Viewing by month: December 2011

Dec 20 2011

Social Media in Higher Education: Twitter

This is the first in a three-part series on the use of social media tools in higher education. This post will focus on a study published in August of 2010 by Junco, Heiberger, and Loken who conducted research on whether or not Twitter was a useful tool for inspiring student engagement in an academic setting.


Posted by Rick Ivy at 9:23 AM - Categories: General | Online Courses | Distance Learning | Tech Tools

Dec 19 2011

Two Changes to the Drop Box

Based on faculty feedback, we've made two changes to the Drop Box in both online courses and CoursePlus:

  1. In a multi-part Drop Box, the list of students who have not submitted files is now broken apart into two lists: a list of students who have not submitted any files into any part of the Drop Box, and a list of students who have submitted files to only some, but not all, of the parts in the Drop Box. For the list of students who have submitted files to only some, but not all, of the parts in the Drop Box, the part(s) to which they have submitted a file are listed. Students who have not submitted any files into any part of the Drop Box are listed separately, at the bottom of the page. You can send reminders to any student who has not submitted a file into any or some of the parts of the Drop Box.
  2. Faculty and TAs can now submit files on behalf of a student even if the Drop Box has closed to students. If a student has already submitted a file, but you want to replace it with a new version of the file, you can delete the existing file, then submit the new file on the student's behalf.
We hope you find these changes to be useful!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:43 AM - Categories: Online Courses | Course Tools | CoursePlus

Dec 16 2011

Applying Recent Research on How Memory Works to Teaching and Learning

In a two part series on human memory recently published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, James M. Lang considers how current research on how human memory works can inform the way we teach. Lang's interest in the topic was sparked by an article published in College Teaching in which Michelle D. Miller discusses the evolution of cognitive theory and how instructors can apply these theories to create more memorable learning experiences.

Recent developments in cognitive theory and memory research suggest that students’ greatest challenge is retrieving information from their long-term memories. If, as the research suggests, retrieval is aided by cues, then as instructors we can help students by developing effective cues. In practice, this means beginning the term and each learning session with engaging learning activities and thought provoking framing questions.

For Lang, the take-home point is Miller’s advice “If you want students to better retain course material, she said, use teaching strategies that ‘require students to respond, and respond frequently. That is, hands down, the most important application of this research.’”

In his blog, Lang lists some books and articles about cognition and how we can use what we know about cognition to improve student learning.

Could course discussion boards, survey tools, or classroom response systems (“clickers”) foster student retention? How might we incorporate tools like these in our courses?

Posted by Sara Hill at 5:15 PM - Categories: Teaching Tips | General

Dec 14 2011

Prezi, Technotroubadours and Teacherpreneurs

If you have ever found yourself looking for a presentation tool that is a bit more interesting than PowerPoint, enter (There's a nice short intro video there and several examples, including one on jazz bassists, at the bottom of the page.) While it may take a while to learn how to create presentations with Prezi - it can add a little pizzazz to what has otherwise become a somewhat static, slide-oriented presentation world.

What caused me to bring this up is that I stumbled on this excellent prezi today. It was from the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE) E-Learn 2011 World Conference on E-Learning in Honolulu, Hawaii this past Fall, 2011, and the title is "Technotroubadours and Teacherpreneurs." The prezi has several excellent embedded videos on remixing and mashups, including the story behind a Johnny Cash tribute video collaboration created by over 250,000 fans. It also has examples of experiments in interactivity - such as a video showing people in Sweden choosing stairs over an escalator, once the stairs have been converted into an interactive piano. Even if the Prezi effects and flying, twirling text give you vertigo, this presentation is worth viewing for the videos alone, yet the underlying concepts and information are also relevant and important for understanding new generations of learners. Highly recommended!!

Posted by Clark Shah-Nelson at 9:01 AM - Categories: General | Online Courses | Distance Learning | Tech Tools

Dec 9 2011

Extended Site Downtime Coming in January

On Thursday, January 5, and Friday, January 6, 2012, there will be extended site downtime for CoursePlus, online courses, and the eLearning account system. We're moving our systems into a new server setup which provides faster machines and much improved redundancy.

We know that this is, potentially, a long time for the sites to be offline, but the pain now will be balanced out over time by needing little downtime for these sites in the future. These days were chosen for this downtime as they represent a time when, historically, there has been little activity in the online courses and CoursePlus.

We understand that the Winter Institutes begin on Monday, January 9, 2012, and that this may directly impact faculty and administrative staff who are setting up CoursePlus sites for those institutes. It is our expectation that the downtime will be limited to Thursday, January 5, but it is possible, given the scale and scope of this work, that downtime will extend into Friday, January 6. That is why we are warning about downtime on both of these days.

We apologize for the inconvenience that this will cause, but ask that you plan accordingly for this outage and expect that no work will be done in online courses or CoursePlus sites on these days.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:04 AM - Categories: General | Online Courses | CoursePlus

Dec 6 2011

Making It Easier for Faculty and TAs to Edit Online Course Sites

One of the nice things about online courses at JHSPH is that the team from the Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology works hand-in-hand with faculty to build online courses. If a faculty member is building a CoursePlus site, on the other hand, the faculty member (or their TA) is totally responsible for adding all the content and building out all information which needs to be displayed. Online courses have an entire team, led by an instructional designer, working with faculty to build lectures, course pages, and more.

There's a related disconnect, though, for faculty who work in both the online course environment and CoursePlus on a regular basis. When you sign in to CoursePlus as a faculty member, you primarily see the fauclty view of that CoursePlus site. Most faculty and TAs don't go into the student view of their CoursePlus site all that often. In the online courses, however, you primarily see the student view and go into the content editing and admininstrative tools only when you need to. For faculty and TAs, CoursePlus is tool driven. Online courses, on the other hand, are content-driven (because there is no in-class content to create and consume — everything is online).

This disconnect can be frustrating for faculty who spend much more time in CoursePlus. They will navigate over to the Gradebook page in the "Course Resources" section of their online site, and then wonder why they can't edit the Gradebook. In order to edit the Gradebook, you have to go to the Faculty Tools area and work on the Gradebook there. The same goes for the Drop Box, or the course syllabus, or a number of other tools.

Today, we've rolled out a small but very handy change which will help to mitigate this disconnect. When faculty and TAs sign in to their online courses, they will see a "Faculty Tools Quick Jump" box on the course home page which has links to the most popular tools in used in online courses. This includes the Gradebook, Drop Box, Online Library, Quiz Generator, Wikis, Course Groups, Class Email, and the Syllabus Builder. With this addition, faculty now have a shortcut to these commonly used tools. (There are a lot more tools in the Faculty Tools area, but these are the most commonly used.)

Additionally, faculty and TAs will see "Edit This..." buttons on the top of a number of pages in their online courses. If they navigate to the student view of the Gradebook, they will see an "Edit the Gradebook" button a the top of the page, which takes them directly into editing the Gradebook. If they naviagate to the student view of a quiz, they will see an "Edit this Quiz" button a the top of the page, which takes them directly to the overview page for that quiz in the Quiz Generator. Again, this provides a shortcut between the content-driven student view and the tools faculty and TAs need to manage that content.

You may notice that the course schedule and lecture and activity/assignment pages are not mentioned above. We're working on providing faculty and TAs access to editing these pages, but it's a complicated issue. Although it may seem inconsequential to change the opening date for a lecture in an online course, that could have a major impact on the lecture building workflow for that and all other online courses. LiveTalks are scheduled well in advance of the start of a course due to high demand for limited available studio space and resources to run those LiveTalk sessions. As such, changing a LiveTalk date could have significant consequences. The indivdiual lecture and assignment pages in an online course are made up of lots of components, and figuring out the easiest way for faculty and TAs to change those pages without impacting the workflow of which faculty and TAs are not normally a part is a definite challenge. We're working on that challenge, though, and you'll see changes on that front in the coming months.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:40 AM - Categories: Online Courses | Course Tools

Dec 5 2011

Mac Users Experiencing “No Audio” Problem while Listening to Lectures

Recently, we’ve received several reports from Mac users that they’ve experienced problems hearing audio while playing lectures for online courses. The words “No Audio” would appear in the playbar while the slides continued to play.


Posted by Judith Julien-Alexander at 9:29 AM - Categories: Online Courses | Tech Tools

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