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Enhancing Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum with Technology

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    Depending on the complexity of course content and concepts, relying on ready-made instructional media and resources is not always an option.  In some cases, pre-existing media may be to vague, unclear, contain poor quality audio and/or video, or simply not align to the unique learning goals and objectives established for your course.  Producing self-created instructional media, although time-consuming in some instances, may be necessary.  The embedded video below I created was used specifically for a 5-week online summer section of the MIS 1305 course I taught in 2016.



    Last summer, we used textbooks from Cengage publishers.  Cengage's online system, Skills Assessment Manager (SAM), was used in order for students to submit assignments/projects aligned to our texts, receive real-time feedback, and have opportunities to correct their work and resubmit accordingly.  Pre-existing videos, including resources created by Cengage, were a bit vague.  So the video above is the result of me creating a video that was much clearer in explaining the process for submitting SAM projects.  This video was created using Camtasia Studio 8 for Windows/PC and uploaded/distributed using Kaltura through our Canvas LMS.

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  • 03/02/17--13:19: Assessment or Survey Tools
  • My "go-to" survey tool for at least the last 10 years has been Google Forms.  Google Forms has helped me to quickly create pre-assessment surveys I can use to collect data from students.  This data can then be used to adjust my instructional strategies and some design elements of course assignments and projects.  For example, if I know my learners have access to mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, I can implement creative instructional strategies such as a survey that is completed live during one of our synchronous web conferencing sessions, students can reply to threaded discussion postings through the Canvas app for Android and iOS devices, any short quizzes or polls can also be completed synchronously or asynchronously, and much more.  There are several advantages of using Google Forms.

    • It's free.
    • Forms can be shared and used to collect data outside the learning management system.
    • The graphical user interface (GUI) makes Google Forms easy to use and having surveys, general forms, and short quizzes up in running in no time.
    Some of the drawbacks to using Google Forms include:
    • Faculty and students are not likely to have official on-campus technical support for any Google applications including Forms. 
    • Limited abilities to format text.
    • File uploads are not supported.
    • Google Forms can be easily be shared to anyone so monitoring received data and sharing options is a must.
    The embedded Google Form below is what I use to pre-assess my students on the technologies they have access to while enrolled in my MIS 1305 course.  You will notice that I have a number of questions regarding social media, mobile devices, and understanding of several Microsoft Office applications we use in 1305.


    Other survey and/or quiz options including, but not limited to Survey Monkey, Poll Anywhere, the LMS's built-in survey/quiz tools, and Qualtrics.

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    As mobile learning continues to increasingly make its way into the physical and online classroom, app development is one of the areas I have been interested for some time now.  There is no question that there is a plethora of apps that can address a number of educational learning needs whether a child is practicing basic addition/subtraction to college-level groups of students collaborating on planning documents with Google Drive on the go.  In my initial research into app development revealed that coding languages such as Java, C++, Python, Corona-One, and Ruby to name a few is necessary.  However, over time and further investigation, I began noticing a number of applications and services that require less of needing a programing language knowledge base but including a more graphical user interface instead.  This is similar to building web pages now where you don't have to have a working knowledge of HTML code.  Below are several cloud/Web-based applications I encountered that can potentially offer easy-to-use interfaces for creating educational mobile apps.
    1. App Press.  This is a Web-based app builder that targets iPhone, iPad, and Android applications.  App Press uses a Photoshop-like interface for assembling visual assets via layers.

    2. EachScape.  A cloud-based builder that provides a drag-and-drop interface for native iOS and Android apps as well has HTML5 Web apps.

    3. iBuildApp.  This easy-to-use builder provides customizable templates for iPhone, iPad, and Android apps.  No coding required as well.

    4. AppGyver.  This is another drag-and-drop builder that aims at iOS and Android apps.  Apps can then be published to Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store.
    From an instructional standpoint, there are apps that simply don't fulfill a particular learning need.  It would be great to have mobile apps made in no time.  However, some level of technical "know how" and time are required to accomplish such task.  As with many learning technologies, time consumption is not always an option for faculty.  As an instructional designer, I would be interested in creating a Baylor faculty development app where instructors can book resources such as our video and audio booths and sign up for training sessions Online Teaching and Learning Services host.  In addition, the same app could contain training resources such as quick "how-to" videos for using Canvas tools such as creating screencasts with Kaltura or implementing quiz options to deter cheating or other forms of academic misconduct.  Let me know your thoughts and interests in app development!

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    Below is a Prezi presentation I created for a blended learning certification course assignment I'm currently taking through the Illinois Online Network for the Master Online Teacher Certificate (MOTC) program.  This was a thought-provoking assignment prompting me to dig deeper into the implications of my selected technologies (Twitter, Blogger, and Camtasia Studio) for blended learning environments.  I simply wanted to share my project with you.  Feel free to leave your comments or ideas for other technologies that are ideal for blended environments in the comments section below.  Enjoy!


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              In traditional face-to-face courses, use of discussions can be an effective instructional strategy to encourage students to interact with one another and the content (Pollak, 2017).  In fully online courses, discussion forums are frequently the primary means for whole group communications and interactions.  No matter how discussion forums are used for managing formal or informal conversations or opportunities for collaboration, moderation of these online forums requires different strategies from those used in traditional face-to-face discussions.  

              A common misconception in moderating discussion forums is that it's necessary for instructors to respond to all student postings.  The reality?  It is absolutely not necessary to reply to every student post made in a discussion forum.  One of the primary goals of an online discussion is to provide student-to-student interactions through in-depth reflection and deeper learning with the course content.  Too much instructor participation in these discussion forums can quickly make the instructor the center of conversation when, in fact, the student reflections and responses should be the core of the dialog and driven by the students.  


    So............how much should an instructor participate in online discussion forums? 

              There is no cookie cutter answer to this question, but the amount of participation significantly depends on how the discussion questions are written and designed, the level of student interest on the discussion topic, and the instructor's interest on the topic.  Having said that, a good reasonable starting point strategy is to comment to 1/3 of substantive student posts.  It is wise to spread out your responses to students over the duration of the week, module, or length of the overall discussion forum.  This encourages students to participate in discussion boards consistently over time.

    Why removing yourself from an online discussion forum doesn't work.

              Throughout my experiences as a student taking several fully online courses during graduate-level studies, I noticed about 80% of the time that several instructors simply removed themselves completely from our online discussions.  As a student, I expected some level of active participation from the instructor to ensure my posts were being "heard" and I was on the right track.  I quickly learned that an instructor's silence from our discussion forums did not reassure me if I was on the right track or not with our discussion at hand.  Students need that reassurance to ensure content is understood and learning growth is taking place.  Instructor silence weakens instructor presence, decreases student engagement, and increases the feeling of isolation (Cho and Tobias, 2016). 

    Tips to consider when participating in student-driven online discussions

    • Avoid "I agree" and/or "good job" responses to students' postings, especially if you don't give credit to students posting these same shallow responses.  As the primary content expert in your course, take the opportunity to model meaningful dialog as posting additional thoughts based on research, provide additional data, or post with follow-up questions to continue deep thinking and conversation.  
    • Identify common themes from students' posts and tie them to text/article readings and key concepts.
    • Consider implementing a Socratic or reflective questioning approach in your participatory posts and discussion board design.
    • When posting follow-up questions and ideas, scaffold your students' learning and avoid talking over the students' heads.
    • Give participation points for students for modeling thorough and concise postings.  Ideally, make this part of your evaluative grading rubric.

    Resources


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    Below is a quick summary of my top 7 strategies for minimizing cheating on tests delivered through 7 Strategies for Minimizing Cheating in Online Assessments with Canvas, is available on Baylor University's Online Teaching and Learning Services Instruction Design Blog
    the Canvas learning management system.  The full article, entitled

    1. Use question banks
    2. Mix objective and subjective questions
    3. Set a timer
    4. Display one question at a time
    5. Limit the number of attempts
    6. Limit feedback displayed to students
    7. Be purposefully selective in assessment methods from the beginning

    Suggested Readings

    • Grijalva, T., Nowell, C., & Kerkvliet, J. (2006). Academic honesty and online courses. College Student Journal, 40(1), 180-185.
    • Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy: An overview. In L.W. Anderson & D.R. Krathwohl (Eds.), A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Longman.
    • Lanier, M. (2006). Academic integrity and distance learning. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 17(2), 244-261.
    • LoSchiavo, F. M., & Shatz, M. A. (2011). The impact of an honor code on cheating in online courses. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(2).
    • Stuber-McEwen, D., Wiseley, P., & Hoggatt, S. (2009). Point, click, and cheat: Frequency and type of academic dishonesty in the virtual classroom. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(3), 1-10.
    • Watson, G., & Sottile, J. (2010). Cheating in the digital age: Do students cheat more in online courses? Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. Retrieved from https://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring131/watson131.html?goback=%2Egde_52119_member_208797940

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