Well, the results of our latest pilot of delivering course evaluations via online delivery are in. This semester we tweaked the delivery process and encouraged all the participating faculty to make time during their last class meeting for students to complete their course evaluations-using the online tool instead of paper. Faculty also asked their students to bring their laptops, tablets or smartphones to class on the last day. The results were impressive. Many of our classes had response rates of 80 to 100%. What led to this success? We listened to students who told us that the last weeks of the semester were an overwhelmingly busy time for them and they were likely to postpone or forget about the course evaluations unless faculty gave them time to complete them during class. This mix of traditional delivery(in class) with modern collection methods(online forms) seems to be working.
I learned about the automatic closed captioning tool that has been added to Youtube and I wanted to try it out for myself. If you have uploaded any videos to Youtube and they have narration then this may work for you. The folks at Google/Youtube have a pretty good audio to text algorithm working. It is not perfect and it will depend on the quality of your audio, your narrator, and the language in your script. More technical, esoteric, or compound words may not convert as well with the automatic tool. But, it should come pretty close and then you have the ability to quickly edit the text. I can see this working well for short videos but it might be to laborious for longer ones. If it was a longer video I might go another route and upload the script to youtube. But for today, I want to address the automatic captioning for a short video. At this point I am definitely recommending it for short videos that you have uploaded to Youtube. To help you try it out, I’ve written some instructions with screenshots. You can view my directions here. If you have any suggestions or comments, please let me know.
This post is my overview of the Innovate Conference held this past week at The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus Ohio. The first keynote of the day was Jim Grooms from the University of Mary Washington. I’ve been familiar with Jim’s work in the open digital storytelling course called DS106 (that you can sign up for here). The DS106 concept is “everything you do online is a story”. Jim fervently believes in totally open educational experiences and open platforms. My favorite quote from him is “At its best, openness is an ethos not a license. It’s an approach to teaching and learning that builds community online and offline.
One of the interesting presentations of the day was on iPads in the Classroom, although perhaps a more appropriate title would have been iPads In and Outside the Classroom. This biology class divided the students into groups of 4 and gave each group an iPad to work on the day of class. Using tools such as Apple Configurator, iTunesU, Notability and Box, the students are given an assignment to work through. Some of the activities take place outdoors and involve documenting plants, the iPad is perfectly suited for this and by limiting the software that is installed on the iPad the students stay focused on the assignment.
One panel of the day that was surprising in its appearance and candor was one featuring three undergraduate students relating their “user experience” with technology in the classroom and online activities. They stressed a desire to follow their grades online and for faculty to post course materials online. They were undecided the use of discussion boards but did like the idea of posting short lecture materials online and leaving more time in the classroom for interaction with the teacher and course activities.
I could go on and on about the ideas shared at the conference and its incredible value. Did you know this annual conference is free to attend? I invite you to look at this year’s recordings here and mark your calendars for next year when the conference will be on March 25 and 26, 2014. Kudos to all the folks at OSU who I know must put a lot of work into this magnificent event for everyone interested in technology and teaching.
Well, I’ve finally taken the plunge and signed up for a MOOC. This one is offered by Coursera. The course is on songwriting and is being taught by Pat Pattison from the Berklee School of Music. Currently we’re in week 3 of 6 so I feel I can offer some accurate observations on the design of the course, the delivery system and my personal experience.
Here’s what you find inside the course:
Short video lectures that are no longer than 20 minutes long. Some are as short as 1 and a half minutes in length. The short length is a good design choice and the videos have embedded quizzes that are interspersed within-another element of good instructional design. The videos are well produced (probably shot with at least 3 SLR cameras), edited, and have graphics added to illustrate important points. Pat, the teacher delivers the lectures in a personable way with humor, drama, stories and great examples.
Each week has graded quizzes that can be taken repeatedly as the highest mark becomes your final grade for the assessment.
Every week also has an assignment that is turned in online. Although not called a rubric, detailed expectations for the assignment are given. These guidelines then become the grading criteria when the assignment moves into its second phase: peer assessment. You must grade at least 5 peers before you receive feedback on your own submission.
There is also an open social dimension to the course. Discussion forums are setup for formative feedback on the videos, quizzes, assignments and design of the course. Students can also start their own forums and threads for interest groups, meetups and spinoff discussions. These areas are quite active on the course page and searchable.
Bottom line, thus far: I’m finding this experience to be rewarding personally for my creative development and professionally as I see the inner workings of a MOOC and how it can be successful. My advice to you is don’t be afraid to jump in to the MOOC pool. The water’s fine!
This week I completed the online course to earn a Certificate for Online Adjunct Teaching (COAT). Although it was originally designed for adjunct instructors, I believe that anyone who teaches a fully online or blended course can definitely benefit from taking this course. Part of the value of this course is experiential. By taking an online course you experience exactly what it is like to be an online, distance, learner. I might go as far to say that anyone who intends to teach an online course must first take a course online to gain this invaluable perspective.
Though the COAT course for the most part focuses on facilitation there was time spent looking at pedagogy, andragogy and assessments. The interaction with fellow students/teachers was engaging and informative. I found that the timed pace of the course, along with grading of activities kept me focused and motivated. The instructor/facilitator, Dr. Muse, gave us excellent modeling to follow.
It’s personally invigorating to be taking courses again(after a break of a few years). My eyes are wide open to seeing examples of good online instructional design and effective tools. As always, it’s good to fill in any gaps in my knowledge and keep current in the field. Courses like these also inspire me to improve my own teaching.
If you’d like to check out the course for yourself(it is offered multiple times a year), then follow this link. The tuition, which I think is affordable, is $300 for Maryland residents.
by Paul Iwancio
For quite a while I’ve been recommending to colleagues the vast collection of free images at Flickr Creative Commons to use in presentations and web pages. There have been two developments. First, over the last year I’ve decided to give back. It’s well past time for me to contribute to the Creative Commons, and so you will see more and more of my images on Flickr with Creative Commons licensing. The second development just happened today when a trusted resource person showed me the wonders of imagecodr.org. If you’ve ever used Flickr Creative Commons images, then you know that the act of attribution is a little clunky, and can be inconsistent. Now there is a free service at imagecodr to provide simple and clear attribution when you use an image. The process goes like this:
1.Go to Flickr Creative Commons and find an image you want to use, copy the URL
2. Open up a new tab or window and go to imagecodr.org
3. Paste the URL there and it will give you html code
4. Paste this code into your webpage, post, document, etc. and you’ll get something like the image shown here on my post today.
This is a phenomenal tool that will make life easier for users and a great link back for creators. Go forth and attribute!
Thanks to superstorm Sandy last fall our admissions department had to cancel quite a few presentations on the East Coast. They approached me to discuss the possibility of using Adobe Connect to reach out to the potential students. What really impressed me about the folks in the admissions office was how they took my advice and did everything to assure a successful webinar, and it was a huge success. What did they do? They came in and learned about the software and tried it out for themselves in some test situations first. They took their spectacular presentation that was in Mac Keynote format and changed it to pdf, with adjustments where necessary to make it look perfect in Adobe Connect. They used a good USB microphone (AT 2020) and we monitored the sound from another room, with headphones. Also, as you can see in this photo, one person presented while another facilitated, answering questions. We had a few more people on hand who were also monitoring and answering questions from prospective students by using the chat window. Because it was such a success, I know they’re planning to use it more in the future and will probably add some interactive survey questions too. Preparation, testing and employing best practices=success.
Suddenly there seems to be a huge convergence on the topic 3D printing. I’ll share some links below, but perhaps the best way to first experience the wonders of 3D printing is to visit a fab lab like the one we have here at MICA. We are in the middle of a revolution that is changing our world. What was once either nearly impossible or prohibitively expensive is now becoming easily attainable. Power is decentralizing as more and more people control the means of production. Even the printers, some known as makerbots, are part of their own creation as they print the parts for the next printer to be assembled.
The convergence of interest can be seen in the following stories: Here is a segment from NPR’s Planet Money show on why 3D printing is such a big evolution that demands our attention, these printers will really change the way we live. (listen to the whole story or read the transcript.) This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education by Brian Matthews argues that 3D printers will become an essential part of our lives. Last week the latest issue of the Horizon Report by the New Media Consortium came out, and guess what was on the cover? You’re right, a 3D printer. They see “time to adoption” as 4 to 5 years, but personally I think adoption will come sooner in 2 to 3 years.
I encourage you to look into 3D printing and visit a fab lab on your campus. If your campus doesn’t have one, then the time is now to lobby for one. To see some of the printers and some objects created by them, take a look at my set of photos on flickr.
At my college we’ve been working toward moving student course evaluations online. This would save a lot of trees and make the collection of this important feedback more efficient. One of the big stumbling blocks has been the low response rate from students when we’ve tried this delivery method. I’ve looked at the literature and we’re not alone in facing this problem. So, when we surveyed our students recently I asked them if they would fill out course evaluations online and if no, then why not? The answers surprised me. Most of the students who said they wouldn’t fill them out cited forgetfulness and laziness. What this made me realize is that the problem isn’t with our delivery method (online), but rather whether it was delivered synchronously or asynchronously. The solution may be in having students fill out their course evaluations during the last class meeting (as is traditionally done at campus) but have the students bring laptops or other mobile devices; or have students use a computer lab. We’ll work on this in our Spring pilot and see what results we get.
One of the Sunday papers I read is The Washington Post. Almost every week they highlight new tech tools, tips, and discoveries shared in their business section, so I encourage everyone to take a look for themselves and add it to your feed for resources.
This week they featured an up and coming search engine called DuckDuckGo which is an alternative to Google or Bing. Immediately, I can think of at least 3 good reasons to try DuckDuckGo and put it in your tech tool kit.
1. It’s good to have alternative browsers to use. Just like when I try various browsers while I’m working out webpage problems, you can try searches in the different engines to see if you get different, and possibly better, results. As you’ve probably seen, Google wants to drive you to paid advertisers, not necessarily the best answers to a search query.
2. The growing concerns regarding online privacy lead me search engines like DuckDuckGo that don’t track users. As I work with more European partners I’ve discovered more global wariness of Google and their policies.
3. I think it’s good to support a small(er) business that may be more responsive to user needs and give entrepreneurs a chance to succeed.