Proverbs 23:12a Apply your heart to instruction.

Archive for June, 2015

Add Some Muddy and Clear Discussions ONLINE

Add some Muddy-and-Clear Discussions to your Online Course
In Fall, 2014, I became part of the October Cohort in the Online Learning Consortium’s Advance Teaching Certificate program. Our Facilitator was Dr. Laurie Hillstock. Many are the valuable lessons gleaned from the workshop. This post focuses on just one exciting development relating to online discussions.
In many of my online courses I have included in the final weeks a forum dedicated to the best and worst discussion forums or topics. Dr. Hillstock introduced the idea of using “clear-and-muddy” discussions within class to garner student feedback. I was intrigued and wanted to introduce this new variation on the discussion into my class. When I did, I was rewarded with a wonderful surprise.
I chose to introduce about five clear-and-muddy discussions into the class I was teaching in Spring, 2015: Logic and Thinking. These discussions were introduced about every other week, and they were designed to allow students to respond by telling peers and the instructor what they found to be muddy or clear when studying an assigned topic. Two topics we covered were metaphorical thinking and formal logic.
Two quotes are chosen from the discussions. The first comes from the clear-and-muddy discussion about metaphors. The second comes from the clear-and-muddy discussion about formal logic.

  1. So far mostly everything that we have went over was clear. If I could choose something that was muddy, it would probably be the metaphor. Although I am used to metaphors and hear them quite often, especially in certain genres of music, I myself found it to be quite hard with coming up with my own metaphors which led me to use some I already am familiar with. I like how the creativity forum gets us to thinking. I also liked brainstorming on homelessness because for me, I was reminded of free writing.
  2. The Syllogisms forum was a little muddy starting; however after reviewing the examples in the power point things became more clear….

I want to call special attention to the second quote. The student reports that in the beginning her study of syllogisms was muddy, but later it became clear. This was not an isolated phenomenon. “Golden” is how our facilitator referred to some thoughts or ideas, and I must say this was a golden discovery. The clear-and-muddy forum was acting as a prompt to allow students to report how they were becoming familiar with the unfamiliar or how they were becoming clear about some previously confusing topic. The student worked it out. That is spontaneous. That is metacognition. That is golden.
Will I include clear-and-muddy discussions in an upcoming online class? I hope so. Will I encourage others to use the clear-and-muddy discussion technique? Yes, definitely. Will I say my time spent in the OLC certification program was worthwhile? You bet.

A muddy trail


When do you thank your PLN?

When do you say thanks to your PLN?
Having a great PLN is vital, if you want to be a lifelong learner. I do.
Recently some major players in my Twitter PLN began to give accolades to one another. I am calling them and others my #Bestpractices PLN. I received an accolade as a tweet from an outstanding scholar in her own right, Rusul Alrubail. So I had to blast back with a tweet:
My pleasure to learn from a #bestpractices PLN:@dinamoati @KrisGiere @RusulAlrubail @alicekeeler @dbuckedu

That led me back to a question I sometimes ask myself. When do you say thanks to your PLN?
I would like to say my policy is like that of early voting: Say it early and often.

That said, I am reminded that I recently completed a Mastery Series Workshop on Instructional Design that was hosted by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). You can see the link below. Lessons learned from my PLN proved valuable in my completion of the workshop. I owe a debt of thanks to my PLN for telling and showing me things about best practices in instructional design.
Someone may ask, Don’t you have your degree? Yes, sure; but having a degree is not an endpoint for a lifelong learner.
So, when did you last say thanks to your PLN?

In case you are interested in the workshop follow this link: