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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

3
Jan

What Annoys Me Most About Canvas #30in30

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.

canvas logoI’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 moreRead more

2
Jan

It’s Really Time to Start Using Those Smartphones in the Classroom #30in30

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.

Survey of ENG102 students for past 3 years.

Survey of ENG102 students for past 3 years.

textsmsNinety-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 moreRead more

1
Jan

Technology I Loved in 2012 – #30in30

tech

Photo by me using my Nexus 7 tablet

2012 was not a very big technology year for me, at least not for new technology. This is probably good since a really good year would certainly mean I spent way too much money. I’ll share what little I did use in this post and then follow up later with more substantive posts on each technology then. Look in the Tech I Love category for these new posts. I’ve broken technology into two categories: web tools/software and hardware. Let’s start with the web tools/software. This list could be longer, but I only want to focus on the tools I actually used in my classes with students.

The most significant tool I used, and one that everyone in Maricopa will be using next fall is our new LMS – Canvas. I’m an early adopter, so I started teaching in the free version of Canvas last spring (2012). And this fall I taught in the official Maricopa version. I’m really surprised I haven’t blogged more about it, but I really like this LMS, and Instructure sure knows how to throw a party; I mean conference. Next up is Google+. We don’t have G+ turned on for our students yet in MCCCD, but a few faculty have been using it with students via personal Gmail accounts. We had our learning community students use it for blogging and sharing content for the past two semesters, and it’s worked really well. We created a circle for the class and had students posting twice weekly. Students on their own turned it into a way to communicate with each other as well. Read moreRead more

19
Dec

Online Course Redesign for Better Engagement

I like to tell people that I’ve been designing an online course that I’ve been teaching for over 10 years. I say this because I feel that there is always room for improvement, and with the ever changing landscape of technology tools and LMS tools available, a good online course should never really be “finished.” It’s just ready for the next go round. Well, this next go round, Spring 2013, the ENG102 online course is due for a major upgrade. It seems only appropriate since so many others in Maricopa are going through their own redesigns as they move courses over from Blackboard to Instructure Canvas. I made the move a year ago, but now that I’m there or here, I’m ready for some major upgrades.

So like any good instructional designer would do, I did an analysis and came up with a list. The focus of the redesign is to make the course a little more engaging. I want for students to have more video and interactive lessons and less reading of handouts and texts. And when students do read the textbook, I want to give them more guidance for reading and remembering the concepts in those chapters. Here’s a quick preview of part of my list:

courseredesign

ENG102 Redesign list made in Evernote

Read moreRead more

10
Nov

Micro-Lectures with Video and Audio Tools – eLearning Community of Practice (eLCoP)

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 moreRead more

8
Nov

Podcasting on the Fly with SoundCloud, Part II

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.

5
Nov

Blogging in the Classroom Presentation

These are my slides from a recent presentation I didn’t in the CTLE on Blogging in the Classroom. I may have a link to a video soon, but for now, slides with embedded YouTube video on slide 4 courtesy of SlideShare.net.

2
Nov

Podcasting on the Fly with Soundcloud

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.

iPevo Point 2 View USB Camera

iPevo Point 2 View USB Camera

Case Star Octopus Tripod Stand

Case Star Octopus Tripod Stand

 

 

25
Oct

TYCA West Presentation: The Not-So-Distant Education – Blended Comp Courses That Rock!

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.

Tools discussed: CanvasConnect CompositionGoogle+GoSoapBoxTegrityYouTubePiazzaSoundCloudCamtasia Studio and SnagIt (Jing).

Topics Discussed:

  • Course Design
  • Gaming
  • CBL
  • Self Directed Learning
  • Multimedia

Presentation Slides:  TYCAWestBlendedCoursesRock.pdf