Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Blogger comments

Blogger is simple in a number of ways, but it has its complications. I've been looking at how people can post comments, or rather, how blog creators can make sure that people can post comments. This came up as a question from one of the participants in this course. Here's the problem-solving ("troubleshooting" in the computer world) approach that I took.

First, I checked on my blog (http://deborah-teachingonline.blogspot.com) to see if comments worked there. I found that comments weren't working on my blog, much to my surprise. Perhaps it was easier in earlier versions of Blogger (or maybe I just got too clever in the settings for my own good).

I then went to Blogger, logged in, and clicked on Settings for my blog. One of the tabs is Comments, so I clicked on it. There I found many choices, any number of which could have been causing the problem. It was set to Show comments, so that wasn't the problem (but it would have been, if it was set to Hide comments).

I looked at Who can comment? and changed it to Anyone, rather than Members with Google accounts. I saved the changes, then closed and opened my blog again. No good; I had something else wrong.

I looked at Comment form placement and noticed that if you choose Embedded below post, as I had it, meant that Post Pages needed to be enabled. Since I didn't remember if that was the case or not, I just clicked on Pop-up window and saved the changes.

That seemed to do the trick.

I did one more thing: I added my email address in the Comment Notification Email box so that I would get an email when someone commented. I saved the changes again.

Making changes one by one takes more time, but it's the only way to know what really solves a problem.

Someone also asked about adding images. That's actually easier. You can add images to a post by clicking on the image icon (the one that looks like a little picture) when you are writing a post. I've added a picture of my granddaughter looking happy - the way I felt when I figured out how to make the comments work.

Always an adventure!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Week 1 of the course

We've finished the first week of our course, and I have been very happy about the discussions on Nicenet so far. Almost all of the 28 participants have posted at least once, and most people have posted more than once and on more than one topic. They are responding thoughtfully to the questions/prompts and to each other, which is wonderful. This feels more and more like a real learning community.

My role as the teacher/facilitator this week has been largely focused on getting everyone successfully logged in and started. I've also been reading all the posts to see that the discussions are moving along in productive directions. There's been very little for me to add to the discussions most of the time, since the teachers are doing so well themselves. It helps a lot to have a group of seasoned distance ed veterans in the class.

The topics this coming week, creating a reflective blog and writing learning objectives, should also be very productive. At least some (perhaps many or most) of the teachers have written learning objectives in other courses. The format we'll use here is a bit different, but I think it's clear and easy to understand. We'll link objectives and rubrics later, since they should be two sides of the same coin.

Come to think of it, I need to go back to the website and add the learning objectives for this week. Like this blog, the learning objectives for this course are modeling what I'd like to see participants do in the course. Once the teachers read the reading, the ABCD model will make more sense to them. People often mistake it for a simple list rather than a memory aid - Audience, Behavior, Condition, Degree.

I'm hoping everyone will be able to create a blog successfully on Blogger. Next, of course, is the harder part - creating the content for a good reflective blog. I'm practicing too, with this blog.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Reflecting on teaching

I've decided to create this blog to parallel what I'm asking the teachers in my online course, Building Teaching Skills Through the Interactive Web, to do. The goal is to have a reflective log of course activities - my thoughts on teaching the course, how participants are responding, and what changes if any I feel I need to make.

This will be a running experiment, conducted publicly, so it's both interesting and intimidating. Teachers are often very demanding students - teaching is, after all, our job - and we can be very critical of how others teach. I'm hoping that this collaborative learning environment will work for all of us.

Some of my initial reflections are that I feel very lucky to have teachers who have had some online coursework before in this course. It's far easier than a previous online technology course with teachers who did not have that experience. More than half the class was able to get online on Nicenet within the first few days; I'm hoping the rest will post in the next day or two. At the same time, I'm well aware that the infrastructure for most of the participants is not good. Long delays while online, power and Internet outages, and the general issues brought by war are all major constraints.

The SurveyMonkey needs analysis will also be helpful in letting me see how much people know about different areas, thus how much time we'll need to spend getting set up to learn about them.

All in all, working toward student and teacher autonomy will be very interesting!

I've added a short welcome message as an mp3 file - please let me know if you are able to hear it.