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Posts from the ‘Technology’ Category

25
Feb

SoftChalk Interactive Lesson Builder – Stay or Go?

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.

19
Feb

Conducting Peer Review Assignments in Canvas

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 moreRead more

19
Feb

Creating Audio for Podcasts Using Audacity (CTLE Workshop)

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

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11
Feb

A Heads Up for Creating Peer Review Writing Assignments in Canvas

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.

CanvasPeerReview

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10
Feb

Peer Review Writing Assignments Online with Connect Composition

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.

27
Jan

Turn Q&A into Discusions in Your Online Class

QAI’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 moreRead more

21
Jan

Helping Out the Kindle Classroom Project

Over the past 5-6 years I’ve met lots of interesting people at conferences across the country and online via Twitter. And through this I’ve curated a very nice professional learning network. I’m not sure where I met Mark Isero (Twitter and Google+) originally, but we’ve been following each other on the internet for a while. I’ve been impressed with his work in teaching young kids and now with helping faculty at his school in northern California. Mostly I love his idea to collect Kindles for students at his school through his Kindle Classroom Project. He describes:

The Kindle Classroom Project was created in late 2010 with the goal of offering a set of donated Kindles to lower-income, urban students to promote literacy through reading and technology.

IMAG0422This is such a cool idea, and I really wanted to participate by donating my Kindle. But I had a hard time parting with my beloved Kindle 3. I mean I have a laptop and an Android tablet, but I just love my Kindle 3 with red cover with a built in light for reading books. Even when I find myself touching the screen to try to turn the pages or reach the menu, it obviously doesn’t work that way, but I still love it. But I eventually convinced myself that helping Mark and his students out was more important, and it’s a good cause. Plus it’s time to upgrade my Kindle to the latest and greatest reader. 
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14
Jan

They’re Here! They’re Here! Finally

We’ve been talking about the so called Digital Natives and the Millennials being the tech generation for years. But I just haven’t seen them in my classes. My students have not only not shown an interest in technology, but often struggled with the technology I used in my classes. But not this semester. In the first class of the Spring 2013 semester, the Digital Natives showed up! Yippee!

First, while Cindy (Co-Teacher) was talking about critical thinking with the class, she asked what a word meant. I wasn’t paying attention (Ha!), so I missed the word, but the student sitting in front of me grabbed her phone and started “messing around” with it. I didn’t pay her any mind either until Cindy called on her. She took one last look at the phone and then apologetically said “I was looking it up,” and then recited her answer to the class. She thought she was doing something wrong, but I was secretly praising her. It wasn’t like it was a vocab word she was supposed to have learned before coming to class. It was a spur of the moment, what does that mean type of question, and she gave the answer. Nice work young lady.

ENGCRECircle

Our Learning Community Circle on Google+

During my part of the learning community class, I was teaching students how to get their Google+ accounts set up, and a student asked if she could get G+ on her phone, and if I knew how to get her school email to forward to her regular Gmail account on her phone. I think if I’d let her, she would have asked me how to do a bunch of other stuff too. We didn’t have time, but I was thrilled that she wanted to know, and thrilled that she is already thinking about managing her tech life. Read moreRead more

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