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 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.
turnitin.php – Free Plagiarism Scanner, Checker and Detection Tool.
- http://www.plagiarismchecker.com/url/ - Free and lets you check web site by typing in the URL.
- http://plagiarisma.net/ - Duplicate Content Checker for Students, Teachers, Writers. Free Turnitin Alternative. This one lets you scan URLs too.
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.
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.
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 more
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
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.
Ninety-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 more