Frequently asked questions

1. What is holistic education?

Holistic education recognizes the interconnectedness of body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Learning is viewed as an experiential, organic process; making connections is seen as central to curriculum  processes. An aesthetic perspective and the process of building knowledge through inquiry are seen as integral to all forms of education and life itself. Creative tools and webs of communication are explored within this context. Holistic education methods focus on arts education, creativity, contemplation, imagery, literature, mathematics and technology, and experience-based approaches to language.

Further information about Holistic Education from online resources can be found on Holistic Learning.

 2.  When does the course actually begin and end?  Does that mean I can't go into the web site until July 6?

Online courses operate from the same timetable as on-campus courses and so are subject to the dates contained in the Bulletin and Schedule. That means that we begin the course on July 4 and class participation ends on August 13, 2015. Final papers and projects have until August 21  to be submitted. This is an absolute deadline. For those eager to get started, it is recommended that you look at the readings in advance. Blackboard and C2C will be open on the July 3. I encourage students to bookmark http://astralsite.com/1799 as useful links are on that page. The 1799 information site is a helpful reference giving resources for the course. Most work is done with C2C the same Learning Management system used at OISE for Additional Qualifications courses for educators. Limited activities and resources are in BlackBoard.

Once you have the URL (web address) for the web site, you can log in any time starting July 3. You are encouraged to log in ASAP in order to make sure that your user name and password work and that you know how the site works. You will also find a Welcome Discussion Forum in C2C where you will post a note introducing yourself and upload an image/avatar.  This should be done immediately on beginning the course.

3. Is there anything special I need to do once I find the web site and log in?

Yes - look around; become familiar with the interface, navigation and organization of the two sites (C2C and BlackBoard).

4. How do I do that?

On the first screen you see after you log in to the course (http://portal.utoronto.ca) in BlackBoard there is a menu of options on the left hand side. Scroll down that menu  and Click on the C2C option and enter that part of the course.

5. Anything else I should do?

Please note: Once the course starts - class related e-mail will be sent to your utor e-mail account (for security/privacy purposes) as well as your backup email address.  Should University of Toronto servers go down, emergency announcements for the class will be found at http://astralsite.com

6. If posting my email address is voluntary, why would I want to do it?

You communicate with all of your classmates when posting in C2C. You can send a note to just one person in a forum by creating a special privacy note. Otherwise the note you post can be read by everyone. There may be times when you wish to follow up on something or "talk" to another person privately. In that case, email can also provide the means.  Everyone in the class is required to have a utor email account but it is important to have an alternate e-mail address. If you have an e-mail account that you use regularly, you may forward your mail from your utor email to that address for convenience. We will be doing a few activities on BlackBoard. You need to have a utor account to access both C2C and BlackBoard learning management systems. See Accessing the course for instructions.

7. OK, I've logged in, and posted an introduction of myself. I've even uploaded a picture of myself.  How is the course going to operate once we're underway?

Each of the "headings" or "titles" that you see are called Forums in C2C. As a basic format, there is a forum for each topic related to the course. I post a note in the forum to explain what the forum is about. There may be particular readings that might be useful for background.,There might be a question to stimulate thinking. From that point on, it is just like a face-to-face class in that we discuss the topic/question/problem etc. A major difference between an online forum and a classroom is that there is a record of the discussion that you can refer back to all through the course if you wish. Each week you are required to read Weekly Notes a summary of the week just past and a preview of the week ahead. This update is important reading each week.  I will remind you if you have not read this note each week as the information will help you to be successful in the course.

You can check to see who has read a message. Helpful Hint!  When you have read messages, you may want to mark the message as read unless you want to return to post a response to this message later. You can reply or "build on" to messages or "edit" your own messages at any time. Messages that have more than one author can be edited by anyone listed for that message. I suggest keeping a log where you note the number and subject of a message you plan to respond to with perhaps key words to remind you of what you want to say.

8. Do we all have to be on line at the same time for this discussion?

No. The course uses chat (synchronous communication) but regular attendance to the class is asynchronous. You participate in the discussion when it suits you. One of the advantages to having an online classroom is that it is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You and your team or your partner will want to organize chat sessions (chat is used for planning between partners or among members of a team). You can also arrange to chat with individual classmates or with me.

9. How many times a week should I log in?

To really be on top of things, I advise logging in daily. Keep in mind that the course has been condensed from twelve into six weeks so checking several times a day is not unrealistic. As in any graduate level course - you  need to spend time "out of the classroom" preparing and reading as well as in class - in this case - the classrooms are virtual. As stated elsewhere, postings need to be appropriate, relevant and of substance. In the winter term, there can be as many as 2500 messages over the semester. It is of great importance that you keep up in order to avoid frustration.  Learn to move quickly through messages, taking note of those of particular interest - put down the author's name and subject line, and the number associated with the message so that you can quickly locate it when you are ready to respond.

10. I understand that we are expected to keep a journal - can you explain this?

You may keep your journal in any format you choose - some students like to keep a blog while others use an ongoing word file or write out thoughts by hand in a notebook. The idea is to reflect on what is happening for you in this course, to gather ideas and resources - to think about your projects and how you are progressing with all of the work and discussions. At the end of the course, you will be referring to and citing this journal and any other relevant readings in your reflective paper. You will be telling about your participation and the projects related to the course. This journal will be an invaluable resource in writing the paper. You do not need to show anyone your journal - or to submit it.

11. I like to read ahead in my courses. Can I get a schedule of the readings by week?

The readings will be posted in C2C. The schedule for the semester indicates what readings and course related topics will be discussed each week. If you do want to do some reading ahead of the course, I suggest that you use your own initiative to search out articles related to Holistic Teaching and Learning and to Computer Technology as related to collaboration and the constructivist learning environment.  I assume that as graduate students you will read what is made available to you and that you will also be reading beyond the assigned readings given in the course.

12. I see that we have additional discussion forums in BlackBoard. How will the Holistech2016 Forums be used?

You may visit BlackBoard on a regular basis. Here you will find a Discussion Board where you can post Resources and one where Mentor/Coaches can respond to technical questions and post tips. There is a Cafe for social chit chat. These additional Forums give you a different way of communicating with the class and help to keep C2C from being too overloaded with postings.

13. What is the need for BlackBoard if we have C2C and other tools?

Blackboard is the official management tool at the University of Toronto.  You may find that the institution you work with in future has a learning management system like BlackBoard. There are only a few assignments in this course that require you to investigate this system. This will give you at least a basic understanding and facility to work in that type of environment. Here at the University of Toronto, many courses are using this system. You will need to have a utor account to work with this program and with C2C - see Accessing the course for instructions.

14. What are the deadlines for the two main projects in this course?

The team project will need to be completed in time to be presented to the class as a whole and each team will also be posting feedback for another team regarding that project. Please see the Class Schedule.  Independent projects will be presented near the end of the course. Peer feedback is an important component of the course so time must be allowed to have participants respond to the ideas as the presentations are done at the very end of the course to allow the maximum amount of time to develop them.  It is a good idea to design projects that can demonstrate your skills and expertise, meet your objectives and also be completed in a timely fashion.

13. What feedback and evaluation can I expect in this course?

Peer and self evaluation are key elements in this course. At the end of each weekly discussion topic, a team will be asked to briefly summarize the highlights of the discussion and list any resources given in postings. At the end of the presentations of team projects, each team will do a self-evaluation and give feedback to another team. At the end of the course, you will be submitting a reflective paper, based on a reflective journal kept during the course and on your activities and projects. When you submit your reflective paper, you will also be submitting a brief self-evaluation and rationale for a mark in the course. When the marks have been submitted, you may request a brief follow-up message from me regarding your work in the course. If you want to have feedback earlier in the course, send an e-mail to me, asking me to comment on your progress.

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