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,

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!