Category Archives: Technology

Using Blogging to Contribute Expertise and Convey Credibility

Today I’m presenting at the United States Distance Learning Association National Conference 2017: Using Blogging to Contribute Expertise and Convey Credibility. This post shares the accompanying resources.

PowerPoint

My blogging history:

Tools for blogging:

Ideas for Blogging

Scheduling and Tracking Writing

Promoting and Learning

Zoom Integration with Moodle and Other Learning Management Systems

Recently one of my team returned from a conference and shared how everyone was interested in how we integrate Zoom with Moodle at Andrews University. I thought then that I’d share here how we do that.

Our Moodle is currently hosted with Moonami, but this strategy should work for you, however you are hosting Moodle. In addition, most learning management systems allow for some HTML in announcement features, discussion forums, anywhere you can post text. So this strategy should work well elsewhere too.

Set up a Recurring Meeting for the Course

First, we recommend our faculty set up a recurring meeting for the course so that students can always use the same link to attend class. This works even if you are sharing the Zoom account across a department, because each course could have it’s own recurring meeting, as long as someone makes sure they aren’t scheduled at the same time. Our departments who share Zoom usually have an administrative assistant keeping an eye on that.

Link the Meeting in an HTML Block

After the link is set up, then we create a little HTML block (in BrightSpace this is a widget) to show prominently within the course as shown:

 

The block has a link to the meeting room for the course, and the materials are linked to our simple QuickGuide on how Zoom works. (See our other QuickGuides)

The HTML for this block is shared below. The bold sections are where you’ll need to make changes for your situation.

<p><img src=”http://link to your Zoom image here” width=”180″ height=”39″ style=”display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;” /></p>

<p style=”text-align: center;”>This course features live webinars. <br />Click on “<strong>Meeting Room</strong>” below<br />to connect and participate</p>

<p style=”text-align: center;”><strong><a href=”https://link to your Zoom Room here” title=”Zoom Webinar” target=”_blank”>Meeting Room</a></strong><br />

<strong><a href=”http://Link to your Zoom instructions here” title=”Zoom Usage Instructions” target=”_blank”>Support Materials</a></strong></p>

Other Uses for HTML Blocks

And, voila! Now you have an HTML block featuring Zoom on the front page of the course. This little trick is great for many features that you might want to add to your online courses! I like to use the HTML block also for:

  • Contact information and photo for the instructor
  • Student support services info, links, phone numbers
  • A list of important deadlines – withdrawal dates, last day for a full refund, etc.
  • A short version of the suggested schedule for organizing assigned work each week

Your Turn

Do you have a strategy like this in your LMS? Share your tips or questions in the comments below!

Top Tools for Supporting Dissertations

Last week we looked at tips for managing the dissertation advising process for online PhDs. This week, let’s look at a variety of tools for supporting the dissertation process.

Collecting and Formatting References

  • A reference manager. First and foremost, you absolutely must start using a  reference manager, if you haven’t already. While it takes a bit to set up, it will save you hours in the long run, making sure that all references are properly cited. The top tools are listed below. The Barnard Library has created a useful comparison of the three.
  • Tutorials. I created this collection of tutorials when I was starting my PhD. While the software specifics might have changed slightly over time, the principles of how to organize yourself for reference collection are still useful.
  • Smart use of Google Scholar. Have you noticed that if you’re on campus at your university, and you use Google Scholar, all the references link to databases subscribed to by your library? What if you’re off campus though? Here are a couple of tips.
    • Check your Google Scholar settings. Select your university’s library under Libraries.
    • Set it to automatically save to your reference software, such as EndNote while you’re there. This will provide a direct link to import in the GoogleScholar results, as shown below.
    • Collect references and PDFs as you work. Here’s a tutorial I did for my graduate social media class in the fall of 2015 on how to find the PDFs after doing a Google Scholar search. Be a good researcher, and don’t just read the abstracts! Read, collect, and cite the full article!

Note Taking

Next, it’s a good idea to create a habit of taking notes on your reading. It could be scribbles, bullet points, short bits. But be writing in your own words about your literature reading.

  • Evernote. I’m a huge Evernote fan. The point of Evernote is to clip EVERYTHING you might want to remember. Yyu can grab pictures, pieces of websites, snapshots of text that is then searchable, etc. You can search it at any time for whatever you need. It’s like having a second brain. My Evernote is a huge searchable collection bin – interesting articles, random thoughts I scribble down, results from SPSS with scribbled thinking, etc. Keeping a research notebook is a good habit to establish. It will help with your academic publishing as well. And dissertation advisors, you can use it to keep notes on the dissertations you’re supporting!
  • Blogging. I am one who likes to learn publicly. Depending on your audience and your dissertation topic, you may find this strategy helpful as well. This page has my collection of PhD blog posts – on my dissertation, my literature review, and other topics I studied. I have always found writing to learn helps cement new knowledge in my brain. Tools for blogging include:
  • Writing Daily. There are some interesting tools out there to help you get in the habit of writing daily. You should be generating text on a regular basis, even if it is draft thinking, prewriting, or outlining. If you don’t want to write publicly, like on a blog, another great option is 750Words. This tool motivates and tracks your regular writing habit. Wondering what to write daily? Try these tips for applying the 750-1000 words-a-day habit to your dissertation.

Notifications

How are you keeping tabs on your topic or field? Here are some notifications you should have set up already:

  • Subscribing to journals. Almost every journal has a way to subscribe to the Table of Contents updates. Sign up for your favorites to keep tabs on the field. Read titles quickly, don’t get distracted!
  • Google Alerts. Did you know you can set up alerts to monitor the web, your reputation, your topic? Google Scholar has alerts also. Let the web come to you!
  • Academic social networks also provide alerts and notifications on topics and researchers:

Tracking Progress

How are you tracking your progress? One of my favorite books on writing is How to Write a Lot. One of the excellent suggestions there is to track your progress. Count:

  • Time spent writing
  • Words generated
  • Note the topic/task/project you were working on

Note how my spreadsheet for writing tracking looks:


Or, you can try one of many goal setting apps to track your progress. Set goals and track them.

What gets measured gets done!


Editing

Finally, a few tools for editing your writing:

  • Grammarly. This free grammar checker can assist you in creating academic prose.
  • TurnItIn. Find out from your university ed tech tool helpdesk how you can use TurnItIn to check your ability to cite your sources well. Or your university may provide resources in the dissertation preparation courses.
  • Color edits. Another of my favorite writing books is Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks. This book has an awesome section on using colors to edit your writing. I’ve found it incredibly helpful.

Your Turn

What would you add? Are there other tasks or components of the dissertation process that you use another tool to support? Do any of these tools also work for you? Please comment!

A Beginner’s Guide to Learning Analytics

I’m attending the IFWE 2016 conference in San Antonio, TX and live blogging sessions. One more session till lunch! Be sure to follow the #ifwe2016 hashtag on Twitter if you want to learn about what else is going on here!

Presented by: Mindy Menn (Texas Woman’s University)

Description: What do novices need to know about learning analytics? How can learning analytics be leveraged to improve online programs and students’ experiences in online programs? Find out during this session addressing the basics of learning analytics.

Learning Analytics Introductions

Foldable note taking from

Foldable note taking from “To Engage Them All” blog

Interesting bits from the introductions. Someone wants to understand better the difference between learning analytics and analytics. One institution is starting a learning analytics committee. One instructional design specialist does analytics as well as instructional design. Someone from Penn State is working on a custom dashboard of learning analytics. Another person is looking at how to give faculty learning analytic data to empower them.

Mindy had a really cool colored folding paper strategy. 5 sheets of colored paper, spread them apart and then fold so you have 9-10 layered and colorful places to write. This page has an example – scroll down.

Learning Analytics Definition and Limitations

  • It’s measurement, collection, analysis, report of data
  • It’s about the LEARNERS
  • We want the learners to benefit
  • “spot hidden trends and predict outcomes”
  • “organize, store and mine data to improve teaching and learning for all students” – it’s not just the at-risk students – it’s for everyone – including the bored students
  • It is a research domain and a field
  • It overlaps with other fields – computer science, machine learning, statistics (lots of different regressions to predict relationships), big data, etc.
  • It cannot make taking action easier
  • It won’t be a magic solution
  • It can never perfectly predict anything – remember your stats class!

Learning Analytics Questions

Some examples of things that we can look at with learning analytics…

  • What registrar/institutional data provides insights to students’ progress?
  • How does student’s video watching correlate with their course success?
  • How does the time submitted compare with course performance?
  • How does success in a specific course correlate with degree success?
  • What are online learning behaviors and what do they tell us? When do they login? When do they logout? What do students click on?
  • Who talks to who and how many responses in discussion forums?
  • What signals do we have in courses where we might need to update something in the course? or to send students to a service to assist them with their study skills…

People who are interested in it….

  • Learners – they are concerned about how we analyze their data, but also the data can be used to help give advice to them or to help them improve their practice
  • Instructors
  • Administrators – academic analytics are a little different – learning analytics is purely on the learner; academic is more about the whole university
  • Researchers

Resources

What Next?

It’s important to know what your question is – which depends on your role… the stats people who can help you are going to want to know your question. So you need a narrow question. Not just to track and know everything!

Takeaways

I guess I really am doing learning analytics with my recent publications:

This is a huge area of interest to me. What data do we have? How can we collect it? How can we track it over time? How can we use it to monitor and improve the success of our online courses and programs? And how do we do it well and ethically?

Tweeting Teachers and Pinterest Professors: Social Media Lessons from a Community of Educators as Learners

I’m attending the IFWE 2016 conference in San Antonio, TX and live blogging the sessions I’m attending.

Starting off today with a preconference session by Stephanie Thompson, PhD, Faculty and Course Lead who teaches for Kaplan University. Contributors for this session included Barbara Green, Teresa Marie Kelly, and Josef Vice, other Kaplan faculty.

Faculty Driven Learning Communities

The idea is that faculty can learn together online, because it might be hard to travel to attend conferences – and social media can be a way for doing that.

As we do introductions, I think it’s so interesting what makes people come to a session. I’m mostly interested in the social media side – but the faculty development / professional learning idea is really critical too – and I’m looking forward to seeing how social media can connect faculty for learning.  

This is a cool graphic shared from EdSurge Guides – to help focus on the idea of personalized learning / personal learning networks – driving your own learning. I am so fascinated by the change to self-driven learning – in the context of thinking about our self-paced courses – which often are looked at somewhat askance – but really, the Internet allows us to learn at our own time and with the people we choose. That’s a different type of learning!

Things to Learn About

One comparison that Stephanie is making is the difference between Career Development and Professional Development. That career development is more about learning how to climb the ladder – leadership training, learning how to be a department chair (thinking of CIC’s workshop on that), support for research publication. But professional development is more life long and focuses more on teaching. So what all do faculty need to learn about?

  • technology tools in teaching
  • more teaching strategies
  • providing quality feedback
  • using different resources like OER etc.
  • how to progress in their career
  • learning about advising
  • learning about supervising or leading others
  • building skills for ongoing learning
  • classroom management
  • data and assessment collection and evaluation
  • increasing content knowledge
  • tools for organizing and planning your career development
  • think about the next job you want – and then start your learning heading in that direction
  • how to build curriculum based on outcomes

Specific Strategies

These are specific professional development strategies that caught my attention…

  • Observing each other’s teaching – I love this idea. Thinking about how we could set that up so that our online faculty could observe each other’s teaching. What would it take to do that in a fully asychronous course? what kind of structures would help make that happen?
  • Requiring a certain number of hours of training – Kaplan requires 8 hours of training a year for their online faculty. What would it take to do this? Could we do it for all online faculty – both adjuncts and full time? Could it be framed to be received well?
  • Using Trello to plan career/professional development – using a tool to track your personal goals, resources, and accomplishments
  • Have an Appy Hour and have everyone connected share round robin all the different tools and resources they like and use – shared by Elaine Shuck

Forms of Professional Development

  • Open, user-generated content like blogs and wikis
  • Social networking tools like twitter, reddit, etc.; Google+ or Facebook group about a topic
  • Virtual communities – google groups etc
  • Webinars
  • Virtual conferences
  • MOOCs / open courses

Resources Shared

Places to keep learning – social media based professional development – webinars etc. – places to learn online…. These are shared by the presenter, Stephanie

Other resources and cool things shared throughout the session:

Main Takeaway

Social media and online resources allow anyone to organize, track, and design their own professional development and learning!

The Role of Social Media Tools in Higher Education

Today I presented for the faculty of Burman University in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada. This post has the accompanying resources for the social media session.

PowerPoint

Examples of Social Media Use

Other Social Media Ideas

Articles and Resources on Twitter in the Classroom

LMS vs. Social Media

Issues and Challenges

Additional Recommended Reading

Bonus Idea: COIL: Collaborative Online International Learning

Using Blogging to Contribute Expertise and Convey Credibility

Today I’m presenting a webinar for the United States Distance Learning Association National Distance Learning Week Webinar Series: Using Blogging to Contribute Expertise and Convey Credibility. This post shares the accompanying resources.

PowerPoint

My blogging history:

Tools for blogging:

Ideas for Blogging

Scheduling and Tracking Writing

Promoting and Learning

Thank you to USDLA for the great line-up of webinars for National Distance Learning Week!  the opportunity to present this session! Hope to see you, dear reader, at the following upcoming USDLA events:

Sharing a Biochemistry Class via Videoconference

This week ended a four-week intensive Biochemistry (MCAT prep) class that Dr. David Nowack, at Andrews University taught to Union College, one of our sister institutions and his alma mater. I thought it would be interesting to share some of the details and behind-the-scenes efforts it took to make this class a success! We started planning and preparing in December, and the class ran May 9 to June 3, 2016.

Teachers

The most important part of any instructional collaboration is the teachers! The two teachers at each institution knew each other already, and brainstormed this great idea of sharing a class together. They worked together to make it a success!

Live Videoconference

The first and most important technical piece of this collaboration was the tool used to connect the professor and class at Andrews to the class at Union. We thought about using Zoom, but we wanted to be able to have the option of camera presets afforded by room-based H.323 videoconferencing. Union had just acquired a new Polycom system, and we have a LifeSize system at Andrews. So we tested and decided that connecting the two was the best option. It worked well, as at our end, the teaching end, we could have presets on a document camera, the professor’s computer, and a variety of classroom and blackboard shots. Once set up, it was easy for Dr. Nowack to switch between the different views.

Technical staff at Andrews University (Dan Hamstra) and Union College (Richard Henriques, Michael Calkins) provided the regular support to ensure the videoconference worked well.

Content Sharing and Accessibility

Dr. Nowack’s PowerPoint as well as the view of the classroom or professor, were shared with Union via videoconference.

Chemistry PowerPoints are very intense a lot of detail. Students had the printed version in front of them, but another tool that helped immensely was using the accessibility feature of Windows to make the mouse pointer as huge as possible. This made it much easier for students at Union to see where Dr. Nowack was pointing.

Administrative Collaboration

After discussing several models with Dr. Alayne Thorpe, Dean of the Andrews University School of Distance Education and International Partnerships, it was decided the easiest way to make this collaboration work financially would be to have the Union students register at Union, and then to create a tuition sharing agreement between Andrews and Union. Support was needed at both locations, so the expenses and income were shared. Dr. Keith Mattingly, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Malcolm Russell, Vice President for Academic Administration at Union, provided additional support for the collaboration.

iClickers

In this content-heavy course, regular graded assessments keep students engaged and learning. At Andrews, chemistry majors buy their iClicker and use it often in their courses, as the department supports and encourages regular use by their faculty. iClickers are a great tool for a shared class, because the students at Andrews could use their clickers, and the students at Union could use the online version of iClickers. And all the students responses from both locations came into to the teacher’s computer and the collective results could be shown (or not) to the students.

Learning Management System

Another important piece of the puzzle was using Andrews’ learning management system, LearningHub (powered by Moodle). This involved several pieces:

  • An instructional designer at Andrews was assigned in January to provide course design and LearningHub support to Dr. Nowack as he prepared for the class.
  • The Friday before the class started, the Union registrar sent the students names and emails to our LearningHub support team, who created accounts in the course and emailed the Union students with their login information.
  • Handouts, reading guides, and student versions of the PowerPoints were shared in LearningHub. The student versions of the PowerPoints provided a note-taking guide for each chapter, and were provided ahead of time so students at both locations could print them ahead of time to be prepared for class.
  • LearningHub also hosted grades, including the grades synced from the iClickers using the integration between iClicker and LearningHub.

Reflection

It takes a team to make a collaboration successful! Both institutions need to be committed to supporting the creative collaboration desired by faculty. I look forward to supporting and encouraging future collaborations, both within the U.S. and internationally via COIL.

Your students can make the playoffs by building professional digital footprints

I’m presenting this afternoon at the 2016 USDLA National Conference in St. Louis, MO.

Description: Students graduating from our institutions should have a professional digital presence on social media, as well as resumes. Learn about the continuing journey of a course taught face to face, blended, and fully online to undergraduates to assist them in presenting themselves professionally online and through social media.

PowerPointDigital Footprints

Links and Resources

Bringing the World to Your Classroom

This blog post is a supplement to my presentation at the annual Andrews University Teaching and Learning Conference.

Description: Break down the walls of your classroom and bring global engaging learning experiences to your students. Why? The benefits are engaging learning experiences for your students. Collaborate with teachers to design powerful collaborative projects. Come learn about tools and resources that can help you design and implement quality collaborations.

Why Collaborate? 

Collaborative Project Planning Resources

Possible Tools

Finding Partners

Time Zone Tools

  • TimeandDate.com – great for planning ahead, especially checking daylight savings time changes
  • Qlock.com – put a widget on your computer with the time in another location

Selected Bibliography

See my dissertation for a more complete list of videoconferencing and collaboration references.

  • Cifuentes, L., & Murphy, K. L. (2000). Promoting multicultural understanding and positive self-concept through a distance learning community: cultural connections. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(1), 69-83.
  • Martinez, M. D., & MacMillan, G. (1998). A Joint Distance Learning Course in American Government (No. ED428005).
  • Owston, R. (2007). Contextual factors that sustain innovative pedagogical practice using technology: an international study. Journal of Educational Change, 8(1), 61-77.
  • Sweeney, M. A. (2007). The use of videoconferencing techniques which support constructivism in K-12 education. Dissertation Abstracts International.
  • Warschauer, M. (1997). Computer-mediated collaborative learning: Theory and practice. Modern Language Journal, 81(3), p. 470-481. Also at http://www.gse.uci.edu/person/markw/cmcl.html
  • Yost, N. (2001). Lights, Camera, Action: Videoconferencing in Kindergarten. Paper presented at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference.