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POT Cert Week 12: mid-term reflection

12 weeks and semester 1 completed already. Wow, how time flies when you’re having fun, and learning loads! Pot Cert has really started to give me great insight into what quality online education might look like and, more importantly for me, how to go about creating it.

This week is a chance to look back and take stock of my learning journey so far.

looking back
looking back

Here’s a series of links to my reflections about my posts and thoughts on what I’ve learnt.

Week 1: Introduction and Start Blogging

Week 2: Teaching and Learning

Week 3: Pedagogy and Course Design I

Week 4: Pedagogy and Course Design II

Week 5: The Online Syllabus

Week 6: Internet Skills and Tools

Week 7: The Online Classroom

Week 8: Creating Community

Week 9: Student Activities

Week 10: Open Platforms for Teaching and Learning

Week 11: Class Resources and Intellectual Property

Finally, I have to say that impressively the POT Cert course is both well structured and well supported, and that I’ve really found the addition of a personal mentor to be an invaluable aspect of the programme. A big thank you to everyone, it’s much appreciated. I look forward to continuing in the Spring semester. Until then…

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POT Cert Week 10: blogs – open platforms for teaching and learning

Week 10 (already!) continues reading Chapter 7: Student Activities in the Online Environment, and additionally considers open platforms for teaching and learning. In terms of student activities, good discussion is given to those that promote reflection; the facilitation of which may either be through discussion forums within the LMS or through the use of blogging platforms on the open web. Recent research though seems to suggest that students who blog tend to feel more engaged and personally connected to fellow students. Engaging in reflective discussion about coursework and posting responses to each others’ blogposts enables them to develop a strong sense of community. However, the degree of personal, or sensitive information, that learners might be likely to divulge must be carefully considered when determining where these reflective artefacts are to be created.

This apart, it appears that encouraging students to blog not only aids learning through reflection and the development of community but also, through the provision of authentic audience and purpose, stimulates the development of important writing skills too. In a wonderful blogpost recently, Susan Lucille Davis proclaims her 10 reasons why I want my students to blog. Moreover, for anyone considering setting up a class blog Lisa M. Lane provides an excellent slidecast on the ‘hows and whys’ of doing so, whilst providing a link to yet more great advice – Avoiding the 5 Most Common Mistakes in Using Blogs with Students.

An interesting development to this discussion is the evolution of blogs as ePortfolios. An ePortfolio is an electronic collection of objects that can be used to showcase personal achievements, developments and reflections. It can form part of an assessment strategy and similarly, it can be sent to potential employers to supplement a CV.


Braur, J. (2012) Blogging vs Threaded Discussions in Online Courses. Available at:

Davis, S. L. (2012) 10 Reasons Why I Want My Students to Blog. Available at:

Reynard, R. (2008) Avoiding the 5 Most Common Mistakes in Using Blogs with Students. Available at:

M. Mobbs (2009)  Creating an ePortfolio using Available at:

POT Cert Week 9: group activities for students and social bookmarking

I have to say that I enjoyed reading Chapter 7: Student Activities in the Online Environment and got quite excited by the long list of student activities that Ko and Rossen provide:

  • role playing and simulations
  • summaries and consensus groups
  • experience-based practicum or lab assignment
  • reflective activities
  • just discussion
  • scenarios and case studies
  • peer editing and review
  • peer activities involving guest speakers
  • cross cultural exchanges
  • using the web as a resource

I know I was only expected to read as far as “Reflective Activities”, but I got carried away.

The chapter was also very good in providing solid advice for organising, supervising and assessing group activities. I’m particularly interested to learn how to facilitate effective group activities that prove to be satisfying for all concerned. In my experience of group work, there’s usually some element that doesn’t sit right for someone. Ko and Rossen advocate that it’s “best for the instructor to play a role in dividing students into groups” (p.176) and they further advocate that the online tutor provide some level of supervision to the group. This is to “encourage participation by all group members and ensure that an individual’s contributions to the group are recognized” (p.179).

I recall reading an article earlier in the course, which explained that the key to successful group work is to “design tasks that are truly collaborative, meaning the students will benefit more from doing the activity as a group than doing it alone”. Now, if only I could locate that article…

Continuing on, it was recommended that this week’s post might be about our experiences trying one of the tools for students’ activities, Diigo for example.

I would categorise Diigo as a social bookmarking tool, but the official blurb insists that it’s so much more:

  • A Personal Research Tool
  • A Collaborative Research Platform
  • A Social Content Site
  • A Knowledge-Sharing Community

Although I’m not new to social bookmarking, I’ve only recently become a user of Diigo. I previously started using Delicious, but my bookmarks got wiped out when they were taken over by… heaven knows who. So I’ve just started all over again, but this time with Diigo, and with a few lessons learnt. I use Diigo as my primary social bookmark service and have it automatically export my bookmarks to Delicious, so I now have a backup in case something similar happens again. This is one of the potential pitfalls of using proprietary platforms on the open web. It’s great whilst its working, but you need to have a back up plan for your data if things go wrong. Indeed, only last week Diigo suffered some kind of hacker-attack and the site was down or subverted for a while.

Diigo has the potential to be used not only for bookmarking (social or not), but also for group work by students. This might include peer editing and review activities or indeed facilitating summary and consensus group activities.

Eureka! I just found that article: how to design effective online group work activities.


Bart, M. (2010) How to Design Effective Online Group Work Activities. Available at: