A new year is a good time to press the reset button on many things, and I like a healthy, rigorous technology and technology-centric practice clean-out. You may already be using some of the tools I’ve listed below, but a new year is a good time to revisit those spaces, tweak your practices, or delete items that you’re no longer using.
But! If you’re new to all of these items and you integrate them in 2017, you’ve just earned yourself 15.65 (approximately) hours. You’re welcome. Continue reading
Web-based whiteboards are great tools for real-time brainstorming and collaboration when you and your team members (or students) can’t meet face to face. The best one for you depends on the kind of work you need to do. Let’s take a look at two, the first of which has an offer for educators through mid-summer 2017.
I teach in the First-Year Writing program at DePaul, and during Autumn Quarter especially, my classes consist mostly of freshmen. I love to watch how their demeanors evolve throughout the quarter as they become more confidently part of DePaul’s academic community—but joining this community isn’t natural for everyone (and wasn’t for me when I was an undergraduate student).
So as I’m submitting final grades for Autumn Quarter, pouring over my course evaluations, and thinking about the fast-approaching Winter Quarter, I’m reflecting on how I can better help the students that don’t as easily find their groove in my classroom and others.
Can you remember feeling nervous, anxious, and fearful about the upcoming online course you registered for at the advice of an academic advisor? While the advisor gave you some basic information about the course and told you not to worry, the little voice inside would say, “Are you sure you can do this”? That little voice never really went away until the end of the course.
The online world of learning is so very different than the face-to-face classroom. Students don’t have the opportunity to speak to the instructor after class or stop by their instructor’s office on the way home to ask a question. Everything, everything is done virtually.
For the past year and a half I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of great faculty members at DePaul University. I design online courses for the School for New Learning (SNL), DePaul’s online school. As a result, I rarely get the opportunity to meet in person many of the adjunct faculty that I am constantly collaborating with. A few months ago I attended a SNL spring professional development and some of the faculty members present were adjunct. At this time I was finally able to put names with faces. I almost felt like a superstar because so many people were saying with so much excitement in their voices, “Oh so you are Veronica! It’s finally a pleasure to put a face with a name!”
Although it was a pleasure meeting some adjunct faculty members, I have heard how sometimes there may be a struggle in making them feel as though they are essential to the growth and development of a learning institution. I can see how this can be plausible especially when adjunct faculty are teaching online. I taught for 14 years in the K-12 sector and the task of developing educators in that field is quite easy. Every day they are physically reporting to work, and at least once a week teachers are required to meet for collaboration or professional development. However, when a faculty member is teaching online part time how do you get them to strengthen their teaching skills? How do you motivate adjunct faculty so they will want to participate in the events that are sponsored by the learning institution? These were some questions that I have had for a while and this past August my questions were answered when I attended the Distance Learning & Teaching Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. While at the conference I had the opportunity to attend a workshop facilitated by Brad Garner and Mike Mendenhall of Indiana Wesleyan University. The purpose of this workshop was to give strategies on how to motivate adjunct faculty members. Below I have listed 6c’s to follow and if this is done correctly then it will ensure that adjunct faculty members will be successful when teaching online.
One of the biggest questions faculty have as they move their courses online is how assessments will work when they can’t see their students taking quizzes or tests. Questions inevitably arise about students sharing answers or taking tests together, since the instructor isn’t there to see the students while they take the tests.
While there are services out there that will monitor students as they take the test, often referred to as online proctors, these come with an added cost and still need to be scheduled, eliminating one of the main draws for students—that they can work based on their own schedule—even at 3 a.m. These services tend to work best in high-stakes tests as well, meaning major exams for the course rather than weekly tests or quizzes. (We won’t get into that territory today, however.)
On the first day of class, I asked my students, “How many of you have a smart phone?”
Everyone raised their hands.
“Great!” I said. “Take them out—if they aren’t already—because you will do a lot of messaging in this class. Go to WeChat.com and download the app to your phone.”
After the students created their accounts, I gave them my phone to scan the bar code for the class group I created within the app.
Within 15 minutes, all fifteen of them were in the Chinese 104-101 WeChat group. After the setup, I began explaining what WeChat is, and how I’ve used it in previous classes.
WeChat is a mobile messaging app developed by a Chinese company called Tencent Inc. According to DMR, as of Aug 22, 2015, there are 800 million active users. It’s user-ship has surpassed Twitter and continues to grow rapidly and globally. It is threatening the global social media market and has been referred to as the potential “Facebook killer”.
In my Chinese language class, I use WeChat to serve the following purposes: Continue reading
With the growing demand for blended and online content, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with considerations such as what type of content to include, identifying new websites or technical applications to introduce, and ensuring that the course design meets the needs of all learners.
The sheer nature of working at a distance increases the need to create opportunities for learner engagement and decrease ambiguity in communicating information. Thankfully, there are a number of different solutions that incorporate audio and/or video components that assist with humanizing the look and feel of your course. Introducing this type of media into course design means ensuring that all learners are able to access auditory resources.
One of the advantages of taking a blended or online course, especially for learners with specific needs, is the infinite number of times you can playback or review a concept until it’s mastered. For learners with special needs, diverse and/or preferred learning styles, English language learners (ELL), or English as a second language (ESL) students, incorporating transcripts, subtitles, closed captioning, etc. to audio and/or visual content in a course is invaluable. Faculty have also found that learners without special needs find having these resources embedded in the course a bonus. Continue reading