Need help filming yourself? No budget for a tripod? Kentucky artist and film teacher Kathleen Lolley and TLT’s Alea McKinley co-created a tutorial to teach you how to make a tripod for your cell phone using a paper towel roll. Safe, social-distancing was practiced during the collaboration.
Our guest blogger is Kathleen Janech from the Department of Biology. In 2014, Kathleen attended the Faculty Technology Institute. This blog post is a report and reflection on implementing strategies and technologies from that workshop. Kathleen describes her endeavors to make her lectures more interactive through gamification, and she discusses moving some lecture content online to create time for activities during class.
I decided that I wanted to update one particular section of my Biology 102 course. This is a course for non-majors, and I chose to update the section of the course where I teach about animal diversity and evolutionary connections. This is always a section that students report that they enjoy, but as much as I love all of the diversity seen with animals, I have found that teaching it has become boring. I also used to have a 5 question section at the beginning of the exam on animal diversity, where they would see a picture of an animal for 30 seconds and then have to pick the correct identification in a multiple choice question. Although I like to think that this made them use the knowledge they had acquired, it seemed to just stress them out more about the exam, and being a summative assessment, came too late for them to correct their perceptions.
Therefore, I decided to try a few new things with my class of 35 students in the Spring of 2015. There were so many great ideas that we were exposed to during the FTI, but I had to focus on one area that I could really change in one semester. Overall, I tried to “chunk” my lectures more, and alternate the presentation of material with short videos or a discussion of a handout that they could take home. I would also post more lecture material on OAKS, resulting in a partially flipped classroom. A great advantage of this was that it freed up great amounts of time so that I could fit more activities into the class. The students could access my lecture material at any time, and go over it as much as they needed to, which is great for those who cannot write as fast as others.
In practice, I posted more of the background information on animals (characteristics that were in lists, which had made lecturing on them very boring) on OAKS, where students could access it on their own any time. With the available class time, I planned to try two ways of in-class formative assessment in the form of games. The first game that I tried was “Who Am I?” as a hook at the beginning of class. The students had a lot of material in their notes from class and from slides that they were supposed to have looked at on OAKS. I asked for 3 volunteers, one at a time. When each came to the front of the room, I taped the name of a classification category to their back (such as Phylum Mollusca, or Class Polychaete). They showed it to the class, and then had to turn back around and ask questions of the class to try and guess what category was on their back. Some advantages were that only volunteers were really “on the spot” at the front of the classroom, and the rest of the class could look at their notes to help them out. And it gave them some in-class time to actually try to use the information from their notes and work with it to apply it to something, instead of just waiting to be tested on it. Also, there was not a lot of prep required on my end, aside from writing up and taping the signs on their backs. The disadvantage was that I realized that I had to be very specific about the way they could ask questions of the audience, since I was trying to get them to use the categories that I had presented in class.
The second game that I tried was Kahoot! I used this at the beginning of the class as a hook or “kindling” to get them engaged in the topic. This was by far the biggest success of this section. One advantage of it was that the students really enjoy getting to use their devices in class (and it is a special treat since I do not usually allow devices to be in use during class time). Another advantage was that students were engaged because it was a competition, which they enjoyed, but also something that they could do anonymously so if they made a mistake they could learn from it without having to be embarrassed. Disadvantages include the fact that everyone needs a device on which to play, and not everyone will always have one (they were not penalized if they could not participate), and this took a lot more preparation time for me to get questions ready and make sure that they were good questions. Since Kahoot! was a formative assessment, it let the students know where they were with the material.
Students commented that they really liked my “chunking” strategy – they appreciated seeing short video clips of the different animals and examples of behavior, since it really brings the colors and movement alive, and it helped to break up the lecture. They also noted that they liked having the links to watch later. The “Who Am I” game was not as popular, maybe because I did it earlier in the unit and none of them knew the material yet, and they felt like they were on the spot. The Kahoot! game was really popular. They liked the anonymity, and it was suggested that we play it more often to keep up with all of the material. They liked the competitive aspect and the fact that it was interactive for everyone. Many students commented that they thought they knew the material, but after playing they could see where they needed to do a lot more studying.
In the future, I am going to try to incorporate Kahoot! from the start in all my classes. And, if I prep it far enough in advance, I can include images as part of a question, which will be great and especially applicable for this animal section. I hope to use VoiceThread to free up more time in class for activities and games. I would like to try to work on a “lecture organizer” structure that could be a handout or drawn on the board on the first day of class, in order to help students categorize and prepare for unfamiliar material. In addition, I might try to using Poll Everywhere at the beginning of the class as “kindling” to see how much background information they already know about a particular group, or with a video when I want them to guess what animal I have shown. This would be great to see how much they already may or may not know about many of our local animals. I am going to continue to try and rethink sections of my courses, and incorporate more new ideas. I know of one place in my Biology 111 course where a flipped classroom model would work really well, so that is what I will work on next in the fall.
Thank you, FTI and TLT, for lots of great new ideas!
What is Acclaim?
Acclaim is a web platform which facilitates asynchronous discussion around video content. Students and instructors can add time-stamped comments that link to moments in each video. Each comment is clickable, and once clicked, the video will jump to the relevant moment in the video. Students can see and respond to comments at any time.
Users add videos to Acclaim in one of three different ways:
- By embedding YouTube or Vimeo videos;
- By uploading video files stored on a hard drive or mobile device; and
- By using the built-in webcam feature to create and upload a video in real time.
How could I use Acclaim?
- Assessing student presentations.
- Peer evaluations of presentations.
- Self-evaluations of presentations.
- In flipped classrooms during which students watch video lectures outside of class.
Acclaim would be an ideal tool in courses that involve any type of oral presentations, demonstrations, or performances.
Why should I use Acclaim?
Watching one’s own recorded presentation and reading evaluations from peers and instructors can be an excellent way to identify strengths and weaknesses, and thus improve one’s future performances. Self-assessment encourages critical reflection, increased awareness of skills, and goal setting while peer-assessment develops empathy and encourages students to reflect on their own work while evaluating others.
Acclaim provides a free and simple platform that facilitates such self, peer, and instructor assessment.
Application: Web-based; http://getacclaim.com
On Tuesday, the College of Charleston experienced a safety and communication crisis when a bomb threat was made. Classes in six buildings were officially cancelled and many faculty, staff, and students were prohibited from accessing their offices, classrooms, and dorms until 5:00PM. This unexpected disruption caused many professors to lose valuable class time.
As the daughter of a Boy Scout and a Girl Scout myself, I try to live by the mantra: be prepared. As an instructional technologist, I’ve learned ways to use technology to “prepare for the worst” and want to share that knowledge so you will be ready for the next interruption, closure, or disaster.
1. Think ahead. Before the semester begins, decide how you will manage if classes are cancelled. According to instructional technologist, Kaitlin Woodlief, “your best preparation is to learn the tools now before you’re put into a situation where you have to use them.” This doesn’t mean you must become an expert on Adobe Captivate to make professional-quality video lectures. Instead, familiarize yourself with one tool so you feel comfortable enough producing something simple that will transmit content.
Given Tuesday’s events, I had to figure out a way to prevent my students from getting too far behind. I uploaded the Powerpoint I intended to use in class into Voicethread and narrated my slides using already created lecture notes. I didn’t need to create new content; I just had to put that content into a different format. And because I had already familiarized myself with Voicethread, the process was simple. There are numerous tools that will allow you to deliver content online in case of a College closure or class cancellation, including Kaltura, Jing, Screencast-O-Matic, EdPuzzle, and Google Drive. Of course, TLT has you covered with workshops that focus on online content delivery! Browse tlt.eventbrite.com for those sessions.
2. Include a syllabus policy. As you prepare your classes, craft a policy that establishes expectations and procedures in case an emergency occurs. For example, Penn State encourages faculty to include the following language in their syllabi:
In the event of a campus closure, course requirements, classes, deadlines and grading schemes are subject to changes that may include alternative delivery methods, alternative methods of interaction with the instructor, class materials, and/or classmates, a revised attendance policy, and a revised semester calendar and/or grading scheme. Information about course changes will be communicated through [e-mail, etc….]
3. Determine communication protocols. If an emergency closes the College or you have to cancel class at the last-minute, how will you communicate with your students? There are numerous options, including email and posting a notification in the OAKS News tool. This semester, I’m using both Twitter and Celly to communicate with students. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found students don’t routinely read their emails, so I decided to meet them where they are and use text messaging and social media.
The numerous ways I use Twitter in the classroom is a blog post for another day, but on Tuesday, I tweeted numerous times to inform students that the Cougar Alert was not a test, that they needed to pay attention to their email, and that class was cancelled. I also used Celly to communicate the same information. Celly provides a way to send SMS text messages without exchanging phone numbers (you can also use the mobile app or website if you don’t text). I’ve found students to be much more responsive to these text messages than email.
For more serious emergencies, when campus is closed for a longer period of time, you may want to communicate with your students synchronously. Skype and Google Hangouts provide simple and free options for hosting virtual, synchronous meetings. The OAKS Discussion tool can also be used for conversation and collaboration.
As my colleague Chris Meshanko says, while we always hope for the best, we must plan for the worst. Anticipating disruptions and making plans can prevent students and faculty from losing valuable contact hours. Most importantly, let students know within the first two weeks of classes what your expectations are if classes are cancelled due to an emergency. And as always, TLT can assist you in choosing the right tools for keeping your class on track.
Score Keeper – What is it and how can I use it?
Platform – iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad
Price – free in the App Store (NOTE: this is listed as an iPhone app)
Download – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/score-keeper-by-learning-dojo/id954956153?mt=8
Using Team Based Learning or Gaming in your classroom? Having a hard time easily keeping or resetting the score? Score Keeper will not only help you to add up or detract points from 2 teams, but it also allows you to reset the score with one touch. When a team gains or loses a point the app will comment with encouragement or gentle teasing. (Yes, you have the option to silence the app if you’d like!). Simple to use and ready to go, Score Keeper will help you keep track of those points! Game on!
At our November Faculty Showcase, we gave thanks for the many ways technology makes us more efficient, productive, and engaging instructors. Special thanks to Kate Pfile, Mary Ann Hartshorn, and Gayle Goudy for sharing their experiences using instructional technologies. In addition to learning about innovative teaching strategies, we also collected over 34 pounds of canned goods to be donated in time for Thanksgiving. Thank you to everyone who contributed!
During the Showcase, Kate Pfile (HHP) showed us how her students use Popplet (Free; iOS and Web) for a postural assessment assignment. Popplet is a digital mind-mapping application that allows users to visually capture ideas and make connections between them. Kate asks her students to take pictures of a friend’s posture, then use Popplet to analyze musculature by identifying the relationships among various body parts. Popplet can also be used to enhance brainstorming, tease out ideas, plan projects, and organize one’s thoughts, such as when writing a research paper. Even better, Popplet allows multiple users to collaborate synchronously or asynchronously, so small groups or an entire class could work together.
Gayle Goudy (SOTA) shared her experiences with flipping her art history courses. Flipping has become a hot topic in education, as instructors move lectures outside the classroom while reserving class time for discussion, problem-solving, activities, and group work. This allows students to accomplish the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy on their own while they work through higher levels of cognitive work with their classmates and instructor. There are a variety of approaches to flipping your course, whether you want to flip the entire semester or just a handful of classes. TLT can point you to numerous technology tools that will facilitate this change, including Voicethread and Kaltura Mediaspace.
Mary Ann Hartshorn (TEDU) is a TLT Superstar: she presented at both of our Faculty Showcases this semester! Mary Ann shared how she uses Google Docs for a collaborative annotated bibliography assignment and the OAKS Discussion tool to encourage community-formation. To read more, check out our recap of the October Faculty Showcase.
TLT’s instructional technologists also had tech tools to share. Laura Plotts, instructional technologist for LCWA, showed faculty how Haiku Deck (Free; iOS and Web) provides a fantastic alternative to “death by Powerpoint.” With Haiku Deck, there’s no chance of presenting slides crammed with bullet points. Instead, the application forces users to keep text to a minimum and use images to tell their story. If you want students to learn to speak extemporaneously, Haiku Deck can help wean them off of reading directly from their slides. Because of its eye-catching designs and graphics, it’s also perfect for video lectures, conference presentations, sales pitches, and keynote addresses.
Kaitlin Woodlief, instructional technologist for SSM, shared a tool that allows instructors to collect real-time feedback without the need for student devices. Plickers (Free; Android and iOS) makes formative assessment and live polling simple.
Students don’t need iPads or smartphones; instead, each student responds by holding up a card that’s printed with a special image that has letters around the sides. If, for example, the answer to the question is A, the student will turn the card so that the letter A is on top.
The instructor then uses their smartphone or iPad camera to scan the room and capture the cards. The app registers the student answers which then can be displayed to the room. For those who worry about their entire class having devices, or those who simply don’t want to bother with students having to log in or register, Plickers may be just what you’re looking for.
If you’d like to learn more about any of these tools and strategies, please contact your instructional technologist. Thank you to everyone who stopped by! Be on the look-out for our Spring Faculty Showcases, including a few new, exciting events!
Today our guest blogger is Dr. Jason Howell, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics. Please note that as of August 2015, Echo 360 is no longer available to CofC faculty as a campus license. Mediasite Desktop Recorder is the new replacement allowing for media creation and media sharing.
I was very excited to learn that I was selected to attend the Spring 2013 Faculty Technology Institute as I was very interested in learning about some of the latest and greatest innovations that could help me improve my overall effectiveness as a teacher. Having taught college math courses since 1997, my teaching style and techniques evolved to include many software and hardware tools, including programmable calculators, mathematical software, and even lecturing with a tablet PC, but I felt that I was not fully taking advantage of what was currently available in terms of instructional technology. The TLT staff did an excellent job and the FTI showed me lots of new tools that were available to enhance student learning.
One of the instruction techniques that was covered in the FTI was the inverted, or “flipped” classroom, in which students are responsible for absorbing new lecture content outside of class meetings. This way, class meetings can be devoted to more interactive discussions about the course concepts or, as is often the case with math courses, working more problems in class. One of the tools introduced at the FTI for this purpose was Echo360 Personal Capture.
This software will record your desktop, microphone, and webcam (optional) all together to help you create lectures or presentations. I decided that this would be a great tool to try out for myself – if I can get my students to learn some basic ideas or concepts though watching a video outside of class, I could then devote more class time to working problems, which students are always clamoring for! I was teaching Precalculus (MATH 111) at the time, and we were getting ready to cover trigonometric functions, so I decided that my first experiment would be to create a video on finding coterminal angles and evaluating the sine and cosine functions at these angles (if you want to know exactly what I’m talking about, watch the video below!).
The Echo360 software was very easy to download and install on my old Toshiba Tablet PC (still running Windows XP Tablet) and I was up and running in no time. This is a relatively old computer but I really like it for writing – I’m left-handed so writing on a tablet doesn’t always produce good results, and I’ve tried many tablets but this one works best for me. I started by creating a worksheet that was only partially complete – and my goal was to work through the worksheet on the tablet while Echo360 captured the screen and my voiceover. I created the worksheet and produced a PDF version, and I annotated the PDF using a program called PDF Annotator (http://www.ograhl.com/en/pdfannotator/, I’ve used it for years). Meanwhile, my discussions of the worksheet were recorded using a USB microphone, and the Echo360 software was launched to capture everything together.
One disadvantage of Echo360 software is the inability to splice two captures together to make another. While this might seem annoying at first, it forces you to do two (actually good) things:
- You really need to rehearse your presentation of the material before you attempt to record, as you don’t want to have to redo the whole thing once you’re a few minutes in. This is good practice anyway, just as going over your lecture notes thoroughly/rehearsing your lecture helps you become more effective in the classroom.
- You do not want to set out to create really long videos – in fact, it’s probably a good idea to break a long lecture into a series of shorter videos. Depending on your discipline, a few short videos may be better to retain student attention, and they definitely will be more convenient for the students to work into their out-of-class schedules.
After a few mulligans I was finally able to record two videos that split a three-page worksheet into two coherent mini-lectures. The two videos can be viewed here:
Coterminal Angles: https://cofc.mediaspace.kaltura.com/media/Coterminal+Angles/1_i9xsilvj
Evaluating Trig Functions: https://cofc.mediaspace.kaltura.com/media/Evaluating+Trig+Functions/1_glewi067
**To access these videos, click or copy the link into your browser, login to Kaltura with your Cougars username and password, then click the link AGAIN to be taken to the video**
Once you create your videos using Echo360, you can share them on the college’s Echo360 server, and you can post a link in your OAKS course to the video. However, I don’t like the fact that Flash must be enabled in order for the videos to be streamed from the server – I find this quite limiting, as many students have iPads, iPods, or iPhones that will not play Flash content. To work around this, I downloaded the m4v file and converted it to an mp4 movie file. I then uploaded the MP4 files to Kaltura so students can access and play them on any device. My MATH 111 students really liked the videos, especially the fact that they could rewind and play certain parts over and over – something they certainly can’t do in class!
Although these are the only videos I have done so far, I am planning on doing more as soon as I get time. I think they could really help in many courses, such as Calculus and Discrete Structures. In summary, the FTI was a great opportunity to learn some new and innovative ways to enhance student learning, and I successfully used Echo360 to create some lecture content for my students to view outside of class.