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EDUC 6179: Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

This week’s post focuses on plagiarism detection and prevention, specifically in online learning communities.  The primary plagiarism detection and prevention software that is available to online instructors that I have come in contact with in my years as a student, is Turnitin.  This software enables students to submit their work directly to the program Turnitin (through a link on their online class) and Turnitin checks for plagiarism.  This software’s existence alone can help deter plagiarism because students may be too afraid to even attempt to plagiarize work out of fear of it getting caught so quickly.  Additionally, it saves time for teachers and gives them a quick and easy reference to make sure the students work is genuine.

The design of assessments in the online classroom can help prevent academic dishonesty.  For example, questions asked can focus on personal experiences related to topics learned so that the student has to come up with personal experiences and stories and would be less likely to “cut and paste” information from something they find online or in a book.  Teachers could incorporate timed online assessments in some cases where the student only has limited time to complete a test limiting their ability to plagiarize work from another source. 

Some strategies that I would like to see implemented in my role as a future online instructor would include the timed tests as well as encouraging students to provide real life, personal experiences that they can relate to the topics learned.  I would not ask for assignments that specifically request information that can only be obtained through research because I think that would be more likely to result in plagiarism.  To avoid cheating, I think that encouraging group work for assignments where the students have to work together to learn from each other as opposed to possibly cheating would be a good strategy. 

Some other considerations that need to be taken into account is the possibility that someone could be having someone else (unrelated to the class) complete their coursework.  This is something I always wonder about as I have seen it happen in the past.  I am not really sure how one would go about preventing this in an online learning environment but I think that it is necessary because I fear that some people are earning degrees without actually earning them.  With the increase in technology, I think that this will get easier.  For example, perhaps in the future students will log in with the use of their fingerprint on a touchscreen so that their true identity can be verified.  This issue is something that I will continue to think about as an instructor and try to prevent and I will take into account any safeguards that I am able to implement at the time. 



Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical

pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


So, apparently I missed the part on Week 2 where I was supposed to post this as a blog and I only turned it in via Turnitin to the class. No biggie… here it is now. 🙂

EDUC 6179: Getting Acquainted

Getting to Know Me
My name is Valerie Richards and I have my MS and EdS in Counseling and Human Systems with a specialization in Mental Health from Florida State University. I also received my BS from Florida State University in Psychology. I am a registered Mental Health Counselor Intern with the state of Florida and am pursuing certification in Sex Therapy as well as in Online Education. I work as an outpatient therapist for a local community mental health center and am interested in being a facilitator for students pursuing counseling as a career who are pursuing their degrees online. I have worked in the child welfare and forensic fields as well as mental health and have over 15 years of experience.
I have a strong desire to help propel the counseling programs online into programs that are as competitive as those at traditional universities. Many online programs lack the criteria necessary for students to obtain licensure in some states and this is something that could be corrected with the right additions to their programs. If a program does not meet the criteria for a student to get licensed, then the student needs to know what they must do following graduation in order to do so. It is my belief that the advancements in technology that we have seen over the past few years can be incorporated into these programs to help make them even more competitive and respected among the scholarly communities. I also believe that online programs provide great opportunities for those who may not live near a large university but have the potential to do great things.
I am a mother of 3 beautiful children and spend much of my free time doing activities with my children. We live in sunny Florida so we spend a lot of time outside. We enjoy taking trips to the theme parks that we have in Orlando as well as visiting many of the festivals that Florida has to offer. I am also a huge Florida State Seminole fan and am often tuned in to the games during football season.
Please visit the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) website for additional information related to this field. This is a great resource for professionals, clients, or families interested in getting more information on mental illness.
Getting to know you
During this course, you will be expected to review the course performance goals and outcomes as outlined in the class syllabus. Please prepare some goals of your own for this class and post your personal goals for this course in your introduction in the class discussion section of this class. Think about what prompted you to start this program, ultimately leading you to this course, and what you anticipate to do in the future with your degree when you achieve it. Have you thought about what area of the field you are interested in? There is a wide range of possibilities within the mental health field. Many go into child welfare, community mental health, inpatient facilities, private practice, or forensics, to name a few. Additionally, there are specializations within the counseling field. Think about if you would like to focus on working with children, adults, elderly, etc. Understanding where you want to be can really help you figure out the best plan of action for yourself now. Also, in the class discussion, share what you hope to gain from this specific course and how you think that it will help you in your future in this program and in this field.

EDUC 6179: Impact of Technology on Adult Learning

Throughout my experiences with online educational programs, and through my work endeavors, I have had the opportunity to work with many different systems related to course management and online teaching and learning.  Through these experiences I have found that technology can have a huge impact on adult learning.  Never, in a million years, did I think that I would be taking courses and pursuing my education through a computer at home versus attending a regular classroom.  When I left a college town to move back to a small town with only a community college, I thought that my education was done with the exception of trainings.  Now, I am able to pursue additional certificates or degrees to help me advance in my career.  Unfortunately, the counseling field is still playing catch up to other degrees but I have seen progress and hopefully over time there will be more and more credible online degrees for students to obtain the degree that I had to obtain in a traditional classroom but with the same quality experience and credentials to prepare them for licensure in their state.

      Online instructors should consider many things when incorporating technology into the online learning environment.  A major consideration is making sure that the links they provide are correct and that students know the correct software they will need to access the information.  Many times in classes that are online I have had difficulty connecting to resources provided or trying to find the software that I needed to be able to access certain links or videos.  The information is often hidden amongst the large amount of information in the course syllabus.  This information should be easily accessible and identifiable to students so that they can be properly prepared.  Additionally, instructors need to be understanding that not all online students have experience in an online environment and may need a certain level of support when having difficulty with some of these tasks.  I believe that this also addresses the implications related to usability and accessibility of technology.  It has to be able to be used and accessible to students for it to be useful in a classroom experience. 

      The technologies that are most appealing to me for teaching online are the online communities with library resources that are available at no cost.  I think that information should be accessible to everyone and that it puts an additional hardship on students when they have to purchase a significant amount of additional materials for a class.  The easier the information is to locate online, the better.  This will result in more knowledgeable students and better quality work as well. 


Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical

pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.



EDUC 6179: Impact of Technology on Adult Learning

This week is dedicated to looking at online learning experiences and the impact they can have on adult learning.  This blog post will be specifically dedicated to counselor education since it combines two of my favorite fields, education and counseling.  I have chosen to take a closer look at 3D virtual environments for counselor education ( and Gaming in Counselor Education (  These are two areas that have been lacking in the counseling field and could be incredibly beneficial. 

First I want to look at 3D virtual environments in counselor education.  This is an area that can be extremely useful in educating future counselors.  In traditional graduate schools for counseling, we often do a practicum where we basically practice the skills we have learned in our classes on real clients.  When I was in graduate school, this was scary to me because if I made a mistake I was dealing with a real client.  By using virtual environments to practice role play scenarios without dealing with real life clients in that moment.  I think that this is a much better way to prepare for the real life scenario of interacting with clients.  It reminds me of driver’s education in high school, where we used virtual cars to practice driving before we got onto the road.  As an educator, I hope to incorporate something similar to this one day as a way to improve the quality of online counselor education programs.  It will allow distance learners more opportunities to practice the skills they learn before they go into the workforce.  I also would like to incorporate something like this with clients as a way to help them deal with scenarios that may be problematic for them.  Practicing social skills without going into a social situation, working on situations that provoke anxiety, and managing aggression are a few ways that this could be useful in working with clients.

The second area that I would like to see used in counselor education and counseling would be gaming.  The Journal of Technology in Counseling addresses how gaming can be useful in the counseling field.  There are realism based simulation games and abstract simulation games.  There are also puzzle games and conversions of traditional games.  There are a lot of options to incorporate gaming into the counseling field.  According to the Journal of Technology and Counseling, gaming can “challenge students, promote collaboration, and accommodate varying learning styles”.  I think that gaming can offer situations similar to the 3D virtual environment but in the gaming format.  Clients could use games in the comfort of their home, in a private setting, to help deal with and address issues related to mental health.  Additionally, counselors could practice situations that they may come into contact with real clients without having a real client present.  I would like to see gaming be used as a homework tool for counselor educators and ultimately clients to practice needed skills. 

Overall, I think that there is a huge need for more incorporation of 3D virtual environments as well as gaming within the counseling and counselor education field.  With the increase in popularity of online counselor education programs, we need more ways to provide online learners with ways to practice the needed skills without having to set up programs where students have to travel to engage in face to face practicums.  This could also increase the number of counselors in the field which is often lacking due to availability of accredited programs and high turnover in mental health agencies.  Before incorporating these technologies into an online learning environment, instructors should make sure they are valid sites that will provide students with information that will be beneficial to their careers as counselors and not sites that are merely for fun or for show.  It’s better to use sites that come from reputable organizations within the field.  The implications of usability and accessibility in this area are huge.  The students have to be able to access this information, which in this case they would be able to do so, they need to be easy to navigate and use so that students don’t get frustrated and are able to incorporate it into their learning process.



EDUC 6179: Online Learning Communities Blog

            This week, the goal is to address essential steps in setting up an effective online learning experience for adult learners.  Some of the main issues that should be focused on when setting up an online learning environment include clarifying expectations for the course (this can be done in the syllabus or introduction in a class café), rubrics (which give a guideline that students can use for their assignments to understand the grading) and the group discussions (which facilitate class discussions among peers and instructors).  It is important to understand the steps associated with setting up an effective online learning experience because online learning can be a difficult transition for many adult learners and having a good guide for their experience can be very helpful.

            Communicating clear expectations to adult learners is extremely important in the online learning environment, especially when dealing with adults who may be new to the online learning experience.  Being clear about expectations is essential in all aspects of the online course including the syllabus, rubrics, discussion questions, assignments, etc.  Students who are completing online classes are going to be working more independently than in a traditional learning community and need to be able to access the information they need to be successful at their leisure and cannot always depend on waiting for responses from instructors or peers. 

            Setting up the rubrics is another essential piece of the online learning communities.  This area is important because the rubrics help outline how a student can be successful in class by identifying the criteria needed to achieve certain grades.  I find that the rubrics section is often very vague about the criteria needed for certain grades and can be subjective at times.  I think a great addition to something like this would be an example of what the instructor is looking for.  I often find that I only periodically refer to rubrics because they are not as useful as I would like for them to be in my experiences.

            The third step that is important in an online community is the discussion questions section.  Clarity is also important in this section. The instructor needs to appropriately state the question or issue up for discussion and be able to engage the class in appropriate discussion.  The instructor also should participate in the discussions in order to help facilitate ongoing discussions and posts from the students.  I find that the discussions are the most useful for me in my online learning experiences because I learn from the perspective of other students and am able to revise my thinking about what I may have read at times.  It also helps me to practice explaining something, which helps me gain a better understanding of the issue, and to ultimately make me a better student and facilitator in the future.

            Other issues to take into account when setting up an online learning experience for adults is to have support available to them when needed.  Many adult learners will be juggling careers, families, or other responsibilities in addition to school.  They often choose online schools because it is the most feasible way for them to continue education while continuing with their busy lives.  Facilitators and peers should be understanding of this and flexible to an extent providing the students are engaging and participating in the class.  Also, some may have difficulty navigating the online learning experience and may need additional technical support or other support to feel their way around the course. 

            Overall, online learning can be a very successful venture for adults.  It is important that they communicate with their instructors and peers and that they voice any concerns or issues that they are having.  Facilitators may not always reach out but are generally very receptive to students issues as they come up.  Facilitators should make effort to be very clear about expectations and remember to keep a certain amount of flexibility to assist students who are seeking to improve their careers or lives.


Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical

pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.



EDUC 6179: Online Learning Communities Blog

Online learning communities are intended to facilitate peer to peer learning in an online setting that can be public or private.  I was unable to access the required video for this week’s blog so I am basing this blog post on what I have learned in other classes and what I have been able to find online.  Essential elements of online community building would include people and processes.  People are essential in online communities because we learn from each other and being able to engage with instructors and other students is essential to success in an online learning environment.  I can read and read text online all day long but the interaction with my peers through discussions and blog posts is what really helps me to grasp the concepts and apply them.  Processes are important because an online learning community has to have some kind of structure in order for it to be effective.  Students in online learning communities are generally people who work full time jobs in addition to pursuing additional education and it is essential to be able to plan time to work on school and know what is coming up in a class.  If I did not have the ability to look ahead at a class, then when I have issues that arise in day to day life I might not be able to keep up with class.  Because I am able to see the plan and processes for the class (through the syllabus and course requirements) then I am able to stay structured and do what is needed for the class in conjunction with my day to day life.

Online learning communities impact the learner’s learning and satisfaction with online education because they provide opportunities to build relationships, network, and gain a better understanding of the information provided by hearing others examples of how the concepts apply in their lives and experiences.  I really appreciate the ability to interact with other students online and learn from them and their experiences.  I think that the more interactive a program is, then the more satisfied the learners will be with the experience.  This also includes the level of participation by the instructor in these forums to help guide students discussions appropriately.  Online learning communities can be sustained through the participation of instructors and students.  The information shared should be quality information that serves a purpose such as educating and informing.  Information should also open up topics for discussion. 

There is a strong relationship between community and effective online instruction because appropriate feedback and guidance from the instructor can help shape the level of interaction among the students and make or break a satisfying online community learning experience.  If an ineffective instructor is not guiding the students and providing feedback then the quality of information will not be as good and the learning experience will not be satisfactory. 

This is my introduction blog for my new class EDUC 6179 (Online Strategies for Adult Learners).  I am a therapist for a community mental health center providing outpatient mental health therapy for children and adults.  I often try to tie  my posts for my education classes to the counseling field because I would like to use my educational experiences to eventually facilitate online classes for counselor education.  I look forward to posting throughout this course and reading posts by my fellow classmates.

Educational Technologies Blog:  Week 8

            Over the past few months during this technology in education course, I have learned a lot about how technology can be applied in the educational setting as well as how I can apply it in the counseling field.  Some of this I learned from the readings, some from my own research, and a lot of it I have learned through my peers in the class.  I have learned from them both through the discussion questions as well as their blog posts and comments to my blogs. 

            The first technology that I learned about through my peers that I think would be beneficial to my career as an educator and counselor is one that Corelyn talked about called Edheads.  This is an educational game that marketed for middle and high school that is math and science based.  She explained in her blog that this is a very detailed game that could benefit those possibly looking to go into the medical field.  It would be a great program to help high school students decide if they truly want to go into a specific field.  I think that anything that can be done to help encourage students to make educated decisions about their future education is essential.  This would help them make a decision based on a simulated experience.  It also could be useful in teaching certain lessons within the educational setting.  I think that it could help me as an educator if it were modified to deal with the human brain/neurology specifically and how it relates to mental illness.  I also think that if there were a way to simulate a mental health breakdown for a student so they can try to experience what someone with that illness is experiencing then it could help create better future counselors.  I can see this being useful for students, educators, and clients as well.  As far as clients, it could help them to understand more about their own illnesses or to help the clinicians with diagnosis when clients have a difficult time explaining their illness.

            The second technology that I want to address is which talks about a program called  Nicole Cross addressed this in reference to adult learners and herself as an educator.  This site teaches “discipline and ethics” and is useful for students and teachers alike.  Ethics in the education field as well as the counseling field is a huge area.  Within counseling we have to deal with HIPAA standards for privacy protection but we also make decisions on a daily basis in counseling that can be related to ethics.  While some questions about ethics are clear, there can be some that are not so black and white and more training in this area can be useful for counselors, counseling students, and counseling educators.

            Erica Roark is another peer who addressed a site that I felt would be useful as a counselor educator.  She introduced a site called Schooltube which is similar to You Tube.  With this site, videos are created for a specific class and can be used to show lectures.  I think that there is a lot of potential with sites such as this.  I think that with the current virtual classroom, we miss a lot of the teacher interaction and lecture.  Having a way to incorporate that in the online learning environment could be useful for learners who happen to learn better through hearing a lecture versus reading material.  We have to keep in mind that everyone learns differently and while some are visual, others are auditory learners.  I think it is important to find ways to address all styles of learning within the online learning environment.

            All three of these could be incorporated into counselor education programs.  I look forward to a day where we will see these types of tools being utilized in school for adults as well as students.  I know that as an adult student, I would really appreciate this in my current learning environment and would like to have an opportunity to have more face to face (even if it’s through a computer screen) interaction with my peers and instructor.  I miss the traditional classroom experience, where I feel I flourished, but am unable to be a part of due to my current situation with work and family.  I hope to be able to implement things like this in order to help adult learners feel like they are truly in a more traditional type classroom while pursuing their education. 



Richardson, Will (2010).   Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tolls for Classrooms.  Thousand Oaks,     

CA: Corwin

Educational Technologies Blog:  Digital Citizenship, Ethics, and Netiquette

For this week’s blog, we are looking at Digital Citizenship, Ethics and Netiquette.  I chose to specifically address digital commerce in relation to the ipad and Digital Etiquette (Netiquette) in relation to Facebook.  I decided this after reviewing again the Nine Elements of digital citizenship at  I chose these because they are ever present in everyday life regardless of profession or educational background.  Additionally, I chose them because I also think that they can be very beneficial in the counseling and counselor education fields. 

        When looking at Digital Commerce in relation to the ipad, we are looking at the sales of the ipad and how it has exceeded traditional computers, how it has paved the way for other tablets, and how sales of items have changed with the invention of the ipad.  Ipads and tablets are the new hot item for students and adults.  Clients that I have either have one or want one, as do most people that I know.  Those who can’t get an iPad, settle for another tablet of some sort but without the apps that are available through ipad.  The apps alone are a commerce area which has exploded because we have shopping at our fingertips, even more accessible and easy than through a desk top computer.  We can do all sorts of purchases online and through our tablets.  At the ATT store, they now do all of their sales transactions on the sales floor with the use of an iPad.  At conventions or fairs, I have seen vendors with iPads that are able to run credit cards through an attachment and do easy and on the spot sales and have digital receipts immediately sent to the buyer.  The iPad has totally changed our society and how many of these things are done.  As far as incorporating this into my private practice, I believe that I can use items such as ipads and tablets in order to set up appointments, track appointments, run payment transactions (all in the counseling field).  As far as being an educator, I would incorporate ipads into the classroom and hope to incorporate online books that can be accessed through the ipads, lessons on ways to incorporate ipads into counseling sessions, and how to practically use them for transactions with clients as well as sending off referrals to other agencies when needed.  I think it would be an incredibly useful tool for private practice. 

        As for the issue of Digital Etiquette (Netiquette), I wanted to look at this in relation to Facebook.  Initially I was going to choose email, however I feel that email is mostly used for professional type purposes and spam mail whereas Facebook is a broader medium that includes personal and professional use.  I see facebook used for work purposes, people networking and making sales.  I also see it used for personal reasons.  Unfortunately, sometimes the two coincide and it is hard to distinguish the purpose of specific posts.  I have seen people who use their pages mostly for professional reasons, post things on their page of a personal nature and vice versa.  This poses problems because people can, at times, post things that are inappropriate in many ways.  I have seen political rants, very bigoted comments and posts, and facebook fishing where people seek out attention by posting comments that appeal to the emotions of those reading them.  It is unfortunate that we can often read the moods of others simply by their posts.  When people are not careful about the information they post and the page is something that is seen by professional and personal contacts, it can tarnish the image of the person doing the posting.  I would use this information in relation to my counseling practice because bullying is a huge issue on facebook and an issue that often comes up with clients in sessions.  Learning how to deal with cyber bullying and how to teach others to address these issues is very much needed as it becomes more and more prevalent.  This is a huge mental health issue because some people are vulnerable mentally and cyber bullying could cause someone to be pushed too far and do something that they normally would not have and that could be harmful to them because it can further harm their mental stability.  As an educator, I would want to educate other counselors about how to address this as well as educating clients on ways to protect themselves and have proper “netiquette” when posting things on Facebook. 

        Both of these are huge issues and need to be addressed in the fields of education and counseling.  They are becoming more and more common and much of society is seeing this happen and know someone who has experienced.  The more we learn about how to address these issues, the easier it will be to help those dealing with it.  Also by using things like Ipads for digital commerce, we improve our accessibility to needed information and materials and can cut down on the amount of time needed to make certain transactions. 




Richardson, Will (2010).   Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tolls for Classrooms.  Thousand Oaks,     

CA: Corwin

Ribble, M. (n.d.). Nine Elements: Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from

       Used by permission of Michael S. Ribble.

This week we are looking at resources for open and distance education opportunities. 

Open education usually involves free resources, accessible to anyone, and can include online as well as opportunities by mail.  When I think of these resources online, I think of a sort of virtual library.  The advantage is that it is now including situations where students can converse with each others, teachers, or other professionals and gain experience in a group like setting.  The introduction of technology into this realm has opened up so many opportunities for students to enhance their accessibility to information.  I would consider this more of an opportunity to enhance your knowledge and skills, versus pursuing a traditional degree.  The positive side of this is that it does nto require anyone to have met certain educational standards, the information is available to anyone who wants to learn.  I found a site online called “10 Open Education Resources You May Not Know About But Should”.  Two particular open education opportunities listed sounded really intriguing to me and were not areas that I had really thought about when looking at open education previously. 

The first is CK-12.  . This site is a sort of virtual textbook platform (Flexbook) that offers free textbooks for K-12 students.  The content is based on educational standards and is openly licensed.  I think that this could be an amazing resource for schools.  Rather than needing to purchase new textbooks every few years, they could access textbooks through sites like this that could benefit their students.  Additionally, students and parents could access this in order to provide the students additional learning opportunities beyond what is offered in their classrooms. 

The second site I found on the 10 Open Education Resources You May Not Know About but Should was Flat World Knowledge.   This site is similar to CK-12 in that it is virtual textbooks available for college textbooks.  The books are published under an open license and gives professors a chance to customize books or use them exactly how they come.  It basically gives professors a chance to combine their lecture material with information found in the books.  Students have free access to the books online or can pay to print them or get them via audiobooks.  This is a great resource, if professors choose to use it, to allow students to avoid the high costs of textbooks in college and allow students to have up to date and customized books that fit the model of that particular professor or class.  I would have loved to have a resource like this when I was in undergraduate and graduate programs. 

I wanted to include a resource for distance learning as well.  I chose the Fielding Graduate Institute  I chose this program because it is the only online APA (American Psychological Association) accredited program to obtain a Doctorate in Psychology. At one point in my career, I considered pursuing this degree but decided to take a different route instead.  However, I think this is an exceptional program and is a leader in providing online accredited programs in Psychology that will prepare future Psychologists for licensure in their state.  Many programs are accredited, but if not accredited by the APA specifically, it can cause someone to get a degree that would be essentially useless if they live in a state that requires APA accredidation.  In the past, the only way to get a Doctorate degree in Psychology would be to travel to an accredited college.  This allows more students with an interest in this field to pursue a doctorate in Psychology and help strengthen this field.  There are many locations where there are is a shortage of professionals with this level of expertise.