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.

An Introduction to Open Educational Resources (OER)

Today, March 29, is the annual Andrews University Teaching and Learning Conference. This year, my department has joined forces with TLC and our monthly Faculty Technology Showcase is part of the day long conference. Our theme for the showcase is Open Educational Resources, and we’re having presentations on OER, learning from MOOCs, and Yammer, an enterprise social network. I’m sharing the OER presentation, and here are the resources we are exploring.

What is OER?


Source: Why Open Education Matters

Open Textbooks for Higher Education

Open Textbooks for K12

Open Educational Resources

So how does it work?

Want to Learn More?

Do an Online Assignment Out of Sequence to Be More Successful

When Griggs University moved to Andrews University, I joined the team supporting online education at Andrews University. We started moving the Griggs University self-paced online courses from Desire2Learn to Andrews University’s Moodle. In the process, it seemed like it would be a good idea to restrict all the content so that students had to complete the previous lesson before they could go on to the next lesson.

At the same time, I was just getting started with my research agenda. It seemed like a good plan to get data before we implemented this plan, and then analyze the data afterwards.

Out of Sequence Success

However, when I analyzed the “before data”, I found that students who did at least one assignment out of sequence were more likely to complete! It was such a surprising result.

But think about it. If you are working away, and you are stuck, what do you do? Do you stop entirely, or do you do something else and come back to it?

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by xerezh

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by xerezh

Maybe taking a detour once in a while isn’t a bad thing. And maybe as instructional designers we shouldn’t be so obsessive about controlling the learning path of our students. Maybe designing for learner choice would increase the success of our students.

My research article is published in the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning: The Relationship between Successful Completion and Sequential Movement in Self-Paced Distance Courses. Take a look.

What do you think?

Have you noticed students doing assignments out of sequence? Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing? Do you think students in a face to face class work on their assignments for the semester always in sequence? Do you think there might be a threshold where too many assignments out of sequence is a problem? What questions does this result raise in your mind? Please comment.

Using Blogging to Contribute Expertise and Convey Credibility

Today I’m presenting a webinar for the United States Distance Learning Association 2016 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 opportunity to present this session! Hope to see you, dear reader, at the USDLA 2016 National Conference in May!

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, confidenceFaculy Focus.

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

Mobile Apps to Support and Enhance Online Courses

This morning I’m presenting to the Iowa Distance Learning Association’s Fall Symposium.

Description: How can specific mobile apps support and enhance online courses? From LMS apps, organizational apps, and university apps to apps specifically design to support a unique course, explore the variety of ways mobile learning can enhance online learning.

PowerPoint: 2015 Iowa DLA.ppt

In this session, we are exploring mobile learning in three areas of online learning: Learning, Connection to the University, School or Organization, and Connection to the Instructor.

Learning

Connection to your University, School or Organization

Connection to the Instructor

  • Videoconferencing apps such as:
    • Skype
    • Zoom, etc.
    • Students can schedule one-on-one with the instructor; or attend class via their mobile device
  • Texting students reminders:
  • Deliver content via apps such as iTunes U, YouTube, etc.

Additional Reading

Meeting the LifeSize Icon Flex

lifesizeiconflex-sMany of you following this blog remember my K12 videoconferencing days. Since I’ve been working in higher education, I haven’t had many chances to use standards based or room based videoconferencing with equipment like LifeSize or Polycom.

Web Videoconferencing vs. Room Videoconferencing

But I’ve been doing plenty of videoconferencing with tools like Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and AdobeConnect.

I’ve always been frustrated with webcams though with those web based videoconferencing tools. I miss the ability to zoom in and create presets.

LifeSize Icon Flex

So I was excited when the opportunity came to try out a demo LifeSize Icon Flex from I2I Technologies. It’s “real” videoconferencing that you can connect to your laptop! I know, I know, videoconferencing with your built in laptop webcam is videoconferencing too. But for four years I’ve been trying not to say “real” videoconferencing – it’s room-based, right? or standards-based.

Well, call it what you want, the LifeSize Icon Flex can zoom, pan, show a great shot of a conference room, and I am thrilled! A webcam on top of a mounted TV is tolerable, but a camera with zoom, tilt, pan, etc. is just BETTER! Yay!!

Disclaimer: I have good friends & colleagues who work at I2I Technologies. I got the demo because we are considering our options. No one at I2I asked me to blog about it.

 

The Role of Social Media Tools in Bridging the Global Divide

Andrews University Faculty Institute Presentation 2015
I’m presenting with Dr. Alayne Thorpe, Dean of the Andrews University School of Distance Education and International Partnerships, and Dr. Leni Casimiro, Director of AIIAS Online, Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies

Social Media in an Online Week of Prayer
Leni is sharing the experiences and use of social media for offering an online week of prayer to students in many countries.

An Exploration of Several Tools

Questions to Consider

  • How can social media help students connect to the world?
  • How can social media and other digital tools bridge the global divide?

For Further Reading

Ideas for Social Media Participation and Promotion

This blog post is a collection of ideas to help students in my Social Media class choose a variety of social media activities.

Setup Options

Make the most of your social media sites. Set them up well.

  1. Follow Other Blogs. Set yourself up to follow others in your field or area. This will inform your social media use. Find at least 5 blogs in your area to follow. Use the search terms “[keyword] blog” on Google. Brainstorm keywords often used in your field. Then subscribe to the blog. Either subscribe via email if that is offered (usually prominently on the front page) or see if the blog is posted automatically to Twitter. Or use the RSS feed icon. What is RSS? Feedly is a good option for following blogs on your computer. I like Flipboard for my smartphone. Subscribe to 5 blogs.
  2. Follow people, topics, and/or hashtags on Twitter. Use the Twitter search to find people or tags in your interest area. Look at someone’s profile; scroll quickly through, and see if there are any specific hashtags they are using that you want to follow. Scroll through a hashtag’s recent posts and see if there is anyone else posting interesting and useful content that you want to follow. Click Follow in individual twitter profiles to follow someone or use a service like Tweetdeck or HootSuite to organize the feeds which allows you to easily follow hashtags and subgroups of topics/people.
  3. Mark / logo. Design a logo or mark to brand your work on all social media. For example, note how Silvia Tolisano uses the witch hat across her social media sites: Langwitches.orgTwitterWikispacesFlickrVimeoFacebookBlog. If you have Illustrator skills, use that. Another option is Online Logo Maker. Then add your logo/mark to the profile pictures or header images on at least two of your social media sites.
  4. Tweetdeck. Don’t have a lot of time to tweet? Feel twitter needs a little organization? Use Tweetdeck to organize the hashtags and keywords that you follow. You can also write tweets and schedule them to post later. Get set up in Tweetdeck (text tutorial; video tutorial); create at least 5 columns to follow various topics. Create and schedule at least 5 tweets.
  5. Send blog posts automatically to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and/or LinkedIn. To generate more traffic for your blog, connect it to your social network(s). I have my blog posting automatically to Twitter and LinkedIn, my professional networks; but not Facebook as my friends and family may not care to hear too much about my work. If you are using WordPress.com, click on the Sharing setting and connect the desired social network(s). If you have WordPress installed on your own site, install the Jetpack Plugin and you’ll find the option to Publicize under Settings, Sharing. While you are in the Sharing Setting, add buttons for your readers to share your blog post to their networks.
  6. Subscribe widget and more. Set up your blog so that others can subscribe to it and find other widgets to add to your blog. From the menu, click Customize, Widgets, Add a Widget. Note the “follow” widgets for others to subscribe. Note the widgets that make connections to your other social media sites.
  7. Create a central site that links all of your social media together. It could be on your blog, or it could be on your personal website if you have one. Note how Silvia Tolisano (wordpress) and Michael Taylor (weebly) use a central site for connections to their social media.

Things to Create and Share

Focus on the value add. How does your creation add to the online conversation on this topic? How can you use social media to hook an audience and bring them in? See Runner’s World and Strength Running as some examples.

  1. Internet image meme. What is a meme? Sabbath Sofa – examples of image and video memes. Create an image meme. While you could quickly make a cheesy image meme using a tool like Meme Generator; try something more sophisticated and use your own photo or a Flickr Creative Commons photo (follow the rules) and use a photo editor like PicMonkey (tutorials) to create your image meme. Then share the image appropriately on Facebook or Twitter.
  2. Twitter posts. Create and share 5 catchy tweets on twitter. First read some strategies for great tweets, effective tweets, promoting news, and using hashtags.
  3. Pinterest. Create at least two Pinterest (tutorials) boards related to the topic you are promoting in this class. Include at least 5 items with great graphics in each board.
  4. Graphical options. Create something graphical and cool with tools such as Glogster, Padlet, Instagram, etc. Note the visual choices here.

50+ Idea Starters for Your Blog Post

This blog post is a collection of ideas to help students in my Social Media class create the assigned blog posts.

Getting Started

  1. Write a blog post that shares information and invites reader sharing (Interactive Blogging)
  2. Write a blog post with a bullet list and at least one picture; emphasizing your main point (Writing Scannable Text)
  3. Write a how-to: With screen shots if it’s technical; with pictures; or examples
  4. Write a “tips & tricks” list on a specific topic
  5. Live blog an event or session, and write your notes as it happens (different type of writing)
  6. Write a rant/critique post – complain about something thoughtfully; give evidence and support for your comments
  7. Write a product review
  8. Use these tips to write a “great” post
  9. Write a list, or a case study, or a tutorial / guide
  10. Compare and contrast two concepts
  11. Compare and contrast two images

Write a List with 5, 7 or 10 Points

  1. Write an intro paragraph, paragraph for each of the 5 things (bulleted paragraphs are nice); closing paragraph
  2. Write about 5, 7, or 10 ideas
  3. Write about 5, 7, or 10 misconceptions
  4. Write about 5, 7, or 10 problems that need to be solved – just describe them
  5. Write about 5, 7, or 10 different solutions to a problem – think outside the box
  6. Write about 5, 7, or 10 weird things about a topic
  7. Write about 5, 7, or 10 tools to use to address a problem
  8. Write about 5, 7, or 10 paths to an end result – think creatively
  9. Write about 5, 7, or 10 interesting questions about a topic – what are the questions? Describe them… but don’t answer them!
  10. Write 5, 7, or 10 why questions about a topic
  11. Write 5, 7, or 10 problematic or sticky questions about a topic
  12. Write 5, 7, or 10 multifaceted, complex questions about a topic (questions that have multiple answers)
  13. Write 5, 7, or 10 important / controversial questions about a topic
  14. Write about 5, 7, or 10 things you wonder about
  15. Write about 5, 7, or 10 ethical considerations of a topic

Join the Online Conversation: Respond on Your Blog to Another Person’s Blog Post

  1. Do you agree with the person’s blog post? Why do you agree? What additional examples or scenarios can you give in support? Does the post raise any questions that you want to ask your audience? It’s ok to ask questions and not answer them in your blog posts! What else could you link to, maybe one other site or article, that supports the person’s post? What relationships do you see between their post and other concepts?
  2. Do you disagree with the person’s blog post? Why do you not agree? Explain why. Give counter arguments supporting by evidence such as an example, another article or situation, etc. How could you synthesize their point of view with yours or another’s to create a new idea or concept? Give several alternative solutions or options in opposition to what they posted. Take their idea in a new direction and elaborate on it. Does their conclusion or point rest on an assumption that isn’t stated? if so, what? Use that to explain your disagreement.
  3. If you sort of agree but not totally, where are the issues? Are there some parts that you agree with and not others? Why? Give evidence of why your point of view is supported. Use the questions from agree/disagree above to help you with your response.

Take it Deeper

  1. Consider an argument or statement someone has made: examine each part of the statement. Ask questions about each part. Is it true? What assumptions are behind the statement? Write out your thinking about it.
  2. Make connections between your field and your faith. Here are 99 questions to spark your thinking
  3. Consider a current issue or situation. What are at least two things that are influencing that situation? Comment on them or at least describe them.
  4. Consider a current issue, situation, illustration, graphical element. What are the parts/components and what is the relationship between them?
  5. Write about a cause and effect. Think of a possible effect in your field (snow falling, poor choices, a healthy body) and explore several the potential causes.
  6. Identify the elements of a concept or thing. Identify the relationships among those elements. Identify the rules for how those elements interact with each other. Could be conceptual, or skill based.
  7. Identify a problem and develop hypotheses about how it might be solved.
  8. Identify a problem, and think of 5 many ideas, rationales or arguments related to the problem.
  9. Write out a step by step plan for implementing an idea you have.
  10. Debate the pros and cons of an issue, problem, solution, idea, situation.

Visual and Media Choices

  1. Create something visually new from two separate parts. Show the two parts and what you created.
  2. Share 5 photos that explain or illustrate a concept; be sure to use photos where you have permission (i.e. Flickr Creative Commons) and cite the photo sources.
  3. Share 3 YouTube videos on a topic and include commentary on why you selected them.
  4. Share a photo or graphic you created and compare it to a photo of something in nature. Compare & contrast or make connections between them.
  5. Share a photo or graphic you created, with a link or photo of what inspired you.
  6. Share an infographic you created about a concept with some introductory text.
  7. Share a how to video with an introductory sentence or two.
  8. Take any of the “writing” ideas listed above and think of how you could express the idea visually with only a sentence or two accompanying it.
  9. Illustrate a cause and effect with photos or graphical elements.
  10. Create a visual mind map of a concept – i.e. a collection of photos of different types of happiness.
  11. Illustrate the various elements of a concept or thing.
  12. Categorize or classify 10-20 different things.
  13. Compare and contrast two graphics, videos, YouTube clips, photos, techniques, software packages, concepts, projects, websites, tools, etc. pick and compare two things.
  14. Diagram the flow of a procedure or relationship between elements.
  15. Create a mind map on a concept – show it and include some short explanation.
  16. Cite/quote/show a graph from a report on the Internet and then generate 5 questions about the graph.

Reusing College Content

  1. Look through your assignments. Is there a paper you really enjoyed, or felt passionate about? Could you get one or two or three blog posts by condensing and making more precise?
  2. Think about your current or past courses. Is there a lecture you really enjoyed? What was it about? What could you document / share on your blog? Cite sources and/or your professor? Respond to the topic?
  3. Take two really different classes you have taken or are taking. What is the overarching concept for each course? Now make comparisons or connections between those two ideas. How do they connect? How are they different? Does one idea remind you of another? Do the two ideas make you think of a third idea?