We’ve been talking about the so called Digital Natives and the Millennials being the tech generation for years. But I just haven’t seen them in my classes. My students have not only not shown an interest in technology, but often struggled with the technology I used in my classes. But not this semester. In the first class of the Spring 2013 semester, the Digital Natives showed up! Yippee!
First, while Cindy (Co-Teacher) was talking about critical thinking with the class, she asked what a word meant. I wasn’t paying attention (Ha!), so I missed the word, but the student sitting in front of me grabbed her phone and started “messing around” with it. I didn’t pay her any mind either until Cindy called on her. She took one last look at the phone and then apologetically said “I was looking it up,” and then recited her answer to the class. She thought she was doing something wrong, but I was secretly praising her. It wasn’t like it was a vocab word she was supposed to have learned before coming to class. It was a spur of the moment, what does that mean type of question, and she gave the answer. Nice work young lady.
During my part of the learning community class, I was teaching students how to get their Google+ accounts set up, and a student asked if she could get G+ on her phone, and if I knew how to get her school email to forward to her regular Gmail account on her phone. I think if I’d let her, she would have asked me how to do a bunch of other stuff too. We didn’t have time, but I was thrilled that she wanted to know, and thrilled that she is already thinking about managing her tech life. Read more
I see a lot of online courses where the instructors have created lots of PowerPoint presentations that I’m sure they used successfully in their face to face classes, but those presentations in an online class are missing the most important element – the instructor. Stand alone PowerPoint presentations are just not as effective as a presentation done with slides, so instructors need to transform those slides into a nice presentation with voice included. We have to add the instruction back into the class.
There a many different ways to record your PowerPoint presentations. The most obvious is to use the built in tools in PowerPoint. But I’ve found that method to be overly complicated. The easy is to just record your presentation using a tool like Jing, but if your presentation is longer than 5 minutes or you need to edit the video, you’re out of luck. So unless you buy and use Camtasia Studio, Jing’s big sister, then you’re out of luck. But for this post, let’s go for a free web tool to help us.
Knovio™ is an innovative tool for turning PowerPoint® slides into rich video presentations with just a web browser and webcam. With Knovio, you can take static PowerPoint slides to a new level with video and audio presentations that can be accessed anytime on-demand and shared with others through email and social media.
On Thursday I did a face to face workshop in the CTLE at GCC on audio tools. This was a short 50 minute presentation with about 10 people in attendance. All the content is posted on my wiki, but I posted the main page below. Links should take you back to my wiki where you can learn all kinds of great stuff about teaching with technology.
Workshop Wiki: http://drcoop.pbworks.com/EnhanceAudio
- Introduction - What is Podcasting? (5 min)
- Examples of Courses Enhanced with Audio (20 min)
- Voicemail box for Students - Use Google Voice
- Audio Discussion- Use VoiceThread or embed VT on Canvas
- Audio Announcements in a Canvas Course - Use Built in Audio Player or SoundCloud with Audio recorded using Audacity
- Audio Discussion Boards and Class Introductions with Built in Audio Recorder or AudioPal.
- Audio Announcements in Blackboard - Use Wimba Podcaster
- Module Introductions – Mp3 files embedded in Blackboard or Canvas
- Demonstration of a few Tools (20 min)
- Use a Google Voice number with your students and you won’t have to worry about students having your phone number. They can call and text you during the times you want to permit that, and when you don’t, you have all the calls go straight to voicemail where you can read or listen to them later.
- Google keeps a record of every call and text conversation you have with your students, and you can even record calls that you feel need to be recorded. Read more
As an online instructor, I’m always trying to find ways to reduce the amount of reading my online students do in my class. I’m not trying to eliminate reading, but I do feel as if some online classes are all about reading and writing, and there isn’t much media to break that up. It also doesn’t take into consideration the different learning styles. Some students are accustomed to learning from listening or watching an instructor. So I mix it up by providing a weekly podcast and lots of video lessons.
While reading my RSS feeds this afternoon, I came across a post on the Free Technology for Teachers blog titled Podcastomatic Turns Your Blog Posts Into Podcasts. That sounded interesting, so I thought I’d try it out with my blog, and it works fine if you don’t mind listening to a robot for a few minutes.
I clicked the link that the site provided for subscribing to the podcast, and my iTunes opened on my computer and downloaded my podcast. Now once I post any new blog post, I presume Podcastomatic will pick it up and deliver it to my iTunes. We’ll see about that. You can see below that it brought in my last 10 posts into my iTunes Podcast list. Read more
I’ve been teaching online literature courses for four years now. My lit of choice is ENH295: Banned Books and Censorship. I’m still scarred from traditional American and British lit from college, and those courses were already in the capable hands of my colleagues who also teach literature online at GCC. So I went for Banned Books. Makes me feel like a rebel or something, but I like it and the students seem to as well.
Many often wonder how we make online literature courses work when the core element in the face to face class is discussion. We read, analyze and discuss. Well, we also have to write, so moving a course like this online is quite simple actually. We use discussion forums and blogs. This was problematic in the past with our LMS, so I moved the course over to a WordPress blog years ago. I’ve since moved the core content back to our new LMS Canvas, but the blog still remains a central part of the online course. I only moved the core content back for a secure gradebook. I was always nervous about having my grades in the cloud of a non-approved web service in past.
So let’s talk about this blog and how it works for the online lit class.
I’ve been sharing with my students this semester that they can use apps on their smartphone to help them stay connected with their courses in Canvas. These are the links to the apps:
All you need is your MEID and password to get it set up. The course URL you need to set it up is: maricopa.instructure.com. I’ve tried it both on my iTouch and my Android phone. It works pretty good for checking in on the courses. I also shared with them the apps for Piazza since we’ll be using that too.
Then there are browsers. So what’s the best browser to use with Canvas? I’d say Firefox. I’ve been telling students to download and install Mozilla Firefox. I warn them if they decide to use Google Chrome, they will need to give permission to view some content, like some videos. If you only see a black box or don’t see a video that is supposed to be there, you must be using the Chrome browser. For all flash content you have to give it permission in Chrome. Just click the shield up in the address box and choose Load anyway –>
I end by telling them to please stay away from Internet Explorer, although that’s a hold over warning from when we used Blackboard. I might just have to give IE 8, or whatever number they’re up to, a try.
I have to begin by saying that most of these annoyances are probably from user error and/or ignorance, so feel free to educate me in the comments below. Then other annoyances probably have more to do with our (MCCCD) administration of Canvas than with Canvas itself. Canvas is by far the best LMS I’ve used, BUT nothing is perfect and somethings just drive me crazy. Anyway, with that disclaimer, here we go.
First off, Canvas is making me think I’m senile. I will spend a couple of hours making little changes here and there to content pages, and sometimes when I go back the next day or a few hours later, some of the changes are gone. Cue the Twilight Zone music. This has happened on more than one occasion. “I know I changed that,” I say. “I’m not crazy!” It happens enough that I don’t even trust it or me any more, so I have to add an extra step to “check” my work later.
I’m all for change, but sometimes I miss the “old” way things were in Canvas. You can never get too attached to anything in Canvas because it can disappear just like that. One day you have a colored yellow quiz icon and the next you don’t. Little things you never thought you’d miss are just gone. Please come back yellow quiz icon. They even changed their logo. But of course with change bring progress and growth, so I’ll never really complain about this one. Just kidding.
Another annoyance I experienced this past semester was with the surveys. Read more