Content creation is something that we as instructors and faculty engage in often. This is commonly seen as creating our lectures or PowerPoints for our classes or creating activities and worksheets for our students to complete. There are many ways that we can choose to present content: print textbooks, electronic textbooks, interactive ebooks, online lessons, webpages, pages within learning management systems, videos, and audio (podcasts). In this blog I want to discuss two tools available to faculty at Morningside that can allow you to create interactive content for your courses: SoftChalk lesson builder and VidGrid interactive videos.
Many of you have likely heard the name SoftChalk, many of you may not have. SoftChalk at its core is a content delivery system. It is an online tool for creating and delivering content to students in ‘lesson’ form. Here is a quick example of a SoftChalk lesson that I have built.
Learning to use SoftChalk is relatively easy, but because of the many different features for displaying and embedding content and for creating interactive opportunities one can easily be overwhelmed by the sheer options there are for creators. How is SoftChalk different from Moodle? First SoftChalk is really intended to be a part of a Moodle course and not to replace a full Moodle course. Second, the interface (feel) of a SoftChalk lesson is a bit more linear than Moodle might be. Third, SoftChalk allows for different forms of activity and content interaction than Moodle can provide.
Let me break these down just a bit: First SoftChalk is NOT a Moodle substitute. Though it seems that SoftChalk has many of the same features as Moodle, it would be unwieldy to create one SoftChalk lesson to replace a full Moodle course. SoftChalk does have a ‘Score Center’ where performance on the activities can be recorded, but it is not the same as the Gradebook feature in Moodle. SoftChalk is intended to present specific content and related activities WITHIN the LMS environment.
Second: SoftChalk is more ‘linear’ than Moodle. When working through a section in Moodle, it is not uncommon for a student to need to click back and forth to go from content to content (file by file) and content to activity (content to assignment). Within SoftChalk learners are presented with a series of pages that they progress through. Each page can include multiple pieces of content and activities.
Third: SoftChalk has different types of activities. SoftChalk does have activities similar to Moodle such as quizzes, but what it does not have is the ‘dropbox’ (i.e. assignment) tool of Moodle. However, SoftChalk does have some interactive activities that are different such as sorting activities, crossword puzzles, different types of drag-and-drop, labeling activities, interactive tabbed call-out boxes and the like. Mostly intended to provide practice and formative feedback, SoftChalk allows for the learner to interact with the content in a variety of ways.
VidGrid Interactive Video Features
You are likely aware that Morningside has a video creation, storage, and editing tool called VidGrid (formerly Ilos). For those who are interested in creating video content, VidGrid offers a number of interactive features for their videos.
First VidGrid allows for questions to be embedded within their videos. These questions pop up while the video pauses and the student is then expected to answer the question. These questions (if multiple choice) are automatically scored and the student received immediate feedback. There is also the option of linking this to Moodle so that the student’s score on a set of video questions is recorded in the Moodle Gradebook. There is also the option for a “Call to Action” question. This feature asks students to usually click on a link to another website and to complete some action that is being asked in the video. This is a way of making it simpler for students to navigate between content pieces (your video and whatever website they are expected to go to). If you are interested in what these two features look like for students, here is an example:
If you are interested in HOW to do these things within VidGrid, here is a video demonstrating how to accomplish this:
If you want to learn more about how to use these tools or whether these might be the best tools for what you want to accomplish, please feel free to contact me for a consultation. On Tuesday Nov 5 at 3:45 I will be hosting a development session for NEW USERS to SoftChalk. A SoftChalk 2.0 session will be held later this year.