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eLearning Frenzy

eLearning is like a sewer, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.

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Seeing is Believing: Let Students See How Online Tools Work

I have posted previously on the importance of showing students what success looks like in an eLearning environment.   Whether via a rubric or by the example of a previous student submission, letting students see how they can be successful with an assignment or activity in your course is generally a good idea.

This post will help you discover how to utilize a tool that your students will use in their activities by employing it to display course content or provide course communication. That’s right, you are getting two for the price of one!

WikisThe Wiki Tool

The wiki tool can be the most rewarding/frustrating tool in your arsenal of activities that you have in your eLearning courses. Providing students with instructions on how to use the tool is definitely important, but many times they don’t end up using it the way you intended. This may be because they didn’t have an example or the 1 page example didn’t really show how a completed wiki should look.

Example: Use a wiki to display course topic or content.

Let’s say one of your course modules deals with Jean Piaget and Cognitive Development/Learning. Create a Wiki to display the content across multiple wiki pages:

  • Page 1 – Wiki Home – Overall introduction of unit
  • Page 2 – About Piaget – Biographical/historical look complete with picture
  • Page 3 – Cognitive Development: Explainer on Piaget’s theory
  • Page 4 – Cognitive Learning Today: Embedded video and text

Leave one page with places for your student to add their own text to the wiki demonstrating how a wiki should work in practice.

BlogsThe Blog Tool

In today’s day and age it easy to make the assumption that all students know how to use a blog or are familiar with journaling due to social media. However, this is generally not the case as most social media posts are micro-blogs (very short 126 characters or less) and full of emojis, text-speak and hashtags.

Example: Use a Course Blog to summarize the week/topic/module, provide commentary on student performance and provide a look into the next week/unit/topic.

This example allows you to demonstrate how a blog works and allows you to communicate important news and information to your students.

Each week make a blog post that:

  • Summarizes what the students went over
  • Provides kudos for student performance
  • Provides encouragement for student struggles
  • Allows for commentary to point out important details about the course content.
  • Gives students a preview/intro into the next unit.
  • Be sure to use multimedia so that students see what the blog can do.

*Use other communication tools in your course (announcements, e-mails, calendar entries) to remind students to check the blog. Be sure to encourage students to comment on your blog posts (a few bonus points for your top 3 commenters across a semester).

Both of these activities will give your students a good idea about how they can use these tools to complete the activities/assignments that you have placed in your course.

This strategy works with multiple types of tools/activities in and outside your LMS. Things like VoiceThread, GoogleDocs, course hashtags and many others are easy to pair with the “Seeing is Believing” idea.

Hopefully, by employing these types of strategies in your online/hybrid/web-enhanced courses, you can reduce student anxiety and increase student success!

BbWorld14 Session Blog: Beyond the Discussion Board – Implementing Blackboard Tools to Increase Engagement

Murano 3301
Cheryl Boncuore | Academic Director, Kendall College
Ken Sadowski | SLATE

Session explores student and faculty experiences form a variety of institutions using traditional discussion boards in online, hybrid and campus-based classes.  It takes a deeper dive with an institution that implemented blogs, journals, wikis and video everywhere in order to increase engagement. Results and Reaction will be discussed.

  • What Engagement Means in Online Learning
  • Faculty Favorites
    -examination of faculty responses positive and negative
    -Status Quo Expected mandated
  • Beyond the Discussion Board
    -Other Tools
    -Tools beyond Bb

Assumptions

  • DB has been around for a long time
  • DB is static and students don’t like it
  • Faculty bear with it because they have to
  • Don’t know any other tools
  • Can’t use other tools
  • Forced Responses
  • No real social Interaction

What the Numbers told us?

  • Survey 400 people from 100 insitutions
  • Return rate of 20%
    -84% Faculty
    -12% admin
    -3% staff
    1% Instructional Designers

What LMS do you use?  74% Bb Learn

How do you Primarily Teach? 36% Online, 35% on Ground, 29% equally

Age Group – Nice Mix 25 – 65 and older
How long have you been teaching – 1 – over 20

What tools do your students prefer?

  • Discussion Board 52%
  • Other – 24%
  • Don’t know 15%
  • Blog 2%
  • Journal 1%
  • Facebook 6%

What has happened?

  • Surprised about positive comments for discussion board
  • perceived mediocre yet they use it
  • molded it to what they wanted it to do to fully engage students

Discussion Board got some “new” friends…

Defining Engagement –

  • Connecting all institutional constituents to the activities of teh learning, discovery and the academic topics of study
  • Great Engagement leads to Greater Retention
  • Every class must go beyond institution walls
  • Fits Mission of University

Tools of Engagement

DB – pre-developed online courses, traditional tool, what else is there?

BB Tools – Journals, blogs, wikis, surveys, video everywhere, rubrics

Web Tools – Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Skype, Big Marker(video conferencing tool – web based no java)

Don’t always look for right answer…look for group work, engagement and problem solving process.

What did we learn?

  • Tools that are available to us can be used in interesting ways
  • Faculty use tools that they are comfortable with
  • It’s not the tool, it’s the pedagogy!

What’s Next?

 

 

The Course Blog: An Online Instructor’s Best Friend

Course BlogAn online instructor has many “friends” or tools to help facilitate communication, assessment, collaboration and learning in their online course. In many instances a faculty will chose one tool over the other for obvious reasons. A course blog can cover a number of bases and it is a medium that many of your students will already be familiar for helping to digest information. This blog post (<– see what I did there) will cover just a few ways that a course blog can benefit you and your students.

  1. Engage StudentsA Blog Can Keep Your Students Informed and Engaged

    It is already a best practice for you to communicate regularly with your students. A blog can help facilitate that practice by helping you to post weekly (or more depending upon your need). Ensure your students have a expectation of having to check the blog regularly and can expect (from you) a post each week.

    Part of what you are trying to do here is remind your students of upcoming assignments, readings, or research as well as giving them waypoints or signposts where they should be paying attention.

  2. FeedbackUse the Blog for Feedback

    One of the best ways to utilize your course blog is to make it a feedback mechanism. Letting your students know that you are reading their assignment submissions, discussions and other assessments assures them that you are taking an active part on their learning journey. For example, use the blog post to sum up student discussion posts or submitted papers for the week giving kudos (by name) to students who are really bringing it home and challenges where the class maybe coming up a little short. You can turn the feedback around and have them comment on a blog post to collect feedback.

  3. Searching Made EasyThe Course Blog Makes Finding Information Easy

    Have a course blog means that your students will know where to go to find the out what’s happening in your course. They know that they can use the tool to search for the data they want.

    Digging through a syllabus or checking old announcements can be time consuming for some students. The course blog provides a familiar interface that is easy to search for needed information. In many instances, students can search by category, key word or date (week, month etc..). The blog keeps an archive of old posts so your students will know exactly where to look.

Keeping your students informed, engaged and in the loop is key to ensure they have a successful leg in their educational journey. The course blog allows you to let your students know what’s going on, provide feedback and provides an easy way to find all of that information.

*Blackboard Learn provides the added benefit of associating your picture with each post and your students’ pictures with each comment, thereby making the experience more personal and connecting.

BbWorld Blog: Wikis, Blogs, Forums, Journals- Which One Do I Use & Why?

7/12/2012 | Room 276

Deborah Prickett
English Instructor
Jacksonville State University

Rewrote mission statement to be a “learning centered” university.   Doing a lot of challenge based learning in the English Department.  Offering many hybrid courses.

Forums:

  • Prompts or not
  • Replies when required
  • Checking for posts that respond
  • Students – not continuous Engagement
  • Grading Fast and easy

Discussion forum keeps track of all comments(replies) in Gradebook.  Blackboard Blogs & Wikis do not.

Blogs:

Individual Blackboard Blogs are better Chunked.  Put them together so that they are easier to grade.  This professor created an individual blog for every chapter.  Great for multimedia input (videos, pictures, charts etc).  Great for older students.

Students are used to looking at blogs.  Blogs are more visual.  Forums have Tree Structure.

*Tip:  Have your students decide how the assignment will be graded: A student created Rubric!

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