Alec and Katia’s Method to Madness?

In class last week we discussed the fact that numerous research studies, and the Bates text itself, identify that there is no difference in student success when face to face instruction is compared to that of an online approach.  This being said, most of us enrolled in ECI834 deliver our daily lessons in a face to face manner. One can assume that each of us facilitates success strategies in our classrooms to assist learners to learn in unique and meaningful ways. Throughout our education we have honed our skills in assessment of student needs and understand that individuals learn differently. As a result of our experiences and formal education, each of us is armed with numerous strategies to assist learners be successful in the classroom.

Our final assignment of this class is to develop either and online or blended course. Over the course of the last few weeks we have discussed learning management systems and numerous programs and applications that aim to assist in the delivery of information and the transfer and facilitation of knowledge. But as teachers do we understand strategies that can assist online learns to be successful? This week I read a short article that examined strategies that facilitators of online courses can utilize to assist learners achieve success in online courses.

An article published by John Hopkins University explains that there are numerous strategies that can be promoted by teachers and utilized by learners to aid in the success of online classes. In fact, Dr. Jennifer Bachner, has narrowed the numerous strategies into a top five.

Bachner recommends online students devote consistent blocs of time to their course. Although online classes offer students flexibility, student success is evident when consistent blocks of time during the week are devoted to their online course work. Success is most evident when online students set aside consistent time periods that allocated specifically to “school work”.


“Homework Time”

The second success strategy that online instructors can encourage their students to partake in, is regular communication with their instructor. Students should be encouraged to ask questions when course content is unclear or expectations regarding assignments are vague. Instructors and students should be open to establishing relationships despite the fact that face to face instruction does not occur.



Like Alec and Katia promote, Bachner goes on to state that online courses should encourage classmates to interact with each other outside of the mandatory discussion postings. Students should be encouraged to share their knowledge, insights and experiences through such means as relevant news stories or publications that relate to course content. I feel we in ECI834 do this through our #ECI834 hashtag, our individual comments to our peer’s blog posts and through the google plus page. This sharing promotes a feeling of collaboration and collegiality, things that often happen in successful face to face courses.

The fourth strategy discussed in the article encourages online students to understand and work within the confines of the online world. Working with new software and programs often takes time to learn to navigate and understand. I know last semester when I signed up for ECI833, it was the technology of the class itself that scared me away. I could not imagine myself creating a blog, signing up and managing Zoom US and tweeting every week. The content of the actual course didn’t scare me, it was connecting and interacting online. Bachner feels it’s important for students to understand that they will encounter certain hurdles and unfamiliar approaches to learning but those who reach out, ask for assistance and give themselves time to adjust, are often successful.

The fifth and final strategy that can promote the success of online students is to understand that not all online classes are the same. Understanding the instructor’s expectations and how the facilitator structures their class is important. Some online classes are heavily weighted on online discussion posts while others utilize group projects or papers. Student success increases when students ensure the expectations of the class align with their learning style and needs.

After reading Bachners article I have to say that I am hopeful that I may make it successfully through #ECI834. Not only due to my hard work and determination, but due to the strategies, expectations, and requirements that Alec and Katia have incorporated into this class. So thanks guys! It’s nice to know there is a “method to your madness” and you have done everything you can to promote success within all of us within #ECI834!!!!

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Thank you Mrs. Henryk

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And…. The Myth Has Been CONFIRMED

Remember last week when I talked about how I always had to be “that kid”. The kid who has to prove things to themselves in order to be convinced of things …. WHY! Why must I be that person!!  Why don’t I learn from my mistakes!!!  As you know, my group and I were convinced that we were going to be able to successfully take on and use Moodle. Well, we took it on but weren’t successful. We had our butts handed to us on a plate by King Moodle. We failed – miserably. So I’ve admitted it and I’ve moved on, hopefully, to a better place.


Anywhooooo…. moving onto today’s topic!

This week I looked at a few of the content creation tools listed in the course outline from our January 31st class. I took an interest in two specific tools in particular, Powtoon and Adobe Spark. I looked at these two tools for a specific reason- I was told they were good! See, I’m staring to learn and I’m trying not to be “that kid” anymore.

First I looked at Powtoon. Students of mine have used it in the past and it has  always impressed me- if my students can use it, I should be able to use it as well, right?? Powtoon is a free animation video presentation builder. Pre-built storyboard templates are provided  that you can use or you can start from scratch. I used one of the pre-built templates and easily edited the content to match the content I was presenting to my class. The tool allows you to choose the specific look you are looking for, build your story and then finish up by editing your content. I did find  building my story to be somewhat frustrating as the options of characters, for example, was limited. Furthermore, the editing was somewhat cumbersome at times but that might of just been due to my lack of “techieness”. Overall the tool is straightforward and easy to use and I will use it again. Most importantly, my students loved it and it increased engagement and excitement in the classroom.

I also looked at Adobe Spark this past week.  Last week when we were in our breakout rooms one of our classmates( I’m sorry, but I forget who this was) spoke passionately about Adobe Spark. Furthermore, Stephanie, who Melinda and I are working with for our course prototype, developed a short video for our course. She did such a great job and talked about how easy and straight forward the tool was.

Adobe Spark allows you to create animated videos. You can embed photos, videos and audio record your story. You simply import your photo or video and record a description of the content you want to convey. Each slide or photo is allotted a 10 second audio recording. Although this was ample time for my slides, this may be problematic for others with more detailed content to cover. The user picks a background theme and music that best  suits their presentation. Text and icons can also be added to presentations. The original presentation that is presented to the user includes 10 slides. It was easy to add additional slides and I could move things around by simply dragging and dropping individual slides to where I wanted them. Another nice feature of Adobe Spark is that it automatically saves your project. I was grateful for this feature as for some reason as I got close to finishing my video, my screen went blank (4 times!!!) and a warning came up stating that something had gone wrong and I had to reload the page. I have to admit, that initially I panicked as I thought I had lost my entire presentation. Luckily, like I said, there is a built in “save” feature built in and all my hard work had been saved. I will defiantly  add Adobe Spark onto my  list of  teaching tools and use it in the classroom. I wont say I’m a pro in using it as of yet but it is definitely fun, user friendly and  i believe it will increase student engagement in the classroom. If you feel like it, check out my first attempt with Adobe Spark!





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Myth Busters!!!

Have  you ever been told you shouldn’t or can’t do something? Have you ever had doubt cast upon you only to have  been motivated that much more by the lack of trust or hesitation of others? Call it my desire to always fight for the underdog, a motivation to find out things for myself, or plain stupidity, but this is what I do. I was the kid that had to stick my tongue to the metal play-structure in the playground to see if it would really stick. The kid that had to touch the stove to see if it really was hot, the kid that had to really see if the ice was to thin to skate on… yes, the person who was told moodle was a terrible, horrible and despicable LMS , but had to find out for herself.

http-%2f%2fmashable-com%2fwp-content%2fgallery%2fholiday-movie-trivia%2fchristmasstory1Call me a fool, as not only did Alec state numerous times in our last class that he didn’t care for the LMS Moodle,  our reading this week by Audrey Watters, goes on to reiterate his thoughts and the use of LMSs in general. Yes, I am that fool that disregards the warnings of the educated and  those who will be assigning a grade to my assignment, and takes on Moodle. Call me a crusader, or a super-hero for the overlooked and under-rated LMSs of the world, but I hope by the  end of my assignment, I know one-way or another if I can defend Moodle, or like the masses, dislike and disregard it as an option in the future.

Ok, if I am really going to be honest, there are a few other reasons  other than for the reason I discussed above that my group, which includes Melinda and Stephanie, have decided to use Moodle as our LMS for our Medical Terminology course. The nursing degree program , the program Melinda and Stephanie work for at Saskatchewan Polytechnic, works in collaboration with the University of Regina  and thus, is aligned with the LMS Moodle. I  myself, work in the practical nursing program, which is strictly a Sask Poly associated program and therefore I follow Sask Polys LMS of Brightspace. I am relatively  comfortable with Brightspace, and like Malinda and Stephanie mention in their blogs, are unfamiliar and poorly versed and practiced in Moodle, thus this assignment is a great opportunity for us all to become more familiar and comfortable with moodle.

Since our last class I have done some research and looked a little closer at Moodle leading me to discover a few interesting advantages to using Moodle as a LMS. Moodle is the LMS most often used around the world and because of this, students are often familiar and comfortable with this system. Furthermore, it is an open source and free to download and use- bonus! Lastly, Moodle is known to encompass up- to-date content, multimedia interactivity, collaborative learning tools, gamification, integrated badges, video conferencing, love or recorded webinars and face- to-face activities, all of which sound as though they would lend to a personal learning experience.


I am interested to hear from those of you who have used Moodle. Would  you use it again? What did you like about it? What did you not like about it?


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Medical What!!!

Well, I made it through my second class of #ECI834!! I’m excited to say that   I am one step further than I was at this time last semester. Unfortunately, last semester  I only made it through one class of ECI833- yes, I too was a parking lot dropout.

 This week I want to introduce you to the course Stephanie, Malinda and I have decided to tackle.  As nursing instructors we’ve all witnessed the difficulty students have with medical terminology.  Medical terminology itself, is introduced and discussed marginally as specific course content and is allotted minimal course time. As a rule, students are expected to learn much of this new and difficult language on their own. Students often comment that they wish there was a course they could undertake outside of the nursing program that not only introduced them to medical terminology but discussed and examined more of the intricacies of this language.

Because we are only just beginning to uncover the benefits and drawbacks of blended and online courses, I find it difficult  to clearly and definitively state what mode of delivery I would choose  for our proposed course at this time. This being said, I have  taught a blended (hybrid)course in the past and did enjoy numerous components including the personal relationships that were fostered during f2f sessions, the ability to clarify questions for students who had difficulty in communicating their misunderstandings and questions in the written word,  and the ability to pickup on student understanding and comprehension  through non-verbal cues that I may not have pickup on in a remote/online application.  Sometimes it is the non-verbals that one receives as an educator that provides more insight and feedback on a students understanding than by only viewing submitted and edited assignments. This all being said, my rudimentary thinking is, if our class is based around knowledge  and is an elective for students to complete if they so choose to assist them once they are in a formalized nursing class, our class would be based on an online model.

I want to thank everyone for all of their support and guidance thus far in the course! I enjoyed the atmosphere of the class this past week and everyone and their knowledge and humour. Last week Stephanie included a link about Vlog’ing in her post. I’m not sure if I am up for that challenge as of yet but I did put together a little video to demonstrate nursing students and their difficulty with medical terminology. This required my to set up a You-tube channel and figure out how to upload it to this weeks blog…. I hope you all enjoy it!



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Is this thing turned on?


Hello? Hellooo? Hellllllooooooooooo!!!?

Well, if there is anyone out there who is able to read this and through the grace of God I have followed the directions correctly and have effectively managed to create a blog space, welcome!!

I’d like to start by telling you a little bit about myself. I was born and raised right here in good old Regina and take pride in being Saskatchewan tough! I am married to a self proclaimed “idiot savant”. Together we have a six year old daughter and two Labrador retrievers- is anyone looking for a dog or two? ( just kidding…. kinda….).  I am a Registered Nurse and love the complexity  that this profession brings with it; the ever expanding science and knowledge along with the art of caring and compassion. Currently I am a faculty member teaching in the School of Nursing at Saskpolytech which I love! Besides that I am an avid Rider fan and love the outdoors!

ECI834 is my 7th class towards a masters in adult education and I’m hoping to complete this journey within the next year. I hope to learn many things in this class although my top three would be 1) comfort in navigating new programs and apps 2) gain new knowledge and insight into ” whats out there” in regards to tech and education and 3) new friendships!

For you who enjoy twitter my twitter handle is @TwanaLW

I look forward in working with you all!


Image source: Google Images


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