Search

eLearning Frenzy

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

Tag

student success

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!

Advertisements

BbWorld16 Session Blog – Build Online Engagement through a Virtual Student Unions

Bellini 2003
July 14, 2016
8:30 – 9:20

Engagement (Tinto)

  • Academic and Social engagement promotes college succes
  • Social connections lead to social and emotional support
  • Great involvement in educational activities and learning

SACS

  • Provide support program
  • Services
  • Activities
  • Promote student learning and development

The plan a Virtual Student Union

  • Support for successful online learning
  • Easy to find resources
  • Connecting learners to TROY
  • Positive educational experience
  • Social Engagement

*Trojan Cafe shows up as a course for all students.

  • Course entry page is web embed with highlights, dates/calendar and headlines.  Articles that are relevant to students: preparing for grad school, how to budget, dealing with tragedy (orlando)).
  • Online contests and giveaways.
  • Student forums: General chat, textbook exchange, contests and giveaways, military student room, how can we help?
  • Robust Resource site (html again) blackboard tutorials, online writing center, advisor, etc….
  • HTML pages through course to promote engagement (essentially a website within a course)
  • Trojan cafe course pages are HTML Blackboard Content Management System (CMS) Web folder URL.  Blackboard Course Created (URL button added), pages designed in adobe muse, webpaged saved as html

BbWorld16 Session Blog – Student Success in Higher Education: Plan, Predict, Engage

Venetian G
July 13, 2016 4:35 – 5:25

Only 59% graduate from college after 4-6

12.5 Million 20-somethings with some college credits and no degree

Understanding students’ struggles through research – what we learned:

  • Student journey is messy
  • Students feel alone and anxious
  • feel urgency to make decisions
  • lack of connections between short and long-term goals

The average advisor to student ratio – 1:300

Student success is a complex problem, but there are clear ways Blackboard can help.

Our student success philosophy

  • Plan
  • Predict
  • Engage

Blackboard Plan -empowering students to take control of educational journey (exploration, planning, registration) Partnership with Burning Glass

  • Discover careers based on interests (in development) Bb Plan
    Students can self-identify interests and seek careers that align with those interests
  • Explore career and skill demand (is there demand for that profession and if so, where is it?)
  • Learn about jobs first hand – partnership with road-trip nation (video interviews of people in professions) giving students first hand accounts of working in desired profession.  See real job postings that exist today
  • Seek Help from Advisors – making help accessible to students
  • View Degree Progress
  • Conduct “what if” analysis (what if I wanted to that program instead?)
  • Planning a course schedule
  • Register for courses

Blackboard Predict – Humans helping students (enabling those people to do a better job at helping students) Importance of Data, What they are doing with Data

  • Predict takes in 2 data sources SIS (demographic data) and LMS (course activity)
  • Taking that data and predicting (probability that student will pass etc..) which then points to who should I reach out to and who would benefit most from the interaction? for advisor.
  • Knowing more about students, passing the data on through a display that gives advisor more information about you (helps advisor engage with student to build relationship)

Blackboard Engage – The business of being a student needs to be easier (personalized, relevant and focused on student success)

  • Building toward a streaming pathway
  • supporting entire student lifecycle from inquiry to enrollment to student support: Global advisor and coach community, lead nuturing and enrollment mgmt, student support services, and more…
  • Communications need to be customized to where that student is in their lifecycle and who they are.

Improve advising with Blackboard Advise – a web-based advising tool that provides insight into students plans.

  • enable advisors to guide students to success (quickly understand who is on track and who is at-risk
  • Provide proactive guidance and support critical milestones
  • 24/7/365 contact centers (financial aid/enrollment mgmt/registration/advising)

 

Being Ready for Finals in an Online Course

ReadinessWith finals fast approaching, your students should be dutifully studying up on course materials, completing academic research and course activities that will help them be able to handle the questions and concepts they come across during end-of-semester assessments.   Your course materials have covered topics large and small that will help them make appropriate inferences, connect the dots and generally understand the subject matter they have been interacting with over the course of a semester.

Even when hitting all of your targets academically speaking, your students may have problems when it comes time for finals in an online environment.  We all know that technology failures operate under the “when, not if” principle, but there are strategies and practices that your students can put into place that will help them surmount any obstacle thrown their way.  The following practices will benefit your students when it comes to the end of year exams:

BEFORE STARTING THE EXAM

Power Up!
Plug your laptop into the power outlet unless you are absolutely certain that your laptop has enough battery power to last for the duration of the test.

Tether Up!
If you have the option, turn off your wireless connection and plug your laptop into the nearest available network port or use your desktop computer if available.  Wireless issue can cause your exam to disconnect and your instructor may not be fond of resetting your exam attempt for the umpteenth time.

Go Solo!
Close down any other programs that my distract you from the test or interfere with your network connection.  Having only one active program ensures your computer will be running at its best.

Idle Computers are the Devil’s Playground
Check your laptop idle time to make sure that it will not go into sleep mode prematurely and sabotage your assessment attempt midway through.

Be Up for Pop-Ups!
Disable all pop-up blockers. These blockers come installed in the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox, in third-party toolbars such as Google and Yahoo, and they can come with utility software such the Norton products from Symantec.

Get Patched Up!
Ensure that your laptop has the latest Operating System (e.g., Windows) patches. Automatic updates can disrupt your current browser session or make your laptop very slow.

Are You Compatible?
Use a web browser that is compatible with or certified to work with the current version of your Learning Management System.

Using Special Software?  Practice, Practice, Practice!
If you are using a lockdown browser or special proctoring software, be sure to download and install it BEFORE you take the exam. Your instructor may provide a practice assessment that will let you make sure you are familiar with the special software involved.

DURING THE EXAM

Don’t Get Click Happy!
When beginning the quiz/test, click the quiz link ONLY ONCE and wait at least a minute for the quiz/test to load.. Do not keep clicking on the quiz/test/test link. Clicking on the quiz/test link two or more times may trigger a message saying you already took the quiz/test. If, after clicking once and waiting the full minute nothing happens, contact your instructor or test proctor immediately.

Leave-off of Leaving
Once you have started the quiz, do not leave the quiz/test page for any reason. Using the browser’s back and forward buttons to move to and from the quiz/test will end the quiz prematurely and prevent you from further access until your instructor clears the attempt. If you are permitted to view other online resources during the quiz/test, open a new browser to view them.

Problem?  Reach out and Touch Someone
In case of computer problems during the test notify your instructor as soon as possible. He or she will reset your quiz/exam attempt or authorize a designee to do so. Your instructor may have policies on if they allow you to reattempt the quiz at all.

Sizing it up BEFORE You Begin!
Do not resize or refresh your screen after loading the quiz/test. Make sure the screen is the size you want before going into the quiz/test. Most browsers refresh the page when you resize the screen so the browser will try to reload the quiz/test if you resize/refresh.

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.

New Semester? Check Your Course Before You Wreck Your Course!

Check your CourseAnother new semester has arrived at my workplace and Alma mater. We are just days(2) away from the start of a the fall 2014 semester. Many of us have moved last fall’s content over or re-purposed course materials from last spring. Copying course content from previous semesters saves us time and effort that we would otherwise spend re-inventing the wheel.

As you prepare to unleash your online course resources to your students via a course in your Learning Management System, you will need to take some things into consideration to ensure a smooth start to the semester.

Here are a few steps you can take to help guaranty a good start for you and your students:

  1. Get your course’s dating life straight. – Content Availability & Due Dates
  2. Take….these Broken Links! – Check Your External Content
  3. Get a second opinion! – Is Your Course Navigable?

Get Your Course’s Dating Life Straight
(Content Availability & Due Dates)

Date AdjustmentNothing can be more frustrating for your students than having an assignment that is due in the syllabus but unavailable in your Blackboard course.  Obviously this is not done on purpose to confuse the students.  Some content from a previous semester could have been date specific and so a new semester needs new availability dates.  Checking your due dates is also an important part of getting your course’s dating life straight.  Not only to ensure that you have days and dates mentioned correctly throughout your course, but you want to ensure you don’t have things due on holidays etc..

This date checking session also provides you with a good opportunity to make changes for the better.  Think back to your previous semester when you taught the course.  Maybe there wasn’t enough time to complete an assignment, or maybe there was too much.  Make changes to this semester’s calendar based upon issues or opportunities from the previous semester.

Blackboard provides a great tool for date management inside your course.  The Date Management tool can be found here: Control panel>Course Tools>Date Management. The tool allows you to change dates based upon:

  • Using the Course Start Date
  • Adjust by number of Days
  • List all Dates for Review

Being aware of your course’s dating life will greatly benefit you and your students.

Take….these Broken Links!
(Check Your External Content)

One of the primary benefits of posting files and content in Blackboard or any Learning Management System is that you can feel very secure in the knowledge that within reason, your content/files will always be accessible.  This is NOT true with links to external content.  Whether you are linking to an Internet article, a YouTube video, a SlideShare presentation or some other external content, you never know when that content might disappear.

This is why it is uber-important for you to check links to external content prior to releasing it to your students.  This means checking prior to the start of the semester as well as just before your students have to use the content.  Ensuring that links to external content work before your students need them will help reduce pain and frustration within your Blackboard course.

Here is a helpful (and funny) eLearning Best Practice music video to help you remember to Take….these Broken Links!

Get a Second Opinion!
(Make Sure Your Students can find Their Away Around)

So, you have dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s.  Your course dates are adjusted and your links have been checked.  You’ve even read through your course and feel pretty good about it. There is another best practice you can use to help ensure success for your students when it comes to your Blackboard course.

Why not have a colleague, a friend even a family member read through course instructions to make sure they make sense?  Unfortunately ‘they’ haven’t invented a pill that conveys all knowledge of how to operate inside a Blackboard course yet so the importance of contextualized mechanical & academic instructions is key for any LMS-based course.  Layering instructions throughout your course will help your students feel like they have way-points to guide them as they move along through their learning journey. 

Your course might make sense to you the twelfth time you’ve read through it, but there might be some obstacles that people who have never seen it before could come across.  So getting a fresh perspective on your course is always a best practice.  Ask a colleague, your instructional designer, a family member, heck even your son or daughter could help in this endeavor. 

These three steps can go a long way toward reducing consternation and frustration for both you and your students as they and you move through your Blackboard course.

Connect your Online Course – Give Students a GPS for Course Content

Connect Your CourseWhen you travel somewhere for the first time, doesn’t it seem to take a little bit longer to get there than it does to return home? Whether it is unfamiliar surroundings, difficulty reading the map or the GPS isn’t up to date, it can be frustratingly slow to travel to new places.

Think of your online course as that new destination for your students. How would they describe their navigation experience? Would they say that once they travel into your course that it is difficult to find their way back? Would they say that the course links were easy to find and use? Would they be frustrated trying to make it to their “destination”?

Even when we try to organize the course so it is organized into more digestible “chunks” for the students, we can make it hard to maneuver. Imagine a student lost in a Escher print of folders within folders within folders.

Connecting your course by organizing, clearly naming your navigation elements and providing an “escape route” will save your students and ultimately you time when putting together your online course.

Below are steps you can take to connect your course and save time for you and your students:

  • Use Dividers and Subheaders to visually organize your course’s navigation menuCourse Menu
  • Append the text (Click the title above to Open) on descriptions for folders, learning modules, lesson plans, web and course links.
    Click to Access text
  • Make the content item Blue if you want your students to click it
  • Chunk your course content as you would teach it in your face-to-face course.  For example: Put all Chapter content in chapter folder with different sub-folders for each chapter.
  • Provide an Escape Route by placing a Course Link at the bottom of a unit of study so that the student can navigate back to where they were before easily.Course Link

#bestpracticemonday – Netiquette for the Online Course

NetiquettePart of setting your students up for success in any course is to create a culture of success.  We create a culture of success by ensuring students know what is expected of them and in some cases involving them in coming up with some of those expectations.  Online students come into a course with their own thoughts and musings how about the course should operate and how they should interact with others.

Being proactive in establishing a positive culture of communication can mean the difference between student satisfaction and student frustration.  A great way to encourage positive interactions in your course is to establish Netiquette or Internet Etiquette expectations for your online course.

This blog post will cover four different types of Netiquette for the online course.  It is not an exhaustive list, but a great starting point or template from which to work.  We will look at the following four areas:

  1. Netiquette – General Guidelines
  2. Netiquette for Discussion Forums
  3. Netiquette for E-mail
  4. Netiquette for Chats/Webinars

GuidelinesNetiquette – General Guidelines

  • Keep caps lock at a minimum for emphasis: IT MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE YOU ARE YELLING
  • Be careful when using humor or sarcasm as much can be lost in translation and give offense in the online environment
  • All communication should be at a college level and include correct spelling and grammar
  • Treat fellow students and instructor with respect in all types of online-communication (e-mail/chat/discussions/web meetings)
  • Use clear and concise language (e-mail does not easily reflect your implied meaning)
  • Avoid text speak and slang (sorry, no LOL, ROFL, LMBO or IMHO)
  • Use standard fonts and font size: Arial/Times New Roman, 11-12 pt font
  • Only use emoticons when appropriate ☺

Discussion Forums GraphicNetiquette for Discussion Forums

  • Review and edit post BEFORE posting
  • Spell-check, Spell-check, Spell-check
  • Stay on Topic
  • Cite any sources you reference in your post
  • No flaming or personal/insulting remarks
  • Provide well thought out replies to thread postings, “I agree” and “Great Post” are unacceptable
  • Be respectful of others’ opinions
  • Read previous messages in a thread BEFORE replying
  • Don’t regurgitate someone else’s post, make your own

E-mailNetiquette for E-mail

  • Include your name and return address in the e-mail signature
  • Be brief: Don’t try and write the sequel to War & Peace
  • Make your subject line descriptive
  • Limit the use of Reply All, does everyone need to see your response?
  • Be forewarned about “forward”:  Be sure the original author is okay with you passing his/her e-mail on

WebinarNetiquette for Chats/Webinars

  • Don’t play with the whiteboard tools unless directed to do so by your instructor
  • If you are sharing your desktop be sure only topic appropriate windows are open
  • Use a headset/microphone combo, online meeting attendees don’t want to hear themselves through your speakers
  • Do not talk over others
  • Wait your turn to speak/use web cam
  • Make sure everything works BEFORE the session begins don’t try and get technical support in the middle of a lecture
  • If using a webcam be sure you have appropriate lighting, appropriate attire and limit distractions (pets, spouses, roommates, children)

3 Ways to Foster Student Success in Your Online Course

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑