Is it right for graduate students to be marking each others’ work?

I was registered for an online class during the Spring 08 semester and the major project for the semester included being grouped with classmates from all over (making it difficult to facilitate collaborations), creating a module to teach the class (with software that nobody was knowledgeable about), creating assignments for our peers and then marking any assignments we created for ~15 other classmates.  This was to go on, one group per week, for 4 of the 7 weeks that this class was scheduled.  My next question is: why even have a prof?  What is he being paid for?  Week one and two had one assignment, several discussion questions, some odds and ends to contribute, and chats in 3 different “chat rooms” where one student was asked to moderate (myself in my assigned chat room), but given now direction or topic, so turned into a wasted hour of rambling.  Week 3 was when we received our groups and topics and were to create a module worth 40% of our mark.

Needless to say, I have dropped the class (the first one I ever seriously considered dropping and now have dropped).  I felt terribly guilty in doing this, since I had been assigned a group to create the module with, however, the level of stress and frustration that I was experiencing coupled with a serious lack of sleep was beginning to affect my health and my family life to a degree that I was very uncomfortable and unhappy with.

I have taken other online classes and had starkly different experiences.  Alec Couros taught ECI 831 Winter 08 semester and it was outstanding – the best class I have EVER taken – collaborative, clearly outlined expectations, exposure to several new technologies, full support from instructor and peers, reasonable assignments (my blog was one of them, which I intend to keep up- obviously!)… I could go on and on.  My point is that I have had other experiences to compare this to and even other online classes I have taken did not result in such frustration and stress as this semester’s class has.

Your thoughts on this format for a grad class?


April 24, 2008

For those who are truly stuck on technology (like myself), here is an electronic invitation site that I recently used to invite people for my son’s birthday party called Evite. It is simple to use and provides you and your guests with the information they need. For the planner, it is 3 steps:

  1. Choose a design
  2. Enter the information (Location, time, host, message, etc.)
  3. Enter the guest’s email addresses and send.

Now these instructions are based on me pushing buttons and using no tutorial, so they are probably a little rough around the edges, but it is clearly easy to use.

I have previously used the Event tool in Facebook, but still had to email people on my guest list who were not members of Facebook, so it meant two different places to look and not everyone checked their Facebook often enough to respond in a timely manner. Evite sends the invitation to their email, which most people check fairly regularly and as the “host”, you can check a  box to receive notification when someone replies and can view your invitation status at any time to see who has viewed the invitation or update the details.

Check it out.  I would be interested to know if you have used other sites like this and what their benefits are.

The Touch of the Babe

April 23, 2008

I was amazed this morning and just had to share with my blogosphere.  My son, who will be one year old on the 28th loves my iPod Touch and seeing pictures of himself on it.  This morning when we were looking at the pictures and scrolling through them by gliding my finger across the screen, he went to grab for the device, but instead started moving his little fingers across the screen to view the different pictures.  He instantly looked up at me with a huge, gratified smile and continued to scroll through the pictures at his own pace, smiling the whole time!  All in the touch of the babe – it was beautiful!


April 16, 2008

I am so inspired by this video about a man living with autism and his amazing memory and artistic skills.  I hope it inspires you.


April 11, 2008

Since I work in HR, I found this post by Will Richardson very interesting.  How are students being taught about the impact of their digital footprints – or are they being taught this at all?  I have started to be more conscious of my own items published to the web and interactions with others as I am just finally realizing the implications of both negative and positive items appearing when someone “looks me up” on the web.  From what I have read about social networking and how to “protect” students, most of the literature I have read speaks to not posting personal information, being conscious of who they are adding as friends and the like (check out the PEW/Internet report on Teens, Privacy & Online Social Networks).  The part that is being overlooked in many cases is the positive use of blogging, wikis, social networks, etc. (and it is happening).  Students are enthusiastic to use the new mobile technologies and Web 2.0 tools, but from the post on Alec Couros’ blog today, it doesn’t look like this is sitting well with schools, administrators and parents.  So how do we get the message across that this is important to their futures?  What are your thoughts?  What are you doing to make it happen?

Camtasia 5.0

April 8, 2008

Once again, I chose to challenge myself and learn about another new Web 2.0 tool called Camtasia 5.0 (30 day trial version) to create a video documenting the process that I went through to create my Major Digital Project for EC&I 831 and then decided to do a video reflection about my EC&I 831 Journey. I didn’t realize just how much of a challenge I was up for.

A few months ago I downloaded Jing and used it to create a tutorials about how to use Ning and what is RSS and using Google Reader. I found Jing fairly user friendly and had few problems using it. Perhaps one of the downfalls (or perhaps it is a good thing) is that Jing only allows 5 minutes of recording time. I wanted to experiment with Camtasia, but found out that it was no longer freely available. Then I heard that there was a free 30 day trial available while watching the great videos that my classmate Walter had created and Jing began coming up with viruses on my computer (not sure why).

I downloaded the free 30 day trial of Camtasia and went into the program and had to double-check that I had not accidentally opened Windows Movie Maker, because it looked very similar, which sort of disappointed me because I had already learned and used Movie Maker at the beginning of the semester to create my bio video. Right now, I am thinking it would not have been bad if it was like Movie Maker! Camtasia has the same layout as far as the timeline, storyboard and some of the editing features, but then goes beyond that to let you capture video, audio and information from Powerpoint too.

I viewed several of the tutorial videos that Camtasia has available, however, I am one of those people that learns by doing, so watching a video is only average for me – I have to dive in. I wrote a bit of an outline so that I did not miss anything and then opened a number of tabs in Firefox so that I could move seamlessly from one idea to the next. This worked fairly well, but I had to record several times because at first, I could not recognize when the recording had started, then I was forgetting to include some things, and towards the end, I was losing my voice due to coughing with the cold I picked up last week. After all of the battles with recording, I finally had a finished recording which I now needed to put together on the timeline. This part wasn’t too bad, but it was difficult to align the video with the audio sometimes and took a bit of fine-tuning.

When I finally had all of the information that I wished to include, I went to produce the video. The rendering took a really long time and then was in a format that did not recognize, which was frustrating since is where Camtasia suggests you upload your video to and I had chosen the format that Camtasia suggests. After re-rendering several times, in various formats, and then changing how I got the video into, I had my first video ready. Whew!! One more to go – oh no!

Actually, when you consider that I didn’t spend tonnes of time learning all of the features of Camtasia, the videos turned out alright.  I hope to spend some more time tinkering with Camtasia and see if there is an easier way to render, because this part really made my computer work (it was humming and I was ready for it to either start hovering or go up in smoke).

Anyways, in the end, I created the two videos that I was aiming for, so I am happy despite my struggles.

My EC&I 831 Journey

April 8, 2008

Check out my reflection video on: My EC&I 831 Journey