During teaching sessions, I place links to each course in the area where you found this link. Below you can see links to the blog entries for each of the courses I taught during the last semester at Sharjah Women's College.
Along with links to the semester courses, there are several other links. You can have a look at my video discussing just how the site works. Starting from the left of the menu is a calendar, which is in fact a Google (Google, 2014) product as are several other features. Click on it to see how easily the calendar embeds into the site and provides a practical access point.
The calendar is a very powerful administrative tool for use with students and for stakeholders at all levels. For example, the calendar is used to monitor teaching placement visits. Permission to edit the calendar has been shared with the members of the various student cohorts so that they are able to make appointments for me to visit them in their placements for formal, assessed observations. Since this calendar is publicly available, other students can see the calendar and appointments. They can then more easily plan their own dates for me to visit and in many cases, negotiate with students at other placements to arrange the schedule to their benefit. An added features of using the web calendar is that I can share and the ‘push’ the calendar to my students mobile devices in order to remind them of various activities that fall outside of our regular classes.
My supervisor also has access and since I use the calendar for all of my professional duties, I can provide a level of transparency to my actions that inspires confidence and trust. In fact, throughout the department in which I teach, the faculty have adopted a centralized calendar in order to manage these activities much more readily and to add a greater ease to collaborative activities. This simple tool reduces my administrative load considerably allowing me to spend more time in pursuits that are more productive or perhaps more socially constructive.
The series of numbers in the menu represent my classes, and each of these menu items links to a blog dedicated to that class. The class blogs operate in a standard blog format, placing the latest post at the top of the page for that particular blog, and pushing the last blog post down. Generally, I create blog posts weekly, but often update posts mid-week to reflect or add the ideas and constructions that were achieved during our class time. Students are then free to return to the blog at any point to review the notes or access comments that may have been explained during the class time. Each post can also hold downloadable documents or other files.
The students can also see the progression of an idea that was developed communally and perhaps take some pride of ownership. If they do not, they will certainly understand it more readily for having been the originators of some of the language in the notes and subsequently in the diagram. These blogs also contribute to, and may comprise a subset of the professional commentaries that support cognitive apprenticeship (Kopcha & Alger, 2014; Oriol, Tumulty, & Snyder, 2010).
Refined board notes
Following the course links, is a link to files that are shared with the audience using Google Drive (Google, 2014). Although this example highlights a Google product, there are a number of similar cloud storage products that are freely available. One advantage of Google is that they offer a suite of cloud products that help the less technically inclined users minimize the number of different accounts and tools they need to master.
These files include journal articles, administrative documents, and various other documents. One benefit of using cloud storage to make these documents available is that they are then available all the time, or at least until they are removed from the library. These archived folders are very useful for all concerned, especially the practitioner in order to provide them ready access to these materials during class time. Also, most cloud storage tools allow a synchronized copy to exist on the document owner’s computer. Thus, while there was some effort to create and make links to the library, once these initial tasks are completed, any of the documents therein can be edited from the convenience of the owner’s laptop, or from any access point to the cloud library.
A side benefit of these features of cloud storage is the ability to easily share assessment documents with students in an ‘assignment drop box’ arrangement. The instructor can simply make a folder in Google Drive and then share that folder with students. The students then create a folder inside the main folder and share their folder only with the instructor. The result is a password secure assignment drop box that show the date and time of the last edit or addition to anything inside the folder. Figure 21 shows how this arrangement would look.
The next link in the top menu takes the user to imagery that is produced either in class as board notes, or for classes in the form of concept maps or other graphics. Again, these images are stored in the cloud, in this instance, using a photo storage service called Flickr (Yahoo, 2014). Figure 22 shows the interface for the photo storage.
This library holds the board notes for all the classes. The strength of this process is that much of it is automated and can be done in one or two minutes with most photo storage services and with the use of a smart phone or web-enabled tablet. Since the album has already been embedded in the portfolio, it will automatically and instantaneously update with the new images. This feature also provides the practitioner with an instant recall of notes made in previous classes or tutorials, which can then be called up during class time for further support when explaining a topic. The fact that the students can see the actual notes made in class helps to trigger memories and understandings created during that class time.
The top menu also includes a link to annotated web links that have been accumulated through several years of teaching in this program. Reference lists, bibliographies and lists of web links are nothing new, but in this context at least they are consistent and familiar to the students. As many of the students have accessed this list before, they have become familiar with it and can benefit more readily from it. The page has been hit 2935 times since it was first created in September, 2012.