August 22

D2L for Students: Pulse App

Pulse App looks on a phone The basics: It keeps students on schedule.

Instructors: Use dates in D2L.

Both for Android and IOS platforms, ready for free download. It is built into the system so the students see courses they are enrolled in (that were requested by the instructor  to appear in D2L Brightspace Learning Environment).

Ease of use, student centered: Shows calendar, courses, notifications.

The app is color coded and students can filter through courses.

Notifications: updates e.g. new announcement, new content, new grade (students need to subscribe in the Learning Environment before they get notified in the app). Pulse app draws from courses but students can add their own notes.

Faculty can help by setting the dates in announcements, content, assignment folders (dropbox) and quizzes and displaying it in calendar. You go to restrictions to manage dates and whenever you specify a due (or end) date it will automatically feed into Pulse.

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.

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 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!

June 29

Study Skills Courses for Students

Future Learn, an open digital education platform offering free online courses from universities around the world, has a collection of courses on improving student study skills.

The topics range from improving students’ writing skills, English as a second language, online learning, to career prep and advice.

This can be a really neat collection to recommend to your students this summer – majority of courses do not require more than 1-2 hours a week but hold valuable information and resources.

list of seevral study skills courses like prepare for college and studying online

 

 

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 19

D2L Brightspace Awards Tool: What do you need to know?

Photo credit: www.brightspace.com

With the new D2L update SCSU went through  earlier this month, the Awards tool has been made available. I will summarize the main functionality and features here,but you can always access the full Awards Tool Guide here and a Webinar on the Awards tool.

WHAT IS THE AWARDS TOOL?

The Awards tool can be used to create Badges and Certificates to reflect the achievement of different milestones within a course offering. In the Awards tool, instructors can design badges and certificates and link them to release conditions to allow automatic awarding. Learners can see the awards that they have already earned, as well as those that they have yet to earn, in the associated My Awards tool.

WHY USE THE AWARDS TOOL?

  • Reward learners with badges and certificates immediately after they have completed an activity or assignment.
  • Build an element of gamification into your course and better engage your learners.
  • Provide a consolidation/ celebration piece to the completion of an assignment or activity.
  • Track learner progress and development.
  • Build a hands-off method of instant feedback.
  • Provide learners with certificates that they can share through social media.

CREATING AWARDS

Go to Course Admin and find the Awards tool. Select Create Award to build from scratch. Add a name and description, and select the Award Type (badge or certificate). The award icon image can be selected from the existing images in the Award Icon Library, uploaded from your computer, or created using Badge Designer.

Once your award has been created, you can associate it with release conditions and credits by selecting Edit Properties on the Course Awards page.  Once associated with release conditions, the award will automatically be awarded to all learners who achieve that condition, including those who completed the condition in the past.

D2L Awards five badgesD2L Awards handshake badgeAwards a description of an issued badge

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

 

 

 

 

April 10

10 Tips for Creating Effective Instructional Videos

Michael Smedshammer, faculty instructional design coordinator at Modesto Junior College, wrote for Faculty Focus on creating effective instructional videos. Here is a recap:

  • Forget the headset. If your computer doesn’t have a built-in camera and microphone, buy a webcam that does both.
  • Keep it short. If you have a lot to say (and sometimes we do!), chunk up the message. Make a video mini-series with 5-10 minute chapters.
  • Prepare well and then wing it. Sometimes a brief outline taped next to your webcam is all you need to stay on track without sounding like you’re reading from your notes.
  • Position the camera above your eyes, so you look slightly up at it. Position your head to appear at the top third of the screen so the recording includes your face and most of your torso.
  • Location, location, location. Your work or home office are usually safe choices as a background for the recording.
  • Move it out. Don’t always shoot your videos from the same spot. Your audience will tire of seeing the same background.Keep the backgrounds neutral but varied. Your audience will appreciate it.
  • Look right at the camera lens. Looking anywhere else looks weird. Your audience will think you have an avoidance problem.
  • Cover your screen. Once you get everything ready, consider taping a piece of paper over your computer screen so you’re not distracted by seeing yourself while you record. Remember, you do not need to be perfect! Try not to be overly critical of yourself.
  • Say “cheese.” Smiling helps everything. Whether you’re recording a webcast of your face or just your voice, smiling makes you look and sound better.
  • Avoid over doing it. The wacky music, goofy fade-ins, and spinning transitions that come with some video editing software can make home-videos look corny. Leave most of those tools for the professionals (who don’t really use them either).

 

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.

You can go to SCSU’s Center for Excellence in Teaching on the third floor of our library and loan them.

Below 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