Author Archives: Dr. Sarah Spring

About Dr. Sarah Spring

Assistant Professor of English

Rubrics, July 24

Hello again! Instead of our scheduled discussion on MOOCs, I think everyone would benefit more from an assignment on rubrics. Since many of you will teach in these online environments or assign multimodal or blended work, you need an idea of how you will grade such projects. You’ll notice the rubric I am using for our online writing activities: this was designed by one of my classes! I sat back (and facilitated when necessary) a discussion of the important elements of this kind of work, and the entire class had to agree.

But is that a good strategy for you? Perhaps you want to design your own rubric ahead of time, maybe letting your class only tweak certain elements? What does our textbook have to say about grading students?

There is also a movement among educators to stop grading altogether, so you may decide that students can grade themselves or that the rough draft/completion of the project influences the grade more than the quality of such work.

So, for this Thursday’s assignment, I want you to design your own rubric. You can pick and choose from the links below or create something entirely new! Respond to this post with your rubric so that the entire class has access to our ideas in one place. 

Here are some links to get you started:

My rubric from the Writing for New Media class

Cheryl Ball’s Assessing Multimedia (look at the lists on p. 67-68 and p. 75)

Kairos peer-review criteria (scroll down to see the four categories)

IML’s Honors Thesis Project Parameters

Student Anxiety and Correspondence, July 17

For Thursday’s assignment this week, I want you to look up some of the research in this area – you can search in the library databases or Google scholar, for example – and see what people are finding in their classrooms. Journals are also dedicated to this topic such as Distance Education, Computers and Composition, and Innovative Higher Education

Try these links as a starting point:

Effect of Distance Learning on Undergraduate Students
Comparison of Student Achievement in an Online versus F2F Class
Engagement, Excitement, Anxiety, and Fear

Then, consider how you prefer to communicate as both a teacher and student. There are many ways to communicate with students (in both online and blended/hybrid courses) and many ways for students to communicate with one another, so what do you think is the best approach? What is a policy you can adopt as a teacher in terms of correspondence? Think about methods of communication and how often you are willing to use them, particularly for students who need additional help.

Before midnight on Thursday, respond to this post and any replies ahead of you in the Comments.

Methods of communication to consider: Blackboard (discussion forums and Virtual Office Hours/Classroom), Skype, Google Hangout, Adobe Connect, email, text, and Twitter

Assignment for Thursday, July 3

Hello! This fourth week of Summer B will be a little different – it is the first week that we don’t have a short assignment due, so I want us to spend some time preparing for future work.

First, look at the assignment instructions for Analysis of a Teaching Tool – respond to that page with your choice of tool (due by midnight on July 3). Your analysis will be due the following Thursday, July 10.

Second, begin looking at resources on the how/why of flipped classrooms and lessons – I have included a link in the assignment instructions, and I have tagged links on Twitter with our class hashtag #WUwrit510. Since this is the major assignment in the course, I want us to be prepared before we tackle it; many of you may not teach in online environments, but may instead focus on blended or mobile learning in more traditional classrooms. And this is a great tool/method to be aware of!

So, by midnight on July 3, I want you to create a small or “baby” version of a flipped lesson plan. One way to start may be to take a PowerPoint presentation or Prezi that you already have and record your voice over it – creating layers, additional instructions, further explanations, etc. In fact, the newest version of Microsoft Office actually asks if you want to start Camtasia (a recording software) when you open PowerPoint. Or, you can start by using a screencapturing software like Jing or Screencast-O-Matic, the latter you can use on their website without downloading. You will need a microphone, which you can buy rather cheaply at various stores or can borrow from the lab in Withers.

The choice will likely be determined by what kind of lesson plan you want to create – do you want to give students a similar experience to a lecture (slides with explanation), or do you want to walk students through a process (library research, thesis statement as you type, etc)?

Many of your free accounts on WordPress may not let you upload these creations to your blog, but you can create a YouTube channel or upload to a site like Vimeo that will then allow you to embed the link in a post/page. You can also post it to Blackboard.

Twitter hashtag

As I mentioned, all of your posts have great initial questions and comments about the course content and potential research topics. Reading through your blogs last night inspired me to find a way to pull outside information into one place.

There are several ways to tag information for this class (including social bookmarking platforms like Delicious), but I am choosing to do Twitter – both for its ease of use and for the research I have seen people posting links to in recent weeks. For example, many of you have asked about student retention and ability in relationship to online classrooms, and I’ve seen several articles in the last day or so that I think you would find useful. Research even indicates that shy students and “at-risk” students benefit from social media such as Twitter because they can ask questions or talk about what they are learning in a less threatening environment; teachers are now tweeting reminders about deadlines and office hours with greater effect than email. Using Twitter outside of the class means that you can follow certain educators, administrators, or even organizations (like NCTE or CCCC) for their help and insight into topics that are important to you.

Therefore, I have created the hashtag #WUwrit510 that I will use to retweet or tag things that will be relevant; if you have an account, you can follow me (@scsrhetoric) or you can tweet questions or comments to the class using that same hashtag.

For those who don’t have a Twitter account, it is free and easy to setup/use. Please be aware that Twitter is public, so if you want to create a disposable account for this class, that is fine! Disposable simply means creating a new account with an alternative email address or a pseudonym as your username. As long as I know who you are (which you can tell me in an email or in the Blackboard discussion forum)…

Or, as another option, you can use a website with archiving ability to search the history of a particular hashtag, like Tweet Archivist.

Week 1 Blog Post Topic

Due: Thursday, June 12 by midnight

Several things have motivated me to create this course: organizations like NCTE have released statements about 21st-century literacies, Winthrop is reexamining its handheld technology policy for the classroom, and new reports are being released about student desire for more tech-savvy courses and instructors.

Of particular importance is the CCCC Committee for Effective Practices in Online Writing Instruction. Please look through their webpage to see the recent resolutions and guidelines, and make sure to notice the annotated bibliography the committee has compiled.

These sources (and many more) point to a changing landscape in education, something Winthrop’s new president is well aware of when she encourages us to offer more online and hybrid courses. But teaching electronically, or adding new media components, is something that takes thought and practice. I will confess that I have tried to simply migrate a traditional, face-to-face classroom into Blackboard – with fairly disastrous results. It is a different type of teaching, one I hope this class will allow you to explore and discuss.

So, for your first blog post, I want you to look through this class website, read the materials I provided above, and read the introduction to our textbook; then, respond with your thoughts about the subject and the class in general. What are some questions you plan to pursue this summer? What research topics are you interested in? You should discuss your response to the course goals and projects, what you expected from this class, what you think it’s going to be about, what you value as a student, what you hope to gain from this class, what ideas you might already have for projects, and anything else you find relevant for me to know. Your post serves as recognition that you have read and understood the course syllabus and also helps me gauge what you expect from me and this class.

NOTE: I will be adding information to the “Resources” page, including links to bibliographies, research in the field, etc. I also plan to add a how-to guide for blogs to help you design and organize your entries.

Public domain image of a computer and coffee cup

You’ve reached our class website…

Hello! This week begins our journey into exploring online teaching environments; while we can’t possibly cover everything in nine weeks, I hope the textbook and related topics provide an introduction to ideas that you can use in your own teaching/education.

As I’ve explained over email, this is the space I will be using to post information about the syllabus, course policies, assignments, due dates, and reading schedule. Also, once you email me with the links to your own blogs, I will place them here to the right, under “Class Links”! This way students will have access to everyone else’s blog (I will explain how you can add your own links as well).

In Week 1 of Summer B, I want you to get familiar with this site and our space in Blackboard. Questions can be asked by clicking “Leave a reply,” or you can email me. I also plan to have online office hours under the Skype username writ465professor.