Articles about Instructional Design
Now in its second year, the Student Technology Fee funds projects proposed by students, staff and faculty through a competitive process. The Technology Fee was established by the Florida Legislature to meet the evolving needs of students and faculty related to technology and its use in an academic setting. This year, the Advisory Committee has received seventeen Concept Papers for review and will select a certain number of those to advance to the full proposal stage. The proposals are varied in nature, but all seek to enhance the student experience by utilizing technology for teaching and learning. The Committee acts in an advisory capacity to the CIO, who makes the final decision on projects to be funded and implemented.
Each year, everyone in the UF community with an idea that fits the guidelines is encouraged to research its viability with the IT units who would support the project, then submit a concept paper. More information about the Tech Fee Proposal program is on the IT website, http://www.it.ufl.edu/community/techfee/. The proposals selected for funding last year and being developed this year are also located on the IT website at http://www.it.ufl.edu/community/techfee/past_projects.html.
The Provost E-Learning Initiative was created in 2007 in an effort to improve learning outcomes, facilitate efficient use of faculty time and reduce instruction costs. The program was also intended to address departmental and college issues involving sufficient numbers of seats in core prerequisites and disparities across multiple sections of the same course.
To facilitate efficient development of these courses, the Center for Instructional Technology and Training developed a process to assist faculty with gaining the technical skills and making the pedagogical shift to an online environment. This process includes: a summer institute workshop, weekly meetings with an instructional designer, online tutorials, and production support with video, graphics, and web design.
As of fall 2010, there have been 4 rounds of grant proposals. Thirty-one courses have been developed and piloted. Work has begun on the 4th round of 6 projects that will pilot during the spring and summer of 2011. The courses range across multiple colleges including IFAS, CLAS, Fine Arts, Health and Human Performance, Speech, Engineering, and Journalism and Communications.
For more information on the Provost Initiative, links to course examples, and video presentations from the faculty visit the Provost E-Learning Initiative site.
Introduction: What is Twitter?
It is virtually impossible not to have heard of “tweeting” over the last few years. But what, exactly is Twitter? Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts (but that can link to photos, videos, websites, etc.) of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers, or followers, via web, SMS, or other services. In their own words, Twitter is: “A service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”
Does Twitter have a place in education?
The big question when dealing with so-called “disruptive” technologies such as Twitter is what role, if any, these tools can or should have in our classrooms or academic space. I will be the first to admit that when I learned about Twitter during its development in spring 2006, I rolled my eyes and thought, “Yeah, right, like that will ever take off.” OK, so I was wrong. I was an early adopter of the service for my own personal use, and quickly came to see the benefits of Twitter for connecting to other professors and educators, as well as news outlets, etc. However, it took me until a year or so ago to embrace Twitter as a tool that could be used with an educational purpose with my students. So I understand your skepticism, I was there too…
A number of articles tout Twitter’s potential as an educational tool (see the references section below). These pieces talk about why educators might benefit from the tool, suggesting idyllic scenarios in which Twitter can enhance our classrooms. But I wanted proof, I wanted to see what other instructors had done, and how it had worked. Not surprisingly, there weren’t many empirical studies documenting such processes. (Admittedly, this is often the case with emerging technologies. We see opinion pieces, then surveys of student attitudes towards their use, and then finally empirical research on their use and outcomes begins.) But the few studies I did find indicated that Twitter could be an ideal tool for enhancing social presence and building a sense of community among learners. This kind of social engagement has been repeatedly shown to support learning in the classroom.
In my own experience using Twitter with language learners and language teachers, I have found these claims to be true (empirically and statistically, as well as based on student and teacher observation). I have been fortunate enough to investigate a variety of project ideas based around Twitter, some of which I share below in the hopes that they will spark some interest for your own class goals.
Creating community outside of class
I have used Twitter with my students to have them engage, outside of class time, with each other and with other tweeters. For example, in a language class, students have to tweet three times a week in the target language, and also have to respond to a classmate’s tweet. These tweets end up running the gamut from “Did I leave my book in the classroom today?” to “Can you explain [topic x] a little more? It was really interesting!” This kind of connection with students and between students and instructor helps to create a stronger connection both within and beyond the class, and helps build relationships during the semester. Another plus is that native speakers of the target language can also join the conversation – from anywhere – and make the tweet interactions more realistic and more meaningful for the learners.
I have also used a similar project model in graduate classes where the language itself was not the focus of instruction. In a class for new language TAs, for example, I connected our UF instructors to over 100 other new language instructors around the US and Canada, all of whom tweeted weekly about their experiences in the classroom. These tweeters were able to share experiences, reflect on their development as teachers, and engage in professional interactions with not only their local peers but with people they would otherwise never have had the chance to meet or speak with, had it not been for a tool such as Twitter. (The funny part about that project is that I still don’t even know who all the participants were! I sent emails and project descriptions out and asked all participants to use a common hashtag so we could search all the related tweets, and I ended up discovering tagged tweets from usernames in places I’ve never heard of, both K-12 and higher education… We truly created a community for that semester that would never have existed without the Twittersphere.)
Reinforcing class content
Another option is to make use of Twitter during class time. (Yes, this is ‘disruptive’ technology at its best!) Rather than have students turn off their electronics or pretend that they don’t have them turned on, why don’t we use them to our advantage? Here are some ideas for using a live Twitter feed (or “back channel”) that you can project on your screen during class time:
- Introductions – rather than go around the room round-robin, have students tweet their introductions and short information about themselves. It takes less time and can be less intimidating. And you have a record of what everyone said.
- Encourage questions on your lecture through Twitter. This is a less obtrusive method than traditional Q&A, and even the more timid students may feel comfortable asking questions.
- Have students tweet what they understand to be the main point of your lecture or presentation – conveniently under 140 characters – throughout the class. This is a good way to assess their understanding and comprehension, and it can help keep the rest of the class on track as well.
- Encourage the class to add their own thoughts and opinions, reactions, etc. to what you are discussing, as you are discussing it. While this might sound distracting, it actually has the effect of increasing interest and involving a larger portion of your audience.
- Get input and feedback from students on any aspect of the class, the lecture, etc. It’s quick and efficient to poll that class, and you have a written record of it.
There are, of course, many other microblogging sites that have popped up in recent years. These include Tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com), Plurk (http://www.plurk.com), Emote.in (http://www.emote.in), Beeing (http://www.beeing.com), Jaiku (http://www.jaiku.com ) and identi.ca (http://identi.ca), although Twitter is by far the most popular. However, for those who are somewhat leery of opening up their classrooms to something as popular and potentially distracting and disruptive as Twitter, with all its celebrities and infamy, there is another educationally-geared option: EdModo (www.edmodo.com) Edmodo is a free microblogging site that you can set up exclusively for your class, allowing teachers and students to interact and share materials, assignments, reminders, links, etc. I have not used Edmodo in classes, although I have an account and enjoy the neat, clean interface. The educational options, and the added privacy of the site, make it a possibility worth exploring.
Even though Twitter is fairly easy to learn, there are many different features that you’ll want to explore before diving into it with your classes. Mashable offers a wonderful how-to guide for everyone from beginners to advanced users; it can be found online at http://mashable.com/guidebook/twitter/. Some terms and features to look into for your own use with classes include: privacy; hashtag; reply; direct message; list.
In my experience, students have reacted mostly favorably to using Twitter. However, it’s important to keep in mind not only the opportunities but also the limitations of this and any tool when designing your task. The most unfavorable Twitter feedback I received was when I asked students to tweet reactions to readings in a graduate seminar; in retrospect, asking graduate students to summarize their knowledge and show off their intellect in 140 characters was not a fair challenge. For the most part though, learners have enjoyed the interactivity and connectivity that Twitter can provide. It’s quick, it’s relatively easy, and it’s free. When we develop an appropriate pedagogical task to put it to its best use, it’s a win-win situation.
Good luck, and happy tweeting!
(You can follow me on Twitter @ glordward.)
Antenos-Conforti, E. (2009). “Microblogging on Twitter: Social Networking in Intermediate Italian Classes.” In L. Lomicka and G. Lord (Eds.), The Next Generation: Social Networking and Online Collaboration in Foreign Language Learning (pp. 59-90). San Marcos, TX: Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium.
Corbett, S., Mace, K. & Regehr, G. (2008). “Twitter in the online classroom: Case study report.” Retrieved from www.kevinmace.net/media/…/ED690_data_analysis_Twitter_Group.pdf.
Dunlap, J., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009a). “ Instructional uses of Twitter.” In P. R. Lowenthal, D. Thomas, A. Thai, & B. Yuhnke (Eds.), The CU Online handbook. Teach differently: Create and collaborate (pp. 46-52). Raleigh, NC: Lulu Enterprises. Retrieved from http://www.cudenver.edu/Academics/CUOnline/FacultyResources/Handbook/Documents/2009/Chapter_8.pdf
Dunlap, J. C. & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009b). “Tweeting the night away: Using Twitter to enhance social presence.” Journal of Information Systems Education 20(2).
Haskvitz, A. “Twitter in the Classroom,” Reach Every Child, http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/twitter-in-the-classroom.html.
Messner, K. (2009). “Making a Case for Twitter in the Classroom,” School Library Journal, http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6708199.html.
National Education Association, (2009). “Can Tweeting Help Your Teaching?” NEA Today Magazine, (http://www.nea.org/home/32641.htm)
Stevens, V. (2008). “Trial by Twitter: The rise and slide of the year’s most viral microblogging platform.”TESL-EJ 12(1), http://tesl-ej.org/ej45/int.html.
Walker, L. (2009). “Nine Reasons to Twitter in Schools,” Tech & Learning, http://www.techlearning.com/article/17340.
While creating the distance-learning version of Discover German, a sequence for beginning learners of German, a member of our CITT team suggested we use VoiceThread as one of the tools for facilitating students’ interaction in the target language. VoiceThread supports the recording of written or oral conversations around media such as images, graphics, videos, documents, or PowerPoint presentations.
VoiceThread is asynchronous. Learners can take as much time as they need to listen to, reflect on, and respond in oral or written form to the questions of the instructor or peer. They can reformulate and resubmit their responses. This feature is particularly important for beginners who are anxious about speaking in the foreign language. For Discover German I, we recorded an example for each task that students can listen to beforehand and we provide feedback to their postings.
Funding was available for five full courses for 2010, and eleven proposals were received. The selection committee chose to fund four courses at the full level, with the remaining grant to be divided between courses. The courses selected for full funding are:
- School Lessons
- Official/Unofficial museum tours
- Conference meeting alerts and updates
- Public Safety Messages
The Provost E-learning Initiative seeks to further improve the quality of learning and the learning experience for students, as well as to facilitate the teaching process for faculty. To achieve this, the Provost envisioned a series of course offerings for undergraduate students using pedagogical best practice and transformation of education using information technology.
Online teaching can provide opportunities for student engagement that are different from those used in a traditional classroom. But sometimes it can be challenging to develop activities that make the most of online presentation possibilities. CITT has invited me to share the things I learned while developing the final project in Dance Appreciation of the 21st Century. These ideas may be helpful to other faculty who are interested in going beyond the usual quizzes, tests, and papers.
Google Docs is a free tool available through Google which allows users to create document, spreadsheets and presentations online. Users can also collaborate in real time, store and organize work, control who can see and edit the documents and upload existing files for storage. Familiar desktop feel makes using and editing easy and fast.
I am not in the habit of promoting specific products, but once in a while I find something so useful that I can’t help spreading the word. Such is the case with Skype.
If you’ve been using the Internet for a significant period of time, you’ll recall that from the very start applications emerged that would allow individuals to talk to each other from computer to computer across the network. Over time, Voice over IP (VoIP) applications have evolved into what I think of as a Swiss knife of voice communications (although it will also do video). I can now not only talk computer to computer, but also computer to phone (landline) and vice versa, hold multi conferences, forward calls and more. Basically, you can think of this tool as bridging computers and landlines for voice communication.
Skype is a free, downloadable software package that uses the internet to provide a real-time interactive environment designed for use in distance communication. Skype allows users to make telephone calls over the internet.
This fall the AT Teaching Center and the Graduate School will once again offer our TA Development Workshops – a series of approximately 20 professional development sessions taught by professors from various UF departments and units – to help all UF Teaching Assistants improve their skills and classroom performance.
The Provost E-Learning Initiative seeks to further improve the quality of learning and the learning experience for students, as well as to facilitate the teaching process for faculty. To achieve this, the Provost envisioned a series of course offerings for undergraduate students using pedagogical best practice and transformation of education using information technology.
Have you ever thought how much money your department spends for keeping multiple lecturers in a large course whose job is to deliver the same lectures year after year in overcrowded lecture halls where the students cannot see, and cannot hear, and simply cannot catch up with the lecturer?
Have you been trying to teach an online course with all modern tools and software available and, yet, share with your students your own experience which they cannot receive anywhere else except from you? If you have answered “yes” for either of the questions, then you may be interested in what the AT folks offer to the Instructors called Mediasite video lectures.
Mediasite is a presentation tool that allows instructors to make live digital recordings of lectures or presentations. Students can view the presentation over the internet in real-time and/or can access the presentation as a podcast or for viewing at a later date.
Teaching online is great, but how do you get that one-on-one, classroom feel when you and your students are scattered around the campus, state, or even globe? Elluminate offers a great solution.
Lauren Hertel, faculty from the Department of Telecommunication, has used it extensively for virtual classroom interaction and online office hours in three of her multimedia skills courses. What follows is her best advice for using Elluminate Live! Virtual Classroom
An In-Session Invitation is a feature of Elluminate Live! which enables Moderators, from within a live session, to invite people into the session by sending them email invitations or pasting a generated link into a third-party chat client like AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo Messenger.
This new segment features online teaching tips from some of the UF’s finest faculty. This edition of “Faculty to Faculty” features tips from Dr. Rusti Brandman, Professor Emeritus from the College of Fine Arts. Dr. Brandman has just finished teaching the online pilot of Dance Appreciation for the 21st Century which was re-designed through the Provost’s E-learning Initiative.
The Teaching Excellence Workshop sponsored by The Center for Instructional Technology and Training & Academic Technology was held February 3rd. In attendance were more than 50 faculty members representing various colleges from the University of Florida. Both faculty and instructional designers shared creative solutions on how to fully engage students with course material. Watch video of the workshop
An exam or quiz is a form of student assessment that measures knowledge, skills, and abilities. Generally, an exam is a culminating assessment that assesses a student over a large period of time and over a range of material. A quiz is generally short assessments that assess a student over a small amount of information and are given frequently. A quiz can also function as both an assessment and a formative feedback device. To find out more about exams, quizzes and free tools you can use, check out the toolbox. More information on Exams & Quizzes« Older posts