Going from Face-to-face to Online Teaching

May 2nd, 2016

by Janice Florent

two faces looking at each other with a series gears where the brains would be

Successfully moving courses online involves more than simply transferring what you are currently doing in your face-to-face class to the online class. If your aim is to create a meaningful online learning experience with long-lasting effects, you will have to rethink the way you teach.

In a recent Faculty Focus article, Rob Kelly quoted Professor Paul Caron who said,

If you simply take your face-to-face class and put it online and teach it electronically, you will fail miserably.

Rob goes on to list some challenges with moving your course online and ways you can overcome them. They are,

Communicate frequently. The online learning environment lacks the visual and auditory cues that instructors and students often take for granted in the face-to-face classroom. This lack of visual and auditory cues can hinder the ability to develop rapport, motivate, and engage students.

Use multimedia. Multimedia can stimulate more than one sense at a time, and in doing so, may be more attention-getting and attention-holding than just using text alone. You can build a community with audio and increase your presence with video.

Monitor “attendance.” Online courses require students to be self-directed learners. If students are not accessing the course regularly and keeping up with their course work they are less likely to be successful in the course.

Make the subject relevant. One of the challenges of teaching a core course is that students aren’t automatically interested in the subject. When students see how the course is relevant to them, they stay interested. Invite guest speakers to provide career specific examples or include “real world” examples to illustrate course content. Design assignments to be flexible and allow students to pursue interests.

Rather than trying to replicate the face-to-face classroom, online, you want to design an experience that engages students in learning in a way that fosters their interest and curiosity, and ultimately facilitates deep-level learning that comes to them by way of technology. (Parker, 2013).

If this blog post has piqued your interest, you can read more in the Faculty Focus article, From F2F to Online: Getting It Right as well as the following blog posts:

Yes, you can add service learning to online courses!

April 29th, 2016

by Karen Nichols with contributions by Jeremy Tuman

Jeremy Tuman, our faculty-in-residence for service learning, recently collaborated with me on a presentation about adding service learning to online courses. I’d like to share our presentation with you and invite you to provide any feedback you may have. Thank you!

Bb Tip #156: End of Semester Tasks

April 26th, 2016

image showing almost there in cutout letters

As we approach the end of the semester there are a few things you can do in Blackboard to wrap up for the semester.

Download your gradebook

Student access to courses is removed two weeks after the end of a semester. During this process all grade book records are deleted. You should download your gradebook to your local computer after you submit your final grades.

Create a master copy of your course

Courses remain on the Blackboard system for three semesters before they are removed. You can request a Master Course Shell that you can use to develop and maintain your course materials. Master Course Shells will not be removed from the Blackboard system.

Hide old courses from view

When you login to Blackboard you will see your courses for previous semesters listed along with the courses you are currently teaching on the Xavier University and Courses tabs. If you do not want to see older courses in the list, you can hide them from view.

Follow these steps to do it.

Instructions are available in previous Bb tips for downloading your grade book, requesting master course shells, and hiding old courses from view.

Want more information?

Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Check out help for instructors at help.blackboard.com.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Conversation #45: Calvin Mackie on STEM

April 19th, 2016

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Calvin Mackie

A conversation with Dr. Calvin Mackie of STEM NOLA on teaching, learning, and service learning.

Dr. Calvin Mackie is one of the nation’s most prolific young STEM and Educational Motivational Speakers and Leaders. He is an award winning mentor, an international renowned motivational speaker, and a successful entrepreneur. His message as a mentor, speaker, entrepreneur and former engineering professor continues to transcend race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and time. His passion and talent is totally devoted to helping people unleash their greatness and transcend personal and societal barriers. Operating under the premise that exposure and experience are two important parameters of success, he utilizes unique strategies and methodologies to motivate and inspire. Calvin Mackie has lectured widely throughout the United States, helping people change the way they think about achieving their lifelong dreams through education in general, and STEM specifically.

Links for this episode:

Spectacular Displays of Questionable Judgment

April 7th, 2016

Some profs in Australia have started a blog to collect selfies and stories of what academics are wearing and why.

With this experiment, we hope to tease out the ethical and political implications of the practice of selfieing in an academic context. We are especially curious about intersections of race, class, feminist and queer politics.

They also want to hear from precarious/adjunct/marginalized academics, but all academic stories and selfies are welcome, including anonymous submissions.

See for yourself: Spectacular Displays of Questionable Judgment

[Spectacular Flyer]

Daphanie Teo writes, “If you think you’d like to submit please do! We’d love to hear your story. Help us use selfies to think through these issues.”

See also: #ilooklikeaprofessor

Conversation #44: Eileen Doll on Service Learning

April 5th, 2016

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Eileen Doll

A conversation with Dr. Eileen Doll of Loyola University on teaching, learning, and service learning.

Eileen J. Doll received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Purdue University in 1986, specializing in Spanish 20th-century literature and the 20th-century theater of Europe. She has published numerous articles on various contemporary dramatists of Spain, and early 20th-century playwrights, in the journals Estreno, Gestos, Anales de la Literatura Española Contemporánea, Hispania, Signa, La Ratonera, Crítica Hispánica, South Central Review, and Discurso Literario, as well as in collections of essays.

Eileen Doll teaches all areas of Peninsular Spanish Literature and Culture, as well as introductory, intermediate, and advanced Spanish language classes at Loyola University New Orleans. In May 2008, she received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences.

Links for this episode:

Twitter Now Offers Accessibilty Features for Photos

March 31st, 2016

by Karen Nichols

Photos have become such an integral part of Twitter and now they can be accessible to the visually-impaired.  Earlier this week, Twitter added the capability of including descriptions of your photos (you may know the feature as alt text).  This is a great way to reach more people and this new feature serves as a reminder that we should always use “alt text” when we post photos.

Here’s how to enable this feature on your Twitter account:

“Enable this feature by using the compose image descriptions option in the Twitter app’s accessibility settings. The next time you add an image to a Tweet, each thumbnail in the composer will have an add description button. Tap it to add a description to the image. People who are visually impaired will have access to the description via their assistive technology (e.g., screen readers and braille displays). Descriptions can be up to 420 characters.” https://blog.twitter.com/2016/accessible-images-for-everyone

So don’t forget the alt text the next time you include an image in your tweet!

Two bluebirds conversing

Two bluebirds conversing

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

March 29th, 2016

Have you considered publishing work in the area of Pedagogical Scholarship or the Scholarship of Teaching? This is highly valued by the university if it reaches the stage of public dissemination. There are many topics we might have in mind to study, but just like any other scholarly endeavor, it must be planned out in advance, not just written up as an afterthought. There are things to consoder beforehand, especially if your discipline scholarship is very removed from the education and social science fields. Planning the project appropriately will help you avoid creating aspects that will significant affect, and even void, your data collection when tracing student learning and opinions. (IRB approval, anyone?)

If you missed the CAT+FD talk given by Megan Osterbur (Political Science) and Charles Gramlich (Psychology), they outlined the steps needed to be taken for successful scholarly teaching projects. The process begins with reflection and questions, then project design and data collection, and finally analysis and publication. The CAT+FD office is also uniquely qualified to help with this process, especially the project design and finding an appropriate journal as the new home for your brilliant work. The quote that Meg shared about this field really stuck with me and was so familiar when I think about my colleagues here at Xavier and what many of us do on a daily basis already.

“Scholarly teaching is what every one of us should be engaged in every day that we are in a classroom, in our office with students, tutoring, lecturing, conducting discussions, all the roles we play pedagogically. Our work as teachers should meet the highest scholarly standards of groundedness, of openness, of clarity and complexity. But it is only when we step back and reflect systematically on the teaching we have done, in a form that can be publicly reviewed and built upon by our peers, that we have moved from scholarly teaching to the scholarship of teaching.” (Shulman 2004, p. 166).

Please do not hesitate to contact the CAT+FD staff if you are thinking about advancing your scholarship in this field. Also, if you missed the presentation and believe this is a topic you would like to see offered again, please let us know in the comments below.
Cheers,
Stassi

What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Teach Online

March 28th, 2016

by Janice Florent

Being prepared is a must for teaching online. In addition to using best practices for online course design you should be thinking about how to deliver your online course for maximum success.

globe with a computer mouse and teaching online text

In an IDDblog blog post, Alex Joppie listed a few tips for keeping your online course running smoothly. I’ve combined his tips with a few of my own to provide you with suggestions to help your online course run smoothly. Those suggestions are as follows:

Before the semester starts—touch base with your students

Send an email to your students before the first day of class. In your email,

  • Make sure students know they’re enrolled in an online class. Some students take online classes because they think it will be easy. When in fact, some students struggle in online courses because they do not have the skills to be self-directed learners. You should let the students know that online classes take time and self-discipline.
  • Inform them of technology requirements, textbooks, and other required materials. This will help them hit the ground running.
  • Let the students know when your Blackboard course will be available.
  • Let the students know you’re there. This email can also serve to ensure to students that even though the entire course is going to facilitated by computers and networks, that there is a human being involved who cares about their success.
  • Make sure they got the email (and read it). Ask students to respond to the email. You may need to pursue other means of communication if a student doesn’t seem to be getting your email.

The first week—setting the tone

Follow these steps to set a healthy culture for the course and make sure everyone gets off to a good start.

  • Make sure students log in to your course. Use the Performance Dashboard to check to make sure everyone has logged in sometime within the first few days of class.
  • Create a welcome video for your course. Using a short video clip of yourself helps the students to have a picture of you in their mind. This video will help you to become a “real” person to your students.
  • Add a profile avatar to humanize your course. Humanized learning increases the relevance of course content and improves students’ motivation to log-in to your course week-after-week. Your profile avatar will create an inviting space for your students.
  • Create a more personalized learning environment in your course by using template variables. Template variables allow you to create personalized messages for your students. A personalized welcome message, for example, will make your course feel more inviting to your students.
  • Be active in introductory discussions. Your introductory discussions will set the tone for the entire course. Make sure there’s a positive culture in your discussions by being engaging in the first one.
  • Encourage students to utilize the Global Navigation Menu, Course Calendar, and notifications to keep up with critical and timely course related information and assignments.
  • Utilize Blackboard tools to help students stay on track. Students are more likely to be successful in an online course when they check-in regularly and keep up with their coursework. If a student falls behind early, they may never catch up.

Mid-course—checking in

  • Give your students an anonymous survey to get feedback from them on how the course is going. Do this sometime after you feel your students should have gotten a sense of the rhythm of the course but you still have time to make meaningful course corrections based on the feedback. This is especially important the first time you teach a new course.

Every week—the routine

Provide students with weekly communications that recap the previous week’s activities and prime students for the following week:

  • Highlight insightful discussion posts – Draw students’ attention to important points made by their classmates. It’s positive reinforcement for students and shows that you’re engaged.
  • Respond to gaps in student learning – Did everyone miss a question on the quiz, or skip over an important point in a discussion? If so, address it.
  • Contextualize the week’s main topics – Tie the week’s activities back to the learning goals of the course. Why is what we did this week important?
  • Prime the students for the next week’s main topic – Give some context about why they should care about what’s coming up next.

Here are a few more ideas to keep your online course interesting.

End-of-semester evaluation—develop your teaching persona

  • An end-of-semester evaluation is a good opportunity to get feedback from your students to help you develop your teaching persona. Getting a “learner-sighted” view of the course-experience can add to your understanding of the learning environment, including aspects of your teaching persona that have framed it.

Studies show that students withdraw from online courses at a higher rate than in face-to-face courses. There are many reasons for students withdrawing from an online course. Some reasons are beyond the instructor’s control. Educators do not like to see students withdraw from courses for the wrong reasons. The suggestions in this blog post will help you to improve retention and reduce attrition by making sure that your students are prepared, that they get off to a good start, and that they’re engaged.

Conversation #43: Robert Crow on Distance Education

March 22nd, 2016

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Robert Crow

A conversation with Dr. Robert Crow of Western Carolina University (WCU) on teaching, learning, and distance education.

Robert Crow, Ph. D., is an assistant professor of educational research. Before joining the faculty in the College of Education and Allied Professions, Dr. Crow served as Coordinator of Instructional Development & Assessment for WCU’s Coulter Faculty Commons, working primarily in faculty professional development. Dr. Crow’s expertise in assessment and evaluation has led to collaborations with other 4-year institutions, community colleges, PK-12 schools, and institutional accreditation agencies such as SACS-COC. Dr. Crow’s research interests include assessment and evaluation of student learning and of learning environments.

Links for this episode: