Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Blended Learning’ Category

25
Apr

FEP 2018: Instructional Delivery & Design Thoughts

To complete an FEP each faculty member must engage in a self-examination of “THREE REQUIRED AREAS”:

  • TEACHING (OR OTHER PRIMARY DUTIES).  For example, instructional or service delivery, content expertise, classroom or program management, instruction/program design. This year I decided to focus on instructional delivery and design.

I’ve written previously about a redesign of my hybrid ENG102 course, so I’m going to continue that discussion here with a focus on instructional delivery and design. One of the many things I wanted to focus on this semester was better instruction for my hybrid students. The current instruction and design wasn’t bad, but I wanted to see if I could make changes to improve it. With this in mind, I decided to focus on feedback in grading, more one-to-one interactions, and more engaging in-class instruction.

In the past I’ve always graded student work in a digital format, mostly using a tool built into the publisher software I’ve used for 8 years, Connect Composition. Connect is great in that it makes it easy for the instructor to type feedback on the essay, and it saves the responses so if you have to say the same thing (think: Run-on sentence) over and over again on every student’s paper, you only have to type the R and the phrase just pops up, you select it, and you’re good to go. It saves a lot of time when grading. However, this semester I wanted to try some different technology tools, so I didn’t use Connect.

After trying to grade papers in Canvas one time, I gave up on that idea. Instead I decided to try grading using my Samsung Galaxy book. It’s a 2 in 1 PC that runs Windows and Office. It comes with an S pen and you can write right on the documents using Ink in Word. It was really easy to do and I quickly resorted back to my 1990’s self and began scribbling all over my students papers. I scribbled circles and boxes, arrows, lines and words. It was fun.

But I quickly realized that after several emails and texts asking what a particular scribble meant, that maybe this new (archaic) method of providing feedback was not as successful as I’d hoped. I mean the technology was great, but the practicality of it was not. And I have to give credit to my students who were very creative in their methods for asking for help. I got phone images of my scribbles, screenshots of them and even the scribbles written out using the letters they could recognize. “Dr. Cooper. What does frog mean?” Ha! Okay, okay, I can admit failure.

student conferencesWhat this failure transcended into was a bunch of one on one webinar conferences with me explaining all of my scribbles on the graded paper. If I got a message saying they didn’t understand something, I’d quickly send a Google Meet (Hangout) invite to the student and we’d go over it. I share my desktop, pull up their graded paper, and discuss. They loved it. So now I just set up that option after each paper is returned. I use Calendly to set up appointments. Students click the link to sign-up. The appointments get added directly to my Google calendar. Once I get an appointment, I edit the calendar event and add the Google Hangout and the student to the event. They get an invite, and when the time comes, we meet online.

This is an instructional strategy that has worked well. I still need to work on my scribbles, but students like the one on one interaction as we talk over their paper, and they can hear what I was thinking when I go over the marks on their papers. This is nothing revolutionary by any means, but it’s something I hope to continue. Although it might be tough when I’m teaching a full load (5 classes) in the future.

This strategy also helped with my goal to engage more with each student individually. I’m part of a MCLI Learning Grant this year with a group of other GCC ENG/RDG faculty who teach hybrid and online. Our project, Using Data to Improve Student Success in eCourses, involves sending personalized messages to students who fall into several categories: doing well, maintaining, improved, deteriorated, average maintaining, danger (red flag). After we send the messages, we take note of any changes in the students’ grade/behavior, and we’re surveying them to see how they felt about the messages. That might be a blog post soon.

I used the commenting feature in Canvas assignments to leave most of my messages. I usually use rubrics for grading assignments, and only occasionally will I throw in a “Good job” or “You need to redo this assignment.” My messages this semester were more personalized based on the category the student fell in. I wanted the student to feel as if I was talking just to him/her. I also used Remind to text my students. Each week I’d pick 3-4 students and send them a personal text. I’d text things like “Nice job on your last paper. You’re doing a great job in this class.” This was really easy because luckily all my students are doing well (C or better). Most of the texts for negative behaviors were for missing an assignment. “You didn’t submit your paper last night. Make sure you get that in right away. I’d hate for this to affect your grade. Let know if you need help.”

Lastly, I improved my in-class instruction by adding in more student interactions. We played Kahoot! games at the beginning of each Tuesday class session. The games covered the material in their online lessons. The students worked in teams early on to write a group argument paper on Net Neutrality, so we spent more time doing group activities, and last we shared more student work during class and talked about how the work was good or how it could be improved. With these in-class additions, we spent less time going over the online work, which in the past I felt was needed. Turns out I didn’t need to waste class time on reading directions for students.

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?

4
Jan

Playing with Google+ in my Hybrid Class

gplusLast year I taught two semesters in a hybrid learning community with my colleague and friend Cindy Ortega. We met one day a week for 2 1/2 hours. The other 2 1/2 hours was spent online. I taught ENG102 Freshman Composition and she taught CRE101 Critical Reading. Both classes when you look at the competencies are very similar, focusing on critical reading, writing and thinking. And of course we both teach research because we have to have something to read, write and think about. Our theme for the course was Food Waste and Sustainability, so we had students read the book American Wasteland and watch several movies about sustainability. This semester we watch Lester Brown’s Plan B movie and in the fall we watched No Impact Man. All of our content revolved around the ideas from the book and movie.

So with such an important topic, we thought it would be great to encourage students to be transparent in their work in the course, as what they were discussing and writing about would be relevant to all. With that in mind, I suggested we use Google+ as a blogging platform for students not just share their journals posts with us, but with the world. We did it for two semesters and students loved it. I’ll try to explain how it all worked out. Read moreRead more

25
Oct

TYCA West Presentation: The Not-So-Distant Education – Blended Comp Courses That Rock!

Many community colleges have experienced a growth in students over the past few years, and with a limited number of classrooms available, many colleges are trying to find a way to accommodate the needs of all of these new students. We’ve managed to meet this need by offering more online and hybrid freshman composition courses. Online courses obviously are not for everyone, but what about blended learning? This presentation will demonstrate how I created and now teach blended composition courses that meet the needs of all types of students (dev-ed to honors) by incorporated good course design, gaming, challenged based learning, self directed learning and multimedia elements. I will discuss basic design steps for developing a blended course, as well as discuss the pedagogy and tools necessary to make it a success.

Tools discussed: CanvasConnect CompositionGoogle+GoSoapBoxTegrityYouTubePiazzaSoundCloudCamtasia Studio and SnagIt (Jing).

Topics Discussed:

  • Course Design
  • Gaming
  • CBL
  • Self Directed Learning
  • Multimedia

Presentation Slides:  TYCAWestBlendedCoursesRock.pdf

27
Jul

The Best of Both Worlds – Hybrid Courses at GCC

Image from: tmaworld.com

Hybrid courses, also known as blended learning, are the best kept secret of all things GCC has to offer. We don’t offer many of these types of courses in some departments, mostly because students are unfamiliar with the delivery style and shy away from them. It’s a shame because hybrid courses are great courses offering students the best of both worlds. That would be the world of traditional face to face classes and fully online classes.

We all know that online classes are not for everyone. Online classes required discipline, self direction, self motivation and lots of time. Albeit the time factor is flexible in that you can “go to class” when you want and not on a predefined Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday-Thursday at 8am schedule, but you still have to be disciplined enough to get your work done. Online courses can be tough, especially if you sign up for these classes for all the wrong reasons.

Hybrid courses are designed to give a taste of that online learning freedom, but with the comforts of having an instructor available to guide you. If you don’t quite have the discipline necessary to do online learning on your own, you can rely on still having to come face to face with your instructor once a week to face the music. Hybrid courses when designed correctly eliminate the boring class sessions when you drive to campus only to sit and listen to your instructor lecture for 50 minutes. Then you turn in your homework and leave. You could have done all that from the comforts of your own home. With a hybrid class, instructors find more creative ways to “lecture” the course material, like using video or audio. The lecture could come in the form of additional reading or multimedia lessons designed for online distribution. Or better yet, you could learn by doing.

With hybrid classes, you’re still held responsible for doing not just your homework on a weekly basis, but also your newly assigned online work. The online work is not just out there for you to figure out when, where, and how to do it. It’s tied in closely with your face to face class work, and most times, if you come to class ill prepared from not doing your online work, you won’t find the in class sessions meaningful. You’ll be wasting your time. So the discipline and guidance most students crave and need is still there, but in-class sessions are transformed into more meaningful, learner centered, and fun classes.

Give hybrid courses a try. We have plenty still available for Fall. They come in many different “blends,” so make sure you sign up for a full semester hybrid (08/22/2012- 12/14/2012). If the time period is shorter than 16 weeks, you will be registering for an accelerated class and that might be challenging your first time out. Also note that hybrid courses can be one day a week (my favorite) or even two days a week. It’s like making a smoothie in the blender. You decide what goes in and how much of each (F2F and Online) goes in.