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27
Mar

Google Docs Just Got Better – Sharing a Post

15 Best Google Drive Add-Ons by Vicki Davis

15 Best Google Drive Add-Ons by Vicki Davis

I was in the process of writing about all the new add-ons for Google Drive when I came across @CoolCatTeacher‘s (Vicki Davis) blog post on the 15 Best Google Drive Add-Ons for Education. I can’t top the presentation she created that highlights the top additions, so I’m sharing a link to her post here.

Why should you care about Add-Ons for Google Drive? Because that is what our students are using these days, and these add-ons give students the ability to insert citations directly into Google Documents directly within the document using EasyBib, take bulleted lists and convert it into a mindmap for a graphical depiction, and track changes in a Google document. Yes, I said track changes. If you’re not convinced, click through anyway, as there are 12 more add-ons that Vicki shares. She also includes a video on how to enable add-ons for Google Drive.

5
Feb

Why We Chose Connect Composition for Our Digital Solution

There is a lot of talk these days about going digital, and in an online teaching environment, going digital is just common sense. The problem is up until recently digital options were not all that great. It started with companion websites that were difficult to integrate into your course because they were just stand alone websites. Then we got companion websites that offered a few tools (peer review, bibliography tool, etc.), but again no real integration with the LMS and they were clunky. Then came the ebooks, but they were just PDF files of the same old paper texts. Nothing ever seemed to solve all the needs, nor did they seem worth all of the time needed to set things up. And on top of that, students just didn’t really like most of this stuff.

I really think publishers needed some time to develop digital content that made sense, and as a result the offerings are getting so much better. Four years ago, we had the foresight to consider our digital options when we did our last book adoption. My job was to explore all the current digital tools and help make a decision as to what would be best for our faculty. At that time I played with MyCompLab, InSite, and Connect Composition. We went with Connect, and in the following video I explain what the major factors were for why we chose Connect.

The product has evolved over the four years we’ve used it, and it just keeps getting better. They’ll be rolling out Connect 3.0 in the fall, and I’ve already had a chance to check out some of the new features. The biggest change is the addition of LearnSmart and a new SmartBook option. The new SmartBook has finally brought the concept of an ebook into a more modern adaptation. It’s certainly not a PDF file anymore. It’s an adaptive learning experience for students. The only think I would like to see is mobile access for some of the tools in Connect and better Canvas integration. Mobile access would be huge.

18
Nov

What is an OER (Open Educational Resource) and is it Right for You?

I attended my first OpenEd conference Nov. 6-8th in Park City, UT. Click the link and you too can see some of the sessions from the conference. I went with a team of people from Maricopa representing the Maricopa Millions Project. What I learned was that James Sousa from Phoenix College is famous in the OER world, and the SCC math department is cutting edge. Who knew? When I returned, I did a presentation last Tuesday from 2-3pm in the CTLE on OER to help everyone at GCC understand OER and the Maricopa Millions initiative.  I shared information about the initiative and the call for proposals that went out last week. Proposals were due last Friday. Here is some information about the project from the call for proposals.

Maricopa Millions

The main goal of the Maricopa Millions Open Education Resources (OER) Project is to reduce educational costs for students. Spending less money on textbooks and materials will foster greater access to materials for students, which may enable them to stay on track with completing their courses.

The Maricopa Millions OER Project includes developing a strategic, sustainable OER infrastructure that would include: awareness, professional development, OER development and technical support, marketing and technical structure. In order for OER to be successful at MCCCD, we have established an OER strategic planning and implementation team to establish and oversee specific OER outcomes over the next 5 years.

The driving objective for the project is to save MCCCD students $5 Million Dollars over the next five years through the use of OER materials.  The sooner we begin, the sooner the students can realize the savings.

This Maricopa Millions OER project, through an internal grant process, supports the adoption, adaptation, and development of complete OER course materials for high enrollment courses in the MCCCD.  The final product will be OER course materials that can be easily adopted and modified by other faculty (including adjuncts) teaching that course.

I wanted to point out many of the different facets of the program, one main one being that there is a “low cost” option available as well. This means that faculty could choose finding or adopting materials with a lower costs instead of building their own OER. For instance, in composition we are comfortable using an online publisher product with a built in ebook that is currently half the price of the average textbook cost for composition courses, so we are already saving our students money. There are many other scenarios for the low cost option.

Also, the call was for a specific list of high enrollment courses (ENG101, PSY101, COM100), but that should not discourage anyone who teaches smaller enrollment courses from participating with OER. It just means that at this time, the committee wants to start with supporting the higher enrollment courses to get a bigger impact on the numbers out the gate. Any faculty who wants to work on an OER project can do so without the support of the committee. The goal is to save students money and not everyone doing so will be able to be supported by the project.

Below is the agenda and all the links we talked about and shared during the presentation. Feel free to ask me questions about the Maricopa Millions project if you have any. In the mean time, check out some the resources below and start exploring OER. Read moreRead more

28
Oct

Defending Modules in Online and Hybrid Courses

I just recently returned from a conference and was intrigued to find that a presenter didn’t particularly like the idea of using modules in his hybrid course. In fact, he said that “all that extra junk” was confusing to students. I was assuming all the “extra junk” was referring to some of the standards Quality Matters suggests we add to our course in order to have quality. I often find that many online courses don’t bother to list course objectives or link them to the learning, something many students couldn’t care less about. But even if there is just one student who wants to know why they are doing a particular assignment, we should make the effort to tie it all together for him/her.

Basically this instructor had a problem with the modules option in Canvas and avoided setting up a modules page in lieu of a front page with links to weekly pages. In the weekly pages, which could be considered mini modules, he posted everything the students would do for that week. I failed to see how that was better than using the modules. In fact, you can create the same effect in modules.

Module 1

The whole concept behind using modules is it benefits students; first by providing consistency. “By incorporating the same types of components in each course module, students quickly pick up on the course’s rhythms and patterns and have a better idea of what to expect than if the course were designed using a varying structure,” says  in his article in Faculty Focus titled “A Modular Course Design Benefits Online Instructor and Students.” He goes on to quote Andrea Henne, dean of online and distributed learning in the San Diego Community College District, who said,  “Often online students get a little bit lost, and they don’t understand what they’re expected to do. But if the course follows a format that’s recognizable and comfortable, then the second week and subsequent weeks are consistent.”

For me, I use the end of a module to trigger major assessments like an essay and/or a module quiz. I want to evaluate students to see if they are ready to move on to the next sequence or module. I have smaller assessment in each week (assignments) to keep student actively learning and building skills for the larger assessments. But when my students move to the next module, they can expect the same pattern, smaller assessments, lessons, discussion, major assessments (quiz and essay) at the end. Take a deep breath and move on to the next.

Consistency should follow through within the week pages as well. For my class, Read moreRead more

17
Oct

How I Teach with SoftChalk Cloud

Recently I’ve been doing some more work in SoftChalk, developing online lessons for my online and hybrid courses. I’m still a little nervous about relying so much on SoftChalk Cloud since the district is in the middle of an RFP for a tool that does the same thing. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that SoftChalk wins the bid, mostly because this is what I’m familiar with and have already invested so much time working with. I’m unsure if GCC will continue to buy it for us if the district goes in a different direction. The only way to guarantee that is to get more users on campus. We have 50 licenses and plenty are still available for use.

In an effort to generate more users here on our campus, I made two videos to tell people more about SoftChalk. A while back I create a video: What is SoftChalk? and now I want to share with you Softchalk Cloud and how and why I use it in my class. See the video below.

SoftChalk Cloud is the fastest, easiest, most flexible way to create and manage e-learning content for delivery inside or outside of a LMS. Educators can create engaging, interactive, media-rich learning content that directly integrates with any LMS or website.

I’ve been mostly pleased with how SoftChalk integrates with our LMS, Canvas, especially with how quizzes or activities built into a SoftChalk lesson are scored and added to the Canvas gradebook if you add the lesson to an assignment in Canvas. That is a super nice feature.

Here is a slide that I cover in the video that talks about how I teach and what my needs are in regards to technology. Watch the video below to listen to my thoughts on this.

slide

What is SoftChalk Cloud?

14
Oct

ENG102 Research Assignment – Odyssey V: Locating Reference Sources

Back in January I blogged about the research assignments I use in my ENG102 course. I call these assignments Odyssey assignments to put emphasis on their importance. You can read more about that in the first assignment: Odyssey I. I thought it would be a nice addition to share the assignments too. So if you haven’t done so, revisit the first post and then come back and view the assignments.

We do this assignment in Week 10, and prior to doing the assignments students are instructed to view the following lessons: Reference Sources (but I haven’t created it yet), so they read these handouts:

Assignment #9 – Odyssey V: Locating Reference Sources

Instructional Objectives

In this assignment students will:

  1. refine strategies for understanding and evaluating sources,
  2. refine strategies for searching library catalog systems for reference sources, and
  3. practice note taking skills by writing paraphrases, summaries and quoting sources.

How do I find reference sources using the Library Catalog?

The Library Catalog contains records for both print and online reference sources. Below are some suggestions which will help you locate reference materials when you search the Library Catalog. Since we have already searched online sources. This assignment will focus only on reference sources housed in a physical library.

Tips for Finding Specific Types of Reference Sources

Click on the handout to access this material. Inside are some suggestions for locating specific types of reference sources based on Library of Congress Subject Headings.

  • Almanacs and Factbooks
  • Atlases and Gazetteers
  • Biographical Sources
  • Book Reviews
  • Catalogs
  • Citation Manuals
  • Dictionaries (English)
  • Dictionaries (Non-English)
  • Dictionaries (Subject Specific)
  • Directories
  • Encyclopedias
  • Grammar and Usage
  • Quotations
  • Thesauri

Assignment #9 Instructions

After you have read the handout on Finding Reference Sources Using the Library Catalog, grab the  Library of Congress Classification Outline handout to use as a guide. You can also get the handout in the GCC library. You MUST visit a local library to do this assignment. NO ONLINE sources can be used for Part I of this assignment. Using the four basic types of reference works: almanacs, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and quotation books, complete the following instructions:

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14
Oct

ENG102 Research Assignment – Odyssey IV: Scholarly Journal Search

Back in January I blogged about the research assignments I use in my ENG102 course. I call these assignments Odyssey assignments to put emphasis on their importance. You can read more about that in the first assignment: Odyssey I. I thought it would be a nice addition to share the assignments too. So if you haven’t done so, revisit the first post and then come back and view the assignments.

We do this assignment in Week 9, and prior to doing the assignments students are instructed to view the following lessons:

Assignment #8 – Odyssey IV: Scholarly Journal Search

Instructional Objectives

In this assignment students will:

  1. refine strategies for understanding and evaluating sources.
  2. refine strategies for searching online database systems for scholarly articles, and
  3. practice note taking skills by writing paraphrases, summaries and quoting sources

Searching Scholarly Journals

I. Go to the GCC library website: http://lib.gccaz.edu/lmc/ or click the Library Resources tab on the left. From the GCC Library Homepage, click on the Articles & Databases link in the left column or at the top in blue. Choose the Academic Search Premier database from the General list. This scholarly collection offers journal, magazine, and newspaper articles in nearly every area of academic study including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, etc. as well as 180,000 searchable images.

If you are accessing the GCC library from off campus, you will need to log in with your MEID and password. There is help on the login page if you need it, and you can always click the link to

Once you’re in, Click on Advanced Search.

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14
Oct

ENG102 Research Assignment – Odyssey III: Locating Periodicals in Databases

Back in January I blogged about the research assignments I use in my ENG102 course. I call these assignments Odyssey assignments to put emphasis on their importance. You can read more about that in the first assignment: Odyssey I. I thought it would be a nice addition to share the assignments too. So if you haven’t done so, revisit the first post and then come back and view the assignments.

We do this assignment in Week 6, and prior to doing the assignments students are instructed to view the following lesson: Lesson 6.2 Periodicals & Databases

Assignment #6: Odyssey III – Locating Periodicals in Databases   

Instructional Objectives

In this assignment students will:

  1. refine strategies for searching the online database systems.
  2. and practice note taking skills by writing paraphrases and quoting sources

A Little Humor About Using Databases Instead of Google

Odyssey III Steps:

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14
Oct

ENG102 Research Assignment – Odyssey II: Locating Books

Back in January I blogged about the research assignments I use in my ENG102 course. I call these assignments Odyssey assignments to put emphasis on their importance. You can read more about that in the first assignment: Odyssey I. I thought it would be a nice addition to share the assignments too. So if you haven’t done so, revisit the first post and then come back and view the assignments.

We do this assignment in Week 5, and prior to doing the assignments students are instructed to view the following lesson: Lesson 5.2 Documenting Sources Using MLA Format (UHV source)

Assignment #5 – Odyssey II: Locating Books

Instructional Objectives

In this assignment students will:

  1. refine strategies for searching the online card catalog systems,
  2. and practice note taking skills by writing paraphrases and quoting sources

How to Search the Online Library Catalog

A library catalog provides information about the books, periodicals, videos, databases, and other materials owned by a library. In the past, library catalogs were kept on cards in wooden drawers. Today, it is common for the records to be kept online, allowing you to search them by computer. Regardless of the form of access, the function is the same: to describe the materials owned by the library so that you can locate them by author, title, or subject. Read the online presentation: How to Search the Online Library Catalog.

Locating Books

Successful research depends on creating and using an appropriate and useful vocabulary. You will run into many new words and ideas about your subject during your research. Add these words to your research list. Label them New Words. List at least five new words. The card catalog should give you strong access to our collection if you use the vocabulary you developed in the previous odyssey creatively in the subject, keyword, and even author fields. You may use the school library or a local public library, but you should visit a library for this assignment. Visit the school library site: http://lib.gccaz.edu/lmc/opac.cfm

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14
Oct

ENG102 Research Assignment – Odyssey I: Locating Sources on the Internet

Back in January I blogged about the research assignments I use in my ENG102 course. I call these assignments Odyssey assignments to put emphasis on their importance. You can read more about that in the first assignment below. I thought it would be a nice addition to share the assignments too. So if you haven’t done so, revisit the first post and then come back and view the assignments.

We do this assignment in Week 3, and prior to doing the assignments students are instructed to view the following lessons:

Assignment #3 – Odyssey I: Locating Sources on the Internet

Instructional Objectives

In this assignment students will:

  1. further developed their ability to read critically,
  2. refine strategies of academic research, including searching the internet using two different strategies and compiling a list of sources (working bibliography),
  3. and refine paraphrasing skills.

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