August 14

Intelligent Agents Tool in D2L Brightspace

A list of all tools under Course Admin i nD2L with Intelligent Agents circled

 

Intelligent Agents is a tool in D2L Brightspace that can increase instructor presence by sending pre-set, automated emails triggered by pre-set criteria.  I like to call it the Virtual Teaching Assistant as it helps with some administrative tasks, acting on your behalf.  You can see on the picture above where it is located under Course Admin. Below are the details about the tool, as well as how to set them up in D2L.

  • Automated Messaging System: Sends emails once pre-set criteria is evaluated for students.
  • Most common: log-in criteria or release conditions (e.g. no submission to a folder).
  • Notifies the course instructor about a potentially troubled student (providing additional background information, such as an unattempted quiz, a quiz grade or a task (in)completion).
  • Only the instructor sees this tool. When users are evaluated as true on the condition you have set, an email you have previously wrote is automatically sent. A personalized message with the ability to link to resources (remedial or reinforcing) leads to increased instructor presence and student satisfaction.

To set them up in D2L:

  1. Go to Course Admin, find the tool by name or in Communications category. Go to settings and Set custom values for this course (name that emails come from (your name) and put your preferred reply-to email). Save.
  2. Click on New.
  3. Name it, check it as enabled, set criteria (Course Activity log-in or Create and Attach a Release Condition (determine the Condition Type and Details from the dropdown menus)).
  4. Determine whether the Agent will act only once or set a schedule for running dates.
  5. Choose HTML as the Email Format. Copy-Paste the replace strings (To*: {InitiatingUser}; Email Subject: e.g. Reminder for {OrgUnitName}; start the email with, for example: Hello, {InitiatingUserFirstName}). Save and Close. Do a Practice Run, if you wish, to see identified users.

August 8

Short and Reusable Recordings

Our colleagues from the U of M presented at the Minnesota E-Learning Summit on using videos in your courses. The handout below summarizes their main points about creating engaging, relevant, sustainable videos. One interesting point they made is that students will rather watch several videos that make up 20 minutes total, than just one 20 minute long video. I guess the “binge watching” culture prevails. 🙂 The Reusable Relevant Recording Creating Engaging and Evergreen Course Content handout: granualr, modular, reusable, quality, aligned, engaging, short (video), sustainable

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 10

From “Sage on the Stage” to the “Guide on the Side” to “Ace in the Digital Space”

The new name for the role of faculty in online learning, coined by Jennifer Mathes in an OLC Insights post truly got my attention.

The shift of the role of a teacher as the Sage on the Stage to the Guide on the Side fits well with digital teaching and learning, as students are expected to take a more active role in their learning. The same goes in the classroom where different pedagogical approaches are practiced, and student-centered learning is nothing new.

However, teaching online is not an easy task, and requires much more work ahead of time as well as during the courses than many would think. Teaching effectively requires more than being just a Guide on the Side. Thus, Jenifer Mathes coined the term to indicate to the scope of activities an online teacher is faced with.

She states: “I chose to describe the role as an Ace because we find, in the online or blended course, that a faculty member has to be the expert in many things (tech support, advisor, coach, subject matter, etc.) to their students. They are the first ones that students will go to when they run into an issue.”

This also reminds us of the importance of teacher support and resources.

Remember we are here to help in Miller Center 118!

Miller Center building front entrance summertime

 

July 6

2017 Minnesota eLearning Summit

Image credit: https://cceevents.umn.edu/minnesota-elearning-summit

 

This year’s MN eLearning Summit will happen August 2-3 in Normandale Community College. The program draft is already out and the HIED topics will range from online discussions, MOOCS, course development, telepresence classrooms, asynchronous courses, etc.

Registration is open and discounted for any MN State employee ($61.25 − Enter promo code C118 at checkout, by July 14).

Hope we see you there!

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

March 1

Books on Technology and Teaching and Learning

Nowadays, the majority of articles and news come to us instantly via blogs, websites, newsletters, online magazines. However, if you prefer to glance through books and have them as a manual while you are working on your courses, our library can offer plenty of good resources… and there is always the Inter-library Loan.

Here, though, I am sharing the specific books our SCSU’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) has on technology. You can go to the center on the third floor of our library and loan them.

Bellow are a few recommended ones from the list, if you want to start thinking about facilitating an online course or building content for a future class:

  • Conquering the Content: A Step by Step Guide to Online Course Design, by Smith
  • Work by Palloff and Pratt (one of the books is The Virtual Student:A Profile and Guide to Working with Online Learners, there are a couple more)
  • E-Moderating, by Salman
  • Engaging the Online Learner: Activates and Resource for Creative Instruction, by Corrad and Donaldson
February 13

First Time Teaching Online?

Online Learning Consortium promotes their Online Teaching Certificate which covers a wide verity of topics. However, here is their brief overview of the basic skills instructors usually wonder about if they have not taught online:

  • Educational Technology: While the basics of email, discussion boards, and PowerPoint are necessary, you’ll also want to learn to use meeting software as well as have an understanding of learning management systems. Additionally, it can’t hurt to have a base understanding of how to troubleshoot computer issues, internet connectivity hiccups, and incidents of malware to keep your systems running smoothly.
  • Time Commitment: Think online teaching will take less time than teaching face-to-face? Not necessarily. You’ll find that more time is spent one-on-one with students via email and chat rooms, especially with asynchronous programs. And since many online courses are open to students across the globe, you may need to consider the time differences when scheduling synchronous sessions.
  • Student Engagement: Unless you are working in a blended learning environment, you may never meet students face-to-face. If that’s the case, take the time to cultivate an online presence so students and colleagues can get to know you. Also, plan to spend time responding to emails and discussion board posts.  Most institutions have policies surrounding faculty-student communication requirements.
February 8

Instructor Presence and Immediacy

Dwinnells (2017) gives great advice on how to keep up with your online students and give them the feeling that you are present, or as he called it: How to Keep from Going MIA in Your Online Course. Many researchers have confirmed that instructor presence or immediacy positively correlate with student satisfaction and success. I will list his suggestions with my comments below. Click here to view the full Faculty Focus post.

  1. Set times to “go to class.”  Advise your students (and do the same yourself) to check in every day for a few minutes and see if t here is a new discussion post or a question (for you), but actually “attend” the class for a half hour to an hour, two to three times a week.
  2. Find ways to personalize your course with your presence. Include media such as a welcome video or audio at the beginning of the course, or in Announcements, and consider video/audio feedback for some assignments. If you can’t do an audio/video try to post a picture of yourself and add some biographical information such as your hobbies and interests, besides your office hours and syllabus. This helps humanizing and personalizing you as an instructor, which ultimately creates a sense of presence and a feeling of community and safety for your students. Encourage them to do the same in a designated discussion forum.
  3. Seek opportunities to engage students in creative ways. Try to personalize feedback, mention your students’ names whenever you can.
  4. Use discussion boards wisely and often.
  5. Remember that online does not mean off-line: “One could have a beautifully designed online course, but with an off-line professor the learning experience will lack the depth, breadth, and richness of a true learning experience.”

Another point to consider is how nonverbal communication and gauging emotions is lost in online courses. There are ways to assess your student’s emotions and behavior in a fully online class.  Here is a short article on emotional presence and why it matters.