by Karen Nichols

Michael Feldstein's recent blogpost on Carnegie Mellon's Simon Initiative caught my attention. He was a media fellow for this project and shared three short videos on Learning Science and its importance to educators. So I thought I'd share them here as well. Perhaps you have a few minutes in the summer to squeeze these in and hopefully they'll pique your interest enough to learn more.

"What is Learning Science from an Educator's Perspective?"

"How can Learning Science Improve Teaching?"

"What Learning Science Tells Us About How to Use Educational Technology"

girl in front of a computer with her head in her hands

Many students enroll in online courses because they can take online classes at times that are convenient for them and from the comfort of their home. Some students mistakenly think that taking an online class is easier than taking its face-to-face counterpart and they underestimate the amount of time they must invest in taking the online class. When in fact, taking an online class requires students to be self-directed learners.

It is important for the instructor to set the tone for the online course to help students succeed. In a Faculty Focus article, Amy Hankins provided five suggestions to help students succeed in an online course. Those suggestions are,

Provide detailed instructions and anticipate questions – Don’t assume students will be able to read between the lines.

Post Announcements – Show students you are present in the course by providing reminders, clarifications, and overviews to help engage and motive students.

Provide examples and rubrics – This will help to minimize questions and confusion.

Utilize differentiated instructions – Provide students multiple opportunities and formats for learning, including videos, audio lectures, and project choices that help engage and encourage learning for all students and preferences.

Encourage peer support and engagement – Allow students to get to know one another by using an introductory assignment and encourage students to connect throughout the course.

For more information, read Five Ways to Help Students Succeed in the Online Classroom and check out our CAT+FD Online/Hybrid Instructor Resources.

Photo Credit: Girl | CC0

A backchannel communication, in an educational context, is a secondary electronic conversation that takes place at or near the same time as a lecture, instructor-led learning activity, or conference session.

keyboard

Instructors are finding that using a backchannel can increase student engagement because backchannels allow students to engage in a digital conversation alongside the activity. This is beneficial because a backchannel can provide introverted students with a place to ask questions or make comments without speaking up. Additionally, instructors can share supporting resources such as videos, links to websites and photos through a backchannel. Instructors can ask questions and watch the response of students to determine if they really understand the concepts being discussed. Students can search the backchannel for notes and resources without having to scribble personal notes on paper.

Instructors are using web 2.0 tools like Twitter, TodaysMeet, Socrative, and Padlet to facilitate backchannel communications.

If this blog post has piqued your interest, you can find additional information about backchannels at these links:

Photo Credit: Keyboard | CC0

microphone with Value of Voice: Using VoiceThread for Teaching and Learning

Spoken language has been around longer than written language. Humans have been using our voices for so long we are naturally sophisticated vocal communicators. Yet when we go online, our voices tend to disappear. This is especially evident in feedback on student work that is provided in a digital format as well as in discussions that occur outside of the face-to-face classroom and in online classes. Discussions are generally conducted using text-based discussion forums.

VoiceThread is a web tool that allows you to humanize interactions in an online environment. VoiceThread transforms stale, text-based discussions and feedback by infusing your content and conversations with human presence, just as if the instructor and students were all sitting in the classroom together, but without scheduling a specific time to meet. VoiceThread adds a more personal element to the experience when utilizing the features of commenting via voice. By hearing and seeing the instructor and classmates during a VoiceThread, a familiarity develops that feeds deeper participation. Utilizing VoiceThreads can give you and your students a voice.

A number of faculty joined us last fall for a Value of Voice: Using VoiceThread for Teaching and Learning workshop. If you missed the workshop, or if you'd like to review it, you're in luck, because we recorded the workshop with our Swivl robot. Click on this link or the image below to access the workshop slides, recording, and resources.

play button with Value of Voice: Using VoiceThread for Teaching and Learning

In an EdTech Magazine article, Meg Conlan reported that nowadays students are expecting to use technology in college. She referenced a McGraw-Hill Education Workforce Readiness Survey which shows that 52 percent of students surveyed believe that their use of technology during college classes and study sessions will help them secure a job.

Check out the McGraw-Hill Education infographic below for more technology-focused highlights from the Workforce Readiness Survey.

infographic

You can read Meg’s Technology Use Boosts Students’ Confidence in Their Job Prospects article here.

zen stones

The demands of teaching an online course doesn’t have to leave you feeling overwhelmed. In an eLearning Industry article, Dr. Liz Hardy suggested a few easy steps to help replace the feeling of constant pressure with a calmer, zen-like mindset that will make teaching online easier and more enjoyable. Dr. Hardy’s suggestions are:

Define “urgent”. As you look through your To Do list, determine which items need your immediate attention and which items can be taken care of further down on the list.

Explain your standard time frames. Set expectations for your students so they know what your communications and assignment turnaround policies are.

Come out of the tunnel. When you’ve spent a long time on a task, take a moment to step away from the task at hand. This can help to rejuvenate and recharge you.

Create a sense of achievement. Your morale gets a boost when you can check items off your To Do list. These time management strategies may be able to help.

Revisit your positive feedback. Revisit compliments and positive comments that you’ve received to help lift your spirits.

For more information, read Dr. Hardy’s article Zen and the Art of Teaching Online.

Photo Credit: Zen Stones | CC0

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by Karen Nichols

Campus has been quite lonely without the students, but they'll be back next Monday.  You'll see many of them plugged in, texting, posting on SnapChat and participating in various social media.  But do you talk to your students about their digital footprints?

digital footprint

Dawn McGuckin wrote an article for the December 5, 2016 issue of Faculty Focus--"Teaching Students about Their Digital Footprints."  She gives presentations around the country to educators so that they can in turn help their students realize the lasting effects of their social media posts and how their actions can impact their future, especially when they enter the job market or are applying to graduate school.

She gives several suggestions for having this conversation such as showing students examples of people who have been fired for what they posted on such sites as Facebook.  Of course, employers are suspicious of people who have no internet presence, so just staying away from social media may also be detrimental.

Having students Google themselves is another way for them to see that anyone can easily obtain information about them.  Once they see what can be found, they may be more open to your suggestions of setting strict privacy limits, or in some cases, completely deleting certain accounts with questionable photos or tweets.

In addition to talking to your students about the negative impact of their digital footprints, also offer them some positive ways that would make them attractive to future employers or graduate school programs.  For example, have your students set up a LinkedIn account in order to start making good connections now.  Dawn even has her students link to her so that she can be one of their first professional contacts.

Please share with us the results if you do have this conversation with your students.  And, have you Googled yourself lately?  You may just want to make sure nothing negative about you is out there for your students or others to see!

 

CAT+FD Online Teaching Resources logo

In a US News and World Report article, Ian Quillen identified six signs of a bad online instructor. The list included things like a syllabus that is unclear, no set timetable for responding to emails, and simply converting print resources used in the face-to-face class. Ian’s article was intended to help students access the quality of an online class and be able to withdraw if necessary. However, this list can also be used to help online/hybrid instructors recognize where their course may be in need of improvement.

Additionally, we have developed an online teaching resource to help faculty develop or improve their online and hybrid courses. Check out our new CAT+FD Online Teaching Resources and let us know what you think.

by Janice Florent

12 Apps of Christmas 2016 logo

The Learning, Teaching & Technology Centre at the Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin is conducting a professional development opportunity for persons interested in mobile learning, specifically the potential mobile apps hold for teaching and learning. The 12 Apps of Christmas 2016 is a short free course that will be held over twelve consecutive weekdays, starting Dec 1st.

This is the third year for the 12 Apps of Christmas. The 2016 iteration of the course is a collaborative effort. Educators from Ireland, UK, and America have come together to produce twelve (12) case studies, each one showcasing a different mobile app with descriptions of how they have integrated it into their own teaching, learning, and assessment practices. It is hoped that reading and reflecting on these real stories will inspire participants to explore mobile apps that might be of interest to them and their students.

You should register for this professional development opportunity if you want to connect with like-minded individuals, have an opportunity to expand your personal learning network (PLN), and start powerful conversations with others interested in this emerging field. To get more information and to register go to 12 Apps of Christmas 2016.

NDLW logo

November 7-11, 2016 is National Distance Learning Week (NDLW). In association with NDLW, the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) is offering free webinars on a variety of topics related to online teaching and learning. A few other organizations are offering free webinars during NDLW as well.

For more information on the activities and to register for the webinars visit NDLW 2016.