Program Outcome Five: Group Happiness Wiki Assignment Redesign

 

 

 

 

Group Happiness Wiki Assignment Redesign by Claudine Morgan

EDU 697. Dr. Anthony Valley

September 26, 2016

Introduction

After reviewing various literature on ethics and technology, it has become apparent that instructors must consider ethics in every portion of their classroom. Instructors must be concerned with how they portray themselves, how their students treat one another and how their students treat the work of others. After evaluating the importance of ethics within educational technology this paper will examine an MATLT assignment completed prior to this class. After determining what ethical problems the original assignment may contain, a redesign of the assignment will be presented. The redesign is intended to adapt to program learning outcome 5: “exemplify ethical practices of technology usage”. The redesign will be followed by an explanation of changes as well as a discussion of design and implementation challenges.

The Importance of Ethics and Technology

In order address ethical practices of technology usage within an assignment it is first necessary to explore what is meant by ethical practices. Reaching beyond the standard of professional conduct ethical practices should, theoretically, be a reflection of the person employing them. I have worked hard to maintain high ethical standards as a student, employee and mother. Even though there are times that I make mistakes, I have always made a point to own up to my mistakes and try to correct them. When utilizing technology one must take the same approach. Not only is it important to limit the personal information shared it is also important to treat the people on the other side of the keyboard with respect.

As an educator we must set an example that is both positive and supportive of our students. The Association of American Educators (2016) sets forth a code of ethics that provides teachers with simple but meaningful principles to follow. Many of these principles can be extended to encompass technology. For example, not revealing confidential information about a student can be extended to include, reminding the student not to reveal confidential information about themselves. Protecting a student from disparaging remarks and harm can be extended to teaching a student what to do if they come across an inappropriate website within the classroom. The list of principles continue to encompass practices and performance, conduct towards colleagues and ethical practices with parents and the community. Lists such as these provide a fantastic foundation for understanding the basics of ethics and technology (Association of American Educators, 2016).

In addition to digital privacy and professionalism it is important for online educators to be aware the additional ethical concerns that come with the use of technology, including the use of intellectual property. With regards to educational use reproduction of some original works are deemed fair use. However within that fair use statute if an educator or a student were to directly quote or share a copy written work they must give credit to the original writer or artist (U. S. Copyright Office, 2014). It is imperative that instructors teach students how to use citations and encourage them to not plagiarize someone else’s work. In a university setting, it may be more tempting for a student to “borrow” someone else’s work and claim it as theirs. This is strictly forbidden and it is the responsibility of both the teacher and the student to demonstrate and maintain the highest possible ethical standards.

Everyday Psychology is an online CourseSites class that I designed and worked on for a few classes, before changing my mind and working on a class geared towards professional development within my current field, laboratory animal care. The following activity is designed as a group online activity. It was originally designed to create a sense of community within the student body and provide students with an opportunity for compromise and reflection. It can be found online at http://www.coursesites.com/s/_EPsy_101.

Previous Activity

Group Happiness Wiki:

Happiness is a relative term. We often hear people say “Happiness is…” followed by some arbitrary statement such as “the love of a dog” or “Friday”. This assignment asks you, as a group, to find what happiness really is. Is happiness really a margarita after work or is it being at work? This is for you to decide, as a group. As usual, there are no right or wrong answers just a process to work through. The process is important. How will you know what makes you happy if you don’t think about it?

In this assignment you and your group will be working together to create a definition of happiness. You will each create a list of things that make you happy. You will then share the list with your group and work together to create a group definition of happiness. As a group, you will build a wiki site that contains the group definition, personal pages and more.

You can begin your list by finishing the sentence, “happiness is…” or simply stating things that make you happy. The choice is yours. Be creative and have fun with this project. As always, feel free to ask questions!

Group Happiness Wiki

Finding Happiness:

Make a list of the things that make you feel good. Please keep your list PG-13 as you will be sharing it with others. Do you love the feel of sand between your toes or are there just too many people at the beach? Do you love the sight and sound of waterfalls or does the idea of hiking to a place just to be reminded that you have to pee sound like work to you? You are the only one who can answer the question, “What is happiness?”

Create a list of 20 things that make you happy. Realize that some ideas will take explaining and some may be cop out answers. This is ok, life and group work, are a system of compromises and decisions that facilitate growth. One of these decisions is how much effort you are willing to put forth at any given time. Because of this, it is best to make your list over a few days. Give yourself some time to think about it and work on it.

Save your original list and then share your list with the other people in your group. Compare your list to theirs. Did they think of something you didn’t and you love it? Borrow it!  This part of the assignment is about collaboration and you are encouraged to share answers. Save your modified list as well, you may want to refer to both lists while working on your wiki page.

As a group:

Create a definition of happiness: Your group may choose to use quotes in the definition but the definition must be unique to your group. Everyone must contribute to the group definition. You can each write a sentence or combine your individual thoughts to create a short paragraph.

Examples:

  • Each person can write a sentence; creativity is encouraged. “Happiness is hearing the sound of children’s laughter at the park and not at night when you are alone in the house.”
  • Group members can also combine ideas. “Happiness is love and peace. It is that feeling of love when hanging out with friends and going for long car rides.  It is also being at peace because all of your bills are paid.” Example: Group happiness list
  • Create a list: Your list will be similar but should be relatively concise.  It should contain at least two ideas per group member that you all agree on. (Ten total for a group of five) Compromise is expected. You must find a way to agree with each other on at least two points. If you cannot agree try rewriting the point or picking another one. The challenge here is to pick unique things that make you happy and then to compare to see what you have in common.
  • Children laughing at appropriate times.
  • The company of friends
  • Long car rides.
  • Dog kisses

Individual Pages:

  • Post the group assignment on the homepage of your group wiki.
  • Create individual pages for each group member to add content to.
  • The individual pages will contain your individual definition of happiness.
  • A list of five things that make you happy that didn’t make the group page.
  • A happiness plan.
  • A discussion thread for comments or advice.

Before the assignment is due, look over each other’s pages and offer suggestions, encouragement or comments in the discussion thread on the page. This is a requirement. It is part of your group participation grade.

Individual Happiness Plan:

Pick an aspect from your list that seems like a common theme.

  • Is your happiness list full of answers like “my dog” “my cat”? Then you could research volunteer opportunities with a local shelter or rescue or you could look for training or certification classes to do with your dog.
  • Do you love to camp or hike but have no one to go with? Research and report on local clubs or businesses who set up group adventures.
  • Do you love to garden but have no space? Research container gardening and report how you could make that happen in the space that you do have.

The point of this portion of the assignment is to provide you with the next step in your pursuit of happiness. You do not have to follow through with the plan you create but you should at least try. You can lay out your plan in paragraph or list form. It must cover the points outlined in the example below:

(Topic, goal, steps to goal, ideas and following through.)

Topic:

  • Hiking makes me happy but I don’t think it is safe to do it alone.

Goal:

  • Finding people to hike with and making positive friends.

Steps to Goal:

  • Fill out application to register with local hiking club.
  • Pay the $20 monthly club fee.
  • Attend a meet and greet.
  • Attend club outings.

Ideas to make it better:

  • Become a hiking club volunteer to avoid paying the fee and gain more opportunities.
  • Buy own equipment to avoid having to rent their equipment.
  • Enlist friends to join me

Likelihood of following through:

  • I have social anxiety so I am not sure that I can attend the meet and greet by myself. My friend has agreed to go with me and join the club. We both like to hike and he loves to kayak with others. This is a win for us both. We plan to do this together. Post your personal definition of happiness, your list, and your happiness plan on your individual page. Decorate, change the colors of your page, or add pictures. Be creative.
  • If you are stuck for ideas, ask your group members or me for help.

Problems with Activity

As I reviewed this activity, I realized that I am asking too much of my students in one assignment. The entire concept is one that I believe would be fulfilling, however a student who is struggling to find time to complete their homework may give up after being given an assignment this large. Another concern is that if a student is not comfortable working in a group environment they may find that sharing what makes them feel happy with strangers is intimidating. I am also concerned with the level of personal sharing that this assignment requires. Asking a student to create a “happiness plan” is not a bad idea in a life skills class. However asking a student to share their happiness plan online which may involve naming a specific group or company could potentially be placing them in danger. The first part will still be shared as it is a group activity, the second part will now be turned in as a journal assignment. These assignments are designed assuming that the students will be utilizing the Ashford University classroom and assignment structure.

Redesign of Activity

Group Happiness Wiki:

Happiness is a relative term. We often hear people say “Happiness is…” followed by some arbitrary statement such as “the love of a dog” or “Friday”. This assignment asks you, as a group, to find what happiness really is. Is happiness really a margarita after work or is it simply being at work? This is for you to decide, personally and as a group. There are no right or wrong answers, just a process to work through. In this assignment you and your group will be working together to create a definition of happiness.

Before we get started, there are some ground rules that must be followed.

When constructing your personal list, be honest. When sharing parts of your personal list that you feel comfortable sharing, be careful.

  1. Do not share information that is too personal.
  2. You will be posting your list online. Use common sense.
    1. Do not share names of people. (including children)
    2. Do not share pet names. (Many people use them as passwords or personal questions.)
    3. Do not share company information. “I have a crush on my boss, Phil”
    4. Do not share information about drug use. “I like wine”, okay. “I smoke pot”, not ok!
  3. Be respectful of each other. You may not like bungee jumping but it may make someone else happy.
  4. Be open to new ideas.
  5. Be kind.
  6. Do not share anyone else’s list with people outside of your group.

Refer to the article at the end of the assignment for some good ground rules about what to share and what to keep to yourself.

You can begin your list by finishing the sentence, “happiness is…” or simply stating things that make you happy. The choice is yours. Be creative and have fun with this project. As always, feel free to ask questions!

Building the Group Happiness Wiki:

Finding Happiness:

  • Make a list of 20 things that make you feel good. Do you love the feel of sand between your toes or are there just too many people at the beach? Do you love the sight and sound of waterfalls or does the idea of hiking to a place just to be reminded that you have to go to the bathroom sound like work to you? You are the only one who can answer the question, “What is happiness for me?”

Realize that some ideas will take explaining and some may be “cop out” answers. This is ok, life and group work, are a system of compromises and decisions that facilitate growth. One of these decisions is how much effort you are willing to put forth at any given time. Because of this, it is best to make your list over a few days. Give yourself some time to think about it and work on it.

  • Save your original list and then share your list (the parts you are comfortable sharing) with the other people in your group.
  • Compare your list to theirs. Did they think of something you didn’t and you love it? Ask permission and borrow it.
  • This part of the assignment is about collaboration and you are encouraged to share answers. Save your modified list as well, you may want to refer to both lists while working on your wiki page.

As a group, create a definition of happiness.

Create a wiki on Wikispaces.com or a similar platform. Make the password something that you will all remember.

You may collaborate using email, Google Hangouts, Skype or whatever other method is comfortable for all group members.

  • Your group definition must be unique to your group.
  • Everyone must contribute to the group definition.
  • You can each write a sentence or combine your individual thoughts to create a short paragraph.

Examples:

  • Each person can write a sentence; creativity is encouraged. “Happiness is hearing the sound of children’s laughter at the park and not at night when you are alone in the house.”
  • Group members can also combine ideas. “Happiness is love and peace. It is that feeling of love when hanging out with friends and going for long car rides.  It is also being at peace because all of your bills are paid.”

Create a list

Your list will be similar but should be relatively concise.  It should contain at least two ideas per group member that you all agree on. (Ten total for a group of five) Compromise is expected. You must find a way to agree with each other on at least two points. If you cannot agree try rewriting the point or picking another one. The challenge here is to pick unique things that make you happy and then to compare and compromise to see what you have in common. Again, be kind to each other.

Example: Group happiness list

  • Children laughing at appropriate times.
  • The company of friends
  • Long car rides.
  • Hot shower

Individual Pages:

  • Create individual pages for each group member to add content to.
  • Post the group assignment on the homepage of your group wiki.
  • The individual pages will contain your individual definition of happiness.
  • A list of five things that make you happy that didn’t make the group page.
  • A discussion thread for comments or advice.

You may add pictures to your personal page (be sure to give credit to the person who took the picture and the website you found it on). You may also use quotes from a person or book as long as you include a reference. Before the assignment is due, look over each other’s pages and offer suggestions, encouragement or comments in the discussion thread on the page. This is a requirement. It is part of your group participation grade. Post your personal definition of happiness and your list on your individual page. Decorate, change the colors of your page, or add pictures. Be creative.

Week Two: Individual Happiness Plan

Your happiness plan will be turned in as a journal assignment.

Pick an aspect from your list that seems like a common theme. See the examples below.

  • Is your happiness list full of answers like “my dog” “my cat”? Then you could research volunteer opportunities with a local shelter or rescue or you could look for training or certification classes to do with your dog.
  • Do you love to camp or hike but have no one to go with? Research and report on local clubs or businesses who set up group adventures.
  • Do you love to garden but have no space? Research container gardening and report how you could make that happen in the space that you do have.

The point of this portion of the assignment is to provide you with the next step in your pursuit of happiness. You do not have to follow through with the plan you create but you should at least try. You can lay out your plan in paragraph, list, or PowerPoint form. It must cover the points outlined in the example below:

(Topic, goal, steps to goal, ideas and following through.)

Topic:

  • Hiking makes me happy but I don’t think it is safe to do it alone.

Goal:

  • Finding people to hike with and making positive friends.

Steps to Goal:

  • Fill out application to register with local hiking club.
  • Pay the $20 monthly club fee.
  • Attend a meet and greet.
  • Attend club outings.

Ideas to make it better:

  • Become a hiking club volunteer to avoid paying the fee and gain more opportunities.
  • Buy own equipment to avoid having to rent their equipment.
  • Enlist friends to join me

Likelihood of following through:

  • I have social anxiety so I am not sure that I can attend the meet and greet by myself. My friend has agreed to go with me and join the club. We both like to hike and he loves to kayak with others. This is a win for us both. We plan to do this together.

If you are stuck for ideas, do some research, ask a friend or your instructor for help.

Helpful Articles:

Top 10 things you should never share on social networks.

What really makes a person happy?

Design and Implementation Challenges

The biggest challenge that I ran into was trying to decide how to make the assignment less overwhelming and ethically compliant. After reviewing this assignment I realized that I am asking students to post personal information online. This is wholly unethical. Within the redesign of the activity I have created a set of ground rules, changed the activities to comply more closely with the ethics of online usage and divided the activity into two parts.

I debated about removing the second half of the assignment, “the happiness plan”. I decided to allow that portion of the assignment to remain and be turned in as a journal entry. As a life skills class, the happiness plan is an appropriate assignment. However, asking students to post their happiness plan online is completely unethical.

I also debated about removing all of the examples that I provided in this assignment. However I decided that it would be best to continue to provide examples for students. This step will help to reduce confusion over the assignment and it will save the instructor valuable time answering multiple emails.

The final example for the happiness plan involves admitting that the “example” person is dealing with social anxiety. This is a tricky topic to deal with in an online class. Ethically it is not appropriate for an instructor to ask a student about any emotional issues. Although I decided to leave it in because this class is designed as a life skills class. Utilizing psychology components, such as creating a happiness plan, allows the instructor and students more flexibility within the learning and self-improvement environment that this class is intended to create.

I decided to abandon this class because of the taboo of discussing psychology and personal problems within a classroom environment. While this class was designed utilizing a sound cognitive psychology format, I found that the topics made some instructors and fellow students uncomfortable. I am overall pleased with the work that I have done within the Everyday Psychology class. Although, after reviewing this assignment, I believe that if I were to share my class with others online it would be necessary for me to first review each assignment for ethical compliance.

Closing

After reviewing ethical considerations with online technology I realized that my group happiness wiki had several unethical components. I also noticed that the assignment itself was lacking in options for students with varying learning styles. By modifying the original activity I was able to create two assignments that are both ethically compliant. The first assignment is designed to create a sense of community and collaboration between students while the second assignment is designed for student research, deeper thought and self-analysis. Providing articles for students to review regarding happiness and what should and should not be posted online helps to provide students with clarification and hopefully encourages further research. I am pleased that I chose this activity to redesign as it allowed me to closely analyze my previous work for ethical problems. While the topic may be a touchy subject for some students I am now comfortable that the above assignment is ethically compliant and will appeal to more students with diverse if I’d learning styles.

 

References

Association of American Educators (2016) Code of ethics for educators. AAE. Retrieved from https://www.aaeteachers.org/index.php/about-us/aae-code-of-ethics

Bryant C. W. (2016) Top 10 things you should never share on social networks. How Stuff Works. Retrieved from http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/social-networking/information/10-things-you-should-not-share-on-social-networks4.htm

Chatel A. (2015) What really makes a person happy? 9 things science knows about what really keeps us content. Bustle. Retrieved from http://www.bustle.com/articles/70762-what-really-makes-a-person-happy-9-things-science-knows-about-what-really-keeps-us-content

Morgan, C. (2016) Group happiness wiki. Retrieved from http://www.coursesites.com/s/_EPsy_101.

U.S. Copyright Office. (2012). Fair useRetrieved from http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

Wikispaces (n.d.) The world’s best wiki platform. [Website] retrieved from http://www.wikispaces.com/

 

 

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