Camtasia Project

After haggling w/ Academic Superstore for a week, I finally received my activation keys for Camtasia and Snagit. I used Camtasia in EdTech 522, this fall, to create a tutorial on how to get started in Moodle. I wasn’t as happy with the finished product as I could have been, but this is what I came up with, initially. I used some features in Youtube to smooth some of the rough spots out, within the tutorial.

I would like to redo the video. I think I would record it in one take and then edit as needed. Additionally, I’d like to keep the first video on hand, so I can fix the areas that I attempted to smooth over with Youtube. Anyway, this weekend I will probably try and start that and begin to lay out the second video in the series, which will cover online classroom management in Moodle and the gradebook. If it becomes too long, it might turn into parts 2 and 3 :).

ET 522 – Mod 6/ Course Reflection

My biggest learning experience in this course was our final project and seeing what everyone else had put together. I don’t have any classes I’m teaching or courses I’m designing, right now. This is my education and professional development and personal enrichment all rolled up into one wonderful ball. 

Building the final module and critiquing my classmates was the closest thing we have done, this term, to what I hope to be doing in my career. It’s fun for me – hypothetically speaking, if all of you go out into the world and start working as online teachers in the college setting, my dream job would be to be the faculty development coordinator/ instructional designer working with you to build your class(es).

The most difficult part of the class was the video production and while I don’t know if I necessarily enjoyed doing that, I believe I could learn to like it. I want to do more work with my tutorial, in order to prepare for the portfolio class in the Spring. I’d like to learn how to embed closed-captioning on videos as well, as I think it is a great tool for online learning.

One thing that I have seen a couple of edtech professors do is record/ post an introductory video for us, at the beginning of each module. That is something I would like to try in a class at least once. While it wasn’t necessary, it helped me and my classmates get to know them a little bit better. After reading the most recent chapter in the course text by Susan Ko, several of us have also mentioned catering to different learning styles, and I think video is an important addition if you want to catch the more visual learners in your classes.

Overall, I really enjoyed this class – it worked well for my own “eclectic” style of learning. Next term, I hope to be enrolling in “Advanced Online Teaching,” along with the portfolio class, and I think I will continue to have a great time with this material.

ET 522 – Module 5 Reflective Post

Designing/ Creating a Module for an Online Class

Link to Course: Finding the Slope of a Line

What was the most difficult?

The most difficult aspect of this project was the back and forth – in my mind – between feeling like I needed to create an entire course and creating just the one module. I struggled with tone and structure, I think.

In the Moodle classes I have completed as a student, the main area at the top of the “Topic Outline” is used as the main introduction to the whole course. I tried to use it as the main introduction to a module, but then I had to introduce myself as the instructor and provide a syllabus. I felt like this should have been done much earlier in a beginning Algebra course. Imagine getting into a class and not finding out how to contact the instructor or what is expected of you until the 3rd or 4th week!

Finding the Slope of a Line - Intro

This is the introduction to my module. This is where I typically see course introductions.

One might say it was difficult for me to think outside of the box, in this assignment, because I am so familiar with the setup for the EdTech department’s coursework. In working with Moodle in the future, I might make this a priority – to use it a little bit differently than I have seen it used in the past. Moodle is a great LMS; I think I just stumbled because I started working on my “course” from the middle, somewhere – instead of starting at point A, I started at point D.

How did you solve problems as they came up?

I didn’t have any problems with building in Moodle, per se, except for using Boise State’s proprietary formatting. In that case, if I needed a headline to be a different size/ weight than Moodle allowed, I just made it regular text and bolded/ colored/ sized it appropriately.

Another thing that I noticed was that when you insert an image and preview it, Moodle doesn’t allow you to refresh the preview, if you want to see how the change looks. You need to complete the insertion and then edit the image, again, if necessary. This is also more of a minor annoyance than a real problem.

I like Moodle because I am pretty comfortable building in it. Where I WOULD have difficulty is with the grade book. I didn’t spend a lot of time with it, for the purposes of this project, and I haven’t ever taught in Moodle, but at the end of the term, I always have descrepancies in the gradebook.

I seem to spend a lot of time at the end of a term messing with the grade book and ensuring that all points are recorded and that all scores of “zero” are factored into the grade. This problem could be solved by simply spending some additional time with learning the intricacies of the grade book (whether in Moodle or another LMS) before the term starts or during a break in the middle of a term.

What are your thoughts on online teaching now that you have created an online lesson?

I still plan on teaching online. I think the additional practice with construction in Moodle has been helpful. I like being able to pull resources in from the internet to my course – I haven’t done a lot of that, before, because I’ve taught using MyMathLab or other software that has a lot of built-in resources. There’s a lot of good stuff out there.

This assignment has placed emphasis on my lack of teaching or design experience. I know that heading into whatever is next for me, once I have completed the MET program, will require a lot of learning on my part.

What was the most rewarding thing about this project?

Finishing it and thinking through the process of learning a concept. I also always enjoying seeing what my classmates are working on. I think I gain a lot from seeing what other people are doing, especially since I don’t have a lot of experience in teaching… that’s where my “A-ha!” moments come from – my peers/ colleagues – because they are going to think of things that I never would have dreamed of.

ET 522 – Mod. 3 Reflection

Susan Ko’s book is a fantastic resource. There are so many good ideas in chapter 6, as far as building a course goes. It would also be possible to go overboard with incorporating all of these ideas into your online class. As the saying goes, “Everything in Moderation.”

If you are using a learning management system to build/ deliver your course, one thing I think is particularly helpful is to turn on tracking. Track as much activity as you can – when students have logged in, when they have clicked on links, participated in discussion forums, or turned in assignments. You shouldn’t do this with the idea that you’re going to pore over the data and determin patterns or anything. When there is an issue, however – you don’t think a student has attended your online class, all week, or you want to make sure that they have spent some time in the discussion forums and haven’t just marked everything “read” – you can use the tracking mechanism to help resolve it.

Chapter 7 goes into detail on activities for students. In particular, I think the mention of ice-breaking activities is important. Online learning can be a pretty lonely venture – especially if you get behind – but having that initial opportunity to introduce yourself to your classmates and connect with them is really important. It can solidify your connections for the rest of the term.

Group activities in online coursework aren’t difficult to pull off, but the instructor needs to provide clear guidelines as to the formation of groups, expectations, and suggestions for where and how to work with the groups. Are they going to use a meeting software like Adobe Connect or Elluminate Live!, or are they going to use discussion forums?

I have enjoyed reading through the posts by my classmates, this week – I was introduced to a couple of tools that I had not seen before. The first was Edmodo, a secure social platform for classes. It looks like it is modeled after facebook to some extent. Teachers can set up an account and once they log into Edmodo, they create groups, either within a class or for each class. Once a group is created, a group access code is created. Students use that to create their profiles and access their groups.

Using Edmodo, teachers can set up assignments, have discussions with their students, provide class updates and news items, and more. From my exploration of the program, this morning, I was unable to determine if it was a full-featured learning management system in which an entire online class could be facilitated, or if it was more useful as a tool and supplement for either a face-to-face or online class.

The other tool I learned a little something about was virtual worlds. A couple of my classmates commented on this and though I have messed around with Second Life a little bit, for example, I have never thought too much about it’s uses in education. Jie Huang created a gorgeous presentation using Prezi on the use of virtual world’s in education and you should check it out for her creativity alone. She compares virtual world’s to the real one and describes the characteristics they share. The similarities between the virtual and real worlds are what make it an ideal learning environment.

Something that another classmate commented on was the need for high-performing graphics, in order run virtual worlds such as Second Life. I thought this might be kind of a hindrance in their use, if they were used exclusively in teaching a class, or as a supplement in distance learning. I get the appeal, though. You can interact socially with classmates, you can perform interactive activities online and within the environments. In Second Life in particular, you can pay a fee and actually carve out your own niche – create the landscaping, build a structure, and outfit your avatar’s appearance, clothes, and gestures.

I’d like to start working on my video production for my course module, soon. I am not very skilled in this area. I downloaded a trial version of Articulate Storyline and have just barely started to piece something together – I decided to create a module on finding the slope of a line. I have Adobe Flash available, if I decide to use that, and Microsoft Moviemaker for editing. This field excites me and I can’t wait to be doing online learning full-time, someday soon – teaching classes, designing/ building classes, working with distance faculty professional development, and technical support for distance faculty and students!

To Tweet (or Not)

I have known about Twitter for a while (my Twitter handle is @sbethm).  A few years ago, I created an account for my cat, @panchovy.  She didn’t tweet much and has been quiet on facebook for a while, too, but when she’s active, she regularly works on plotting her escape from her indoor imprisonment.  She reports on her successes and failures in escaping.

Advantages

That’s one way to play and be creative on Twitter.  You can extend this to a classroom, either online or off.  You could re-enact a play from Shakespeare or watch the Calculus greats duke it out.  Some instructors use Twitter as a way to update their class (click the links for examples) with news and information, much like we would use a news forum in an online class in a learning management system like Moodle, Angel or BlackBoard.

Here’s an example of how a calculus class in Muskegon, Michigan used Twitter to develop a better understanding of the history of Calculus and the book The Calculus Wars: Newton, Leibniz, and the Greatest Mathematical Clash of All Time by Jason Socrates Bardi:


A couple of months ago, I started to more seriously use Twitter as part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN).  I share links that are relevant to the field(s) I’m interested in, “follow” like-minded people and try to create “Tweets” that are worthwhile or if not worthwhile, at least pertain to what I’m working on (homework, healthcare, student services, distance learning).

Twitter is a fantastic resource for professional development.  I don’t know about the claim that you can receive real-time feedback (The Hechinger Report, 2012), if you run into problem while you’re teaching a class, which is especially dependent on the size of your network (people quoted in the article have thousands of followers and I don’t think this is a realistic expectation for new users), but you can definitely receive guidance, participate in chats (#edchat, #lrnchat, #sachat, #digped, to name a few), find interesting and informative links, and use twitter as a resource database of sorts.

Disadvantages

One disadvantage to this wealth of information is that it is truly impressive, and that can be overwhelming.  When using Twitter, you have the ability to create public and private lists of people you are following.  For instance, I have created and edtech list, a list of math teachers, and a list of my favorite Twitter users to follow.  Where Twitter stumbles a little bit is in your ability to access and monitor these lists – you have to dig around a bit, to get to them.

Solutions

There are ways to alleviate some of this frustration, however.  You can use a piece of software called a twitter client or I like to call them twitter parsers – they parse the overload of information into manageable pieces.  There are several different versions – Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Seesmic, for starters.  I have Tweetdeck set up to use with my Twitter account and though I’m not very comfortable with it, yet, I think it has a lot of potential.  There is a [free] desktop version available for download and it includes little desktop notifications.

More Uses in the Classroom

(I’ve ranked these in order from most effective to least, but please be aware that these are based on my preliminary opinions only, and not necessarily based on experience or research.  Others may have different opinions and I am always open to those.)

I found a great article from The Next Web about additional ways to use Twitter with students in the classroom. Some of these include:

  1. Continue a discussion with students after the class has ended.  It is also used to encourage students that might keep quiet within a larger group discussion to speak up.
  2. Sharing links that pertain to class w/ your students – giving them a reading assignment to complete before class the next day.
  3. Sending out reminders about homework and project deadlines.  (Definitely need to have established buy-in or use from students, for this to be truly effective.)
  4. Brainstorming – easy to share ideas with classmates and instructors online, any time of day.  (More effective for young college students or high school junior and seniors.)
  5. Encourage students to be creative within Twitter’s tight character constraints. (I think this is going to be most effective in combination with staging something on Twitter or within particular subject areas.)

Other Thoughts

Does anyone know of a class that is primarily taught using Twitter?  I did a couple of searches for something and came up empty.  It seems like someone would have tried this.  You would need to be careful to archive your Tweets, somehow, and you might still need to use another platform for grading and longer communications with students. It might not work very well, but I’ll update with a link, if I track something down.

Conclusion

Twitter can be a really useful tool, but it does take some getting used to.  It appears to be simple at first, but in order to use it to its fullest capacity, you need to understand the character limits, hashtags, and be willing to participate “in real time,” or at least relatively often.  I think the greatest advantages of twitter are in professional development for educators, but it definitely has good applications for the classroom as well.

References

(Need to consult APA style book and format)

ET522 – Mod 1 Reflect

Define online teaching and learning.

Having participated in both, I feel qualified to define the terms online teaching and online learning.  Currently, as an online student, all of my work is completed on a computer and submitted via the web.  I still have some books that are printed on paper. 

Even though I still have to talk with my instructors and classmates, that is completed online, via discussion forum, video chat or email.  Sometimes we collaborate via social networks.  Online learning is now the epitome of distance learning.  Even if the instructor and a couple of the students are in the same geographic area/ time zone, they may never see one another.

As someone that has taught online, I think that online teaching is disseminating information via the web in order to meet instructional goals.  You have to do this in a way that is both professional an engaging.  You need to keep abreast of the onslaught of communication that destined for you and respond within a reasonable amount of time with more than a “I see you and I’ll get back to you soon,” which is about all that I had time for, one term. 

I had never had more than 25 or so students and I suddenly had about 90 students between 2 subjects.  I kept afloat for a while, but as the material got more difficult it took more time for me to respond to students and I was buried.  Students were upset because I wasn’t able to figure out how to get back to everyone in a timely fashion.  Add to that issued with software that came up and the term was truly disastrous.  We hired a TA for me and pushed through the end of the term.

I stepped away from the LMS, once that term finally ended (it took until the end of the following quarter to fully tie up any loose ends), and decided that I needed more training (one of my many reasons for enrolling in the MET program).  I have already learned so much and I could probably return to teaching one class per term, right now, but I have decided to wait until I graduate.

What is the future for online enrollment growth as described by the SLOAN-C report entitled, Class Differences: Online Education in the United States (2010).

In the report by Allen and Seaman (2011), online enrollment is described not as decreasing, but as holding steady in some disciplines.  They predict that at some point, universities will reach a saturation point in their online enrollment, especially private for-profit universities. 

When universities do reach their saturation point, maybe MOOCs will gain ground, though I have seen mixed reviews on those.  Personally, based on what little I know about them, I think a MOOC would be the wrong direction for me to take my education – I think I would get lost in the shuffle.