Virtual School Meanderings

August 31, 2016

Statistics for August 2016

This entry is being posted back-dated.

Over the past month there were 3,756 hits to this blog from 2,093 different visitors, which has actually been quite consistent (a dozen or two up or down).

Can’t seem to access the old statistics page, so I can’t copy and paste (and I can only get data from the past 10 months).  This means not a lot to report this month.

Finally, the statistics from my old blog site

(more…)

August 15, 2016

EDTECH537 – End Of Course

Seven weeks ago I posted an entry entitled EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom that described a course I have been teaching for the Department of Educational Technology at Boise State University this summer semester. During that time I have posted weekly messages to describe what I was asking the students to do and the readings I had assigned.

I have also posted entries for all of the activities I have asked of the students:

I have also posted sample blog entries for each of the different types of entries that I have asked of the students.

Finally, during Week 5 I asked the students to participate in blogging in three different formats (and posted a sample entry for one of those):

This year I also made a point of highlighting things in the monthly statistics entries for my EDTECH537 students.

I always post this summary message for those folks who haven’t been following along for the past seven weeks, as I suspect this will be the closest I ever get to one of those # days to a better blog series.

August 10, 2016

EDTECH537 – Blogging Plan

As I mentioned in the Week 7 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, I mentioned that today I would be posting a sample of a blogging plan.

While I have done this in the past (see list below), I wanted to post a single month plan today to provide a model for the students.

As with previous models, I used Google Calendar to create my blogging plan for the months of August and September.

august-2016

september-2016

I know that I’ll have a lot more content throughout these two months.  For example, including this entry, thus far I have planned for 22 entries this month thus far.  As of this morning, I had almost 70 entries published.  This should tell you than much of my content is generated as it occurs (i.e., I can’t plan for it).  In fact, the only items I can plan for are those that are weekly or monthly items or those that provide my own voice on this blog – as opposed to the many relevant items that I re-post for my readers.

August 9, 2016

EDTECH537 – Guest Blog Entry: Is The Tried And True “Read and Discuss” Assignment Still Relevant For Teachers?

As I mentioned in the Week 7 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, students are asked to post two entries of their choice this week. To conclude my model blogging, I wanted to post another sample of a guest blog entry.

This is a guest blog post by Jason Siko is an assistant professor of educational technology at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in K-12 technology integration. In a previous life, he taught high school biology and chemistry.

As I embark on another semester of teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses (and my teaching load is entirely online), I am facing a bit of a crisis in the area of reading assignments. As an early career faculty member, I still keep my experiences of my time in the trenches as a guiding force for instructional decisions, as I taught for 13 years and completed my doctorate while working.

Obviously, I plowed through a ton of the academic literature, but my K-12 colleagues didn’t spend much time searching the university databases.  Further, many of them did not belong to any professional organizations, state or national.  This concerns me.  First, why do we spend time as instructors having students read the literature?  Much of it is poorly written and provides little in terms of brass tacks that can be applied directly to a K-12 teacher’s day-to-day existence.  In addition, outside of the academic program and some capstone project, they will more than likely never read another academic journal article.

So why do we do it?  Why do graduate classes assign something like the discussion prompt below:

After reading Author (20XX), post your thoughts to the discussion board.  Be sure to comment on the posts of at least two of your classmates.

As much as we hate to acknowledge it, perhaps it’s because we teach the way we were taught….

OR…are we creating a supply for our own publications, making it a requirement and necessity to facilitate reading of journals?  Or is there something inherently self satisfying about assigning our own work to ensure that maybe, just maybe, more than a few people will see our work?

Those things aside, the main problem still remains why are we assigning things that basically serve little to no purpose?  Before my inbox fills up with anecdotes of how meaningful this practice is, ask teachers who are NOT your students and/or do not know who you are to discuss what they felt about journal reading experiences, or even their grad school experience in general.  If they remain in K-12, did they suddenly go out of their way to find scholarly articles to read, or, like most teacher, rely on “journals” like Edutopia and the like to inform their practice?  

This brings me to the second issue.  Research is important, and fields advance from theory to practice because of it.  So, do we need to reimagine the way in which it gets pushed to the front lines?  I think so, but where’s the incentive?  I do not earn much credit toward promotion and tenure by publishing in practitioner journals.  I earn even less for blogging, Tweeting, and other interactions on social media.  On the flip side, educators are incredibly busy during the school year, so distillation is important.  However, distillation can miss nuance, which can lead to one-size-fits-all thinking.  Finally, states like mine are requiring less and less graduate work from teachers in order to maintain and advance their certification.

Given that this course is on blogging and social media, I’d like to throw out a few questions for discussion.  

  1. What are your thoughts on improving the process of reading academic work for a graduate class?
  2. What do you do to stay current on research, or what do you plan to do to stay current after matriculating through your degree program?
  3. How can researchers and practitioners better connect with one another to meet each other’s needs?

This is a guest blog post by Jason Siko is an assistant professor of educational technology at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in K-12 technology integration. In a previous life, he taught high school biology and chemistry. As is the pattern here at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry posted today.

August 8, 2016

7 Day Groove Challenge – Links Entry: eLearning Evangelist

As I mentioned this past Monday, Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger has issued a 7 Days to Getting Your Blogging Groove Back challenge.  I told my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom students that I would do my best to participate in this challenge fully – as a way to model different things you can do to ensure that you have a consistent stream of original blog entries.

So Darren has posted the seventh and final challenge for this week – Create a Links Post.   For my EDTECH537 students, this is the same thing as a “Links Entry.”


One of the big differences between how Darren has described Links Entries and he way that I presented them to my students is what gets linked.  In EDTECH537 I describe the Links Entry as an entry that provides a series of links (ideally annotated or with some context).  Darren, on the other hand, describes a Links Entry as an opportunity to link to other blog content – with the idea being to use your readership to generate readership for another blog (or at least another blog entry) that you found particularly useful or that you those was particularly good.  In the spirit of Darren’s description…

e-Learning Evangelist – http://rmrose.blogspot.com/

I want to focus my links on a single blog, that of Ray Rose.  For those that don’t know, Ray is a colleague in the K-12 online learning world.  He was involved with the original Virtual High School in the 1990s and is on the technical working group for the Center for Online Learning and Students with Disabilities today (and a whole lot in between).  His work recently has focused upon accessibility, and you’ll see that reflected in the entries that I have chosen.  For me, this is Ray’s best fiveentries over the past two years.

  1. TxDLA 2016 and Accessibility
    Ray regularly presents about accessibility issues in online learning, and this entry includes the slides from his most recent presentation that has a K-12 focus.
  2. Professional experiences of online teachers in Wisconsin: Results from a survey about training and challenges
    This entry is Ray’s review of a webinar and report that was released by REL-MidWest.
  3. Learning and Helping Quality Matters
    This is Ray’s entry about his presentation at a QM conference in late 2015.  As the only real set of K-12 online learning standards that are based on research, I thought his commentary was particularly interesting.
  4. iNACOL Leadership Webinar
    Ray provides some insight into his planning of an iNACOL webinar on accessibility that he did in 2015.
  5. Remotely Participating in SITE Panels
    SITE is the only academic organization that has a focus on K-12 online learning, and it is a conference that Ray used to attend – but these days his participation is usually done remotely.  This was the case with his participation, and thoughts, about the 2015 SITE conference in this entry.
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