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13
Jan

Bring Your PowerPoint Presentations to Life

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.

knovio1Knovio is the tool of choice for this post. Of course it’s in beta. It’s a web 2.0 tool and it’s free.

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.

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12
Jan

Presentation: Enhancing a Course with Audio Podcasts

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

Itinerary

  • Introduction - What is Podcasting? (5 min)
  • Examples of Courses Enhanced with Audio (20 min)
  • Demonstration of a few Tools (20 min)

 Google Voice

  • 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 moreRead more
11
Jan

Let Robots Read Your Blog Posts To You With Podcastomatic

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.

Screen shot 2013-01-11 at 8.56.05 PM

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 moreRead more

10
Jan

How Do You Check for Website Validity and Plagiarism?

I got a question yesterday from a colleague about checking website validity. I wasn’t sure I understood the question that was asked, so I’m not sure I answered it correctly. She asked: Is it possible that we could learn more ways to “clear” websites as to content validity. I took this to mean that they wanted to be able to run website content through a plagiarism detector to see if the site was using content without properly citing it. I had heard of a few tools, so I shared the following.

We used to be able to run text through the plagiarism detector in Bb, but not any longer now that we’ve moved to Canvas. We should have a new district wide plagiarism detection tool by the end of this semester or summer, so there could be a way to have students check text using this tool once we get it. There are also a few online plagiarism detectors. I haven’t used them yet, but I may this semester.

I think the last two get at what the questioner was asking, at least I hope. If you’ve used any of these plagiarism tools, leave me a comment to let me know how it worked out for you.

9
Jan

Making Online Lit Classes Work – The Secret Sauce

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.

enh295web Read moreRead more

8
Jan

Apps & Browsers, Oh My!

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.

11-27-2012 5-07-25 PM.pngThen 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.

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