Data Informs Instruction

Ever teach an online course? Those who have know it’s sometimes difficult to know what’s going on with the students taking the course.  After all there’s “no way” to engage face to face with them, or maybe there is.

In any case having a pulse on if students are engaging in the course and how they’re engaging can be key.  Knowing when to what degree and in what ways students are engaging with course material and each other can help improve the outcomes of the course and help you (the instructor) help students meet with success more often.

One tool available to you in our course site is the Statistics tool.  This tool brings together an extensive amount of log data – and some of it in ready-packaged easy to use diagrams and visual models. You an even run custom reports using the Reports tab:

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Here are just a few of the tables/graphs you can see just by selecting the tool:

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To use the tool, just select it from the tool set. The tool merely reports data – it won’t change anything, but it could help you change how you help your students succeed in your class.

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F2F or Online Presentation Engagement

Looking for a quick easy and FREE (did we say FREE) synchronous way to engage students actively in a course presentation?  What if you did so by having students raise their hands?  Doesn’t sound revolutionary does it? Ok fine.

What about trying Slido?  Or perhaps try other similar tools like it, such as Socrative, Poll Everywhere or Mentimeter? While the notion of getting students to engage more during a presentation may be alien, odd or just undesireable by instructors; providing opportunities for students to engage does help with knowledge retention.  Providing students a chance to pause, check for understanding and/or take them from passive consumers to active listeners adds value and can add interest and increase the level of participation in a lecture.

Tools like Slido – especially when paired with the notion that almost every student has an Internet capable device (which they often have with them in class) – can help students engage in lectures more, helping to inform you of their grasp of concepts, drive more focused discussion or help you to clarify areas of confusion.

Could this be done with a show of hands? Yes.

However, doing so also means some students may raise their hand (or not) based on peer choices, or simply raise their hand to demonstrate participation (but not honestly answer the question).  A raise of hands is also harder to visually quantify, and it’s harder for students to look around and tangibly recognize a majority or minority of respondents on a multiple choice question.

While these platforms are not a silver bullet, they do a pretty decent job of providing a very easy, low-tech (you often only need to convey a code to students, and then pose the question in a face to face setting) to get this to work.

For more information check out the videos from the sites above or check with Dave E. with the Department of Online Education.

Screencast with Warpwire

icon-warpwire-circle-blueMany of our faculty and courses use the institution’s online streaming service Warpwire. Together with the combined effort of hundreds of faculty, Warpwire houses over 2000 video, image, audio and related media assets, placing, securing and delivering each and every one of them using Amazon’s global content delivery network (CDN) to help all our students make content connections around the world.

Not many of our faculty know however, that Warpwire is a continually evolving platform, and since it’s adoption in 2015, has continued to up the ante of services and features available without increasing the cost to use it.

Most recently Warpwire released two new features: screen capture and live broadcast.

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Screen capture – enables users to use a Chrome browser plugin to record a portion of a desktop or laptop screen along with audio and then include it in a course.

Live broadcast – provides a way to stream live sessions via web-cam and audio within a specific course.

Each of these features offers unique and interesting opportunities for online, hybrid and even face to face courses.  Some faculty are looking for a way to create short lecture or instructional videos ahead of time. Use of a screen capture platform enables an instructor to pull up a presentation in much the same way many instructors present in face to face courses, but be able to record it. Live broadcast enables instructors to hold live sessions with students, record them and make them available to students afterwards. Live broadcast even includes a means by which faculty can tell how many people are watching the broadcast and can include a live chat during the broadcast. While this may sound a lot like Google Hangouts or even Skype, the benefit here is that it’s all secured and held in an institutionally backed and recommended service.  Some students may be wary of attending Hangout or Skype sessions and may violate FERPA regulations.

How else could you use screen capture? Here are some ideas:

  • Use it to record an overview of the course syllabus (actually screen capture the syllabus and guide students through it, especially the complex parts).
  • Provide an alternative course resource that can be made accessible through a captioning service. (Most PowerPoint presentations don’t follow appropriate formatting and alternative text requirements to make content accessible to all learners – creating a video and pairing it with captions can make the presentation far more accessible than say the canned presentations from course text publishers.)
  • Use an internet-based screen capture available to students – for students to record their own video-based presentations to share with the class. (Again, securing this kind of asset with Warpwire verses having students post their speech assignments publicly to YouTube demonstrates better cohesion to FERPA regulations.
  • Screencasts could be used in a language course for assessment or assessment prep. Create a video with language vocabulary displayed while the instructor pronounces the word. Warpwire will even track which students watched it and when, which can inform your instruction or how well students as a whole did on a unit assessment.
  • Record a session where you and a colleague discuss or share conversationally about a course topic – knowing you’ve covered all the content the way you want and delivering that content to students consistently every time the course is offered.
  • Create specific videos for specific assignments as reminders or as quick “60 second helps – in much the same way advertisements create breaks or logical interruptions to television shows.

How else could you use live broadcast? Here are some ideas:

  • For students taking courses with a lab – such as a science course, schedule and conduct a live broadcast of a complex lab procedure, asking all participants to ask a unique question in the chat about the session’s content or steps (for you to answer during the live broadcast).
  • In a speech course – provide a chance for students to deliver their speeches asynchronously (live) to others in the course, while the watchers (other students) provide during-broadcast feedback about the quality of the speech.
  • Bring in a guest speaker located somewhere – anywhere, who can inform or add additional credibility to what you’re already sharing.

What are some other tips in creating these kinds of video assets?

  • If it’s a screen capture – don’t be afraid of having the video be less than super-polished. Students like to see you in your ‘element’ – you’re not a robot teaching the course you’re a person. Maybe you sneeze, or your cat jumps on the keyboard – those things create a contact point with students.
  • Keep screen capture content to less than 15 minutes.  If you think about it, your tension span at this point in this post is beyond bearable, in fact I’m surprised you’re still reading this. Shorter videos of six to seven minutes are easier to digest and keeping it shorter may help you distill the best of what the “normal” 45 minute lecture may disclose.
  • When used discretely, creating videos providing feedback to students directly (one per student) on an assignment may be better than just giving a student a letter or percentage grade.
  • Use screen capture or live broadcast to provide a wrap up or weekly summary of the week or unit’s content.
  • Use screen captures as a means of introducing discussion forum prompts or questions.

Check out the following tutorials from Warpwire on the use of each of these features for use in your classes:

For more on these and other course tips and tools, contact the folks at the Department of Online Education.

A course intro. idea

Lots of online courses look to provide a means of introduction – specifically as a way to warm students up to others taking the course. There’s bound to be some means of engagement of students one with another (or at least there should be). While it’s easy to tell students, “state your name, where you’re from and something unique about yourself”, doing so is an old and rather tired prompt.

Rather, another way to do accomplish much more discussion and interest from students is to have them create a meme and post it to the course discussion area.  Meme’s are “an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.” A meme carries with it the idea of carrying forward a framework, while recognizing that other frames of reference exist.  In the case of class introductions, using the prompt, “Explain what you do,” can seem daunting and dry. Yet, when paired with a meme as a product – it asks students to create an image or set of images that when given the ‘right’ prompts – help students explain what they do as viewed by different audiences. Take the following one for example on teachers:

teacher-what-i-think-i-do Or here’s one on IT Support Desk folks (Tech Support):

tech-support-what-my-friends-think-i-do-meme

Some of the comparisons following the prompts are laughable, entertaining and yet telling at the same time.  Use the following prompts or just a few of them:

  • What my friends think I do
  • What my mom (parents) think I do
  • What society thinks I do
  • What my boss thinks I do
  • What I think I do
  • What I actually do

Any amount of searching the Internet will turn up quite an array of these memes, so it may be important to help focus student’s efforts to produce these.  You can find a Powerpoint template for creating them here. To be sure these don’t have to be incredibly complex. They can also serve as an entry point to discuss copyright, proper source citation and explanation of meaning.  Meme meanings are not always obvious – not unlike puns or humor from one language or culture to another.  Students could be prompted to explain their memes or attempt to explain the memes of other students.

Additional prompts could also be included, such as:

  • What my future will be like
  • What my parents think my future will be like
  • What my teacher thinks my future will be like
  • What my future won’t be like

Keep in mind these prompts and the pairing of them with creating a meme sets students on a path of exploration and elevates their thinking from information recall (about themselves) to reflection, comparison and contrast as well as evaluation which are considered higher order thinking skills.

As a technology extension, this could also be done using VoiceThread.

Online Video Tutorial Authoring – Quick Overview

As an instructional designer a key component to my work is creating instructional videos.  While many platforms, software and workflows exist here’s the workflow I use:

    1. Write the Script:  This first step is critical though to some it may seem rather artificial.  Writing the script helps guide and direct the rest of the video development process. If the video is part of a larger series, inclusion of some ‘standard’ text at the beginning and end of the video helps keep things consistent.  For example, in the tutorial videos created for our Online Instructor Certification Course, each script begins and ends with “This is a Johnson University Online tutorial.” Creating a script also helps insure you include all the content you need to, rather than ad-libbing – only to realize later you left something out.As the script is written, particular attention has to be paid to consistency of wording and verification of the steps suggested to the viewer – so they’re easy to follow and replicate. Some of the script work also involves set up of the screens used – both as part of the development process and as part of making sure the script is accurate.

 

  1. Build the Visual Content: This next step could be wildly creative – but typically a standard format is chosen, especially if the video content will be included in a series or block of other videos.  Often, use of a 16:9 aspect ratio is used for capturing content and can include both text and image content more easily. Build the content using a set of tools you’re familiar with. The video above was built using the the following set of tools:
    • Microsoft Word (for writing the script)
    • Microsoft PowerPoint (for creating a standard look, and inclusion of visual and textual content – it provides a sort of stage for the visual content)
    • Google Chrome (for demonstrating specific steps – layered on top of Microsoft PowerPoint) – though any browser would work
    • Screencast-O-Matic (Pro version for recording all visual and audio content)
    • Good quality microphone such as this one
    • Evernote’s Skitch (for grabbing and annotating screenshots), though use of native screenshot functions and using PowerPoint to annotate is also OK
    • YouTube or Microsoft Stream (for creating auto-generated captions – if it’s difficult to keep to the original script)
    • Notepad, TextEdit or Adobe’s free Brackets for correcting/editing/fixing auto-generated captions VTT, SRT or SBV
    • Warpwire to post/stream/share/place and track video content online.  Sakai is typically used as the CMS to embed the content and provide additional access controls and content organization
  2. Record the Audio: Screencast-O-Matic has a great workflow for creating video content and it even provides a way to create scripts and captions. I tend to record the audio first, which in some cases may require 2 to 4 takes. Recording the audio initially, provides a workflow to create appropriate audio pauses, use tangible inflection and enunciation of terms. For anyone who has created a ‘music video’ or set images to audio content this will seem pretty doable.
  3. Sync Audio and Visual Content: So this is where the use of multiple tools really shines. Once the audio is recorded, Screencast-O-Matic makes it easy to re-record retaining the audio portion and replacing just the visual portion of the project. Recording  the visual content (PowerPoint and Chrome) is pretty much just listening to the audio and walking through the slides and steps using Chrome. Skitch or other screen capture software may have already been used to capture visual content I can bring attention to in the slides.
  4. Once the project is completed, Screencast-O-Matic provides a 1 click upload to YouTube or save as an MP4 file, which can then be uploaded to Warpwire or Microsoft Stream.
  5. Once YouTube or Microsoft Stream have a viable caption file, it can be downloaded and corrected (as needed) and then paired back with any of the streaming platforms.
  6. Post of the video within the CMS is as easy as using the LTI plugin (via Warpwire) or by using the embed code provided by any of the streaming platforms.

New Video Tools for Course Content Development

Looking for a new and easy to use tool to create closed captions for video content you author for your course(s)?  There’s a few new tools just out this Fall 2017 term that area available to all University faculty (full time, online, part time, hybrid, extend ed, etc.)

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If you’re the kind that likes to figure things out yourself. Check out the links below and get to work:

  • Microsoft Stream
  • Screencast-O-Matic

The two services both provide means for creating closed captions, though they are not designed to do so exclusively.

Microsoft Stream

Microsoft Stream is provided to University faculty as part of the Microsoft licensing enjoyed and provisioned by the University Information Technology office.  You can login here, using your University credentials to explore the service.  Think of Stream as an exclusive video streaming service that’s specific to and for exclusive use by University students, faculty and staff. Stream is similar to Microsoft’s other service, Microsoft Video which is similarly included in the Office365 service and related licensing. Stream does not permit any uploaded video to be set to ‘public’ access – only those associated directly with the University can be permitted to see video content. A more exhaustive review of the service is available here.

To leverage the captioning function follow these steps:

  1. Update_video__DOE_20170915PD_Supporting_University_Adjuncts____Microsoft_Stream_🔊Login and upload a video asset to the service using your University login credentials
  2. Depending upon the audio quality (including voice diction, pronunciation and related sound fidelity) and file length, the service will produce a caption file in about 20 minutes.  This is done through a voice to text detection algorithm, so it won’t be perfect, but it may be better than typing things up yourself.
  3. You can then pair the caption file with Warpwire, YouTube, or even just provide it as a rough transcript of the content in your course.

Screencast-O-Matic

Screencast-O-Matic has long been used by University faculty for face to face and online courses.  What’s new is the pairing of the Pro level of service with a Google speech to text engine, which works much the same way Microsoft’s Stream does.  The difference here however is that the Pro level of service from SOM allows you to edit the caption from right within the program.  Microsoft’s Stream doesn’t permit easy editing of the captions, unless you download the caption VTT file and then hunt through this kind of mess to fix misspelled words, inaccuracies and complete blunders accordingly:

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To get more information on how to access the closed captioning feature in SOM, check out these tutorial videos:

If you have questions about using Screencast-O-Matic, or need directions on how to access the Pro service so you can access the editing function, record beyond 15 minutes and use the annotation tools contact the Department of Online Education.

For more information, faculty and course designers can contact the Department of Online Education.  Bear in mind, you need not wait to have a focused need based on enrollment in order to begin captioning course content you author.

Why would I use one service over the other?

  • If you already have a video in need of captions – look to use Microsoft Stream to create captions quickly.
  • If you are getting ready to create video content – and can do so, type out or correct the captions produced by Screencast-O-Matic.

Sakai Status – 10 May 2017 UPDATE

An earlier reported issue of the Sites button and related Favorites list has been resolved as of 1:25pm EST.

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Remember – there are several ways to get to your course sites:

  • Use of the Sites button (waffle icon) in the top right
  • Use of the Favorites (starred) sites in the Sites Favorites tab
  • Use Overview>Membership to see all course sites
  • Use Overview>My Worksite Setup to navigate to course sites

If you continue to experience issues, be sure to log out and/or restart your device and then contact the HelpDesk if you continue to experience problems.