Innovative Learning with Mrs. C

Learning & Teaching in a modern world

Week 4- Assessments


I am intrigued by the assessment option referred to as the Word Journal.

The word Journal was introduced to me in the article , Technology-Enhanced Classroom Assessment Techniques by Jacqueline Mangien from Faculty Focus. I have used  journaling as a means of student reflection and self-reflection in a number of my classes. This semester, I introduced blogging as an electronic form of reflection and to build student-student interactivity. I have found this form of assessment very effective and especially enlightening for me. Reflection is a great tool to decode and internalize a learning experience. This method of expression allows the student to self -assess and collaborate with peers , along with the instructors assessment of   higher order thinking skills. It also adds a measure of the ‘authentic audience’ which tends to motivate students to do a better job.

A Word Journal defined by  Faculty Focus:

In the Word Journal assessment, students summarize a lesson, concept, or text in a single word, then write a short narrative explaining their word choice. Encouraging students to write blog posts for their word journals provides a relevant and wider audience for their selections and allows classmates to comment on one another’s ideas. The professor might then collect the word journals and create a word cloud such as Wordle to visually display comment themes and elements from the responses.

Looking to engage my own new bloggers I tried a modified version of this lesson.  Please check out my lesson instruction and outcome, on my student blog; Blogging with Mrs. C.  Additional examples can be viewed on any student blog listed on the right, feel free to comment on your favorite. I’m sure my class will get a kick out of it!



Week 3- The 24-hour teacher

Courtesy of :

Courtesy of :

Has the time commitment required to create a course been a barrier that’s prevented you from agreeing to teach online?

I have been tasked with developing and teaching in a blended classroom for about 3 years now. The initial setup  as well as the ongoing maintenance for my classes has been extremely time consuming, but it has , at the same time, been very rewarding. I was not intimidated by the daunting task of putting all my classes online as many of my colleagues have been in the past. Many are still overwhelmed. I view it as a challenge – yes, but also as an opportunity to develop and improve my skills as a teacher. I have found that once  a course is initially established, it does become easier each time you teach it.  However, my only experience is in a blended learning environment, I have not had an opportunity to teach 100% online class. I know, with the help of this and the other classes in this online series, that there are frustrations and obstacles in an online environment that I have not yet experienced.

I agree with the data presented in “Teaching Online- A Time Comparison” in regard to Course Preparation Time. Because delivery of instructions and content relies primarily on the written word, these instructions must be far more detailed. In the classroom environment you can  explain and answer questions as they arise. For online content and instruction , you must anticipant potential questions and provide solutions up front. Providing this level of detail is very time consuming, significantly more when compared to in-class preparation. Cavanaugh’s study also identified an increase in Time Spent Teaching in an online environment. “This <electronic> communication has been found to be one of the most time consuming parts of teaching an online course.” Although “this time can be reduced by limiting student’s interaction”, by doing so you may jeopardize the quality of the course through misunderstanding of course content and/or expectations. Obviously limiting feedback, hinders our ability to clarify instruction and also prohibits students from learning from their mistakes. Cavanaugh’s study concludes that even for small online classes, time demands are significantly greater than for in-class courses. The question we must ask ourselves is, of course, does the additional time demand necessary to deliver a quality online class outweigh the benefits gained by teaching in this environment? Is it really worth it? I guess time will tell…..


Week 3-Interactivity Musings


According to the article,“The role you play in Online Discussions” ,by David Brown, the online instructor must be willing to take on multiple roles. These roles include community leader, discussion leader, manager , technical consultant and information resource person. Each role played adds value in multiple ways.  I do not think we , as online teachers ,need to be masters at every role. ( Although, it would be very nice) Significant strengths in any one or more areas, such as Manager , information specialist or tech guru can in fact compensate for lesser expertise in another area, such as discussion leader.  Do I think my master teacher could improve the student-student interactivity in the course? Absolutely. However, the course is strong in other areas and , as we are all discovering, there is only so much time in the day. It’s a process, one that evolves, grows and improves as we perfect our skills as teachers. We and the courses we teach are all works-in-process.


Week 3 Tips for success


Ease the Uncertainty & Build Community.

A personal situation this week with regard to technology, lead me to review the article in our reading “Technology’s Impact on E-learning“.  In this article, Hoffman stresses  the need for preparation, mastery of the technology and keeping it simple in regard to unnecessary “bells and whistles”. What was not addressed is a  plan to cover the  inevitable ‘what if’ scenario.  What if the internet goes down?

I am a firm believer in a backup plan, for most everything. It’s probably a result of preferring to be ultra-organized, and the comfort level that this organization provides. This week I did not have a backup plan for class without an internet connection! Yeah, talk about an OMG moment! This circumstance, lead me to a closer review our reading, when I got connected, of course. I found Hoffman did not address this particular aspect of technology and how to handle the issue in our online teaching. I thought I might offer some valuable tips of my own.

As part of your initial Course Introduction and Welcome page, and/or your Syllabus, offer an emergency contact number or email and recommend steps to take in the event that you cannot connect to your online course. Also I would highly recommend that students have at least thought about what they might do in this situation. The instruction might resemble the following:

What to do if you lose your internet connection:

  1. Don’t panic! Anxiety just adds to the stress  and prevents you from thinking clearly and determining a logical plan of action
  2. Ask for help from a technical expert. They will be able to determine if the situation is temporary or more long term.
  3. Contact your instructor as soon as possible to inform them of your difficulty. Email or a post in the personal discussion board can be accomplished with a smartphone connection. Yes you will use data , but this is good use of your minutes. They need to know you have a legitimate excuse for not being ‘present’ on line.
  4. Have a backup plan. Chances are the entire universe in not without the  internet for a prolonged period of time. Contact friends or other family members to see if you can connect  at their location, and/or use their equipment. If you have a mobile device, tablet or laptop, relocate yourself to take advantage of that connection.

The key is to have a plan that you can quickly put into place, allowing for as little disruption to class as possible. Be sure to communicate your plan to your instructor.

This may seem obvious to many of us, but covering all the bases for a young or new online learner, can potentially alleviate that sense isolation  that may be present in the online environment. It can also build  teacher presence and improve your online community.



Hoffman, J. (2003, December 1). Technology’s Impact on E-Learning. WebJunction. Retrieved October 25, 2014.

Week 3 – Creating Collaboration


Week 3 – How to Maximize Student Engagement

Jennifer Hoffman’s article Creating Collaboration states that “One of the current buzzwords in e-learning is collaboration.” Collaboration  is not only key in online learning but the best traditional f2f models strive to incorporate collaborative exercises into the classroom as well.  According to Rebeca Alber, in the article Deeper Learning: A Collaborative classroom is Key,  “In preparing our students for college and careers, 21st century skills call on us to develop highly collaborative citizens — it’s one of the 4 Cs, after all.” Rebecca and Jennifer both agree that collaboration doesn’t just happen, and scaffolding as well as a supportive environment is needed to achieve effective collaboration. Online tools , such as discussion boards and email can be used to encourage collaboration and participant interaction.

Fundamentally, Hoffman explains, collaboration is used for 2 reasons; to achieve engagement and support learning  goals. She also cautions us to not confuse  collaboration with communication.  True collaboration is much more difficult to achieve. It needs to be carefully directed by the facilitator but ultimately remain learner- centered. This then allows  a more natural collaborative mindset to be integrated into our daily lives. Both online and f2f classrooms should strive to engage students with true collaborative experiences that will reinforce our ultimate goal of encouraging life-long learning.



Alber, R. (2012, December 31). Deeper Learning: A Collaborative Classroom Is Key. Edutopia. Retrieved October 24, 2014.

Hoffman, J. (2012, March 21). Creating Collaboration. WebJunction. Retrieved October 24, 2014.

Capstone E-Portfolio Desciption2



Entrepreneurship is a subject that I have taught for many years, however, It has always been presented as a series of units inside a broader Business class. This year, for the first time, I have segmented the material and will present it as a standalone semester length course. I have not examined it for potential online elements, and if truth be told, have not even formalized the lesson sequence or finalized the syllabus.  The only concrete language that exists today is the course description from our program of studies:

“Entrepreneurship takes business basics to the next level as students work through starting their own “virtual” business. Students are introduced to fundamentals of business ownership and marketing while developing a detailed business plan.  Students improve their knowledge of the business environment through textbook study and individual projects. Students explore the roles of the business owner, business manager and business leader as well as expand their fundamental computer skills through the extensive use of MS office and the Adobe CS6 Suite.”

My hope is to make the transition as seamless(for me) and as transparent (for my students) as possible, while adding substantial rigor to the existing content.  Project-based learning is essential to the development of necessary 21st Century Skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. My plan is to  incorporate significant tech elements into the new course through an integrated business plan project. The intent is to reinforce content with a hands-on learning experience that will ; reinforce computer skills, build self-confidence and encourage young entrepreneurs.


Capstone E-Portfolio Description1



My practicum class is Entrepreneurship.  My master teacher does an outstanding presentation in the initial course overview and welcome post. She presents the course as a journey  and an adventure and offers multiple definitions and explanations of the concept.

 “Entrepreneurship is the process of identifying, developing, and bringing a vision to life. The vision may be an innovative idea, an opportunity, or simply a better way to do something. The end result of this process is the creation of a new venture, formed under conditions of risk and considerable uncertainty.”

And In her own words, as a further explanation, 

“To become an entrepreneur, then, means that we identify an opportunity and then organize and mobilize our resources to create an organization that produces and/or markets the product or service. And all of these steps are taken with the foreknowledge that the there is a lot of risk involved. For most small businesses, success is equated with planning. The greater the amount … of<planning>, the greater the probability of success and, therefore, the less risk of failure. For this course, the process of learning about entrepreneurship will focus on identifying an idea or opportunity and then developing a plan for the start-up and operation of the resulting business. Preparation of a business plan is the end product for this course…” A clear direction and proposed outcome that then becomes the primary goal of the coursework. The level of detail is appropriate and offers significant insight in order to develop realistic student expectations.

“THE HOOK” is inventive, attention grabbing and speaks for itself:

“Are you interested in starting your own business, or in being your own boss? Do you want to explore what’s involved in being a successful business owner, or do you have a really great business idea? Are you looking for the secret to success in life? Whatever your reasons are for signing up for this course, you will not be disappointed. So, “get in, sit down, hang on”, and prepare for a great adventure, as we explore the world of entrepreneurship!

The learning-centered approach is illustrated through a detailed outline of steps involved in constructing a business plan;

“The road to success is always under construction” is an adage that fairly accurately describes both the process of building a business and the plan for this course. In this entrepreneurship process we can roughly equate building a business with constructing a place of business. In order to be successful, both types of projects must:

      • begin with a unique idea
      • develop a detailed plan
      • lay a solid foundation
      • build from the ground up
      • incorporate all essential elements, and
      • consider and adjust plans for any risks

And support for the self-reliant learner, is also prepared and presented effectively;

“To be successful at building the plan for your business you need a set of tools:

    • reading, writing and computer skills,
    • ability to stick to a task until it is completed,
    • organization skills,
    • creativity and cooperation skills,
    • ambition,
    • business ingenuity,
    • and any other talents and skills you possess.

Through application of these tools you will learn how to turn your idea into a solid business plan that may ultimately lead to a successful business.”

With the detailed presentation and organization of the course expectations , a detailed syllabus, pre-planned assignments and lessons with pre-determined due dates , a motivated student can easily navigate the terms of the course. This allows for an online learner to develop and perfect time management skills and take ownership of their learning. This independence in the online environment definitely contributes to a self-reliant learner.

Capstone E-Portfolio Introduction



  • Purpose & Audience:
    • My capstone project is a demonstration of many of the tools and methodologies used to develop and execute a successful online teaching environment. My immediate audience are the participants of this class, my class instructor and master teacher. Ultimately, I hope to expand my audience  to include other professionals in my learning community wishing to gain knowledge of the online pedagogy. I may also utilize this project as an opportunity to demonstrate my online teaching expertise for future employment in secondary- or post-secondary education.
  •  Standards & Goals:  
    •  My overall objective for completing this series of Online Teaching courses from VHS was to equip myself with what I feel are the necessary skills to successfully advance my teaching career.  I firmly believe that the future of education is online. Advancements in technology have provided many opportunities to expand education to a variety of learners. Many educational institutions are quickly realizing the advantages of this new educational model.
    • The primary goal of this capstone project , however, is to showcase the development of various projects I have utilized and incorporated into my existing classroom environment. My immediate intention is NOT to become an online teacher, but to seamlessly integrate technology into my current teaching practices. An alternate objective is also to utilize these tools and best practices in the development of a ‘flipped’ classroom. A secondary objective is to share what I have learned with my school colleagues and administration as well as provide examples and ideas within my professional learning community.
    • I also plan to apply the post-grad credits I have  obtained, to a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in Curriculum and Instruction from Plymouth State University. (Note: This may belong in Future goals)
  •  Technology:
    •  This Professional Blog, Innovative Learning with Mrs .C is the primary means to communicate thoughts and artifacts within my e-portfolio. I will also use the class wiki to organize necessary information and share required links.  This serves as a learning model and and is an authentic demonstration of my primary learning objectives.

More Discussion Week 2


What contributes to “successful” teaching in any venue?

According to Shanti Kerr in Tips, Tools and Techniques for Teaching in the Online High School Classroom, “The successful online course is a result of teachers and students maximally utilizing the tools afforded to them. ” I would argue that this point is equally as important in a traditional classroom and does in all instances lead to successful teaching.  In addition to utilizing resources, Kerr also summarized some “best practices” which I believe, apply in any teaching venue. Some key points include using a variety of resources, providing timely and thorough feedback, giving students a choice of medium to demonstrate proficiency, allowing students to  self-assess their learning, providing rubrics, modeling and providing examples, and creating an authentic learning environment.  I would consider all these tips beneficial to any and every learning environment, demonstrating the many similarities between F2F and online learning. This is simply good teaching!


Week 2 discussion con’t


Is teaching online a natural outgrowth of classroom teaching?

My initial response to this question was: although there are many similarities in the teaching methodologies used in both the traditional classroom and online teaching, I don’t believe an online venue to necessarily be a ‘natural” outgrowth of the classroom. And then I really thought about it…..And I might be an atypical example of a classroom teacher going online, so not the best representative.  I’m a business and computer teacher. I have always had technology as an integral part of my classroom. That is not to say that my lessons, assignments, or even delivery of content has been solely computer based. It has not. But I have seen a natural progression in the use of technology, and a definite increase in the use of web resources over the last 5-10 years. I used to ‘force’ students to utilized non-web resources when doing research, basically just to ensure that they could , you know, open a book and utilize these other options. Now I have them using their smartphones to take a web generated quiz! Technology has become such an  integral part of everyday life. I have simply stopped fighting the losing battle. So for me it has been a natural, progressive step in the evolution of teaching and learning.  In “Can you see me now…”, the author, Ida Jones, indicates that advancements in technology have simply provided teachers with better instructional tools.  “Educational technologies are best described as tools faculty use to communicate with each learner to disseminate knowledge and facilitate learning”. These tools were once chalk and chalkboard and are now blogs and blackboard.

I don’t believe online learning would be as popular or as successful without the advancements in technology to facilitate both the teaching and the learning. It has naturally progressed right alongside  the technology. It would not even exist if there was not a need or a want for the ‘service’ provided. This is a customer base that is ready and willing to learn in their time, on their terms and on their dime. And let’s not forget…on their smartphone, tablet laptop, PC, surface, iPad, chrome book et. al.


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