Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Easy Podcasting

In distance learning, students love to hear their professors' voices. It helps them connect to the instructor, when they don't sit in the classroom with them.

One easy way to do this, is to record podcasts for your class announcements and weekly wrap-ups. My new favorite free podcast tool is called "Cinch". You can create an account at http://cinch.fm. What's great about Cinch is that you can create a different folder for each of your classes. You can record from your computer, OR make a phone call! You can even record and manage the podcasts with their Iphone App. It works like Twitter, and you can place a 'feed' on your Moodle coursepages, so students can easily listen to your last podcasts.

This is how it looks on our coursepages! (see left side)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

XBox Kinect and 'Best Practices' for Student Learning

If you want to better understand how to redesign your courses for future students, you need to play Dance Central 2 on the XBox Kinect. Here's why:
  1. Personal Learning plans for students with a wide variety of experience levels
  2. Intermediate 'assessments' that reward and encourage in a safe environment
  3. Information is presented in a variety of ways to allow students to build skills they need, and skip those they have already mastered
  4. Collaborative learning environments both face-to-face and virtual.
  5. Fun and creative ways to practice skills combining music and visually appealing graphics
There is a lot of information on Game-based learning and Gesture-based computing, but I believe that just playing Dance Central for 30 minutes will help you understand these theories much better.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Building Rubrics

I'm always saying how a rubric can help eliminate arguments with your students about grades, because it helps them understand why they received the grade. I also believe in posting the rubric before a project, to clarify what your expectations are for students.

I saw this really fun online tool for creating rubrics. Yes, it is geared toward K-12 grades, but it works well, and sets up a nice format. The website is called Recipes4Success and the link is: http://recipes.tech4learning.com/index.php?v=pl&page_ac=view&type=tools&tool=rubricmaker

There are templates you can use, or you can create a custom rubric. Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

What Students Want

Recently I read through a study submitted to the Sloan-C Conference by Ellen Smyth about student perceptions of what makes a good professor. I put out the same questions to our Thunderbird students, and received this response: Thunderbird Survey Results

Our students claim that because they are working full time, with families and other responsibilities, the organization and structure of a course are vital to their success. They also feel that feedback is critical by citing Communicative and Responsive in the top 5.

Here are some tips to improve in those areas:

For Organization

  • Make informaiton available in multiple spots, as well as your syllabus

  • Make sure the information is consistent in the multiple spots

  • Don't clutter coursepages with too many links

  • Focus on naming conventions for files. Make sure it is something students understand, not just what you named it for your computer.

For Feedback:

  • check forums and emails daily, respond quickly

  • use audio and video feedback to reach students on assignment feedback (students love to hear your voice!)

  • use first names, and let students know when they've done well

  • get outside sources to give additional feedback, don't forget about peer feedback

  • Don't just give a 'score', it will only frustrate students. They need to understand how that score was given. Use a rubric if you don't have time for detailed feedback.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Twitter in Moodle

We just added a Twitter feed into our Moodle coursepage for Global Enterprise class, and the students really liked it. It was simple to do. Just go to www.twitter.com/goodies/widgets, and get the code for embedding a specific Twitter account. You can use a professor's personal Twitter account, or a more general one on a specific topic that's appropriate to your class.

Then go into Moodle, and add an HTML box, and paste in the code. It looks really nice, can be color-coordinated with the design of the page, and it is a great resource for students.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fun Announcements

One of my colleagues showed me this website, and it was so much fun, I had to share it!

Corkboard.me is a shareable bulletin board that allows anyone to put up post-it notes. The website will give you a link that will be your own personal corkboard. You can share the link, or embed it into a website. I did notice that it didn't work well with IE7, but worked perfectly with Firefox.

I linked it into our Moodle LMS, and thought it looked good (see image). I'm thinking of using it to remind students about coming exams, filling out their evaluations, and letting them know about new additions on the coursepage. The students can also create one, and post reminders about the team projects, or just a 'quote of the day' for some social interaction.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Student Suggestions for Online Teams

Recently, we had some of our new graduates talk to our Thunderbird faculty about their experiences with online group projects. They had some interesting comments, and I thought I would share them with you:

  • The ideal virtual team size is 3-5 students (Shorter projects = smaller teams)

  • Give specific guidelines to teams at beginning of class that include responsibilities, grading rubrics, and technology

  • Require teams make initial post early in the week (Wednesday) to make sure discussions aren’t last minute

  • Make the Peer Evaluation worth a significant part of the grade

  • Consider doing a Peer evaluation at the midpoint of the assignment to determine whether everyone is involved.

  • Create a process that will allow a team to ‘fire’ a member that isn’t participating

  • Grade inflation and giving every post 100% does not encourage discussion

  • Consider forming teams by having students select specific topics they are interested in

  • Have more emphasis and training on team building during orientation sessions

Some of these ideas are just common sense, but it's a good checklist for any online group assignments you may considering.