Zoom conferencing
Classrooms, Collaboration, Conferencing, Presentation

#OneNewThing – Zoom Conferencing

One New Thing from TLT
Zoom is an online conferencing tool, similar to WebEx or Go To Meeting, and allows you to host online, collaborative sessions.  The free version is full featured for up to 45 minutes of conferencing.

Video conferencing from your computer or mobile device

With the FREE version of Zoom users can:

  • hold unlimited 1 on 1 sessions
  • hold an unlimited number of sessions
  • have up to 50 participants per session
  • hold sessions only up to 40 minutes long (pro allows more)
  • host web or video conferences (desktop and mobile)
  • create breakout rooms for small group collaboration
  • share your, or participants, computer screens
  • annotate on shared screens
  • collaborate on a shared online whiteboard
  • record the session to share later
  • use user management with muting and hand raising
  • use either the computer microphone or telephone for audio

Need more?

  • 100 participants for $60/mo, 200 participants for $105/mo
  • Unlimited meeting time for $15/mo

Uses for Faculty & Students

There are many uses for such a tool in education, both online and face-to-face.

  • Hold online office hours: can use the screen sharing or the collaborative whiteboard to work together during the meeting.
  • Conduct interviews:  instead of Skype consider using Zoom.  This eliminates the sharing of Skype usernames and allows for screen sharing for easier discussion of materials.
  • Online paper or project review sessions: using the collaborative tools and screensharing you can work with students to review papers or projects together.
  • Online training and tutorials: use the screenshare to teach your students synchronously.
  • Study groups: students can use Zoom to conduct online study sessions when they can’t get together to study.
  • Group work: students can use Zoom to collaborate on group work.  They can bring up their Google doc or presentation and use the video chat to discuss the project while collaborating on the documents.

 

Get your Free Account now at zoom.us

Small Teaching Tip Number 5 focuses on using Google Docs and Slides to make in-class group work more productive and efficient.
Collaboration, Google, Google Apps, Productivity, Small Teaching Tip, Teaching Advice

Small Teaching Tip #5: Make Group Work More Efficient with Google Apps

Collaboration and project management are important skills for college students to learn.  Unfortunately, many students grumble about group work and faculty spend too much time managing logistics.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there were tools that could make in-class group work more efficient and productive?

I have a possible solution for you!  Google Apps!

All CofC students and faculty have free access to Google Apps for Education using their College email address and password.

Here are two ways you can use Google Docs and Slides to make group work more efficient:

Share Templates

In-class group work is most effective if students are given clear instructions, including the goals of the activity and expectations for a deliverable.  Without purpose or guidelines, students will be less productive and more easily distracted.

One way to provide structure is to create an outline, template, or worksheet to guide students’ work.  If you create this handout in Google Docs, you can easily share it with students who can then type on the document as they work with their teams.

But, Jessica, wouldn’t that mean all students would be typing on the same document?

Yes, unless you make this tiny but powerful change to the document URL: delete the word “edit” from the end of the URL and replace it with the word “copy.”

Sharing clean copies of Google Docs with students

When students click on the URL you’ve shared with them, they will be asked to make a clean copy.  Now, each student or each group can work on their own document.

Ask your students to share their document with you so you can see what they’ve accomplished during class.  And if groups run out of time and need to finish outside of class, every group member can contribute from their own dorm room or apartment (because Google Drive is cloud-based).

Share a Slide Master

After students complete an in-class activity or assignment, do you ask groups to present their work to the rest of the class?  This form of debriefing or “reporting out” encourages students to work harder because they’ll have to stand in front of the room to present to their peers.  It also gives students much-needed opportunities to practice their public speaking skills, which are typically quite weak.

But if you ask students to create slides in Powerpoint, every student would have to email their file or save it to a thumb drive and then open it on the teacher station computer.  This requires too much precious class time.

Instead of using Powerpoint, create an empty slide show in Google Slides.  If you want students to design their own slides, simply create a presentation with blank slides (one slide per student or one slide per group, for example).  If you want students to include certain pieces of information on their slides, create a template.  You can then duplicate that template slide for as many students or groups that you have.

Next, give your students editing rights and share the URL with them (watch the animated GIF below).  Every student can now access that slide deck during class and work on their individual slides.   When it’s time to present to the class, you only have to open the one Google Slides presentation and the entire class’ work is right there!

Changing share settings for a Google Doc


We hope you found this week’s Small Teaching Tip helpful.  This post is part of a series which presents low risk, high reward teaching ideas, inspired by James Lang’s book Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning.

6 reasons you should be using Google Slides
Best Practices, Collaboration, Google, Google Apps, Presentation, Productivity, TLT

6 Reasons You Should Be Using Google Slides Instead Of PowerPoint

We all use PowerPoint to create and deliver lectures and for student presentations.  But PPT lacks one major feature…collaboration.   Google Slides, part of our Google Apps for Education, is a PowerPoint-like presentation application that has that collaboration piece, making it more useful in an academic environment.

Here are six reasons you should be using Google Slides instead of PowerPoint.

  1. Consistency — Your presentations look and act the same way on all computers.  Have you ever created a presentation or lecture on your office computer only to have it look or behave differently on the teacher station in the classroom?  With Google Slides, all fonts, images, videos, animations etc. are stored online (in the cloud) so your lectures/presentations will look the same on every computer.
  2. Easy Access — Since both the application and the presentations are saved in Google Drive, it’s easy to access and work on them from any computer or mobile device.   Just log into drive.google.com and you have access to all your presentations, documents and spreadsheets.
  3. Backchannel for Questions — Google Slides has a new Audience Q&A feature which allows your students/audience to ask questions during the presentation.  When activated a web address is automatically added to to the top of each slide allowing the students to ask their questions or make comments.
    screenshot 
  4. Tracking Work in Group Presentations — faculty love group presentations but hate not knowing who did what.  Google Slides has a Revision History section (File > See Revision History) that shows all changes made to the presentation along with who made them.  This is a great way to hold students accountable for a collaborative project.  Because it’s web-based, all students in the group can actively create and edit content within the same presentation at the same time.
  5. Easy Sharing — With one easy trick you can share your lecture presentations so that the students can copy it into their Google Drive and then take notes directly in the presentation Notes area.
    • Open your presentation and click the blue SHARE button
    • Click GET SHAREABLE LINK and click COPY LINK
    • Now paste that link either in OAKS or an email to our students BUT before sending it make one minor change.  At the end of the link change the word edit to copy ex. edit?usp=sharing  /copy?usp=sharing
  6. Efficient In-class Group Work — Create one blank Google Slides presentation and share it with your class.  During the group work each group with create their own slide(s) with their contributions.  At the end of class you have only one file you have to look at and all the groups have access to each other’s contributions.  This also makes it easy to bring the presentation up in class to discuss the group findings.
    screenshot
Collaboration, Conferencing, discussion, Mobile, social networking, TLT, Web 2.0

App of the week: Blab

What is Blab?

From Blab’s site “a platform for publicly broadcasting live video conversations or talk shows.” Blab allows for live video conversations. In addition to a host you can have 3 other people talking live at once on a split screen.  All Blabs are public so an unlimited number of people could also just watch.

Use it for debates, discussions, or a podcast which you as the host have the option to record.  The recording can then be accessed via a url, but as host you will also be emailed a copy ( an MP3 & MP4). A Recording  or “Replays”cannot be deleted, but  as the host you can make your “Replay” public or hidden.

There is also a screen share and co-host option .

If you did not want to host a Blab then watch other live video conversations on topics or specific content that you are interested in.  Search by a keyword then choose a Blab that interest you by clicking the “Watch” button.

Things to be aware of:

You need a Twitter account in order to log in

Although you can choose which callers to let into your Blab and they are the ones then that can ask questions and you can screen share with, “Blabs” are always public.  I suggest you review the Privacy policy before you host a Blab: http://cdn.blab.im/blab-assets/privacy-policy.pdf

Price: Free
App – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blab-live-video-conversations/id1023962293?mt=8

Desktop – https://blab.im/

Platform: Desktop ( using Chrome browser) or iPhone. On Android devices the Chrome browser works

More Information: https://blab.im/

Getting started with Blab at https://medium.com/blab-daily-digest/how-do-i-start-my-first-blab-5b862c5741e8#.g0qf431yb  and https://medium.com/blab-daily-digest/getting-started-on-blab-9606ec9566ac#.svi141ong

Blab tutorial at http://www.marc-levy.com/blab-im-tutorial/

Blab Daily Digest at https://medium.com/blab-daily-digest

Real Time Board
Collaboration, Productivity, Research, TLT, Web 2.0

Online Collaboration with RealTimeBoard

Does this scenario seem familiar?   You’re in the midst of a team project.  One day you realize that you’ve been playing phone tag with one colleague for a week; another colleague keeps emailing Word documents; while the rest of the team is trying to work in Google Docs.  No one is communicating well and collaboration is slow.  What can you do?

Real Time Board to the rescue!

RealTimeBoard is an online collaborative workspace that features an infinite digital whiteboard.  In addition to typing and writing on the whiteboard, teams can add post-it notes, images, videos, documents, spreadsheets, Google Drive files and more. RealTimeBoard also provides a variety of templates, including timelines, Gantt charts, storyboards, calendars, and SWOT analysis grids.  Because it’s an online tool, all collaborators can access your shared board on any device at any time.  Boards can also be exported as image files or PDF.

Real Time Board for collaborative planning, notetaking, and brainstorming

The folks at RealTimeBoard have kindly granted educators free access to their premium features plus unlimited collaborators!  So it’s a perfect tool for research projects and to use with your students.  Request your account by providing your college email address.

Use digital sticky notes with Real Time Board

Uses: Any form of collaboration, such as brainstorming, concept mapping, storyboarding, planning, etc.

Price: Free for educators

Platform: Online

More information: realtimeboard.com

 

syncpad on three devices
Collaboration, Distance Ed, instructional technology, iPad, Mobile, Presentation, Share

App of the Week: SyncPad

UPDATE: 3/1/16 – My apologies.  I wrote this post in advance and had it auto post.  It turns out between when I wrote it and when it posted, SyncPad is no longer available.  I attempted to contact them via their website but the contact form no longer works. — Mendi

 

SyncPad is the ultimate whiteboard for remote and local collaboration. Would you like to share your ideas with a coworker but you are out of town? Don’t worry, just create a room with your SyncPad and share the name of the room with your co-worker, who can enter in his SyncPad or simply use any browser, visiting http://mysyncpad.com/roomname.

Uses:

  • Remote Tutoring
  • Collaboration
  • Shared Whiteboard

Price: Free, $4.99/mo Pro.
Platform:  iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch
More info: https://syncpadapp.com

Voicethread Commenting Features
Collaboration, instructional technology, TLT, Web 2.0

New VoiceThread Commenting Features

If you haven’t explored VoiceThread since last semester, you will be pleased to learn about the tool’s three new commenting features.  Direct replies and threaded conversations make interaction more interactive and dynamic, while private replies allow participants to engage one another more discreetly.

Direct Replies

Owners and editors of VoiceThreads are able to insert comments directly after someone else’s comment on a slide.  For example, students can reply directly to the feedback left by their classmates or questions asked by their instructor.  To do this, click on the direct reply icon inside a person’s comment window (it looks like an arrow).  Your reply will display directly beneath the original comment, but bumped in slightly.
Voicethread Direct Reply

Threaded Discussions

The threaded discussions feature makes VoiceThread more similar to an online discussion board, with comments branching off an original comment.  This helps to keep robust back-and-forth conversations more organized.

Voicethread Threaded Comment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To use this feature, you must enable it in Playback Settings.

Voicethread Playback Settings

Voicethread Enable Threaded Commenting

Threaded comments are represented by a round identity image (as opposed to the usual square shape).  To start a new threaded conversation, click on the threaded comment button inside a person’s comment window.

Voicethread Create a New Thread

Threaded discussions would be particularly useful if you’d like to encourage multiple students to engage one another about a VoiceThread’s content.  In contrast, a direct reply is a dialog between two people (though the interaction can be seen by anyone who has access to the VoiceThread).  This would be best for asking a single question or offering praise.

Private Replies

The private reply feature allows you to start a private, two-way conversation with someone who has commented on a VoiceThread.  Private comments are represented by a round identity image with a padlock icon.  To start a new private conversation or add to an existing one, click on the private reply button inside a person’s comment window.

Voicethread Private Reply

The private reply option could be especially useful if an instructor would like to include an assessment in a VoiceThread.  For example, an instructor could leave a comment asking the students to reply to a question.  To prevent the students from seeing one another’s responses, the instructor could request students use the private reply option.  That would permit only the instructor to see the students’ comments and would allow him/her to respond directly to each student.

Let us know what you think about these new commenting features.  We’d love to hear your ideas!

Best Practices, Collaboration, discussion, Distance Ed, Events, Information Session, Innovative Instruction, instructional technology, Mobile, Pedagogy, social networking, TLT, Training Opportunities

TLT’s Distance Education Resources Blog

TLT has a new resource available exclusively for our faculty who teach, or are interested in, online instruction!

http://blogs.cofc.edu/dereadiness/

There are two paths to choose from depending on your role:

Social-Media-2-1irk9m3-300x300 (1) Social-Media-23ptrpu-300x300

Choose this path if you:

  • Have never taught online before
  • Have taught online at another institution, but not CofC
  • Plan to teach online at CofC in the future

Start learning more about teaching online at CofC!

New to Distance Education

Choose this path if you:

  • Have completed the DE Readiness Course
  • Are currently teaching online at CofC
  • Are looking for resources related to online teaching and support

Explore more about online learning and support!

Currently Teaching Online

Make sure that you follow #CougarsOLI on all social media outlets to stay up to date on information and research pertaining to Online Learning Initiatives at College of Charleston

#CougarsOLI Logo (2)

Strategies for Effective Team Projects
Best Practices, Collaboration, Teaching Advice

Strategies for Drama-Free Team Projects

Effective collaboration is a foundational skill that is taught as early as kindergarten.  By the time students reach college, one would think they would be expert team players.  Unfortunately, any professor can tell you that’s not usually true.  Students struggle to communicate competently, schedule meeting times, and manage conflict.  This often leads to tearful office hour appointments or angry emails about slackers and alliances. So the following is advice based upon my experiences and research I’ve conducted regarding effective group work strategies for the college classroom.

Strategies for Effective Team Projects
Image credit: endlessorigami.com

Determine what type of group work will allow students to achieve the learning outcomes.  Group work is not one size fits all.  There are many forms of collaborative learning and each serves its own purpose.  So first think about what you want students to accomplish from working together, then decide upon a method (such as team-based learning, peer instruction, or project-based learning)

Instructors, not students, should form groups.  When students are allowed to choose their own teammates, they almost always (1) choose their friends and acquaintances or (2) choose people who sit near them.  I don’t blame them; that’s the easy and comfortable option.  But this often results in homogenous groups.  Thus, especially for higher-stakes projects, instructors should strategically form teams that are composed of members who are diverse and who share common blocks of time to meet outside of class.  This can be accomplished by administering surveys that address variables such as personality type, learning style, conflict management style, course-related knowledge and experience, habits, and schedules.

Discuss principles of effective teamwork.  While students have been collaborating with peers for most of their educational careers, many don’t have a scholarly understanding of group dynamics.  I’ve found spending a class period sharing the research on assigning group roles, establishing expectations, and managing conflict has improved my students’ success.  If you don’t have class time to devote to such a discussion, provide your students with resources, such as handouts or links to websites that they can refer to as they work.

Require a team contract.  For higher-stakes assignments, such as semester-long projects, have students write a contract that details expectations and consequences of violating those norms.  During the team’s first meeting, I suggest students brainstorm all the things they hate about group projects then turn those complaints into a list of do’s and don’ts.  I ask students to provide me with a copy of their contract that each team member has signed.  This document can then be used by the group to mediate conflicts.

Establish a policy to deal with social loafing.  I work hard to maintain a “no drama” environment in my classes.  So I have a policy that outlines procedures and consequences for students who violate their team contracts.  This policy has shown students that I will not (and they should not) tolerate slacking off.  Whatever type of policy you create, make sure you require students to provide documentation of the contract violations and to meet with you separately.  This helps to prevent unwarranted complaints or students “ganging up” on a teammate.

Strategies for Effective Team Projects

Require teams to provide you with regular progress reports.  To identify problems early and to ensure students are not procrastinating, I require teams to update me biweekly.  I ask students to identify a member of the team who is responsible for providing me with those updates either face-to-face or via email.  This has helped immensely to address concerns and to steer students in the right direction when they’re faltering.

Ask teams to complete regular assessments of one another.  An interesting meta-analysis published in Teaching of Psychology concluded that peer assessments within groups do not improve learning outcomes.  I hypothesize that the typical way peer evaluations are completed is to blame.  Often, instructors will require students to complete a cumulative assessment of their teammates at the end of the project.  Perhaps they’re asked to distribute points or assign each team member a grade.  But by the time a project is completed, students may have “checked out” and are less motivated to provide a thoughtful assessment (“the project is done; I don’t really care anymore.”).  Also, this type of evaluation doesn’t allow the team to examine their dynamic while they’re collaborating and, therefore, eliminates the opportunity to make improvements.  A potentially better approach is to first instruct students on the principles and importance of constructive feedback then ask them to complete periodic assessments as they work together. Perhaps at the termination of the project, students could write a letter to you reflecting on the evolution of the group.

Encourage students to use technology. One of the biggest complaints students have about group projects is finding time outside of class to meet.  Many students have jobs, internships, and other extracurriculars that make matching schedules frustrating if not impossible.  There are a multitude of technology tools that allow students to collaborate when not in the same physical space.  Google Drive allows students to work together on documents, slides, and spreadsheets on any device that connects to the Internet.  Google Hangouts, Blab, and Skype allow students to videoconference.  And there are many collaborative whiteboard apps, such as Realtime Board.  The availability of free software and apps really limits how often students can claim “we can’t get together.”

I hope these suggestions help you to help your students get the most out of collaborative learning.  If you have other tips for effective group work, please share!

 

References and Resources:

Faculty Focus Special Report: Effective group work strategies for the college classroom: http://www.cincinnatistate.edu/online/faculty-resources/Effective%20Group%20Work%20Strategies%20for%20College%20Classroom.pdf

Major, C. H. (2015, Sept. 21). Choosing the best approach for small group work. Faculty Focushttp://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/choosing-the-best-approach-for-small-group-work/

Oakley, B., Felder, R. M., Brent, R., & Elhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of Student Centered Learning, 2 (1), 9-34.

Tomcho, T. J., & Foeis, R. (2012). Meta-analysis of group learning activities: Empirically based teaching recommendations. Teaching of Psychology, 39 (3), 159-169.

Weimer, M. (2012, Feb. 22). My students don’t like group work. Faculty Focus. http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/my-students-dont-like-group-work/