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Interview with English 318 Students and Reflective Report:

The purpose of this assignment is to investigate the learning experiences of students enrolled in an online professional communication course. Working with two classmates, you will develop a set of interview questions to survey three undergraduate students about their current (and possibly former) online learning. Your questions should seek to uncover the kinds of learning opportunities available to them, the kinds of interactions they have with both the instructor and their fellow classmates, the challenges and benefits of taking an online course, and other relevant issues as discussed in Palloff and Pratt and within our class. Your interview questions will be delivered asynchronously (unless you would like to make alternate arrangements with your interviewees) and should take approximately 20 minutes for interviewees to complete.

After completing your interviews, each team member will be responsible for writing an individual reflective report on your findings. This report should discuss the questions your team developed, what you hoped to uncover with them, and what you found through the responses gathered. In particular, your paper should deliberate on issues raised in the interview responses that you found particularly compelling or problematic. You likely will want to discuss these findings in relation to issues raised in Palloff and Pratt or your own teaching experiences. Your team's interview questions should be included as an appendix to your report.


Short Reflective Paper on Online vs. F2F Learning Experiences:

In this 3-5 page paper, your task is to reflect on your personal experiences with online and traditional face-to-face (F2F) classroom learning activities. Your paper should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each learning environment as you experienced it. If you teach, you may also want to consider the ways in which online and F2F can (or has) shape(d) your own pedagogical practices. Additionally (and importantly), you should draw on readings from Palloff and Pratt's Building Online Learning Communities: Effective Strategies for the Virtual Classroom to help you situate and analyze your experiences within a theoretical and pedagogical framework. In other words, while this paper does call on you to discuss your experiences, it also asks you to consider these in relation to larger conversations about teaching and learning practices. You are welcome to draw on additional sources, but it is not required.

Online and Technology-rich Teaching Philosophy:

The purpose of a teaching philosophy statement is to describe your beliefs about and approaches to teaching. It often includes discussion of your motivations for teaching, your overall priorities and goals for student learning, and your pedagogical methods and strategies. Teaching philosophy statements are often used by potential employers to evaluate your educational approach and fit within a particular program/department and by students (in abbreviated form or as part of course goals) to help them understand why particular activities and methods are being used. Teaching philosophy statements help readers to imagine what you are like in the classroom and why your particular approaches are relevant and appropriate.

Although many of you have likely written teaching philosophies before, this assignment asks you to consider and articulate your pedagogical beliefs in relation to online and technology-rich environments. The statement you compose for this assignment should include attention to the above issues, but should also focus on your stands toward and values related to technology in the face-to-face and virtual classroom. You might address the tools and technologies you use (or would use) to teach, why you use these tools (especially as they relate to key issues in the field such as development of multiple literacies), how you situate yourself as the instructor in relation to these tools, and how you reflect upon and assess your teaching with technology methods.

A draft of your Online and Technology-rich Teaching Philosophy statement is due week 10 for peer feedback. A revised version is due during week 13. We will look at and discuss several samples in class, but further resources are linked below. Feel free to post links to additional examples in the "Links and Resources" discussion thread on WebCT.



Online Teaching Lesson Plan and Activity:

For this assignment you may choose to work alone or with a partner. You will begin by preparing a 2-3 page lesson plan outlining an online or technology-rich classroom activity. You can choose to focus your activity around one of the readings during weeks 11-15, or you may develop another activity to help your classmates engage issue of online pedagogy. You are welcome to use this activity as a way of introducing us to relevant tools/technologies (e.g. social networking, synchronous technologies, asynchronous technologies, podcasting, Moodle, blogging, wikis, collaborative/concept mapping, etc.). However, your facilitation of this activity must include more than just showing us how a particular tool works. Instead, it should provide us with a context and pedagogical justification for how this tool would fit with curricular goals and classroom practice, including its benefits and drawbacks.

What's due:

  • 2-3 page lesson plan: This lesson plan should be written as a resource that provides classmates with a pedagogical justification of the activity, the benefits and drawbacks of its use, instructions for its use, and a scripted plan for how to implement it in the classroom (or online), including time constraints and needed resources such as lab access or additional materials.
  • Teaching activity facilitation: You will have 30-60 minutes to share your lesson plan and pedagogical justification with classmates and to engage them in your activity. Discussion of the activity and approach will follow.


Final Project:

This assignment offers three options so that you can tailor the work to your professional and pedagogical interests.

Option #1: Research/Reflective Paper (connected with Online Teaching Activity)

This option asks you to situate your online teaching activity and lesson plan into a larger context. Your 6-8 page paper should include a rationale that uses sources from both in class and out to build a case for why your activity/approach is relevant and worthwhile. You should provide context based on your own experience and interviews with students. Please keep in mind that while you may discuss a particular technology as part of your final paper, this is not simply a report. Instead, you are reflecting on this teaching activity (or general type of activity), what it offers pedagogically, and how it is/can be situated within larger theories of teaching and learning, particularly those related to rhetoric, composition, and/or technical and professional communication.

Option #2: Seminar Paper

This option asks to you to research and compose a traditional seminar paper (10-15 pages) in which you explore critically a topic of your choosing related directly to the course materials and subject matter. The purpose of this writing assignment is for you to synthesize, critique, reflect on, and further explore an area of interest related to online teaching and pedagogy. I strongly recommend that you think of the subject and approach for this paper as the basis for a potential conference proposal and presentation. Among upcoming conferences that regularly feature content on these issues are the following. Please check the websites for information on conferences and calls for proposals (CFPs). This project is recommended for students wanting to dig further into a theoretical or pedagogical issue discussed in class.

Option #3: Syllabus for Online Course PLUS Justification Statement

This option provides you with an opportunity to develop a syllabus for an online college-level course. Additionally, you will include a short (3-4 page) justification paper that explains your pedagogical choices in light of the readings we did in class.

For this assignment you will write a course description and objectives, grading and course policies, a complete semster-long schedule (two or three day a week schedule), and assignment directions for all course projects. This syllabus can be for a completely online or hybrid course. Your written rationale will justify your overall pedagogical approach, as well as your reasoning for individual assignment and activities. You should provide some research and/or theoretical background from our readings to support your choices.