July 14

Tools I use to enhance my instruction-to engage online learners

I use a variety of web2.0 tools external to the Moodle course management system in this course:

  • to enhance the presentation of course content,
  • to faciltitae your engagement and interaction with course material and with your classmates,
  • to provide you with access to course materials beyond the end of the term, and
  • to expose you to tools and utilities that may have potential to enhance instruction.
  1. voicethread – an online media album of any type of media (images, documents and videos). Used in this course as an ice-breaking activity. This example uses a video of my daughter introducing me from her perspective.
  2. diigo – social bookmarking tool. Used to bookmark, highlight, and comment upon and share references used in the course. Also used to create a dynamic link roll of resources that auto-displays latest additions to the shared class annotated bibliography of resources currated by the course participants – that remains available to students beyond the end of the term.
  3. edublogs – education-focused blog. Used in this course to keep metacognitive journals and reflections/feedback on the online teaching and learning experiences. I an example blog for the course, where i model blogging, link to student blogs, and post student feedback: http://etap640.edublogs.org
  4. netvibes – to aggregate and display student blogs.
  5. twitter – micro blog. Used in this course for newsflash type announcements, questions, interaction. https://twitter.com/i/#!/alexpickett/etap-640-summer-2012 and https://twitter.com/etap640
  6. jing – a screen capture tool used to provide instructions, feedback, and clarification. (i also use screencast-o-matic for 15-minute screencasts)
  7. screencast – a Techsmith repository affiliated with the jing project that gives me the ability to create a playlist of my “how-to” videos in my course.
  8. meebome – an IM utility to facilitate synchronos extemporaneous interaction from the course homepage and course blog site. Now using digsby as an alternative to meebome.
  9. audacity – an audio recording utility used in the course to record audio comments and interviews with exemplar online faculty.
  10. podomatic – a podcasting utility used to deliver the audio feedback created with audacity to you. See podcasted student feedback examples on course learning activities.
  11. youtube – to record and view course-related video materials. – online asynchronous video discussion to bring “rockstars” into the class and blur the boundaries of the online learning classroom environment “box”. See also the course videos playlist.
  12. vimeo – to post course-related video materials. See the screencasted feedback course reviews.
  13. voki – a speaking avatar used for announcements in this course. Example: Welcome to ETAP640!
  14. breeze – used to create voice-annotated powerpoint course materials.
  15. polldaddy – survey tool used to collect feedback from students on the course.
  16. rate my professor – professor rating tool.
  17. jumpscam – a QR code generator used to create a scan-able QRcode with information about this course.
  18. vyou – conversational video used to ask and answer questions.



teaching in the cloud prezi

Teaching in the cloud links

April 13

Ask yourself, "Will it help you achieve your learning objective “better, faster, safer, easier, or cheaper?”

I have had the opportunity to work with thousands of online faculty and to observe hundreds of thousands of online students in the SUNY Learning Network (SLN). From that vantage point I can sense/feel the increased interest in and usage of audio and video-enhanced online instruction/communications/interaction. And at work I feel it too. Skype and elluminate meetings, workgroups, and collaborations are a regular thing now. I see a definite trend away from purely text-based interaction in the world of online teaching and learning from both faculty and students. And though that certainly does not mean that text-based communications will disappear, there is something about audio and video communications in instruction that significantly enhances the experience for faculty and students in terms of creating more engaging content presentation, and enhancing interaction, collaboration, and feedback. (My friend Phil Ice has done some research on this. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= In my efforts to explore what it really means to be learner-centered as an online educator in my own online instruction, I have come to the conclusion to really do that, I have to let go and let students be engaged and express that in ways that are meaningful to them and their lives. This is not as easy …or comfortable as it sounds. I would probably be characterized as one of the most learner-centered online instructor by friends and colleagues …and yet I struggle – so I know how hard it is.

I also feel that an LMS that locks down and controls access and ownership of student content is problematic and contributes to my frustration and struggle. I mean if we are asking them to generate content, then why does their access to their content go away at the end of the term? How can you call a tool a blog if they don’t own it, can’t personalize it, it is NOT public AND it (and their content) gets taken away at the end of the term – and so on… This tension I feel between the LMS and student-created content is one of the main reasons I teach mostly “outside the box” and have been presenting everywhere I can about teaching and learning in the cloud: http://prezi.com/yyzcr9_btox6/teaching-learning-in-the-cloud/

I always tell the faculty I work with NOT to get attached to “tools” as they change, get bought and killed, or just disappear… I tell them to be fearless and that there are tons of tools, so that if one goes away there are others to take its place http://www.appappeal.com/web-2-0-application-world-mosaic/ I tell them that you need to start with a learning objective, NOT the tool, and you just need criteria to evaluate tools – Does it help you achieve your learning objective “better, faster, safer, easier, or cheaper?”