Author Archives: Melissa Glenn

Melissa’s Learning Philosophy 2.0

I used Animoto for my Learning Philosophy 2.0 Video.  This was very new for me!  I was excited to try it as I can see myself using it for class for practice quizzes on anatomy or presentations related to the student club that I advise.  However, I didn’t realize that adding text would be so limited.  I wanted to say much more, but perhaps in this case, less is more.  I look forward to seeing all of your videos and wrapping up the course.  Thank you to all for your thoughts, insights, and comments this summer!  ~Melissa

Learning Philosophy 1.0

Melissa’s LP 2.0 Video


Week 11: Youth Networks

In the Brennan, Monroy-Hernández, and Resnik reading, Scratch made me think of other online environments in which my kids have been able to create as well as learn collaborative problem solving skills.  Spore was mentioned in the article, and that was a favorite a few years back in our house that allowed for creation of a unique species that would then develop and evolve into a society.  The current house favorite is Minecraft, a game that allows users to build structures using blocks, sort of like Legos.  My kids are quite addicted to this game and I see that it allows them to be extremely creative in building their castles, as my 8 year old daughter shows me the many farm animals that dwell in the living room of her castle or the special pool on the rooftop.  This is learning in a creative way, even if it isn’t in a formal classroom environment.  I remember having to design a house in 6th grade using pieces of cardboard, but in this game mode, users can be far more creative.  When my kids run into problems in Minecraft, they help each other, call a friend, or even go online for answers.  They are working through their problems socially, even if to them it is just a game.  To me, this is the scientific method in action, as they identify a problem, experiment, see results, and repeat as necessary.  I try not to phrase it in that way to my kids though, because then it would no longer be fun!  There is a special site dedicated to more formal educational use of the game as well for any of you that are interested:

When my kids were younger, Webkinz was popular, which allowed them to build rooms for the virtual animals they adopted.  They could plant a garden to supply food and had to care for the animals as needed.  Anyone remember having to take care of a pretend baby as an assignment in a home economics class?  This game really teaches them those same types of skills at a young age—although still a far cry from an actual screaming baby!

In the Zywica, Richards, and Gomez reading, I understand the importance of a closed social networking site in some situations (especially in K-12 education), but this is not always available.  In using the groups feature in Facebook, you don’t have to be friends with someone (and share personal information), to participate in the group.  I have used groups in Facebook for student clubs, and since students are typically on these sites frequently, it is one of the quickest and easiest ways to share information and work together.  We have planned entire club presentations and events through Facebook, but I am not friends with any of the students (nor would they probably want to be friends with me!).  In the reading, it was also described that use of Remix World spiked over the winter vacation, which is a nice feature of a site that can continue through an extended span of time and is not linked to the end of a school year or term.  In my use with Facebook for student clubs, I often see posts from students who have graduated but still want to be a part of the learning community and share their experiences in the workforce or in furthering their education.  If I were to use a Learning Management System for the same purpose, the site would close at the end of the semester and there would not be the ability to collaborate further.  Who knows how long we will continue to benefit from the connections we make with each other if we are able to maintain them well after the formal learning environment has ended?

Week 10: Opening education through badges

In the quote by Clarence Fisher in the Personal Learning Networks blog post, I was struck by the discussion that the students were forming their own personal learning networks without a lot of work from the instructor.  He says, “The connections have had very little to do with me. I’ve provided access, direction, and time, but little else.”  This is what I would like to encourage and have been trying to instill in my students.  I didn’t have a name for it before, but now I want to describe developing their own personal learning networks.  Many students tend to do this on their own, finding websites and videos that help them in their learning.  But now I want to frame it as a crucial part of their education and encourage all students to do this, not just those that take the initiative on their own.

In the reading, ‘Badges’ Earned Online Pose Challenge to Traditional College Diplomas, I obviously worry about how these badges are being monitored in that some may not be as useful as they claim.  I think there are important uses for these types of certifications, but it should be up to an employer to decide if they will recognize a badge.  Isn’t the point of the educational system to allow graduates to find appropriate employment?  In many professions, continuing education credits must be earned at regular increments to maintain licenses or certifications.  Many of these continuing education programs have already gone online, but there needs to be accreditation for the programs and the organizations offering the credential.  As an employer, I wouldn’t want to have to figure out if badges that applicants claimed to have were legitimate.  How is it any different then listing skills acquired from previous positions?  Back when I was job hunting, I would list additional training that I received through seminars and workshops.  So, between the use of continuing education credits and training received through other means, it seems as though the new system of badges is just a slightly different take on methods of learning that were already out there.  In terms of lifelong learning, I think it is a real plus, but must be monitored in some way so that employers value applicants who obtain this type of training.

Week 8: Seismic Shift?

When reading the article by Dede, I felt that this idea of a fluid epistemology isn’t necessarily new, but rather how it is done and the scale to which it is done with Web 2.0 tools is.  Perhaps I feel this way due to the excellent education I received as an undergraduate and graduate student at Penn State in the 1990s.  Students in the sciences were trained to collaborate with each other, with faculty across the university, and with faculty elsewhere.  We were also taught to question, experiment, and repeat.  My M.S. thesis (and part of my undergraduate thesis) was based on a question regarding the experimental design of other work done at another university and involved collaboration amongst many faculty, some who were not at Penn State.  We did have email and the internet at this time, and some chat abilities.  I can imagine that knowledge building in a collaborative way as it was done then would be much easier with the tools we currently have.

Even when thinking about this epistemological shift in a historical perspective, if you check the Wikipedia article on Citizen Science (networked science), there have been projects since the early 1900s that utilized many amateur scientists to contribute data to projects like changes in the brightness of stars over time.  Science is not an individual process.  It involves consulting others to design experiments, reading what others have done, and sharing the results of what your group has learned.  Technology has only allowed this to be done faster.  The process of publishing in a referred journal allows others to critique your work before it is shared with the public.  This allows for peer review to be sure that the work hasn’t already been done or that there was not a flaw in the way the work was done.  The results of many experiments allow for changes in what we understand, so that what we teach is always changing as well.  I welcome students to question what we are learning based on other research they have read.  This is a wonderful characteristic of science in that we can’t ever really say that we completely understand something, we need to be open for new research that changes that understanding.

In reviewing the characteristics of connectivism in the George Siemens piece, I again found many of the important points to have been a part of the education I received at Penn State.  I also found many of the characteristics to be important to how I try to teach.  Since the principles of connectivism include learning and knowledge resting in a diversity of opinions and connecting with up-to-date information sources, the epistemological shift described by Dede can be seen to be rooted in this new learning theory of connectivism.

In the Networked Student video, I found the description of a student using these tools as an ideal.  I would love to have students who took the initiative to do as much as the student in the video did!  I loved the part about the tools themselves not being as important as the connections that can be made through the tools.  And I saw an ideal of what a teacher in this new environment can be as a learning architect, organizer, modeler, and encourager for the student and their goals.  I hope to use this model as I continually improve my teaching.

Week 7: We must embrace change!

In viewing the sites suggested as well as others, it is obvious that collaboration and the use of multimedia have become much more important than simple text sites.  To successfully reach many learning styles, the use of images, video, games, and audio, aids in the ability to understand and learn.  These mixed media sites also enable students to create their own content or remix what is already available in a way that is valuable to them.  The use of simulations, like the one in the World Simulation, immerses students in the content, instead of simply reading about it.

In the Richardson & Mancabelli text, the six literacies described were thought provoking, but for me the most challenging was the sixth one relating to attending to the ethical responsibilities involved.  We see instances of cyber-bullying all the time, which is one aspect of this.  But, also, being fully literate in this new society requires growing up with this technology and learning to use it effectively.  The digital divide cannot be corrected by simply giving someone an iPad.  To fully succeed in this new society, a student needs to be able to perform all of the other literacies described, and that is not quickly accomplished for someone who has grown up without using an online device regularly and in an educational environment.  In reading the descriptions of the various literacies, I thought that change is inherent in this new system, so anyone not willing to change is going to be in trouble.  This is where access to and openness for professional development will be crucial.

Obviously, as a parent of two tweens, I was very interested in the article by Boyd, Three Conversations for Parents:  Navigating Networked Publics.  From my own experience, I would make a couple of additional recommendations for both parents and for K-12 educators.  I think before children are left on their own in an online environment, there should be many years of baby steps.  This includes showing them and talking with them about what you post online and why.  My kids have seen my Facebook account and they will even make suggestions for pictures to post or comments to make.  This starts a great conversation about what is appropriate and what isn’t.  They have also heard me discuss with my husband when something posted online has hurt my feelings, and this helps to build empathy, as was discussed in the article.  We teach our children through our own actions and words, so this modeling behavior can help them correctly navigate the online waters on their own in the future.

I found a number of great resources at the Teaching with Technology Podcast site.  There were a number of podcasts that I can use to enhance my teaching including How to Create Interactive Goggle Maps and Podcasting for Beginners.  After listening, I had fun playing with the tools described and plan on sharing some of the available podcasts with my peers.

Week 6: The Collaborative Power of Wikis

It is very timely for me that the topic this week is wikis.  In the tools we have discussed, we have moved from sharing of content to working on that content in a collaborative way.  I just had a conversation with a fellow professor in my department on his recent experience using Goggle Docs (not a wiki, but I’ll discuss that later).  The course that he was using the tool for involved assigning a unique species to each student for a project, but they were allowed to choose the one that they preferred.  In Goggle Docs, students could go and claim a particular species and then no other student could chose that species for their own project.  He couldn’t believe how much easier this was to the old method of receiving multiple emails to sort through or having the students post within an ANGEL discussion board.   I then proposed that he continue to use Goggle Docs for student posting of their projects as that would allow the students to encourage each other in their learning.  This is a summer course, so it should be interesting to watch how it evolves.  Coming from a scientific research background, I can imagine how this tool could be used in writing and editing journal articles.  When I was writing journal articles in the late 1990s, we would email with the multiple authors of the article to work on editing.  This was an excruciating slow process and made it difficult to track changes.

I began to wonder in our readings this week, how Goggle Docs compares with wikis.  I found a youtube video from a presentation by Chris Penna that helped to compare and contrast wikis and Goggle Docs.  I have virtually no experience with wikis beyond reading them (although I see I will soon use wikis in this class!), so this video explained the greater ability for collaboration with wikis and Goggle Docs, but which tool to chose would depend on the nature of the lesson plan.  Is a final product webpage with links desired (wikis) or a document (Goggle Docs)?

A few points stood out to me in the readings for the week.  In the piece by Vicki Davis, a major advantage of using a wiki over a synchronous tool such as a chat was that you could work on something together, even if members of the community were in different time zones.  An additional point that seemed crucial to the nature of a wiki was that you shouldn’t use the pronoun “I” in a wiki since a wiki is for “we” because it is a collaborative work.  In the Schweder and Wissick reading, I explored many of the wikis described in the article.  I hadn’t considered the ability of wikis to organize websites in the way that was described, almost as a collaborative bookmarking tool.   I immediately thought of an application for this in my own college committee work, as we recently updated a college webpage on Professional Development opportunities for fellow faculty.  A wiki would work so much better for this, as any member of the committee or the campus community can update the offerings without the training or permissions necessary to update a college webpage.  Those opportunities that are off campus can also include the appropriate links.  I’m so excited about this possibility that I just sent off an email about it!

In smaller communities using wikis, maintaining proper use seems easier.  In the McCrea reading, Valerie Burton described how it became easier to monitor the wiki with time and experience.  As with other tools we have learned about, a good recommendation would be start small and gain experience with using wikis before rolling out a huge project.  Figuring out how many students works best for each wiki or part of the wiki will probably depend on the task and student age and skill level.  In the larger communities, it was easy to see in the article What Wikipedia Is Not that many of the guidelines for use were determined with time and experience.  Some issue that was not anticipated caused the creation of a new guideline.

I look forward to learning more about using wikis as we move through the course.

Melissa’s Week 5 Thoughts and Podcast Interview

I do not have much experience using blogs, except reading them and using them for our course so far.  However, I have used discussion boards, especially discussion boards within a learning management system (LMS) such as ANGEL.  As we have discussed blogs and Web 2.0 tools, I have wondered where these closed discussion boards fit.  In the Bartholomew, Jones, and Glassman paper from this week’s reading, I strongly agreed with the statement on p. 21, “Although closed University discussion boards are not blogs in the traditional sense, they do promote commentary within a community of learners similar to that of customary blogs.”  I had been thinking the same thing!  One of the benefits that I see for a discussion forum within a LMS is that there is more privacy as the boards are shared with only those students enrolled in that course.  This is similar to speaking in your class of 20 students as opposed to it being broadcast to anyone who wants to see it across the world.  While students today don’t get as concerned with their privacy, I am of a different generation, and I am concerned with my digital footprint.  Another problem with blog posts that was discussed in the article is how easy it is for posts to get lost as the more recent posts will be the first in the list.  I’m sure there are ways in different blog sites to manage which posts have been read, but I am used to the system in ANGEL that shows me when I enter the course which posts I have not read yet.  ANGEL also has a threaded view that makes reading replies easier than having to click to the original post and then read the replies.

On page 24 of the Bartholomew et al. paper, I was taken by surprise regarding the description of how instructors minimized their own participation on the blogs.  I have learned through prior coursework that instructors should maintain an active presence in online discussion forums to encourage student-instructor interaction.  But it did make sense that students would feel greater ownership with the blog if instructor posting was minimized.  I thought the example on that same page of the instructor picking two of the most interesting posts to discuss was an excellent way to promote models for other students to emulate.  The most important aspects to consider in using blogs for learning in these formal environments is to design the assignments so that it is appropriate for the particular learning environment and for the desired learning outcomes.  Not every blog type or structure will work for every situation.

Based on the readings and blog sites I explored, blogs in formal learning environments can allow for sharing of information, reflection, interaction with peers and the instructor, and collaboration.  In the “Voices from Cornell Abroad” blog (, not only were the students creating a chronicle with different forms of media, they were reflecting on their journey as the semester drew to a close.  I would like to incorporate more reflection pieces in my own coursework because it allows students to think of the conclusion of the course not as an ending but simply part of their lifelong learning.  In the informal blogs that I read, there was the ability to share content such as articles and videos, comment on that content, and reflect on how that content affects one’s own professional practice.  I explored both “The Tempered Radical” ( and Bryan Alexander’s blog (  If I were to create my own blog, #4 from the Balsley reading would be most appropriate:  “holds you accountable”.  That way, if I posted an idea I wanted to try, I would be more willing to follow through because I would know that my blog followers were waiting to hear about how it went!  I may be too chicken to do this, but my goggle calendar helps me with this quite a lot!

For my podcast interview, I interviewed a colleague of mine, Professor Kennie Leet from Broome Community College.  She is the Chairperson of the Physical Sciences Department and teaches Meterology both online and on campus.  I did try to add a little music from Loveshadow to the podcast (

Melissa’s Interview with Prof. Leet

Group 2 Blog Curation

In group 2, we had some very interesting posts and discussions this week!

Melissa, Hannah, and Justin found the table linking Web 2.0 tools with cognitive tasks helpful and informative.  One of the major themes of the posts was how Web 2.0 tools could allow for collaboration and through feedback with others, students can do more than through using a tool on their own.   For example, both Erika and Melissa commented on how blogs can allow students to reflect on their learning by looking back at their previous posts.  Melissa felt that using RSS feeds from blogs (or using other social media) allowed for better mobile or ubiquitous learning.  Justin discussed his use of Google Docs in a course this past semester and how that tool allowed students to have better self evaluation and feedback from their peers.  Erika pointed out that collaborative tools allow for a cycle of feedback, which can continue indefinitely.

Both Melissa and Justin discussed the significance of the tagging example on pages 358-359.  Justin was excited by the international collaboration in the tagging exercise and how this encouraged self-regulatory behaviors in the students.  Melissa described a potential application of tagging for her courses using Pinterest.

Many of the group members commented on the helpfulness of the recommendations at the end of the chapter, including Hannah who felt that it was important to choose the appropriate technology for the particular lesson as opposed to using a tool because it is available.  Melissa was encouraged by the recommendation to start small, instead of trying to implement too many tools at once.  Erika felt that motivating students is often very difficult, but by using Web 2.0 tools, students are motivated by sharing their ideas with real audiences and their peers.  In that way, they can seek feedback from many, instead of simply by their teacher.

While Hannah noted that the simplicity of using many Web 2.0 tools has allowed instructors to become producers of web content, it is important that instructors chose tools that engage students.  As she said, instructors must “engage WITH the students through these tools and we have to develop a curriculum that reinforces the power of the tool”.

There were so many interesting blog posts this week.  Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

Melissa’s Week 4 Reading Reflection

The Hsu et al. chapter identifies different categories of Web 2.0 tools and how they accommodate student learning (specifically table 1). What is your perspective on the classification and application of tools based on your own knowledge and work with various Web 2.0 tools?

While I mostly have experience using the category of journaling or blogs, I did feel that the cognitive processing involved was correctly classified in Table 1 for each Web 2.0 technology type.  It helped to go back over the table after I read the rest of the chapter with examples of the use of each type of technology.   I have some minor experience with group use of Goggle Docs and feel that you could categorize the use of that tool in the “Organization and Integration with Prior Knowledge” cognitive process as well, especially when information needs to be placed in a certain category of a document.  But the authors themselves point out on page 356 that all three applications could promote all of the types of cognitive processes in the table.

What do you see as the most significant insights about application of technology into the classroom based on this chapter?

The tagging scenario on pages 358-359 helped me to think about a future application for my own course.   I am looking into the use of Pinterest as a helpful study aid for my anatomy and physiology students.  I recently attended a short presentation about Pinterest and its use in an undergraduate course.  I took a look at the number of anatomy figures that were already present on Pinterest and feel that maintaining boards on certain categories would allow students to find images to study, and also allow them to pin images that they find.  One of the biggest issues that occurs on anatomy quizzes is that students feel that they knew the information from one image (the figure in the book, for example), but couldn’t identify that part from a 3-dimensional model in lab.  I have found that the more a student studies from various sources, the more they understand the correct anatomy, no matter how it is presented.   Pinterest would allow students to find images and organize those images into the correct category to be used for future study.

I was also interested in the discussion of RSS feeds for staying updated on blog content (page 364).  I have found this to be a particularly helpful feature in our course this summer.  A problem that we face at our college is with our learning management system, students do not have good mobile access to the discussion forum.  They can get email updates, but posting is still best done on a computer, not a mobile device.  While I know that we will eventually be moving to Blackboard (which has better mobile access), in the short term of the next year or two, discussions on a blog would allow my students to interact with each other more often.  Because so many students have a Facebook app on their phones, I do know instructors who have moved their discussion forums out of the learning management system and onto a closed group on Facebook.  This allowed for better interaction between the students and the instructor as it could be used as a ubiquitous mobile tool.  I’d be interested to hear about the pros and cons of Facebook versus blogs based on others’ experiences.  And as with a blog, students can reflect on their learning by reading previous posts and seeing how far they have come since the beginning of a course.  I was excited by the scenario of using a blog as an e-portfolio as this allows the students to save multiple media types including audio, video, pictures, and text.  E-portfolios are now being used by many students to show their skills and experience for job interviews or acceptance into academic programs.

My favorite part of the article was the recommendations for implementation at the end of the article.  With all I have been learning in the past few weeks about these tools, I loved the recommendation to “start small and be realistic” on page 367.  I already have so many ideas to use these tools in my courses, but I need to refine those big plans into small steps to pilot these tools one at a time.

I did also enjoy exploring the different reports on the New Media Consortium website.  It was interesting that over the last few years, many of the same trends were reported such as mobile apps and educational games.  Recently, I was introduced to the area of learning analytics at a workshop, and it seems this could be an important new tool as well.  As an instructor, I already can use data from assessments to see where students are having problems as well as the areas in which they are doing fine, but learning analytics provide more detailed analyses that can help both instructors and administrators.

Thoughts from the readings for this week

Many of the big topics from the readings gave me much to think about this week as I am attending the SUNY Conference on Instruction and Technology.  Today, we had the pleasure of listening to an amazing keynote address by Dr. Bryan Alexander.  The address should be posted soon at .  Dr. Alexander also maintains a blog at  As I was watching Dr. Alexander’s presentation, one of the take home ideas is that educational games appear to be the next big thing, if they aren’t already.  I found this interesting considering the importance placed on play to engage students and stimulate the imagination in the Jenkins interview from this week’s reading.  Since so many kids today play video games, it seems only logical that using games to engage learning would have huge payoffs.  My 3rd grade daughter hates working on her spelling words, but we use a fun website ( to play games about the words until she has mastered them.  She looks forward to this, while the old-fashioned method of writing them ten times doesn’t excite her at all.

In the reading by Davidson and Goldberg, I had an issue with the statement on page 13 about current college students having no memory of life before the internet.  At a community college, I have had students in age range from 17 to 60 in the same class.  This has come up at the conference I have been attending as well, since those at four year institutions describe how in tune their students are with emerging technologies.  I struggle with requiring technology use, even simple things like email, because of the diversity of my student population.  In that sense, I try to incorporate emerging technologies in an optional way until I feel that the students who were non-users have gained the confidence and skills that they need.  I also can’t assume that all students have smartphones and/or tablets, which makes the use of those to encourage interaction more difficult.  One suggestion that was made during a session I attended was to have those who don’t have a mobile device share with someone else.  If students work as teams in this way, there is usually enough devices so everyone can participate.

In the Davidson and Goldberg reading, on p. 32, the description of the importance of “connectivities and interactivities made possible by digitally enabled social networking” was especially significant to me.  Over the years, I have seen a change from students in a competition mode to them being in more of a collaborative mode.  Perhaps I was selfish, but if I prepared notes from a class, I wouldn’t share them with other students.  Now, I see students sharing notes, flashcards, pictures, and videos with each other.  So in that way, it seems that social media has encouraged students to share resources with each other, just as they are constantly sharing their thoughts, interests, and pictures with each other.