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7
Jan

Creating Closed Captions for Online Course Videos

If you’re teaching online and providing media for your students, you must provide closed captioning or alternative materials for students to be in compliance with accessibility requirements for schools.

Closed captioning provides access to videos by displaying auditory information in printed form on the screen, which gives students who are Deaf or hard of hearing equal access to your class. Closed captions also facilitate greater understanding of media content for people who speak English as a second language, as well as make it easier for the audio content of videos shown in large lecture halls to be understood.

YTCaptionsI’m just now getting around to providing the closed captioning, as I’ve been relying on providing alternative materials for students who have requested them in lieu of watching a video or listening to a podcast. Actually I haven’t had a request ever in my classes in over 10 years of teaching online. But this semester I will be prepared thanks to the services built into YouTube. Yes,  YouTube provides closed captioning on all videos. In fact, if you don’t provide the transcript, YT will attempt to transcribe it for you. Don’t get too excited, as it’s not very good at that job. At least not with my videos it wasn’t. I think I may talk too quickly and mumble too much for it to get all my words correct. That’s okay because at least it gives you something to start with, and some of what it transcribes is correct, saving you a little time.

Screen shot 2013-01-07 at 3.03.56 PMIt’s very easy to do. Read moreRead more

6
Jan

Week of Accountability is Upon Us

Random Art Photo by me

Random Art Photo by me

Tomorrow marks my 8th Week of Accountability at GCC, once every semester for four years. We all joke that it’s the only week we have to be accountable all semester, but that’s certainly not true. We’re professionals and we do our job all year round. But the college doesn’t waste time making sure we are accountable on this first week of the semester. GCC has a whole list of scheduled events and meetings all week. I get tired just looking at it.

Week of Accountability is the week before the semester starts, and it is a week for instructors to prepare for the upcoming semester. However, if you wait until this week to get work done, you’re in trouble. Most of the first day, Monday is spent in an all employee meeting (Spring Convocation). In my four years at GCC, this has been a mixed bag of activity. We’ve had everything from dancing, musical chairs, strange motivational speakers to meaningful  and sometimes meaningless information dumps. We never know what to expect, but I’d have to say it never lacks for entertainment. Read moreRead more

5
Jan

Google+ Communities – Public or Private for the Classroom?

g+When Google first opened up the Google+ Communities option, I thought it was a great idea, especially for classes. But then I started thinking about how that would work with a class, and now I’m not so sure it will work for my purposes. Don’t get me wrong. Google+ Communities are a great addition to the social network. It’s just not going to work with how I want to use Google+.

I posted yesterday about how I’ve used it, but essentially I wanted it to be a place for my students to blog about what they are reading, writing and researching. The topic, food waste/sustainability is a hot topic right now, and the whole purpose of having students study this topic is to make more people aware of the problems we have. So why not get students blogging and sharing information about this issue and problem. However, because it is a class, I want to give students the option to keep their work private if they choose. Moving my current set up to a Google+ Community may not allow me to do both. Read moreRead more

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

3
Jan

What Annoys Me Most About Canvas #30in30

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.

canvas logoI’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 moreRead more

2
Jan

It’s Really Time to Start Using Those Smartphones in the Classroom #30in30

What is everyone waiting for? Just about every students who walks through your classroom door is carrying a powerful computer in his/her pocket. We need to start using them and stop just talking about mobile learning. And we don’t have to make it all fit in the classroom. Put those phones to use outside the classroom too. I’ve surveyed my students for the last 3 years and look at how many have cell phones. Only 1% (3 students) didn’t have one.

Survey of ENG102 students for past 3 years.

Survey of ENG102 students for past 3 years.

textsmsNinety-one percent of my students have text messaging on their phones and indicated that I may contact them via text with important information. Yet, I didn’t take advantage of that. No, I haven’t sent one important information text message to my students in 3 years. However, they’ve undoubtedly received text messages in regards to my classes. How is that you may ask. Well, let me tell you. Many of the educational tools many of us use today, including our LMS have built in tools that allow for students to set up text alerts. For instance in Canvas, students have the option to add their phone number to receive SMS notifications. And in Canvas there are a ton of notifications that can be set up. We just have to tell them about it and encourage them to use it. Read moreRead more

1
Jan

Technology I Loved in 2012 – #30in30

tech

Photo by me using my Nexus 7 tablet

2012 was not a very big technology year for me, at least not for new technology. This is probably good since a really good year would certainly mean I spent way too much money. I’ll share what little I did use in this post and then follow up later with more substantive posts on each technology then. Look in the Tech I Love category for these new posts. I’ve broken technology into two categories: web tools/software and hardware. Let’s start with the web tools/software. This list could be longer, but I only want to focus on the tools I actually used in my classes with students.

The most significant tool I used, and one that everyone in Maricopa will be using next fall is our new LMS – Canvas. I’m an early adopter, so I started teaching in the free version of Canvas last spring (2012). And this fall I taught in the official Maricopa version. I’m really surprised I haven’t blogged more about it, but I really like this LMS, and Instructure sure knows how to throw a party; I mean conference. Next up is Google+. We don’t have G+ turned on for our students yet in MCCCD, but a few faculty have been using it with students via personal Gmail accounts. We had our learning community students use it for blogging and sharing content for the past two semesters, and it’s worked really well. We created a circle for the class and had students posting twice weekly. Students on their own turned it into a way to communicate with each other as well. Read moreRead more

19
Dec

Online Course Redesign for Better Engagement

I like to tell people that I’ve been designing an online course that I’ve been teaching for over 10 years. I say this because I feel that there is always room for improvement, and with the ever changing landscape of technology tools and LMS tools available, a good online course should never really be “finished.” It’s just ready for the next go round. Well, this next go round, Spring 2013, the ENG102 online course is due for a major upgrade. It seems only appropriate since so many others in Maricopa are going through their own redesigns as they move courses over from Blackboard to Instructure Canvas. I made the move a year ago, but now that I’m there or here, I’m ready for some major upgrades.

So like any good instructional designer would do, I did an analysis and came up with a list. The focus of the redesign is to make the course a little more engaging. I want for students to have more video and interactive lessons and less reading of handouts and texts. And when students do read the textbook, I want to give them more guidance for reading and remembering the concepts in those chapters. Here’s a quick preview of part of my list:

courseredesign

ENG102 Redesign list made in Evernote

Read moreRead more

10
Nov

Micro-Lectures with Video and Audio Tools – eLearning Community of Practice (eLCoP)

On Friday GCC hosted the eLearning Community of Practice (eLCoP) in Maricopa. Our topic was Micro-Lectures with video and audio tools, and we had a nice lineup of GCC faculty sharing how they use micro-lectures in their classes:  Chris Nielson, Amanda Murphy, JoAnn Pell and myself. We had a great turn out with people from Gateway, GCC, PC and SMCC in attendance – 28 people in all.

The eLCoP is composed of faculty and staff dedicated to the research, discussion and dissemination of best practices for eLearning at Maricopa. eLearning includes courses taught hybrid and online, those using a college Learning Management System and learning that occurs via alternative delivery methods.  eLCoP is open to all faculty and staff who are interested in positively impacting student learning outcomes through the creation and adoption of eLearning best practices.

In our presentation we shared how we use lecture capture, screencasting, video and audio tools to create short meaningful lectures for our online and hybrid courses. This topic is also relevant to faculty teaching face-to-face who may be interested in the concept of the Flipped Classroom. Below is our timeline with all the videos and links for tools that we shared with you. If you have any questions, add them in the comments below or email any of the other presenters. Read moreRead more

8
Nov

Podcasting on the Fly with SoundCloud, Part II

Last week I posted about podcasting in the classroom using your mobile device and a really cool website called Soundcloud. You can read that post here. At the time, I couldn’t figure out where to find the RSS feed for my Soundcloud account, so I couldn’t finish the post by explaining how to make the audio posts a podcast. I just embedded the audio instead. I then took to the internet to find out how to find or get my RSS feed for Soundcloud. Turns out the podcasting feature in Souncloud is in beta, so you have to apply to take part in the program. Read more about applying and podcasting with Souncloud here.

So I applied and then Tweeted that I applied and was waiting to hopefully be able to podcast with my Soundcloud account soon. Within a few minutes I got this tweet from @SCsupport. I replied with the information and was approved right away. When I logged in to my account later that day, I could see the RSS feed icon on my profile page and my account was now ready to be a podcast.

The video below continues where I left off last time and explains how to create the podcast using this new RSS feed and the RSS feed built into Canvas. There were a few hiccups, but all in all it is a workable way to create audio on the fly with your mobile device and then quickly get it posted to your announcements in Canvas via the podcast feed. Have a look, and happy podcasting.