Monthly Archives: February 2013

WordPress on iPad

I have just downloaded the WordPress app for my iPad. So this is my first post using my iPad! I love my iPad and continue to explore and be amazed at how I can use my iPad for teaching.It seems like the possibilities are endless. I am amazed to see how iPads are being used in the classrooms – from elementary to university. The list of avialable apps for the classroom grows everyday and it is so tempting to try more, however how many apps does a person need.

The newest apps I added today are; Good Reader (this looks like a great app for reading text and compiling notes easily), Voice Thread (has a great 1 minute video to show you how to creae a Voice Thread), Keynote (for making presentations and videos), and CNN (great for research and keeping up to date)

I think what I an enjoying most about the iPad is it’s mobility and the intuitive way that it works. I can now be anywhere and read, study or post to my blog! How amazing! I also have my textbooks and additional books for research in my iBooks app and I can fit it all in my purse. Gone are the days of having piles of books and a heavy backpack!

Will keep you posted as I discover more great apps, etc.


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Group Work

Below is my contribution to a discussion forum on the topic of  group work in online courses.

“What are the advantages (for students and instructors) of putting students into groups? What are the disadvantages? Do you believe that self-selection of groups is a better idea than having instructors determine groups? Why or why not?”

All of us have had experiences working in groups at some point in our lives as students. Some memories of our experiences are pleasant and some are like horror stories that we would prefer not to revisit. It seems there can be many reasons why some of our experiences were like a nightmare. The reasons may include; we like to work alone, we didn’t understand how to work in a group, personalities within the group did not work together, at least one person in the group did not do their share and someone else took on their work, work was not completed on time by each team member, conflicting schedules, etc. This list could be extensive to say the least.

Jean Mandernach (2010) provides some tips for adapting proven f2f group work strategies to the online environment. She states that the key is to design tasks that are truly collaborative, meaning the students will benefit more from doing the activity as a group than doing it alone.

Mandernach also states that effective online group activities often fall into one of three categories:

  1. There’s no right or wrong answer, such as debates, or research on controversial issues.
  2. There are multiple perspectives, such as analyzing current events, cultural comparisons, or case studies.
  3. There are too many resources for one person to evaluate, so a jigsaw puzzle approach is needed with each student responsible for one part.

Based on the three categories above, I plan to use a case study with my participants. As my group are new franchisees learning to run a successful restaurant using our system having a case study of an individual store’s performance will allow the group to collaboratively work together to analyze, apply their knowledge and create an action plan for the store.

Bart, Mary (2010) How to Design Effective Online Group Work Activities

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Teaching Presence

Below is my contribution to a discussion forum on the topic of ‘Instructor Presence’.

“It has been said that instructor presence is one on the most important factors that lead to a well-established online community. One way to provide that much needed support for you students is to log on frequently and post weekly reminders, updates or information that might be helpful as they proceed through the course.

What are some other ways to provide and increase instructor presence? Share a unique opportunity that you have found in your research or in your experience. It might be a resource or a tool, a technique, or a flair that you have made all your own.”

Unlike f2f teaching that depends on physical presence and teacher immediacy, teaching presence in online education depends on course design and organization, facilitation of online discourse, and well-focused direct instruction.

In regards to the area of ‘facilitating online discourse’, establishing a netiquette policy at the beginning of the course would help to establish teaching presence while helping students to understand expectations for online discourse.

Currently in our f2f classes we have the participants work together on the first morning to establish the ‘classroom rules’ for the week. The list is then posted in the classroom for everyone to view during the week. Of course, we have a few suggestions that we like to ensure are covered in the rules, so we will guide the participants if needed. This exercise has worked well to have students monitoring their own behavior and the behavior of others in the class.

I feel this f2f exercise is one that can be easily changed to adapt to the online environment. Having the netiquette policy available and included in the course information with the option for participants to post additional suggestions for the netiquette policy for the course is one way that I can see to facilitate online discourse.

I am providing a link to a video by Dr Mark Kassel titled ‘Teaching Presence in Online Learning”. In the video he provides many great ideas for teaching presence that have already been listed by some of you (announcements, emails, weekly appearances, using variety, being creative, etc). However he also stated that “too much teaching presence can decrease interaction”. This statement has caused me to ponder and think about what exactly is ‘too much teaching presence’? Will it be different for each course or group? How easy will it be to identify? What is the best way to address the situation if I should encounter it?

Well, enjoy the video if you have a few minutes and I would appreciate hearing your thoughts and ideas on the subject of ‘too much teaching presence’.

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Social Media Policy

The company that I work for has a Social Media Policy in place. The policy was created to provide clear guidelines to all Head Office employees, franchisees and their employees in regards to all forms of social media.

Currently no one other than representatives from the Marketing Department is permitted to reply to posts or comments on any form of social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc). As a company we have a Facebook page; however stores cannot create a Facebook page for their individual stores.

This policy was created to ensure there was a ‘branded’ and uniform message being sent to our consumers. Previously there had been issues with inappropriate material being posted on Facebook, Twitter, etc by franchisees and store employees.

Therefore, this policy has removed my ability to use Facebook in my online course. However I would like to look at using other forms of social media, such as Voice Thread, a blog or a wiki that can be contained inside the course to provide social interaction within the participants.

I was interested by one of the results on a survey conducted by Hewitt & Forte (2006) in regards to student faculty relationships on Facebook which stated that “many students indicated that the student/faculty relationship should remain professional and should not be familiar or sociable”.

I would tend to agree with this statement as I use Facebook for my own personal use and keeping in contact with friends and family who live at a distance. And as such am not sure I would like my participants to be able to access my personal life and vice versa.



Hewitt, Anne and Andrea Forte. 2006. “Crossing Boundaries: Identity Management and Student/Faculty Relationships on the Facebook.” A paper presented at Computer Supported Cooperative Work 2006, November 4-8, 2006, Banff, Alberta, Canada.

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Who are My Learners

My learners are individuals that are completing the Certified Manager Development Program (CMDP) at Panago Pizza Inc.

There are two distinct types of individuals that complete this program;

  • New franchisees that need the Certified Manager certification to be able to complete the purchase of their store and begin operating their location.
  • Individuals who have been approved by Panago Pizza to become a Certified Manager and run a store in place of a Franchisee as each location is required to have a full time Franchisee or a Certified Manager in place.

The CMDP program is a blended learning program. The program includes in-store training and one week of classroom sessions.  Also included in this program is a workbook that covers theory, practice and application of skills and systems learned which will become the online course.

Who my learners are;

  • Varying levels of experience in the foodservice industry
  • Varying levels of business experience
  • Range in age from 21 to mid 50’s
  • 65% male, 35% female
  • Varying levels of education, from high school to university degrees
  • Approximately 40% will be from a professional background
  • At least 40% will be ESL with different levels of English proficiency
  • From diverse cultures
  • Certified Manager candidates will have 3+ years of Panago experience
  • 30% plus of Certified Manager candidates will become Franchisees within 2 – 5 years
  • Varying levels of technology experience

I do receive information about each candidate before they enter the program. This information includes their resume, interview information and personality profiles if they are new franchisees. This information helps me to understand each candidate individually. I have found this to be a benefit at times but I also have to be careful not to make any assumptions based on what I am reading. I find if I use it as just that, information, and don’t form any preconceived notions or biases, I am more open to who they are as individuals. I also have the opportunity to talk with the candidates on the phone to set up their training program so we are able to start developing a relationship at that time.

Some of the signs that I have identified that a candidate may be struggling are that there is a change in their behavior (whatever that may be), they miss a checkpoint, lack of communication, fall behind in assignments, provide general and not specific answers, lack of participation, not engaged in store operations, arrive late for training or assignments are incomplete.

As new franchisees have a financial investment and completing the program is required before they can start operating their location, I see these signs in less than 5% of candidates. I do however see these signs in the Certified Manger candidates more often.

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My Top 10 List as an Online Learner

Here is my Top 10 list of my needs when I am learning online;

  • Easily navigated LMS with course navigation instructions
  • Simple course layout with clear layout of assignments and due dates
  • Very clear expectations for assignments (rubrics work great for me so that I can recheck as often as I like to make sure I have completed the assignment correctly)
  • Sense of community amongst the students and instructor
  • Up to date resources (articles, videos, etc) with links that work properly
  • An instructor who is visible online, available when needed and provides timely feedback
  • Scaffolding assignments – I like to be able to produce something as a result of my learning
  • Visuals – I really appreciate a video that can relay a theory etc, this works better than reading for me (even though I am a reader and love books), it just brings it all together for me
  • A quiet place to study and prepare my assignments (I know it must be the boomer in me)
  • Learning from others and sharing information (learned a lot from the group project last course)

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5 Things to Remember

Here is my list of 5 things that I think will be helpful to remember and consider when re-purposing existing course materials and learning activities for an online course.

  1.  Preparation – ensure everything on the website is working (links, videos, toggles, etc) before hand so that there are no last minute surprises or breakdowns.
  2. User friendly layout and navigation of course website and resources for trainees and instructor.
  3. Create a community and opportunity for interaction amongst the trainees and instructor (profiles, pre-set video conferencing, group project, water cooler, etc).
  4. Use a diversity of media (video, images, articles, websites, etc).
  5. Set up weekly interactive review sessions (ooVoo) with trainees and in-store trainers to ensure trainee progress.

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