• Siemens (2008) suggested using traditional lectures when appropriate to foster student exploration of additional content (p. 16).
  • Anderson (2008) presented customizing online content to reflect individual student needs by adjusting the course at it happens (p. 346).
  • Anderson (2008) lamented the reliance of many online instructors on “text based lectures (p. 349)” for content delivery (p. 346).
  • Anderson (2008) suggested using personal reflections and experiences to motivate online students (p. 347).
  • Siemens (2008) presented “blogs, wikis, podcasts, and user-generated content (p. 8)” be utilized for content delivery. He called these activities the “participative web (p. 8)”.
  • Siemens (2008) suggested utilizing the new curriculum suggested by Harvard that focuses on a modern collaborative model (p. 8).
  • Siemens (2008) listed Google Scholar, Scopus, and open access journals as new resources for content (p. 3).


  • Darrington, Barryhill, and Swafford (2006) suggested implementing non-graded discussion areas for questions to help establish a positive online environment (p. 191).
  • Anderson (2008) believed establishing “trust and safety (p. 350)” is the first key element in establishing online communication. This is commonly achieved through class introduction postings (p. 350).
  • Darrington, Barryhill, and Swafford (2006) stressed the importance of a “clear and detailed syllabus (p. 196)” for communicating expectations (p. 196).
  • Siemens (2008) listed modern communication methods as email, Skype, and Instant Messaging (IM) (p. 14).
  • Darrington, Barryhill, and Swafford (2006) reported timely responses help create a positive course environment. They also reminded teachers to use proper tone and communicate clearly using proper netiquette when communicating with students (p. 191).
  • Siemens (2008) listed blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, Instant Messaging (IM), Skype, and Ning as modern methods of communication (p. 3).


  • Siemens (2008) reported that blogging allows students to share their work with their peers (p. 15). Cameron and Anderson (2006) as reported in Anderson (2008) suggested that blogging instigates student reflective writing skills (p. 351).
  • Siemens (2008) suggested that teachers should assume the role of network administrator to help create student learning networks (p. 16).
  • Darrington, Barryhill, and Swafford (2006) introduced student moderated discussions as a strategy to increase student collaboration (p. 191). Anderson (2008) also recommended student moderated discussions but warned that students need to receive instructions on proper moderation techniques (p. 351).
  • Darrington, Barryhill, and Swafford (2006) suggested Problem Based Learning (PBL) utilizing small groups to encourage collaboration (p. 192).
  • Darrington, Barryhill, and Swafford (2006) discussed creating a small group discussion area for collaboration (p. 192).

Common Tools

The common tool in all three areas was discussions. Discussions can be used to facilitate online content, communication, and collaboration. Blogs were also common to content, communication, and collaboration. Although not evident in the literature for this weeks’ assignment, I hypothesize that many of the other tools are common including; wikis, Skype, social bookmarking, Ning, and podcasting.

Reflection Discussing Utilizing Tools in the Classroom

Siemens (2008) suggested that educators need to instruct students using the modern tools they are familiar with (p. 8). The tools that are appropriate for online secondary education include blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, Skype, and Podcasts. Harms (2008) reported that student achievement in content area writing can be facilitated using a wiki (p. 36). In this quantitative experiment, students increased both the number of words and quality of their writing using a wiki as compared to traditional paper pencil assignments (p.36). Using a class wiki, students can post rough drafts of their work, share with others, receive feedback, and edit their final products.

Penta Career Center in Northwest Ohio is governed by Ohio law that requires all computers have filtering systems to protect students from being exposed to inappropriate content found on the Internet. Blogs, although an excellent collaborative tool, are blocked by Penta’s filtering system. Social bookmarking sites such as Delicious are also blocked as well as any social network including Ning. Skype is blocked as well; however conversations done at home can be recorded and shared with students. For example; I have students who are learning about Mayan Indians ask questions on note cards, which I ask through Skype to a Mayan archeologist and record the conversation. This helps the archeologists as well since the call can be done at a time of their choosing. Unfortunately, the students loose the real time collaboration with the expert. Google Apps are also blocked because students can save documents online that administrators can not access. In class, I have students create podcasts on various subjects and post them to the class wiki.

In my college courses, we utilize Sakai. It is much easier to incorporate these tools into the post-secondary environment because the students are legal adults. I am already utilizing the following suggested activities; non-graded discussion (FAQ), introduction posting assignment, detailed syllabus, timely responses, wikis, moderated discussion, Problem Based Learning (PBL), and traditional lectures.  I am also instituting Skype office hours in my online class next semester for students who have questions.


Anderson, T. (2008). Teaching in an online learning context. In T. Anderson (Ed.), The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed., pp. 343–365). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.

Durrington, V. A., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment. College Teaching, 54(1), 190−193.

Harms, D. (2008). The effect of wiki implementation on writing skills in content area writing. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Education, Lourdes College, Sylvania, Ohio.

Siemens, G. (2008, January). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. ITForum.

Siemens, G. (2007, September 18). 10 minute lecture – George Siemens – Curatorial teaching [Online Web log post]. Retrieved from: