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, 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.