Most students hate online discussion. It’s true. Ask them. I don’t blame them. I hate it too. Ha! Yep, I just admitted that. It’s not the idea behind asynchronous discussion that I dislike. It’s how it is implemented in most online courses. It’s almost as if it’s an after thought. Oh wait, I need some student to student interaction, so I’ll throw a few questions in a discussion forum and be done with it. There’s no clear purpose. Then 24 students all jump in and try to manage what can quickly become unruly or worse boring and meaningless. First, my horror story. How do 24 students “discuss” this question: What was the theme of the story? Yes, I’ve seen that discussion question in an online course. Well, after the first student nails the answer, and it didn’t take long in this case. Everyone waiting 4 days until the one brave soul responded with the correct answer. Done. What was everyone else supposed to say after that? Not much and the discussion was a flop. Twenty-four students echoing the same response. And I’ve seen worse.
There’s a lot that goes into creating successful asynchronous discussion in online courses. I talk a little about some of it in the video at the end of this post. Instead of elaborating on that further, I’d rather share with you a very rewarding asynchronous discussion going on right now in my ENG102 online course. Discussions don’t have to take place in a traditional discussion forum. That’s the first lesson. In this case, my real goal, aside from getting students to interact with each other, was to have students help each other out with their writing by offering some valuable feedback. This discussion begins in Connect Composition where students submit their latest essays. I set up a peer review assignment and put students in groups of 3. Their goal at this stage is to review the other two papers in their group and offer feedback based on the 6 questions I set up for them to answer.
The objective is twofold: Read more
I can’t remember when I first started using SoftChalk, but it seems like it’s been about 10 years. That’s how long the company has been around (since 2002). I’ve been using the tool to help create interactive lessons for my online and hybrid courses. We’ve had it available to us (Maricopa) for quite a while now, but when our current contract expired, we decided we needed to go out for RFP to make sure we were using the best product and paying the best price. I’d never thought much about it until I realized there might be a possibility of having to use something else. But when I express my concerns to my colleagues, all I ever get in response is: “What is SoftChalk?”
Well, that’s part of the problem, not enough faculty know the answer to that question. So the few of us who do know, may suffer the consequences. There will always be a need for an interactive lesson builder, and I vote that we keep what we already know. However, if there is something else out there that will blow me away without causing me stress learning how to use it, I’d be open to that too. In the mean time, here’s hoping others in the district find this video interesting enough to start using Softchalk while we await the verdict.
At GCC we have another option for conducting online peer review assignments in the composition course. I previously posted about the option I use in Connect Composition, but today I want to share with you a 2nd way that a few of our faculty are using. Below is the method that Gary Lawrence uses. I posted previously about his heads up about this process, but this post will give a few more details on how it all works. He even shared a video below that he made for students to show them the peer review process.
It’s not a perfect process, but it works well enough if you don’t have access to Connect Composition. It requires that students have MS Word to be able to “track changes” and leave comments on the documents. There are work arounds for that, but it might further complicate the process. Below is an image Gary created for students to explain the peer review process to them. Read more
The following is content from my wiki for a presentation I did in the CTLE on creating audio for a podcast last week. You can visit the original wiki page here: http://tinyurl.com/CreatingAudio
Creating Audio for Podcasts Using Audacity
Itinerary for Podcasting Series II Learning Lab
- Overview of recording tools for the Mac, PC and web: (Garageband, Audacity)
- Developing a plan for the podcast
- Equipment needed (hardware)
- Locate and Import Podsafe Audio into Audacity
- Record voice using Audacity
- Edit and Save audio using Audacity
- Export as Mp3 file
- Import into Canvas
Video of Part of this Workshop: Recording Audio Using Audacity
Below is a guest post from Gary Lawrence, adjunct English faculty member teaching online and hybrid at GCC. He shares his experience with doing peer reviews using Canvas and points out one minor flaw in Canvas that everyone should be aware of to help out this process. If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll pass them on to Gary.
This is the way the peer review process works in Canvas: As part of a draft assignment, I usually let Canvas assign the peer reviews automatically. The cleanest way to do that, I think, is to “lock” submissions, so you don’t have a bunch of late contenders to deal with. So under the draft assignment, I give a due date, and then I select “more options” (shown in blue box below) and check “require peer reviews,” “automatically assign peer reviews,” pick the number of reviews per student, tell Canvas when to assign the peer reviews (default = assignment due date), and then “lock submits after (date)” to keep it clean. I also happen to restrict inputs to .doc or .docx files so students can use “track changes” features of MS Word for line comments.
Three years ago when we did our last book adoption, one of the features we were looking for was a way to do peer reviews on student essays in an online environment. We chose a McGraw-Hill text because they had a tool that does this well. The tool is called Connect Composition and it comes packaged with our traditional textbook. Also built into our version of Connect is an online handbook, The McGraw-Hill Handbook. But within Connect we have the ability to set up peer review writing assignments. We can schedule the number of drafts we want to have for the writing assignment, choose pre-made review questions or write our own, and choose the size and makeup of the groups. It’s a pretty slick way to do peer reviews, and it’s really easy for students.
Below I created a video for students showing them how to participate in our most recent peer review writing assignment. Feel free to use this video with your own students if you are using Connect in your classes.
I’ve talked about Piazza before, but that was before I really had a chance to use it. I introduced it to students in my online ENG102 course last semester, but I think students asked about 3 questions all semester. They resorted to texting and emailing me most of the semester, and I pretty much didn’t enforce the “Ask Piazza rule.” But this semester, not only am I insisting that students use Piazza to ask questions, I’m also using it for discussions. This is part of my MIL project I’m working on this semester.
Using Piazza is very easy, especially since Piazza has an LTI that lets you integrate the tool right into Canvas. So I have a button on the menu bar that opens Piazza right in the Canvas window. It also takes the user information from Canvas to authenticate the user in Piazza, so they only have to log in once (to Canvas) and then they can go straight to Piazza without having to log in again there. I think I’ve already talked about how the Q&A works in Piazza. This post is more about using it as a discussion forum.
In Piazza instructors and students can ask questions or post notes in the Q&A forum. If they post a question, users are prompted to supply an answer to the question. Instructors have a place to answer and students have a separate box to answer in. Student answers are like a wiki. Other students can edit the answer to try to improve it. The instructor can then mark the answer as a “Good Answer.” I plan to use this feature in some manner later down the road. For now, I’m using the “notes” posts for small group discussions. When you post a note, users are not prompted for an answer, but are encouraged to post “followup discussions.” Follow up discussions let students post their own responses and then let’s others reply. Each student can post a followup discussion within a note. Read more
For two years we’ve been discussing a common assessment tool to use in all of our freshman composition courses at GCC, from ENG071 all the way up to ENG102. I participate in the ENG102 assessment group since I teach that course every semester. The course competency that we decided to focus on was: Find, evaluate, select, and synthesize both online and print sources that examine a topic from multiple perspectives. Our course competencies are so broad, as you can see, so we started by writing several Student Learning Objectives (SLO).
We then choose SLO 3: Locate at least one online source and determine the credibility of it by evaluating the validity of information contained within each source. We came up with a few tools that we could use for this assessment in our individual classes. This semester we have started to collect data from this common assessment, but I think we still have some ironing out to do.
In my ENG102 Freshman Composition course I have 10 assignments and four papers that students do before they submit their final research projects. Five of the assignments are research assignments and are required in order to submit a final paper. I named the research assignments Odysseys, something I borrowed from a colleague years ago when I first started teaching at CAC. The whole idea of the Odyssey assignments is to get students practicing several research skills in one assignment that are directly related to their final projects. This is how I introduce these assignments to students.
What is an Odyssey?
An odyssey, famous for a Greek epic poem (attributed to Homer) describing the journey of Odysseus after the fall of Troy, is a long wandering and eventful journey. This is a perfect description for writing a research paper. It’s not something that we put together in a day. Writing a research paper is a long wandering and eventful journey, so some of the key journeys in this process have been labeled odysseys to indicate their importance. All Odyssey assignments are required and must be submitted in order for your final paper to be accepted. No skipping Odysseys. They are mandatory.
The Odyssey assignments include: Read more