MLX Package of the Week: The View from Where I Sit

Trying another “new aiming to be regular” CDB feature, highlighting an interesting “”package” from the Maricopa Learning eXchange. This is is special because it is not a “reusable learning object” (RLO) but a ‘reusable idea object” (RIO?) Maybe we can breed a whole raft of meaningless acronyms, like RCA (re-usable classroom activity), RCS (reusable communication strategy), RCP (reusable class project), etc. But again I digress.

This one is also special because it comes from a long time veteran teacher, both a passionate teacher in class and online, someone with an uncanny knack to truly reach and touch her students, and someone who excels and doing effective things with rather simple but effective strategies. I recall these computer workshops Donna and I did back in the mid 1990s, typically in those computer classrooms where the participants were more or less huddled behind monitors- she brought out a classroom technique she called “mouse up” to get their attention. Simple, effective, (and fun). . But again I digress.

Anyhow, Donna has shared an introductory activity she uses as the first bulletin board assignment in her online classes. Rather than a dry, “introduce yourself, what you do, what are your interests” sort of thing, she has applied this activity called The View from Where I Sit (an in this vein of RIOs, she learned this one from another faculty member at a summer workshop).

Basicly, in this activity, students are asked to describe to their online class mates the surroundings of the place they are doing their online work. In a more subtle way this opens the door for students to share some personal items (pictures of loved ones, or work related items). I think it is effective because it helps other students create a visual image of classmates. The brief instructions about 9 lines, and Donna starts by writing her own view:

From “where I sit” I can see my back yard. Most of the time I will be answering you from my “Den.” My computer workstation is situated by my back window where I can work quietly and keep an eye on my dogs.

I am a Puppy Raiser for the Eye Dog Foundation. The first dog that I trained is “Sadie.” She is now four 1/2 years old and I have her back with me. She was gravely ill last February and we almost lost her. Many people have been working with us to restore her health. She is stable now and we volunteer as a “Pet Therapy” team at Maricopa Medical Center on Wednesday afternoons. We are writing a book that we hoped will be published in the Fall titled = “Wednesdays with Sadie: Miracles at Maricopa.”

From “where I sit” I also have a huge calendar so that I can keep track of where I am with each class during the semester. It’s important to me to keep up with assignments and grading so that I can have the time to work with you individually as much as I can. Teaching 3 online classes makes it necessary for me to stay highly organized and on track as much as I can.

From “where I sit” my dogs can come and get me to play with them when they think that I’ve been at the computer too long. I can answer you all and take as many little “play breaks” with them as I can… In addition to Sadie, I have two “pets.” Mariah is the oldest and is a 9 year old Akita mix. Tasha is a four year old “mutt.” I got her from the R.E.S.C.U.E. organization and she is a lab/beagle/spaniel mix.

As you can tell, my students and my dogs take up most of my time and effort. In addition, I try to volunteer in the community as much as I can. As I said, I volunteer at Maricopa Medical Center, I also volunteer at Andre House and the Crisis Nursery. I am very active in my church and I also own and fly a Cessna 172 that is housed at Deer Valley Airport. Also, I am taking a guitar class here at PVCC and enjoy that very much. I like to draw and do calligraphy and I write poetry whenever I can steal some time for myself on the week-ends.

So follow this type of format and please share with all of us – “The View From Where YOU Sit!”

Welcome to class!

The students’ assignment is to write their own “view” and then to write a reply (more than ‘welcome’ or ‘hi’). Donna reports that student responses from a single class can run onto 300 posts. In one exchange, a student share her study technique of using flash cards, and the other students on their own did a long exchange on this method– the teacher was not even involved in the entire discussion.

In another class, one student took the “view” somewhat different and share her perspective or “view” as a returning to school adult.

So re-use this idea, available at:

(I am already planning on using it this spring myself)

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.