Technologies and Techniques for the Busy Online Teacher

I’m attending the USDLA 2012 conference, and this live blog post is on a session titled: “Technologies and Techniques for the Busy Online Teacher”

Presenter: Darcy Christianson, Online Educator  and Consultant
She teaches for Phoenix, Devry, and elementary/high school classes for Johns Hopkins.
Tricks and technologies for efficiency (for excellent feedback and instructor interaction)

Text Replacement and Formatting for Feedback and Comments

  • text replacement, formatting for feedback and comments
  • Software:
    • Fee based (it’s about $20). There’s a light version that lets you have just 15 keys. You can get a site license also.
    • Problem – it’s easy to forget your codes. If you create too many it’s too complicated.
    • Shortkeys provides format options
    • She has a list of the common codes for a specific assignment
    • She just wrote “\essay” and it popped in a nice little note for the student right within the paper
    • her feedback is super specific – explains the problem and how to fix it (very descriptive text) and great feedback to students. It can be long because she isn’t tired of writing the option over and over!
    • insert comments (the word feature) is a problem on tablets, ipads, etc. it doesn’t show up for the studnets. – so she doesn’t use that – she writes inside the text
    • it takes some front end work to set it up for yourself –
    • the key works inside the LMS as well – she uses the / but short keys can set anything up.

Excel for Feedback and Scoring

  1. She puts rubrics in Excel so that the rubric calculates the grades automatically.
  2. She has the comments set up with an if statement – and has preset comments she uses for Great, Fair and Poor. So if she puts in the score, it automatically fills in the comments for her. Pretty sweet!
  3. It takes a while to set it up, but makes it much faster.
  4. She said students say “I know I didn’t do very well in your course, but the feedback you gave me was awesome!”

Video Capture

  • She uses Jing:
  • It’s a personal touch for the students.
  • It’s a great feature but her students are entry level and can barely do email. The student has to have updated hardware and wouldn’t be able open the file. Important to think about the audience – the skill of the students, etc.
  • In the demo, she scrolled through the document, and commented specifically on each area. This might work well for giving dissertation feedback – these students may have better technology access to view it.
  • Someone asked her about audio feedback – she said it would be boring because the student can’t see anything.
  • If she was doing this, she would give all the files – the info in Word, in Excel, and the Jing. The file without the Jing is 60K; with the Jing it’s 5M. Filesize is a huge issue
  • There’s a 5 minute limit for Jing.


  • It’s less pressure for the faculty and a better learning experience for the student
  • Takes time to set up, but is a long term benefit
  • She gets good comments from students on the quality of feedback they receive

Audience Feedback and Comments

  • Someone suggested Tegrity because the video could be streamed.
  • Someone else suggested saving it to a PDF – she said that her students still have to work with the file, so it’s better to keep it in Word.


  • Darcy clearly has some great strategies! This was a super session with great tips.
  • What about you? What do you use to give useful feedback to students?

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