Wednesday, November 10, 2010


In the Thunderbird distance programs, we emphasize what we call 'lecturettes'. These are short (15 minute) lecture videos on specific topics. They force the professor to really focus on content, and leave out information that doesn't directly relate. Stories, examples and additional information can be put into a 'conversation' in the class discussion forums.

This article in Smart Classroom, Teaching in One Minute Snippets, talks about 60 second 'micro lectures', and might be an option for those faculty that have content that needs to be updated regularly. A short lecture is by it's nature easier to update with new data, and would take much less time than re-recording an 30 minute video. It's worth a look!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Okay, sometimes Moodle can be overwhelming to explain to someone that hasn't used an LMS before. I thought this video did a great job helping teachers understand the power that Moodle can add to a classroom. It's even fun!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

VoiceThread Technology

Voicethread is a technology that allows faculty to post a video, image or PowerPoint slides and a short narration about it. Then students can watch the narration, and make audio comments, or questions. It also has a nice feature that allows students to draw on the slide or image to better illustrate their comment.

The advantages are that it allows students to ask questions and make comments while listening to the video, rather than watching a video, and then going into their LMS to post a comment in a forum.

The disadvantage is that when a professor posts something, the students have to create a VoiceThread account in order to view and comment. There is a free account, but to fully utilize all the features, there are subscription costs.

To see my sample, Click Here.

To read a recent post by Dr. John Orlando for Faculty Focus on Using VoiceThread in Online Discusions, Click Here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Light-hearted look at Plagiarism

This is a short, funny video about the consequences of plagiarism put out by the University of Bergen in Norway. (It is subtitled, and a little bit 'suggestive' sexually, but has a good message for college students who consider cheating)

A Plagiarism Carol

Friday, June 18, 2010

Guest Speakers in DL Classes

The world truly is a smaller place. Our students know it. Students can speak with experts in any industry or cultural group through the use of social media. They feel comfortable emailing, SKYPE-ing or following a Twitter thread to find expert opinions, and often find those 'experts' willing to return answers to their questions.

Faculty need to realize how easy it is to bring someone from the business world into their virtual classrooms. Instructors need to take advantage of that instant communication, and help students be able to evaluate those 'expert' opinions. What kind of experts can you bring int? Really anyone is an option from authors of books, CEOs or staff from large corporations, Faculty from other institutions. Here's some ideas:

To bring in a guest speaker to a virtual classroom:

  • Use recorded videos from You Tube or Big Think (don't just post it, force students to discuss it)

  • Add a guest to a weekly discussion board to add to conversations

  • Invite students to join an Adobe Connect classroom with a speaker once or twice during a term

  • Ask outside 'experts' to review a short student submitted paper on a topic and give feedback to a group of students. (maybe have them choose the best)

Get students involved by:

  • Having them locate an expert, and interview them in a 'webinar' type of project

  • Post a video of an 'expert' on an issue, then assign groups to write/research other perspectives that dispute that expert, and present that material.

  • Get librarians involved to help students formulate a process for critically evaluating information, and understanding what is valid, and what isn't.

Opening up your virtual classroom to outside experts gets students motivated to learn a topic, and gives them feedback from a variety of sources.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grading 'Sloppy' Papers

I often hear faculty complain that students don't even do a simple spell check before turning in a project or paper. Dr. Douglas Eder from Southern Illinois University shared with me a solution that he posts in his syllabus. He says that it only takes a student one returned paper to convince them to be more careful with the next. It is called the Fatal Error List.

A Fatal Error List
1. Each different word misspelled
2. Each sentence fragment
3. Each run-on sentence or comma splice
4. Each mistake in capitalization
5. Each serious mistake in punctuation that obscures the meaning
6. Each error in verb tense or subject/verb agreement
7. Lack of conformity with assigned format
8. Each improper citation, or lack of citation, where one is needed

Papers with more than 3 Fatal Errors marked by a professor on any 1 page, will be returned to the student. Students are allowed 1 resubmit within 24 hours, and grade will be lowered by 1 grade.

Your list might be different and could include other things. You might have different consequences. But, start from the beginning with clear and specific expectations, so students know how to succeed in your class.