Return of the Blog! Ed Tech Resources

For those of you who were unaware, the Ed Tech Blog had taken a year-long sabbatical in an attempt to re-fresh and conduct some important research comparing and contrasting the variety of beaches in the tropics.  But in all seriousness, I am reviving the Ed Tech blog once again as one of my mechanisms for communicating with our campus community on topics in Ed Tech.

This week’s installment is to remind everyone about the variety of resources that are available to all Morningside instructors to assist them when making decisions about incorporating technology into their courses.  Here is a list of the available resources along with short descriptions of how to access them:

The Educational Technology campus Website

I maintain this website as a central place for many of the resources that are available to faculty.  Included are links to previously help and recorded faculty development sessions, links to pages of technology tools that one might use in their courses, links to other subscription resources such as the Magna 20-min mentors, eclass4learning, and Quality Matters resources. This is a good place to explore and get ideas.

 

Magna 20-Minute Mentor Commons

Morningside College subscribes to Magna’s 20-minute mentor.  These are a library of short videos on a number of topics that related to teaching and learning both online, face-to-face, and blended.  Instructions on how to create your account and access these resources is found on the homepage of the Educational Technology website.  You must be a Morningside College employee to access this.

Magna 20-Minute Mentor ‘Bundles’

Because there are dozens of 20-minute mentor videos available through Magna, I have taken some time to curate some of the content.  Many of these focus more on those that teach online or blended courses, but the information can be very helpful for any mode of learning.  Videos are categorized by topic.

 

Magna Monday Morning Mentors

Both myself and Susie Lubbers send out messages every Monday that puts one of the Magna 20-minute mentors in the spotlight.  Susie’s message is directed more generally for faculty who teach in any mode. The Monday Morning Mentors that I send are more directed at online instructors, but once again, strategies used online can also be implemented face-to-face sometimes.

 

Faculty Development Workshops

Susie Lubbers and I also collaborate to offer a number of different faculty development session throughout the year.  This year we are offering on average two session each month. You can see a current schedule for these workshops on the Educational Technology Website or you can see fliers that are sent with the dates.

There will also be times when I will create faculty development sessions that are focused more for our adjunct faculty who teach in our online programs.  These sessions will be offered via WebEx and also recorded for later viewing.

 

Ed Tech Twitter and Facebook

Along with resurrecting the Ed Tech Blog, I also plan to make the Morningside Ed Tech Twitter and Facebook feeds more active this year.  These feeds are primarily places where I will post when a new blog post is available, post upcoming dates for faculty development opportunities, and shares or re-Tweets of interesting posts from other Ed Tech social media. You can access these feed through the Educational Technology website or you can find them on Social Media and follow.

And last but certainly not least!  Me!!

I am also a great resource!  Not only can I often solve some simple tech issues you might have (but just a friendly reminder that I am not really Tech Support), I am your resource when you are going through the process of trying to incorporate technology into your courses.  Even of you are not sure what technology it is that you need, I love to work with faculty to try to make your teaching and learning more efficient and effective. I am available to meet one-on-one or feel free to catch me passing by. If you are a department head or coordinator for some form of student learning and you want to bring me in as a consultant or have me create a more specialized development workshop I’m more than happy to do so.  I’m on campus every day. I am also very available via e-mail and am more than willing to meet via web conference for those of you who teach off campus.

So here are the variety of resources available to you.  Please do take some time to explore these resources. There is a wealth of information and sometimes just by exploring something ideas might begin to emerge for yourself.

Additionally, look for new postings of the Ed Tech blog each Monday (or the beginning of the workweek).  This year the Blog will have a few different focuses. First, several faculty indicated that they wanted to learn more about the different features in Moodle Assignments and Quizzes.  I will be providing some of this information through the blog. This fall I will have a few blog posts on different Assignment features that you may not be aware of and in the Spring I will be focusing on Moodle Quizzes.

Second, this is a big year for Ed Tech in terms of starting up Morningside’s Quality Matters internal online course review process.  I will provide some information on this initiative along with a few posts with suggestions on how to address some of the specific QM standards within online and blended courses.

Third, many faculty also indicated that they were interested in learning more about active learning strategies.  I will have a few blog posts highlighting some tools that can be used to help facilitate active learning.

Finally, the blog posts will often foreshadow the topics of upcoming faculty development workshops that Susie and I will be hosting this year.  I look forward to working with all of you again this next academic year! Again, please feel free to reach out to me even if it is to just chat about unformed ideas that you might have.  Have a great year!

Universal Design (UD) and Benefits for All Students

The term Universal Design initially originated in the field of architechture design as a way to describe creating building designs that incorporated features that helped accommodate those with disabiities and also were useful to those without disabilities.  Consider how helpful having automatic doors are when your hands are full or how nice it is to have slopped sidewalks at corners if you are pushing a stroller.  These are all benefits of UD.  The same idea can be applied to the classroom when we begin to make accommodations that are often availble to student with disabilities to all students in the classroom.  Creating videos with closed captioning, having electronic textbooks that have an e-reader feature can be very helpful if one needs to view a video where having the sound on might not be appropriate or if they need to read a chapter while driving to and from school.

Technology has allowed for more incorporation of UD into the classroom.  Below I present a table of just a few common classroom issues that might benefit from a UD approach.  I present a low-tech, medium-tech, and high-tech approach.

Educational issue Low Tech Mid Tech High Tech
Addressing test anxiety Allow for multiple attempts on an exam/quiz.  Turn in test, get feedback, schedule time to re-take test one more time Allow for multiple attempts on a exam/quiz, but use scantron technology to facilitate grading. Schedule time to re-take exam Using LMS create an exam that allows multiple attempts as the exam is being taken during class.  No need to schedule another time.
Reading Disabilities Have a text be read aloud to students in a disabilities support center. Provide an e-book with a text reader capability for students with documented disability Provide all students the choice of textbook modality they prefer including either physical or e-book with read aloud feature.
Students unable to attend class regularly due to some legitimate reason. Students encouraged not to enroll in the course due to absences Instructor provides some lecture notes and e-mails assignments to student All course material is provided on the course LMS including lecture notes, videos, assignments, feedback, etc.

 

Using Technology in Lesson Design

One manner that we can utilize technology as instructors is through our lesson planning process.  There are several processes for designing lessons, but perhaps the most powerful is the Backward Planning approach that is recommended by most instructional designers.  This approach asks the teacher to first consider what you want your students to DO before you consider what you will teach.  With Backward design we start with the student learning outcomes first (written with verbs that indicate some action on the part of the student that is measurable), then decide on the manner in which we can measure learning (assessment instrument), and then we decide on the materials and activities that need to be done to practice and develop these skills.

 

Here is an example of how technology can play a role:

Perhaps you are a history teacher and want students to understand the relationships between current economic conditions and political policies that were developed.  First you will want to decide how your students could demonstrate this understanding.  Perhaps you will have them engage in a debate between two rival political parties one the historical policy. Your assessment might be a scoring rubric with a number of necessary elements (facts, relationships between economics and policy, explanation of party differences, etc).

Now that you know what your students will do and how they will be evaluated, now you can decide on the information they need to know and the activities they can do leading up to this.  So then you might ask, how does technology play a role?

Perhaps you do not have class time to have a live debate? What are some alternatives?

  • Students record in small groups their debates
  • Have a social media debate
  • Have students create a documentary portraying the debate

How does technology play a role in assessment?

  • recorded evaluation allows instructors to rewind and view elements again.
  • Recorded products can be shared internally or globally
  • Rubrics can be created electronically

How does technology play a role in materials and activities?

  • textbooks and original historical documents available on the internet
  • Other research from historians.
  • Online or electronic activities, quizzes, etc.

 

Technology is not necessarily a requirement for this project, it could be done without it.  But you can see that integrating technology provides opportunities for your students that are otherwise difficult to do without it.  The important part here is really process.  If we know where are students need to be at the end, we can better tailor our lessons so that students can meet those expectations.

Multiple Submissions/Drafts Moodle Tool

Did you know that Moodle offers a way for students to make multiple attempts on an assignment activity? One of the options within the Assignments settings allows instructors to better identify and organize multiple attempts on a single assignment.  There are a couple reasons why an instructor might choose to do this.  If you have an assignment where you allow students to resubmit until they hit a certain criteria, this option allows you to do this.  Another reason an instructor might use this feature is to organize multiple paper drafts.  In this week’s blog post I have linked a video that I made that steps instructors through allowing multiple attempts on an assignment.  The video is somewhat specific to how you might choose to handle multiple paper drafts, but this tool can be used in other ways as well.

The solution I offer here attempts to address the organizational mess that handling multiple paper drafts for multiple students can be.  Please see this 16 min video and if you are interested in incorporating this next semester, I am happy to help you get the assignment set up to do what you want.

Reports from the 2016 Quality Matters Conference

About a month ago I attended the 8th Annual Quality Matters Conference in Portland, OR. This conference offers a number of opportunities for faculty, staff, and administration people involved in online and blended learning to learn more about the Quality Matters rubrics and how to use them to help improve course design.

I attended a couple of half-day pre-conference workshops and a number of conference sessions on topic ranging from methods for implementing the QM rubrics on campus to strategies for making specific types of course improvements.  I learned quite a bit but I came away from the conference with three major take-aways:

  1. Morningside’s online programs are in good position to begin utilizing the Quality Matters rubrics in both course design and in creating quality assurance processes.
  2. Morningside faculty are perhaps unusually willing to explore the potential uses of the Quality Matters rubrics. Many people I spoke to expressed difficulty in having engaged faculty in the process.  Morningside’s faculty seem very willing to engage in this process.
  3. A clear plan needs to be envisioned to assess the impact of implementing the QM rubrics here. Notably, meaningful metrics need to be identified and measured.

So what is on the horizon with Quality Matters and Morningside College? I am currently in conversations with the leadership in the three online programs at Morningside (Grad Ed, Grad Nursing, and Organizational Management) to create implementation plans that makes sense for each of those online programs.  A primary focus of these plans will be on faculty development and use of the rubrics for course development/design and peer-review of courses.

If faculty are interested in how they might use the Quality Matter’s rubrics in their own courses (online or FtF) please feel free to contact me and have a conversation about how this might be a useful resource for you.  Or you can listen to a recent Ed Tech development session where a few of the undergraduate faculty who piloted using the rubrics in their summer online courses found using these rubrics.

Sway: Creating Visually Interesting and Interactive Projects

This week I want to introduce Microsoft Sway.  Sway is a program designed to help users create projects that are visually interesting and incorporates some interactive components.  It is a little difficult to describe what Sway is, so instead here is an example that I created.  This is a short project describing one of my hobbies, canning fresh foods.

Sway provides the user with a number of existing templates to choose from (for example I searched for ‘communication’ and Sway had a template ready for me with ideas of what to include) or to create their own. The basic building block is called a ‘card.’ These cards can be text or media based. Additionally there are different options for grouping cards together.  Another nice feature of Sway is the ease in finding media.  Sway holds a library of images and videos that are part of the Creative Commons License, so you can be confident that you are allowed to use the images you search for.  All of the images in my Sway example came from their library.  All I had to do was use a search terms (e.g. “tomatoes,” “chopping food,” “canning tools”) and a number of options were presented.

Bringing images in is done through a simple drag-and-drop action. In addition the user can include information about the image and include alt text (text that screen readers can read) for those who are visually impaired.

A few ways that instructors might choose to use Sway can include giving students a slightly different way of presenting material.  This tool allows for a story telling approach that PowerPoint may not do well.  Student may also use this tool to create electronic projects.  Stories, Informational Projects, Marketing materials, Research Presentations are just a few ideas.

If you are interested in seeing a Sway build in action take a look at this short 4 min video I made.

MyHistro: Interactive Timeline Builder

Ever wanted combine a series of historical events with images, video, description, and map locations? MyHistro is a free timeline builder that allows users to do this quite easily. Entire stories can be captured using this tool putting historical events into context in terms of both time and location.  There are a number of examples that can be viewed here.  To learn more about each event, click to read more and see more pictures and videos.

Creating a timeline is pretty easy.  First you need to set up a free account, but from there you can build your own stories (projects).  Here is an example that I created telling the story of all the places that I have lived. It took about a half hour to build this timeline.

Creating the timeline is pretty easy. All you do is identify the events you want to describe and provide the dates and descriptions.  Images can be uploaded (though I am having difficulty with this right now, it may be something to do with my OS upgrade to Sierra), but extended descriptions and videos from the web are easily added as well.

There is an ability to create collaborative projects as well so students can work together on a larger timeline project.

Overall this appears to be a nice, easy tool to help students engage with the material more both while learning from the timeline and in creating their own timelines. I’d be interested in hearing about different project ideas that faculty might have that this tool could make possible.

Introducing Lightboard

When creating content for digital delivery (i.e. the Interwebs), it sometimes seems as if we start to lose that important element of the instructor’s presence.  Creating a lecture using screen capture or PowerPoint narration just isn’t the same as being in from of your student so they can see you face, your hands, and hear your voice.  Of course you can just record yourself in front of a white board but then you are turning your back to the camera.  A solution? Something called a Lightboard.  This is a board that allows instructors to face their audience (the camera) and write at the same time.

Lightboards can be built in many ways, but essentially they all include the same parts.  A plexiglass board, a black background, lighting, a mirror, and a camera.  At Morningside we have created our own lightboard thanks to the persistence of Jessica Tinklenberg and the handiness of Jeremy Schneider.

Here is a quick demonstration of the lightboard that was shown in a faculty meeting recently:

Making lightboard videos is very simple, simply prepare your lecture, show up to the studio (currently on the second floor of the library), set the lights (about your height), and turn on the camera.  Any miss-steps, errors, time spent erasing, etc. can be easily edited out post-production.

For me I plan to use this extensively in the development of a potential hybrid stats class in the future.  In the past I used a program that recorded on a virtual whiteboard, but I want my videos for this class to be a bit more personal then my disembodied voice narrating a set of equations. Anyone who does create content using out lightboard we would love for you to share with the community so that we can see how you use it.  Please tweet your video to @MsideEdTech so that we can all see the cool stuff Morningsiders can make!

Morningside Ed Tech Webpage

For several months now I have been collecting many resources, tools, and ideas in an effort to provide these to faculty at Morningside College.  Now these resources are available on the new Educational Technology web page!

I’ve organized this site into three basic parts:

  1. General information about professional development opportunities, communications, and contact information.
  2. Research information on online and blended learning.
  3. Tools for different types of activities (communication, writing/notetaking, Moodle, Softchalk, open educational resources, etc.)

It is my hope that this will serve as an important place for faculty to find and explore different tools and strategies for incorporating educational technology into their classrooms.  If you know of other resources or tools that should be added, please contact me with this information.  As always, I am available for individual consultations and you can use the link at the bottom of my landing page to schedule a meeting with me.

Live Video from Around the World

One more blog post concerning using video in the classroom.  Were you aware that there are a number of live web-cams around the world that you can access? Live cams of Paris, Times Square, Elephants in India, the Omaha Hawk Cam, yes even Cavalier, ND (I know you all were curious about that city!).  A number of zoos and aquariums also have their webcams linked at this site.  You can possibly see a whale shark swim by on the Ocean Voyager WebCam. These and hundreds of others can be found at EarthCam.com. There are also several nature cams that can be found at explore.org.

What might be some potential uses of these  webcams? One possible use might be to see important events that happen to be occurring in real-time.  This could be one way to view the scene during important events. Another use can simply to expose students to what that particular location is like at a point in time.  Some webcams allow for time-lapse video and others still can be maneuvered to get a wider view. However not all of the EarthCams are live video.  Some are static images that can be manipulated.

An annoyance to be aware of is that many of these cams make you watch an ad before you actually get to the live view, but a little patience and you are soon onto taking a gander at Temple Bar in Dublin.

Finally remember the old saying, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?” Well this set of live webcams dispel that belief.