Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy Holidays!

The holidays have arrived and we are taking a break. I want to wish all our readers a very happy holiday season and a prosperous new year. I hope you get everything on your list ;-) I'll be looking for the iPod (or Zune or Creative Zen Vision:M) under my tree!

We'll be back in January with more tips and strategies to help you design an effective and engaging online course.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have

This is an interesting list in which the author listed the skills that she believes an educator should have. They look very basic at first sight, but read it again…do you have all of them? Do you think you need all of them? What technology skills do you think are needed to teach online?

Link to the article: http://thejournal.com/articles/17325

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Media in the Lives of our Students

My apologies to you as I have been remiss in posting here. Lots of stuff going on and more to come on that later. For now, I have a couple of resources that I think are important in helping us understand the technology-savvy student.

First, are you feeling exhausted (as I am) just trying to keep up with all the latest technology? Multi-tasking might be the solution. At least that’s what our young people seem to be doing. They are still spending a little more than 6 hours a day using and interacting with media (just as they did when surveyed six years ago), but this study shows that they are now typically using multiple types of media at one time. Now they can pack over 8 hours of media content into the same 6 hours by multi-tasking!

The Kaiser Foundation released a report (2005) on the use and effect of media on the lives of children 8 – 18 years old. To view a free copy of "Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8—18 Year-olds", go to http://www.kff.org/entmedia/entmedia030905pkg.cfm

So, what should we do as educators? The students of the "Net Generation" (those born in the 1980’s and later) have different expectations and attitudes about the world around them. They can’t imagine their world without technology and it impacts everything they do, from playing to communicating to learning to working. To help educators understand this generation and their learning expectations, EDUCAUSE published the electronic book "Educating the Net Generation".

“This collection explores the Net Gen and the implications for institutions in areas such as teaching, service, learning space design, faculty development, and curriculum. Contributions by educators and students are included.” View this book in its entirety or by chapters, either online or as PDF at http://www.educause.edu/content.asp?page_id=5989&bhcp=1

This is an excellent resource and I will be referring to excerpts in the future as we talk more about technology and learning.

Next time....what's on your technology wish list?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Get reluctant students enthusiastic in online courses

When the students start their first online course, they have different levels of enthusiasm. All enthusiastic students are alike; each reluctant student is reluctant for his/her own reason. No matter what the reason is: the fear of technology and computer, or the concern of social isolation, there is a way you can deal with it. Errol Craig Sull shared some tips in his article “10 Ways to Get Reluctant and Downright Scared Student Enthusiastic About Taking Online Course” (Online Classroom, June 2006)

  1. An informative and friendly welcome email is very important.
  2. “Address possible student concerns before they’re brought up”.
  3. Anticipate student concerns and be ready in advance. (Find the answers; draft the email announcements, etc.)
  4. “Never make yourself out to be a computer god”.
  5. Communicate with the students using WebCT tools frequently, instead of waiting for their WebCT mails. Some students are just not used to online communication at the beginning.
  6. Talk to your students when needed—face to face or on the phone. Let the students know it’s still an option to talk to you even in an online course.
  7. Never accept computer awkwardness as an excuse for later assignments. (The students will be more enthusiastic to solve the computer problems.)
  8. Have resource and contact information ready.
  9. Keep reminding the students of the advantages and benefits of online courses over f2f courses. Give the students motivation and confidence.
  10. Archive the questions and problems your students have met, so you will be more ready and experienced for next semester.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

This week we won't have posts on instructional technology. Enjoy your turkey and have a great Thanksgiving! See you next week.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Benefits of Online Education

Mark Kassop made a good summary of the benefits of online education in his article ‘Ten Ways Online Education Matches, or Surpasses, Face-to-Face Learning’.
Click here to view article.

Monday, November 13, 2006

UH Faculty Showcase - Reflections

Wow! There’s some really interesting stuff going on in UH and UHV courses! If you didn’t have a chance to attend the 2006 UH Faculty Showcase, you missed a chance to see and hear about how some of our faculty are using technology to engage students and improve learning in their courses. The showcase was held this past Friday, Nov. 10th at the UH campus, M.D. Anderson Library.

The opening and closing keynote was delivered by Dr. Curtis Bonk, Indiana University professor and Senior Research Fellow with the DOD's Advanced Distributed Learning Lab. His enthusiastic and inspiring presentations offered many examples, tips and techniques for integrating new technologies effectively into your course for a more engaging, interactive, and visually-appealing learning environment.

Faculty presentations ranged from extending the classroom through podcasting to digital storytelling to instructional uses of tablet PCs. Two UHV faculty also presented—Dr. Richard Gunasekera presented “Forensics on the Web and in the Lab—“Online CSI” and Dr. Barba Patton presented a session on “Using Breeze for Synchronous Meetings and Collaboration”.

Recordings of the sessions will be made available soon on the UH website and I will pass that link along as soon as it is online. In the coming weeks, I will also share more of the highlights from these presentations and discuss ways you can implement them in your courses.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

11 Time-saving Tips for Teaching Online

Do you feel teaching online is more time-consuming than you expected? Errol Craig Sull, who teaches English composition for Excelsior College, shared some interesting tips on the August '06 issue of Online Cl@ssroom.
1. Always keep a hard copy of your online grades to avoid the possible technical difficulties.
2. Keep copies of all substantive student emails, papers, etc. you might just need it sometimes.
3. Remind your students to use the Internet for research. Build up their research skills, and get yourself fewer questions.
4. Always reach out to students for additional resources. Encourage the students to build up the course with you together.
5. Keep an excuse file to tell the true ones from the false ones, and to track the students’ attendance.
6. Make editing/correcting templates, so by copying and pasting, you save the trouble of typing common comments repeatedly.
7. Make use of free electronic greeting cards to help with student rapport, and let the students know you are there!
8. Keep the best examples of student work for the future students. The students would love to see a peer’s successful project.
9. Look over your emails waiting to be sent at least twice before sending them to avoid the errors.
10. Play student for one day prior to the beginning of a new class—double check your course much more effectively from a student’s perspective.
11. Always look at your actions in the course as both instructor and student for same reason as above.

What do you think about these tips? Do you have some good tips to share? Drop a line in the comments.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Add Breeze Virtual Meeting Spaces to Your Online Courses

What can you do in a Breeze meeting room?

  • Upload PPT slides or JPG images in advance or on-the-fly
  • Annotate slides as you discuss them
  • Write or draw on blank whiteboard spaces
  • Share your computer screen with participants (desktop or applications)
  • Broadcast your audio and video (video on broadband only)
  • Facilitte Q & A through an open text chat or moderated Q & A format
  • Query participants through prepared or on-the-fly polls
  • Share files with participants
  • Customize the meeting room layout
  • Record meetings for future playback
When could you use Breeze with your online courses?

Breeze can be used as a supplement to your existing online course, anytime that real-time interaction could enhance learning. Here are just a few ideas:
  • Explanation of complex topics, especially where visuals, e.g., equations, diagrams or drawings, can improve understanding
  • Software demonstrations
  • Guided website tours
  • Online office hours for one-to-one attention
  • Review sessions for exams
  • Group presentations
  • Guest speakers or experts
For more information about Adobe Breeze at UHV, please visit our website at http://www.uhv.edu/breeze, request an account and schedule a training session.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Synchronous Communication in Online Course

The lack of live communication has often been considered an inherent drawback in fully online courses and the accompanying feeling of detachment through distance and time can frustrate instructors and students. But, through the development of instructional technology, synchronous communication can return to your online classroom.

Mary Brady, an Education professor at Wayne State University, tried virtual, synchronous online lectures by using the Virtual Classroom tool in Blackboard (Online Cl@ssroom, June 2006). Students spent up to one-fourth of their class time in the synchronous sessions where she gave live lectures, and students worked on group projects.

With synchronous meeting tools, you and your students can have similar teaching and learning experiences to those in a traditional classroom, with virtual tools like slides, whiteboards, multimedia, document sharing and so on. Adobe Breeze Meeting is one of the tools.

The idea of real-time communication in the online world can be exciting. However, as with planning any new course element, you should consider the following questions before jumping in:

-Do I need synchronous communication or collaboration in THIS course?

-How will synchronous sessions fit into the whole course and connect with the other components of the course?

-What will I and the students do in each synchronous session?

-How many synchronous sessions will there be?

-How long will each session be? (Brady’s were between 45-60 minutes.)

Another big concern about adding synchronous meetings to your online course is finding a time convenient for everyone. We all know how HARD that can be. But, what Brady did is to post a sign-up sheet in her course at the beginning of the semester for the student to register for several available dates. And, if you set up group sessions, it may be easier to find times for smaller groups of students.

Think about what you do in your face-2-face classroom, and then consider using a synchronous communication tool such as Adobe Breeze to accomplish similar tasks in your online class. What do you think? Please share your ideas.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Enhancing Your PowerPoint Can Be a "Breeze"

PowerPoint can be an effective tool in a face-to-face classroom because the slides can help to organize your content and keep you on track with your discussion. They can be a medium to display charts and diagrams that relate to your lecture. But, the key to an effective lecture is what is discussed “between the bullets” and the Q & A between you and your students.

But how do you provide an effective lecture in an online class using those same PowerPoint slides? One way is to add your audio narration to the slides—to give your online students that content “between the bullets”. Another method is to create some interaction with the slides—have your students answer questions to check their understanding as they move through the slides. Break your slides into logical stopping points (maybe every 5-6 slides) and throw in a question or two that they must answer before moving on. This gives them a mental break and a chance to review what they have just heard (and read).

Here at UHV, we have licensed Adobe Breeze Presenter. This tool integrates directly into your PowerPoint application and enables you to record, edit and synchronize your audio, add quiz questions, and customize the look of your presentation. You publish your presentation in a web-ready Flash format that can easily be viewed online with a web browser and the free Flash Player. It works well in WebCT, too!

Visit our Breeze webpage for more information.

See ya next week!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Communication In The Online Courses

In the 2006 TxDLA Conference, I happened to step in a room, and heard an interesting presentation, which discussed the abuses and misunderstandings of employing PowerPoint slides in the online courses. As a fact, PPT slides, which were used to show figures, key points, and so on, in the face-2-face presentations have been used extensively in online courses nowadays. However, uploading the PPT slides used in a traditional classroom to WebCT, is that all?

Very often, no. Although the subject matter is the same, many differences exist between the traditional classroom and the online classroom:

-The class settings are different.

-The students are different.

-The way to teach is different.

All in all, it can be regarded as one thing: the approaches of achieving successful communication and information delivery are different. What should we do, then, to adapt to these differences?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Workshop Schedule Is Online Now!

The schedule of the Fall workshops provided by LTD can be found on our website.

Click here to view the details and register now!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

RSS Feeds: Following a Blog is Easy!

Of course, if you are only following our blog or maybe one or two others, you can always bookmark the websites or add them to your favorites and just remember to visit often to catch the latest news.

But, one big advantage of blogs is your ability to "subscribe" to it, much like you would subscribe to a magazine or newspaper. RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) is the technology that enables you to subscribe to the website or news feed. Think of an RSS reader as the mail carrier that delivers your magazine or newspaper right to your doorstep, so you don't have to visit all the websites (stores) independently to get your news from each one. For a detailed tutorial on RSS, you can visit, http://www.wizard-creek.com/rss/tutorial/.

There are a lot of good RSS readers (also called aggregators) available and they all have slightly different features. Here are three recommendations for users with different viewing preferences. All three will enable you to subscribe to blogs, podcasts and other news feeds. Click the link to view a short tutorial on our website for each RSS reader.

  1. CITA RSS Aggregator - a stand-alone application installed on your Windows computer for Internet Explorer users
  2. Wizz RSS News Reader - a Firefox browser plug-in that works right in the browser window
  3. NewsGator - an online RSS reader that you can visit from any computer connected to the internet
That should get you started. Have you found a different RSS reader? Do you have any recommendations for RSS readers? Use the Comments link below to share your experiences!

See ya next week!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Welcome to Our New Blog!

Welcome to “Design. Technology. Learning.”, the new blog of UHV’s Learning Technologies & Design group.

Along with the new semester, a lot of exciting changes have happened around the university. One of the changes was the restructuring and organization of the new Student and Academic Services (SAS) department. As part of this change, Bev Hoerig and I are now a new group, Learning Technologies & Design (LTD), within the SAS department. Although we have moved downstairs to UW133, we are still here to help you with the design of your online courses and the use of various technologies to achieve your teaching and learning goals.

Today is the “Grand Opening” of this blog and the new LTD website. We will use them as the platform to communicate with the UHV online learning community. You will find information about instructional design, technology, events, useful resources and much more. At this time, we plan to post twice weekly, on Wednesday and Friday. Of course, I will have no problem if, once in a while, a good post needs to be delivered on Tuesday :- )

As a format for communication, a blog has several advantages over others, such as a listserv, newsletter, or even a standard website. First of all, you can add comments to a blog! You read an interesting post and you have an opinion. Add your comment to that post and there…you’ve started a conversation. As we all know, discussion and the exchange of ideas can often be just the inspiration you need to help you find that great idea lurking in the back of your mind.

A second advantage to using a blog for communication, is the way in which a blog is organized. A blog is displayed and archived chronologically. This always places the most recent blog entry at the top, so you know you are seeing current information and commentary.

Another advantage is the convenience of following a blog by subscribing to its “RSS feed”, so that your news reader will automatically notify you of recent postings. If this part sounds Greek to you, stay tuned. I will recommend some good RSS readers in the next post.

Let’s start blogging!