Anatomy of an Online Course: Table of Contents

Scroll down for the complete Table of Contents. Here at the top of the page, you will find posts related to my school's D2L to Canvas transition. I keep my use of the LMS to a minimum, but I am excited that Canvas courses can be public and how they can also contain live content. See below for details!

Here are other posts related to the online courses I teach:

Overall Course Design: These posts provide an overview of my course design strategies.
  • 10 Ways to Give Your Students the Gift of Slack. Yep, it's SLACK that matters... not grit. Giving your students slack is a great gift to give.
  • Un)Grading. This is a guest blog post for Starr Sackstein's Ed Week blog.
  • Grading. I wish I could not give grades at all; this represents my best attempt to reduce my participation in the grading process to zero.
  • Grading: What the Students Say. This is a collection of student comments about grading from the end-of-course-evaluations.
  • Writing-Feedback-Revision. Providing feedback that students use to revise their writing is how I spend most of my time each and every week.
  • Tech Tips. Even though it's just extra credit, teaching students about web-based tools is a fun part of the class for me!
  • Randomization Wonderland. This post explains how I use randomization both for course content and for student participation (comments).
  • Some Q&A about student choice, challenges, etc. Answers to some questions posed by a reader. :-)
  • Traditional Syllabuses. I recently had to prepare traditional syllabuses for my classes, so if you are curious, you can take a look.

Growth Mindset. Starting in Fall 2015, I've made Carol Dweck's "growth mindset" an explicit component of my classes, hoping to promote a growth mindset among my students and in my own work too!

Scheduling and Pacing: One of the most powerful aspects of teaching online is the flexible scheduling..
  • Self-Scheduled, Not Self-Paced. This post explains the overall scheduling strategy which I use in my courses.
  • Sample Assignment Schedules. These sample schedules can help the students turn this class into a M-W-F class, a T-Th class, or a weekend class — whatever works best!
  • Week 8: Review Week. During "humpweek" both classes have some special self-assessment and student-to-student interaction assignments.
  • The Grace Period. This post explains the "grace period," a no-questions-asked extension available for all class assignments.
  • Spring 2015: Grace Period Reminder Tracking. I am trying to find ways to intervene with students who get grace period reminders every day.
  • The Half-Reading Option. The "half-reading option" is another way I am trying to accommodate my students' busy and chaotic schedules.
  • Safety Nets. This post provides an overview of the various safety nets to support students with time management and workload management.

Orientation Week: These posts are dedicated to the special activities for the Orientation Week.

Storybooks and Portfolios: These student projects are the heart and soul of my classes!

Student Blogging: These posts describe the role of student blogging in my courses.
  • 10 Tips for Building a Student Blog Network. These are my thoughts about student blogging as of Spring 2016. Happy blogging, all! 
  • Student Blog Assignments. This is a listing of the different types of blog posts that my students complete each week.
  • Weekly Blog Comments. The students read and comment on each other's posts each week.
  • New "Comment Training" Strategy. Starting in Spring 2015, I'm trying to be more proactive in teaching students how to make detailed comments.
  • Comment Walls. Student create "Comment Wall" posts at their blogs where other students can leave comments on their Storybook projects.
  • Randomizing Blogs. This is a step-by-step tutorial for randomizing blogs using a simple spreadsheet... and it includes a screencast! :-)

Inoreader: I use Inoreader to manage the class blog network.

Communication Strategies: These posts explain the various communication strategies I use in my courses.

Content Development: This explains the various tools I use for content development and sharing that content with my students.

Indian Epics Untextbook: This is where I will document the development of an UnTextbook for the Indian Epics class.

And now . . . a cat from the Growth Mindset Memes blog:

Revision Challenges: What Students are Choosing

I just flipped through the revision assignments that students turned in over the weekend, and it is so much fun to see the different "revision challenges" people set for themselves. I thought I would take a minute to write them out here and show the results of how that works. I guess it is my favorite innovation to my classes this semester! You can see the projects that the students are working on here: Myth-Folklore and Indian Epics.

In the past, I used to ask students to choose a revision focus but I did not have a specific list of challenges to choose from. Now it is going so much better! Here is the list of challenges the students browse through: Grow Your Writing: Editing Challenges. And, yes, the list itself keeps growing because sometimes I'll add a new challenge to the list when I'm reading a student's story during the week; a good challenge for one student might work for others too! Over the summer, I'll try to prune and reorganize (I don't want the list itself to become intimidating), based on the choices I've seen students making this semester.

Using the language of growth and challenges fits in nicely with the growth mindset theme I am trying to promote throughout all the class activities, and the element of choice is also powerful. Earlier in the semester, a lot of students were choosing the punctuation and other writing mechanics challenges, but now they have (re)learned how to cope with those topics. As a result, the research challenge is becoming more popular, which I think is great. There is always more they can learn by doing research, and they can share what they learn in the author's note even if they do not revise the actual story.

Most importantly: instead of seeing revision as just "fixing mistakes," the students can get a sense of revision as something open-ended, driven by their own choices from many possible strategies.

So, without further ado, here are what students chose as their challenges in the stack of assignments I am looking at right now from this weekend. I get such a boost from reading this list and seeing what the students wanted to learn about!

For this week I used dialogue punctuation check for my editing challenge. I liked it because I tend to add more commas than necessary to be safe, and this helped me edit them back out. 

The editing challenge I used was the Author’s Note. My author’s note was pretty short, so I did some research and expanded on that.  

For this story, I used the Research and Learn challenge. I worked on looking up more details about the animals that I mentioned in the end of the story so I can be better prepared to write the next story! I'd love to use this challenge again. It's very helpful!

Active and passive verbs. It went well. There were a lot that I changed.  

This week I chose “Slow down and read out loud”. I actually found quite a few typos when I read the story out loud. I read through the story silently before I turned it in, but it is obviously more effective to read it out loud when error checking. Hopefully I will simply do this every time I turn something in.

This week, I did the ‘names’ editing challenged. I attached links in my author’s note to each pig’s name to show readers where they originated from. 

I decided to do vocatives once again. In this story I added more vocatives in the middle of sentences rather than the beginning. It is also the biggest grammatical problem that continues to show up on my stories. I also decided to work on semicolons. I never actually payed much attention to the use of semi colons. Next story I actually made a goal to have no more that 2 vocative problems!

I chose to give my author’s note a make-over for this editing challenge. After reading the comments, I saw that I was mostly just summarizing my story. I chose to provide a little history about the different religious practices in India so the readers could see that Vishnu and Shiva are still widely worshiped today and Indra is not.  I think this challenge went well and I learned a little history along the way.

This week I decided to do the challenge that prompts the author to read the story more slowly aloud in order to catch more errors. I found this challenge to be extremely helpful because I caught so many more mistakes than I would have if I had just been reading on the screen! I printed my story out with size 14 font, which felt really big. It allowed me to really see the story as a whole, though. It also gave me the freedom to read each sentence individually and make notations as I went. All in all, I felt like this was a really good challenge for me. I should probably make a point to print out my story and read it very slowly aloud for the rest of the semester!

I chose the paragraph length editing challenge. I thought about my paragraph lengths after reading some other peoples stories and thought I could break mine down some. I split a couple of my paragraphs in half and think it works well.

I did a research challenge this week! It was interesting to see that Coyote had its own section on the Wikipedia page for "trickster." It seems that in many myths from all different cultures, the coyote has the role of the trickster that dominates over other land creatures.

For my editing choice, I decided to add more clear details throughout my story. I also added a blurb at the  beginning of the story to tell where the tale came from. I wanted my readers to get a better sense of the stories background and history! 

This week I chose the research challenge. I read a traditional version of this jataka where the tale was told by the Buddha himself. I found this version very interesting. I liked how the tale was given context. The Buddha was walking through the garden of a squire when he came upon area that was without vegetation. The squire's gardener explained how the bald spot came to be and the Buddha replied with the jataka. This gave it a parable-like feel that had reminded me of some of the tales that Jesus told in the Gospels.

For my editing challenge I focused more on my author's note. A lot happens in the story of the twenty-two goblins and I had left a lot out in my story to make it fit. This made it important for me to include what the reader missed inside of my author's note. I think it went really well and it is something I think is very important so I may use this challenge again. 

I read over the apostrophe rule and maintaining the same tense throughout a sentence and the use of commas.  I always thoughts that commas were used when you wanted to slow the flow of a sentence like you were taking a breath. Now I know there are different types of commas.

I used the research challenge once again. I was really happy to find the video I included at the end, because it discussed a lot of symbolism surrounding the festival, and especially the gudhis, that I hadn't run across while writing the story. 

Keep on learning, people: