Sunday, February 14, 2010
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
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.
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?
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.
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.