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Posts tagged ‘students’


FEP: Survey Says: Podcasts & Screencast are Helpful

So for my FEP (Faculty Evaluation Plan) this year, I decided to work on improving instruction in my online courses. It seemed appropriate and easy to measure, so I went for it. You can learn more about the FEP in future posts, as it is due June 30th, and I’ll be posting it all here. For now, I just want to jump to the end and talk briefly about the results.

The plan involves creating more podcasts (video and audio) and screencasts to provide additional instruction for students in the online course. I had a few of each in the past, but I didn’t have something for every assignment. This semester I committed to at least one visual/audio aide per lesson and a weekly podcast. I wanted to see if students found them helpful to their success in the class. The screencasts usually walk students through the process of doing the week’s assignment. An example of this is when students are assigned to search the databases in the library for periodical articles, I created a screencast that shows them how to access the databases, log in from home and search successfully using the advanced search tool. Other instructional videos included how to write opposing views and counter arguments and other such skills needed to write an argumentative essay.

The weekly podcasts were weekly updates and guidance announcements that let students know where they should be in the process, as well as updates about upcoming assignments and due dates. Here is an example of a weekly podcast from my ENG102 online class.

Students were exposed to these podcasts and screencasts all semester long, so at the end of the class I surveyed them to see how useful they found them to be. The results were not surprising, as you can see below.When asked if the weekly podcasts in the course were helpful, 56% strongly agree and 37% agree that they were helpful. Only 6% responded that they neither agreed or disagreed with that statement. When asked if the screencasts in the course were helpful, 62% said they strongly agreed and 18% agreed that the screencasts were helpful. Six percent didn’t feel the need to watch them and 12% neither agreed or disagreed that they were helpful.

Nintey-three percent also stated that they preferred Canvas over Blackboard.


Educause 2008 was Depressing

No, don’t get me wrong. Educause is a great conference and definitely worth while to fly across the country to sit in on some amazing conference sessions. But when I start thinking about going back to my campus and never having the possibility to experience any of the great tech tools I learned about, I get depressed. We don’t even have any IT leaders from our campus that even come to Educause, so I ended up hanging out with all the other IT, VP’s, faculty and instructional designers from our sister colleges. What a treat that was as well. I get so jazzed hearing about all the cool things they are doing on their campuses.

I saw an amazing presentation this morning from some guys at Drexel University talking about a lecture capture solution they implemented on their campus:

Increasingly, colleges and universities are adopting lecture capture solutions to increase student satisfaction and learning. Join Drexel University’s innovative team and other universities for an in-depth panel discussion focusing on how these institutions have implemented TechSmith’s Camtasia Relay to integrate lecture capture into their existing infrastructures simply, quickly, and affordably.

It was amazing to see what they were able to do with Camtasia Relay in such a short period of time and even before the product was released out of beta. It was that easy. What was most amazing to me is that it was the IT guys and the instructional designer who came up with this solution and made it happen for the college. Sigh. Why can’t we do things like that?

Our IT department and instructional designer are all caught up in doing other stuff to be able to come up with technology solutions for teaching & learning issues on our campus. I’ve been there 10 years and I don’t think I’ve ever been asked what I need to help me teach my students better. Why is that? Is it not important because too few of our faculty will utilize it? or is it because only a small number of students will be impacted by the technology initially? Who knows, but it doesn’t sound much like forward thinking to me.

Another session I sat in on this morning was Thinking Outside the Virtual Classroom presented by Shannon Ritter, Social Networks Adviser, Penn State World Campus, The Pennsylvania State University.

Educating our students is certainly our priority, but how can we connect learners to each other in a way that provides more opportunities for personal growth, networking, and connections? By taking advantage of virtual spaces like Facebook, Twitter, and Second Life, we give our students space to learn outside the classroom.

This was a great presentation. Ritter talked about how students in online distance programs are missing out on the college experience and have no real connection to the college because those students don’t get the same interactions with their peers like the on campus students do. Many aren’t learning together, and they don’t have a sense of belonging. So the Penn State World Campus created orientation videos to help give students a sense of belonging. They also use Second Life, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Twitter to help building a sense of community.

This is the same idea behind my decision to use a social network to teach my freshman composition courses in. The network has some of the same features Ritter talks about embedded in the site, like videos, photos, walls, and updates. And the whole idea is to help students feel more connected to their peers, the instructor and the class.

Those were just two of the many ideas I experienced this week at Educause. Surprisingly some of the most valuable information was obtained just from hanging out with peers from the Maricopa district and my Twitter friends from across the country. That community we build is very valuable for sharing experiences and expertise in a wide variety of areas, and their willingness to help each other is refreshing. It would be really nice to have that kind of community on my own campus, a group of like minded faculty who like to come together and share ideas about education and technology. Some day, right?

Check out the live simulcasts from the conference:

Live Simulcasts

Those unable to attend the EDUCAUSE 2008 Annual Conference are invited to watch General, Featured, and Point/Counterpoint Sessions virtually in live simulcasts sponsored by Sonic Foundry, an EDUCAUSE Silver Partner. Watch and ask questions at the Featured and Point/Counterpoint sessions.

Get ready to watch the videos by reading the Mediasite System Requirements and Mediasite Player Tutorial.


Tips for Students Using Utterli

I was fascinated with Utterli the moment I saw it. I just thought it was coolest thing to be able to send text, pictures, audio and video from your cellphone to a blog on the web. It’s a true example of mobile blogging. But what was most exciting to me was the way it lets people add multi-media to blog posts and invites a conversation or discussion around it. I have many ideas for how I want to use this in my classes, but for now I’m using it as a way to leave some valuable tips for students to help them be successful in my classes.