Friday, September 21, 2012

D2L Fusion 2012 Conference Summary

Guest post by Dr. Terry Buxton, Assistant Professor, RHCHP School of Nursing

This summer I had the opportunity to attend the D2L Fusion conference in San Diego, CA. This was an amazing experience to meet with other educators, Learning Technology Specialists, System Administrators, and others from around the nation. 

Education was represented from K-12 to higher education. Stories, ideas, best practices, experiences, frustrations, and emerging technologies were shared. 

D2L is launching a new version of their LMS in December. Like any new technology that is introduced, great anticipation is accompanied by great skepticism. In many cases D2L has listened to its users, faculty and students, to enhance many features. Whether they work the way they are supposed to remains to be seen. 

The challenge to faculty is to find ways to optimize this powerful learning system to enhance meaningful learning for our students the most effectively and efficiently. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guest Blog Post: A summary of the DTL conference

This is a guest blog post by Kelly Rinker, an instructor in the Health Services Administration.

This August I attended the 28th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning in Madison, WI.  This was my first year attending that conference and the conference started off slowly with a less than engaging opening Keynote speaker but ended with a BANG with the Keynote presentation by Judy Brown entitled “Learning in hand with mobile technology”.  Judy’s presentation provided a very good closing for the numerous sessions focused on the use of mobile technology in the learning environment and reinforced the need to continue to think outside of the classroom in our ability to reach students.
With the numerous technology choices available it is important to remember that technology does not replace the need for faculty engagement with students. One presentation that stood out from the rest at the conference was Improving the Connection with Online Students through Introductory Videos and Weekly Update Videos by Dale Suffridge of Kennesaw State University.  Dale provided a truly “outside of the box” presentation that began with a video showing a computer screen typing an introduction.  Dale was able to place the audience in the perspective of a student having to read a typed introduction.  Then he proceeded to show a very innovative Introduction video he taped while riding a roller coaster.  Needless to say, the video on the roller coaster was much more engaging than the typed introduction.
Video Introductions
Using videos for faculty introductions allows the students the opportunity to get to know you and your voice.  One introduction video can be used in all online courses and does not need to be course specific.  It provides a personal aspect to each course sets the tone for the type of experience the student may have in the class and allows them to visualize “who” is teaching.  Dale recommends the following for video introductions:
·       Focus on Personality Videos
o   Vita is of little importance here, this can be found in the faculty bio.
·       Share personal things that you are comfortable sharing
o   What do you share the first day in a F2F class?
·       Short and to the point
o   2-3 minutes should be plenty
Here are some examples of videos provided by Dale:
Dale's Intro Video:

Intro Video Example Compilation:

Dale's Low Tech Intro Video:

Weekly Update Videos
A weekly update video can be used in the place of a weekly “housekeeping” email or announcement.  It does not need to be an edited video, but just a quick natural, relaxed, conversational video that is reminiscent to the updates and reminders you would give at the beginning or end of a F2F class.  A weekly video update provides ongoing personality enforcement and allows for an opportunity to personally recognize student in front of their peers.  For example, you can complement students on their discussion responses by name.  Just make sure you mention all students at some point during the course.

Most individuals are hesitant to record videos because they are concerned about how they look or sound and concerned about the time.  Well, if you can get up in front of a class and speak then recording a video is no different – just dress and talk as you would if you were presenting in a F2F environment.  As for time, it is as simple as turning on a webcam on your computer or iPhone and uploading to a website.  Here are some Weekly Update Video Shooting Tips from Dale:
·       Length – Keep it short and to the point
·       Outline a brief script – such as reminders, names to mention for kudos
·       Sound – Make sure you can be heard by completing a brief test run and listening to it
·       Lighting – Make sure that the lighting is in front of you, not behind!

Dale recorded a weekly update video example during the presentation using his iphone.  Here is a link to that video and instructions on how to record weekly update videos with a smartphone.

Conference Weekly Update Video (shot during presentation):

How to Record Weekly Update Videos with a Smartphone:

As we become more mobile and physically distant in our communication and teaching methods, using videos provides an excellent opportunity for the students to connect with the faculty and provides an enhanced level of engagement between the faculty and students. I am currently working on my video introduction and have implemented weekly video updates in a course this term.  So far the response has been positive.  I highly encourage you to consider creating your own.  Here are some full length introduction video examples to use for inspiration.

Stacey Delacruz:

Vanessa Robinson-Dooley:

Tamara Powell (Star Trek):

Radwan Ali:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

COLTT 2012

One of the best-kept secrets for educational technology conferences is held annually in Boulder. The Colorado Learning and Teaching with Technology (COLTT) conference is now in its 15th year and held on the CU-Boulder campus. This year all sessions were held at the beautiful Wolf Law Building.

My time at this year's conference was limited due to prior commitments. However, attendance time was well spent. Hanna Yang and Lauren Scharff from the USAF Academy presented on results of their research into use of video feedback. The subjects were pre-law students that were videotaped presenting oral arguments of a case. Yang and Scharff interjected captions throughout the video playback so students would know precisely when they did something right or wrong.  The overall results were positive, with student subjects grateful for the instant feedback and the ability of knowing the exact moments of significant instances, such as a fidget or a needless utterance (ums, ahs, etc). They used a number of software programs to edit the videos including Jing and Camtasia.

I had a good discussion with our Adobe representative. With iOS not supporting Flash video playback, Adobe is coming under increasing pressure to find alternative methods for creating video content supporting playback on devices such as the iPad. This is especially true with Presenter, a favorite software product with RHCHP faculty due to it's simple design and useful features. The latest version is getting closer to a resolution but appears to still miss the mark for iOS compatibility. RHCHP is getting around the issue by posting all video content to Kaltura, our cloud-based video repository. However, this does not address the issue with Presenter files that are PP-based rather than video. Adobe reps will be on campus September 19th and I'm sure this will be a topic of discussion.

I also had a brief chat with Al Powell from Colorado State University. Al has extensive experience in lecture capture systems, something that RHCHP is just now beginning to investigate. I'll be connecting with him at a later date as the RHCHP Lecture Capture Task Force makes their recommendations and begins piloting systems in spring 2013.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Nicole's Reflections on Madison Teaching and Learning Conference

I recently attended the 28th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning in Madison, WI. I’ve been attending this conference for about 8 years straight. I have to say that this year was a little disappointing for a variety of reasons. I still brought home a few good tips and take aways that will share in this blog post.
First, you can access proceedings, keynote videos and resources from the conference here:

Flip Your Classroom to Increase Active Learning and Student Engagement
Bethany Stone, University of Missouri- Columbia

Key suggestions for flipping your classroom
·        Post materials at least ONE week prior
·        Explain all of your teaching strategies on the first day and/or in syllabus.
o   Keep them informed with info and data (for example, if you did this last semester and found that 80% of students did better on the final exam when using this technique you can get better buy in right away)
·        Balance motivators
·        Keep lectures short; provide online; Ask that they bring their questions to class
o   Take an online quiz during class regarding readings and lectures/ spend time reviewing answers to quiz and addressing questions.
·        This instructor utilizes a tool called “Google Voice” during class time. This allows students to anonymously text the instructor questions during class.
·        Have small group activities during class
·        Immediately after class have an online quiz that goes deeper into the content to measure a level of understanding beyond the basics.

iPad apps I discovered:
Perspective is a platform for exploring, creating, and sharing audiovisual stories with data.
Today's storytelling involves a mishmash of apps, websites, blog tools, and technologies. Perspective simplifies all this by combining the essential elements of storytelling into a single iPad App.
MindMeister and Simple Mind (both are free)
MindMeister is a web-based mind mapping tool.  Create, view and edit mind maps online or offline and let the app synch with your MindMeister account whenever connected. Share mind maps directly from the device, or export them in MindManager, Freemind, RTF, PDF and PNG formats

SimpleMind for iOS is a Mind Mapping tool that turns your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch into a brainstorming, idea collection and thought structuring device.

Tweeting the lesson: Social media curation in an online curriculum
Richard Edwards, Lead Instructional Designer, Ball State University
This was a 10 minute lightning session. I couldn’t write fast enough to collect the information. I find the topic intriguing. Richard talked about how with teaching and learning goals we generally have formal learning, informal learning and integrated learning. He mentioned a tool called “” that can be used as a social media aggregator. The goal is to create a higher-level of learning and context to social media data on given topics. (To teach how to create new knowledge from existing data.) There are many layers to Twitter: content and curation, crowdsourcing and chronology.

(Lightning session) Four steps for designing successful discussion topics
Alicia Pigg, Course review specialist, Online Campus, Columbia College

The main structure suggested for designing a good discussion topic will include
1.      Identify the purpose and relevance
2.      Select content that incorporates the use of higher-order thinking skills
3.      Choose a strategy for the discussion (prompts, format, question types)
a.      Scenario prompt
b.      Problem-solving
c.      Diagnostic questions (drawing conclusions)
d.      Challenge strategy (defend reasoning) 

4. Anticipate results and possible responses

Judy Brown Keynote
“Learning in hand with mobile technology”
Check out the following great resources!

Judy mentioned some powerful statistics:
85% of phone usage is for data as opposed to just talking. (I believe it)
100 million iPads have been sold to colleges and universities.
People will touch their smart phone (for some reason) up to 150x a day! (guilty)

Some common tasks: check weather; email; when bored; when in trouble (solving unexpected problems)
Nomophobia= the separation anxiety people get when they don’t have their mobile device (phone) within reach. (oh yeah, I've broken out in a sweat when I leave my phone at home or I don't have a signal)

Judy talked a little bit about “the spacing effect,” which for me was the first time I’d heard of it.
I guess it refers to the idea (based on some research) that it is better to space out presentations/lectures rather than cramming too much in one time.  So tying this in with the mobile revolution, we can provide presentations/lectures/learning content asynchronously where students can access via mobile when the time is right for them.
A powerful example Judy gave outlined a thing called “” A mother can subscribe when she gets pregnant and the service will text the mother at key appropriate times during the pregnancy (and after baby is born) with tips and healthy prompts/reminders. So they are PUSHED information at the right time.  If you compared this situation with say a one-time workshop for new mothers. Those classes can be jam packed full of very important information that certainly can be challenging to remember all of the content.