Session 4: Coursesite Design and Maintainance

 ADA Assignments
Use what you learned from the presentation, the information in the text and other sources to answer the following:

  1. What are three types of disabilities that students in a course you create might have? Explain the accommodations that you would need to provide for each.
  • Vision Impaired (Colored Blindness or no vision)
    • No flashy colors (example- bright pink letters on bright blue background)
    • Definitely no green and blue combinations
    • Use high contrast colors (example-black text on white background; white text on black background)
    • Colors should not convey meaning
    • Easy to read fonts
    • Screen readers that can read text to students
    • Text versions should be available
  • Hearing Impaired (Little or no Hearing)
    • Include captions with audio/visual presentations
    • Provide text transcripts of lectures or guest speaker presentations
  • Mobility Disabilities (inability to use hands, slow muscular movements)
    • Voice activated mouse
    • Voice activated software
    • Alternative keyboard
    • Keyboard control instead of mouse
    • Simple navigation on LMS or website (3 or less clicks/keystrokes to a destination)
  1. According to the text, what is the percentage of the population that has a visual, auditory or physical limitation? How does that compare to other sources for this information. (Please list at least one other source you found.)

The text states that one in five individuals has a vision, hearing, or physical limitation. 29% of families in the US have at least one family member with a disability. 7.2% of students entering higher education have visual, hearing, cognitive, or motor impairment.

In the district I work in, Riverside Unified School District, there are over 4,900 students who receive special education services. Among those students are those with vision, hearing, or physical impairments.
According to our lead teacher of the severely handicapped students at our elementary school campus, there are 10 severely handicapped students, 20 non-severe special day class students, an estimated 34 resource students, and an estimated 70 speech impaired students.

  1. Identify three factors other than the actual disabilities that exist in your student population that influence how an institution or a course creator is required to address ADA in an online course.

There are various other factors that influence how an online course designer could address ADA. Among these factors are Designated English Language Learners. These students need appropriate scaffolding in vocabulary and grammar as designated to their phase level. Level of self-confidence is also a factor that is not an actual disability. At our school-site, there was a Gallop Poll administered in order to gain insight on student motivation, stress level, self-esteem, and self-confidence in academics. It was found that a large percentage of our students are living in stress and do not have academic self-confidence. A course creator should use that knowledge when designing an online course in order to seek appropriate and effective motivation and engagement methods for students. Academic skills should also be considered when designing an online course. Some students may or may not have the time management skills, study skills, or study habits necessary to be successful in an online course, therefore a course designer should determine how to design the course material, either into modules or topics.

  1. According to the text, what is “assistive technology”? Give some examples.

Assistive technology “is a term used to describe hardware devices and/or related software intended to help individuals with disabilities overcome problems they may encounter when attempting to view web pages” (p.175). Microsoft offers an array of assistive technologies. Among the input devices Microsoft offers are alternative keyboards, electronic pointing devices which allows the user to control the curser without using a mouse, sip-and-puff systems which uses inhaling and exhaling, joy sticks, and track balls. Microsoft also offers Braille Embossers and reading tools.

  1. Identify and explain two different ways to check a webpage to ensure that it meets the needs of disabled students.
    One way to evaluate course site usability would be to use a team of student evaluators in combination with another colleague or team of experts to cross check evaluations. There are also websites that are available to help gain insight on whether or not your website is usable by those with disabilities. Among those sites are WebAIM: and Accesibility Valet: Usability Geeks gives a more extensive list of ADA checking websites:
  2. Identify two types of presentations used in online courses (for example, podcasts, PowerPoints, Videos, Slide Shows, etc.) and that you might use and explain how you can ensure that each is ADA compliant. Discuss the relative cost or difficulty of producing the accommodation.

Podcast: I would use a podcast to give background on a topic as well as assignment procedures. In order to make that podcast ADA compliant for the hearing impaired, I would also provide a written transcript of my podcast. It would not be costly because I would type my podcast script prior to recording it with free voice recording software available through Google Play. I found the following website very helpful:

Slide Shows: I would use a Slide Show to communicate instructional material. In order to make it ADA compliant, I would use high contrasting, white text on black background. I would use minimal images and those used would be simplistic. I would also narrate the Slide Show using the free Google App, Screencastify for the vision impaired. I would have to practice a lot with this because I have never created a narrated slideshow.

  1. Develop a course usability checklist that is appropriate for your anticipated needs. Use the example provided in the text as a starting point and explain your modifications.
    Although I have mentioned using Google Classroom as a LMS, I would like to experiment with Google Sites in order to build a course website for my present or future sixth graders.

Coursesite Usability Checklist:

Architecture/Navigation Yes No Comments
Easy to navigate? Tabs are well labeled with text
Announcements easy to view? Arranged sequentially by most current to past announcements.
Easy to find what you want? 3 clicks or less
Easy to return to start? Return or home button
Consistent coursesite design?
Accessing Coursesite Materials Yes No Comments
Files download quickly?      
Effective web design?      
Documents print OK?      
Easy to find how to get help?      
Coursesite Recourses Yes No Comments
Collaboration features easy to use?      
Calendar is accessible?      
Tutorials are available and easy to use?      
Grade book is available?      
Online testing is available?      
  1. Choose an online course and use your checklist to generate a report on the usability of that course. Your report should include bullet points of things that you recommend be done to improve the usability of specific elements of the course.

I will be using the following checklist to test the usability of EDUC 603

Architecture/Navigation Yes No Comments
Easy to navigate? Tabs are well labeled with text X LMS: Blackboard

Uses the traditional tabs: course documents; course materials; grade book; etc.

Announcements easy to view? Arranged sequentially by most current to past announcements. X When announcements are posted they are in the announcement section of the LMS.
Easy to find what you want? 3 clicks or less X Some materials may be in course documents or course materials so there is a lot of guess and checking.
Easy to return to start? Return or home button X
Consistent coursesite design? X
Accessing Coursesite Materials Yes No Comments
Files download quickly? X   Professor uses Word Documents that are easy to download and open.
Effective web design? X Consistent with BB design.
Documents print OK? X
Easy to find how to get help? X Professor contact information is available.
Coursesite Resources Yes No Comments
Collaboration features easy to use? X Wikis and chat with collaborative group are available
Calendar is accessible? X Syllabus has a list of assignments and due dates
Tutorials are available and easy to use? X None available
Grade book is available? X Not updated regularly
Online testing is available? X One final exam with multiple choice questions

Report/Suggestions based on checklist and memory of my course experience:

  • Arrange all necessary course materials by topic or module.
  • Provide instructions/tutorial on how wikis and chats should be used throughout the coursework so students do not need to go to other sources for collaboration.
  • Utilize and update the Grade book regularly and provide feedback/comments.
Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Session 3- Media Richness

  1. Explain Media Richness in your own words.

In education, Media Richness refers to how effective the telecommunications medium an instructor uses is in relaying the necessary messages.

  1. What are the four criteria used to judge Media Richness?

In this week’s study notes/podcast, Dr. Newberry listed four criteria to judge Media Richness:

  • Availability of instant feedback
  • The capacity of the medium to transmit cues such as facial expression, body language and tone of voice
  • Ability of the medium to permit the communicator to use natural language
  • The personal focus of the medium.
  1. Choose 4 or 5 technologies you might use in an online class and rate them on the four criteria. Using these ratings suggest some eLearning activity that might or might not be appropriate for each technology you rate. Explain your reasons.

Email- If I were to use the four criteria that Dr. Newberry listed, e-mail covers three out of four categories. An instructor could send a message relaying information about learning material or grades and the student would get that message instantly. It is personalized and provides an open source for instant feedback and the use of natural language. What is missing is the capacity to transmit facial expression, body language and tone of voice.

Video Podcast- A video podcast would be an excellent medium to provide a lesson to online learners. It would capture the instructor’s body language, tone, and facial expressions. The instructor could use natural language, and there is a sense of personal focus through a recorded video message. I am not quite sure how instant feedback would be possible. Video podcasts would best be used in situations where feedback isn’t a necessary component. For instance, I would use a video podcast to teach a lesson and model examples if I were teaching an online math course.

Audio Podcast- I would use an audio podcast in the same manner that one would use video podcast. The downside would be that the instructor’s natural language would be lacking because when recording, the voice tends to sound monotone or robotic because the instructor is reading from a script. Another piece that would be lacking would be instant feedback. The use of an audio podcast would be similar to the video podcast, in situations that do not require much feedback or two-way communication. I would use an audio podcast to deliver instructions on a project or notes about content area. One aspect of this course that I appreciate is that Dr. Newberry includes the written script with the podcast he shares with us. This provides multiple methods of accessing information for our course, thus reaching multiple types of learners.

Video Chat (SKYPE)- This media is extremely rich, scoring a four out of four using the categories to measure media richness. Since the video chat is occurring in real time, facial expression and tone of voice are transmitted. A video chat allows both the instructor and student to participate in two-way communication effectively using a natural tone.

  1. Explain Social Presence in your own words.

Social Presence is how active a student is within the Community of Inquiry. It is subjective to the learner and the instructor based on previous experiences and class expectations.

  1. Explain the difference between Social Presence and Media Richness.

According to the Randy Garrison in E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Framework for Research and Practice, the function of social presence is to “support inquiry and the achievement of specific learning outcomes” (Garrison, 2011, p.31). Much of the research in the area of social presence is focused on the social-emotional states of online learners and what active social presence looks like. Social presence is mostly concerned with the community of inquiry and collaboration with others, while media richness is concerned with the communication medium that an instructor chooses to use in a course.

  1. Provide some Issues or Trends in eLearning that you are interested in pursuing for your annotated bibliography. Remember, the annotated bibliography is NOT due this session!

Last quarter, I began using blogging as a means of getting my students to practice reflective learning. For this quarter, I would like to learn about motivation and engagement strategies for younger students when it comes to eLearning and blogging. I have found that students are making very superficial comments to one another, if they are commenting at all. There is also the issue of students not posting at all. I know a large part of that is the lack of technology at home and the lack of time to complete blogs in the classroom. However, there are many students who do have the technology, yet are not participating in their blog assignments even though it is graded.

  1. Possible articles for Annotated Bibliography.

Morrison, D. (n.d.). 3 Reasons Students Don’t Participate in Online Discussions. Retrieved from

Since my focus will be on finding strategies to keep my students engaged and motivated in blogging, I thought an article about why students do not participate would be valuable. It is important to find examples and nonexamples of what I want to see happen in my own class, so I think this article will provide some helpful feedback.

Ripp, P. (2013, June 2). Get Your Students Blogging! Retrieved February 2, 2015, from

I skimmed through this article and found that it was interesting the author also uses kidblog as their class blogging platform. There were some suggestions on how to give students that sense of ownership of their blogs, which results in high participation.

Waters, S. (2014, August 28). Step 4: Teach Quality Commenting Skills. Retrieved February 2, 2015, from

Another area of focus is teaching my students to use deeper, higher quality comments when addressing one another. I find that many students are writing “good job” or “I agree” and not attaching anything else that is useful to the original poster. I though edublog would be a rich source of information on how to assist me in guiding my students to deeper and more reflective comments and posts.


Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Session 2

Focus Questions for Chapter 1 and 4 (Waterhouse, S. A. The power of eLearning) and CMS/LMS Investigation

  1. Central to our investigation of eLearning Technologies and Methods is gaining an understanding of Learning Management Systems (LMS) sometimes also called Course Management System (CMS) software. Chapter 1 of our text discusses the functionality of typical LMS/CMS, identifying four major categories. What are those categories?

According to Waterhouse, there are four LMS functionality categories:

Distribution of Course Information and Web Access: This includes announcements, course syllabus, course documents, reading materials, and course notes. Utilizing an LMS will decrease the cost of instruction delivery because they are designed to be more efficient (Waterhouse, p.14).

Electronic Communication: Online learners are expected t communicate and collaborate with others. A LMS will include discussion boards to preview or summarize topics, online tutoring, online chatting.

Interaction with Content and Web Access: Online learning facilitates student interaction with course content. This could come in the form of online field trips, web-based research, online simulations, video clips or audio clips.

Online Testing and Grading: This includes self-assessments which has the potential to improve learning. Waterhouse stated, “lack of effort—that is, time on task—is quite often the root cause of academic difficulty” (p.13). Students are held accountable for their online learning because some Learning Management Systems could track how much time a student spends on a learning task.

  1. Use the Internet to find three different course management systems. Provide the name, a URL and a brief discussion of what you can find out about the similarities and differences between the three that you find.

Google Classroom is a CMS that has the four categories of functionality listed above. There is an announcement feature which an instructor could utilized to upload course documents, videos, notes, and links. There is an assignment feature where students are able to submit assignments. Instructors could select due dates and times, thus holding students accountable for submitting work on time. There is a comment feature, which could be used as a discussion area.

The website states– Classroom is designed to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly, including time-saving features like the ability to automatically make a copy of a Google Document for each student. It also creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student to help keep everyone organized.

Students can keep track of what’s due on the Assignments page and begin working with just a click. Teachers can quickly see who has or hasn’t completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback and grades right in Classroom.

This CMS is still pretty new and is constantly changing as they add features to it. Site URL:

Blackboard functions as a full CMS. As a student at CSUSB, we are very familiar with its functions. There is a course documents feature, chat function, small group function, assignment feature, and grade report feature. It is flexible to what the instructor needs. Blackboard’s goal is to make learning more desirable, accessible, and meaningful for learners. Site URL:

Haiku is very similar to Blackboard. It’s website states- Haiku Learning revolves around your content. Create classroom pages, add and organize content blocks, change layouts, and publish whenever you’re ready. Embed content from YouTube, Google Docs, Maps, Skype and dozens of other third-party services or create your own from scratch. And when you’ve crafted the perfect classroom page? Resource sharing in Haiku lets you share your classes, pages, and content blocks with any other Haiku user–and use content in your own class created by other teachers.

Site URL:

  1. If you were going to create an online class right now, what LMS/CMS software would you use? Explain what you know about your system’s functionality in each of the four areas identified by the book. (If you don’t have access to LMS/CMS software just use Blackboard for your discussion in this area.)

If I were going to crate an online class for my sixth graders right now, I would use Google Classroom. For eleven year olds, I think it’s easier to manage because there aren’t separate tabs to locate documents. Google Classroom allows a teacher to do two things: create an announcement or create an assignment. But, there is so much you can do within creating an announcement or assignment. For example, I could assign a project for my students to complete. Within the assignment, I can group all of the necessary documents such as the project procedures and grading rubric. I could attach a sample project all within the assignment itself. Students will have all of the necessary tools for that one project in one location and not have to navigate through course documents, syllabus, grading rubric, or other tabs to figure out what is required to complete their task. Another neat feature is that within that assignment, students could comment (if I have enabled that) and carry on discussions or communicate with me.

  1. Chapter 1 of our text identifies six steps for getting started with eLearning. Discuss each step and use each step as a springboard for discussing what you want to do with eLearning either now or in the future.

Ask yourself why As an instructor transitions to innovative teaching methods by using eLearning, the instructor must identify why such a transition is necessary. Our text tells us that the major motivation for adopting eLearning is to enhance teaching and learning. Since there are many aspects to eLearning, I would need to identify how much of it to incorporate into my daily teaching. For instance, I would like to use blogging in my traditional sixth grade class as a means to teach them about online communication and to deepen understanding about various content areas.

Make a commitment Where there is a change, there is also a commitment to learning how to implement that change. Our text reminds us that making the switch to online teaching will not happen overnight and that we should be realistic about the time needed to design and implement eLearning. What I have become committed to doing is to be present in my student blogging. I aim to comment on at least five students per assignment.

Develop a new vision for your course and how you teach Instructors shouldn’t utilize technology just because it is there or because it is the next big thing. Our text says, “Instead, make sure that the technology adds value to your course content and delivery” (p.24). As I started incorporating blogging into my classroom routines, I have had to make adjustments to be more efficient in relaying messages to my students and maintaining organization. For instance, when I started my blogging platform, I created a “Read First” post that contained all of the requirements for a high quality blog as well as the timeline. However, my students are young and never went back to that “Read First” post after they had posted the first post. That resulted in late, low quality postings. To make adjustments, I included the blog requirements in all future assignments. I also included the grading rubric so students would be aware of how they would be graded. I chose to use blogging as a weekly routine because I wanted to give students a chance to reflect on what they are learning throughout the content areas. This is one way students are able to keep a record of their learning and to collaborate with other students.

Determine the resources available to you Waterhouse reminds us that we should have a realistic view of the limitations of the resource available to us. As educators, we could talk with other colleagues about what resources are available and possible ways to acquire newer, advanced resources. In my classroom, students have access to twenty Chromebooks and ten iPads. Students are also able to bring their own tablets or laptops from home if they fill out a District Technology form. Having such a variety of resources allows me to incorporate many aspects of eLearning, which will help them with their success in Middle School, High School, and beyond.

Acquire new technology skills and develop new instructional methods It is necessary to invest time to learn new skills and develop new teaching methods when one is adopting eLearning. I have acquired valuable skills and knowledge through the Instructional Technology program and have also participated in professional development workshops to help me develop my skills in using aspects of Google Drive.

Plan Our text states, “Your plan should be based on your instructional goals, your skills, the time you have available, the technology tools at hand, and the support your institution can give you” (p.26). In other ETEC courses, where I had to design a lesson or develop aspects of eLearning, the planning phase always took the longest. We learned about using the ADDIE model when designing lessons. The analysis phase is essential to the planning of designing a lesson or learning tool. I was taught to state the educational goal, the necessary technology needed, and the amount of time the lesson or project would take.

  1. Chapter 4 of our text discusses the functionality of specific LMS/CMS tools in terms of being for one-way communication, two-way communication or for organization. Explain the key differences between one-way and two-way communication.

One-way Communication- When a message is sent, a reply is not required. Some examples of one-way communication include announcements, videos, audio podcasts, shared files, gradebooks, calendars, and “do not reply” emails. These examples are created or uploaded by the instructor for students to view/read, but do not require the student to provide a comment in return.

Two-way Communication- Some messages are sent with openness for a response. Discussions are a form of two-way communication. Whiteboards within an LMS are also an example of two-way communication. This feature allows students to share work that cannot be typed, such as mathematical equations. Instructors post online tests and quizzes the students are to respond to the questions and submit.

  1. Identify the primary tools your LMS/CMS provides for one-way communication. Briefly describe a method that would make use of the most important tool from your list.

Google Classroom has an Announcement feature. I could use this feature to upload videos, share external links, and share files. I could also just post an announcement to let my students know to study for an exam or to bring a certain tool to class the next day. Although there is a comment section in the announcements, it is not necessary that students comment on each file I share with them. When students submit assignments in Google Classroom, I can provide a grade with feedback. That is also a form of one-way communication.

  1. Identify the primary tools your LMS/CMS provides for two-way communication. Briefly describe a method that would make use of the most important tool from your list.

The method of two-way communication in Google Classroom is in the Assignment feature. I post the assignment along with the needed tools and grading rubric. Students in turn, submit their completed assignments in the Assignment section. If I make a discussion part of the assignment, students could use the comment feature to post their initial thoughts and use the reply feature to respond to other student responses.

  1. Consider how a CMS/LMS supports the three types of interaction (Student-Content, Student-Instructor, Student-Student) that were discussed in the first session 1 presentation. Using the list of tools you created in items 5 and 6, identify the best or most important tool for each type of interaction, explain what you know about the strengths and weaknesses of each tool to support the type of interaction you identify for it.

One-way Communication- The most important tool would be the sharing announcements. This creates Student-Content interaction as the instructor posts links to instructional materials. Organization is the strength of an announcement tool. Students are able to go to a certain date or module and view what the necessary readings or tools are for an assignment. A weakness is that instructors trust that students are accessing the announcements, but that is not always the case.

Two-way Communication- The most important tool would be the discussion feature of a LMS. This allows students to interact with one another as well as with the instructor, so long as the instructor is present in the discussion. The strength is that discussions promote student interaction and collaboration. Going back to what Waterhouse wrote in Chapter 1, the amount of effort in eLearning is measured by the amount of time spent on a task. The weakness is that some students are not motivated to participate in discussions and post the minimal amount of work. This makes it difficult to have meaningful learning experiences using discussion boards.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Session 1- Introduction

Hello fellow classmates,

My name is Margarita Garcia and among other activities I enjoy, I am a sixth grade teacher in the Riverside Unified School District.

2015-01-14 09.27.31

Science Camp: Ethnobotany Hike, Pathfinder’s Ranch- 01.14.15

This is my eleventh year teaching in our district. I have taught a wide range of grades including Kindergarten, First, Second, Fourth and Sixth. I do not have a favorite grade, but I have found Sixth Grade to be a great fit for me at the time because I am able to integrate a lot of the technology and skills I am learning about through the Instructional Technology program.

I have decided to obtain an e-Learning Certificate along with my master’s degree. I really can’t give a good reason why, other than I knew it couldn’t hurt and I also saw it wasn’t going to add too much extra course work! However, through the courses I have taken within the e-Learning section, I have gained so much knowledge and experience with using online learning in my own traditional classroom setting. My students are only eleven years old, but most are keeping up with blogs and submitting electronic assignments that include short projects. When I reflect upon what my students are doing compared to former years, I am amazed! We are using on a weekly basis (somewhat!) along with writing blog summaries, we use Google Classroom as a platform for various subjects. Students receive assignments and submit them in Google Classroom. I am also in the works of beginning a publications club with the students who attend our after school program. I would like it to be an online student newspaper, but we shall see how it develops and progresses since we are beginning on Tuesday! Some of the items I hope to pick up in this class are other technology programs that would enhance my teaching, methods of distributing information to my class, and easy to use programs that I could use to record teacher lectures that I could then disseminate to my students on a learning platform.

Google Classroom Image

My Google Classroom Homepage. I have a total of 9 classes to manage.

As far as my interaction preference, I equally enjoy online and face-to-face interaction. I have enrolled in more online courses than face-to-face courses out of convenience because I work full time and live in Riverside. My professors have facilitated online discourse using Blackboard Discussion Board and blogging. I don’t mind either way of interacting, but I do appreciate that we have either one or the other and not both at the same time! I found that it can be difficult to remain organized when being a commenter to other student blogs. I can’t seem to remember whose posts I have commented on so I could check back for responses. A goal I have for this quarter is to comment on a bigger variety of students’ posts because I tended to focus on the same four or five students’. That will require much more organization on my part! Other forms of interaction I have participated in are Skype and Blackboard Collaborate. When working with interactive groups, we have used Google Docs, email, and text messaging in order to stay connected and on schedule.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments