Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The New Age of Cheating

Gone are those old excuses of hungry dogs, dead relatives, and being deathly ill....
Now The Chronicle comes out with a new excuse, "My paper was stolen by an essay mill!"

I was working with a professor earlier this week, and she asked me if I felt plagiarism was a problem. I said 'most definitely'. Every professor should be, at least, running a sample of student papers through 'Turnitin' on every assignment. I personally prefer to have students do it themselves, as I see it as a 'teachable moment'. This professor was shocked when I said I had found the complete assignment for another professor and course on the web, for free. (I didn't mention that there were half a dozen other assignments for about $20 through the various cheat houses like Echeat, Fratfiles, and CheatHouse)

Professors need to be aware of these easy options to students and combat it by taking time to build more unique and personalized assignments. Curt Bonk's books have a number of great resources on this idea. MBA students should have personal experiences to draw on for papers, and be required to include those specialized bits of information not covered in a general, off-the-shelf essay.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tegrity Recording

Thunderbird's distance learning programs use Tegrity recordings extensively in all our courses. We generally recommend short (less than 20 minute clips) for each week of classes. Classes generally have 1-4 Tegrity session per week. Most are pre-recorded, and include an overview of the week's assignments, topics, and lecture content. We also have 'technical' sessions for some classes to show the steps for working through a problem, or developing a spreadsheet.

Finally, many professors do a 'spontaneous' Tegrity session to wrap up the week's events, and provide feedback to the students on their case discussions. These recordings are done from wherever the professor is located, and sometimes include airport terminals, or vacation spots with family. I think they add a lot to the personal connection between faculty and students.

Recently, we've also added the feature to allow students to record online presentations for their classes.

Tegrity is holding a number of webinars on incorporating the technology into distance courses. You can sign up here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Educause Conference

Whenever I am starting to feel burned out, I find that attending a conference (virtual or live) inspires me to keep working toward our goals of having a great distance learning program. Last week, I attended a virtual conference with Educause. One of the great things about virtual conferences, is you can see most of the presentations again, or if you have a conflict, you can watch them later.

I watched this presentation live on Getting our Values Around Copyright Right, and I thought it was fantastic for a number of reasons. One, it really did help me understand how educators could use materials and question some of the ridiculous rules around 'fair use'. Secondly, it was one of the best lectures with PowerPoint that I have ever seen. Too often we dismiss PowerPoint as the death of a classroom, with little interaction or interest. Here you can see how it should be used, as an emphasis to what the presenter is showing, not a distraction or a bore. Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

InSync Training

InSync offers free online trainings through WebEx sessions. Take a look at the link and see if there is something that you find interesting. They have several sessions on adult learning, effective assessments, and e-learning. Also, if you cannot attend the live session, there are links to recordings of some of them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

YUDU Publishing

YUDU.com is an ePublishing library & marketplace that helps you create, enhance, share, promote and sell digital publications with the world.

Share your interests and expertise with the world.

Find interesting digital documents, magazines and ebooks - many for free and others that you can buy - and save them to your own free library. Add photos and music and bookmark your favorite websites. Start an Interest Group to share your passions and expertise or create a private group online for your club or class. Invite friends and other users to join your group and allow them to add relevant content of interest.

Be your own Publisher.

Upload your Word, Powerpoint and PDF files and convert them automatically into page-turning digital editions, ebooks, ezines and e catalogues which are hosted by YUDU for free. Add YouTube videos and other multimedia with a Plus account. Keep your publications private or share them with the world - YUDU publications are searchable by Google, Yahoo and others. Self-publishing with YUDU is quick and easy!

In addition, upload podcasts, MP3 and photos and bookmark your favourite websites with thumbnail screenshots, so you can remember them easily and encourage others to view them. Organize your published items within albums in your library and promote your digital content on your own site via embedded libraries or embedded single digital publications.

Carbon Neutral Publishing

It's not difficult to imagine the environmental benefits of publishing online with YUDU. Their system was designed with energy efficiency in mind. Each page has the lowest electronic footprint possible, whilst maintaining the highest quality viewing experience - YUDU publications use very little energy.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Use Jing for a variety of things!

I've been playing with a product called Jing. It allows you to make videos that capture your desktop with audio. It's free, easy to use, and allows you to create 5 minute videos. You can then send students links to the videos, or embed them into your coursepages or webpages.

Typically, a professor would use this product for recording content. It's good for showing step-by-step processes. Here's some other ideas that you might not have thought about...
  • Have students record a short presentations on the key insights of an article they are reading this week. They can easily share the links in their discussion boards and forums.
  • If students don't understand how to work a problem in Excel, have them send you a video, showing them working through it, and you'll be able to see exactly what they are doing wrong. (or right!)
  • Rather than having students send an excel file with their answers to a test, have them actually record a video solving a single problem on the test.
  • Give students audio feedback on assignments, rather than typing in everything you want to say.

Here's a sample video, so you can see how it looks: http://www.screencast.com/t/6N8TzVsas4

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NPR and PBS Lectures online

Today's Chronicle has an article about the new lecture videos made available from PBS and NPR. These videos highlight a number of different topics, and can easily be linked into course pages to add additional content.

Click here to browse the Forum Network Business Lectures.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lectures and Distance Learning


This video from The Chronicle had some pretty interesting points about the need to take the lectures out of the classroom, and put them into podcasts, and then use the classroom time to engage in student Q&A and discussion. (I liked his idea of requiring students to view them before class, and give them a quiz as they walk in the room.)

What really excites me about this video is that distance learning already does what Dr. Bowen is suggesting. He says that we should filter down lectures to the core points that students listen to before 'attending class', and then devote professor's time to the interactive engagement of students in discussions and activities. At Thunderbird, professors often record their lectures to use for 2-3 terms, and then can devote their teaching time to responding to online discussions, providing feedback, and creating collaborative learning environments.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Using Social Media to Connect

Yesterday Thunderbird hosted Warren Adelman, President and COO of GoDaddy. He spoke about customer service and social media. I found a lot of the information to be very appropriate for the relationship between professors and students. He mentioned that customers have extremely high expectations for customer service, and when polled, they generally will say the customer service they received was adequate at best. He also mentioned the demand by customers for instantaneous responses and personalized support. He believes that if businesses want to keep customers, they must perform better in the customer service area.

Thunderbird's distance learning students are working professionals, with little time to waste on slow communications, like GoDaddy's customers. They are using social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with colleagues and look for more opportunities. How can the academic world take advantage of that?

Professors should have Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. If for nothing else, they allow you to be seen, and your accomplishments to be easily found. Many professors use these tools to publicize their research and recent publications. For classes, it allows students to see you in a different and more personal role. Facebook and LinkedIn are also great resources for connecting with guest speakers. You can search industries and companies to find CEOs and Managing Directors that might be willing to have online discussions with your students or record a video about their experiences.

Twitter is a way to give your students insight into what you are thinking and doing. Let them know you are attending a conference and what issues are being discussed, reading a great article in today's Financial Times, or having an 'ah-ha' moment when meeting with a student. It's all about connecting them to you in a way that might be missed in asynchronous classes.

Here's a good blog on using Twitter for Business and an article from The Chronicle about a professor that started using Twitter.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Google for Educators

Even if you are using an LMS for your online classes, Google offers a variety of tools and information for teaching. There is an entire section devoted to educators at: www.google.com/educators

An easy way to add a little mulitmedia to a coursepage, is to add a quick link to a Google map. If you are reading a case on South Africa, a quick link to the South African map on Google, will connect students with videos, photos and webcams of the area.

Google also is great for blogs. You could create a blog on the topics in your course, and have student teams manage the blog throughout the term, adding in their insights, personal experiences, information from your course and outside resources. For instance, if you are teaching business in South America, you could assign blogs for the various countries, or choose a specific country, and assign blogs for government, culture, art, society, economy, weather, etc.

Finally, if you don't want to create your own blog, consider having students research and evaluate other people's blogs. Many of our business journals and websites, also have their writers working on weekly blogs with interesting and up-to-date news. Try Financial Times or the HBS Working Knowledge on Globalization blogs.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Teaching Tools with Adobe

Our professors always mention how difficult it is to 'connect' with students when teaching distance learning. It feels more natural to talk to students casually before and after class, or meet them in the office. I've been really impressed with 2 tools from Adobe that help make this 'connection' easier for professors in our program.

One is the Adobe Commenting on PDF files. Most people know that you can type comments, but did you know you can also record your voice with commenting? It's easy to use, and most professors have access to it with Adobe Acrobat's full version. Our students say they love hearing their professors' voices with feedback.

The other tool is Adobe Connect. This product allows you to have web meetings and collaborate with up to 5 people in their 30 day free version. Professors can use a webcam and microphone to meet with teams, or give individuals some extra tutoring. They could even use it for a remote guest speaker! It's pretty easy to use, and includes the ability to have a whiteboard, share a file, or show your desktop and record. Thunderbird purchased a license to make it even easier for faculty.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I am just loving this free tool called Freecorder.com. It allows you to open a file online, and record comments for the students from your browser toolbar. Once you record the audio, you can email the file to the student for them to listen. I think it really helps personalize your feedback, and from what I've seen, students really like it. It's really easy to install and use. (You do need admin rights on your computer)

I also like the idea of using it in discussion boards to comment on a conversation thread, or shipping out a weekly update for students. The only drawback is not talking too long, to keep the file small and easy to share. (I'd suggest 10 minutes)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Just back from Sloan-C conference

Great way to spend a few days in San Francisco, getting inspired by new ideas in online education and technology.