The Pause Button

The Pause Button…

If you have used technology as long as I have, you really do not think about the symbology associated with certain actions.  We all have grown accustomed to the two vertical bars that indicate PAUSE:

I have started reading Tom Friedman’s new book Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations.  In many ways, Friedman helped solidify my thinking about the digital world in his previous book The World is Flat.  I considered that 2005 book then (and still do) to be paradigm shifting.  Friedman’s latest book seems on target and just as insightful.

A premise that he lays out in the first chapter (and will expand as the book unfolds) is that the three largest forces on Earth – technology, globalization, and climate change – are all accelerating at once…and this state of constant acceleration is difficult for our brains – instruments that John Medina in Brain Rules would suggest are geared for linear thought – to wrap around and make sense.  Friedman would suggest one way to deal with this constant acceleration would be to hit the pause button.

For 20 years, I smoked a pipe.  If someone asked me a difficult question, my reaction would be to take my pipe out and go through the ritual of cleaning it out, filling it with fresh tobacco, and lighting it.  I quit smoking in 1988 and would not suggest anyone start … but I miss that reflective time I took filling my pipe before answering the question.

Friedman takes his title from the response he gives people who show up late for an interview.  Rather than being mad, he is delighted to have had some “found time” to reflect … and so he says “Thank You For Being Late.”

One chapter down and many to go … but I am feeling an excitement I have not felt in awhile (thought Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable was almost as exhilarating!).

So I paused today to explore where this icon came from.  According to Wikipedia, the main symbols for digital electronics date back to the 1960s, with the Pause symbol having reportedly been invented at Ampex for use on reel-to-reel audio recorder controls (and I had a reel-to-reel tape player when I was at the Academy), due to the difficulty of translating the word “pause” into some languages used in foreign markets. The Pause symbol was designed as a variation on the existing square Stop symbol and was intended to evoke the concept of an interruption or “stutter stop”.

Who knew?

This balance between constant acceleration and pausing was in my mind as I continued exploring the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, which looked at the challenges ahead for businesses and HR professionals. I have been looking at it from a faculty development perspective.  The report is based on analysis of a survey of more than 10,400 business and HR leaders globally, and noted ten trends.  I discussed the first three trends last week, and looked at the fourth trend yesterday.

The fifth trend involved performance management.  The report noted that organizations have radically changed the way they measure, evaluate, and recognize employees.  It noted that much of what employees do today involves teams …and I would add digital teams, and so annual evaluation processes focused on individuals seem outdated.  The report noted the employees:

  • Want more regular feedback
  • Expect continuous learning
  • Expect decisions on promotions and raises to be based on data

The report suggested that rather than talk about people once a year, organizations should talk with people routinely…and work to strengthen aspects of team productivity, such as trust, inclusion, and clarity of roles.

I had lunch today with a former student who now works with businesses…and the word “trust” came up in our conversation.  Another conversation I had today with a colleague revolved around the use of term faculty rather than tenure-track faculty.  Academia is going through these same accelerations of change, and the old rules need changing.  Of course, that may be difficult, as the ones now in charge came up through the old rules.

Definitely issues to pause and reflect on…

{Graphics: Deloitte Press, SmokingPipes.Com}

Seminal Books on Online Learning

Monty Jones at VCU emailed several of us today with an interesting thought query from Brianne Adams:

What are the seminal texts in online education?  Given how fast the field has evolved, are there any?

I have been evolved with online education for two decades, and along the way, there were books that had a huge impact on me, so I do believe there are “seminal texts.”  They were not the first books on online teaching and learning, but they were five books that stay in my mind.

book_palloffThe first book that really impacted my teaching online was the 2007 Building Online Learning Communities: Effective Strategies for the Virtual Classroom by Rena Palloff and Keith Pratt.  I had read several “how-to” books like Susan Ko’s Teaching Online: A Practical Guide (now in its Third Edition), but Rena and Keith’s book solidified for me the learning community aspect of elearning.  I had just shifted from directing an online program at Gwinnett Tech (and teaching several business management classes) to faculty development at VCU’s Center for Teaching Excellence, so Rena and Keith’s book hit at just the right moment for me.

Using case studies, vignettes, and examples from successful online courses, Rena and Keith provided a mix of theory and practical ways to handle challenges such as engaging students to build an online learning community, establishing a sense of presence online, maximizing participation, increasing collaboration and reflection, and effectively assessing student performance.  During the four years in which I coordinated VCU’s Online Course Development Initiative, this was the book we gave all participants.

book_AndersonThe second book that comes to mind is Terry Anderson’s 2009 The Theory and Practice of Online Learning (2nd Edition).  This edited collection of chapters on theory, design, and support of online learning provides background and context around the Community of Inquiry framework, which Anderson and others developed. The Community of Inquiry framework was developed during a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities research funded project which ran from 1997 to 2001. The framework focused on the social, technological, and pedagogic processes that could lead to collaborative knowledge construction in online learning environments. This framework was extensively researched over the past 15 years, exploring the three forms of ‘‘presence” -teaching, social, and cognitive presence.

I used Terry’s book as my textbook in my hybrid course on the Theory of Online Learning that I taught for VCU.  The second edition brought in the concept of connectivism as a theory, as well as the use of social media for networked learning.

The third book builds on this framework of the Community of Inquiry.

Garrison bookRandy Garrison, another contributor to the CoI, published his second edition of E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Framework For Research and Practice in 2010. Randy synthesized a decade of research into the Community of Inquiry model for online learning.  Our CTE team spent a semester reviewing this book and related research around the Community of Inquiry, such as an article by Karen Swan, Randy Garrison, and Jennifer Richardson in 2009 – “A Constructivist Approach to Online Learning: The Community of Inquiry Framework.” The CoI factored in to the design of VCU’s Preparing to Teach Online course back in the last decade, as well as their year-long Online Course Development Initiative.  From Randy’s perspective, learning is shaped by a collaborative constructivist view, with discourse inseparable from critical thinking.  Critical thinking is both highly individualistic and shared…we co-construct our knowledge with others.  This connected learner framework has certainly informed the design of my courses.

One aspect of Randy’s book I like is the holistic look at the interplay of all three presences together.  Not only does the influences shift between them, but they also shift over time within a course and beyond a course.  The “learning” might kick in two to three courses later as continued integration and resolution occur.

Clark Mayer bookMy fourth “go to” book is by Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer, who in 2011 published the Third Edition of E-Learning and the Science of Instruction.  This book not only looks at the science of learning, but it brings in Richard Mayer’s concepts of dual channel learning with multimedia.  Mayer has researched how our minds process information from both visual and audio channels.  He found that students learn better when material is presented with both words and images, when information is provided in smaller chunks to prevent cognitive overload, when words and images are integrated within a presentation, and when information is presented in a conversational style.  His work has informed much of our Online Course Design Orientation Program here at Northeastern University.

minds_online2My final go-to book is a recent addition that I have blogged about before – Michelle Miller’s 2014 Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology.  Michelle’s book is one of the first books to tie what we know about how people learn to online learning.  I am currently using this book as the textbook in my latest online course – EDU 6323: Technology as a Medium for Learning.

There are a ton of other books and articles out on aspects of elearning (such as Tisha Bender’s (2012) Discussion-Based Online Teaching to Enhance Student Learning), but the five above are my go to volumes.  This is also does not begin to scratch the surface of books on learning science, such as Susan Ambrose’s How Learning Works.

It would be interesting to hear from you as to what you consider seminal works.  What would you add to this list?



Courage to Teach Online

After finishing Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age by Helen Beetham and Rhona Sharpe, that I discussed in my last post, I have moved to a book I have meant to read for years – The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer.

Self confession time.  I do read a lot, but not all my books have to do with teaching or elearning.


My summer reading

I read a lot of fiction – L’Amour westerns, science fiction, and mysteries … and particularly like old mysteries that I pick up at Goodwill for $3.  So between Beetham and Palmer, I read a great little 1997 thriller by Paul Lindsey called Freedom to Kill.  It involves the FBI chasing a terrorist (a pre-Nine-Eleven kind of terrorist).  Nineteen-Ninety-Seven was only 16 years ago, so the FBI agents did have a laptop, but no WiFi.  In fact, tracking emails sent through dial-up modems contributed to cracking the case.  When they went on stakeout, they checked out a cellphone so that they would not have to find a payphone.  Sixteen years, and how things have changed!!!  Maybe that is why I like the old books.  I was just starting my educational career in the Nineties…and it was not until my third college that I began carrying a cellphone.  So I lived that change!


But back to Palmer and The Courage to Teach.  I have been wanting to read Palmer’s book for awhile.  Many of my colleagues over the past decade have mentioned it.  Given that it was originally published in 1997, then updated in 2008, I was interested in how relevant it might now be (or not be) in this digital landscape in which I teach.

I enjoyed this book, but it is quite spiritual in its message.  It is about the heart as much as it is about the head.  Given that, I like the underlying message.  Palmer notes:

“…teachers possess the power to create conditions that can help students learn a great deal – or keep them from learning much at all.  Teaching is the intentional act of creating those conditions, and good teaching requires that we understand the inner sources of both the intent and the act.”

He goes on to note that his book is built on the premise:

“Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.”


It sounds to me as if Palmer is writing a book about teaching online!  Is not “creating conditions for learning” what we do?

In my work with faculty around teaching online, I continually make the point that teaching online is about making connections – connections with students, connections between students, and connections between students and the content – not using tools (though some tools help in making these connections).  For a dozen years, I have discussed how I have gotten to know my students’ souls through my online teaching – and “souls” hits the same spiritual notes that Palmer makes.

Palmer states early in the book that we as teachers commonly address “what” we are teaching and “how” we are teaching, but less often address “why” we are teaching and “who” we are and how we relate to our students.  Good questions for classrooms…whether they are on campus or online.  He states that bad teachers distance themselves from their students while good teachers “join self and subject and students in the fabric of life.”  This really resonates with me!  Online teaching has little to do with distance and everything to do with connections.

After discussing teaching from within and these connections, Palmer spends a couple of chapters discussing the culture of fear that he feels permeates higher education and can lead to disconnections.  Fear is a common perspective that I have heard expressed by faculty moving online.  There is the fear of loss of control, the fear of looking stupid, the fear of new technology, and the fear of failure.  Palmer does not suggest that we not be afraid, but rather that we not let fear be us.  A bit Zen…but I like his suggestion that we view the fears as opportunities.  He suggests that we work in a world of paradoxes and our courses should reflect that.  Some paradoxes that can contribute to pedagogical design:

  • The learning space should be bounded and open.
  • The learning space should be hospitable and “charged”.
  • The learning space should invite the voice of the individual and the voice of the group.
  • The learning space should honor the “little” stories of the individual and the “big” stories of the disciplines and tradition.
  • The learning space should support solitude and surround it with the resources of the community.
  • The learning space should welcome both silence and speech.

His paradoxes have obvious online interpretations.  By bounded, he is not suggesting four walls, but rather good questions that keep us focused…but open to multiple paths for discovery.  Our online “space” – be it Blackboard or WordPress or Canvas or whatever – should feel safe and open to trusted discourse.  Every individual should have the freedom to voice ideas, but collective wisdom should emerge.  Our online facilitation should guide the discourse so that themes emerge that paint the big pictures.  And a combination of asynchronous and synchronous engagements as well as reflective activities allow for both silence and speech.

Palmer makes the case that good teaching is essentially communal.  And while he does not go there, this to me suggests the Community of Inquiry model and Garrison’s work (and of course, that was the earlier book I read in June).  As I noted in my Rethinking Fundamentals post, I believe that community is still a core concept to good teaching online.

So, I am glad I read this book and would recommend it to others.  Moving instruction online is disrupting higher education and some faculty find that fearful.  We need faculty with the courage to teach online, and in Palmer’s words:

“…the courage to teach from the most truthful places in the landscape of self and world, the courage to invite students to discover, explore, and inhabit those places in the living of their own lives.”

It is what good teachers have done for ages … and doing it online is a natural evolution of what we do.


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Rethinking Pedagogy

beethamIn my last post, I discussed how I was rethinking some fundamentals based on our White Paper.  “Rethinking” must be in vogue.  Yesterday, I received my copy of a new edition of a book edited by Helen Beetham and Rhona Sharpe – Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing for 21st Century Learning (Routledge, 2013).

I am only a couple of chapters in so far, but I am finding it interesting.  First, all of the authors are either UK or Australian, giving a perspective that is not so USA-centric.  With England’s Open University and Australia’s unique distance program for the Outback, this perspective is worth giving a listen.  When I first started to teach online eighteen years ago, one of my mentors was Dr. Lindsay Barker, an educator from Australia.  And Lindsay was decidedly focused on pedagogy…not technology…though he was one of the first to help conceptualize using a brand new product – Lotus Notes – as a VLE.

I like the tone of this book.  The authors suggest that the theoretical concepts remain valid, but that pedagogy (which they broaden beyond youth to include adult learning) is tied to technologies of learning, and as these technologies evolve, the pedagogy should as well.  One comment that caught my eye in the Foreword was:

“…At the time of the first edition [2007], learning technologists were insisting that there was more to online learning than lectures on the web, and we should be looking to the active forms of learning that could be offered.  Since then, we have had the explosion of social media to connect learners to each other, there are more opportunities for user-generated content, and yet now there are even more lectures on the web…”

How true is that!?!?!

In rethinking pedagogy, the authors have attempted to use the term in the classic sense of guidance-to-learn.  They note that recent researchers have suggested that “learning” is superior to “teaching” but they make no apologies.  They note that there has always been content – whether that was the local library or the internet, but that most learning opportunities are enhanced when the learning is guided.  “Pedagogy is about guided learning, rather than leaving you to find your own way.”  So the teacher is front and center in this book.

Chapter 2 by Helen Beetham focuses on active learning in technology-rich contexts.  She noted that challenges facing online educators include recognizing the variance in learners and adapting to this variance rather than teaching to one level.  She suggests five types of learning activities appropriate for digital technologies:

  • Discovering
  • Developing and Sharing Ideas
  • Solving Problems, Developing Techniques
  • Collecting, Gathering, Recording, Editing
  • Working with Others

bloomspyramidShe includes a useful appendix that provides a taxonomy of digital literacy tied to Bloom’s Taxonomy.  For each level of the taxonomy, she provided examples of learning tasks with a digital literacy component, and relevant tools, applications, or services.

For instance, under Remembering, she suggested labeling diagrams, locating resources on the web and tagging them, and taking quizzes.  Tools included online whiteboards, electronic polling, and Google.

Moving up to Analyzing, she suggested activities where students identify patterns, using visualization apps or geotagging.  She also suggested the use of blogs for public debate around issues with links to evidence, as well as the use of mind-mapping software.

At the level of Creating, she suggested student generation of research projects, design of apps, or the creation of new communities of practice, using social media and web design software.  She noted that some have decried the “cut and paste mentality” of students, but she sees real value in guided tasks of aggregation, using techniques such as digital storytelling to have students make sense of their collections.  My colleague Bud Deihl would love that!

As I said, I am only two chapters in … so I have another fifteen to go.  But I am enjoying this book.  Be interested to hear from any others reading it.

[Graphics: Routledge, Samantha Penney}


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Online Learning Theory

I have just finished reading (and enjoying)  Linda Harasim‘s book, Learning Theory and Online Technology (Routledge Publishing, 2011).  She postulates that the learning theories of the past centuries need updating for the networked learning era in which we find ourselves.  Linda frames a new theory by taking us on a historical journey through the development of previous theories of learning.

Linda harkens back to Thomas Kuhn‘s work on paradigms to note that theories influence, shape and determine our actions.  She suggests the human race has had four major socio-technological paridigm shifts:

  • “Speech (40,000 BCE): the development of speech and intertribal communication in hunter-gatherer communities produces recognizable civilizations based on informal learning with characteristic crafts and symbolic art;
  • Writing (10,000 BCE): agricultural revolution interacts with the massing of populations in fertile regions to produce state structures and cumulative knowledge growth based on the invention of writing and the formalization of learning;
  • Printing (CE 1600): machine technology and the printing press interact with the development of global trade and communication, to expand the dissemination and specialization of knowledge and science;
  • Internet (CE 2000): advanced network technology interacts with powerful new models of education and training that offer the potential to produce knowledge-based economies and the democratization of knowledge production (p.17).”

Marshall McLuhan might have added radio and television to this mix, as we do live in a mediated environment.  That said, it would be hard to argue that the internet has not profoundly influenced, shaped and determined our actions in the past decade.  Linda uses this historical context to map out the history of the internet, and then in parallel to lay out the historical development of learning theories.  She starts with behaviorist theories of Pavlov and Skinner, which in a stimulus – response mode, are seen as too rigid.  She then moved into the cognitivist learning theory, with its mind as a computer model.  She suggests that this was instructor-centered and transmission focused.  She then reviewed the next evolution – constructivist learning theory, with active learning and knowledge scaffolding.

To Linda, the introduction of the internet profoundly shifted how knowledge is created and shared.  The previous three theories were based on scarcity of knowledge and experts.  The internet allowed for the social development of knowledge.  Linda therefore proposed a new theory – Online Collaborative Learning (OCL) Theory, which emphasizes active engagement by groups for idea generation, idea organizing, and intellectual convergence.

A weakness in Linda’s book is that she never mentions connectivism as a theory, and yet many of the characteristics of her OCL theory align with networked learning and the connectivism theory of Stephen Downes and George Siemens.  Like connectivism, Linda sees learning as a process that builds on connections inside and outside the classroom.  An interesting point Linda makes is that the role of teacher/faculty is neither “Sage on the Stage” nor “Guide on the Side”, but rather the connection between the students and her network within her discipline.

Linda provides three chapters of cases illustrating her Online Collaborative Learning theory, which I found useful.  She ends her book by noting the amazing growth of the internet over the past twenty years, from a total of 623 websites in 1993 to the present world of Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Amazon.  The internet has become a familiar and common aspect of life, yet its impact on education does not mirror this growth outside education.  Linda sees the internet as still an “add-on” and not an integrated aspect of teaching.  I might argue that this is less true of students than teachers, but I understand where Linda is coming from.  She is holding up the promise of online learning.

Having just finished Linda’s book, I am now starting David Weinberger‘s new book, Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room .  In many ways, David picks up where Linda leaves off.  David’s previous book, Everything is Miscellaneous, is one of my favorites and very useful in understanding tagging and social bookmarking.  In this book, David notes that society has been bemoaning information overload for thousands of years.  Yet we continue to survive (and thrive).  He quotes Clay Shirky‘s famous “It’s not information overload. It’s filter failure,” but adds an interesting nuance.  Filters in the past removed information.  In choosing which books to place on a shelf, libraries filtered out thousands of other published works.  You only saw the books they selected.  In this digital era, he uses as an example Mary Spiro’s list in the Baltimore Science News Examiner of eight podcasts one should not miss.  While she has filtered out thousands of podcasts, those podcasts can still be found on the internet if one chooses.  In other words, today’s filters remove clicks, but not the content itself.  So filters no longer filter out, they filter forward.  When we use a Google search, the fact that our search returns millions of hits no longer seems overwhelming.  We accept it and usually use the first ten hits.  In Weinberger’s view, the filters themselves have become content, making our network smarter.

I am only through the first chapter of David’s book, but it is a timely piece that continues to nudge my thinking.  If you have read either of these books, I would be interested in your thoughts.

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My Next Summer Reading Plans

A delivery from Barnes and Noble is like Christmas in July.  As much as I like digital, there is something comforting about holding a book.  Here are the next four books I plan to read this summer:


Looking forward to jumping in!

And by the way, they are sitting on one of my favorite chairs, designed by a student in the Interior Design program at Gwinnett Technical College many years ago.  It, like these books, reminds me that we can go anywhere our imagination will take us.


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More Rules of Thumb

Yesterday I started an examination of Alan Webber’s Rules of Thumb.: 52 Truths For Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self (2009).  As Webber noted, these amazing times require one to rethink, reimagine, and recalibrate what is possible.  In other words, it is time to rewrite the rules.

I looked at the first thirteen rules yesterday, using as a lens our initiative to help faculty move their classes online.  Continuing today:

Rule #14 – You don’t know if you don’t go.

Webber suggests that we all need to get out of our comfort zone and experience new things.  How many of us as faculty spend time in the social media that our students use?  How do we add relevance to our students’ lives if we do not understand their culture?  You don’t know if you don’t go!

Rule #15 – Every start-up needs four things: change, connections, conversation and community.

Webber noted that these four words are not just a cute mnemonic device, they represent a foundation for a new type of business plan.  They also form a nice foundation for an online course.  In moving courses online, teaching (and learning) practices have to change.  Online courses work best when students make connections with the content, the faculty, and each other.  Learning occurs through conversations (synchronous and asynchronous).  The goal in online learning is to create a community of learners.

Rule #16 – Facts are facts; stories are how we learn.

Nothing is dryer than just the facts.  Facts come alive when coupled with stories that touch us.  My colleague Bud Deihl has been working with faculty at VCU to start a digital storytelling initiative.  Technology provides some wonderful tools these days for faculty to tell their stories…and for students to tell theirs.  Learning becomes more personal when stories are used, and more learning-centered if students become involved in telling those stories.  In my classes last year, I had quite a few online students who were frankly scared of technology, and yet when I pointed them to CogDog’s 50+ Ways to Tell a Story and let them begin telling theirs, magical things began to happen in the class.

Rule #17 – Entrepreneurs choose serendipity over efficiency.

There are safe ways to teach and there are creative ways to teach, and the two rarely coincide.  Online teaching and learning has opened new creative approaches for both my students and myself.  It is work, but it is also fun, exciting, and more vibrant than recycling the old lectures I used to use.

Rule #18 – Knowing it ain’t the same as doing it.

There are a lot of “experts” who theorize about best practices for teaching online.  But the critical component for me is whether these experts have actually done it – taught online themselves.  In a like manner, faculty will learn more the first semester they actually teach online, and there are no manuals or websites that can replace that crucible of experience.

Rule #19 – Memo to leaders: focus on the signal-to-noise ratio.

The signal-to-noise ratio comes from electrical engineering – the higher the ratio, the clearer the message being transmitted.  It is also a term I heard in my Navy days.  When hunting submarines, our job was to pull their signals out of the acoustic noise in the sea.  We used technology to improve the signal to noise ratio.  Today, our job as faculty is to still improve that signal-to-noise ratio.  The internet is awash in noise and distractions.  We do have tools such as RSS feeds that can help us improve our signal strength and focus on finding those bits of information that enhance the learning process.  Webber suggested that leaders need to do self-assessments about themselves, their company, their values, and their metrics in order to improve their signal-to-noise ratio.  Good advice also for faculty and the course they teach.  Particularly online, how clear are we on goals and objectives?  What processes are we using to help students critically examine our subject matter?  Do the metrics we use map to our learning objectives, and do our students understand that?

Rule #20 – Speed = strategy.

In an age where change is happening at a dizzying pace, the winners will be those who can see the change and adapt the swiftest.  This may not be true for every course, but every course can benefit from developing students who are critical thinkers and adaptive thinkers.  It raises the question as to how we unleash our students to question old models and create new ones.

Rule #21 – Great leaders answer Tom Peters’ great question: “How can I capture the world’s imagination?”

Is your course “insanely great?”  If not, why not?  Timid approaches to learning do succeed every day, and imaginative experiments in learning do fail everyday, but which excite you and your students more?  Considering how to have one’s course capture the students’ imagination is a great exercise in keeping at bay the status quo.

Rule #22 – Learn to see the world through the eyes of your customer.

The learning is a class changes when the faculty stops being a salesperson for her or his discipline and instead becomes a partner with students in knowledge creation around the discipline.  We faculty are guilty of being so passionate about our course that we fail to examine our course through our students’ eyes.  If we want them to want more than a grade, we have to work at creating opportunities so students see the relevance of the course to their own lives, lighting their own passions about the subject matter.  Some of the social media open new opportunities for making our students’ thinking visible.  It is one of the reasons I feel I get closer to my online students than my face-to-face students.  In the 24/7 online environment, I end up spending more time seeing the world through their eyes.

Rule #23 – Keep two lists: What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night?

Webber noted that some people have jobs while others have something they really work at.  The first question really gets at what are you passionate about, while the second is about being honest about what works and what does not.  What would be on your two lists?

Rule #24 – If you want to change the game, change the economics of how the game is played.

I love the quote from Jerry Garcia that starts this chapter – “You do not want to merely be considered just the best of the best.  You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.”  I have always considered that great advice for an online teacher as well.  Rather than looking for the same ways of doing what you used to do in the classroom in an online class, look for new ways of teaching that the online environment and social media open up.

Rule #25 – If you want to change the game, change customer expectations.

John Tagg noted in The Learning Paradigm College that students are equally guilty at low expectations (you feed me what will be on the test, I’ll regurgitate it).  But as Chickering and Gamson noted in their classic Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education, high expectations lead to improved performance.

6. Communicates High Expectations – Expect more and you will get more. High expectations are important for everyone — for the poorly prepared, for those unwilling to exert themselves, and for the bright and well motivated. Expecting students to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when teachers and institutions hold high expectations for themselves and make extra efforts.

In the online environment, expectation management is critical.  Rubrics are an excellent means by which your expectations can be crystal clear.

Rule #26 – The soft stuff is the hard stuff.

Does your course focus on the bottom line (grades) or investing in the future?  Do students leave your course motivated to continue their learning journey or glad the course is done and the box is checked for graduation?  What do you focus on?

These rules are resonating with me.  Are they with you?  I’ll continue my examination in the next post.