Monday, February 16, 2015

5 Minute Video Boot Camp by Bill Selak, Edutopia

Check out Bill Selak's 5 Minute Film Festival: Video Boot Camp. He starts this helpful tutorial this way:
The rapid adoption of devices in the classroom has fundamentally changed the way we can create video. Every part of the creation process -- writing, recording, editing, and distributing -- is possible on the devices that can fit in our pocket. Vision is the most dominant of the five senses. Research shows that concepts are better remembered if they are taught visually. This is called the pictorial superiority effect, and it’s why video is such a powerful learning tool. Selak, B.
Instructors may create short videos to clarify hard to grasp concepts, and to add a sense of teacher presence to the online classroom.

When students are responsible to make a short videos about their understanding of content, the process leads to powerful learning. As Selak tells us videos are made three times - when they are written, when they are shot, when they are edited.

If making videos is not possible, consider curating videos. Instructors and students can help each other learn by reviewing, evaluating and recommending the best of the best that deals with the topic at hand.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Easing the Way for Students Into Your Course

One of the hardest things to achieve in an online course is to make it easy and inviting to the new student. Each of us tends to set up our courses in a way that makes perfect sense to us (but not necessarily others). Here are two questions to consider as you build your spring courses.

1. Is it clear to your students what they should do first in your course?

In Blackboard, you can set the first page students see when they open your course. The Home (notifications) page may be just what you want. If not you can change it by…

Control Panel -> Customization -> Teaching Style -> Scroll down to Select Course Entry Point and change (to the desired entry point - for instance to Information, Announcements or Content).

2. How do students figure out how to progress through your information and their assignments?

Some of the techniques that Linfield instructors use follow:
  • Personalize HOME By choosing Edit -> Banner. You can add the course name, an image that represents the course and instructions to move next to Information or Content.
  • “READ THIS FIRST” - a document within Information section that welcomes students, gives a brief overview, and lays out course expectations.
  • A Welcome Video or Slideshow – Containing the same information as READ THIS FIRST, adding images of the Blackboard layout can improve student understanding. Adding your image and voice can provide a sense of connection and reassurance to students that their professor is real and available.
  • The Information section contains items to be viewed in chronological order: A “Welcome letter" or “Meet your professor page", the course syllabus, learner expectations, the course schedule of topics/assignments.
  • The Content section is organized chronologically by week or module.

It helps to have a colleague or friend take a look at the opening material - while you are still in development. Another set of eyes can help you determine if it is obvious to the would-be student what to do.