Viewing by month: July 2009

Jul 31 2009

Improve Your Lecture


For many teachers, lecturing is a preferred method of delivering information to learners. But is it an optimal method? Research shows that students capture only 20-40 percent of a lecture’s main ideas in their notes (Kiewra, 2002). And if there is no review of the material, students may remember less than 10 percent after three weeks (Bligh, 2000).

So how can we ensure that students learn the content of our lectures and retain it? Here are some strategies:

  1. Aim for 3 to 5 main points in each lecture.
  2. Begin the lecture by asking a high-level question that the upcoming information can answer.
  3. Prepare a handout of the lecture’s main points.
  4. During a lecture, be explicit about what students should focus on.
  5. Throughout a lecture, give students short breaks to review their notes and ask questions.
  6. Include a formal activity or assignment after every 15 to 20 minutes of presentation.
  7. Don’t use too many different types of presentation materials at once.
  8. Don’t give students two conflicting things to attend to at the same time.
  9. Use examples from student life, current events, or popular culture.
  10. Ask students to generate their own examples from personal experience.
  11. Tell students how new information relates to previous lectures in your course.
  12. Show students how specific skills can be applied to real-world problems.
  13. Create activities and assignments that ask students to fit new information into the overall themes of the course.

Source: Tomorrow's Professor, The Standford University Center for Teaching and Learning. Photo: Aaron M. Sears. Creative Commons BY-NC-ND.

Posted by Linda Bruce at 11:32 AM - Categories: Teaching Tips

Jul 30 2009

Small Change to News Flashes in Online Courses

The News Flash tool in online courses recently received a small update. Previously, you were quite limited in the formatting you could add to a News Flash. The formatting tools were also notoriously unreliable in anything other than Internet Explorer.

The News Flash tool now uses the same rich text editor that is used in other online course tools such as the Quiz Generator, Course Email tool, and BBS. This provides faculty and TAs with a richer set of formatting tools when posting a News Flash, should they need them.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 4:07 PM - Categories: Course Tools

Jul 17 2009

A Small But Nice Bonus: Download All Lecture Materials at Once

Snapshot of all PDFs and MP3s linkWe've added a small, but very handy feature to lecture pages in online courses. While we can't offer the ability to download an entire synchronized lecture presentation, you can now download all PDFs and MP3 files (if available) for a given lecture at one time. Every lecture in an online course now has a link at the bottom of the "Lecture Materials" box which states:

Download all PDFs and MP3s

Clicking on this link will cause a single ZIP file of all the PDFs and MP3s (if available) for that lecture to be downloaded to your computer. Instead of downloading each individual PDF or MP3 file for each lecture, you can now download all the PDFs and MP3s (if available) at once.

We hope you find this useful!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 4:28 PM - Categories: Online Courses

Jul 7 2009

Changes to the Course Wiki Tool

The Wiki tool in online courses has received a number of updates for the start of the summer term. Most of the changes listed below have been the result of watching how faculty, TAs, and students use the wiki tool and making changes based on their use and their feedback.

The following changes have been made:

  •  The wiki archives have been completely revamped. This includes:
    • Seeing a list of all wikis from all previous offerings of the course.
    • Making a fully editable copy of a wiki from a previous offering in the current offering of the course.
    • Making a read-only archive of a wiki from a previous offering in the current offering of the course.
  • You can now insert a file automatically at the current cursor position, rather than having to separately upload and then link to the file.
  • The insert file view has been redesigned so that adding or uploading a file to a wiki is now on the same tab. This tab has been renamed, simply, "Add File." The "Link to Outside File" tab has been renamed "Add Weblink."
  • Faculty/TAs/instructional staff can now hide the display of a wiki on the "All Course Wikis" page. This only removes the display of the wiki to students on the list of all wikis in the course. It does not delete a wiki.
    • There is also a "Show All Hidden Wikis" option for faculty/TAs/instructional staff.
  • The list of administrative actions which students can take on a wiki are now clearly separated from actions which only faculty and TAs can take.
  • The rich text editor has been replaced with a newer, more robust rich text editor. This new rich text editor brings significant improvements to editing wiki content on the Safari and Firefox Web browsers in particular.
  • The "Page Order" tool for wikis with multiple pages has been moved into the "Pages in this Wiki" box on each wiki page. This makes it more convenient to change the display order of pages in the wiki.
  • The hierarchy of titles, subtitles and page text has been made clearer by changing font size and eliminating the redundant "Page Subsection" option in the styling controls in the rich text editor.
  • Keywords have been eliminated from the wiki setup page. The wiki search tool will now search the text of wiki pages instead of keywords.
Thanks again to everyone who provided feedback on the wiki tool and suggested the changes listed above. If you have any additional feedback about the wiki tool or how to improve it, we would love to hear it!


Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:51 AM - Categories: Course Tools

Jul 1 2009

End of Access to Online Courses Using Internet Explorer 6

As of June 1, 2009, all access to online course Web sites at JHSPH has been blocked if you attempt to log in using Internet Explorer 6.

Support for Internet Explorer 6 in online courses ended in January, 2008. This information was displayed on the online courses home page at the time, and the Computing Requirements for Online Courses page was updated to reflect this change. This information is also distributed during Introduction to Online Learning.

Attempting to use Internet Explorer 6 in online courses can cause problems taking online quizzes or exams, filling out lecture and LiveTalk evaluations, submitting files to the Drop Box, utilizing wikis, and more. We certainly don't want students, faculty, or staff who access online courses to have similar problems. As such, we are requiring that everyone use a supported Web browser (Internet Explorer 7 or 8, or Firefox 3) on their Windows computer if they want to continue to access online courses from JHSPH.

We understand that asking individuals to upgrade or change their Web browser may be disruptive. However, it's important that everyone use a Web browser that is modern, security and standards-compliant, and works within the online course system from JHSPH. Internet Explorer 6 was released on August 27, 2001, and lacks the support needed for some of the tools currently in use in online courses and for some of the tools to be made available in the coming year.

If you are worried about updating Internet Explorer and what that might do to your operating system, you can download and use Firefox 3 instead as that will not update your operating system in the same way that Internet Explorer 7 or 8 does.

You can download Internet Explorer 7 or 8 from

You can download Firefox 3 from

If you have questions, please feel free to contact DEHelp.


Posted by Brian Klaas at 12:01 PM - Categories: Online Courses

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