Articles about Teaching Online
Mobile devices are mature, readily available and cost effective. The ability to access the Internet from handheld devices and their usable interface provides an opportunity to create new learning environments and convenient access to campus services. As evidence about their use begins to collect, it’s becoming clear that these devices improve learning outcomes, can reach a large number of constituents, provide opportunities for non-traditional education, and facilitate student and alumni access to institutional services.
Today, about 50% of students own a handheld device, and it is expected that by 2013 mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common access device worldwide. It is clear that mobile access is of strategic importance to online education and needs to be integrated with online education and student services.
If you are interested in mobile devices as they apply to education you may want to read “Highly mobile devices, pedagogical possibilities, and how teaching needs to be reconceptualized to realize them“.
January 2011 greeted e-Learning in Sakai and the E-Learning System with a rocky start to the term. Repeated problems in various components of the University authentication system frustrated users repeatedly throughout much of the month. However, by the end of the third week of January fixes were applied and service settled into normal operations.
Heavy load on Sakai was a major component of those problems. Although the total number of Sakai courses is not dramatically different from this time last year, or even from the previous semester, what is unusual is the number of people logged into Sakai at peak periods. In the old E-Learning System, peak loads typically hit around 4,500 concurrent users. In Sakai, we are routinely seeing daily loads between 7,000 and 8,000 concurrent users, nearly double our past numbers.
We do not know what has caused this increase in use, though we have a strong hypothesis that it is you, the instructors, driving this. What we know is that students are logging in more frequently and staying connected for longer periods of time. This suggests that the move to Sakai gave many of you the opportunity to re-think how you were using the course management system and to develop better, and higher-level activities in the new Sakai system.
This is excellent news for teaching and learning at UF!
If you want to upgrade your operating system or need Microsoft Office Suite, this media is now available for purchase. The different media available are: Windows 7 operating system Upgrade, Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 (32-bit/64-bit) for PC or Microsoft Office for Mac 2011.
Please be aware that under this agreement, a UF faculty, staff and students and Shands employees are entitled to install only one copy of Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade and one copy of Office Suite. Installation media are available at the distribution cost of $15.00 + tax. Any additional licenses can be purchased at the full retail price.
For individuals wanting to upgrade their operating system we strongly encourage them to run the Upgrade Advisor tool at: windows.microsoft.com/upgradeadvisor to ensure that their current computer can handle the upgrade.
The UF Computing Help Desk is also happy to install this media for you. There are a few options that you can select for having this media installed by the Help Desk:
- Laptop Drop Off – $35: If you are doing a reformat (or clean install) with no data back up, you can drop off your laptop to have the operating system and Microsoft Office media installed.*
- Laptop Appointment – $10: If you only want MS Office installed, you will need to set up an appointment by calling 352-392-HELP(4357) or by stopping by Hub 132.*
- Laptop Appointment – $25 + backup charges: Depending on how much data may need to be backed up, there could be additional charges. However, $25 will get users the installation service of the operating system upgrade and Microsoft Office.
If you would like to purchase this media or have the media installed by the UF Computing Help Desk, you will be charged for the media and/or installation service via myUFL’s ‘My Campus Finances’ module. Please be aware that the Help Desk does not take cash or credit card. If you are interested in purchasing this media by cash or credit card, the media is available at the UF Bookstore at the Reitz Union and at the HSC.
*Cost of media is not included in the prices above. The media must also be unopened for this service to be performed.
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 Achieving Excellence in Chemistry (ACE) program is a collaborative effort by the Teaching Center and the Chemistry Department to provide learning assistance to students in Chemistry 1025. The tutors, known as ACE leaders, are recommended by Chemistry Professor John Mitchell and trained by Rob Bailey, the Teaching Center Supplemental Instruction Coordinator. These tutors are then enrolled in CHM 4940 Supervised Teaching in Chemistry, a one-credit course in the Chemistry Department. Every week of the semester, each ACE leader holds three small-group tutoring sessions which focus on mastering the course content and improving overall study skills for students enrolled in CHM 1025. The study sessions include active learning techniques such as note review, creating concept maps and note cards, learning from practice materials, group discussions, text book review, etc. These sessions, which take place in the Teaching Center, are supervised and evaluated by the Teaching Center SI Coordinator, and students have the opportunity to provide daily feedback through Tutortrac, our client service-tracking software.
The Academic Technology Digital Media Hub is designed to let you record a presentation of any length on a computer for your students to view. Camtasia Relay is an easy-to-use program that you can download and install on any computer, including office, home, and laptop computers. Camtasia Relay allows you to record your voice along with your computer desktop. Scenarios for using this technology might include:
- Recording an entire lecture for students to use as review material
- Recording a lecture when you or a student must be absent from class as make-up material
- Recording a short segment of additional instruction on a difficult or alternate topic
The Camtasia Relay software is already installed on classroom computers in most locations. Camtasia Relay automatically formats your recordings for watching as a podcast on a mobile device, or as a streaming media file on a computer. Podcasts can be automatically delivered with the iTunesU service, or streamed from an AT Video Storage Account. To learn more or get started with Camtasia Relay, go to Video Services and click on the Camtasia Relay or Service Request links. To record your voice on your computer, you can use either a USB headset or a webcam with a microphone. Either device can be acquired locally or online.
After a successful Summer A pilot and Summer B “soft roll-out,” the new e-Learning in Sakai collaboration and learning system rolled into full production for the Fall term.
The old E-Learning System has been heavily used since 2004, and there are nearly 13,000 course accounts that need to be evaluated for migration to Sakai. As a result, Sakai will be running in parallel with Vista for the 2010-2011 school year. The E-Learning System is scheduled to be turned off when the current license expires on May 31, 2011; at that point, e-Learning in Sakai will be the single, centrally-supported course management system.
The transition to Sakai is already well under way, with instructors voluntarily switching to Sakai for the Fall by nearly a 3-to-1 margin. As a result, use of Sakai during the first weeks of class has been very heavy, with extended periods of peak use in excess of 5,000 concurrent sessions – meaning that 10% of the entire UF student body has been simultaneously logged into Sakai.
Faculty response to Sakai has been very positive on the whole, with many instructors asserting that Sakai is easier to learn and to use than the old system. In addition, one college-level program coordinator recently commented, “This has been the smoothest roll-out of any major system that I’ve seen in all my years at UF.”
If you are an instructor still using the old E-Learning course management system, you need to contact LSS — by email at email@example.com, by phone at 352.392.4357, or in person at the UF Computing Help Desk in the Hub — to discuss migration options as soon as possible. If you delay making arrangements for the transition to Sakai, you may find yourself unable to migrate your courses because the license deadline has been passed and the E-Learning System is no longer available.
Training on Sakai is available for faculty, and LSS staff are also scheduling “open lab” sessions for instructors seeking assistance while actually building their online courses. Register for each of these options at the LSS Training page.
An entirely automated lecture recording system is available for faculty request in nine of the busiest lecture halls on campus. Mediasite, UF’s rich media recording and streaming system, simultaneously records the computer display, video from a camera at the back of the room, and audio picked up from the wireless microphone.
The system is available in Carleton Auditorium (CAR 100), Chemistry Laboratory (CLB C130), Computer Sciences and Engineering (CSE A101), McCarty Hall A (MCCA G186), McCarty Hall C (MCCC 100), Physics Building (NPB 1001), Newins-Ziegler Hall (N-Z 222), Norman Hall (NRN 137), and Weimer Hall (WEIM 1064).
These recordings are immediately available for review by students at the conclusion of class from any computer connected to the internet. Students can see not only the camera view of the classroom, but a full high-resolution capture of what was being displayed on the projection screen in the classroom.
Camtasia Relay is a computer screen and audio recording application. Camtasia Relay can automatically record, process, and upload recording sessions from a computer directly to a streaming media server or iTunes U, with fewer steps than are required with traditional presentation recording software to get recorded media posted on the web to be watched or downloaded. The best part about Camtasia Relay is that it is absolutely free to use.
The recording client program is already installed on all Academic Technology supported classroom computers, but it can also be installed on any UF computers, including office computers, laptops, and even faculty home computers not owned by UF. To get started, you need to select a destination for your media, either Academic Technology’s media storage accounts or iTunes U, and then request the creation of a Camtasia Relay profile. Camtasia Relay is part of UF’s Digital Media Hub.
The University of Florida has a private iTunes U site that can host audio and video for distribution through Apple’s iTunes Store, accessed through Apple’s iTunes application. The freely downloadable iTunes application is popular because it is the application that must be used to manage media on Apple’s popular iPods, iPhones, and iPads, and is a popular tool for purchasing, renting, and viewing music, movies, TV shows, and other forms of media. iTunes and iTunes U pages and media can be viewed both from computers and directly from Apple iPods, iPhones, and iPads.
Pages can be created both for individual courses and for University units. iTunes U is uniquely able to accommodate authenticated uploading of audio and video media from students, either for sharing with a class, or for evaluation by the instructor. To get started with iTunes U, request a “Course Page” through Video and Collaboration Services. Once created, you can use access iTunes U to edit your page and upload content by logging in at itunesu.at.ufl.edu, from a computer that has the iTunes application installed on it. iTunes U is part of UF’s Digital Media Hub.
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.
University of Florida staffers, Christine Schoaff and Bruce Floyd were recently asked to write an article about the role that IT plays in managing social media. After some deliberation – and many revisions – the article was published in the September/October 2010 issue of EdTech Magazine.
Twitter is a free social software and micro-blogging service that allows users to send text-based messages with a maximum of 140 characters via cell phone, text messaging or e-mail to the Twitter website, or an application such as Twitterrific.
Although Twitter is similar to both blogs and instant messaging, a Twitter requires that the user keep messages quick and concise and the messages are archived on the Twitter website.
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.
VoiceThread allows users to create collaborative slide shows designed for interaction. After creating a VoiceThread and sharing it with a specific audience or to the world audience, viewers can interact with the presentation. Users can develop very specific learning objectives for their individual teaching situations. Supporting varied learning styles readily encourages integration and cross-curricular connections allowing for a variety of ways specific lessons can be addressed.
With VoiceThread, group conversations are collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world, all with no software to install.
A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate pages and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too. More information on VoiceThread
Podcasts are being utilized more and more in higher education to make content and feedback more readily available to the "on-the-go" student population. Henry Tosi, Professor Emeritus from Warrington College of Business Administration will share how he is using podcasts to connect with distance education students.
The Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in German Studies provide students with a rigorous training in the German language, and with a solid and broad knowledge of German literary and cultural history. This includes film and media studies as well as the theoretical foundations of the studies of literature, intellectual history, critical theory, media, and visual studies. Franz Futterknecht, Professor of German and Graduate Advisor for German Studies, shares his use of podcasts in teaching online German courses.
- 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.« Older posts