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 more
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.
Whether you’re teaching online, hybrid or traditional face to face, there is always a need to communicate with your students. That communication doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. “What kind of mic do I need? What editing program do you recommend? How do I compress the files? Can I upload media to my LMS?” These are all good questions, but it’s really not necessary to worry about these things. If you have a smart phone and a Soundcloud account, you’re ready to go. Below I walk you through the process of recording a podcast on your mobile device, where you can do a minimal amount of editing, and then embed the podcast right into a Canvas announcement.
So many of you might ask, why wouldn’t you just record audio using the built in tools in Canvas? That’s a good question. Sometimes I do, but those files are not high quality and I don’t have control over them. They’re posted where ever I create them in Canvas, but it’s either not possible or difficult to reuse those files. I have control over my Soundcloud files and they are higher quality. Also, there is one step I neglected to share with you – the ability to Add External Feed in Canvas. You can then add your SoundCloud feed directly to your Announcements in Canvas and skip the embed step. That means you can post a podcast using only your mobile phone. I haven’t tested this step yet, but when I do, I’ll let you know how it works.
Creating the Video
What I used to create the video: I used my Samsung Galaxy SIII mounted in the Case Star Octopus Tripod Stand, the Soundcloud app, the iPevo Point to View USB Camera to record the video of my phone, and Jing to record the computer screen.
Many community colleges have experienced a growth in students over the past few years, and with a limited number of classrooms available, many colleges are trying to find a way to accommodate the needs of all of these new students. We’ve managed to meet this need by offering more online and hybrid freshman composition courses. Online courses obviously are not for everyone, but what about blended learning? This presentation will demonstrate how I created and now teach blended composition courses that meet the needs of all types of students (dev-ed to honors) by incorporated good course design, gaming, challenged based learning, self directed learning and multimedia elements. I will discuss basic design steps for developing a blended course, as well as discuss the pedagogy and tools necessary to make it a success.
- Course Design
- Self Directed Learning
Presentation Slides: TYCAWestBlendedCoursesRock.pdf
Yep, I said it. I’m calling out GCC and their lack of initiative to get students writing for a real audience. Part of the problem lies with the lack of tools available that are supported by the college, but that’s really just an excuse. I even heard someone say yesterday that now that Blackboard is going away, she won’t be able to have her students blog any more. Well, fear not. Blogs live on, and the fact that they are not bastardized and hidden in a LMS should be liberating. For you, and the blogs. You have free reign to choose the tool that is best suited for your pedagogical need, not what is forced upon you by technology designers who probably have never taught a day in their lives. What the LMS might be pedaling is often something trying to be one tool for every need. We all know how that works out in the end. No one gets what they really need.
But there are blogs galore available for use on the web, and most are free. There are traditional blogs, micro-blogs, and micro-micro-blogs, like Twitter. You’re bound to find something to meet your needs, and all it takes is a little patience to learn the basics. I’ll be doing a workshop next week in the CTLE on Blogs for the Classroom, November 1, 1pm – 3pm in HT2-139. Join me in a discussion about using blogs for teaching and learning. There are many uses for blogs from providing content to providing students with a method to share their thoughts and writing with you and their peers. This will be both an informative and hands on workshop. To sign up go to our web page: http://www.gcca
To hold you over until then, I created a video to show you how quickly and easily you can set up a blog and start blogging today with Blogger. Blogger is available to us as part of our new Google Apps, so it’s linked to your school Gmail account. Look at all the tools that are just one click away from your email (image above). We have tools for videos, photos, wikis, websites, and blogging to name a few. We actually have two blogging tools available to us through Google, but I’ll just show you one today. Join us on Thursday more.
I’ve been podcasting for years now, and I’ve always found the benefits of doing so in my online and hybrid courses valuable to the success of those courses. When I first started teaching hybrid and online back in 1998, I always thought there was something missing. I missed the ability to “talk” directly to my students, to point out missing points or correct behavior or provide motivation. Podcasting has allowed for me to add that back into my courses. I was just reading a journal article from the British Journal of Educational Technology where Rob Van Zanten, Simon Somogyi and Gina Curro (2010) wrote a paper that:
“explores how students interact with different types of podcasts. The study compares download and course evaluation data of a series of short-summary podcasts with full-lecture podcasts produced for the same university course. The findings show that students value full-lecture podcasts as highly as the short-summary podcasts, despite the fact that full-lecture podcasts are downloaded to a markedly lesser degree.”
This is interesting to me, as I’ve always heard that the most effective use of podcasts were to have short micro-lecture podcast and not full lectures. If you’ve always thought the same, then this article should be of interest to you.
Regardless if you go for the short-summary podcasts or the full lecture podcasts there are many benefits for including them in your courses. I could bore you with text, but why when I can demonstrate the value of a podcast. The following video describes the benefits of podcasting in the classroom.
Yes, a video can also be a podcast depending on how you distribute it. All videos on YouTube have a subscription option turning video channels into podcasts. The benefits of podcasting that I see are a bit different from Doug Saunders’ video from 2009, and I don’t have time to make a video to match his. However, audio podcasts can be just as effective, so I’m going to share a few more benefits below in an audio podcast. Feel free to make this podcast interactive by providing comments in the podcast stream.
Soundcloud, the program I used to create my podcast, provides a service called Timed comments that let your students and/or fans give you valuable feedback at specific moments throughout the podcast. You can pinpoint exactly where to leave a comment and start a conversation around it. Give it a try.
You have to sign up for a Soundcloud account before you can leave comments, but it’s quick and easy to do so.
Workshop: Wednesday, Sept. 26 at the CTLE in HT2-139
Lunch and Learn with Dr. Alisa Cooper: Engage Your Students with Mobile Devices. 11:00 am to Noon.
This workshop discussed mobile apps that can be used to engage students in the classroom, although all three web apps demonstrated can be accessed via web browser on a mobile device. Both Socrative and Piazza have native apps for both Android and Apple devices, but GoSoapBox can only be accessed on mobile devices via web browser. This method can actually be easier and quicker for students as they don’t have to download the app first to get started using the program.
During the demonstration we noticed that Socrative was problematic for some users and was overall very sluggish and slow to load pages on the mobile devices. Socrative is currently free and probably still working to polish its product before they move to a paid model. At this point, despite it’s clear usefulness, it may not be ready for prime time. It is worth giving a look at for use in the class however. Just don’t rely too heavily on it just yet. I’ve had trouble every time I use it.
GoSoapBox, a $90 per year paid for applicatoin, worked flawlessly. I guess it’s true. You get what you pay for. They have an alternate pay model where students can pay $10 per year for use instead of the teacher paying $90. Many institution will not find that model permissible at their institutions. For the most part, the features in both apps are similar, with GoSoapBox adding a “confusion barometer” in their app. “The Confusion Barometer allows students to indicate when they’ve become confused with material, or need the teacher to slow down. The teacher sees a graphical representation of the number of students who are confused at any point during class.”
There are some more subtle differences between Socrative and GoSoapBox, but both will do the job to get students engaged in your in-class lectures. I really like the ability to do “Instant Polling” in both applications. This gives you the ability to randomly ask a question verbally during class and have students answer on the device without you setting up the question in the program. You can write the question on the board or just speak it aloud, then give students an option to choose A, B, C or D or a free response answer on their device. This is great for questions that pop up last minute. My favorite feature out of both products is Socrative’s “Exit Tickets”. ”Check in on your students’ understanding as they head out the door.” This pre-designed activity is already set up, so you can just instruct students to do it before they leave.
Lastly, I demo’d Piazza, a Q&A system that integrates nicely with Canvas. If you teach a class that could benefit from a place for students to hangout and ask questions and work together, Piazza is your application. Or if you find yourself saying, “if I have to answer that question one more time, I’m going to scream,” then Piazza if for you. Again this application works on a mobile device via app, but even better in a web browser. The mobile device does make it much easier to keep up with all the interaction happening on the site however. My class is not as active this semester, so once I get more use out of it, I’ll have report back about some of my favorite features. Until then take a look at all three applications below and play around with them for yourself. GoSoapBox offers a 30 day free trial and the other two are free (for now).
GoSoapBox: Instant Student Feedback App
The web-based application GoSoapBox 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. $90 per year or $10 per student per year. 30 day free trial.
Socrative: Student Response System
Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. FREE
- Video: http://vimeo.com/socrative/intro
- Socrative: http://socrative.com/
- Tour: http://www.socrative.com/how-it-works
- No Help
Piazza: Online Q&A Site for Courses
Piazza is a free online gathering place where students can ask, answer, and explore 24/7, under the guidance of their instructors. With Piazza, easily answer questions, manage course materials, and track student participation. FREE
- Video: On main page of site (no link)
- Piazza: https://piazza.com/
- Tour: https://piazza.com/sandbox/warm?close=fancy#
- Help: https://piazza.com/help.html
- PollEverywhere is another similar application to GoSoapBox and Socrative; however, until recently their pricing model was a bit steep for individual instructors, the number of students permitted to participate was too small, and there wasn’t a mobile option for the instructor, only responses. That has since changed a bit, and I look forward to checking it out again in the future. Check out PollEverywhere’s limited comparison of similar products.
The very first conference I ever attended after starting work in Maricopa was the TYCA West conference. 1999 “Climates of Inquiry: Classrooms, Curriculum, Theory, and Assessment.” Park City, Utah; October 14-16. My division chair at the time suggested I go, and practically signed me up for it. I was grateful. I was hooked. Not just with this conference, but going to conferences in general and learning from others who do exactly what I do everyday. It’s refreshing. TYCA-West is a unique conference, and I’ve tried to go as often as possible over the years. It’s a small intimate conference, often garnering less than 50 participants. But it’s always rewarding, and even when I can’t go I try to help out in any way I can. Last year I did a redesign on the website for them and have helped them maintain it with backups and upgrades. It’s just what we do to help support things we believe in.
Well, last week I filled out my travel request forms and submitted all the required documents to the proper people for signatures to attend this year’s TYCA West conference in Salt Lake City. I submitted a proposal to present on hybrid course design and was looking forward to yet another awesome conference. But my excitement was put on hold when my travel request was denied. Yep, denied. Rejected. Fail! There is never enough space to write much of a justification on the form, so I didn’t think much of it and typed out a much longer justification and emailed it to my dean’s secretary addressing his concerns. Much to my surprise, it was denied again. The request to add additional wording on how my students will benefit from my travel was addressed in my eyes, but for some reason he didn’t like it. No explanation was given. So on my third attempt, I went back to what I know best. Take the required questions, dissect them and answer each part piece by piece. REJECTED for the third time. Apparently the dean or Vice President of Academic Affairs has his own ideas about what we should write for a justification for our professional growth now. I thought it was my professional growth.
It’s not clear who is denying my request as each secretary has blamed it on the other “boss.” I didn’t even get the courtesy of an email directly from the person rejecting my request. I’ve been going back and forth with the secretary. By the time the he said she said trickles down to me something is lost in translation. I have no idea what they are looking for. It’s obviously not MY professional growth activity any more. It will be what they want it to be or I don’t get to go. Doesn’t sound fair to me, and after 13 years of submitting travel requests in the district, this is the first time where my justification for wanting to attend a conference wasn’t good enough.
Here’s what bugs me the most. On our professional growth website, it states as the guidelines for use of FPG travels funds:
FPG travel funding is monetary support of any event for the purpose of professional growth that will increase knowledge, skills, or attitudes enhancing one’s role at the college.
It doesn’t say anything about “student benefit.” Why? Because that’s obvious. As I wrote in my justification, “Student learning and achievement increase when educators engage in effective professional development focused on the skills educators need in order to address students’ major learning challenges.” What those skills will be is unknown until you attend the conference and how that will directly effect your students is mere speculation. Why bother? The focus should be on my opportunity to “increase knowledge, skills or attitudes” to enhance my overall role at GCC; not just my role as a teacher. But by becoming a better teacher, obviously I become the benefit to my students. Me. I’m the benefit. They benefit from me and my increased knowledge, my increased skills and my postive attitude I will have because my administration doesn’t stand in the way of MY professional development.
To read my attempts at justification for my travel request, click here: Travel Request Justifications Denied
In Maricopa, in order to take advantage of the available professional growth travel funds ($3500), you need to fill out a travel request form, provide all the proper documents, answer two questions and get the proper signatures: yours, department chair, travel rep and either the dean or VPAA. I honestly don’t know which one is supposed to sign off on it. The form leaves very little room to answer the two questions, so it’s literally a practice in being concise. Following are the two questions (bold) and my responses that were denied by the dean. My additional followup attempt, trying to address his concerns follows the two required questions. This justification was also denied. As of Tuesday, I have not been approved to travel. ;(
Purpose of business travel, including relevance to employee’s position in the District:
The purpose of my travel to the TYCA West conference is to directly support my role as assistant chair and eCourses coordinator for the department. Attending this conference will give me the opportunity to learn about different pedagogical practices in regards to teaching freshman composition at the two-year college. As a leader in the department, I plan to share what good practices I gather from my participation in this conference with my GCC colleagues. I will also be sharing what great things I’ve been able to accomplish here at GCC with participants during my presentation on hybrid courses.
Tangible benefits derived from business travel:
Tangible benefits derived from my travel to this conference include knowledge, strategic, networking, and team building benefits. I will learn about different practices my colleagues from other organizations are using at their institutions. That would include anything from technology tools to pedagogical practices. Attending the conference will enable me to see how other institutions anticipate, understand, and adapt to changes both in the teaching environment and in professional practice. The conference will enable me to meet professionals in similar roles and 2-year organizations on the west coast. Finally, as I have encouraged several younger faculty to also attend this conference, the conference will help build our department by providing a forum for faculty members to learn and discuss best practices, new tools, and emerging trends together.
Additional Justification requested by the dean’s secretary. This is my second attempt.
Professional development may enhance student learning through its effects on teaching practices, and effective professional development may contribute to the professional skills of participating teachers, thereby increasing the number of highly skilled faculty available at an institution. What does that mean for students and the institution? It means that I will be able to better my performance as a teacher and raise student achievement (theoretically). Student learning and achievement increase when educators engage in effective professional development focused on the skills educators need in order to address students’ major learning challenges. Many conferences that we attend give participants a variety of learning options in which to choose. Aside from the main idea, theme or major focus of the conference, no one can say specifically what they will learn and how students will benefit from this knowledge.
I could speculate and say that based on the theme of this year’s conference, “Alterations: The future of two year college English departments,” that I will learn more about the recent developments in higher education and how they are putting more pressure on two-year colleges to “move students through the system more quickly” and yet to provide “quality higher education” to some times under-prepared students. I will learn how these pressures impact development of curriculum, courses offered, textbook selection, staffing of classes, admissions policies, uses of technology in online and in-person education, as well as writing centers and academic advising. If I learn ALL that, students will benefit from better curriculum development, courses offered, text book selection, uses of technology in online and in-person classes, as well as better writing centers.
And as professional development should be reflective, I’ll be sure to share what I’ve learned with others who also believe in staying in touch with their profession.