As part of a new series of posts, I will be talking to authors of The Really Useful #EdTechBook about their work, experiences, and contribution to the book. In this seventh post I talk to Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE research fellow, University of Leicester.
DH – Hi Terese. How does the use of technology, in all its various forms, affect your day-to-day working life?
TB – Really, I do my job on the strength of first social media, and second mobile devices. I remember when I was being interviewed for my job at Leicester back in 2009, I was asked how I stay on top of developments in the field, and I said, “Twitter.” Even before I had any smart handheld devices, I was regularly using Twitter to learn from others in the field of learning technology and tech innovation generally. Even on extremely busy days, I can take a quick skim through Twitter, retweet a couple of things or put a couple of things on Scoop.it. Not only have I learnt from the blog post or news item, I have shared it, and often get some response on it — so in 20 minutes or so, I have done valuable horizon-scanning, learning, and networking in my field. Continue reading →
For those who don’t know it, or want a brief reminder, ResponseWare is the online/mobile version of the TurningPoint in-class ‘clicker’ handsets. Prior to the lecture or class the tutor adds a slide or two to the presentation which will need the students to use the clicker handsets to answer a simple multiple choice, likert scale, or true/false answer. Providing you remember to save the ‘session’ once you’ve finished you can query the results and get reports based on a per question or per respondent. Nice!
ResponseWare is the natural progression for this technology, using the student’s own devices (BYOD) to connect and engage with the topic, concept, or session theme, and also to provide a focus for in-class discussions before and after the polling. Continue reading →
The book “Essentials of Online Course Design” from Majorie Vai and Kristen Sosulski is one I have heard about from a few people recently, and one I felt would be worth reading, and at a reasonable £22 from Routledge it’s a fair investment … not to mention the accompanying companion website.
The book is described as a “fresh, thoughtfully designed, step-by-step approach to online course development.” The core of the book is a set of standards that are based on ‘best’ practices (I prefer the term ‘good practice’ as ‘best practice’ implies there is no room for improvement) in the field of online learning and teaching. “Pedagogical, organizational and visual design principles are presented and modeled throughout the book and users will quickly learn from the guide’s hands-on approach. The course design process begins with the elements of a classroom syllabus which, after a series of guided steps, easily evolve into an online course outline” (this last bit was taken from the promotional text).
It is well structured with chapters organised in a nice ‘progressive’ way enabling you to build on previous concepts and content (not to mention contexts), with chapters like:
Engaging the Online Learner
Activities and Tools: Working Collaboratively and Independently
Assessment & Feedback
Building the course Foundation: Outcomes, Syllabus, and Course Outline
Creating the Course Structure: Online Lessons
The authors are at pains with this book to describe what works in an online learning and teaching environment without using the same tired, complicated, and often dense formats, and they have successfully simplified the processes required when applying a ‘standards-based’ approach enabling you to think more clearly on the “challenging task of rethinking your content for online study”. I know from experience that the recording of a face-to-face lecture does not work for online students: they just won’t sit for 45+ minutes to watch or listen to it. However, if you break down the recordings to an optimum 10-15 minute chunk they’re more manageable and digestible, therefore it should be recorded in this way and properly structured in the first place, with the online student in mind (the recordings are still valuable and applicable to campus-based students as well).
The companion website is also a valuable resource in its own right, but with the book targeting what and when you should use it the examples and references it contains should help you with the initial course build as well as being a good reference guide for course review and redesign.
So, what have I got from the book, either as something new or some existing knowledge or ideas reaffirmed?
Course design: careful consideration is needed when developing a course from scratch, especially to the structure you use and the technologies you implement – each element will need an introduction and explanation according to your target audience/student. If you think your student audience is likely to need more hand-holding when dealing with new technologies then get the appropriate support and/or resources in pace for them before they realise they need it.
Multimedia: images, video, and audio presentation/narration can improve the ‘clarity’ of presentation and understanding and can, where used appropriately, enhance the learning. Where they are used badly it can be an unwanted distraction, so use wisely.
Context – often overlooked in course design is the simple step of introducing yourself to your students. It’s not just about “this is me and this is how you can get in contact’, it’s also about giving the students the background as to why you are qualified to be leading them in this course/subject area. Tell them about your professional self, your research, your publications, what qualifications you bring to the subject speciality … only those that are relevant to the topic (not your full CV, they’re not that interested!).
Sign-post it and Use it – whatever you design, make sure you sign-post it, explain why you’re doing it, and use it yourself. If you have a discursive activity explain the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’ and be the first person to post – introduce your expectations. Don’t forget to close the discussion as well, bringing the different strands of the activity into your conclusion and highlight concepts and individual contributions, not necessarily as good/bad examples, but just posts that led the discussion in certain directions.
Consistency – use the same font, font size, colours, etc., as well as the same type of headings in different places – if you swap and change throughout the course you’ll confuse and disorientate your students. You also need to consider the consistency of the jargon and style of your words, find your style and stick to it, it’ll be easier for the student to read.
Structure – what works in your classroom does not translate directly to the online world. Online resources for learning does not mean a ‘document repository’ of PDF and PPT files. If this is what you have and insist on using then at least provide a meaningful introduction to the file, what it contains/what it’s about, why the student needs it, and an activity for the student to engage in a a result of reading the file.
Orientation – thankfully this book does include orientation. Too many students are dumped in at the deep end with their online course with little explanation as to what or why they’re doing it (other than to ‘learn’ and ‘pass’) and hardly ever have the ‘intended learning outcome’ (ILO as I know it) explained. Include and explain the outcome and syllabus in relation to the assessment and any related knowledge needed for subsequent courses.
Learning Outcome – ever needed to write a learning outcome for your course and struggled? There’s an appendix to the book that covers this, and is a really useful guide including outcome vs. objective, rationale, and writing the outcome.
I know I can’t include all the best bits of the book, I’d have to reproduce a vast quantity of the book to do that, but I hope I’ve given you an idea why I like it and will be using it for reference in the future.
Have you read this book, do you agree with me and/or the authors? Please leave a comment below and join in the discussion.
So, you want to get your information to your team or the wider Institution staff? You know emails get deleted and posters in corridors get ignored – so what do you do? How about producing some snappy posters and putting them in department social areas and ‘tea rooms’, each poster covers a handy ‘tip’ of the application (Office 2010 or Windows 7). Here is how Uni of Leciester (@uolits) is handling it:
If you’re a PowerPoint user, whatever level, and have thought about using Prezi but have been unsure of making the switch, then those lovely folks at Prezi have made it easier for you to get started – why not import your existing PowerPoint slides into Prezi and spice them up?
The video below shows how to do this as well as including some handy tips on what you can then do with the slides/frames to make it less of a ‘click next’ presentation and include some movement and interesting perspective.
Go on, give it a try. I will if you will? Why not use the comment feature below to leave a link to the Prezi you just created?
The poster, titled “Building Educational Confidence and Affinity Through Online Induction Activities” builds on previous work by the team to introduce and encourage our online an distant learners to engage with their studies, with us, and with each other.
“… demonstrates the development and support taken throughout a week-long online Induction for geographically-disparate Business School students studying the fully-online BA (Hons) International Business & Management degree.
“From application through to enrolment and becoming an online student our students are likely to experience many emotions over this period. We recognise the different key foundation areas required to strengthen personal confidence and determination as an individual remote student. The intention is to help students overcome their initial personal apprehension by building intrinsic trust in the capabilities of the Business School from all standpoints including technical, educational and pastoral.
“By the end of this induction week students have the opportunity to formulate a clear picture of the environment in which they will be learning, establish an initial impression of degree level study, recognise the levels of support available to them, and begin to identify their own personal resolve and how to make this work for them whilst studying from a remote location.
“Through the induction programme we firmly believe that building strong roots empowers students to maximise their potential during the full course of their study.”
If you are going to quote or cite this in any work please use the following details (in the style of Harvard Referencing):
Hopkins, D., Wincott, M. and Hutchings, L., 2011. Building educational confidence and affinity through Online Induction Activities. In: Bournemouth University Education Enhancement Conference 2011, 4 May 2011, Bournemouth University, Poole, England. Available from: http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/17715/
Twitter is becoming an important tool for backchannel chat and information exchange in conferences, exhibitions, and classroom activities where perhaps email and/or discussion forums were used before. Twitter has also become a very useful way for those unable to attend to keep up with speeches, presentations and conversations that surround the ‘event’, and I have virtually ‘attended’ a few conferences this year already without having to book tickets or take time off work. It is not the same as being there, but it is still extremely useful.
Using a tool that can send a tweet from your presentation isn’t only useful for those unable to attend your session, it is also a good way for you to send notes into the backchannel for attendees information. I have started planning my next delivery of the Social Media & how (students) can survive online presentation to include sending tweets to the different examples I show as well as the YouTube videos and any other background information that could benefit the students in their follow-up activity (reflective blogging).
So, if you’re interested in this too, you’ll need the AutoTweet tool, which is free and easy to download from here:
You don’t have to install any other of the SAP 2.0 tools to make this work, but they’re worth a look for other aspects of including Twitter in presentations.
You will also need an account with a service like www.supertweet.net to enable the tweets to be sent due to the ‘API Proxy Account’, or something – anyway, you’ll need it. You can always revoke the application access from Twitter settings afterwards if you want.
AutoTweet will run as an ‘add-in’ in PowerPoint, which so far I have had to re-configure each time I open it to use (which makes testing the presentation a pain) but at least one option is to disable auto-tweeting until I’m ready to publish and tweet. One option available is that you can also display when a tweet has been sent (the bottom check-box in the settings image below) but I have found this slightly disruptive to the presentation but I know from colleagues that the students like it as it gives them an indication that content has been made available in the backchannel:
Now all you do is enter the hashtag in the box, as above, that you want to use and the tool will add this to the end of any text you specify to tweet from the slides.
To set the tweet content you just add the text and links (or even another hashtag) between the [twitter] [/twitter] code that you place in the slide ‘notes’ section, like this:
I’ve been lucky enough so far this term to be involved with two sets of students, both under-graduate first years (one unit called ‘Professional Studies’ even), and with both sets I have been surprised and slightly worried about the level of understanding they have about their use of Social Media, and how the little things can make a difference.
What surprised me, from a couple of informal questions to a few vocal and enthusiastic Facebook users, is that they have never considered what is viewable online, their ‘digital foot print’.
So, I asked around about what we do for the students to alert them to the risks, and how this could potentially affect their future employment prospects. I had some good answers but the one that made me groan was simply “why don’t you talk to them about it?” Me and my big mouth!
Update, 17 November 2010: I’ve been researching the United Airlines ‘breaks guitars’ example I use in the presentation above and have found some interesting figures. Not only has the original YouTube video been viewed/accessed over 9.5 million times since it was loaded last year, but it is reportedly the cause of a 10% drop in share price for United airlines, costing shareholders a whopping $180 million!
I took the class list (190+ students) and randomly searched for 10 students. I found 6 of them in Facebook easily and the other 4 had names that matched to 300+ other Facebook users, so I didn’t search for them. I used my personal Facebook account, which is not connected to my work or work colleagues in any way. This is important as I wanted to be sure there was no way I could have access through a friend of mine or theirs … this is the kind of set-up a future employer would have when searching.
What I found reaffirmed my belief that they don’t understand what they do, or how the privacy settings worked. I can say that all users had photos they’d uploaded that depicted some very good nights out, drunken behaviour, in one case smoking possibly dubious material, lots of holiday and beach pictures, and also photos they’d been tagged in by friends, so content they had had nothing to do with, but it appeared on their profile!
Naturally when I present this I can’t show them the exact photos or say who I searched (I do not have the list of names saved anywhere!) but I hope this will at least raise the awareness of their online activity and, if nothing else, these students think about their use of Social Media, their privacy settings, as well as the kind of people they befriend online.
It is also very difficult to talk about Social Media or Social Networks without concentrating on Facebook; it seems that’s all they’re interested in, and the majority of news stories I researched all concentrated on it too.
Have you got, or had, a Social Media (horror) story or have you taken a similar approach with your students? Please leave all comments below.
There you are, you’ve finished creating the masterpiece that is your PowerPoint presentation, saved it to the hard-drive, network and USB pen-drive, go to bed safe in the knowledge you’ll blow the audience away tomorrow with your superb presentation.
You wake the next morning, check the cat hasn’t eaten the pen-driver (or worse) and leave for the presentation. You get there a little late (train, bus, traffic, etc) and a little flustered – the time you were going to use to run through the presentation on someone else’s equipment is now no longer available … and you’re on.
Oops! This is where you realise that the font you used, on your own machine, is not standard and therefore available on the one being used to present from. Your slides and text are all wonky as the replacement font resembles
We’ve all been here (or will be soon), so what can you do to prevent this? A little known adaption in PowerPoint means you can embed the font character in the presentation, so it at least presents in the manner you designed it in.
You can stop this happening by preserving, or embedding, the font in the presentation so;
it displays correctly on (almost) any machine
you can continue to edit it on another machine
The screencast below shows you how to do this, in PowerPoint2007.