July 25

Bloom’s Taxonomy Periodic Table

Global Digital Citizen Foundation Team has created a neat resource for chemistry and Bloom taxonomy fans. 🙂 I find it appealing and easy to use.

Download the Bloom’s Taxonomy Periodic Table of Activities.

Use your new free Bloom’s Taxonomy Periodic Table for:

  • Understanding Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy
  • Developing skills at each taxonomy level
  • Exploring useful Bloom’s activities with your learners
  • Performing quick formative assessments
  • Effective lesson enhancements
  • Expanding your Bloom’s vocabulary
July 21

First Day of Class

book with a tablet on top on a desk in a classroom

Another great write up from Faculty Focus contributors, this time Maryellen Weimer reminds us how to create a climate for learning on the very first day of class.

Below is the summary of the activities that will help you set the tone for the rest of the course.

  1.  On the board write “The best class I’ve ever had” and underneath it “What the teacher did” and below that “What the students did.” On another section write “The worst class I’ve ever had”  and then the same two items beneath. I ask students to share their experiences, without naming the course, department or teacher, and I begin filling in the grid based on what they call out. – I move to the best class section of the board and tell students that this is the class I want to teach, but I can’t do it alone. –
  2. Students are invited to walk around the room and write responses, chatting with each other and the teacher as they answere these questions: “I learn best in classes where the teacher ___” “Students in courses help me learn when they ___” “I am most likely to participate in classes when ___” “Here’s something that makes it hard to learn in a course: ___”
  3. Students sit across from each other, each with a copy of the syllabus that they’ve briefly reviewed. The teacher asks two questions: one about something in the syllabus and one of a more personal nature. The pair has a short period of time to answer both questions. Teacher checks to make sure the syllabus question has been answered correctly. Then students in one of the rows move down one seat and teacher asks the new pair two different questions
  4. Put students in groups and have them respond to a question: “What are the five things faculty do that make learning hard?” Or, ask positively, “What are the five things faculty do that make it easy to learn?” Collect the lists and make a master list to share in class or online. Below the five things faculty do, you can also list the five things students do that make it hard or easy to teach.

All of these activities can be done in online courses as well. Specifically in D2L Brightspace by using a Discussion board and Groups tool, or including an obligatory Syllabus quiz. If you are not sure how to translate your favorite in-class activities to the online learning environment, we are here to help! Stop by Miller Center 118, Monday – Friday 8 am – 4:30 pm,  or email us at att@stcloudstate.edu or d2l@stcloudstate.edu.

June 27

Online Teaching Tips You Don’t Hear Too Often

Faculty Focus published Ten Online Teaching Tips You May Not Have Heard, a refreshing read. I will recap the ones I thought are the best “reminders” that you may have heard once or twice but it’s not everyone’s focus. However these tips are truly great and probably something your online students are expecting more and more.

1. Do a Welcome Email – …Send a private email, addressing each student by name, and asking a direct question to start a brief dialogue.

2. Text (SMS) Opt-In – Tell your students to opt in for text notifications in D2L. They can do this by logging-in to D2L, clicking on their name, and going to notifications (see below). This also increases the chances of them seeing any updates thus creating less excuses for not being in the know.

Notifications in D2L

D2L Notifications SMS Opt-In

 

3. Communicate Information Using Multiple Channels – If you have important information to convey to students, don’t use just one channel of communication, use multiple. For example, instead of simply posting information only in the announcements area, or only in the feedback area, or sending it only via email, include the information in all three of these places. This will reduce the number of students saying they did not get the memo. Posting information in as many places as possible will result in more students getting the information they need to succeed.

4. Sync School Email Account to Phone – Contact your institution’s help desk for instructions on how to sync your school email account to your iPhone or Android. Not only will receiving email in multiple places reduce your likelihood of missing messages, it will also allow you to address urgent questions and concerns in a timely fashion. Students are often pleasantly surprised at my response time. However, it is important to set boundaries by letting students know when to expect a reply. For example, you can inform them that you normally respond within a 24-hour period, during regular business hours. This will help maintain your work-life balance.

5. Keep a Running List of Resources to Include in Feedback – Compile a list of helpful resources to send to students who are struggling in certain areas. For example, if a student submits a paper that illustrates he or she does not know how to use commas, don’t just point out the mistake, but refer to your list of resources and include the appropriate resource in your feedback. A Word document, bookmarks folder, or desktop sticky note are great places to keep these resources handy.

P.S. Be on the lookout for our post on Intelligent Agents in D2L, because they can help you with #1 and #5 from this list to be automatic if set up ahead of time with the right criteria.

 

June 20

Meeting Web Content Accessibility Standards

D2L Brightspace Community Website has great resources to offer. This link offers tips on web content accessibility. I am listing some important recommendations below:

  • When possible, use HTML topics to create your course content. D2L provides accessible HTML templates to streamline the content creation process. If you need to use other file formats, such as video files, choose formats that are recognized by most browsers or offer the material in multiple formats.
  • Use a simple layout that does not use tables or columns to organize information. When information is organized simply, it is easier for students to read and understand. Simple layout is also easier for assistive technology devices to interpret and present, and for mobile and handheld devices to resize.
  • Do not use color to convey meaning. If you want to show how concepts relate to each other, use a combination of size, color, and text labels.
  • Use headings to communicate the relationships between sections. Use Heading 1 for the title, Heading 2 for major sections, Heading 3 for subsections, and so on. If headings are used correctly, screen reader users can quickly search a page by heading and participants with cognitive disabilities can understand how sections and content relate easier.
  • Make sure each heading, item, and file name are unique.
  • Include alternative text descriptions (alt text) for all graphics. Use double quotes (null) as the alt text if the object is a decorative element that does not add meaning to the topic. If the graphic is a link, begin the alt text with “Link to”. The HTML Editor in Brightspace Learning Environment automatically prompts you to include alt text when you insert an image.
  • Ensure that there is a strong contrast between the text and the background colors in your course materials.
  • If you create PDF files from Microsoft Word or another word processor, format titles and sections using heading so they are correctly tagged in the PDF.
Accessible Page example with different headings and colors

From: https://www.pcc.edu/resources/instructional-support/access/documents/OnlineAccessibilityHandbook-loRes.pdf

June 12

Choosing the Right Amount of Resources

Emily Berry,  in eLearningLearning reported on a study that shows how people, when presented with more options end up being more discontent with their choice. Psychologically, it seems, when people are presented with more choice they are less likely to choose or be satisfied with their choice.

In teaching, especially online, instructors should be careful when presenting their learners with choices, filling students’ screens with too many features or links. It is better to choose simple, clear actions and instructions ahead of time, so that students do not lose time on figuring out the interface or browsing through many links. Reducing our students’ cognitive load by choosing the right resource for them will improve their learning.

She concludes: “In this fast-paced world, people want bite-sized learning, instantly accessible information which helps them in the ‘now’. Higher numbers and complexity of choices will only take us longer to make decisions and as decision time increases, the user experience suffers.”

Three students sitting with one looking at his lap top

 

 

 

 

June 8

D2L Visual Design Change to Daylight Experience

As we have previously announced, D2L update brought a visual design change that is much more responsive – works the same on different devices and matches our students’ needs. Below you will find a quick overview of “before and after”, so you can easily navigate the new design right away. The text describes the circled areas on the D2L homepage and course page.D2L Dayligh Visual Design Changes

D2L Dayligh Visual Design Changes

May 31

D2L Brightspace Webinars

Photo credit: www.brightspace.com

Here are some upcoming webinars organized by D2L for you!

Restructuring Online Discussions to Save Time and Engage Students – Live Webinar

Discussions are rightly an integral (if not time-consuming) part of engaging students in online learning environments. This session shows how a simple change of discussion structure and the question style can save you time, while creating conversations that re-create the excitement of engaged learning in face-to-face discussions.

Register now

Build Your First Intelligent Agent in Brightspace – Live Webinar

Are you interested in using Intelligent Agents but don’t know where to start? In this webinar we will help you create your first Intelligent Agent (or maybe even your second or third). We’ll help you decide:

  1. Why you should create an agent
  2. Who you should create an agent for
  3. How to create the agent
  4. What’s in it for you – prizes, that’s what’s in it for you! 

We’ll give away prizes to a couple of lucky attendees through a random drawing near the end of the live webinar.

Register now

April 18

D2L Brightspace The Daylight Experience

**Attention – If you don’t want to read further just check out this super short overview video! 🙂

D2L Brightspace is bringing a new design with their updates. Daylight: the overarching project name for the user interface change of design – to help everything be more web responsive.

The biggest reason for this change is to make D2L easy to use on tablets or mobile devices – keeping up with e-learning trends.

Here are some of the visual changes:

Courses will be listed  by tiles instead of text links.

courses as tiles not text in D2L

D2L will keep the same functionality, this is just a change in the user interface design, new font style, more pictures, slight changes on home page and navigation bar, and drop down menu more defined.

deesktop vs. mobile page widthIn addition, click here for a starter guide to Daylight experience.

Finally, a full one-hour Webinar about the Daylight experience (click to access).

 

 

March 28

QM Connect 2017 Call for Proposals

QM Connect, annual Quality Matters conference is open for proposals by April 7. Find out more here.

Pathways to Excellence

“Share your ideas, experiences and research with the QM Community by presenting at the QM Connect Conference. This year’s theme and concentrations put the focus on quality assurance at all levels in an organization — including fresh ideas on QM Standards and educational quality. You can offer educators and administrators opportunities to help design the future of learning and improve learner engagement with your conference presentation proposal.”

Concentrations

March 10

Improving the Quality of Instructional Videos

Richard Rose wrote for Campus Technology on “6 Dimensions for More Effective Online Instructional Videos” (click here to view full text). Here is some of his advice:

1) Sound-to-Silence Balance

Sound-to-silence balance is the ratio of talk to empty space on the soundtrack of your video. Tools like Camtasia and Captivate show the soundtrack as a display of the visible waveforms, which makes it easy to see this balance at a glance without listening to the content itself.

2) Visual Context-to-Detail Balance

Visual context-to-detail balance is the control of how often your video editing tool is zooming in and zooming out. Some video tools, such as Camtasia’s Smart Focus, allow the software to make these decisions for you, based on the movement of your on-screen cursor, but the top-end instructional designer will always want to control location and magnification precisely and, therefore, manually.

3) Feature-to-Application Balance

This is the balance between showing program features in the context of the entire application and giving specific examples of their use. One of end of this continuum is the feature/function/benefit (FFB) approach, popular in the early days of computer software instruction. It could be summarized as, “It has this, which does that, which allows you to achieve this type of task.”

4) Balance Between Framing/Assessment and Substance

The old military training model had three parts:

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you told them.

Today we call this framing and it is supported by David Ausubel’s classic Advance Organizer model. Having a sneak preview graphic at the front-end and a review graphic at the back-end of a step-wise training segment is often a fine idea.

5) Personality Balance

Personality balance is how much of yourself as an individual you choose to express in your instructional video. The ideal tone for most presentations is that of a clearly competent and enthusiastic professional who is visibly excited about the great stuff he or she has to share, and is delighted to be the one who is sharing it. Once this persona is established, the talent gets out of the way and lets the subject matter be the star of the show. But this is not always the right balance, depending on subject and audience