Posts made by Jennifer Six-Reul

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E-For-Ed - Jan 2016 -> Post Discussion Topics Here -> MOOCs, online education gone too far? -> MOOCs: Let's not rule them out too soon
by Jennifer Six-Reul - Thursday, January 21, 2016, 8:20 AM


Obviously, the biggest advantage of MOOCs is access - financial and otherwise.  But there are looming questions, and they have been raised by experts and our discussion, including: will colleges lose money/incentive, what is the quality of instruction/learning, will credits transfer, will employers recognize the credits?

The MOOC movement is still in its infancy and there have been growing pains.  However, I think there might be a promising future in MOOCs, and will be following the new Global Freshman Academy (GFA) at Arizona State University as a possible game changer.  

GFA was rolled out in 2015.  It offers freshman-level courses online, with no enrollment barriers, at no charge.  What makes this different from previous MOOCs?

(1) Students may take one or more freshman-level courses, or their entire freshman year, and earn full credit through ASU. If they are considering the for-credit option, they indicate this at registration and pay a small fee.  Tuition ($200-per-credit) will be charged only if they want to earn credit, and the student can choose after they have completed (passed) the course.

(2)  The program will utilize the latest Adaptive Learning technology, which drawn from brain research, education, psychology and other fields including computer science and mathematics. In his article, Three Questions for the ASU/edX Global Freshman Academy Program, Andrew Smith Lewis explains how it can be used:

Data can help identify and remediate where students are struggling, but also help outline learners’ overarching goals and the most effective paths to achieving them. In other words, data doesn’t have to simply look backwards, but also can point the various paths forward for learners... We have the opportunity to research and study what works, what models are most efficacious for different students and eventually, develop standards by which we can judge both the success of online courses and the hybrid educational experience overall.

Here is further reading about AL technology: Adaptive Learning Technology Matters

Significant issues remain.  Is it possible in the adaptive learning model to provide formative feedback and meaningful encouragement?  Can the learner become part of a smaller learning community within the class?  What are the roles of the professor and/or teaching assistants? These questions will be studied, to be sure. I don't beleive MOOCs will even replace traditional, blended or small distance-learning classes.  But if the GFA program and others like it prove successful, the new generation of MOOCs could provide another means of access to many who might never have considered college a real possibility.

Jennie, Norwalk CT


Three Questions For The ASU/edX Global Freshman Academy Online Program, Andrew Smith Lewis,, Jun 23, 2015.

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E-For-Ed - Jan 2016 -> Post Discussion Topics Here -> Facilitating Critical Thinking in Your Classes -> Critical Teaching has applications across all subject matter areas
by Jennifer Six-Reul - Tuesday, January 19, 2016, 8:13 PM

I am not a teacher but am preparing to become an Instructional Designer, to support instructors (subject matter experts, or SMEs) at the college level in developing and administering online classes.  So my role in this venue would be to help  an instructor identify and grow in order to be what Brookfield calls a “critical teacher.”

Brookfield notes that critical teachers need  a “broad repertoire of pedagogic, modeling and interpersonal skills.”  This is a perspective that I will encourage any instructor partner to reflect upon and develop.  Coming from a student development background (as does Brookfield) I see every subject matter area as an opportunity to develop college students into critical thinkers.  

As an example, in a chemistry course,  the study of nuclear reactions can be intertwined with a discussion of their applications, for instance, the historical questions surrounding the 1945 deployment of atomic bombs in Japan. This will make the study of the subject matter more tangible and salient.   In thinking about this approach  in terms of Bloom’s taxonomy, it elevates the study of something very straightforward (chemical reactions) from the basic learning tasks of Knowledge and Comprehension, to the higher critical thinking tasks (dependent on the questions/problems posed) of Application, Analysis, Synthesis, or Evaluation.

In this example, a discussion group might be assigned roles of historical figures, or fictional characters, in examining both the rationale and the effects of this action. Brookfield asserts that the critical teacher in this case would function as needed as a catalyst for discussion and inquiry, or even as a contributory group member and taking on diverse roles, including  advocate for missing perspectives, adversary to propaganda, mediator, and resource person.   




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E-For-Ed - Jan 2016 -> Post Discussion Topics Here -> Moodle vs. D2L for Building Community through Discussions
by Jennifer Six-Reul - Monday, January 18, 2016, 1:50 PM

We have been learning about utilizing Moodle as a discussion platform this week, and have started to use it.  Some of us may have been on Moodle before, and for others it is completely new.  Previously, we all had exposure to D2L in this class, and some of us may have prior experience with D2L.   Based on what we are learning this week, and your own experiences, can you describe an important difference between these two discussion platforms in terms of fostering a community of learners, and explain why this would be important to your current teaching area?

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E-For-Ed - Jan 2016 -> THE KITCHEN -> Seen any great movies lately?
by Jennifer Six-Reul - Sunday, January 17, 2016, 12:39 PM

My husband and I are looking for a new movie to watch - either in the theaters or perhaps new to Netflix/PPV etc.  Any suggestions?  What did you like about it?


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