OTL301 Post 6 – Full Circle

Having come to the end of these 3 courses, the main way my thinking has changed is in realizing that teaching an online course is not as simple as just transferring the content and teaching style associated with a face-to-face course. On-line teaching, and specifically, building a Community of Inquiry requires a completely different teaching approach.

An important lesson that I learned is how powerful the design of the course can be. The way that I structure my course objectives, assignments, discussion questions (and whether grades are associated with discussion forums) sets the foundation for helping (or hindering!) my students reach the deeper levels of thinking. Yes, the students have to motivate themselves and put in the effort, but the desire to do that is inextricably linked with the instructor and the design of the course.

Moving forward, I really want to contemplate how I can help my students reach the integration and resolution phases. This is a bit difficult to do in terms of course design because I did not have the opportunity to participate in the design of my course, but I can certainly strive to meet that goal through the way I interact with my students in the discussion forums, the way that I give them feedback on assignments, and the little “extras” I create for them (e.g., videos). I’d really like to be able to create short videos to share with my students but right now that doesn’t seem possible because the learning platform we use will not support uploading a file that size. It’s frustrating to bump up against technological obstacles such as that, however, I will persevere and get creative (if any of you have suggestions, I’m all ears!).

I’ve learned a lot from these three courses, and am happy to have had the opportunity to participate in them. Reading the material and then having to post about it and read others’ reflections has helped me to integrate my learning and start building a toolbox of on-line teaching skills. Thank you!

OTL301 Post 5 – Reflections

I did indeed engage in each of the phases of critical inquiry. I don’t know that I resolved any specific problems but I have definitely evolved in my thinking about on-line teaching. Learning about the Community of Inquiry and the different phases of critical inquiry created a different perspective (much more in-depth) for me to use when approaching my on-line course. In addition, going back and reading all of my posts and having to classify them into the different phases once again helped me think more deeply about the on-line teaching process…am I helping my students reach each phase? Are there certain phases in which I am lacking? etc.

Looking at how I’ve classified each of my posts (into which phase) I think I’d like to focus a bit more on the resolution stage – for myself and also in terms of helping my students reach that stage – to me, this is the best kind of learning and I want to find ways to motivate my students to experience that!

As for engaging with my students, I’ve definitely learned that it can be more difficult but certainly not impossible within a continuous enrollment course. I have been utilizing a welcome letter and make sure to check student forum/discussion posts every 2-3 days. I try and reply to at least 75% of them – I want to be involved but I also don’t want to seem like a helicopter parent having to comment on each and every thing they’ve said…I want them to blossom their own conversations. So far it seems to be going well. I’m impressed with how often some of the students post and respond to posts and am humbled by the life experiences they have had and are willing to share within the course context.

I think an open platform is useful for learning and discussion although I don’t really like having my thoughts/feelings/musings accessible to so many people – personally, I prefer to have it more contained. I do however see the benefit in having a large group of people who can respond and ultimately, the larger group allows for more perspectives to be shared and more learning to be achieved.

OTL301 Post 4 – Interview Time!

For this post, I interviewed the instructor who was assigned to me as my senior on-line faculty member. She has taught on-line continuous courses for a number of years and was kind enough to offer her perspective. I asked her the following questions:

  • What strategies do you use to promote community and connection in a continuous entry course?
  • What strategies do you use to facilitate integration (integrating new knowledge into previously held knowledge) and resolution (triggering new questions about the material and its relevance to other subjects/aspects of life; resolution of previously held questions) of the course material?
  • Are there any specific digital tools that you use to support your students integrate and expand on their new knowledge?
  • Are there any areas with which you struggle when delivering a continuous entry course?

One of the key points that came from this interview is that promoting community, connection, integration, and resolution within a continuous enrollment course is a struggle! Because everyone is at different points in the course, videos you post and discussion questions you ask may not be relevant to each student. If you don’t have a lot of students registered for a period of time, then discussion can be almost non-existent and they have to scroll back to answer a much older post; the person who posted it may no longer be enrolled in the course or may have moved on from that section and not bother to answer. The instructor I interviewed mentioned that she’s found discussions are more involved when participation counts for part of the final course grade (thankfully, this is the case in my course!) and if that’s not the case, she suggested posting discussion questions similar to what students will encounter on the final exam (and letting them know that this is the case).

I was anticipating that the instructor would state that involvement in discussions was the area with which she struggled the most so I was surprised when she answered that what she struggled with the most was getting students up and running in the course and then keeping them on-track to actually complete the course. She suggested sending them a welcome email as soon as they register. This is something that I already do. I also will send them (future tense because I don’t yet have any students who have reached this point) an email letting them know when they are halfway through their allotted completion time and again when they have 1 month left to complete the course. Something I hadn’t contemplated which she suggested was that in addition to sending them a welcome email, to try and connect with them again after 2-3 weeks if you haven’t heard from them (and to continue to do so for 6-8 weeks). I haven’t been monitoring who has logged on to the course website and who hasn’t, so I think this is something I will begin to implement. One other thing she suggested which resonated with me was to send correspondence to both their TRU and personal emails because often the less engaged students don’t even realize that they have a TRU email account!

I’m glad I had the opportunity to interview this instructor – it helped me to feel confident about some of the things I was already doing and opened my eyes to some new approaches!

OTL301 Post 3 – Designed Alignment

One of the intended learning outcomes for my on-line course is: Critically assess research studies on human resilience to identify and discuss the findings and the limitations of the research as well as areas where future research is needed.

One learning activity that is aligned with this outcome is the writing of a short essay that evaluates the research on resilience. Students are asked to critically think about the research they’ve encountered throughout the course – how that research has evolved, key issues in the field, and areas still in need of research. They are also asked to explore and expand on their own personal thoughts/opinions about the topic – the areas they find most interesting and surprising.

I think linking topics you learn about to your own life experiences and personal thoughts/opinions helps foster the critical thinking process.

A second learning outcome for my on-line course is: Describe some of the practical applications or interventions suggested by the research on human resilience.

There are written assessments (i.e., short answer and essay) which ask the learners to consider and evaluate specific treatment programs/interventions. In addition, throughout the course, students are asked to participate in several web discussions – they must post their own discussion and they must comment on the discussion posts of others learners in the course (comment in a way that moves the discussion forward). I believe some of these posts, although not directly asking them about interventions, get them thinking about intervention possibilities, which I hope will help them evaluate the intervention programs that they learn about in the course readings. For instance, they are asked to discuss why they believe it is important to study resilience (here they start to think about the importance of varying aspects of resilience and their potential for application in intervention programs). Another post they are asked to submit requires them to find research on protective factors (related to resiliency) and discuss whether they believe these protective factors could generalize to other areas of adversity (and why or why not). Protective factors are one aspect that successful interventions must focus on, so it starts the students thinking along the lines of intervention design.

OTL301 Post 2 – Re-visiting Teaching Presence

After delving more into the concept of teaching presence, I don’t think my view of effective practice has changed very much. What has been highlighted for me though, is the extreme importance of teaching presence. I agree with the authors who state that it is much more effective for the instructor to have presence than to just sit on the side-lines, which I imagine is fairly easy to do in an on-line context. Putting in the effort to have a sustained presence will make the course experience more enjoyable for students, and I would venture to guess, instructors as well.

The practice I referred to in my first post (OTL301 Post 1) demonstrated the direct instruction aspect of teaching presence. The instructor, via personal email, responded to questions, explained concepts, diagnosed misconceptions, and responded to technical concerns.

In terms of direct instruction, I’m not sure it could have been more effective! However, lacking from the course, in my opinion, was the aspect of facilitating discourse. There was not very much communal posting, therefore, not much discussion for the instructor to motivate, move along, or draw links to (identifying congruence and disparity of ideas/opinions).


OTL301 Post 1 – My Experience with Online Learning

Although I have been teaching face-to-face for a number of years, on-line teaching is new to me. I have just begun teaching my on-line course at TRU.

About a decade ago I took an on-line course that was about on-line teaching. We focused on various multi-media modalities (how to create a website and a podcast, understanding programs such as Elluminate, etc.). All of the on-line “tech” terms were very new and confusing to me and because of my lack of comfort and familiarity with technology, the class tasks/assignments seemed daunting.

One practice which was extremely effective was the instructor’s presence. She was extremely available, patient, and encouraging. Even though I asked a million questions, she never made me feel incompetent. She responded to email questions very quickly and gave lengthy answers/explanations. She offered to speak to me over the phone and always checked in to make sure that her explanation had clarified my query. Although I found the class difficult and stressful, her way of being present with me made me feel supported and motivated me to persevere.

One thing I wish is that she had made accessible to us a document of FAQ’s (I probably could have saved myself and her quite a bit of time!) as well as a glossary document (often in her replies to me, she would use technological terms that I did not understand. I would then need to send a second email asking her to explain them to me).

I have a glossary document of key course concepts that I send to my students as soon as they register and I am in the process of creating an FAQ document (because I have just started teaching this course, I haven’t yet had very many questions). I hope to be as responsive and supportive of my students as my instructor was with me; she left a lasting impression.

OTL201 Post 6 Learning Activity 4 – APA “Cliffs Notes”

As students in Psychology, students must submit their work in APA format. This can be very daunting – the APA manual is very long and detailed. In order to help students, I’ve created this Cliffs Notes version of the APA manual, with examples to illustrate each point. It covers everything they’ll need to know for the purposes of using APA in their coursework for my class.

APA Style Info

This is some basic APA information. For a much more in-depth look at APA style see: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition (2009). Washington, DC: APA.


1” (one-inch) margins all around

Double spaced (even the title page)

Times New Roman 12-pt font


In the header, you will put your Running head (“R” is capitalized, “h” is not, the word is followed by a colon, then a space, then a synopsis of your title, all written in CAPS). Flush left = the Running head, which is a synopsis of your title, 50 characters max.  *NOTE: A Running head is not required for the Psyc course 3991

Flush right = page number. Your title page is page 1 (*note:  do not put a “p.” or “pp.” or “pg.” in front of the page number

Your title is a summary of the main idea of your paper. It is centred, in the upper ½ of the page, and in upper and lower case letters

Underneath your title is your name (First, middle initial, Last) (for our course, put a comma after your name and then put your student number)

Underneath your name is your institutional affiliation (Thompson Rivers University)

For our course, under Thonpson Rivers University, please put Psyc 3991, followed by a comma, followed by “Dr. Rourke”

For our course, under Psyc 3991, please put the date on which you handed in the paper/assignment

On the following page is an example of a title page which includes all of the info from above (the formatting does not show up properly on this blog…in the document I’ve created, it’s on its own page, just as their title page would be).



APA Style Information 6th Edition

Jane B. Doe, V0112542

Thompson Rivers University

Psyc 3991, Dr. Rourke

July 15, 2017


Body of your paper:

Your header which includes your Running head (*but no running head is needed for Psyc 3991, just the page number) and page number is to be found on each page

On the first page that you start writing your assignment (i.e., the page after your title page) start off with your title, centred, in upper and lower case letters, then begin your essay.

e.g., (*do not do your document in bold, I did it in bold here so you know where my example starts and ends)

APA Style Information 6th Edition

                APA has just released its sixth edition. Following is a brief list that highlights some of the important changes from, etc. ….

 Okay, continuing on with info about the body of your text:

In a list of 3 or more, put a comma before “or” and “and” (e.g., grass, sun, fog, and rain)

Punctuation = outside brackets

Anchor word (e.g., for Likert Scale) = italicized, e.g.,       1 = Low Arousal    5 = High Arousal

Numbers at the beginning of a sentence are spelled, e.g., “Two ducks flew” (“2 ducks flew” would be incorrect)

Place periods and commas within quotation marks

In your text, italicize the names of books and videos, do not put quotation marks around them, do not underline them, do not bold them

You must cite the work of individuals whose ideas, theories, or research have directly influenced your work

How to cite in-text

APA uses the author-date method

Use the author’s surname (last name) without any suffixes (e.g., Jr.), followed by a comma, followed by year of publication

e.g.:  Enright, 2003

If citing at end of a sentence, do so in brackets (Enright, 2003), put punctuation after the brackets

If citing at beginning of a sentence or in the middle of a sentence, only the date is in brackets, e.g., Enright and McCullough (2001) stated that…

Within the same paragraph, when you’ve already cited that author, the next time you cite them (within that same paragraph) you do not need to put the year, e.g., Enright (1995) found that APA style helped ensure… Enright also found that…

When citing 2 authors, always cite both names. In your sentence, spell out the word “and” e.g., Enright and McCullough (1992) found that…

If citing at the end of your sentence, in brackets, use “&” (no comma between first author and ampersand) e.g., Girls prefer circular shapes while boys prefer triangular ones (Enright & McCullough, 1993) *that is totally made up J

When citing 3 – 5 authors, cite all authors the 1st time, then only the 1st author followed by “et al.” (period after “al”) any subsequent times that you cite them throughout your documents

e.g., 1st time: Enright, McCullough, and Wade (1985) discovered that….

Or, …blah blah blah (Enright, McCullough, & Wade, 1985)   (put a comma before the ampersand)

2nd and any other times: Enright, et al. (1985)  (comma before “et al.”) or …blah blah blah (Enright, et al., 1985) (comma before and after “et al.”)

When citing 2 or more works by the same author(s) (in the same order), sort them by year of publication, earliest 1st. e.g.: if Enright and McCullough wrote something together in 1995 and 1998 and I’m referencing both for the same sentence: …blah blah blah (Enright & McCullough, 1995, 1998)

When citing works by the same author with the same year of publication, use suffixes “a, b, c…” e.g.: …blah blah blah (Enright, 2005a, 2005b)

When citing two or more works by different authors in the same parentheses, organize them by alphabetical order, separate works by a semi-colon, e.g., …blah blah blah (Enright,1985; McCullough, 2003, Wade, 1962; Worthington, 2002)


If you are directly quoting someone’s words (spoken or written) you must use quotation marks. Make sure you reference where the quote came from, including page number (your reference goes after the punctuation and is not followed by any punctuation). e.g., “There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.” (Cohen, 1992, stanza 2)

When you are quoting something that is 40 or more words, don’t use quotation marks, instead, do a block quotation: start the quote on the following line, and indent it (all of it, not just the first line). If there is more than one paragraph in the block quote, indent each new paragraph by ½ an inch. Make sure you reference where the quote came from (your reference goes after the punctuation and is not followed by any punctuation)

e.g.: blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah (this is your own words/thoughts, and now you want to insert a quote from someone else that is 40+ words:

start the quote on the following line, and indent it (all of it, not just the first line). If there is more than one paragraph in the block quote, indent each new paragraph by ½ an inch. Make sure you reference where the quote came from (your reference goes after the punctuation and is not followed by any punctuation). (Doe, 1999, p. 10)

 When quoting in the middle of a sentence that is your own, do not use punctuation at the end of the quote

If you start quoting from the middle of someone’s sentence, use 3 ellipse points  …   to lead into it

If you are omitting stuff from within the sentence (e.g., the middle) you are quoting, then use 3 spaced ellipse points to indicate that you have omitted something  …

If you are quoting from an on-line source and there are no page numbers, put the number of the paragraph (para. 4); or if the source is broken down into sections, put the name of the section and then the paragraph number (Discussion section, para. 1)

Reference list (last page of your document – list of all the references you cited in-text)

The word “References” is centered at the top of the page (there are no quotation marks around the word)

Organize by alphabetical order (surname/last name)

1st line of each citation is flush left, all others underneath it are indented


Enright, R. D.,…blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.
McCullough, W. R., … blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

blah blah blah blah blah


Authors last name, comma, their initials (put a period followed by a space after each initial), comma, year of publication in brackets, period.

If journal article, then include: Title of article with only first word capitalized (and word after colon, and proper nouns), period. Title of Journal in upper and lower case letters, comma, volume number, all italics. (If the pages in the journal are paginated separately by issue, then include the issue number in brackets immediately after the volume number, but do not italicize it), comma, page numbers of the article, period. Then, include the Digital Object Identifier (doi) (type “doi” then put a colon) – the doi can usually be found in the upper right hand corner of the first page of the article, and it begins with the number 10. On-line, it can also be found in the data bases (e.g., Psyc Info) if you click on the “full record display” for that article. Do not put a period after the doi



Enright, R. D., McCullough, Q. X. (1999). The old lady swallowed a fly. Social

     Sciences Quarterly, 5, 88-97. doi: 10.1097/0399-845.22.6.675

If there is no doi, and you are using an on-line source, then include the home page URL of the journal/book/report publisher (do not put a period after it)


Enright, R. D., McCullough, Q. X. (1999). The old lady swallowed a fly. Social

     Sciences Quarterly, 5, 88-97. Retrieved from http://wisewords.com

If citing a book chapter instead of a journal article, after the author’s names and date of publication, put the chapter title. Capitalize only the first word, a word after a colon, or proper nouns. If there are editors to the book, write “In” then put the names of the editors (first initial followed by surname/last name) followed by brackets and the letters Eds., e.g., (Eds.), comma, title of book in upper and lowercase letters and italicized, period. Then put the City and State/Province where published (city, comma, state), followed by a colon, and the name of the publisher, period.


Enright, X. Y. (1977). The grass is never greener on the other side. In J.

Worthington and S. Crosby (Eds.), Common Myths Debunked. New York, NY:

Potter-House Publishing.

In your reference list, if citing works by the same author, but different dates of publication, work with earliest year of publication comes first

Referencing a video

Name of whomever produced it goes first (last name first), then in brackets write “Producer,” period, year came out (in brackets), period. Name of movie in italics, upper and lower case letters, then DVD in square brackets, period.

e.g., Kovalev, A. (Producer). (2009). A Player’s Story: The Year I left the Habs. [DVD].

OTL201 Post 5 – Integrating Social Presence

2 concepts that have impacted my thoughts on student engagement and retention + a question: I was surprised by the research findings that various modes of media delivery (paper & pencil, projector, PPT, video, animation, etc.) do not have a significant impact on success in the course. I was not surprised that certain types of media increase student engagement more than others but I would think that as student engagement increases, so does success in the course. A question I have is, “what is the relationship between level of student engagement and successful completion of a course?”

I was also impacted by the definition of social presence as not only creating relationships (i.e., who is the real person behind the computer?) but also as identifying and promoting the academic purpose of the learning environment so as to facilitate a group identity…this notion that academic goals should precede the development of social relationships. I hadn’t really thought in terms of one building off the other like that, but it makes sense. If you can create a group identity, then this should facilitate the formation of personal relationships.

My rationale for implementing 1 or 2 course facilitation strategies to increase student retention and engagement: Two strategies I’d like to implement are the creation of a FAQ section and some tutorials to discuss key course concepts. I want to use these strategies so that students feel supported and motivated (i.e., create a safe learning environment). I also hope that the FAQ section will create some structure (students check this area to see if their question can be answered before emailing me).

2 goals I’d like to achieve regarding social presence and creating effective educational media: I’d like to increase my social presence by posting an introductory video and posting 1 tutorial per module (there are 4 modules) which would include a brief discussion of a key concept with an invitation for them to post comments and ask questions.

I’d also like to create a FAQ document. To do this, I will use questions that I receive from students via email and questions that I see in their posts. Because I am new to teaching this course, this document may take a bit of time to put together…thus far, there have been few questions.