Category Archives: Good Teaching

Fending off the Webinar Woes: Designing for Interest and Interactivity

On Monday, Roxanne Glaser (aka @superdoodlegirl) and I co-presented for USDLA’s National Distance Learning Week webinar series.

The archived recordings are posted online.

An post-webinar online handout is available here. It includes resources that participants shared during the webinar.

Our slide deck is posted as well.

We focused on two major areas, after defining the challenges:

information design

cognitive and human interactivity

i.e. how do you make your message super clear and concise? And, how to you engage minds and provide opportunities to interact with each other and with you?

Check it out! I think you’ll enjoy it!

Tips for Teachers: From Being a New Online Student

Last year about this time, I joined an online fitness program called¬†The Unbreakable Body. While it’s been helpful for my fitness (that’s a different story), I have found myself constantly reflecting on what it has felt like to be out of my element in something new.

Feeling New and Uncertain Online

I think that’s how our online students feel sometimes, particularly their first time.

Unsure. Second guessing myself. Wondering if I’m on the right track. Needing reassurance.

Every time I tried something in the site, I was online asking questions. I felt so much like I was asking stupid questions. Being a pain. Taking up too much time.

Let’s face it, freaked out! Trying to have the courage to face the big unknown. Dipping my toe in the water.

Girl dipping toe in water

Photo Credit: Max Pixel Free Great Picture

The Power of Encouragement

The thing that kept me going was amazing answers to emails! Answers came so quickly! Yes, of course, during business hours. I expect people to sleep. ūüôā

The emails always made me smile!

  • They always started with gladness and joy that I was doing the program
  • Sandwiched in the middle was the answer to my question
  • Often the emails ended with something funny; always with an invitation to ask any other questions

How essential was that communication to keep me going!

Translating to Online Teaching

So how does that translate to our online teaching?

I’ve always felt that the first couple weeks in an online course are CRITICAL, and that one cannot OVER COMMUNICATE in the first weeks. Huge encouragement, calling, reminding, making sure everyone knows what to do. It pays off in a significant reduction in questions, confusion, and¬†procrastination towards the end of class. For example:

  • I’m so glad you’ve joined this class.
  • Thank you for writing in with your question.
  • Let’s schedule a phone call and talk this over!
  • Awesome that you’ve gotten started with your studies! Congratulations on the first steps!
  • The sun is shining in my window as I write to you; I pray it’s shining on your studies too.

Be cheery. Be personal. Be you. Encourage.

Fast Response Time

A fast response time means so much. A face to face student can come stand in your office door. An online student only has your phone or email. Get back to them soon. Even if it’s just to say that you’re¬†working on the situation and will get back soon.

As the nervous new online fitness student, I kept thinking and wondering about my question while I was waiting for an answer. A quick response set my mind at ease and sent me continuing down my learning path.

Experience Newness Yourself

If you haven’t experienced learning something new lately, find something new to learn. Doesn’t even have to be online. But feel that new-to-you feeling.

Then keep that in mind as you interact with your online students. Be encouraging!

 

Cowboys and Cats: Herding Instructors (to show presence) Without Getting All Scratched Up

I’m attending the IFWE 2016 conference in San Antonio, TX and live blogging sessions. The bagels and croissants are yummy!

Presented by: Samantha Penney (Indiana State University)

Cats and Cowboys are our roles as faculty and instructional designers. We are the cowboys herding the cats, faculty, to add instructor presence in their courses. We will discuss the cat’s characteristics and how we can use design to help herd them in the direction our trail boss wants.

Samantha is being super creative – as we come in – pull a cat or a cowboy out of a bag. What will we do?? I sense something creative coming!

Of course, she starts off with the Herding Cats video – love that video!

Definition of Instructor Presence

Community of Inquiry is the theory – teaching presence. (Anderson et al 2001; Davis & Roblyer 2005, Sheridan and Kelly 2016) – a sense of social and cognitive presence – how you tie that into the classroom – do students know you are there and are guiding their learning? being responsible to establish

What are Cats Like?

CartoonStock.com

CartoonStock.com

  • independent
  • they don’t care
  • they are opinionated
  • self-centered
  • social
  • hunting
  • balance
  • good at jumping
  • stretchy

What are Faculty Like?

  • Independent
  • Authority
  • Solitary
  • Sense of Ownership
  • Great Balance

Faculty may not always understand why faculty presence is so important.

Another great video for cat herding is the mythbusters video on the cat corral.

Kitty Treats

Interesting discussion around what “treats” can persuade faculty to be present in their online courses…

  • An empty box is so fun for a cat. How can we start instead of pushing a tool or strategy, but ask questions to find out what faculty want to do and what dreams they have.
  • Hearing from colleagues – faculty like to hear from each other
  • Food for workshops
  • Feedback sandwich: positive, negative, positive
  • Online teaching certificate course – with a stipend – requires meeting with an instructional designer
  • Tools like Softchalk etc.
  • Research that supports the best practices – nice overview and collection in this lit review by Chakraborty and Nafukho¬†(2015)
  • An interesting set of roles of being present: facilitator, mentor, devil’s advocate, moderator, repository, etc.¬†Question posed – how can we help take some of these roles off the shoulders of our faculty – ideas included co-teaching, adding resources to help reduce questions from students
  • Faculty want to play with tools at their own pace ¬†– open workshops to play with a tool at their own time with someone on hand in case of challenges

Takeaways

Remember you are a cat also! We all need herding at one time or another. Remember how that feels. No one likes being herded!

The thing that’s clear is that instructional design and online course support is hugely about support and persuasion. And it takes¬†relationship building to be a team between the online design expert and the subject matter expert.

Nice hands-on creative playing, Samantha!

Leave No Student Behind in Cyberspace! Innovative Strategies for Online Teachers

I‚Äôm attending the IFWE 2016 conference in San Antonio, TX and live blogging sessions. It’s Thursday morning, and sunny and cool in San Antonio!

Presented by: Kenyatta Phelps (Lone Star College – University Park)

Description: Are you stuck trying to find ways to improve your online classes? This session is designed to provide educators ideas on how to build an inviting learning space for their online classes using discussion forums tool. The presenter will show attendees how to incorporate OER and apps into discussion forums.

Social presence

  • You aren’t just overseeing – you are engaging with the students.
  • Social presence in discussion forums can build community, encourage deep reflection and learning, develop analytical skills, encourage the student to be the teacher/expert, and to have them apply concepts directly.
  • Give the adult learner opportunities to share their professional experience with the course.

Overview of Strategies

  1. Online learning activities need to be aligned to the outcomes.
  2. The discussion forums are assessed as formative assessments.
  3. Ways to get students to develop critical thinking skills – podcasts, questions, debates
  4. Collaborative learning – promote student interaction and interdependency… case studies, brainstorming, study rooms online, clarification of information
  5. Icebreakers – introduction activities – using video & audio
  6. Interactive lectures – micro lectures – short bits – we start online with PowerPoint “I won’t judge, that’s where we start, but it’s time to expand”
  7. Student feedback – ask students for feedback about the assignments, the assessments, the course, ask for feedback in a fun and engaging way
  8. Game-based learning – simulations, adventures

Specific Strategies

When students email you a lot, it’s because you’re not clear. Need more specifics added to the course if you are getting too many emails with questions about the course.

Include video clips within the discussion forum – and then set up very specifically what the students are supposed to do and when to post etc.

Transcripts for video clips – accessibility.

All Readable¬†– A tool she uses for resources – like transcripts of videos etc – that allows for annotation etc. – this is a cool site for discussing right on top of the text…

Set up a scenario – embedded in real world – and have students work on that concept… i.e. scenarios from a work situation where they have to decide if these scenarios are ethical or not; using the group feature in the LMS discussion forum

Give students tools like MindMeister to do brainstorming activities

Use a whiteboard tool to have students share short answers to different things (embedding Padlet will work for this too)

Keep the tools within the LMS – but you can do that by embedding things

Use Animoto to create a video to introduce yourself (Soundcloud for audio) – hearing a voice makes you feel real to the students

There are poems and books and speeches in Spotify as well as music… can embed in the LMS for your students… (students will have to get an account though – but you can have them do that at the beginning of class); presidential speeches are in there too!

iTunes U is another great source of free lectures and content (but you can’t embed it; she tries to keep everything inside the LMS)

NPR recordings and podcasts (she teaches sociology)

Screencast-o-matic to record SPSS tutorials

She uses Google Forms for an “exit ticket” – asking students what they learned in class today – if they have any questions. Very quick feedback ending that day/session/module. Nice idea! With a catchy thumbs up/down graphic.

Padlet for thoughts on the course Рthey can put their name or not Рand they can see what everyone else says. This takes an open and courageous teacher!

Polleverywhere for polling. Can be embedded in your LMS (but it’s too small – so she uses Padlet more)

Easy way to bring in social presence – ask them who their favorite musician is and why – put it in Padlet

Audience member has a final project where students create a digital quilt to synthesize their learning in the course…

Game: Playspent Рfor students learning about poverty

Rice University’s CSI Forensics adventures

Create a discussion forum for “study room” or “student cafe” – create a place for students to talk to each other. She has a photo with the discussion forum to make it more inviting and friendly.

HaikuDeck – another presentation tool

Takeaways

Her specific Padlet strategies were a big hit!

The idea of embedding each tool / resource so that students are all in one place in the LMS.

Blended Learning and Flipped Classrooms: Practical Strategies and Ideas

Today I’m presenting for the faculty of Burman University in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada. This post has the accompanying resources.

Blended Learning PPT

Andrews Resources

Definitions

Video Resources

Open Courses and Resources

Recording and Hosting Videos

Assessments at the Door

Resources for Teaching, Active Learning, and Engagement

Accessibility

For Further Reading

Reducing Procrastination with Frequent Engagement

overdue task list

Photo by AJ Gulyas. Creative Commons Attribution License.

Lately I’ve been thinking about procrastination in online courses. Procrastination can be caused by so many things – feeling inadequate for the task, a sense that the task is hard, deciding that other things are more important.

Have you noticed in your email habits that you tend to answer the easy questions, but if someone asks a hard question, you put it off?

It’s easy to procrastinate on just about anything, but doesn’t it seem like online learning exaggerates our procrastination? We get done what’s in front of us, what’s staring us in the face. But our distance learning is online, in the cloud, on our app. Easily ignored. Easily put off for another day.

What does it take to keep our distance learning right in our students’ faces?

Combating Procrastination in Distance Learning Industries

It’s an issue in all different kinds of distance learning, and there are a variety of ways to combat procrastination:

  • In mobile learning, apps like DuoLingo notify the user daily with a reminder to practice their learning.
  • In¬†online courses, for both K12 or higher education, teachers can design¬†frequent, low-stakes grading, using quizzes, practice quizzes, or short assignments.
  • In¬†corporate training modules,¬†content could be broken up into smaller, micro-lessons, with content and an engagement activity included in lesson.
  • In¬†healthcare, remote patient monitoring can be embedded with regular tips and mentoring to assist patients with improving their health, such as Tactio Health, an app that provides digital coaching along with self-monitoring and/or remote monitoring.
  • In¬†videoconference learning, such as courses or enrichment by content providers, learners probably don’t procrastinate during the live lesson. That’s the beauty of live, synchronous learning. However, there may be assignments or pre-work that is easily put off. Small, easy to manage, learning bites and activities can reduce procrastination or disengagement.

Examples of Frequent Engagement

So how do we design frequent engagement, and low-stakes grading into our distance learning experiences? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Feedback and monitoring. Tullis and Benjamin (2011) suggest that students need frequent feedback to help them learn to monitor their learning. If they have a clear understanding of which concepts they understand, and which need more study, learners can adjust their study time to spend more time on the concepts and skills that need to improve. So design frequent assessments that inform learners on their progress.
  • Daily quizzing. Wesp (1986) suggests for personalized instruction (isn’t all distance learning¬†personalized learning at some level?) that daily quizzes can help students keep on track with making progress on their studies, particularly if¬†the quizzes are designed in such a way that they don’t have a negative effect on poorer students’ grades.
  • Informal writing. Besides regular quizzing, informal writing can engage students regularly with the content, and keep them focused on their learning. In addition, Warnock (2013) suggests that frequent grading gives student confidence and keeps the communication flow between teacher and student. Informal writing can include journals, reading responses, one minute responses, or muddiest point paragraphs.

Now that you’ve considered ways to reduce procrastination in distance learning, what are you going to do about it? Don’t procrastinate! Pick one small idea and add it to the learning design you are working on today! Or this weekend. Or next week. …

Comment Invitation

Please feel free to comment below. What other suggestions would you give for reducing procrastination? What do you see as the benefits of frequent engagement? Are there any examples where you believe these ideas don’t work? Please share.

References

Tullis, J. G., & Benjamin, A. S. (2011). On the effectiveness of self-paced learning. Journal of Memory and Language, 64(2), 109-118. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2010.11.002

Warnock, S. (2013). Frequent, low-stakes grading: Assessment for communication, confidence. Faculy Focus.

Wesp, R. (1986). Reducing procrastination through required course involvement. Teaching of Psychology, 13(3), 128-130. doi: 10.1207/s15328023top1303_6

Creating, Gathering and Using Data

It’s Tuesday morning at USLDA, and I’m attending the first session of the morning:¬†Creating, Gathering and Using Data with Karly Good from Grand View University and Sue McDaniel from A.T. Still University.

ATSU’s College of Graduate Health Studies¬†has 145 full time and faculty members in 34 states and two other countries offering 4 masters and 3 doctorate programs. Sharing data and communication among all these locations is challenging. Each program was keeping track of their own data. An example of an issue was a course that was cross listed with 3 prefixes – changing a textbook listing for one didn’t necessarily mean the others were changed.

Data issues included accreditation, dissertations, grades, and more.

At ATSU, they created a Access front end / mySQL backend database called IRMA: Integrated Records Management and Administration. They add 5000-6000 records a month. The instructional designers and academic advisers, associate dean, all have different front ends – Access Reports. They can access it from home via the VPN.

Course Development Via Database

All the online courses are built through the Access database. They add each little piece of a course – content, assignments, they connect all of it to the learning objectives and competencies. All the outputs are done in PDFs so that no one can change it. Faculty have to teach the course as it is, they don’t allow anyone to edit or change anything after it’s been through the development assignments.

The instructional designer’s view has Courses, reports, Term Courses, Textbooks, and Faculty as the main menu.

They build the courses in IRMA, and work through the syllabus items, core competencies, connections to learning outcomes; then a report gives them the HTML to copy & paste¬†into the LMS. The database tracks all the pieces of the course development, the milestones, how far they’ve come etc. They can easily find¬†a specific course that uses a¬†particular tool, such as a wiki.

Faculty Data for Accreditation

The Associate Dean’s view has Faculty, Courses, Surveys, and more. The Faculty menu includes all the data on professional development funds, publications, demographic data on faculty and more. It has the course evaluation data that can be used to make¬†staffing decisions for teaching the variety of courses.

It’s so fascinating to me how scaling online learning requires us to manage information at an incredibly high level. This method is also a way to have easily at hand anything needed for an accreditation report. It is work on the front end setting it up; and also regular work always entering data; but wow! What an amazing tool.¬†

I also find it interesting that the idea of BIG DATA makes you think of buying some amazing product from a company; where in this case, someone with good database skills can build something valuable using what data already exists in a less organized format.

Tracking 7 Core University Competencies

At Karly’s institution, Grand View, their data comes from Blackboard and a SQL. They pull assignment and assessment data (rubric) and then they pull from their Student Information System as well as Blackboard. They have 7 rubrics for 7 core outcomes that gauge graduating students. You can see 4 year growth of students using the rubric over time throughout the whole university experience. They want to in the future include these rubrics in the Blackboard shell/templates – right now the faculty get the rubric from the University Portal to add to their course assignments.

The curriculum committee on campus developed these rubrics as part of the university assessment. It’s built into core classes as well as within the majors. The rubrics are NO POINTS in Blackboard – so that the rubrics never affect the student’s grade. They are a secondary evaluation in Blackboard – you can choose not to show it to the students at all. It’s a four year rubric. Everyone is assessed on the same scale, freshmen and seniors, both. The students don’t see the results on this rubric – it’s not their grade. They use the Goals feature of Blackboard to align each criteria on the rubric to the goals.

Karly worked with IT to collect:

  • From Blackboard: student name, course, assignment, dept, rubric, faculty name, core outcome
  • From the SIS: gender, major, GPA, term

So far they have pulled the report 3 times.

The next step is to be able to restrict access so that departments can see just their departments; and that faculty can see their data.

Their 7 Essential Competencies are:

  • Critical Inquiry (CI)
  • Quantitative Communication (Q)
  • Information Literacy (IL)
  • Global Awareness (GA)
  • Written Communication (W)
  • Vocation (V)
  • Oral Communication (O)

It’s interesting to me also that you have an Instructional Designer and Instructional Technology Specialist diving into the data needs for accreditation and assessment. The merging of a variety of skills and needs across campus.¬†

Wow! Inspiration for a lot of work to be done!

Jazz Up Student Engagement in Your Online Courses

This afternoon I presented at the USDLA national conference. Here I am sharing my handout and the URLs that either I shared or attendees shared in the discussion.

finktaxonomyandtools

 

Note that I have deliberately not included tons of sites and ideas because I wanted this to be simple and not too overwhelming. To pique interest.

Learn about Designing Significant Learning Experiences

Learning How to Learn

Caring

Human Dimension

  • Blog or discuss ways in which one‚Äôs personal life affects and is affected by the subject. Sample student blog.
  • Be an ethical, responsible member of a team serving others; tools to support groups:¬†GoogleDrive¬†and¬†similar tools to support collaborative learning.

Integration

Application

  • Analyze and critique an issue or case study.
  • Apply the skills in context; document ability with video.
  • Create a recommendation for a corporation in a real-world problem/situation – build on wikispaces.

Foundational Knowledge

  • Create and share/narrate a mental map or conceptual structure of major concepts. Bubbl.us¬†or Mindly the app.
  • Create a presentation: Explain & predict concepts and ideas. i.e. Prezi
  • Have students access and interact with primary sources of content – i.e. TedEd and more.

Fink Taxonomy and Tools PDF Handout РPermission granted to reprint freely. Please share any adaptations.

What would you add? Feel free to comment and share. 

Faculty Presence

While you focus on building your online course, keep in mind how you will be ‚Äúpresent‚ÄĚ in your online course. How will students feel that you are ‚Äúthere‚ÄĚ in the course? Creating a sense of instructor presence is an important aspect to student satisfaction in online courses.So what are some ways to be ‚Äúpresent‚ÄĚ and visible to students?

Faculty Initiated Interaction

  • Send a weekly email to students. Consider it your ‚Äúhousekeeping‚ÄĚ message to students at the beginning of class. Include:
    • Overall feedback to the class on the previous week
    • A teaser to hook them into the next week‚Äôs content
    • Reminders
    • Updates on grading
    • A suggested schedule to help students organize their work for the week
  • Be present in the discussion forum. Don‚Äôt overpower, but let students know you are there.
  • 5-4-3-2-1: Countdown to Course Management (see pages 2,8): Tips for how often to interact with students in various ways in your online course.
  • Live interactive sessions and video lectures also increase your presence in the course.
  • Be yourself! Use humor, self-disclosure, and personal interaction to help students feel that you are human and really ‚Äúthere‚ÄĚ in the class.

Feedback

Another crucial and often overlooked area of presence and teaching in an online course is feedback.

Talk to your Instructional Facilitator for more ideas or assistance with applying these ideas to your course.  Find these tips and more online in the Online Course Development Support Site.

 

Web Design Quality

As you continue building your course, keep in mind a few principles to make your course easy to navigate for students.

Organization

  • Does your course have an organization pattern that is easy to follow?
  • Is your course organized by weeks or modules?
  • Do you have an introduction to the course?
  • Are assignments and activities labelled consistently within the syllabus, the schedule, and the layout online?
  • Structure and routine in your course can make learning easier for your students.

Universal Design Principles

  • Is content presented more than one way? Reading? Watching? Hearing?
  • Is the text large enough or can it be enlarged? Can students increase or decrease the sound on media?
  • Have you provided scaffolding to assist students in learning the content material? Do they need any background knowledge? Could additional resources assist them? Are the important points and big ideas highlighted? Read more‚Ķ

Visual Appeal

  • Is your course more than just lots of text? Does it have visual appeal as well?
  • Are photos used appropriately throughout content?
  • Do you have video clips, either from online or of your own lectures?
  • Are image and media sources properly cited?
  • Do students get to ‚Äúsee‚ÄĚ you in the course? A friendly instructor photo provides a sense of instructor presence.

Talk to your Instructional Facilitator for more ideas or assistance with applying these ideas to your course.  Find these tips and more online in the Online Course Development Support Site.