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What I learned at the Sloan-C Conference

November 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I attended the Sloan-C Conference on Online Learning recently and I would like to share some of the highlights. The general table talk was about MOOCS (massive open online courses) but I am not going to talk about those today. The underlying theme that I was more interested in and I agree with is that in the future higher education will not and should not look like it does now. We need to redesign our courses to take advantage of the rich resources and experiences that students have available to them outside the classroom walls. We also need to make our classrooms relevant and up to date for our students.

Faculty Development

With that being said, faculty are expected to be doing more and more so time is becoming less and less. It is important to provide relevant faculty development in a variety of ways so faculty can access it in way that suits them. I saw a great presentation by the folks at St. Petersburg College. They are choosing a theme each month that highlights some technology or technique. They start the month with a blog post that contains all the information and videos that a faculty member would need to implement that in their classroom. They also include faculty talking about their experience utilizing that technology or technique in their classroom. Next there is a workshop event for hands on instruction for the faculty. This is followed by a webinar, lunch event and open lab times for faculty. I love how the faculty have a choice as to how they receive the information and that there is a consistent schedule of activities that faculty can count on and plan for. We hope to implement a variation on this at our campuses this spring.

Online Student Orientation

The other couple presentations that were very relevant for me was about creating an effective online orientation for students. Our students come to us from so many different preparatory “places” it is important to provide them information that is useful for those that need it and not force students to do work they do not need to do. Again the advice was provide information in a variety of formats. Pdf’s with screenshots as well as screencasts were recommended. Also having students DO things in the LMS is important. Our plan is to assess them to find out where they truly are and then only make them work on the parts of the orientation they truly need.

Technology

I did learn about a new web-based technology from YouSeeU that seems useful. It allows students to do presentations online rather than in the classroom. Students video themselves and sync with their PowerPoint slides. I like it because it has some rich feedback and rubric grading options. We are looking forward to their new feature this spring which includes an asynchronous way to ask oral exam questions which will be useful in our online courses.

The reality is that students generally do not stay with the university they start with and they can take courses virtually all over the world. They expect relevant and engaging experiences that prepare them for the 21st century work force. It is time to reinvent and update.

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Categories: classroom, software Tags: ,

More Cool Tools and the ASCUE Conference

June 25, 2012 Leave a comment

I am freshly back from the Association of Supporting Computer Users in Education (ASCUE) conference. It was really great and I got lots of ideas that I want to share with you.

North Myrtle Beach view from Ocean Creek

One idea I liked was using Google Sites for student e-portfolios. You can create custom templates for a program, individual, or course that the students can easily access and utilize. They can upload work and customize their portfolio. Their work is then available for job interviews and keeping a running history of their college careers. This would work in high school as well.

Here is a list of gadgets that I highly recommend checking out that were talked about at the conference:

  • Swivyl camera mount: it works with iphone, ipod touch and flip type cameras. Follows the speaker. Very cool. (http://www.swivl.com/)
  • Finch Robot: for the physicists and computer programmers, this is a great robot to teach programming. Many programming languages can be used so this spans many grade levels. (http://www.finchrobot.com/)
  • One talk recommended the Aver HVC310 HD for video conferencing on a budget. I have not checked it out so can’t say but they were pleased with it.

As for other ideas my friend Tom Marcais described his school’s process of developing video tutorials for faculty and staff. The process heavily involves students which I think is great. They write the script and produce the screen captures using Screencast-o-matic. Once they are proficient, they can create music loops for the background as well. Check out the results! (http://www.youtube.com/user/tmarcais)

As for this year’s cool tools here is my link to this year’s finds: http://www.delicious.com/fyerphys/ascue12

The highlights:

  • TedEd: a collection of educational cartoons that also included lesson plans and quizzes that you can use or you can “flip” a video and create your own lesson for others to take advantage of. (http://education.ted.com/)
  • Screenleap: instant screensharing great for support and impromptu tutoring or meetings. (http://www.screenleap.com/)
  • If This, Then That: Really cool site that lets you really maximize your productivity by connecting your various accounts. For example if you favorite a Twitter post then it sends it to your e-mail (or Evernote). Or if a post goes to a favorite RSS feed then it puts it in a certain DropBox folder. (https://ifttt.com/login)
  • Remind 101: This site allows you to send texts to anyone who has signed up for your “class”. You don’t see their phone numbers and they don’t see yours. They can sign up using an e-mail address too. Great for sending students reminders and important notices. You can even schedule your texts in advance! (https://www.remind101.com/)

If you find a couple of these things helpful, you need to come to next year’s ASCUE conference in North Myrtle Beach in June. (http://ascue.org/) There were many more ideas just like these. Come join the fun!

Summer Is Here, Time for New Technology!

May 20, 2012 1 comment

Summer is the perfect time to play with some new technology that you can add to your fall courses. Maybe create a small learning object or some piece of a lesson and see how it goes. Here are some ideas to get you started. clear logo The Center for Language Education and Research out of Michigan State University has come up with some amazing Rich Internet Applications that are definitely worth checking out. The one we are going to use for our Spanish online course is the Conversations app. It allows for completely asynchronous chats via a microphone and web cam. This is simply a fantastic tool for chatting with your students or them chatting with one another in a foreign language. I also see applications for business courses and interview practice. Take a look and try it out.

Google Drive

google drive image Have you been looking for a reason to use Google Drive instead of DropBox or some other cloud file service? Me too! Well I think I found at least one. It is called WeVideo. It is a cloud based video editor that integrates with Google Drive. It is pretty slick and allows for great collaboration. Students can create videos together in this collaborative environment then share them in just about any format. You can use it for your video editing as well.

Storyline by Articulate

It’s no secret that I am an Articulate fan and I have been DYING to spread the word about their new product, Storyline. I am not a programmer at all but I have great ideas for learning objects, activities, assessments and the like. This tool allows me to look like a rock star with no programming whatsoever. It can develop great looking simple things in minutes or you can unleash its power on some pretty detailed stuff. Drag and drop, show and do, branching, animations and more can be done with this great product. If you are in education be sure you check out the educational pricing. It would cost that alone to hire out for just one interaction. Now you have to the tool to do whatever you need. Try the 30 day trial and you will be hooked. Look for future posts on this product.

So take your lap top out on the deck and get techy! Now is the best time to play. Drop a comment on your newest, latest, greatest finds. Enjoy!

Categories: apps, e-learning, software Tags: , ,

ASCUE Conference Ideas

July 11, 2011 Leave a comment

I just got back from  attending the Association of Small Computer Users in Education (ASCUE). (Ok so it has been a couple of weeks.) This year I happen to be the President of the association. The keynote was Tom Kuhlmann from Articulate. He writes the Rapid Elearning Blog and is my elearning hero. He has a knack for breaking down the process of course design down to some simple steps. He also did a session on PowerPoint and showed how we probably use PowerPoint to about 20% of its abilities. And it is not the tool, it is the user that produces “bad” PowerPoint.

Cool Tools

My presentation was about the “cool” tools I found in the last year. I have featured some of them in previous posts. If you are looking for a different kind of blog posting tool, try Posterous. You can e-mail your pictures, videos and words and Posterous will arrange your blog for you. Perhaps you are looking for a way for your students to brainstorm or organize a project. This online stickie note application might do the trick. Lino allows you to do this, and what I like is students don’t have to have an account. This is handy for workshops and meetings too.

I have a lot of flash card creation links but StudyBlue seems to be a nice one that is flexible and has notes and cards out there that others have created. Ok, so you have been trying to do that important work in your life and e-mail and Twitter just keeps interrupting. Download this app and you can schedule time when those applications can’t bother you.

I think the biggest hit was RedKid. It is a website that allows you to customize signs and images. We created an ASCUE vodka as  you see below.

So I will finish with a free webinar tool (AnyMeeting) that so far seems to be a great substitute for some of the pricier webinar tools. Some of the features include sending surveys to the attendees after the webinar as well as the standard screen sharing, webcam and audio features. It also gives you the option of voice over IP or telephone conferencing.

I hope you find something useful with these new tools. Leave and comment and let me know how you use them.

Categories: e-learning, software Tags: , , ,

Faculty and Student Support Using Screenr

May 18, 2011 1 comment

I have been doing more support in the last few weeks than usual so this is on my mind. I often get e-mails from faculty asking how to do something in our learning management system. (which we are in the process of changing) Sometimes the faculty are forwarding questions their students had that they could not answer. Rather than just answer in words to that one person, I create a quick screen-cast in Screenr. This allows me to better answer their question as well as create an archived answer if I should get the question again.

screenr logo

If you are not familiar with Screenr, I encourage you to try it out. Yes, it is another screen-casting tool like so many out there but I believe Screenr is better. There is no figuring out screen size or all that. You just drag the handles to the screen area you want to cover. It gives a nice count-down to prepare you for your big debut. Just recently added is the ability to sign into Screenr with Twitter, Facebook, Google, or Yahoo. The web based application is platform independent.

When you have finished your masterpiece, you can copy the URL, or two different types of embed codes. You can also download the mp4 file which could then be edited with another product. It also makes it easy to tweet your screen-cast or upload it to Youtube with simple clicks. I have used many of these types of products and this is by far the easiest and most mistake proof. Oh and did I mention that it is FREE.

It has really come in handy lately. And don’t worry if your screen-casts are not perfect. People just want the answer. For the last faculty member who had a student “how to” question, I created a quick screen-cast and sent her the link. She then posted the link in the learning management system so that other students would benefit too. So maybe it took me 5 minutes to do but it answered what was sure to be a lot of similar questions. I have also used Screenr in conjunction with my Eno (smart) board. I am able to capture my work on the white board to post for students later. (https://janethurn.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/some-of-my-favorite-things-part-1/)

Here is a link to my Screenr page. Give Screenr a try!

Khan Academy Revolution

April 3, 2011 Leave a comment

The Khan Academy is receiving more and more attention, especially since Bill Gates has taken notice. This idea of free education for all who wish to take advantage is catching on. This tool that Salman Khan has created is simple yet so powerful. He started by creating videos to tutor some relatives and now he is educating the masses. Grade school kids to college students to those just wanting to learn something new can take advantage of this resource. Hundreds of videos covering simple addition to differential equations with biology and chemistry in between is covered. AND to make it even more useful, there are exercises created to practice what you learn! Check out this video to see what I mean.



One way this could be useful is in an inverted classroom. They are piloting such a classroom. Students watch the videos at home but then work on exercises in class. The instructor can personally work with students who are struggling. Instructors can detect this from the dashboard. Students can assist their peers as well if they have already successfully navigated a particular topic. Students can earn virtual trinkets and stars as they work their way through the topics. They can process as their own rate.

Best of all this is all freely accessible to everyone who can get to a computer on the Internet. Teachers or tutors can be coaches for any student they want. What a valuable and useful treasure chest of information open to all.

Put it on your MUST check out list.

Categories: e-learning, software Tags: ,

Virtual Tutoring Tools for Math and Science

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

I ran out of time in class the other day and needed to review a problem for my students as it is going to be on the next quiz. I have had this issue before, running out of time and needing to share just a little more information. So I have several ways in which I deal with this issue so I thought I would share. These also come in handy when you are asked a question via e-mail and a returned e-mail just won’t do.

Most often my solution involved Screenr in some fashion. Screenr is a free web based tool by Articulate that allows you to screen capture any portion of your screen you would like. It has a 5 minute time limit which I think is a great thing. Who wants to listen to me go on for longer than that! So that is the first tool you need.

Now you can use a variety of tools to actually do the writing. One is called SimpleDiagrams. This is a neat little program that lets you have a whiteboard or chalkboard background to write on. It also has some built in diagrams and pictures you can use. Very nice in concert with Screenr. See an example here.


Another way I have used Screenr for doing problems  etc. is with an Eno board. This is a type of smart board. I can start Screenr and then the electronic white board and with a microphone plugged in, I have a great way to do tutorials. Here is an example. The advantage is my handwriting is much better. The other method uses a Wacom tablet which takes some practice. But the disadvantage of this method is I tie up a classroom while I am working on one. I can use the Wacom (or tablet) at home or at my desk.

If you don’t want to use Screenr with other applications, you can use a free download called Lecturescribe. This tool allows you to do flash annotations with a tablet or Wacom. You can insert pictures such as graphs that you want to annotate as well. The limit is more like 26 minutes for this method. I have used this a lot too but Screenr is faster on the fly for me.

Of course if you have a tablet you can us Screenr and the journal tool or anything with a nice background. And this isn’t really limited to math and science because you can use Sceenr with a Word document if you want to show students on the fly editing or just about anything! What tools do you use to show your students math or science calculations? Leave a comment!