innovative technology and instruction- 1140-99

contact information
teaching philosophy
intellectual history
curriculum vitae
Work Station
english 1111-98 /-99
english 1114
human sexuality 1140-99
innovative technology and instruction- 1140-99
interdisciplinary studies 1125
interdisciplinary studies 1140-99
u of phx
online projects
development resources
instructional design
hypertext library
editing / writing projects
online teaching resources
digital media
listserv utilities
educational gaming
idea log
computer science
Tea Party
building blocks
publishing resources
beta peregrini
online architecture
blog lines (rss feeds)



Innovative Technology and Instruction 1140 

Using Blogs and Vlogs

(1 Credit)

Section -99 Online / Cyberspace





 “Blogging is the new poetry.”


“The heart of blogging is linking...linking and commenting. Connecting and communicating - the purpose of the Internet.”

share this Blogging saying    ~~ George Siemens





Colette Wanless-Sobel

Web site:

Phone:  home:   530.268.3248 (no later than 9:00 PM, please; answering machine


E-mail address:  (Typically, I respond to E-mail in the early evening of each week day.)









Banks, Michael A. (2007). Blogging Heroes:  Interviews with 30 of the World’s Top



Warlick, David. (2007). Classroom Blogging.  2nd edition.


Class texts are available at the IHCC Bookstore.




This class provides an overview and introduction to the use of blogs, vlogs, blogging, and vlogging in teaching and learning.  Participants will explore the technology, its interactive and engaging qualities, and how to use it in instruction.  By the end of the course, students will understand blogs and vlogs, how they can be used in education, how they are developed, and how to integrate them into their classes.     


I hope you will enjoy our time together.




Evaluate blog and vlog examples, features, characteristics, and their potential for use in teaching and learning.


Examine when the use of blogs and vlogs is appropriate and their benefits for developing teaching strategies.


Demonstrate how to blog and vlog.


Analyze the creation, adaptation, modification, and deployment of blogs and vlogs in education.




As a result of the course, each student will…


develop a blog from scratch and have the skills to continue to develop

the blog when the course is finished.


demonstrate understanding of suitable topics and writing techniques relevant to educational blogging.


demonstrate understanding of some of the technical aspects of blogging, such as using images and video within a blog and using feeds and search engines.


understand how educational blogging entails the fundamental restructuring of how knowledge is created, disseminated, shared, and validated.




How does one begin to write about her or his teaching philosophy? I find it difficult to articulate my teaching philosophy per se; however, there is a consistency in “themes” or perspectives in each of the courses I teach. Let me briefly outline these themes for you here.


Prime learning environment.  Part of my job as an instructor is to continually seek new exercises and assignments that lead students in critical thinking and meta-cognitive analyses on the class subject. In order for this to occur, students need to be situated within a prime learning environment. What are the features of a prime learning environment?

  • Individualized instruction
  • Multi-sensory stimulation
  • Timely feedback and positive reinforcement
  • Student control of the learning environment

Accordingly, I design all of these features into my online classes.

Intellectual polyphony.  Readings, Web sites, and class discussions are based on whatever disciplines, knowledge and experiences will best illuminate the subject we are studying. My goal is to construct a “smorgasbord” of ideas —an intellectual buffet table— from which students can select whatever best helps them to understand the issues and subject material. So students travel through sociology, psychology, literature, ecology, cultural geography, cultural history, anthropology, philosophy, music, dance, art history, graphic arts, film studies, economics, marketing, Internet culture and popular culture such as advertising.

Critical thinking. A favorite word of mine is why. I encourage and nurture students to question, search for cause-effect and relationships, and evaluate inferential reasoning. Students learn to present their ideas (in oral and written form) and provide the rationale or evidence that underlies their propositions. Students also use creative, imaginative discovery as well as the scientific method, qualitative and quantitative. The social and individual impact of thinking, ideas, and decisions is also emphasized.

Textual analysis for political and social encoding. I suppose my training as an intellectual / cultural historian comes into play here, since I stress the importance of culture, class, gender, and ethnicity in textual analysis, both explicitly and sub textually. This approach helps position students for the multicultural, global thinking required in the twenty-first century. Perhaps more importantly, this cultural approach prepares students for the complexity in their social, cultural and political environments in twenty-first century America.

Lifelong learning is modeled. Every class I teach is an opportunity to model lifelong learning, since I am learning all the time, despite my Ph.D. Furthermore, I am always seeking new conceptual and practical ideas to apply to class material. For this reason, there is always experimentation, improvisation, creativity, and passion in the courses I teach, and my courses change and evolve every time I teach or “facilitate” them. Doing so is risky, of course, because I give up the polish and security of tested material and instead venture into the unknown with students. Venturing into the unknown, and having the intellectual confidence to tackle the unknown, is one life skill a rigorous liberal arts education can provide. Indeed, a liberal arts education is not so much having the “right answers” but assuming an intellectual, critical posture in your life that will aid you, even provide succor, in all life’s endeavors.

Computer-Internet literacy is developed. Computer / information literacy is defined as “a new liberal art that extends from knowing how to use computers and access information to critical reflection on the nature of information itself, its technical infrastructure, and its social, cultural and even philosophical context and impact” - Shapiro, Jeremy J. and Shelley K. Hughes. Educom Review. 3.2. Mar. /Apr. 1996. 

Class work in D2L and the Internet will develop skills in this new liberal art.

Service learning for enrichment. By service learning, I mean experiential learning that employs service or real life problem applications in some form to government, community, private sector and nonprofit agencies. Service learning enhances the traditional classroom by actively engaging students in their own education through experiential learning in course-relevant contexts. Furthermore, service learning fosters lifelong connections between students, their communities, and the larger human community —the world outside the classroom.

Here is a list of benefits service learning provides:

increases retention of course material;

increases the relevancy of education to real world applications;

enhances personalized education for students;

empowers students as learners and democratic citizens;

invites students to become active members of their own communities; and

teaches job skills and prepares students for careers after college.

Now a little about me and where I am coming from, personally speaking.


I received my BA degree from Macalester College in Saint Paul, where I majored in humanities and English. I began my graduate work at Tulane University in New Orleans and then transferred to the University of Minnesota to complete my Ph.D. in American/ cultural studies, concentrating in American intellectual history. My first teaching job was at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul.  In 1993, I started teaching for the University of Minnesota in Distance Education, and I have been involved with online education from this time on.   Since 2003, I have been teaching online for Inver Hills Community College, and I have been teaching online for the University of Phoenix online since 2006.


As this profile of me so far might lead you to think I am just a geek or egg head,  let me add that I also have a passion for numerous “nonacademic” activities:  farming; equestrian riding (dressage); friendships with people and my “companion” animals (three dogs, one cat, one blue and gold macaw, and one horse); community work for Grass Valley, CA, the small community  in Northern California where I reside; and last, but not least, family life with a husband and two sons.


Some little-known facts about me:


~While reading E-mails and assignment submissions from students, I work at my desk at home, drinking coffee and sitting with my companion animals: three dogs, a blue and gold macaw and a black cat who thinks she runs the household.


~One day, I would like to have a small dairy goat herd and produce artisan cheese.


~ I would some day like to adopt a burro and a Mustang from the United States Department of the Interior.


~My house is often so dusty that, I run a spider motel. (I like spiders, though.)


~I always wished I was “good” at math.


~I am a passionate blogger and Web master, and I love computers.


So where do you fit in with all of this?


Essentially, for the term, I shall be your intellectual coach in blogging and vlogging.  My job as a professional is to nurture you and push you to be the best that you can be in terms of the course goals.   Although I take my job seriously, this does not mean I am a humorless slave driver. What is does mean, though, is that I shall encourage active, engaged learners, and many students are uncomfortable and hostile to this endeavor, which is understandable, given most students have not been expected to assume the stance of active intellectuals/ thinkers before.



--Safe Space in This Online Classroom:   There are things from which I think every classroom, on-site or online, ought to constitute safe space. Here is my list:  (1) safety from sexual assault, abuse, threat or harassment; (2) safety from verbal assault, abuse, threat or harassment;  (3) safety from sexism, gender-ism and homophobia; (4)  safety from class bias and chauvinism ; (5) safety from political and economic persecution; (6) safety from retaliation or revenge for expressing one's beliefs, feelings and ideas;  (7) safety from the instructors' abuse of power;  (8) safety from bias and insensitivity to individuals with special needs; and  (9) safety from physical assault, abuse or harassment.  I shall do my utmost to assure these safety standards are met and maintained in the class.  If at any time you feel "unsafe" for any reason, please let me know.

At the same time, it is important to point out that,
there is a major difference between intellectual challenge with respect to ideas, and personal attacks against the holders of ideas.


--Keeping-Up with Course News, Updates, and Assignments:  It is vital for you to log-in to the course regularly in order to keep up to date with news and assignments, which are posted in three locations:  the D2L E-MAIL SYSTEM; the COURSE HOMEPAGE; and the Assignment Checklist in CONTENT.  The Assignment Checklist maintains a log of all class assignments.  If you save your course E-mails, which you may want to do, this will also provide a log of course news and events.  The COURSE HOMEPAGE is updated and revised frequently, with no permanent log available.


Cyber-Space Attendance:  Although the class does not formally meet in a regular classroom, we are still, nonetheless, a class, and you are expected to "check-in" / log- in to the class frequently.  Also, although you work independently and out-of-site from the instructor and other class members, ITI 1140-99 is not an independent study course, where you fulfill assignments when you please.  Some assignments, such as Team assignments, will have firm dates that you will need to abide to.


Late papers:  Late papers throw me and, most importantly, you off schedule. Papers are due at the times specified, though I am willing to allow exceptions when illness or other class assignments intrude. It is your responsibility, however, to contact me to rearrange work deadlines.   Negotiating work deadlines is an important work /life skill, so practice it. In this class failure to do so will result in a grade reduction for the paper (s). Once again, I do not like to begin the term by issuing threats. Not only do threats set a negative tone for the class but they also counteract our relationship as colleagues. Colleagues do not threaten each other —or at least they shouldn’t. My rule here for papers is mainly to avoid logistical nightmares (papers being turned in at all times) and also to establish fair practice for all class members. All of us are busy; all of us are juggling work, family responsibilities, school, and social obligations. Meeting established deadlines is a professional expectation and courtesy; however, if the deadlines can not be met, I respectfully request you renegotiate the deadline with me.


Word processing:  All papers should be word processed, and proofed.

Revision work:  When submitting revision work, please attach a copy of the “first draft,” too. More about this later.


Plagiarism:  Scholastic honesty is expected. I am obliged to report academic misconduct to the Dean of Students. See the college handbook for rules and regulations on this matter.


Readings:  You are required to keep up with all the reading in the course. I shall give ample notice of due dates. Since I do not depend much on the lecture method, our class sessions greatly depend on your reading the course material and logging-in to class and discussing it.


Respect and Collegiality:  Online classes at Inver Hills allow class discussions, and class interactions that are difficult to manage in on-site, large lecture settings.   I designed ITI 1140 so as to make the most of our small class setting.   Accordingly, throughout the course we all shall share our ideas and perspectives about research writing and critical thinking. In order for our class sessions to run smoothly, it is important to "listen" to others with an attitude of respect, and open-mindedness.   Polite disagreement with others’ ideas is permissible but contrariness or snide commentary is not.


Small group/ team work:  Class time will consist of some reading, my online lectures, which I keep to a minimum, class discussion, small group work, and online conference sessions by way of E-mail. Working in small groups or teams is a rich intellectual and social experience, which I want all students to enjoy. Small group work is not the occasion, however, to discuss last week’s party, or the latest sports’ scores. Although some social interaction is only natural, the group is expected to concentrate on the assigned task. Each student should take an active part in group activity and work toward advancing the group’s assigned task. Active engagement is the key phrase here and is the basis for 1/3 of your course grade.


Course Work Load:  Be prepared for a heavy but reasonable workload. Essentially, you hired me to be your intellectual “coach,” and I am going to challenge you.


Incompletes:  This course is not set up for incompletes; accordingly, only certified illness or emergency situations will be accommodated. Students must initiate requests for either an incomplete grade or withdrawal from a course by filing the appropriate form. 

Exams:  There is no midterm exam or final exam in this course.


Special Needs:   Students with special needs will be accommodated.   Accordingly, these students should contact me or Disabled Student Services.


—I employ the A-F grading system, although no +s or –s. (See the college handbook for the general guidelines and perimeters.)


New Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy:

Effective Summer 2007, all Inver Hills students must maintain a 67% completion rate for all credits attempted. This is in addition to the existing requirement that students earn a cumulative Grade Point Average of 2.0 or above. See for the complete policy.


The final course grade is based on the following % of 1000-point total for individual / team projects.



A= 94% +

(920-1000 Points)

B= 93-84%

(919-840 Points)

C= 83%-76%

(839-760 Points)

D= 75%-68%



F= Below 68%

(Below 680 Points)



—If at any time during the semester you feel unsure about your “grade,” request an assessment from me.


—You always have the option of revising your work for a higher grade. With this said, let me also add that revision work for a higher grade needs to be substantive not shallow. In other words, if you do the work required, you will earn a higher grade. Sloppy, poor quality revisions will not be rewarded.


—Instructor evaluations:  At the end of the term, the college will ask you to complete a course evaluation. Another form of feedback I would appreciate, however, is your comments/suggestions as the course progresses.  Dialogue between us is crucial, as I use your ideas and concerns to tailor and fine-tune the course.





Topics and assignments are fleshed out in D2L CONTENT.


Typically, a new assignment is provided each Tuesday and the assignment is due the following Monday.  In other words, the course week is from Tuesday to Monday.


“See” you online!





Image credit:  ttp://