May 26

Five Mistakes in Online Course Design

Wrong Way in Stop Sign

Almost 5 years ago, Elizabeth St. Germain summarized 5 most common pitfalls of course design when faculty teach online. This story does not get old as we still encounter similar problems with some online classes. You can read her summary if you click on the link above. Here, I will list the five things she described as the things you SHOULD NOT do in an online course:

  1. You should not Upload your course materials, then call it a day (to fix it, you can: Rework that hand-out on tedious lab procedures into a colorful, animated slideshow. Bring a historic context to life through links to period paintings, historic sites, or even contemporary Google street views).
  2. You should not Let the course management system drive your thinking (to fix it, you can: Start by thinking about the kinds of learning experiences you want to create rather than letting the CMS define a more limited view of putting your course online. Then, work with an instructional designer/lead course developer from our team to help you transfer this to D2L).
  3. You should not Insist on being the “sage on the stage” (to fix it: Your course should be a place where students come to participate in the connections that can be made between your subject and the outside world. Build these bridges into your online course materials, and become a facilitator of these important connections).
  4. You should not Expect your students to consume knowledge rather than create it (to fix it: Develop content that asks students to recall and apply what they have learned. In an online course, this could mean peppering your online content with quick test-your-comprehension questions or developing exercises that ask students to generate data, capture and upload photos of evidence, research connections to real-world conditions, or create explanatory slideshows).
  5. You should not Ignore the ways students learn from each other (to fix it, you can: Include assignments that require students to share ideas and resources, present topics to each other, and critique each other’s work. Use online communication tools and collaborative spaces to foster a class-wide web of supportive contact rather than settling into multiple parallel channels between you and each student).
May 20

What Makes an Online Instructional Video Compelling?

Woit_100426_225We encourage the use of different instructional materials for your face-to-face, hybrid, or online courses. Videos are a big part of classes nowadays, but it may be hard to decide on how to integrate videos in your course or how to create professional quality videos of your own.

“With the advent of new technology tools and new online programs, many research questions around instructional media have begun to emerge. For instance, how might student-produced media (through lightweight tools such as cell phones or webcams) influence instruction and social interaction? In hybrid programs, how can video best supplement face-to-face sessions? How do graphic design elements (such as the video thumbnail, a video embedded on a course page, or types of text surrounding a video) influence viewing habits? Online tools and online programs continue to increase, and many opportunities exist for further investigating best practices of online instructional design.”

Here is a full article by Melanie Hibbert for EDUCAUSE Review, and you will find the summary of here findings below. These emerging findings, taken from both quantitative and qualitative data, provide some insight as to what characteristics of online videos students describe as compelling, and what types of videos receive the most views:

  • Strategizing videos to tie directly to course assignments and/or assessment
  • Advising faculty members to use conversational language in production; also encouraging them to use humor and draw on past experiences
  • Adding audio/visual elements to the video that supplement the content; the videos should not convey information that students could just read as text
  • Producing high-quality videos (despite mixed findings related to production values, elements such as professional sound, lighting, and graphics are considered important when creating high-quality media)
  • Keeping the four-minute view time as a design consideration, especially when producing longer-form content lectures that can be broken up into shorter segments

Let us know if you plan to post videos for your course and schedule a consultation for best practices/video help. Stop by our ofice: Academic Technologies Team is here all summer, Miller Center 118.

May 17

Creating Video Content Topic in D2L

MnSCU D2L Brightspace Service Desk

Having a variety of instructional materials is encouraged in your classes. It is easy to put videos on topics related to your class in your D2L Brightspace course shell. Here is a reminder how to do it (Click here for the full post with pictures).
Instructors can create a HTML content topic and insert an embedded video, or create a Quicklink content topic to a video URL.
Video topics are listed in modules with a RNT/assets/images/a1594_video_file_icon.jpg Video icon to distinguish them from other types of files and link topics.
– To create a video content topic, click New in a content module, then select Video or Audio from the drop-down menu.
– Two options: Upload: You can create your video using Mediaspace where you would use the embed code.
Web Video or Audio: paste URL in the field and after the video loads click save.

Note: Any web video can be used to create a video topic simply by pasting its HTML embed code in the Enter URL or Embed Code field. Additionally, D2L Brightspace provides shortcuts for some web sites, enabling users to create videos by simply copying and pasting the URL of the video instead of the HTML embed code.

The following table lists supported sites that were selected based on the most frequently used videos by D2L Brightspace clients today.

 Video Source  URL Support  Embed Code Support  Extract Title Support  Extract Author Support
 YouTube  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
 Vimeo  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
 D2L Capture*  No**  Yes  No  No
 Dailymotion  Yes  Yes  Yes  No
 Discovery  No  Yes  Yes  No
 Howcast  Yes  Yes  Yes  No
 Influxis  No  Yes  No  No
 Khan Academy  No  Yes  Yes  Yes
 MIT  Yes  Yes  Yes  No
 National Geographic  Yes  Yes  Yes  No
 SchoolTube  Yes  Yes  Yes***  No
 ScienceStage  No  Yes  Yes  No
 ScreenCast  No  Yes  No  No
 TeacherTube  Yes  Yes  No  No
 TED  Yes  Yes  Yes  No
 Adobe TV  No  Yes  No  No
May 11

The Humanities and Technology Camp in Twin Cities

You might be unfamiliar with the format of THAT Camp, which was started as an unconference. So what does that mean? First of all, as you may assume, it is an informal gathering, open to people of various interests and skill levels. It still is a conference of sorts, so you can propose a session, hold a presentation, or discussion. However, the decisions on proposals are decided by all the participants, on the day of the conference. Here is a video to help you understand it:

There are several unconference rules: be productive, have fun, and stay collegial.  New sessions are added last minute, and you are encouraged to switch to a different session that would be more interesting for you. So, save the date: May 23, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Free for all! 🙂

May 4

Top Digital Trends for Higher Ed in 2016

miller-digital-classroomKarine Joly, a University Business editor, reported on what she thinks are the top six trends when it comes to digital media in Higher Education. Her post lists the trends and describes their current use. Would you consider integrating some of these in your classroom?

  1. Podcasting
    Traditional players like NPR, as well as newcomers like Gimlet Media and the Panoply Network, have launched high-quality podcast series reaching millions of listeners and earning digital advertising dollars—including some from higher ed budgets.
  2.  ‘Just for me’ marketing
    Connected technologies enable more and more personalization on digital channels. As a result, the new generation of students, parents and alums expect personalized and adaptive solutions to their college needs and wants. The popularity of platforms like SnapChat among college students is a testament of this craving for more personalized communications.
  3. Online videos
    Online videos can be set to autoplay to push advertising or promote branded content. They can also be counted as “viewed”—and billed—after only a few seconds for social media platforms.That’s why online videos have experienced amazing success on Facebook while the reach of traditional text-based updates or even pictures have been throttled by Facebook’s profit-driven news feed algorithm.
  4. Digital Assistants
    As smartphones become indispensable for many people, personalized digital assistants like Siri, Cortana and Google Now are facilitating more human-device interactions. These voice-activated digital assistants are expected to play an increasing role in driving people to your web content.
  5. Virtual Reality
    With its immersive and experiential proposition, virtual reality could help reduce the physical distance between users and a range of experiences: a lecture, a lab, a trip or even a campus visit. Schools such as UC Berkeley, Rochester Institute of Technology and Virginia Tech have created labs and research units to explore these applications.Regis University in Denver partnered with the agency Primacy to create a virtual reality tour of its campus. Broad adoption may be some years away, but early adopters might want make a move now.