Georgia Virtual Learning’s 2014 Summer Professional Learning Symposium “The TOOL Experience” Presentation

Presentation Notes

Who am I and why did I complete the #eTeacherTOOL?
I am an educator since 1998. I started teaching in elementary and ended up in middle school. My areas of concentration were mathematics, science, and content literacy. I taught in Florida, Michigan, and Georgia.
I became an eLearning Specialist in 2009, and I’ve been trying to figure out what my job description is ever since. One thing I do know I can do is contribute asynchronous professional learning opportunities, but even now I feel I am still learning my way through that part of my job. In that effort to provide Hall County teachers with meaningful professional learning I need to offer them new skills and make any learning stand out from the method of transmission – they should learn the content, not the technology.
I have just ended what was essentially an academic year of trying out MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. It seemed, if the exact opposite of the way I taught for eleven years could help me understand blended learning better, encounter/experience differing forms of delivery, and evaluate what I required as a learner it was worth the investment.
I worked on five MOOCs this year. I completed three of them, all in the second semester of the year. The learning curve could just have easily been on my end, but I found the characteristics of some MOOCs more tempting than others.
If you care to learn more about me you can check out my Personal Bio Plate.
What did I actually do?
I heard about this MOOC in November at GaETC and was anxious to start. I wanted to see the content, assignments, and experience the submission process. I started slow in December and did a push over Spring Break to finish.
In the process of completing quests I re-discovered Delicious and find it more useful now than ever. These quests were also a great way to become more intentional with my blog and establish a regular posting pattern.
I definitely learned about new web 2.0 tools for online learning, I enjoyed the non-LMS feel of this MOOC and the ownership required of participants to maintain a blog, but the new skills specific to teaching and learning online were the most useful learning in this MOOC for me.
Difference between this & other MOOCs
Moving from the method of online teaching to blended learning method is easier than moving from face-to-face to blended generally (paraphrasing Michael Horn). However the skills associated with online teaching and learning are not innate to every face-to-face teacher. Acquiring this set of skills, or at least learning how much I still had to learn, was one of my major objectives in taking this MOOC.  That was something this MOOC offered which others do not offer.
I did more curriculum work in the other two MOOCs I completed than in #eTeacherTOOL. That fact underscored the informality of what content was available to students online – it was going to be okay for that to vary class to class.
I learned more about specific tools to accomplish teaching and learning tasks specific to online learning in this MOOC. While the LMS learning was understandably tailored to the LMS which GaVS uses, aside from that everything else was usable to any classroom teacher with some Internet access.
The feedback was also exciting. Many MOOCs offer college credit at a cost, some offer feedback from authorities, some are now offering badges as well. I like that #eTeacherTOOL offers feedback from authorities and differing levels of badges. I suggest anyone accepting badges set up their Mozilla Backpack before starting to accumulate badges.
Visit this blog to see how this learning and other personal learning might be organized….. tags, hashtags, URLs


  • 47 #eTeacherTOOL posts
  • Approach to posts:
    • I took my time I did not rush to post. Sometimes I answered the question I needed to answer and not always what the quest exactly asked of me, but I put in the effort to show why that question needed to be answered.
  • Image to “brand” posts as a series:
    • I used PicMonkey, but consider Canva or ReciteThis for online creation. (Bummer, ReciteThis is down as of April 2015. Maybe it will rebound!)
  • Tags and hashtags – searchability
    • The blogging platform you use needs to make it easy to search all this content your are about to generate, tag early and tag often.
    • Learn and use the hashtag for your MOOC in social media.
  • Collect RSS feeds & use Feedly/Aggregator
    • Anyone taking a MOOC with you is a kindred spirit, if they have a blog gather the RSS and add it to an RSS aggregator; capture now read later
  • Share to Twitter/Social Media via
    • Automate and publicize your involvement in any MOOC by tweeting, posting to G+ any blog posts
    • Include the MOOC hashtag in the blog title
  • Comment on other posts
    • Other participants can teach you as much as the content, or course authorities themselves

#eTeacherTOOL Take-away: Communication is the gap I identified in my skill set taking this MOOC.

After years of relying on face-to-face communication techniques: physical proximity, and non-verbal cues I realized online I was not as communicative as potential online students would need me to be. In the courses I facilitate now I imagine I am exaggerating my written communications, yet participants seem to find the communications normal. I know about the lack of written communications and am working to correct that, but the fact that it does not feel natural yet indicates I have much “un/relearning” to do in this area.

I was also very appreciative of the communication tools presented to me through this MOOC. I acquired some basic posting techniques/strategies. I also have a new favorite newsletter tool; I just love Smore!

As a teacher I appreciate learning something so important as how I can improve my communication so “late” in the game. That is a direct result of my completion of this MOOC.

I hope this overview of The TOOL Experience was helpful to you.

If you care to go to the course itself:

UPDATE AUGUST 2017: New site can be found here: