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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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student engagment

Connect With Online Students – Make Feedback Personal

banner-people-connectedOne of the challenges for any online instructor is making students feel a sense of community or connectedness in their online course.  There are multiple strategies that can be put into place to meet this challenge head-on.  Today’s blog post will focus on the feedback the instructor gives in an online course and how it can connect the student more personally with the instructor.

The type of feedback an instructor provides can have a tremendous affect upon the student/instructor dynamic in an online course.  Students who feel like they know their instructor report higher satisfaction levels and tend to be more engaged with the courses they are taking. Conversely, students that don’t sense instructor presence in the course tend to feel less satisfaction and engagement, and that can be reflected in course evaluations.

The following are steps an instructor can take to connect with online students via course feedback:

1. Leave specific feedback.

Be purposeful about leaving feedback that deals specifically with aspects of a student’s submitted work. A side-effect of a good best practice to save time for online instructors is that sometimes generic feedback can be used to a fault. The online instructor can counteract this by leaving specific feedback about the students’ attempt every few assignments.

2.  Use student names when leaving feedback.

Starting assignment feedback with a student’s name immediately personalizes the interaction.  Placing emphasis on the personal before leaving the feedback of the assignment, points to interest on the part of the instructor in the student’s individual attempt. The idea that an instructor cares about student success is vitally important in any course, online or otherwise.

3. Use multimedia to personalize the interaction.

To a student sitting at their workstation/laptop/tablet, a grade or text-based feedback in an online course can seem almost sterile and devoid of the human touch that comes from the professor handing back grades in a face-to-face course.  Luckily, most LMS’s these days come with tools that can make the feedback interaction more personal.  Just the sound of the instructor’s voice will add a personal dimension to the feedback experience.  The addition of video to assignment feedback kicks it up a notch!

Audio Feedback with Blackboard Collaborate Voice AuthoringAt SHSU, Blackboard is the Learning Management System for online, hybrid and web-enhanced course offerings, and it comes equipped with tools that can enhance the feedback experience.  It also interacts well with third party tools and other types of files that can fulfill the same type of need for students.  For example faculty can use the Blackboard Collaborate Voice Authoring Mashup to leave audio feedback directly in the feedback of the assignment.

As a bonus a student is not just limited to hearing the disembodied voice of the online instructor for feedback.  Faculty members can also use the Video Everywhere tool to drop a recorded video into the feedback shown to the student.  The Video Everywhere tool utilizes YouTube to either link to a video uploaded to the instructors YouTube account or record a video at the point of feedback and place it directly.

Using Video Everywhere for FeedbackIf the instructor does not have ready access to a webcam or microphone on their computer, he or she can record a video with their smartphone and upload it to YouTube as an unlisted video, then link to the video with the Video Everywhere tool.  Instructors can also use voice recording apps to attach audio files to feedback for online students.

Personalizing feedback for an online course is an important best practice for any instructor. However, personalizing every feedback entry for every student would take too much time away from grading and other important interactions.  As with all things, moderation is key.  Try provide a few personal interactions for each student, each semester, letting them know that the instructor is committed to their success and is willing to connect with students on a more personal level.

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#bestpracticemonday – Increase Student Engagment by Encouraging Interactions in Online Discussions

Encouraging InteractionsHave you ever felt left out of a discussion? When you are contributing to an effort, how does it feel to not be recognized for that contribution? Recognizing the contributions of the students in your online classes is key to increasing their participation. Here are some strategies for success:

  • Reply to a handful of discussion posts for each forum picking different students each time
  • Give Kudos and Challenges (recognize the contributions and offer challenges to encourage your students to reach beyond)
  • For larger classes do one summary post for each discussion mentioning students by name

If students believe you are actually reading their contributions they will work harder to ensure quality and quantity of their efforts.

BbWorld13 Breakout Session – Micro-blogging to Increase Engagement

BbWorld13 Breakout Session – Micro-blogging to Increase Engagement

Sprang from: Implementing Twitter into classes as a teaching tool.

Use hashtag #teachwithtwitter to share best practices.

Use of twitter came about from challenge of increasing retention.  What does engagement mean?  Connecting all institutional constituents to the activities of learning, discovery and the academic topics of study.

Twitter allowed use of social media in classes and beyond, tied to institutional mission, programmatic learning outcomes, & class objectives.  Connect to thought leaders in the industry to apply what they are doing to academic work.

Tell students to BYOD to class.  “If I find you on Facebook, “I get to post your status”.

276 students, 13 hasthtags and 10 professors.

Twitter is:

  • a great way to have students do research
  • a great way to connect with thought leaders in industry
  • a great way to engage students and faculty
  • a great way to affirm student knowledge  (retweets, favorites etc..)

Students felt more connected.

Twitter is not:

  • PRIVATE
  • A way for instructors to STALK students
  • A home work reminder tool!

Follow every major leader, mover/shaker in your field.  Prompts prof to prompt students to look at questions they should be thinking about!

Engagement uptick:

Building relationships via tweets and re-tweets.  Students that may not interact in face-to-face environment may feel more comfortable in the twittersphere.  Gain insight into your students through micro-blogging.

Affirming students by:

  • Followers
  • Retweets/Mentions
  • Favorited
  • Direct response/reply
  • Start a hashtag trend!

Bonus Results:  Creating Twitter pages for professional/business uses

In Blackboard – Use Twitter widget to display twitter feed!

Resources:

Bit.ly will shorten URLs  (also tracks clicks)
HootSuite, TweetDeck  (HootSuite allows you to schedule tweets – making them relevant to when your followers are reading their feeds)Twitonomy – Metrics on Tweets

Lessons Learned

  • Will continue to do this
  • More training for everyone (hashtag/mention use)
  • Help students understand Twitter (be clear on assignment layout)
  • Don’t assume all Gen Y students are tech savvy
  • Students were afraid of doing it “wrong” based on “multiple choice” mentality
  • Better Balance of quantifiable pieces with softer side

Twitter Assignment 1: Hashtag, you’re it!

  • Current event searches

Twitter Assingment 2: Follow you, Follow me

  • Making Connections to industry Leaders (make a professional account)

Twitter Assignment 3: Tweet That, Tweety Bird

  • Sharing ideas with others

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