Hi, Everybody. I am rebuilding my American Government class and I wanted to get some people in the know to eyeball it:


Here’s my question: Is this part of school 2.0?

(and if you’d like to give some feedback on course flow, design, and if the objectives of the first unit have been met I’d love to hear it).


Tags: coursedesign, school2.0

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Hi, Sharon. I really need to work on getting student input. Both for my course design and for collaboration during the class. Many of my students work in isolation. I'm not opposed this, but I really want to open the door for student who want something else. At the same time I don't want to force this collaboration. Any thoughts on how to accomplish this?
The subsections of you course are not online yet, but I would hope that the course includes the dichotomy of 1.) how American government is designed to function and 2.) what actually happens.

I would amend the Chester Bowles quote to something like...

"Government is too big. And it is too important to let the politicians have a hand in any part of it. However, unless government is big enough to handle the politicians, crooks, rascals and scoundrels (and all other manifestations of the depraving tendencies inherent in human nature); the end result is worse than a government that stomps on the liberties of its people in the name of democracy." Joseph Chmielewski

I would communicate the awe that we should have that the design of our government has withstood the lunacy of a two party system, withstood the failings and foibles of our leaders, withstood wars (inside and out) and has remained dynamic and vibrant.

I would also include sections about how our future will be affected by our decisions today, and a "what if" that carries our current trends to their logical conclusions.

It is almost as though the "American Psyche" has learned to take the dregs. offal and excrement of human nature and to take the leaders that greed and power elevate to power, and turn that stuff of human experience into usable compost.

All in all, I hope that the charter school where you deliver this course allows the unrestricted flow of ideas and the ability to express those ideas (Free Speech). I prefer a "Tell it like it is" approach to education, something that bureaucracies (such as schools and school districts) that support democracy abhor.

Good luck with the class.
Hi, Joseph. I don't have the rest of the course ready to go yet. I'm building it off of one of my previous courses, so I don't have to rebuild everything, but it's a big project.

I like your Chmielewski quote. I think about adding it. :)

I cover most of what you mention though out the course. As far as the communications that I have with my students, my school is very open. I can take the class where I want it to go, and hopefully with classroom 2.0 in mind, where my students want it to go without being worried about reprisal. Here's a commercial I put together for the class:


I think it says a lot about the freedom I have at my school. :)
Nice work. I am curious as to what your are using to created your American History site - DreamWearver or what? I am also wondering if you have tried open-source Moodle course management.

I teach online classes at my university and they have made a huge investment in Blackboard, but, I prefer Moodle better. It is free and in education cirelces tht is always good. I keep thinking I should use something else like a Web 2.0 blog, but Moodle allows me to organize it better. I also like the forum feature. Kinda a Web 2.0 thing. I also have each student create their own blog for reflection. So I have drifted into using all sorts of things in one course.

I agree with you about the discussion thing. I am working with college students, mostly education majors and getting them to discuss is like pulling teeth. It is very frustrating. At this point I tend to ask them to "REFLECT" on the reading or podcast or whatever it is. Still not exactly what I want, but as all good educators know reflection is a critical piece, so I figure they are getting a little bit of much needed practice and maybe they will understand when it comes to reflection and improving their own teaching.

You are certainly a reflective teacher and those students of your are very lucky to have you.
Hi, Cyndi. Thank you for your kind words. It means a lot to me. :)

I'm using DreamWeaver, but it's about 90% handcoded. The CSS was built with a lot of help from Barry Jahn who's here in Classroom 2.0, this tutorial from Albino Black Sheep, and accessibility information from the Green Beast Blog. If you'd a copy of my CSS sheet, or anything else, just ask.

I work with two online high schools. One uses WebCT currently and is moving to Blackboard over the summer (and yes, that' a huge investment). The other school I work with uses Ucompass Educator. It's a nice, simple, learning management system, but there is still a cost factor and it's closed-source. Personally, I like Moodle a lot. I have my own (http://mrmoses.org/?page_id=42) but haven't had much time to play with. I think that's why many organizations don't use Moodle. They'd rather pay for the tech-support than try to figure things out themselves (I've certainly felt that way at time playing around with Moodle on my own, and I've felt they way a lot trying to set up my own Elgg).

As for the discussions. I've had a fair amount of success using the discussion board. It was a matter of making it a required part of the course, giving a rubric for posts, and grading those posts, but it went well. I ran into a philosophical problem though. If I was going to force my students to participate in discussions it meant that all students had to be in the same place at the same time in the course. If they were too far behind the topic then they would not have the information that they needed to discuss the topic. If they had passed that point, then they would have to drop what they were doing to come back. As an online teacher I've decided that when learning happens is much less important than if learning happens. Further it's important that the when is left up to the students. If nothing else, I hope that the "when vs. if" principle is part of classroom 2.0.
Add a way for students to ask you questions outside of classtime. I use several tools, like Meebo, Evoca, Yackpack. and plain old email. Meebo is great for tutoring on the spot (it brings all your IMs together. If you put a widget on your blog, they can only talk to you using it - often parents favor that) Evoca is good for audio messages. Yackpack is like a walkietalkie. I would put an RSS aggregator in your resources section so students don't have to check several places, but only one.
You look very well organized - I wish my teachers had been so organized! I might have learned something! I like the del.icio.us
Maybe they should learn tagging so their work shows up on del.icio.us too? I make 7th grade use tags on blogs - use the tag generator
Just a technical note - there seems to be a bit of background noise coming from your mic. Are you using an USB mic? I am not a tech, but they seem to produce better quality sound than analog mics.
I don't see the left-hand navigation window for submitting their unit questions, I assume the students will.
I like that assessment Is Online Learning Right for Me? so much that I'm stealing it to use with my maths, some of whom I know are going to do online with me next year. You can take from me too, though why you would want to, I don't know. I have to go feed the dryer quarters.
Hi, Druff. Thank you for your kind words. They really do mean a lot. :)

Teaching in the online world the walls of classtime are little blurry, at best. Generally, whenever my students are working is classtime. Depending on if I'm online when thry're online they can get live help using IM, but most of my students email (I answer all emails within 24 hours). The tool I use for IM is trillian, but I like Meebo for the same reasons I like trillian. That's a great idea about the Meebo widget. I'll have to look into that. :)

Hey, I just noticed that you mentioned YackPac! I'm part of a developer group for them. In fact one of the newer memembers here, Barry Jahn, is heavily involved with that company as an educational consultant. Are you using it with your classes right now? If so, how?

Thanks for letting me know about the background noise on the mic. I'm using a usb logitect headset and Audacity. I have the quality set to create small file sizes for quick download. This may be where some of the background noise is coming from.

You are correct about the left-hand navigation menu. This class will be hosted inside of a Ucompass Educator shell.

Feel free to use the Online Learning Right for Me questionnaire. There's a link at the bottom from the place I borrowed it from. They were using it for a college. I changed the wording a bit to be more high school friendly. It's a single file using javascript, so if you haven't done so already, just save the page to your computer and you'll have it for distribution. If you open it in your favorite editor you can make all the changes you want. :)



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