Scholarly Writing and Feedback

The best scholarly writing is precise and clear, impersonal and scientific in tone, and consistent in its usage of punctuation, grammar, and spelling.  Though not all scholarly writing conforms to “a report on the current state of a field,” it always reveals to some extent the interests and questions that are currently relevant to a specific community of inquiry.  This is important to understand for students of any particular subject because the questions and concerns that are relevant to currently constituted communities of inquiry are the ones that they will be addressing when they pursue their own research.  Lastly, scholarly writing is for an academic audience of specialists.  Though there might be some general interest scholarly writing that is published for a lay audience, this does not constitute the bulk of what is published.  The vast majority of scholarlship is produced for an audience that wishes to make use of it as the building blocks for a continuing conversation about what is known of and about a particular subject or question. Read More …

E-Learning Technologies for Any Online Class

Despite the wide availability of technology, educational institutions have not provided adequate training to support innovative teaching practices (Pachler & Daly, 2011).  If e-learning is to fulfill its potential as a collaborative learning tool, then instructors must take the lead in developing their competencies with regard to e-learning technologies.

When teaching an online class, it is important to make use of e-learning technologies that will engage learners and create a sense of social presence within the learning environment.  By taking advantage of available technologies, instructors can instigate peer assessment, cultivate a learner-centered environment, craft interactive lessons, demonstrate the use of applications, encourage peer interaction, and provide rich-media feedback to students.  Classroom Salon, Edublogs, Soft Chalk, ScreenCastify, Facebook, and electronic feedback are technologies that support such innovative practices.  They can be used in any online class to foster an interactive learning environment and build relationships between instructors and students as well as students and their peers.

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Planning and Defining Learning Objectives

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As an educator, I have identified the need for a high quality e-learning course in introductory philosophy for all undergraduates pursuing any degree in any major.  Online introductory philosophy courses already exist at both of the community colleges where I work, so there would be no need to get approval from the curriculum committee to teach them.  Both Lone Star College and Houston Community College allow faculty members a great deal of freedom in how they teach the subjects they have been hired to teach.  Houston Community College’s philosophy department allows faculty members—even adjuncts—to choose their course textbooks (with the stipulation that they must be original texts by philosophers) while Lone Star College, though policies might differ from campus to campus, generally pre-selects a textbook (usually an anthology of philosophers or compilation of philosophical writings) for the introductory course in consultation with full-time faculty members.  The following course has been designed with these limitations in mind.

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Identifying Instructional Design Issues

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When thinking about all of the courses I have taken during my postsecondary educational career, I don’t recall many that did not meet my expectations.  My expectations for a college course were that I would be required to read a large amount of material, that I would be required to write as a significant portion of my grade, and that I would be expected to take responsibility for my own learning.  More often than not this is exactly what I have gotten from my college courses.  Professors and classmates have been more or less memorable, but the general impression I have been left with is that education is a journey of personal growth that must begin with a commitment to learning.

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