Sunday, February 14, 2010


I've set up a wiki for my Introduction to Kinesiology class. Last time I taught online, students had a very difficult time with a required (SLO) postural assessment assignment. I have turned the class into a hybrid class and we will do part of this assignment in the classroom. However the preparation for the assignment will be done through the wiki.

We need to learn some anatomy and which specific exercises can correct three postural distortions. I am having the students create a wiki that will have all the specific exercises they need for the assignment. It will take us four weeks to create the wiki.

Technical issues:
I am using PBWorks for the wiki. I went to a Flex workshop with Donna Marques: Build a Quick Wiki: Hands on. I signed up for a free educator wiki and I actually designed the first part of the wiki in the workshop.

The user interface is very easy to use. Most of my students did fine when I directed them to the help videos and user documentation that PB Works provides. I have copied this information at the bottom of my post.

One drawback is that you can only have one student editing a page at a time. I set up 8 pages with about 5 students per page. I think this has solved this problem. I do have 2 students who say they can't get on to edit their wiki and I've asked them to try a different computer and make sure another student is on the page so we will see if that works. The MiraCosta help desk could not help them at all.

I did have one take charge student who set up separate pages for every student assigned to her page. sigh.... This of course defeated the collaborative effort I was hoping to foster making it more cumbersome for students to view other group members work. I did ask them not to do that for week 2.

Donna gave us a great youtube about wikis that I embedded in blackboard and the wiki itself for those who had never used one before.

There are example wikis on the PB site. If you would like to check out my wiki, let me know and I will add you to our members. Remember I am 'beta testing' this idea so look at it with a forgiving eye. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Making videos is easy with Jing!

I participated in the workshop that Robert Kelley gave on Jing. This is really a fast way to make short videos for your class.

After the workshop I created 6 short videos on various aspects of my syllabus. There is no editing. This is great, because it kept me from spending hours on each video trying to make them perfect. One thing that really helped was the tutorial from a Palomar college site that reminded me how to embed the videos into blackboard.

My next task with Jing will be teaching the students how to use a Wiki.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Time Saving Tips/Online discussions

One of the best workshops I attended was Louisa Moon’s Ten Time-Saving Tips for Online Teachers. I use almost everything she mentioned in her workshop and handout. I do have one more tip to add to hers that I learned at a Thursday online workshop about discussions.

Lisa Lane doesn’t grade each discussion individually, she instead has the students submit a discussion portfolio every 4 weeks or so. This has really cut my discussion grading time. I am still participating in the discussions but I don’t grade each discussions individually. For the first discussion I do let students know if their posts are not up to par and for every discussion I direct the class to excellent discussion posts.

One Blackboard caveat: it is very difficult to go back and retrieve your discussion posts. So in each individual discussion direction, my first line reminds students to write and save your post in a Word or other file. This has the added benefit of giving the students a spell check when they are composing the post.

Blackboard looking like Moodle

So far I have designed all of my classes in Blackboard but I wonder if this is the best choice. There is a lot of great support and workshops for Blackboard (Karen Korstad Intro to Blackboard) and many, many options in blackboard. However I like the presentation the students get in MOODLE. In Pilar Hernandez's Building Community workshop we got a glimpse of how she modified her blackboard course to look more like MOODLE.

This semester I am going to try to make my blackboard courses be a bit more user friendly. The first thing I did was change what the students see first to a content area. Before I had this set to the default Announcements. I email/voicemail these announcements to all the students anyway so it didn’t make sense to have them see something they had already seen. In addition I'm including a lot of the emailed info in the (video and written syllabus). Now I will provide a link to announcements but not have it be the major focus of the class.

This will be a little more work as I am going to need to change the first view each week. I wish blackboard let you set up the first view to change in advance but I don’t believe you can. I could put the whole course in content area but there are a lot of drawbacks to that too.

The other thing I am going to continue doing and be more stringent about is to close down anything in blackboard the class won’t use. There are just too many options of available tools etc. Too confusing for the students.

Well we will see if this is enough to satisfy me or if I make the jump to MOODLE in the next online class I teach. Anyone have any other suggestions?

Adding Audio to my online classes

At the Intro to Online Teaching workshop I took with Lisa Lane I really liked that her lectures included pictures and audio. The picture part was easy but the audio part was more difficult.

Shirley Olsen's Using IPODS to Enhance Student Learning workshop taught me an easy solution. I use a Belkin TuneTalk Stereo hooked to my IPOD to record. It enables me to record my lecture quickly. It downloads directly to ITunes when I plug in my IPOD. ITunes allows easy conversion from a .wav file to a mp3 file.

At the end of my audio lecture I asked students to email me if they thought the lecture was valuable to them and I received many emails from students asking me to continue recording the lectures. The feedback from Rate Your Prof also indicated students liked this feature.

I also record my interviews with various professionals in the kinesiology field. Right now I have a tremendous amount of audio in my online class. I’m hoping to add some visual to this semester’s classes.

Building Community/Retention strategies

In the Building Community workshop found on the POT site Pilar Hernandez recommends sending a pre-semester email to welcome the students. I have sent an email out about a week before the semester with a lot of info: the text used, the amount of work the course will have, the dates for the on campus classes, the requirements that need to be completed the first week so I will not drop you, etc.

In the past, I've found that students who add after the semester starts end up dropping out. So I've decided to add many students who ask me before the semester starts and none afterwards. My hope is that students will look at my email and blackboard course and drop before the semester if the work is more than they anticipated.

It’s very early days but it seems to be working. I’m holding right at 45. Now it will be interesting to see if I have a better retention rate in the class. I’m hoping that I can keep at least 85% of the students until the end. We’ll see.

After watching Pilar’s workshop I then followed up with a more welcoming Wimba voice email to help build the community.

Great Wimba voice tools online tutorials

There are some great Wimba voice tools video tutorials created at Palomar college. at
Pilar kept mentioning Wimba in one of her workshops. I went through about 20 minutes of tutorials and felt very comfortable emailing my students a pre-semester welcome voice video.