Sharon Guan

Designing an Instructor-Agnostic Course with a Sense of Instructor Presence

If you think the title of this blog is too complicated to understand, you can use an analogy, such as eating candy without a sweet taste, or drinking water to booze up, or anything that sounds oxymoronic, self-contradictory, and illogical.

If instructor-agnostic means removing the trace of any specific instructor, how could you create a sense of instructor presence in the same course? And why would you want to do it? Have you ever seen a course like that?

Before answering these questions, let me share a personal story with you. Two weeks ago, I received news that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Devastated by the phone call from her primary care physician’s office, which offered nothing but a quick read of the final diagnose, I struggled to find out anything about breast cancer—the causes, the symptoms, the types, the treatment, the chance of spreading. Yet none of the information on the Internet could put me at ease or  tell me how to deal with this life-threatening illness. I was overwhelmed by feelings of fear and helplessness until I received the phone call from Beth, a nurse from the pathology department of the hospital.

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Elisabeth Ramos-Torrescano

A “Wicked Difficult” Challenge: Managing the Obsolescence of Human Knowledge

The New Media Consortium recently released the 2017 Horizon Report. First launched in 2003, the annual report taps into a panel of higher education experts to identify emerging technologies and trends that will impact the industry near term (one year), mid-term (three to five years), and long term (over five years). In addition, the Report identifies six major challenges to the implementation or adoption of education technology. The first two were deemed “wicked difficult” challenges.

Oh my! What could these be? The first is managing the obsolescence of human knowledge and the second is the changing role of the educator. Let’s leave the second on the table for now, and just deal with the thorny first wicked challenge.

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Erin Kasprzak

Give the Students What They Want

Getting good feedback from students can be a challenge. Gone are the days where someone from the academic department came into your class and distributed paper course evaluations to every student. Response rates for online course evaluations are abysmal, and the students who respond usually represent the extremes—they either tend to be really happy with the course or decidedly unhappy. So what to do?

Recently the college I support conducted two focus groups for our online students. I didn’t facilitate the focus groups; I have to give credit here to our great online operations team and the researchers who support the college Teaching, Learning and Assessment committee. In these focus groups, our adult students were asked “If you had the opportunity to design your ideal online course experience, what are the features you would include?”

So what did they tell us?

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Lori Zalivansky

Is There an Age Limit on Technology?

About a year ago, my father came up to my mother and me during breakfast, saying he wanted to upgrade his very old Nokia phone to a smartphone. Our reactions to this confession weren’t kind. My father—who was 61—had almost zero experience with technology at the time. Also, my parents are both from Minsk, Belarus, so English is a second language for them. Going from an old Nokia phone to something that many consider to be a pocket computer was a big leap. I hate to admit that although I’m in the business of introducing new technology to everyone, when my father asked for my help I told him he was too old to be diving into technology. Continue reading

Alex Joppie

Building in Revision: Five Tips for Building New Courses That Will Make Re-Offers Easier

When you’re developing a new online or hybrid course, it’s hard to look beyond the first course offering. After all, there might not be a second offering if you don’t focus your attention on making sure the course goes well the first time around, and developing the course always seems to take more time than you think it will. It’s hard to put much attention into making the course workable for future offerings. So here are some quick tips to keep in mind when developing a course to make life easier on yourself when you offer it the next time. Follow these tips, and your future self will thank you.

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Veronica Johnson

Organization or Bust? Project Management Tools for Success

Have you ever had a million and one things to do and so you write reminders to yourself—preferably on sticky notes—so that you won’t forget? Have you ever opened up your emails and wanted to scream because you were being asked to execute so many tasks? Have you ever just decided to step away from a certain situation because the information was so overwhelming and you needed to collect your thoughts?

keeping-notes

Well, if you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you will find this post very useful. Continue reading

Ashanti Morgan

Virtual Exchanges: The Next Big Thing?

In these increasingly unique times, ubiquitous access to alternative facts via the media (both social and traditional) can influence the impressionable minds of our youth—especially those living in homogeneous communities. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that educational institutions expose students to authentic, real-world experiences with diverse people and perspectives around the world.

Study abroad programs have been and will continue to be an effective way for students to garner global perspective and experience cross-cultural collaborations with students overseas. Students are immersed in the culture, history, and heritage of their experience and ideally, take advantage of the opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. Continue reading

Josh Lund

Make Your Voice Heard, Part 2: Audacity Audio Recording and Effects

See Part One: Choosing the Right Microphone

Now that you have a good recording setup in place, the next steps are getting something recorded and making it sound good. There’s a huge variety of options for recording audio, but I’ll discuss using  Audacity in particular here. To be sure, there are much more powerful programs than Audacity, but they tend to be costly and very complicated to use—which won’t help people who aren’t interested in professional audio and just want to record something for people to listen to.

Here’s why I recommend Audacity to most people, especially beginners:

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Josh Lund

Make Your Voice Heard, Part One: Choosing the Right Microphone

The more we create and share resources with others online, the more important it is to make sure that our voices are heard…literally. Choosing the right microphones, recording room setup and techniques, and audio file formats can make a startling amount of difference. This article is the first in a series that will help you know what to look for, what to avoid, and how to get the best sound wherever you are. This time around, we’ll focus on microphones.

The first step in recording good audio is choosing the microphone that will be listening to you. Every microphone has a particular pattern in which it receives sound waves from an audio source, called a pickup pattern. The most commonly used types of microphones are omnidirectional, bidirectional, cardioid, and shotgun. Continue reading

Daniel Stanford

What Blue Apron Recipes Can Teach Us About Online Course Design

Blue Apron is a meal delivery service that provides all the pre-measured, raw ingredients and instructions customers need to quickly prepare home-cooked meals. When I signed up for the service last year, I was pleasantly surprised by the concise, well-designed recipes that come with each set of ingredients. The folks at Blue Apron must have known their target demographic would include a lot of anxious, inexperienced cooks like me, and they clearly invested in a top-notch team of graphic designers, photographers, and writers to create their recipes. Continue reading