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.
What is SoftChalk Cloud?
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.
- Course Design
- Self Directed Learning
Presentation Slides: TYCAWestBlendedCoursesRock.pdf
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.