Another Survey

This survey is developed for a course in Student Assessment.

Students will read William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and analyze it to write a Literary Analysis essay. The quiz will be available to students enrolled in the English 101 – Rhetoric course. It will be a formative assessment to provide me with information about their collective understanding of the subject matter and to offer them a place to express an opinion before beginning the graded assignment activities.

I will use the results to determine what additional information might be needed to help clarify story content and literature elements used in it. I would post the results in the Discussion Forum to further promote discussion and a place to clarify points unclear to students. Please feel free to take the quiz at:

The Results Are In

Discussion boards seem to be synonymous with an online course. New to the online course realm, I wonder about the learning outcomes of discussion board participation. So, when asked to develop a survey as an assignment for my TT1411 course, rather than designing one for my current face to face class, I created one for my colleagues and for my students who have had experience with online courses.  Nine people responded to the survey. The results follow.

Which best describes your experience with online education?

This question asked respondents to select from among four answers. To date, nine have taken the survey; this represents an educational experience level from first year undergraduate work to post graduate studies with 44% indicating that the TT1411 course is one of a handful of courses taken online and 22% admit to being a seasoned pro at taking online courses and another 22% facilitate an online course. Only 1% indicated that this was the first online course taken.

Please elaborate about your experience with online learning. 

This question asked respondents to provide a brief background with online experience. Overall, experience ranged from novice to expert with experiences described as “I’m kind of enjoying it now though,” “It’s been a real eye-opening experience,” and “I like it because it lets you work at a pace that works with you.”

Which best describes your reason for taking this online class?

This question asked respondents to choose from four answers. Everyone remembered the reason for taking the online class, with reasons equally split among: It is required by my institution, I am seeking to expand my knowledge, and It is a required course.

Which describes your opinion of Discussion Board participation?

This question asked survey respondents to choose between two answers. Two to one believe that Discussion board participation is somewhat enjoyable as opposed to enjoyable. No one indicated that Discussion board participation is not enjoyable.

 Regarding Discussion Boards, I prefer

This question asked survey respondents to choose between two answers. While more participants prefer writing a response to a discussion board question to reading the discussion board responses of other participants, the gap is 12% or one respondent: 56% to 44% or 5 to 4

Regarding Discussion Boards, for the most part, I prefer when

This question asked survey respondents to choose between two answers. Survey respondents clearly indicated with 89% that they prefer when each participant answers different questions rather than when each participant answers the same question.

Regarding Discussion Boards, rank the following in terms of value to you.

This question asked survey respondents to rank four choices: read responses of other participants, read and comment on responses of other participants, read comments by other participants about my response, and read and reply to comments by other participants about my response. Although one student indicated a problem with the ranking mode, the results are evenly spread in rank with read and reply to comments by other participants about my response slightly emerging as the leader with 33% of the vote and the other choices equally ranked.

In order of most to least value:

  • Read and reply to comments by other participants about my response
  • Read and comment on responses of other participants
  • Read responses of other participants
  • Read comments by other participants about my response

Please elaborate on the value you place on Discussion Boards.

This question asked survey respondents to provide an opinion of discussion boards. Two comments indicated a high value: “Discussion boards are a critical aspect of online learning as it acts as one way which students can interact with one another as well as the content” and “Discussion Boards provide an opportunity for students to get involved and create a community of learning and thus I consider them very important.” Other comments indicate there is a value: “I find them useful,” “3 out of 4,” and “It helps the students see other opinions and responses to a question.” However, other comments suggest a more lukewarm opinion: “Ok,” “It’s a great way to get to know students,” “Unsure. It goes to the value and purpose of the discussion,” and “It’s good in an idea course. I don’t teach an idea course, I teach an application course.”

Choose the seven “must haves” in an online course.

This question asked survey respondents to choose the seven “must haves” of an online course from a list of 17 activities. Some 67% of the respondents agree that five of the seven “must haves” in an online course are: reading resources, academic in nature; reading resources, application in nature; discussion board with participants answering different questions; videos; and weekly assignments. While answers varied to fill the remaining two of the top seven “must haves”, 56% agree that icebreaker and application activities fill those two spots.  Next, 44% include a collaborative activity and a module reflection in the top seven “must haves”, followed by 33% including Polls and Surveys and podcasts.  In contrast, only 11% felt research activities and guest lectures belong in the top seven “must haves”. Further, only 22% thought a final project or a discussion board with participants answering the same question deserve to be in the top seven. Interestingly, no one included Twitter or a Course Wiki in the seven “must haves”.

The top seven “must have” list:

  • reading resources, academic in nature
  • reading resources, application in nature
  • discussion board with participants answering different questions
  • videos
  • weekly assignments
  • icebreaker activity
  • application activity

Didn’t make the top seven “must have” list:

  • Twitter
  • Course Wiki

A Bit of Self Reflection

the thinker

This list, written in January, reflects my goals for the TT1411 class, the catalyst for this blog:

  1. Learn and comprehend technology terminology and identify possibilities for class.
  2. Learn what Twitter is and how it could be used as a teaching tool.
  3. Develop a blog site.
  4. Develop a discussion post and utilize it as a class communication tool.
  5. Create an online class survey or quiz.

Since the class is nearly over and I’ve already submitted my final module reflection, it makes sense to me to review and reflect upon my original goal list. The bottom line is I achieved all of my goals. I learned what Twitter is and while I acknowledge it as a learning possibility, it is not among my favorite educational technologies right now. If you’re reading this post, you will acknowledge that I’ve created a blog site. I’ve developed Discussion Posts in the course. More importantly, I created two posts for my students in the classes I teach. I created an online survey. I chose to query respondents about Discussion Boards because while I acknowledge their importance to an online course, I have lingering questions about their learning value. I plan report the findings on this blog. The integration of technology into teaching possibilities is endless. Regarding technology terminology, while there is much more to learn, at least now, I have an inkling of what more I need to learn and an understanding of what questions to ask!

My List of 23 Things


According to the final #TT1411 assignment, a list of “23 things”, Helene Blowers, “an ingenious librarian”, is credited with the creation of such a list to be used for “independent self study”. This is My List of 23 Things that a facilitator should know before beginning online instruction. Only the first point is prioritized. Further, this list should be viewed as a list of 23 things to know before entering a virtual classroom. Be open-minded and know that this list or any list could ever be comprehensive. Just as technology changes by the moment, learning should be ongoing with a never ending list. So, consider My List of 23 Things as a snapshot of things that might prove useful when about to teach an online class.

1. Be a student first. If you are to teach an online class, it’s important to be able to relate to your students.  It would be inconceivable to relate to your students if you haven’t been an online student yourself. Remember the activities you found most beneficial and utilize them.

2. Links, resources, and recommended readings. If you provide a list of recommended readings, resources, and links, check them before you post them. Online data changes rapidly; make sure that your links work at least on the date you post them.  Otherwise, your students will experience frustration. Also, evaluate recommended resources and readings in terms of what benefits the students.

3. CMS. Know how to use the course management system at your institution. Whether it’s ANGEL, Blackboard, Moodle, or another system, learn it, use it, and practice the tutorials. Be able to use it, insist your students get to know the system, and be able to answer questions about it. Meanwhile, keep the IT number handy.

4. Diversified learning styles. The lack of face to face contact necessitates even more the importance of keeping students engaged. Remember each student learns in a different way. Find ways to engage the visual (spatial), aural (auditory-musical), verbal (linguistic), physical (kinesthetic), logical (mathematical), social (interpersonal), and solitary (intrapersonal) learners. Embrace variety.

5. Time management. Online education is not for everyone. It is important to convey this point to students. Offer tips and resources before the class starts. Have students take an online survey to assess their aptitude to do well in an online class. Remember to manage your time as a facilitator. Limit your time.

6. Terminology. While you do not need to be a walking glossary of online terminology, you should be aware of terminology, understand it, implement it, and stay in tune with trending terms. If a term throws you, contact IT.

7. IT. Connect with your institution’s instructional technology department. It’s a resource for you. Your students will come to you and if you don’t know the answer, you need to find it. Don’t you tell your students to use their resources?

8. Resources. Remember you are a resource to your students. Students are taking an online class for a reason. Remind them to remember their end goal. Let them know that you are available as a resource to help them achieve that goal. Remind them that there are resources available to them as students.

9. Surveys. Ask for student feedback as the course happens. Students generally will give their honest opinion when asked, especially if given an option for anonymity. They just aren’t used to being asked. Perform them frequently to weed out the disgruntled student who didn’t study or do an assignment and uses the survey to blame you. On the flip side, look at remarks carefully, and remember your goal to become an effective online teacher.

and More surveys. Create an online survey for students to take prior to taking the class. This will provide a class overview. Give a reflection survey at the end of each module. Ask for feedback on activity benefits and on facilitator access. As a result, students assess their own learning and the facilitator gets information about student connectedness and has a chance to modify instruction as needed.

10. Asynchronous Communication. Remember that most communication with students will be asynchronous. Make sure it’s thoughtful, responsive, and reflects a tone and attitude that is positive and encouraging.

11. Discussion boards. Provide a variety of discussion boards. For each board, students need to engage to at least two other responses and reply to comments about own response. Begin with a general introduction board. With the second discussion board, post one question about the readings with each student answering the same question. With the third board, list a variety of questions and have students claim a question, then return to respond to it. Diversify the discussion boards. Consider having a student-generated question discussion board.

12. Synchronous Communication. Remember your goal to be effective? Sometimes, a student needs the direct, real-time communication. Unless there’s some overriding reason that you’re unable to talk, IM, or video chat, do it. If there is a reason, let the student know of your extreme unavailability and be clear when you are able to be available.

13. Rubrics. Make sure each activity has a rubric. Students need to know how they will be graded. If there is a final project or an activity that goes longer than one module, make it available to the students in advance.

14. Gradebook. Make sure it is up to date. Some students like to track how they are doing in class and check grades to see if an assignment is missing. If you notice a student missed assignments, send a message through the CMS or an email. Provide feedback.

15. Be present. Make comments on discussion boards, yet avoid overlooking students. Post announcements. Send emails. Remind your students that you are part of the class by being part of the class. Facilitate and engage the students. Offer a variety of contact methods: email, messaging, chat room forum, telephone, and by appointment video chats.

16. Colleagues. Talk to others about their best practices as an online instructor.

17. Free stuff. There are many resources online that are free. Research them. Try them, and if they don’t meet your needs, eliminate them, and try something else.

18. Online library. Establish a class digital library of useful articles for the students.   Have students join and utilize social booknoting and establish their own libraries.

19. Expectations. Post the syllabus. Post a course calendar. Post the readings. Post activities and due dates. Post a statement on punctuality and grading. Post something about you. Let the students know in a clear, concise manner what it is you expect of them and what they should expect of you.

20. Communication outlets. Establish a chat or water cooler room, a forum to post general class questions, and an announcement board.  Respond and post frequently.

21. Campus activities. Remind students that they are part of a larger group than an online class. Remind them to visit campus or attend an activity on it. Let them know about events, clubs and organizations, career fairs, and special happenings.

22. Priorities. Remember that being an online facilitator is not, nor should it become, a 24/7 position. Yet, just as online learning provides easy access for students, it ALSO provides easy access to facilitators. Try and remember NOT to check the class activity every time you are on the computer. Time is a valuable, irreplaceable commodity. Just as students need to manage time, facilitators need to as well.

23. Assessment. Use student surveys, review activity engagement and grades, review the readings and assignments, review the notes you may have taken during the course and just as you assessed your students, evaluate what worked and what didn’t work. Make changes as needed and always remember it is up to you to implement the best strategies to meet the learning outcomes of the class.

Go Bananas Over SurveyMonkey


SurveyMonkey, according to its company website,  is a free “online survey software and questionnaire tool” for users to create a survey. It’s easy to use and offers a variety of question types. The basic format, which is free, allows 10 questions. Realistically, a 10 question survey is enough. If, however, a longer survey is needed, a premium membership is available for purchase.  Like other technologies, it is a matter of playing with it and using it. This is a tool to find out things. For example, it could be used to create a student survey about likes and dislikes on types of assignments. Thus, the results would help me better plan for the future. Using a self-created survey could provide valuable feedback. In fact, the questions in this survey are ones which will affect initial course developments if and when I teach an online course. Here’s the link to my survey: