Reflecting on COE 691 – Teaching Online: Bringing Theory to Practice

This past fall I had the privilege of teaching an online doctoral seminar – on teaching online. I’ve been sitting on a reflective blog post for quite a while, and, just want to get something out in the digital ether before I look at the clock and it’s fall 2021!

Here is the syllabus and schedule from the course. We developed the course and topics as we went week by week – and it was terrifying.  I’ve been accustomed to set content for the past three years in the online teaching I’ve been doing with the EdD program (and when I taught MAET online.) While there is room for spontaneity and flexibility with set content, it is a great comfort to know week to week, module to module where we are headed. (I honestly never thought I would find so much comfort in that mode.) Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t allow me to rest on my laurels, but provides much needed stability and structure. Eliminating that structure, during a pandemic, caused me quite a bit of stress.  With that said, I could not have asked for a better group of scholars to learn from and with.  They all embraced and welcomed the unknown directions and ultimately each found ways to connect to the content and the course. (For example, Mikey Hall created a fantastic assignment and site for his English 101 course (which you can visit here.)

There are lots of other posts that I could (and probably should) write – but – for now, I got something up here to share! Hopefully the schedule (which contains all of the readings) will be helpful for others. If not open source, the links go to ASU Library resources, but, should not be hard to find via other library systems.

I also have to give a special shout out to our amazing ASU education librarian Linda DeFato – she was instrumental in helping us get full online access to the following books via the library that came out as the seminar was being delivered:

Bayne, S. (2020). The Manifesto for Teaching Online. The MIT Press.

Blum, S., & Kohn, A. (2020). Ungrading: Why rating students undermines learning (and what to do instead). West Virginia University Press.

Recordings from Teaching Doctoral Courses in Fall: Thematic Conversations & My Thoughts

Slide that says "It is in each others' shadow that we flourish" along with the phrase in Irish and a small window with a picture of Leigh Graves Wolf (white female.)

A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in a series of college conversations on the topic of teaching doctoral courses online.

The links to the recordings from all of the sessions can be found here:

I facilitated the following discussion: How might we improvise and carry out individualized, responsive teaching, at the doctoral level, online? and co-facilitated with my colleague Dr. Erin Rotheram-Fuller the conversation titled How might we build an intellectual community in an online doctoral seminar?

It was a great opportunity to discuss openly with faculty and students.

I would also like to share something I was asked to write for faculty as we continue to prepare for Fall 2020.

As we consider approaches for continuing to teach in uncertain times this fall, I was asked to share a few thoughts and resources that may be helpful. I have been teaching at the graduate level for about 15 years now (and prior to that, in K-12 settings) – so I’m coming up on 23 years of being an educator.  Throughout the entire time, I’ve always been curious, always finding ways to improve my craft and knowledge of my subject area (which happens to be the use of technology in educational settings.) Over the years, I have learned that there are no magic tricks or shortcuts. Even though I’ve been teaching for a long time, right now, I too am learning how to teach in uncertain times right along with everyone else. Many things I’ve done in the past, don’t quite work anymore.

As with any meaningful endeavor, a tip here or there will get you through in the short term, but, at the end of the day it takes time and care – to teach both online and offline. I don’t separate the two, I teach (in all modes.) While I’ve found patterns and behaviors that work well for me in different modalities, they may not work for others. I have found discussions around critical digital pedagogyand humanizing online learning particularly helpful.

I have found, for me, one of the best ways I learn is through dialogue and observation. Dialogue with texts and with others (via reading, tweeting, and talking.) I also learn from others, observing how they teach and interact – continually evolving and shaping my own behaviors and practices. It will come as no surprise to hear that I approach my teaching through the lens of a bricoleur.

With that said, I’ve been asked to share a few resources to start a dialogue with you, my MLFTC colleagues.  I’ll start with a few things I have recently created/shared in response to COVID-19. Each link contains many additional links and resources.

When I first started teaching at ASU in the Fall of 2018, I explored all of the supports available for teaching online, here are a few that I found particularly helpful:

  • My Leadership & Innovation EdD colleagues.  They have been teaching doctoral courses for many years entirely online and are a wealth of knowledge and collegial support.
  • Dr. Lisa Kammerlacher ( – E-Learning and Instruction Librarian. Dr. Kammerlacher is a tremendous resource and was instrumental as I was transitioning one of my courses to a “Zero Textbook” course.
  • Dr. Meredith Toth and the MLFTC Digital Learning Team. I always bookmark resources they share via email and they often hold office hours for just in time support.

Finally, the ASU’s Digital Tool “sunburst” which lists all digital tools available to faculty and students. There are very long conversations that can be had about tools (and how “free” tools are not really free.) Starting with this sunburst gave me an idea of what resources have been vetted, approved, and purchased by ASU so that I could consider using them in my teaching.  (The entire Teach Online website is full of very helpful resources.)

But ultimately, lists (or in this case starbursts) can feel very overwhelming if you don’t know where to start.  I don’t believe in creating “best practices” lists. There are only well informed practices – we all teach in highly different contexts, what is “best” for one class, may not be best for another. It is through dialogue that we will find out what approaches resonate and fit in our educational spaces.

ASU Online Faculty Showcase for Excellence in Online Teaching Recap

Last week I had the honor of presenting at the Spring 2020 ASU Online Faculty Showcase for Excellence in Online Teaching. My session was titled Strategies for Building Community in Online Courses. In the description I promised to: provide pragmatic suggestions for building a sense of community between students, faculty, and course content. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet and learn from Khaerannisa (Nisa) Cortes who discussed Communication and Supportive Strategies in Large-enrollment Courses and Marcie LePine who talked about Successfully Building Group Projects into an Online Class. The recording of the session can be found here:  and my slides are here:

Teaching Qualitative Methods Online: A Few Things That I Do

I’ve been teaching qualitative methods online since Fall 2018 – with 3 ½ semesters under my belt here are some things that I do/know! I know many of you are being asked to switch online with very short notice.  Know this, first, I’ve been doing this for a very long time. Second, I have tremendous technical and instructional design support at ASU. I can’t imagine being asked to do this with very little notice (in some cases less than 2 hours notice.) or support. Also, I can’t imagine sharing all that I know in a tweet, or even this blog post. So, I’ll do my best here to give you a few key tips. This post is not as link-laden as my normal posts, trying to churn this out quickly as a response to this Twitter thread

Accessibility & humanity:  

These two words guide my practice, online and offline.  Full stop. 

Here are the technologies I use to mediate the course:

  • Canvas (basic tools: pages, discussion forums) 
  • Zoom (cloud recording) 
  • Google Docs 
  • Slack 

Library resources: 

My class is a textbook-zero course. If your institution has access to SAGE Research Methods – get on there now. There are a TON of high quality resources there that I (and my students) rely on daily. 

Here are some of the instructional strategies I use: 

“Hybrid” weekly discussion forums

I’m not the biggest fan of discussion forums (students are not either.) When I took over this class I was very intrigued by a method the prior instructor (Dr. Mirka Koro) used for weekly discussion.  She had the students post questions on the weekly readings and she would respond via a video.  I loved this idea, continued to iterate upon it, and this has become a keystone of the course (and student evaluations confirm this as an important and valued part of the course.)  The weekly video/podcast run from 30-45 minutes (and I haven’t had a complaint about the length, as students can listen at 2x playback if they wish!) I use Zoom cloud recording which provides automatic transcription and the ability to download the audio only (thus a podcast.) Student appreciate the ability to watch OR listen (as many commute and listen on drives.) 

Questions are due on Thursday and on Friday morning I copy and paste all of the questions, collapse and organize into a logical flow (many questions cluster) and then I record “off the cuff” – I want this to mimic class discussion as much as possible, and I want the students to know that I don’t know everything about everything – I have to look things up too.  Students report being valued and listened to and feel a high sense of instructor presence. 

PLAY notebook (google doc) 

The play notebook is a version of this assignment (that I’ve been using for almost 10 years!) This is a space where I can see their thinking, they can play with and apply ideas. For example, we are about to embark on a document analysis. I’m asking them to think through things step by step, articulate their planning and eventually they’ll be sharing screenshots of coding and code books, etc.  This is a private safe space (shared only between me, my teaching partner and the student) where we can talk with each other, they can make mistakes, and have successes. 

Slack sharing 

Given my feelings about discussion forums, I have played with different tools – last semester I used YellowDig, this semester the institution has implemented Slack and I’ve been using that as our shared/social space. It’s used strategically, and students are prompted to use it as a sharing mechanism with/for each other.  I’m very happy that many have used to contact me synchronously when we are both online so I could provide just in time support on assignments/questions. 

Weekly Patterns: 

My course has the following patterns: Uncover, Question, Play, Connect, and Apply

UNCOVER (read) – You will be asked to experience course “readings” in this section. Readings will include text, audio, video – items you “consume.” There will be core readings which are required and explore readings which give you a chance to learn more about your individual areas of interest. 

QUESTION – This is a critical component of the course. Each week, the instructor will review the question discussion forum and create a weekly introduction video answering the questions. The questions can be specific to your course readings, methods, etc. It’s an opportunity to add a conversational tone to the course. 

PLAY – This assignment is facilitated using a Google Doc. The same Google Doc will be used for the entire semester, resulting in a “notebook” of ideas and thoughts at the end of the semester. Each week an assignment or prompt will be presented in Canvas which gives you an opportunity to play with new concepts. These are formative assignments and are iterative in nature. The instructor(s) will provide feedback and commentary to you in your Google Doc and you are expected to respond to the feedback/comments. 

CONNECT – This component is a varied collection of experiences which you connect to each other, or ideas in an open and collaborative way. The activities will vary in content and will be mediated via varied technologies (e.g. Flipgrid, Slack, Zoom meetings.) 

APPLY – there are three summative “APPLY” assignments – there will be weekly milestones which step you toward the “apply” assignment. The APPLY assignments are: 

APPLY #1 – Theoretical Framework Mapping & Epistemological Musings (due Week 5) 

APPLY #2 – Book Review (due Week 10) 

APPLY #3 – Revisit Dissertation Proposal through the lens of TEL 713 (due Week 15) 


I use this primarily for MYSELF – I’ve learned so much by following my ASU Colleague Dr. Sarah Tracey, (who is an expert in qualitative methods) And I know over the coming weeks, this will be one of the primary mechanisms for sharing and supporting each other. 

That’s a lot to take in – happy to help answer any additional questions.

CPED Invited Post – A Reflection on Teaching in Online EdD Programs

A few weeks ago I was asked to write a guest blog post for the CPED Blog – the post is cross-posted here. Big thanks to Caroline White and Mary Mathis Burnett for giving me feedback on early (and late) drafts. 

A Reflection on Teaching in Online EdD Programs – 

The CPED program design concepts state that mentoring and advising should be guided by: equity and justice, mutual respect, dynamic learning, flexibility, intellectual space, supportive learning environments, cohort and individualized attention, rigorous practices, and integration.  For those of us that teach online EdD programs, the medium for this work consists of Zoom calls, text messages, telephone calls, email, Word or Google Docs, and a Learning Management System (LMS).  As a clinical associate professor with the Leadership and Innovation EdD program at Arizona State University, this is territory I know all too well! 

If you look up a definition of LMS, you will see that it is used for the “administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of educational courses.” All of those actions are in opposition (at times) to the CPED design concepts.  Doctoral coursework is not about tracking and automating learning. It is very understandable however that because our primary classroom environment is constructed for this purpose, our students may experience, or even expect rigid and inflexible experiences.  We have to actively work against the “walls” of our virtual classrooms in LMSs to build friendly hallways for our online students.  

The purpose of this post is to share a few tangible ways that we as faculty can be active conduits for our students in online spaces, and how we can push through the boundaries of our digital classrooms to create supportive learning environments. 

Get to know your students & help them get to know each other 

The computer screen is not a barrier to relationships – we just have to work in different ways to create meaningful bonds with each other.  We are working with complex individuals, who are never just students and have competing priorities and demands on their time. The natural “hallway” moments that happen in-person classes are not as frequent, and potentially non-existent  in online classrooms – so we have to work hard to provide this connection for them. The students have a desire to know each other, and, as faculty we can help support that need and continually think of ways to help our programs think about this for our entire student body.

A few weeks before the semester starts, I send out a “Getting to Know You” survey (via Google Form) to my students. I ask a few simple questions:

  1. How do you pronounce your name
  2. Preferred pronouns
  3. Profession
  4. Problem of practice in a sentence 
  5. Location
  6. Is there anything we should know about your learning/work style so we can be more effective in providing you feedback and support this semester? 
  7. Is there anything else you would like to ask, or would like us to know? 

The answers to questions 6 and 7 are always extraordinarily helpful, and provide me with insights that would never come up in a “traditional” introductory discussion forum posts. As this practice has evolved, students have asked me if I could share the answers to questions 1-5 with each other. (Of course, why didn’t I think of this before!) Our students complete the program as a cohort.  As an instructor, I initially assumed that they knew each other well, but quickly realized this was not a fair assumption. 

Another way to bring a sense of community and space from the survey results is to create a map.  I do this by using the My Maps feature in Google Maps

Map of the world with pins on several locations

For privacy and security, I don’t list full names on the map, and I don’t make the map public. The visual alone is a powerful representation to show that a class is indeed spread across the world, and we have to be cognisant of the fact that it is not 11:59pm everywhere. (More thoughts on that here.) It also shows that I care where they are.   Connections can’t be programmed into systems, we have to help make them happen. 

Situate feedback as a conversation  

I’m very intentionally using the word feedback instead of grading.  I have found that there is a lot of negative educational baggage around being “graded.” 

Our institution uses Canvas as an LMS. The gradebook in Canvas has a commenting feature and Google Docs allows threaded comments.  However, in using these tools, I have found that I have to prompt students to respond to the comments. I think this has to do with the rigidity of the system, if it’s in an online gradebook, then, it feels “final.” Once they realize that I’m deeply invested in their work (literally at a line by line basis at times in a Google Doc) then, they start to see this as a supportive and individualized space to learn. 

I have also experimented with verbal feedback.  If your institution has Zoom cloud recording, this process is easy and accessible. Open up your personal meeting room, share your screen, record to the cloud and you’re good to go. A few minutes after you end the recording, you’ll get a link with the recording along with a transcript. Continually try to push against the boundaries of digital classroom spaces (specifically those built into LMSs) to build connections and conversations. 

Be present

I am present with my students in their feedback, not only in comments, but, also in the timeliness of feedback. I make feedback a priority. If an assignment is due on one day, I set aside the next two days to give feedback. For longer assignments (e.g. dissertation proposal draft sections) it may take longer, but, I am sure to tell the students how long that will be.  

Feedback is murky territory, and all too often I hear stories about feedback taking weeks (in both online and face to face classes).  I think the distance is exacerbated if we are not intentional about our presence. When an assignment gets submitted into the digital ether, how is a student to know when (or if) it will come back? I am sympathetic to instructors, we have a lot of competing priorities and pressures. A way to manage frustration is to very simply tell students when feedback will be given.  It does take time to provide feedback, especially when we have a full caseload of  classes, the simple act of knowing and managing expectations goes a long way.  

This beautiful article by Rose & Adams (2014) should resonate with both faculty and students. Being present can take many shapes and forms.  For me, it comes via weekly videos, a practice that I have been embedding in online courses for quite a while.  Our courses are delivered via weekly modules, and, are primarily text based.  The videos are my way of checking in and walking with the students through the weekly modules or highlighting spots that may be challenging. To facilitate the weekly recording, I use Zoom Cloud Recording. You could also use SnagIt, or other screen capture tools and upload to YouTube (which provides automatic captioning) or a video hosting tool at your institution.   

Keep learning

I have been learning and teaching online since 2000 (in 2020, it feels a bit historic to type that out.) Twenty years into this, I still have a lot to learn.  I build in time for reflection on my own blog, I talk with my students, and I talk with others at conferences. I engage in conversations in digital spaces like Slack, Twitter – and I’m always thinking of how to leverage these spaces to build conduits for and between our students.  The journey of improving and understanding my critical digital pedagogy (Morris & Stommel, 2018) will never end. 

I would like to end this post with an invitation – for further discussion in the comments, or on Twitter (the hashtags #HumanizeOL, #EdDChat, #CPED are great places to congregate) or for collaboration on research. Fully online doctoral programs are a tiny slice of the learning landscape, collectively, we could work to share practices and pedagogy to humanize the experience for all. 


Adams, C., & Rose, E. (2014). “Will I ever connect with the students?” Online teaching and the pedagogy of care. Phenomenology & Practice, 8(1), 5-16.

Morris, S.M & Stommel, J. (2018) An Urgency of Teachers: the Work of Critical Digital Pedagogy 


Picture of Leigh Graves WolfLeigh Graves Wolf is teacher-scholar and a Clinical Associate Professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Leigh teaches with the Educational Leadership and Innovation EdD program and is a faculty fellow with the Office of Scholarship & Innovation. Her work centers around online education, K12 teacher professional development and relationships mediated by and with technology. She has worked across the educational spectrum from K12 to Higher to further and lifelong.  She believes passionately in collaboration and community. Leigh shares all of her work and ideas publicly on her blog, twitter, & flickr.


#OERizona 2019 Provocation: Open Education Practices – Articulating Behaviors & Practices

This afternoon I had the honor of leading a “provocation” at the #OERizona Open Practices, Open People conference. It was a tremendous group of practitioners – both online and in-person. I knew we would have a large contingent of online participants, so I did my best to construct the activity (below) so that both groups could feel a sense of shared space.

In short, I lead participants in two 15 minute “sprints” where they brainstormed open educational behaviors and practices in shared google docs that represented their position(s). Then, as a surprise twist at the end, I led them to a doc with the text below which pulls everything together into a shared blog post that can be remixed, reused and recycled. (It was a bit of a spin on my #IPDX15 keynote.)

It’s always a wonderful experience when you have participants who are trusting and open in spirit – I sincerely appreciate the generosity of time and ideas shared – and I’m looking forward to seeing how the posts evolve and grow over time. I’m just starting to dig through the pages myself and can’t wait to see how the collective ideas continue to spread.


Are you new to Open Educational Practices?
Are you a shining star of Open Educational Practices? 

If you answered yes to either question, this post is for you! On Tuesday, 29 October 29, 2019 over 100 students, educators, librarians, instructional designers, educational technologists, and people in other roles supporting teaching and learning came together (face to face and online) at OERizona to create these pages for you. The pages will remain open until November 1st, and then will be cleaned up (formatted) and closed for further edits.  

In these pages, we attempt to provide examples of OEP behaviors and practices within each of our areas of expertise.   We were inspired by the work of Elhers and Conole (2010) and hope to continue to push the boundaries and definitions of Open Educational Practices. 

If you would like to replicate this activity, you can visit the slidedeck for more information. 

Session facilitated by Leigh Graves Wolf. Individual pages contain author attributions.

Open Pedagogy Reflection: Creating a Zero Textbook Cost course (with a little help from Library Reading Lists)…and I got a grant!

screenshot of leigh on youtube

At the end of last fall I had the opportunity to revise a course I teach TEL 713: Advanced Qualitative Methods.  I inherited an incredible course, and learned a lot through the eyes of the previous instructor – but, as with all online courses, a regular update and revision was warranted. One of my goals in the revision was to create a Zero Textbook Cost course. If you google “Zero Textbook Cost” you’ll see lots of initiatives (associated with Open Educational Resources/OER movements) to create not only courses, but, entire degree programs using open or free resources.  (I should also put in a little plug here that open education movements include things beyond texts, and include being open and transparent about educational practices (with things like this blog post!))

Using a combination of “true” OER and relying heavily on ASU Library online resources, the course is now a “textbook zero” course.  As I was redesigning, I received a serendipitous email from the libraries announcing a new tool called “Reading Lists” which integrated into our new LMS (Canvas.) I was very excited by this and jumped right into explore. It’s an incredibly easy to use too and is useful for the student (all course resources (the tool allows multimodal text) in one spot), faculty (analytics on use of resources, easy to copy from semester to semester) and the library (they get usage statistics and can make sure your course resources are accessible.) As an added open bonus, I can share my reading list across the entire ASU network, so, other instructors (and students) can see what we’re reading and learning.

The library recently created this LibGuide resource so you can learn more about the Reading List feature: I was very happy to respond to a request to make a video to share how I’m using the list in my class, and how we’re using it in the EdD program to create a repository of all of our student dissertations.

While this feature is called “Reading Lists” at ASU, it’s also called Leganto at other universities, so, if you too are interested, you may want to check with your amazing university librarian to see if they have a similar technology to manage course reserves. Unfortunately, to see my lists as intended you have to be authenticated through ASU (certainly a limit to the open-ness of this) – but you can export to pdf, word, etc. – so you can click here to get a feel for the list in pdf form. That link takes you to an “APA formatted” export. In scare quotes, because you’ll see the APA is FAR from perfect (which is a plug for putting in better meta-data!)

I’m excited to dig into this more – and to share that I received a mini grant from the Office of Scholarship and Innovation in May to purchase MAXQDA to study this more in depth! The grant award announcement is below.

The final mini grant of the semester was awarded to Leigh Wolf. In May, Wolf received funding support for a qualitative analysis software that she will be using to research the use and effects of Open Educational Resources in the Educational Leadership and Innovation EdD program. For this research, she is collaborating with ASU Libraries and will be analyzing data from student interviews, course syllabi, and social media analytics. As a bonus, Wolf is also able to use the qualitative software for teaching advanced qualitative methods in the EdD program with free licenses provided to the students in her course.




A Critical Digital Pedagogy Musing: Going Beyond 11:59pm

One thing that has been on my mind lately (for a long time actually) is the concept of time in online classes. (Filing this under the umbrella of thoughts inspired by Critical Digital Pedagogy (Morris & Stommel), An Urgency of Teachers, #digped and #femedtech discussions.) We often sell online courses/programs as convenient, they can “fit in your schedule,” “anytime anywhere.” Those of us who have been online learners know…that’s simply not the case, it’s way more complicated.  

I’ve been teaching online (as fixed-term/clinical faculty) since 2006 (with the Master of Art in Educational Technology program at MSU and now with the EdD program in Leadership and Innovation at ASU.) Additionally, a good portion of my own MA coursework (at MSU) was online.  So, I’m creeping up on 20 years of being an online learner. With experience comes some comfort – and an understanding of what time means online, especially in a course management system (CMS). 

Most of the tools in CMSs that relate to time are surveillance oriented: how long did you spend in the course, how long did you spend on a specific page, when did you submit the assignment, how much of the video did you watch? As if seeing a statistic that a student “only” spent 15 minutes in the course means that they didn’t engage (when, in fact, they could have downloaded all of the materials and worked outside of the CMS.)

I don’t completely ignore the stats – if I see one of my students hasn’t logged in or engaged, that’s a cue to me to check in on them to see if they’re ok, if there is any way I can help.  When you teach online, you develop a sixth sense for the “vibe” of your class.  If I’m engaged, the students are also engaged.  I don’t have “late penalties” (even though the CMS forces a submission deadline) – if it’s submitted at 1am instead of 11:59pm it’s most likely because my student has been working all day, taking care of their family, and has budgeted midnight to 3 am to do coursework. This is scenario that I want to talk about – and provide some scaffolding around for my students. 

Graduate coursework takes time – time you’re giving to yourself.  Time to engage in ideas, time to read, time to write. When we’re bounded in 3 hour blocks, or all-day weekend classes in on-campus courses, it’s easy (for the most part) to block out distractions.  When we try to block that time at home or at work…not so easy.  

As online instructors (and you might even be able to argue any mode of learning), I think we need to be more up front about time – and our expectations for time.  Most universities have provided some scaffolding around this (which is usually hidden in academic procedures manuals, which, I like to read!) Generally, for a 3-credit graduate course, you are expected to dedicate about 9 hours of work. I honestly have no idea how universities came up with this metric, but the idea is that you spend 3 hours “in-class” and 6 hours of “homework.” So, I use that as a general rule. If students are new to online learning, how are they expected to know how much, or even how, to dedicate time in the online classroom space – which, isn’t always (especially in my class) in a CMS.

Here are two ways I make time open to students: 

Example 1: Module Overview 

This is an example of the text/format I use for TEL 713: Advanced Qualitative Methods. 

A Note on Time on Task
This course is 3 graduate credits. For 3 graduate credits, you should expect to dedicate 9 hours per week to the course. In designing the course, we have worked very hard to make sure that expectations fall within the 9 hours. At the end of every module overview, you will see a section called TIME ON TASK* with suggested time frames for each activity. These expectations are provided in the spirit of openness and transparency – and are simply that, guidelines. If you complete some tasks faster, that is ok. If you’re finding you are spending well over the time suggested, please contact the instructor.

These are general guidelines, however, especially as you start to work on concepts which directly apply to your dissertation, you may find yourself in what Csikszentmihalyi defines as flow. You certainly should not worry about going over the time allotted you find yourself in this state!

Module Assignments & Time On Task
Listen to instructor video & read overview – 30 minutes

    • Readings – 3 hours
    • Connect (this includes posting your VoiceThread and & listening) – 1 hour
    • Question (post to discussion forum) – 30 minutes
    • Play (set up notebook and write first entry) – 2 hours
    • Apply (set up document and start assignment) – 2 hours

Example 2: Spreadsheet

This is an example of the text/spreadsheet I use for TEL 703 Innovation in Teaching and Learning, TEL 711 Strategies for Inquiry, and TEL 707 Reading the Research. This is a cluster of courses that students take simultaneously over 15 weeks.  (I teach 2 of the 3 courses, but, we work as a team to deliver the experience.) 

This is a “time on task*” spreadsheet that many students found helpful last semester. Many students find the transition to three 3-credit courses a bit overwhelming.  This spreadsheet helps to give an idea of how to break your work up across the weekly modules.  Please do not see the suggested times as “set in stone” – everyone works at a different pace. But, if you do find yourself going well over the suggested times, please reach out to us as your instructors to help provide strategies for managing your workload (click image to enlarge): 

screenshot of spreadsheet with class tasks and time estimates

Now, I know it may seem silly to articulate time down to the minute, but, those are only provided as general guidelines..simply a place to start…an initial point of reference until you find your own pace. 

I’m also up front with the time I dedicate to feedback. It’s ideal that assignments/posts/blogs/artifacts are submitted when requested, because, I turn those back within 24-48 hours.  You email me, I email you back, generally in less than 12 hours – never more than 24. If something is marked urgent (which I tell my students to do if they need an ASAP answer) and if it’s within (my) waking hours, you get a response ASAP.  This is the hardest part of the “anytime anywhere” – it’s anytime anywhere for the learner…which to me is a twisted perspective that the instructor/guide is absent in an online environment. We mediate just as much as the content on the screen mediates.  In a class I can read your face, I can see the struggle…I can’t see that online.  BUT if I give you some guidelines, and open the door wide open to ask for help – at that moment you’re feeling the struggle…I hope I can catch you before you start spinning wheels and getting angry, sad, frustrated, defeated, second guessing…all things that happen way to easily in asynchronous spaces. 

Now, the paragraph above is tricky as well – I do have to be diligent myself with turning things off, something I’ve gotten much better at doing. (I used to get up at 3am to answer emails. I no longer do this.) Because I’m open with my time (and when my time is open), I have found that students respect and understand these boundaries and know when I’m “on” and if an urgent response is needed – they email me during those times. 

So…this is my first attempt at articulating this in the open. I would love to hear your strategies for dealing with time. Would also love to hear criticisms or critiques of my lines of thinking. 

*The naming of this as “time on task” was very intentional.  A standard question on instructor evaluation forms often reads “Instructors emphasize time on task”…what does that mean?! I’m not 100% sure (and neither are the students based upon their comments) but, we’re evaluated on it nonetheless. 

#OER19 – Session Recap & Invitation to Collaborate

It was so much fun presenting at OER19yesterday.  I’m so lucky to be here connecting with friends I have known for years – and to meet new friends who are also exploring all definitions and meanings of open. Thank you all who were able to come in person (as there were so many amazing sessions to choose from).

My session description & slides are below, and I ended with a timely invitation that I would like to share here as well. In October 2019, #OpenEd19 will take place in Phoenix and I’m looking to collaborate with anyone who would also like to examine (y)our course syllabi and reading lists for open and see where our exploration takes us (and then, we will share that at #OpenEd19.) If accepted and you’re unable to come to Phoenix, we can coordinate virtual participation so your voice will be there will us in the presentation.

Please tweet or message me if you’re interested and I’ll be in touch soon to share a Google doc with the proposal so we can finalize and submit by April 19th!

#OpenEd19 – an invitation to collaborate

  • Deeply examine our syllabi & reading lists
  • Look for “statements of open” in syllabus
  • Are our open resources visible? How? 
  • What opportunities exist to make open more transparent in our classes? 
  • What practices can we cultivate? 
  • What resources can we share? 

Session Description

In this reflective practice session I would like to share heuristics I have used for “open coding” my syllabus which help the learners in our care see the critical processes behind resource inclusion in a syllabus. Inspired by the method of open coding (Glasser, 2016), this takes the “open” in open coding a step further and makes the actual codes visible to our learners. As practitioners, we may profess to being digitally literate, critical, or open however, many of the very literacies we practice are often hidden in the construction of a syllabus as our students and co-learners only see the final product. By openly coding resources on a syllabus we are pulling back the layers for the students and modeling our understanding(s) of open. In addition to making our curricular moves visible to students, it also forces us to take a close and critical look at our syllabi in an ever evolving quest to improve our own open practices.

While the genre of the syllabus often gets criticized for housing mundane (or even damaging) policies, it offers tremendous opportunity and potential (Konikel, 2018). I will engage the participants by sharing my emerging protocol and technologies and inviting others to participate in the syllabi coding process after OER19 with the hopes of producing a collectively authored publication on the results of our syllabi self-studies. Additionally, I will share open syllabi resources such as the Humanities Commons CORE Repository ( which provide further collaborative and open opportunities.


Glaser, B. (2016) Open coding descriptions. Grounded Theory Review: An International Journal. December 2016, Vol.15(2). [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 26 November 2018]

Konikel, S. (2018) Examining the syllabus as scholarly object: what can we learn about values from this teaching tool? [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 26 November 2018]

#4T2017 Keynote Recap & Recording: What is it you do again? Discussing the intents, purposes & vocabularies surrounding learning design

Behind the scenes
Behind the scenes view of the 4T Virtual Keynote

Yesterday I had the honor of presenting at the 2017 4T Virtual Conference. I am a tremendous fan of the conference and was honored that Liz Kolb and the 4T Virtual organizers asked me to be a keynote this year.  I HIGHLY recommend that you take a look through the sessions that were presented this year (and the archives!) It is a treasure trove of online professional development.

My keynote was titled: What is it you do again? Discussing the intents, purposes & vocabularies surrounding learning design.  The idea was prompted by a conversation I had recently with a colleague and in my talk I attempt to construct an argument for defining our work and remaining critical as we engage and define our profession as “learning designers” (or Educational Technologists, Instructional and Information Technology Manager, Program Support Specialists, Academic Specialists, Digital Coachs, Technology Guides, etc.)

I provided a virtual handout to go along with my talk which you can find here:

The recording of the session can be found here: 
(requires Blackboard Collaborate) and the slides are embedded below.

In my session, I invited the audience to continue the collaboration and discussion – and I would like to do the same here. If you’re interested in collaborating on an article around this topic, please let me know!

Thanks again to all who attended, to my moderator Kevin Upton and to the 4T Virtual sponsors who make this incredible (FREE) event possible.