforts and must analyze the process during and after the fact. This I believe is the key to an expert making the most use of experiential learning.

 

References

Benander, R. (2009). Experiential learning in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9(2), 36—41

Orientation Post: Tulsi Patil

Hi Everyone!

My name is Tulsi Patil. I am a Masters student pursuing my Masters in Education, Teaching and Learning from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. I am fixing to graduate in the Spring and my professional interest is in technology in education so this class seems to be perfect for me. I had the pleasure of watching Dr. Guthrie speak at the “Serious Fun’ educational gaming conference that took place at UAA last Spring, and since then, have wanted to take one of his classes.

Other than my educational interests, I am the Managing Editor for The Northern Light Newspaper, which is the newspaper of UAA. I have a Bachelors degree in Journalism that I completed in India.

To connect with me outside of class:

email: tspatil@alaska.edu/ tulsi.s.patil@gmail.com
twitter: @TulsiPatil
instagram: tspatil
facebook: Tulsi Patil
Diigo: TulsiPatil

My goals for this class include learning a great deal more about learning online and getting a greater understanding of how education is going to have transformed in the near future due to the higher and deeper penetration of technology.

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I have added a picture of myself here to make myself seem less like a distant computer somewhere and more of a human being to the rest of you! I look forward to collaborating with all of you here in this class. This is me and my husband on a trail at Chugach national park.