Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Student blogs - Winter 2009

More about Discussion grading

A student asked - This is a little silly but I was wondering is Discussion 3 out of 9 or 10 points? I just noticed that most discussions were out of 10.

The latest upgrade of the Catalyst software (Fall 08) allows more flexibility in grading discussions. As discussions are an important part of the course, the grades and grading should reflect their importance and level of your participation.

I'm "improving" the scoring for discussions as we go. The 9 points in Discussion 3 is a maximum of 3 points each for the 3 topics.

You will be seeing some other discussion grading throughout the course. If your discussion participation meets or exceeds what is outlined in the discussion activity description, you will get full points. If the grading is any more specific, students worry too much about meeting the requirements which detracts from the discussion. The objective is to encourage thoughtful interaction and learning about the topic of discussion.

Is it helpful having all the discussion topics group in a single forum for the week? What would you like to see graded in a discussion? How would that be communicated? Do you want other students to rate your postings? Would it be ok for other students to see your posting grades?

I would like your feedback on the discussion participation grading.

Monday, January 26, 2009

CSL Project proposal

Remember - your project proposal must include
  • Organization - name, web site link
  • Volunteer information, help contact
  • Brief outline of the organization, its mission
  • How did you select this project?
  • Who benefits from the work of this organization?
  • What service will you be providing?
  • Is training or preparation necessary / available?
  • How does the organization and the community service learning experience addressing your interests or concerns for society?
  • How does this community service learning work relate to the course?
Think of the proposal as an agreement for service. What are all things that might be important about this work as you were getting ready to do it? What will be important in the future when you are assessed against your proposed plan of work? There will be changes along the way, but it is important to have a clear statement of understanding at the beginning of the project.

You may think you will remember, but it will help everyone, especially you, if you write this all down at the beginning.

Tools for learning

It has been my experience - both personal and as an instructor, that many students really don't have good tools and methods for learning. Oh, sure, teachers have tried to impress the need for good study skills, but most students get by without acquiring good habits.

Now there are many tools and approaches that can be adopted and adapted, so individual learners can use the assistance provided. It makes life a lot easier. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. It is important to understand that experimenting is helpful. Making time to experiment is worth it.

10+ Web Tools To Save Your Butt In School

Here is a list of extremely helpful web tools that will make school easier for all the struggling students out there.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Writing for new readers

If you are working on the Tar Heel Reader project, keep in mind that you are writing for new readers. Many are young adults who have life experiences, but need to learn to read.

You can use your best judgment about suitable subjects, appropriate pictures, and text. There is a lot of information available about how to adapt your writing to help new readers. There are tools to help gauge the reading level of your writing.

As you come across ideas and suggestions for writing for new adult readers, please post them in this discussion. This will help build better guidelines for the Tar Heel Reader project. It will also help us build a library of resources for anyone interested in writing for new readers.

CatsCradle translation tool

If you are working on translations for Community Empowerment, you will be using a free downloadable application called CatsCradle. This helps keep the HTML for the page, while you translate the text.

Instructions are provided in the Community service learning student guidelines. The folks at Community Empowerment are always available to help.

If you have any questions or suggestions for using the translation tool CatsCradle, please ask here. Though it is not hard to use, questions do come up. Asking here ensures that others will see the discussion as well.


CSL preparation

Thanks to everyone who has started thinking about and working on Community Service Learning. This is an important part of the CIS2 course, and the DeAnza student experience.

There are several parts to this so that you, your community partner, your classmates and I all have visibility into your project and your progress. That's the learning part.
  • Community service learning student guidelines file - link to a page of information and instructions that resides in the WikiEducator wiki. Because this is publicly available, it is easy for our community partners to access the information as well.

  • Community Service Learning discussion Forum - a separate discussion forum for questions and comments specific to the community service learning projects

  • Project selection -- pick a project Choice - please indicate which project you will be working on. This helps with planning and notifying community partners about volunteers to expect.

  • Community service learning proposal - an assignment to collect information about your selected community service project, partner information, and an overview of what you will be doing. When you have answered all these questions, you should have a work plan for your community service learning project.
Community service learning is an important project. It should be interesting as well. Think about how you can provide the most benefit to your partner organization as well as your personal learning. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Internet, Computers and Terrorism

Terrorists are becoming more and more technology savvy. With computers systems controlling more and more infrastructure and amenities, with databases controlling economics and trade, the sites that host them can become easy targets both physically and virtually in order to jeopardize civic life. Do you think virtual terrorism and internet terrorism are future possibilities?

Only in the context of a terrorist trying to blow up a data center/ routing server. I wouldn't necessarily call hackers terrorists (unless you've seen Die Hard 4) Most hackers, hack for the challenge of just doing it, or the money. I would call it less terrorism and more of a deliberate sabotage. It of course depends on the intended goal/result. Cracking the system or inflicting bodily harm.

I believe that the potential for destruction as a result of cyber terrorism is a serious concern in the modern world. Cyber terrorists have at their disposal a wide variety of tactics they can use! Kind of spooky!

Encryption Technology

Banks and other businesses use encryption technology to keep you bank information and credit card numbers safe without you even knowing it. This insures that if someone intercepts the information, they are not able to read it. If you don't trust the technology, you probably don't do on-line purchases or on-line banking. Do you feel these companies are doing everything in their power to protect your information?

Children Test Subjects

I was reading this article about "Test Subjects Who Call the Scientist Mom or Dad".


These are Scientists who test on their children. I believe practices like this can be beneficial as they can learn more about their children's behaviors. (I guess you can consider this 'quality time together')

The impact of society is that have we turned to our own family to conduct research? These scientists believe it is convenient and low cost to involve their own family in their observations and tests.

I was shocked to hear this because I strongly feel that children need to be able to live in a 'normal' environment and have supportive parents that separate their personal life from work.

If scientists continue to conduct this type of research on their children I can't imagine how it'll shape the way they think about the world as they mature. Doesn't this defeat the purpose of studying them if you expose them to tests and electronic testing equipment at a very young age?

What do you guys think after reading the article? Is it a good idea or a bad one?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Reviewing grades

One of the great things about Catalyst is the Grade view. In the left navigation menu, there is a link to Grades. You can view your assignment and discussion grades at anytime. They are immediately updated when an quiz or assignment is graded.

If there is no grade for an assignment or quiz that you submitted, there are several possibilities
  • Automatically graded quizzes are graded immediately. If you don't get a grade, you may have save the quiz responses but you didn't click the submit link at the end of the quiz.

  • The assignment isn't due yet or the grading isn't complete yet. Check back in a day or 2. Assignments and instructor graded quizzes submitted on time are usually graded in 2-4 days after the due date.

  • The assignment was late. Late assignments will be accepted for partial credit, but will be graded at the end of the quarter.

If you think there is a problem with your grade, please ask.

Discussion grades

There are multiple discussion topics within the Discussion forum for each weekly module in the course. Your discussion participation grade for the week is the sum of the individual topic posting grades.

Each week, there are points for the quantity and quality of your posts. If you have participated in all the discussions as outlined in the Assignments, and your posts are on-time, thoughtful, and expressed in college level writing, your discussion participation grade for the week will be recorded as the maximum for the week's discussion participation.

As there are several ways to gain and deduct points, your total may be greater than the maximum, but you can't get more than the maximum. You will not get full points for any of the following reasons.
  • You do not include all the required elements
  • There are significant writing problems
  • The submissions are late
There are usually more points possible than the maximum recorded. This means that you could get full points, even though you missed some points in one or more of the discussion topics. And some posts are not graded, so even if you post in every topic, you may not get maximum points.

Remember these points are spread across several discussion topics.

Brain color

Brain color is just for fun. It is a way to get you to think about how people are different, and how you learn.

Online courses require students to be more self-reliant. Knowing your personal learning style points out what you need to help yourself be successful.

Community Service Learning - W09

Community service learning is a 12 hour volunteer work project that is your Midterm project. Details are provided in the link - see the CIS2 main web page for links to guidelines.

Community Empowerment (CE) is our main community service learning partner this semester.

Illustrations with an Indian "look" would be perfect. Look through some of the illustrations on the CE site - lots of examples of learning and community project work. Anything along those lines would be great.

Another alternative - translation. English to ...? If you read and write languages in addition to English, CE would appreciate your work doing translations.

Assignments and Grading

-- from Welcome to CIS2

Most assignments are structured so that students apply and comment on the information discussed in the textbook reading. So long as all the requirements are met, including on-time submission, you get full marks for the assignment. Students are encourage to fulfill these requirements in creative and personally interesting, academically appropriate ways. These assignments allow for each student's answer to be different.

Grading and feedback are based on reviewing your work and ensuring that the requirements are met. I may provide a comment, along with updating the assignment grade. If there are any missing elements or requirements, points will be deducted. A comment about the deduction is included.

I check for mail and discussion postings at least once most days. However, I only grade assignments and review quiz results in batches, usually 2-3 days after the assignments are due.

If you have questions about your grade, please check for comments first. I use the assignment and quiz comments so you know exactly where a problem occurred. I use comments to bring something to your attention. If the comment does not answer your question, then send me a message about your concern.

Discussion grades

If you didn't get full points for your entry in a discussion, perhaps it was clear that you didn't read the instructions in the Assignments.

For example, the assignment was to access the Computer Geek's History site and pick one of the entries to share. Just asking colleagues or thinking it up on your own is great, but that is not what was asked.

In the future - read the related instructions for the discussion participation activity in the Assignments page for the current topic BEFORE you post to the discussion.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Technology and education

This isn't news but it puts the CIS2 Computers and the Internet in Society course into perspective.

Technology and Education - video


Automatically graded quizzes can be taken any number of times. Your highest score will be recorded.

Some quizzes are graded automatically, and your grade is recorded as soon as you submit it.

Other quizzes include questions that are Instructor-graded - they say this in the quiz link title. The instructor graded questions are usually graded within 2-3 days of the due date. Until then, these questions are included in the quiz grade as zero. You may see a partial grade if the quiz includes both kinds of questions. Don't panic until after the grading period.

Please note that quizzes have a Save and a Submit function. You can save your answers without submitting the quiz for grading. Be sure that you click the Submit link at the end of the quiz. Otherwise no grade can be assigned. If you think you submitted a quiz and there is no grade and it is not instructor-graded, check that you actually Submitted it for grading.


Assignments - there are lots of small activities to allow you the flexibility to manage your time and schedule your course work in a way that is best for you. Some students do a few at a time several times a week. Others tend to do bigger batches. Please DO NOT do all the assignment activities in one marathon work session. The course is designed so that everyone participates several times throughout the week. This is a requirement. When you participate is up to you.

Tracking your work is important. All the assignments are listed with the instructions on a separate page that pops up in a new window. This way, we all know what all the activities are. However, it is a lot of information. Finding a way of tracking your work will take a bit of experimentation.

Tips for tracking your work.
  • keep a list of the numbers of the assignment activities for the week - just the numbers. Cross out or check off the number as you complete the assignment activity. This works for me. I have a row of numbers that correspond the the activities for the week. I put an X through its number as I complete an activity.

  • print out the assignment page, highlight the activities and indicate on this page when you finish an activity. Some students like a paper copy to work from. That's fine if that works for you.
Assignments in a new page - If you are using Firefox as your browser - you should be as this is the recommended one - you may be blocking pop-ups.

From your browser tool bar, under Tools > Options > Content see the dialog box. You probably have the Block Pop-ups checked. There is a Exceptions link next to this - add Catalyst as an exception. This will allow the CIS2 Assignments to open in a separate window.

MidTerm and Finals

There are no midterm or final exams. There are no on-campus meetings.

There are projects. The midterm project is your individual Community Service Learning project. The final project is a group project.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2009 King Day of Service

You will be hearing a lot more about the 2009 King Day of Service.

In this press release, there is a lot of important information about the growing awareness of community service at a national level.
2009 King Day of Service - a historic opportunity to call Americans to serve. The January 19 King Holiday, honors what would have been Dr. King’s 80th birthday.


In 2008, DeAnza College initiated programs to include Community Service Learning into a broad range of curriculum areas. The CIS2 Computers and the Internet in Society course was one of a small group of "early adopters" integrating community service learning as a component of the course. So we have some history here. The Community Service Learning assignments are already included.

Depending on the opportunities introduced as part of this national initiative, we may have more options. Please watch for news and updates as additional information becomes available.

Stay tuned. This is going to be a big deal, and you, as a CIS2 participant, are going to be part of it!

Are there any technologies that interest you?

A student asked if there are any technologies that interest me.

Thanks for asking. The short answer - YES. I love this course because I'm really interested in how communities / society / people everywhere can benefit from technology in general and the internet in particular.

Throughout the course, there are discussions and activities that look at many different aspects of this connection. I'm particularly interested in how technologies can help people to be the best that they can be - education and health care in remote areas, assistive technologies to overcome disabilities and injury, collaborative problem solving by experts all over the world, support for community leaders who are working to make the world a better place...

And every class introduces me to new and exciting developments in all these areas.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Reflection questions for I think...

Question from a student
Where do I find the reflection questions for "I think..."?
From Assignments 1 - a link in the main CIS2 course page, in the section for module 1. Unwrapping the Gift, the last activity listed is...
Reflection - What was ONE important thing you learned this week? What was ONE point that was not clear? Your response should be two or three paragraphs. Use the I Think... 1 assignment to submit your reply.
On the main CIS2 course page, in the section for module 1. Unwrapping the Gift, there is a link to an assignment I think ... 1. Click on the link and a text box will open for you to enter (or copy in) your response to the prompt question in the Assignment 1 page.

Help and where to get it

Question from a student
I just wanted to let you know that I am honestly unsure about the catalyst website. I don't understand what I am suppose to do ... Do you know where I can go to get help?
There are several resources available to you.
From the main Catalyst front page

There are a number of links - information for first time students,
tutorials, frequently asked questions.

Once you log into Catalyst, select
CIS 2 - Taylor, 09W
* Teacher: Valerie Taylor

This brings you into the CIS2 course where there are many more resources.

The links in the top block of the course main page will help, particularly
* Introduction to Catalyst

The other links in this top section provide general information about
the course, the welcome notice, and syllabus

The course is divided into weekly topic modules - these appear as
numbered sections on the main CIS2 page.

There is an Assignment and Notes link for each module. Start each week
by reviewing these two pages.

Be sure to read the information posted in the general discussion forums
* News forum - instructor notes to the whole class
* Questions forum - questions asked by students and answered by
students and/or the instructor

You can always get back to the main page of the course from any other
page in the course using the links at the top of each page.

There are plenty of help links - little circles with ? - throughout
the course that provide information about the basic functioning of the

Hope this helps. If you have specific questions, please post them to
the Questions? forum in the top section of the CIS2 main page. Others
are likely to have the same questions. Be the first to ask!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

as of Jan 08

38 students in Catalyst. A reminder was sent to the 18 who had not logged in.

Will that be face-to-face or online?

Most of us would prefer in-person courses, but for many reasons, online courses are necessary. So I try to set it up so students get the best of both worlds - the camaraderie that develops in face-to-face classes and the flexibility of time and place of online courses.

As I say in my introduction, I took my Masters Degree entirely online. It was great, so I know it can be done. I hope that is some encouragement to all.

Thanks for signing up, even if the format wasn't your first choice. No, the online course experience isn't the same as an on-campus class. It isn't better or worse - just different. There are many benefits to both styles of classes.

Assignments and Notes

Everyone is reading the Assignments page and the Notes page for this week, right?

At the top of the links section for each weekly module, there is an Assignments link. The list of all the assignment activities and what to do will open in a new window. Please read the the entire list. Then do all the activities.

The assignment activities for the module can be done in any order, but top down is usually best. The activities are relatively short to provide flexibility and to encourage you to do some everyday. This will help you manage your time.

The textbook readings are great background information, and the assignments will help you have a better understanding of the internet technologies and how they apply to a broad range of situations and communities.

The notes provide additional guidance and information about the module topic and the associated textbook reading.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

CIS2 blog and RSS feed

I am using this blog for CIS2. This is another way to send out information about the course. If you are using any of the RSS feed readers, subscribe to

There is a link on the blog sidebar (to the right -->) to subscribe from many of the popular feed readers.

Think of blogs a public notes or messages. You will have an opportunity to create and report your project work in your own blog. Some students use their blogs as ePortfolios to show their course work publicly - to instructors, certificate program coordinators and future employers.

Managing emails from discussions

No one has asked this question yet, but they will...

Managing emails from discussions

There are a lot of discussions in this course, so you need to figure out how to manage the flow. Each person is different so you will need to experiment. There are several different controls for viewing and receiving updates when new information is posted to a discussion.

Viewing postings - there is a pull-down menu over the forum topic display where you can control how you see all the postings - newest first, oldest first, threaded or nested.

Tracking - if you turn tracking on, you will see the number of new unread postings for each discussion forum displayed on the main page and in the forum page. This is a great feature, so you don't miss any new posts, and it tells you how many there are.

Subscribe - will send you notification whenever anyone posts to this forum or forum topic - these controls are in the forum itself, in messages you post, on the forums page that lists all the forums. You can un-subscribe to any of the forums except the News forum. Subscribe/Unsubscribe is a"link" in the upper right of a forum page.

In your personal profile, there are more controls where you can select to receive individual emails for posts or get them in a digest or batch emailed to you once a day. I like the daily batch - an email comes once a day that is a quick reminder of what's going on. This is a big help for busy students who appreciate a snapshot of the activity in the course without logging in. It is also a reminder to log in!

Experiment with these until you find the set that works best for you.

If this doesn't make any sense, wait a week. Then come back and review the information and adjust your discussion controls.

Friday, January 2, 2009

CIS2 Winter 2009

Course format
  • one topic per week - textbook chapter, notes, assignments, activities, discussion
  • all assignments due at 11:30pm on the specified due dates - see Syllabus for dates. Late work will be accepted but late penalty will apply
  • watch for new posting to the News forum for announcements, changes and important information
  • college level writing is required for all discussions and assignments
  • many assignments require web research and citations (APA preferred though MLA citations will be accepted).
  • NO on-campus meeting
  • ask if you have questions or need clarification
Online learning success in CIS 2 requires
  • regularly participating in discussions
  • allocating adequate time to do course work during the week
  • completing all assignments on time
  • taking responsibility for your own learning
  • learning to use technology as an important part of the course work - online discussions, chat, collaborative writing, online tutoring, wikis, web-based supplemental materials
  • understanding the Catalyst course management system tools and process
  • appreciating the unconventional course experiences and the opportunity to interact with other students online