elearning

Online, in the classrooms, and behind the camera.

classroom-tech

November 20, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Disabling HDMI audio on Yoga

If you are using the Lenovo Yoga and using the HDMI cable connection to a projector the external headphone audio port is disabled.  There may be times when you need to use the external headphone port with HDMI. The following steps can tell you how to do that:

  1. Right-click on speaker icon in system tray (next to time)
  2. Click “Playback devices”
  3. Right-click on HDMI device and choose disable
  4. Audio output will default to speaker/headphone output

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To re-enable HDMI audio:

  1. Right-click on speaker icon in system tray (next to time)
  2. Click “Playback devices”
  3. Right-click in the white area of the Sound window
  4. Choose show disabled devices
  5. Right-click HDMI device and choose enable

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eval and assess

November 20, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Dear Dr.Larry

Dear Dr. Larry is a regular column. Faculty and students can submit questions to Dr. Larry by emailing elearning@ltu.edu. Dr. Larry will answer each month with leading-edge, witty, insightful responses.

Dear Dr. Larry,

I just got an email entitled “Mid-Term Course Evaluation Results.” I opened the attached file and found several pages detailing what my students think of my class so far. There are some good things and some that are . . . well . . . not-so-good. What am I supposed to do with them?

Sincerely,

Swimming in a sea of data

Dear Swimming, 

It is easy to overlook this important email so let me begin by saying Kudos to you for taking the time to open and review the information. Many LTU programs send out mid-term evaluations to gauge how classes are going so that faculty can make any needed changes and hopefully impact the end of the semester evaluations positively.

Even I, the great Dr. Larry, have to address some not-so-good mid-term evaluation results. For example, I noticed the following in my recent results:EvalItem

 

It made me say $#@!. I clearly explain my grading criteria. What are they talking about?” But then I looked at the comments.

“Syllabus says mid-term and final are worth 60% of final grade, but points do not add up to 60% of total.”
“No points are posted in Blackboard so it is impossible to see where you stand.”

There were other comments that made me have to consider that maybe. . . just maybe. . . the grading criteria was clear in my mind, but not clear to the students. I was able to review it and talk with my students clarifying any questions. I explained that I heard their concerns and so valued their feedback that I wanted to clarify things (I think I scored some points with them). Now I expect great ratings on this question on the final evaluation. We should view the mid-term evaluations as a gift and opportunity that can help us improve the art & science of teaching!

Best wishes for better projects and happy students, and great end-of-course evaluations!

Dr. Larry

course dev-02

November 20, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Taking the mystery out of ‘accessibility’ part I

Web accessibility allows for students with disabilities to perceive, understand, navigate, interact, and contribute to their courses which have online components. This article summarizes strategies you may use to make sure your documents and Blackboard site are accessible. Making teaching materials accessible helps them work better with assistive technologies, which is equipment that is used to enhance the functional capabilities of students with disabilities. The following is an Accessibility Checklist you may use:

Accessibility Checklist

Images/Objects

  • For all Images and Objects (including Tables) ‘Alt Text’ titles and descriptions are included (PowerPoint, Word, Blackboard, etc.) In PowerPoint, this is accomplished by right clicking on Picture>Select Format Picture>Select Alt Text>Insert Title and Description
  • In Word, all objects have text wrapping set to ‘in line with text’
  • Column headers are identified for Tables. Tables have simple structures (For example, there are no nested tables, merged cells, etc)

Links

  • Link names are meaningful (e.g. Google Search Engine This is helpful so that screen readers do not read the entire link name including ‘http://www.’)

Titles and Headings

  • In PowerPoint, all slides have titles and all the titles are unique. (They can even be set to invisible, where they will still be read by screen readers.)
  • In Word, styles or headings are used to help organize the content.

Fonts

  • San Serif fonts are used instead of Serif fonts. (e.g. Recommended: Arial, Tahoma, and Verdana. Not recommended: Times New Roman, Georgia)

Pdf

  • Pdf documents are ‘text searchable’. They are not scanned images (If scanned, they may be converted using Adobe Acrobat (File>Action Wizard>Make Accessible)

Audio and Video

  • Audio and video materials are closed-captioned. (There will be a follow article on how to use Youtube to transcribe) There are also transcription services such as 3PlayMedia.

 

You can also use the Accessibility Checker within Power Point, Word, and Excel to make sure that everyone can read your document.

  1. Click on File menu and choose ‘Info’ from the drop down
  2. Click on ‘Check for issues’ button
  3. Choose ‘Check for accessibility’ from drop down
  4. The ‘Accessibility Checker’ shows the inspection results. Click on each to find out why and how to fix the issue.

 

Blackboard Accessibility Information  and  Blackboard Collaborate Accessibility provides additional Instructor guidelines specific to Blackboard, Service Pack 13.

For more information and assistance on making your course accessible, please contact elearning@ltu.edu.

course dev-02

November 20, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Crafting an effective blogging assignment

When crafted effectively, blogging assignments can be a great tool to reinforce class concepts, encourage discussion, and promote additional research.

Blogging allows students to write about topics related to their coursework and to comment on their classmates’ work. Many articles have promoted blogging in the classroom, but not all blogging assignments are created equally, especially at the university level.

Here are some points to consider when evaluating if a blogging component is the right fit for your course:

  • Evaluate one blog vs. many

Only you can decide if your students should maintain individual blogs or contribute to one team site. Each approach has its advantages and drawbacks. Individual blogs promote individual exploration and diversity of thought, but can be a lot of work to grade. Team blogs promote cohesiveness and collaboration, but offer students less direct writing time and mediate their opportunities for individual exploration of a topic of interest.

  • Consider your audience

Most students, especially in the first two years, have not yet developed enough experience in the subject matter they are exploring to engage with the public. For that reason, especially in the early years, limiting your students’ audience to your classroom might be advisable.

  • Define and communicate your specific expectations for a substantial blog post

For any successful class assignment, rigor is key. Discourage the frequent bad habit of “stream-of-consciousness” writing in blogs. Promote editing. If you wouldn’t accept a student’s entry as a paper document, don’t accept it as a blog post.

  • Uphold citation standards

Linking to outside sources is not enough. Links move. Require that students abide by the citation standards of your discipline. Encourage students to paraphrase and analyze their research, instead of merely providing a collection of links.

When carefully crafted, a blogging assignment can add a deeper layer of discourse to your class. The next time you revise or develop a course, consider if adding a blogging component would help your students build their analytical, research, and writing skills.

course dev-02

October 14, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Infographics in the classroom

 Infographics – unexplored yet powerful, especially for learners who prefer to learn visually. Here is some help to effectively use them in our instruction.

Infographics can capture large amounts of data and succinctly display information statistically, relationally, chronologically, thematically, etc. They can be an effective way to display and focus in on trends.

Infographics are visual images such as charts or diagrams used to represent information or data. Here are a few websites that collect infographics and illustrate a variety of examples.

Here are some examples in which they could be used in instruction. Depending on your course and objectives, you may modify these to fit your needs.

Example #1. Language or ESL Course. Search for infographics online, choose one and write a short essay describing it in your own words.

Example #2. Communications Course. Given an infographic, describe strategies used to convey information graphically and evaluate why the strategies were or were not effective.

Example #3. Graphic/Multimedia/Communication Design or Statistics Course. Research a topic which uses statistics and/or relationships and create an infographic to better illustrate them.

For example #3, you may recommend that one of the following tools be used to create the infographic.

eval and assess

October 14, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Grading student work: Blackboard grade center

Timely feedback and grading of student work is primarily for: administrative purposes, providing student feedback of progress in the course, guidance for accomplishment of skills required for future coursework, and student motivation. Using the grade center to record and communicate students progress in a course is a university requirement. When grades are recorded using grade center students can view assignment grades and instructor comments using the “MyGrades” option located in their course.

The Blackboard Grade Center functions like a spreadsheet. There are rows for each student and columns for communicating individual assignment grades and providing feedback. Grades can be recorded for assignments submitted using Blackboard assignment submission functions or for papers physically submitted to the instructor in the classroom.

Options for recording student grades include manually recording a grade for an assignment by creating a grade column or setting up an assignment for submission using Blackboard course assignment settings. To learn more about setting up the Blackboard Grade Center review the tutorial material available on the LTU eHelp Blackboard 9.1, Blackboard for Faculty.

When recording student grades you have the option to include feedback to assist students with understanding the grade recorded, improving their skills, and how to be more effective in future assignments. Aligning the feedback with the assignment requirements closes the gap between current and future student performance. Blackboard Grade Center provides the option to add comments for all graded assignments. Each graded item has the option to enter text comments. To learn more about providing student feedback using the grade center and how students view instructor comments reference the LTU eHelp Faculty Grading Assignments.

classroom-tech

October 14, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Projector Housekeeping

While some of our newer classroom projectors are capable of shutting down automatically at the lack of a video signal, most projectors depend on your help. The best way for faculty to help care for the classroom projectors is to turn them off when they are not needed. Most projectors require a new lamp after 2000 hours of use. By simply turning the projectors off, we can extend the life of the lamps while reducing energy usage. A working lamp may be the most obvious benefit of turning off a projector after its use, but this action also prolongs the life of other critical, less visible components.
The lamp of a functioning projector heats up its housing and the surrounding components significantly. To keep those internal components at a safe operating temperature, projectors are equipped with fans that suck in cooler air from outside the machine and push the hot air out another. The entering air passes through a filter to prevent airborne particles from damaging or clouding the lamp. We clean those filters at the end of every semester. The longer a projector runs, the more dust accumulates on its filter by cleaning time. The more dust accumulates on the filter, the less air travels through the projector to cool it. Reduced air movement not only shortens the life of the lamp, but it could also lead to failure of the electronics that make the projector work.
Everyone is conscious about saving energy these days, but it’s important to save our valuable equipment, too. When you turn off the light when leaving a classroom, make sure you also remember to turn off the light in the projector.
dr larry 2-02

October 14, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Dear Dr. Larry

Dear Dr. Larry is a regular column. Faculty and students can submit questions to Dr. Larry by emailing elearning@ltu.edu. Dr. Larry will answer each month with leading-edge, witty, insightful responses.

Dear Dr. Larry,

My department is in the midst of our accreditation efforts.  We are juggling many tasks: reviewing our course objectives, documenting our assessments, gathering samples of student work, etc.  While all this is challenging and takes time, one of the most difficult tasks is turning out to be scheduling our meetings.  We exchange emails with possible meeting times, but by the time everyone replies, many of those options are gone.  There has be to a better way!

Sincerely,

Can’t Make a Meeting

Dear Meeting,

Scheduling a meeting nowadays can take more time than the meeting itself.  Here at LTU, we are fortunate to be a Google Apps for Education institution.  That means we have the power of Google Calendar to help.  If you want to schedule an event at a time that works for all of your guests, use “Find a time” in Google Calendar.

This feature only works if your guests have shared their calendar with you or if their calendars are public.

1. Sign in to Google Calendar.
2. Find an existing event or create a new one.
3. Click the “Find a time” link.
4. Enter the email addresses of your guests in the box on the right.  Remember, your guests will need to have granted you access to their calendar for this to work.
5. Your guests’ calendars will appear (it may show only “busy” but that’s okay, just means that the detail of their event is private) and you can pick a time that works for everyone.  You can compare up to 20 schedules at a time.

Once you find a time that works for everyone, you can send out an invitation to everyone and voila’ your meeting is scheduled.

Check out these links for more information

Best wishes for better projects and happy students, and to your messages always being received!

Dr. Larry

course dev-02

September 19, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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How to design for virtual team projects

Creative ways to design and facilitate virtual team projects

eLearning Services held a meeting last month focusing on virtual team projects. During the meeting, eLearning staff and faculty members discussed how to facilitate virtual meetings and the best technologies and strategies to use.

Virtual team projects allow students to enhance their interpersonal and team skills as well as their presentation and communication skills. These projects also allow students to gain an awareness of different cultural and discipline-specific perspectives.

The challenge many faculty run into is how to design and facilitate the virtual projects and teams. When designing your team project, it is helpful to draw a schematic of how the project will evolve over time. This could include specific milestones, peer evaluations, and grading criteria. In the example, you can see that there are four milestones prior to the final project presentation – two of these being peer evaluations.

 Print

When designing team project guidelines, you’ll want to indicate the objectives and communicate the final learning outcomes for the students. Think about team roles, how the students will be assessed (as a group or individually), and the kind of peer evaluations you want to use.

Facilitating team projects is important for the success of virtual projects. It is important to model effective teamwork, be a guide for the team, and provide positive encouragement. Be proactive early on and try to stay proactive throughout the project. Anticipate student questions, and monitor student discussion posts at least weekly. This will help you solve student issues as they arise. Below are some examples of common questions and concerns that may come up.

Slide1

Lawrence Tech offers a couple of different tools that can help support and assess virtual team projects. Blackboard includes groups with private discussion boards, journals, blogs, wikis, file exchange capabilities, email, and the virtual collaboration tool Wimba (soon to be replaced by Collaborate). Google offers Google Drive for file sharing, and Google Hangouts so students can meet virtually.

Each tool offers different advantages and disadvantages that you’ll need to consider when selecting the best tool for the virtual team project. You’ll need to consider time zones for live meetings, the need for transparency between group members, and ease of communication so that students stay engaged. Scheduling a test session beforehand is always advised. If you need help, you can contact eLearning Services for more information.

All of this information was presented at the Fall 2014 Online Faculty Meeting, but you do not need to be an online faculty member to participate. Many of the tips and best practices shared during these meetings can be used in any online, on-ground, or hybrid learning situation. You can view the recording of the Fall 2014 Online Faculty Meeting here. A special thank you to all the faculty who participated!

If you would like to learn more about team projects or other topics, please join us on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 6:00pm. The topic for the next meeting will be chosen closer to the date of the event.

course dev-02

September 19, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Tips for effective course delivery

Common practices of effective faculty include focusing on the student and being involved in the course throughout the semester. Focusing on the quality of teaching and learning continues after a successful kickoff to the semester. Instructional interaction adds quality to students achieving learning success.

The act of teaching includes participation and helping students develop skills and guiding their progress in applying knowledge to achieve a level of understanding. This can include getting to know your student audience, creating an environment where students engage in the learning process, and holding students accountable to the responsibility of engaging in the learning process.

Effective faculty support students through social presence and availability.  Review the information presented to students in Module 0 and the syllabus.  Practice the guidelines set by you and your department with students.

Timely grading and feedback are important. Include constructive comments with discussion forum posts and submitted assignments. Be consistent with grading, feedback, and participation in the forums. Thoughtful and consistent feedback can help you identify areas of confusion and opportunities to improve course outcomes.

Early engagement helps boost student retention. Faculty communication in the first week and during interval timeframes throughout the semester impacts whether students persist in their studies with the university. Monitor student progress and reach out to students who are not participating.  You can connect the college degree program advisor for support in addressing student concerns with their course work.

Set expectations early-on about the pacing of the course. A weekly communication at the beginning of the week can include summaries of learning and progress recently completed and a reminder of due dates.