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Would The Real ‘Alec Couros’ Please Stand Up? | open thinking

April 8, 2014

It happens to the best of us.

One of the most respected names in educational technology and digital literacy, Alec Couros of the University of Regina,  found his identity duplicated and his images used in profiles that were not his own. In the article Would The Real ‘Alec Couros’ Please Stand Up?, he describes how he found out about this misappropriation and what he did to find other profiles.

It’s useful information for all of us to have and to share with our students.

6 Ways to Be a Better Online Teacher (article from Campus Technology)

March 28, 2014

There aren’t many new ideas in this article 6 Ways to Be a Better Online Teacher, but we all need reminders. Be bold! Embrace the medium! Embrace the technology!

Screen captures

October 8, 2013

Just recently, I had a faculty request for training on a screen-capture software. I am most familiar with Camtasia Studio or Adobe Captivate, but these programs all have charges, and we’re a tiny community college on a limited budget. So I wanted to stay with free options that offered quality. Jing and Doceri were mentioned to me; I’ve used Jing in the past (it’s kind of a mini-Camtasia), but Doceri was new to me. So I did a little research. 

Jing is a stripped-down version of Camtasia Studio by TechSmith . I find it intuitive and easy to use. (And did I mention free?) One limitation is that the video length is short; however ,I think that’s actually a plus in that it forcees us to chunk our material: good for learning AND for download time in online courses! I’ll be working on training shortly, so check back for the link in a later post. 

Mistakes of Online Education Students : Concordia Masters of Education | Concordia University – Portland online

October 1, 2013

Oh, my….I thought I had posted this a month ago! My apologies. I’ll need to clear out my Draft area.

As you probably know, a lot of my work deals with online instructors and students. This article (Mistakes of Online Education Students : Concordia Masters of Education | Concordia University – Portland online) has a quick, terrific guide to what to do and not to do to make sure you get the most out of learning online.

Bur really, learning online is not that different from learning face-to-face, and adopting these guidelines can help face-to-face learners as well. Good learning  is good learning, regardless of the medium.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam launches new online university

July 23, 2013

Interesting news from TennesseeTennessee Gov. Bill Haslam launches new online university for state. This would be a competency model. Instead of using credit hours (what I like to call butt-in-seat time),  students are required to demonstrate competencies. If students have the competencies, they receive the credit (after paying a fee, of course). If they don’t have the competency, they can enroll in a class that will help them gain the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill the competency. If they have the competency, they can move forward with the next competency they need to demonstrate…no need to sit in a classroom learning something they already know.

This seems to be something that Dean Dad would approve of.  As community colleges, it is our job to help employers ensure that their employees have the training and skills they need to perform. Why not apply this idea toward a  degree? However, it goes against the dominant credit-hour paradigm. It also makes planning difficult for colleges. The college system is attuned to a student completing the degree in a set length of time. What will change when some students complete in six weeks and some in three years?

The online format, though, would be a great venue for this to start. The open course movement can provide content. Even giants such as Blackboard are providing the course management piece, which would register and keep track of the student progress and performance on the competency measures.

How would this look, do you think? And, most importantly, feasible or not?

Challenges of Teaching Online-Extreme Weather Edition

July 17, 2013

I just came across this insightful article, Overcoming Eight Common Obstacles of Teaching Online. Though the target audience is the new online instructor, there are plenty of ideas related to planning for the unforeseen. Remember, though, that flexibility is the cornerstone of a successful online experience, both for students and instructors.

One example that we had last year was during last year’s Derecho. We were eating dinner out that evening, when my sweetie noticed the sky and pressed me to get the check quickly.  We drove home amidst the fiercest winds I’d ever seen. The winds just did. not. stop. For two hours. We weren’t too surprised to see the lights out at home, but the continued power outage (about eight days exactly) shocked us. A completely unknown storm type had brought us to our knees.

I’d love to say that this preparation meant that we could continue seamlessly with our online courses. However, even though the storm was over in a few hours, the aftermath was as sustained as the winds. The storm was followed by 100-plus degree temperatures for the next week, made worse by the lack of electric. From an online learning standpoint, this extended outage was catastrophic. There was no cable, no power, and, in many cases, no telephone service. Those lucky enough to live to a standing cell tower risked care batteries by using the car charger.

The President cancelled both online and face-to-face classes. But how to communicate with students?

We used a multi-pronged approach. For the lucky ones who had electric, we posted an announcement within the Learning Management System. (I was lucky enough to borrow my sweetie’s work computer for a few minutes…his building didn’t lose power.) We also used our emergency messaging system for telephone and texts.

But in the end? there were people, both students and faculty, who were out of electronic touch, completely. And so we needed to rely on flexibility and understanding of the tough circumstances we were in.

Since the derecho, my syllabi have included severe weather and outage caveats. Basically, we’ll all do what we can to get through it , and we’ll be flexible until then. Not at all a bad way to go.


June 11, 2013

After a crazy-busy semester in which we have been working to migrate from Blackboard Vista to Blackboard Learn 9.1, I’m hoping that this summer will offer more blogging opportunities. I didn’t really feel much of a hole left by the blogging until I saw this article by Curt Bonk about Dr. W. Michael  Reed, a significant influence in my life. Although Dr. Reed passed quickly and unexpectedly four years ago (or perhaps because of that), it doesn’t seem real that he could be gone. I have some good pictures of Dr. Reed at home; I’m hoping that I can find and scan them to include. (Thanks to Dr. David Ayersman for posting the link to the reflection.)