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5
Apr

Playing with Mobile Tech Tools

I’ve been playing with a few new tech tools as of late, so I thought I might share a few with you today. I should be grading, but I just can’t get myself to read another paper.  Each of the tools have great mobile apps as well, which is why I found them interesting.

I’m really liking teaching with Google+ although my students are just using it as a blog. We’re not making them do much else, but I can see the possibilities, and they like commenting on each others posts without any prodding from us. It’s a learning community – team taught with a reading teacher. Good stuff. Anyway, I like that SlideShare has made it possible to share presentations in a hangout. Google+ is really getting good. I have lots of ideas of how I could use this. Speaking of online presentations, check out MyBrainshark. This tool makes it easier to add voice over to your PPT slides and other features for that matter, and it works on iOS and Android devices.

The next one is Piazza. Piazza is a question-and-answer platform designed to get students great answers from classmates and instructors fast. Here is a list of key features.  Ask questions on Piazza rather than emailing the teacher so everyone can benefit from a response. Every question has a single Students’ Response that students can edit collectively (and a single Instructors’ Response for instructors). If the Students’ and Instructors’ Responses aren’t clear, ask a Followup below the responses. You can comment on Followups, too, or start a new Followup thread for a different topic. Shy about asking a question? Select an “Anonymous” option before you post. Tag your posts so classmates can easily filter questions of the same topic. Type a “#” before a key word to tag. Surround code with HTML pre-formatting tags and LaTex blocks with “$$”.  This is a great tool to handle questions in courses.
The last one is StudyBlue. Make, share and compare online flashcards and notes for free with StudyBlue. Bah, sounds boring, but it’s actually kind of cool. You can add audio and pictures to your cards and you can share them with a class. It integrates well with your mobile device and sends reminders when it’s time to study.

25
Mar

Diigo Links for the Week (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

19
Mar

MIL Proposal 2012- Statement of Project Goals

So I’m finally getting around to applying for the Maricopa Institute of Learning (MIL) Fellowship Program in the district. MIL is a “Fellowship for six residential faculty in any discipline who are interested in examining significant issues in their teaching fields and contributing to the scholarship of teaching and learning through classroom research projects. Its secondary purpose is to create a community of scholars that will engage in conversations about the scholarship of teaching and learning.” I’ve wanted to apply for about five years now, but I’ve never gotten around to it. Well, this is the year, and here is my statement of project goals. I’ll post the rest once I’m accepted (fingers crossed).

With the growing popularity of online courses in the district, more students are opting for an online course of study. And as we rush to provide these online courses, we continue to look for more effective online instructional practices. Online asynchronous discussion seems to be the most prevalent practice in online courses. Online asynchronous discussions are discussions through an online media where participants are responding to each other, but not simultaneously. Online discussions are good practice because the discussion is happening in an asynchronous manner, participants have time to think about the question and others’ responses before posting their response. They are able to develop their thoughts more fully, rather than responding immediately after the question is asked. The discussion groups also provide an opportunity for participants to hear feedback from members who may be reluctant to share information in a face-to-face group setting. It is an effective online instructional practice. However, in most cases asynchronous discussions, despite their good points, more often than not are the least favorite aspect of the online course according to students. This is the case mostly because online discussions are not implemented effectively by instructors. My goal for this project is to research effective ways to structure online asynchronous discussions with particular emphasis on student led small group interaction. Discussions in online and hybrid courses as an instructional technique are integral to using cooperative learning structures, so that will be the focus of my research.

11
Mar

Giving Back to Future Teachers

FEA BadgeLast week I was asked to present at the Future Educators Association (FEA) State Conference at Grand Canyon University (March 1-2, 2012). I’ve been asked in the past to do workshops for students, adjunct faculty and residential faculty, and I always take the opportunity to teach technology skills. So this opportunity was no different. The focus of the 45 minutes session which I presented with my colleague Sue Glascoe, MCC math faculty, was our three favorite tools. I use many software tools just to help me organize and manage my online teaching life. So this workshop focused on my 3 most valuable tools that help me do just that. I demonstrated how to use Google Apps, including Gmail, to create forms, contact groups and filters for classes to create a well managed teaching environment. A second tool that I shared was Google Voice, a tool that allows for me to give students a phone number where they can both call and send text messages and allow for me to manage who, what, when, where, and how I receive those messages. The last tool I covered was audio podcasting tools for reminders and brief updates for classes using AudioBoo and iPadio. My workshop demo page is located on my wiki: http://drcoop.pbworks.com/w/page/27251733/3tools

I was surprised that there were only two technology sessions during the conference, but I guess that’s better than none. We did our session three times, so we touched a good number of future teachers. I had a great time presenting with Sue, and we both know that being examples and modeling how we teach with technology will fuel future teachers to be creative and step outside the box and try new things in the classroom.

Although this is outside my 6 hours of accountability for my Friday, I think my time was well spent and more valuable than anything I could have done while on campus sitting in my office.

 

11
Mar

Diigo Links for the Week (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

4
Mar

Diigo Links for the Week (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

27
Feb

Follow Up Questions from Cloud Based Technology Webinar

Today I did a webinar for Academic Impressions: Using Cloud-Based Technology for Learning and Engagement. The webinar lasted an hour and forty-five minutes, which means I had to talk for that long. This isn’t generally a problem for me if I’m talking about and sharing about what I love to do: teaching and learning with technology, so the time flew by. I was really surprised that I was able to keep to my planned timeline. I got everything in but a few questions at the end, so I’m hear to address them now.

One of the tools I used in the presentation to help give every participant a voice was GoSoapBox. I blogged about it in my last post about what I’d do with a $300 grant. I was able to address the remaining questions in there, since participants had posted them in the webinar and in GoSoapBox. Below is a list of a few questions I answered for participants.

I had a great time talking about cloud based technologies, and I really hope it was helpful for others. And I hope they get out there and give it a try. Remember to start small and play around with it before you make it a major assignment for a course.

 

26
Feb

What Could You Do With a $300 Grant?

Three hundred dollars isn’t a lot of money; nevertheless, this question is kind of a mute point anyway since my college doesn’t currently encourage us to be innovative with teaching and learning by offering grants. We have nothing, so most teachers do nothing. The district offers learning grants, but you can’t use any of the funding to buy software or tools, so you basically have to write the grant to pay you for your time, and then use the money you earn to buy software or tools. It’s not a very sustainable solution considering some of the tools are web apps, and you’re paying a yearly subscription, not a one time fee.

So I’m going to do a little dreaming. If I had just $300 to spend on teaching and learning each year, this is what I would buy.

First, I teach Freshman Composition and all my courses are eCourses, 4 online and 1 hybrid. In keeping with the Quality Matters standards for online courses, I try to use technology and instructional materials in accordance with the recommendations from the QM rubric. Here are the QM Standards I try to meet with the tools I select to use in my courses

  • Assessment & Measurement
    • 3.1 The types of assessments selected measure the stated learning objectives and are consistent with course activities and resources.
    • 3.5 Students have multiple opportunities to measure their own learning progress.
  • Instructional Materials
    • 4.1 The instructional materials contribute to the achievement of the stated course and module/unit learning objectives.
    • 4.4 The instructional materials are current.
  • Learning Interaction & Engagement
    • 5.1 The learning activities promote the achievement of the stated learning objectives.
    • 5.2 Learning activities provide opportunities for interaction that support active learning.
  • Course Technology
      • 6.2 Course tools and media support student engagement and guide the student to become an active learner.
      • 6.5 The course technologies are current.

As I spend my imaginary $300, I will tie in how each tools helps me meet the QM standard listed above for added benefit. I will also discuss how would use the tool to help my students meet the objectives of the course.

My first purchase would be VoiceThread. The Manager account costs $99/year and comes with 1 Pro account and 50 Basic accounts (student accounts).

A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too.

In my online courses I like to have class discussions to “provide opportunities for interaction that supports active learning.” Each module includes at least one discussion forum. These forums, especially when I used Blackboard, where boring, dry and full of meaningless text from students. I’ve tried for years to come up with ways to make these interactions more meaningful and engaging for students. VoiceThread (VT) is a simple answer. VT gives students 5 ways to participate in the discussion and it gives the instructor a way to focus on several different points within one discussion.

Not only can I use this tool for class discussions, I can also use it for content delivery (think boring PowerPoint presentations). VT “supports student engagement and guides the student to become an active learner.” This is so because students are invited to participate in the presentation by adding comments and feedback about their understanding while they watch the presentation.

My second purchase ($201 left) would be for GoSoapBox for $90/year for up to 100 concurrent student users. GoSoapBox is a new instant student response system (think boring and expensive clickers). It allows teachers to gauge student understanding or confusion levels throughout a lesson, poll students and track the data for future reference. It can be used on laptops, tablets and smart phones, which sets it apart from some other clicker/student response systems.

GoSoapBox is used during class to break down participation barriers, keeping students engaged, and giving teachers insight into student comprehension that was never before possible.

What I get for my hard earned $90 is:

  • Student-ranked Questions
  • Discussions
  • Confusion Barometer
  • Polls & Quizzes
  • Advanced Data
  • 24/7 Access
  • 15 GoSoapBox Events

My third purchase ($111 left) would be for CreateDebate which runs for $99. I’m starting to see a trend here in educational pricing for web tools. Anyway, CreateDebate is “a user-driven social debating website which serves to facilitate discourse on topics of users’ choosing. CreateDebate combines social networking technologies with debating and voting in a social and democratic nature” (Wikipedia).

CreateDebate is an integrated and dynamic virtual learning environment that will stoke the discussion and participation in your classroom!

Since I teach argumentative writing, this site works well for getting students engaged in active debates about current events. They can demonstrate use of rhetorical devices and identification of logical fallacies in the arguments presented.  This course activity and resource would be the “type of assessment selected to measure the stated learning objectives” for the course, which is to “organize writing to support a central idea through unity, coherence, and logical development appropriate to a specific writing context.” CreateDebate increases participation, promotes critical thinking, and improves the vocabulary and persuasive writing skills of my students.

So with $12 left, there’s not really much I can buy with that, so I could just not spend it. The point is for under $300 I can get some valuable tools to help me engage my students in the learning process, as well as teach them using current technologies that also teach 21st Century Skills that help students to learn to think and work creatively and collaboratively. I can see the value in these tools, so as there is no such thing as the $300 grant at GCC, I’ll probably be digging into my own pockets like I always do to fund my innovative ideas for teaching and learning. I think my students are worth it.

26
Feb

Diigo Links for the Week 02/27/2012

  • If you have a website and you don’t have an icon, then Generate Favicon is exactly what you are looking for. They make it quick and easy to generate an icon for your website.

    tags: favicon website generator

  • “Live Gaming provides a unique way for online brands, publishers and bloggers to keep their readers actively engaged and entertained. Build audience duration and social interaction; allow Readers to make predictions, win points for answering questions, and bet those points on real-time outcomes. Live Gaming creates a second interactive event within the main one, and makes the overall event experience even more relevant and rewarding. To set up a new Game simply publish a new Trivia or Bet from the Polls & Interactive tab in your Console. “

    tags: gaming coveritlive

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

14
Feb

Tweeting in Class – Not Yet

I’ve been on Twitter for close to five years. I joined right after they went big at SXSW March of 2007. In that time I surpassed 24,000 tweets, a combination of personal and professional. But it was a couple of years before I decided to try Twitter in my classes.I’m still not to the point where I will require my students to tweet for class, but I do see value in using it as an alert system. Although I’m not finding many students who are on Twitter already or find following my class account of interest. But it was easy to set up and use, so I continue to do it.

Here’s how I use Twitter in the class. I teach online, so I communicate often with students by posting announcements to the class blog. Previously I’ve used WordPress as the class blog, so it was easy to add a plugin that automatically tweets every new posts on the blog. I figured that if students followed the class Twitter account (@DrCoop for ENG101, @ENG102 & @ENH295), they could get quick updates when I posted a new announcement without having to check the blog. I probably rendered this feature pointless when I set up email subscriptions on the blog as well. Instead of tweets as updates, they can get the actual blog post delivered to their preferred email account. So I get very few takers on my Twitter updates.

But I haven’t given up the idea that one day students will find these Twitter updates useful, so I continue to find ways to keep Twitter automatically updating when I post announcements. Maricopa will be moving to a new LMS next fall, so I’ve been playing around with it and teaching 3 classes in it this semester. Just for fun, I figured out a way to get Twitter to autopost my announcements from Canvas, although this is completely pointless, as Canvas already emails students when you post new announcements. At this point I’m just experimenting for fun, not function. I set up an IFTTT (If This Then That). Basically you can create tasks that happen after a certain trigger (when something happens (this) then do something else (that)). So I set up a “when a new post happens on Canvas then tweet a link to the post.”

It works great, but presently IFTTT only allows for you to connect one Twitter account, so I can only do this for one class. They did tweet to say they would be offering that option soon, but I don’t foresee tweeting in this manner a useful feature of my online classes. Not yet.