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
I think it is safe to say we have all experienced some form of stress in our life–whether it be in our personal life or at work. Stress isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes stress, in small doses, can help you perform better and keep you safe when in dangerous situations.
This week we had several interviews and one of the questions we always ask candidates is how are you under pressure and can you manage stress? Working in our field can be very stressful. There is a lot of customer support involved with instructional design. As Sharon Guan likes to say, we are free therapy. Whenever an instructor is struggling, they come to us with the hope that we can ease their worries and their stress. Which means a lot of the time we are not only dealing with our own personal stress but also taking on the stress of our faculty. Stress is only good if you keep it in a comfortable zone, so how do you make sure to not let yourself get overwhelmed? As one of the candidates said during the interview, you don’t want to get to the point where you are seconds away from throwing your computer out the window. It’s a long way down.
This year I decided to attend the OLC (Online Learning Consortium) Innovate conference in New Orleans. The conference was a great experience in part for getting to hear from others in the same field on what their doing to improve online learning and I also had the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture, music, and food of New Orleans; the chance ended up being very fulfilling.
Of the sessions I attended, two in particular really stuck with me. One session, as the title “Don’t Put Your Phone Away” suggests, demonstrated how instructors can incorporate students’ phones into their classrooms. One tool in particular that really intrigued me was Kahoot!. Kahoot! is free tool that allows you to create fun learning games made up of multiple choice questions. You can add images, videos, and diagrams to your questions to enhance them. Kahoot!s are meant for an in-class setting as they are not embeddable in web content. You’ll also want to make sure you are using a classroom that has a projector, as the answer choices will only appear on the screen with a corresponding symbol. This symbol is what students see on their devices. Once they see these symbols, they must select the symbol that corresponds with the answer they want to select.
As an eLearning Content Developer (ECD) at DePaul University, one of my roles is to provide faculty support for all courses using Desire2Learn. Whether that is providing D2L training sessions, building content, or answering any D2L technical questions. One of the biggest challenges that I face as an ECD is figuring out when I might be providing “too much support.” I’m sure any faculty reading this at this point are thinking how could there ever be too much support? But I believe there needs to be a balance between providing the support faculty need and also giving them the right amount of encouragement to be able to eventually answer their own questions. Continue reading
I have been working as a content developer at DePaul for nearly 5 years. In these 5 years, I have heard rumblings about Quality Matters and Quality Matters Reviews, but never really understood what “QM’ing” a course really meant. When asked what I would like to focus on for professional development, becoming a certified peer reviewer was the first thing that popped in my head. I have quality assured many courses and wondered, “how much different is that from doing a quality matters review?” I was in for an awakening.
What exactly is Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT)? Wikipedia defines JiTT as “a pedagogical strategy that uses feedback between classroom activities and work that students do at home, in preparation for the classroom meeting.” The goal of JiTT is to enhance the amount of learning that takes place during class time. The idea is that the instructor will give assignments that the students must complete and submit shortly before class, then the instructor will read the students’ submissions “just in time” to fine-tune the lesson of the day to meet the students’ needs.
The dynamics of today’s classrooms are constantly changing, including the kinds of students that fill these classrooms. Classrooms now consist of part- and full-time working students, commuters, and older students. They all come from different backgrounds and different levels of education. As a result, instructors’ teaching methods need to evolve in order to keep up with the varying student population. JiTT approaches these challenges by gauging the knowledge level of each individual student on a given topic. The feedback that is obtained from the out-of-class assignments help to maximize the effectiveness of class sessions. The feedback also encourages the instructor to construct team-building exercises. Before class starts, they are able to use the students’ feedback to create lessons that will allow the class to work together on the same objective.
JiTT assignments (often called WarmUps) allow students to take a more active role in their learning because it is their hard work that shapes the next class. These assignments should be built in a way that requires students to do a decent amount of research by reading a book or an online article, watching a video, etc. Instructors should also encourage students to practice using problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The best way to do this is to create a few open-ended and short-answer questions that pertain to a subject that was not previously discussed in class.
With JiTT, student learning is enriched, and it increases the efficacy and success of classroom lessons.
Let’s start this off by defining exactly what a hybrid course is. A hybrid course is the blend of face-to-face interaction such as in-class discussions, group work, and live lectures with Web-based technologies such as discussion boards and virtual chat rooms (wimba/collabortate). Since hybrid courses are still a very new concept, there is still much to learn on how to find the right balance between face-to-face and online learning activities.
The concept of going to college has been constantly changing over the years. These days, many students are trying to figure out ways to balance full time jobs, as well as family responsibilities, with classes. For these students, finding class schedules that don’t overlap with their work schedules can be very difficult. The introduction of online courses has helped these students, as well as those who have who have different learning styles. But on the flip side, there are students who find online courses to be lacking in the human connection that most students get in a face-to-face class. That is why hybrid courses are now becoming a viable third option. Continue reading
A new version of Desire2Learn, D2L 9.1, has been released, and will soon be replacing our current version at DePaul. There are several systematic and aesthetic changes to the new version but one that will excite most teachers and students is the option to subscribe to discussion forums. With a simple mouse click, teachers and students will no longer need to check their courses for new discussion posts on a daily basis; the new posts will come directly to them.
In D2L 9.1, when you go to the discussions section of a course site, there are star icons on the left of the forums and topics list. By clicking on a star icon, you will be signing up for automatic e-mail updates whenever a new post is made to the discussion you subscribed to. A window will pop up asking you if you are sure that you want to subscribe to this forum and showing you the e-mail address that the notifications will be sent to. To change the settings of the subscription, click “Subscriptions” on the left-hand menu bar. From here you can choose how frequently you want notifications to be sent. For more options, click “Notification Preferences.” In this section you can change the e-mail address that the notifications are sent to if the default address is not one you check frequently.
Subscriptions to posts will be huge time savers for teachers and especially students who might have five classes each with several discussion forums. Students will no longer need to enter each course for updates or run the risk of missing a new post.
That is the question I’m asked every time I tell someone what I got my degree in or what I do for a living. What is instructional design? How do I explain this ever-changing field? I could give them the textbook definition—instructional design is the practice of arranging media and content to help learners and teachers transfer knowledge most effectively. But this definition is only the tip of the instructional-design iceberg.
What many people do not know is that instructional design has been around for decades. The field has its roots back in World War II, when the US military was faced with the challenge of training a large number of people to use complex machinery. The training model the military created worked so well that it was applied to the civilian work force. Businesses started creating their own training program to get their workers trained quickly and efficiently. Instructional design only advanced as the years passed. It might go by different names, but there is instructional design in every training manual or tutorial someone looks at.
Today, instructional design encompasses a lot more. Instructional design can be used to create 3D educational movies about the solar system or how to load a camera. It can be used to make fun but education games. It can be used to create flight simulators for the Air Force. It can be used to create a simple tutorial video on how to check and change your oil.
And at DePaul, we are using instructional design to help instructors create courses that are taught not in a classroom but through the computers, where students can learn at the pace that best suits their lifestyles.