Category Archives: 6×6

Lemon Lavender Cookies…

Last fall, I found myself teaching on campus for the first time since Spring 2010. As prepared my lesson plans for the semester, I searched my old files and sent the online course I’ve been developing for over a decade back to its beginnings. Reincorporating all the in-class activities and instruction that are lost in the online format reminded me just how much online students are missing out on.

Yes, online courses offer students opportunities that didn’t exist when I started teaching. They can work full time and still attend classes. They can stay home with their kids and attend classes. They can care for sick loved ones and attend classes. Online classes offer students with certain challenges, like PTSD, the ability to learn without fear.

Yet, our online students are missing out. They are missing out on getting to see us face to face. On seeing examples worked out in front of them. On being able to work with groups in class–to gain understanding that might be explained by a peer just a slightly different way that finally clicks. On the hands-on activities that illustrate concepts that are difficult to explain online.

Likewise, we are missing out, too. We are missing out on getting to know some amazing students. If they don’t feel connected to us, they might not feel safe sharing what is going on in their lives. We miss out on getting to be a part of the campus culture with our students–to hear what is important to them. And we miss out on things like lemon lavender cookies made by a longtime chef who is studying to become a nurse.

While we find ways to bring more connections to our students–connections with each other, with us, with the course content–we can acknowledge both the benefits and the frailties of online learning. And, hopefully, that knowledge will help us to mindfully create a better experience for our students.

What I Learned from QM

Last fall, I had the opportunity to submit a course for QM certification, and I learned that the course was approved for certification yesterday. Since our topic this week is evaluation, I thought I’d take a moment and reflect on my experience with the process.

Though we all have access to the QM standards, and we are supposed to be using those standards as guidelines for our courses, actually submitting a course is an intense process. It is not enough to know that assignments connect to course learning outcomes, for example, you have to be able to articulate how they connect to folks who may not even be familiar with your discipline.

At times, I found myself fighting the process. I mean, how many students actually care about which course outcome an assignment connects to? Ha! Even so, as I finished the process of my course review, I found that I had a new appreciation for this intense sort of evaluation.

Seeing my course through fresh eyes also gave me several ideas for making the course easier to navigate, more interesting visually (adding tabs and using Canva for fun module and weekly navigation links), and less cluttered. It also forced me to think through accessibility issues, like having alt tags and video transcripts.

Overall, the process was a great learning experience, and I’m looking forward to applying what I learned this go-round as I begin the process of certifying another of my online courses. 🙂

Karen

 

Please let me know if you hate this.

 

 

I feel like everything is inspired by something else. There is no 100 percent original thought                                                                                                                                                                                     ~Ne-Yo

From Best Selling Author  Steven Pressfield’s blog regarding a new project:

“The book is about writing.

I don’t have a title yet but the premise is that there’s such a thing as “the artist’s journey.”

The artist’s journey is different from “the hero’s journey.”

The artist’s journey is the process we embark upon once we’ve found our calling, once we know we’re writers but we don’t know yet exactly what we’ll write or how we’ll write it.”

I lifted the lines above from Steven Pressfield’s website http://www.stevenpressfield.com. I decided to share them with the 6X6 writers because I loved how honest Pressfield was…he admitted he doesn’t know exactly what to write or exactly how he’ll write it. He’s a professional, best selling author and he was brave enough to admit that on the world wide web. I LOVE THAT. I never thought I was really allowed to admit to things like that out loud, let alone in a professional community. But now I realize that by sharing his uncertainty, Pressfield just endeared himself to me as a writer and fellow human being. I admire him. I’m now more likely to read his blog and books…he offered a way to make a sincere connection. And now I’m quoting him and passing along his info in hopes that someone else might gain a spark of inspiration.

Since I’m on a roll about stealing and being honest, two topics that make good writing, I have to give credit for the title of this post. I stole that from Pressfield’s blog too. This line encouraged me to be brave. It’s like Pressfield is saying, “What do you think? Be honest… I can take it…”

So, let me know if you hate this. But, please be kind. I’m not as tough as I will be someday. This is my first day at being fearless…sometimes every day feels like my first day…

Check out Oprah’s interview with Pressfield:

 

 

Creating Culture in the Online Classroom–6×6 Week 2

While students who attend classes on campus are exposed to the diverse student population of their college/university as they attend classes, walk across campus, and eat in the dining hall, online students may not even have a picture of the other students in their classes. Likewise, while college campuses might strive to create community through campus events, clubs, and school spirit, online students can be left out of the loop because they are spending time in an online environment.

Whether they are returning students or first time attenders, online students likely have families, jobs, and other responsibilities that prompt them to choose to take their classes online. So, they may know about campus events, but not have the time or ability to get involved. Regardless of their other commitments, it is likely that online students are simply missing all of the flyers posted about campus, the buzz from other students, etc, that help to spread the word about those events.

Online students, who already can feel disconnected from their fellow students and their instructors, can feel even more distant from the campus itself. Since we know that being a part of the community is one of the key components to student success, it is important to help students in online classes connect with each other and with what is happening on campus.

Taking photos of flyers and posting upcoming events in the online classroom is a simple way to engage students. We might also encourage students to attend particularly important events by creating assignments tied to those events, even for extra credit. Inviting students to campus for conferences is another way to engage students in the campus community–offering ‘swag & chocolate’ for students who drop by on certain days is another fun way to get students on campus.

While this task is perhaps more easily accomplished by full time faculty with offices on campus than by those of use who live in the online realm 100% of the time, it doesn’t take much extra time to create a space for students to feel connected with the campus culture and with each other. If it supports student success, I think it’s worth doing.

 

 

Week 2: The “One Thing” and its Powerful Sway

Did you complete your Week 1 homework assignment? If not, take a moment to search for your name on gccaz.edu, click on your employee bio page, and make a note of any information that uniquely reflects your own personal humanity.

When it comes to class enrollment, do you leave it up to chance? You have a lot to offer, and are a passionate educator. But students don’t know this about you ahead of time. What if you could influence students before you even meet them?

Studies show that when it comes to choice, a good reputation is king. To influence a student’s choice in which class (or college) they enroll, we must increase perceived reputation. Reputation is a fragile thing, and a student’s initial experience plays a critical role in the decision-making process.

This brings us to the old adage, “you only get one chance to make a good first impression.” A first impression is critical to reputation, and Step Two is all about taking control of the timing of that first good impression.

Timing, they say, is everything.

So, the “one thing” you can do to influence the student decision-making process, raise enrollment, and raise GCC’s reputation in an increasingly crowded marketplace is to teach others what to think about you before you even meet.

I am going to show you how to not just make a good first impression, but a viscerally good first impression, using your employee bio page. During the decision making process, students check out who is teaching a class – why? They are looking for clues  for who to choose. The purpose of this blog series is for you learn how to make it easy for student to choose you, and thereby GCC. When you are done with your bio page, students who view it will “get” you. I have done random checks of comparable faculty at NAU, ASU, UofA and GCC. The sad fact is that very few instructors have posted any information on their bio page beyond name, email, and office hours.

As a result, students turn to sites such as RateMyProfessors.com to help them make a decision. The problem with these ratings sites is that other people are defining your reputation for you – and influencing reader choice. Remember, reputation is a fragile thing.

Consider the following:

“I grew up in a poor family, and I identify with the struggles some of my students have.” – Dr. Carlos Nunez

When I first read that quote, a picture of who this man is immediately formed in my mind: Genuine. Sincere. Empathetic. Successful. When I met Dr. Nunez, I quickly became aware that he was all this and more. He was courageous in and out of the classroom, and we all miss him, bless his soul.

Quotes – we love them. We share them, post them, tattoo them, frame them and hang them on our walls. We love quotes because quotes resonate with something deep inside of us. Quotes inspire us. Quotes give us hope. Quotes make us laugh at ourselves and life. Quotes make us cry with empathy. Quotes rally us together.

But the greatest power of a quote is that it connects us to each other’s humanity.

Your homework is to write a compelling introductory statement that reflects on a particular aspect of your personal journey through college. Here are a few examples to get your juices going:

  • “Juggling work, family, and college was hard, but I wanted a better life.” (inspires resilience).
  • “The first time I looked through a microscope I saw my future.” – (conveys vision)
  • “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. College helped me find my passion.” – (inspires hope)

Experiment writing statements that uniquely reflect your own personal humanity.

“It’s not up to chance, it’s up to you.” ― Rob Liano, Author and Business Speaker

Come back for Week 3, Step 3: The “One Thing” and It’s Not Bragging.

 

 

It’s a Library Thing…

 

This 6X6 Writing Challenge is a great example of basking in the reflection of my culture on the GCC campus. I’m in love with the idea of life-long learning and the exchange of ideas.

GCC is the epitome of life-long learning. Specifically, my position in GCC Library Access Services offers constant opportunities to celebrate student and staff success in regards to providing access to information. My goal is simple: If you need information, I want to help you access it. If what you need is not housed in our library, I want to help you find it.

At times, I love to stand back and look at the BIG picture in library terms: Historically, the library is at the foundation of civilization. This is a powerful idea as I walk through our library…it’s a big deal to experience this academic setting and appreciate the limitless opportunities that might begin here.  I like to imagine that all the mental effort that takes place in the library is transformed into positive futures and a better world. I love to savor my BIG picture idea and realize that what I do today really matters.

Also, I love to lean in and appreciate the small, everyday moments I share with library patrons. It is almost magical to meet others who share my specific love for library books and learning. It’s an over-the-edge, possessive behavior. I totally understand the patrons who feel like 28 days is never long enough to keep a book…who have a hard time actually letting go and setting the book on the counter to return it. Don’t laugh, there are a few of us who clutch certain books and wish we could keep them just a little longer since we never seem to feel truly done. ( I know, why don’t we just buy it, you say…but that’s not how we roll…remember, the library is a cornerstone of civilization, Amazon is not…and some of us need to feel the pages in our hands…electronic words don’t feed our souls)

When’s the last time you walked through our library? Stop in and experience the sheer joy of 90,000+ books – all in one big room. It’s old-school awesome!

Information helps you to see that you’re not alone. That there’s somebody in Mississippi and somebody in Tokyo who all have wept, who’ve all longed and lost, who’ve all been happy. So the library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you’re not really any different from everyone else.                                                                                                                                                                                     ~Maya Angelou

 

 

Kindness Matters–6×6 Week One

Last fall, I had the privilege of bringing some of my ENG 101 students to a seminar with Dr. Rupert Nacoste. His presentation, entitled, “Respect Starts with Me–How to Handle Neo-Diversity Anxiety” encapsulated for students some of the key points in his book, Taking on Diversity: How We Can Move from Anxiety to Respect.  (I highly recommend this book, by the way!)

Dr. Nacoste points out that we are in a time of vast social change, and notes that change tends to make people nervous. Often we don’t know how to deal with situations or with folks who are different than we are; yet, we are thrust into these diverse situations every day–especially in the academic world. His solution to a very complex situation is actually very simple, something that perhaps we learned in kindergarten once upon a time–kindness.  Every human being should be treated with respect and dignity. It’s ok to acknowledge our differences; we don’t all have to look alike, think alike, etc. But we do have to exercise kindness at all times.

As faculty, it’s important to note that each of our students comes to our classrooms with different experiences that have shaped them as people and have informed their ideas about the world around them. We have an amazing opportunity and grave responsibility to model kindness as we accept students where they are and show them how to converse with others of different backgrounds and opinions with kindness and respect.