What is QM?

You may know that OSU is a subscribing member of Quality Matters (QM), a nationally-recognized program focused on online learning course design. Its mission is to measure and guarantee the quality of an online course. QM uses research findings to recommend best practices in online course design.

As an instructional designer (ID), I use and apply the QM rubric and quality assurance principles when working with faculty to design Ecampus courses. About a year ago, I took the first QM workshop, called Applying the QM Rubric or APPQMR.

By the way, this excellent training is offered through Ecampus each quarter. If you haven’t yet participated, take advantage of it. For more information, contact Karen Watte.

Not Just for Beginners

I had nearly nine years experience as an ID at another PAC 12 land-grant university, so I considered myself quite knowledgeable. Frankly, I didn’t expect many significant insights from this entry-level training. Boy, was I wrong!

A few months ago, in September, I presented at the annual QM conference in Fort Worth, Texas. I presented what they call a “Quality Talk,” which is a five-minute structured slide show, where each screen automatically advances every 15 seconds, so precise timing was essential. The title is “An Ode to QA: Teaching an ‘Old’ ID New Tricks.” Meant to be lighthearted and lyrical, I hoped the audience would not mind my non-traditional presentation using a rhyming poem.

The content is my reflection of how QM principles improve online learning. The poem bases each stanza on the letters from the phrase, QA Collaboration Works.

Enjoy the Show

Before you watch, these points about QM are important to know:

• QM principles are called “general standards” and each has a number, such as 2.1 or 4.0.
• Each general standard includes detailed notes and examples called “annotations.”
• The primary principle behind QM is that course content and activities must align with the learning objectives.
• Instructors who want their course certified by QM go through a rigorous peer-review process.

I refer to these and other ideas in the poem, so if you’re not familiar with QM you might not recognize all the connections.

And now, for your viewing and listening pleasure, here’s “An Ode to QA” (cue the drum roll).

Susan Fein, Ecampus Instructional Designer

Getting to know your students

Each term brings upon us an entirely new group of students. Getting to know your students in an online class takes work. An introduction discussion board is used and students are asked to tell us who they are, where they came from, why they are taking this class, and to maybe upload a picture.

Why not take it further? You can bring in critical thinking skills and have the students learn about one another in a different fashion. A class here at Ecampus that has chosen to do just that. ANTH 332: Archeological Inference. came up with a creative way to not only introduce the students to one another but to bring in skills that will be used later in the class.

The exercise goes as follows:

  • Part 1 – gather at least 10 personal possessions that reflects activities, interests, or personal biography. Students are reminded that even the most mundane objects are perfect because it’s those everyday things that archeologists often find. Describe the items in detail and give a context as to where the items are kept. For example, a backpack or a purse with these items in it, and where in it, would work well.
  • Part 2 – students examine the descriptions that others have given and try to come to a reasonable conclusion about their activities and interests, where they might be from, what age they might be, etc. to post as a response.
  • Part 3 – the original poster then gets a chance to “correct” the record and provide additional details if they so desire.

This activity is well received by students, and with an average of 3 significant posts per student in this discussion activity and is deemed a success.

Many thanks to Jeremias Pink and Brenda Kellar for their inspiring discussion activity!

Colorful pie chart illustrates student's mastery of various math topics.
The dashboard in McGraw-Hill’s ALEKS courseware shows a math student’s progress on a learning path.

The just-released 2017 Horizon Report from the New Media Consortium identifies adaptive learning technologies as one of the most important developments in technology for higher education. The report notes that adaptive learning technologies “can adapt to a student in real time, providing both instructors and students with actionable data. The goal is to accurately and logically move students through a learning path, empowering active learning, targeting at-risk student populations, and assessing factors affecting completion and student success.”

To raise campus awareness of adaptive learning technologies and their potentials, last spring OSU held an Adaptive and Personalized Learning (APL) Open House featuring 12 adaptive software providers and hosted an Adaptive Learning Systems Workshop with Arizona State University adaptive learning expert Dale Johnson. OSU is now in the first year of a multiyear grant from the Assoc. of Public and Land-Grant Universities to accelerate the adoption of adaptive learning technology.

Are you interested in finding out more about the possibilities for adaptive learning in your online and hybrid teaching? Suggested resources:

What sorts of potential do you see for adaptive learning technologies in your teaching?

So you’ve located your open materials, Now what?

Providing attributions for open educational resources (OERs) is not only required for Creative Commons (CC) licensed materials, but citing sources for collected works is a good practice to follow in general. Documenting the material that you are using by including the author’s name and the name of the license, as well as where you found it can be especially helpful…

  • When embedded content is malfunctioning or fails to appear. You can refer and go to the URL of the content item.
  • When learning what permissions are granted for the content. You can refer to the license name, which informs you what you can do with the material as well what is permissible.
  • When determining what changes have been made for any derivate work. You can go to the URL of the original work that is provided to determine the changes that have been made.
  • When researching the author, organization or project of the content. If you would like to know more about the author of the project or the organization or project in which the work is created, used or derived, you can conduct a search using the author’s name and the organization and project title or go to any provided URLs in the attribution.

Is there a tool to help me generate attributions for open materials?

Open Washington Attribution Builder is a tool that you can use, which automatically generates attributions for any open materials that you’ve located. Just go to the site and complete the online form. After filling out the provided fields, an attribution is generated complete with active links and a html code for you to cut and paste into your project.

Screenshot example of an attribution generated with Open Washington Attribution Builder [CC BY 4.0.] Managed by WA SBCTC.

Open Washington Attribution Builder Screenshot

Try it out!

Go to Open Washington Attribution Builder and try it out for yourself. It’s that easy!

Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

When was the last time you really sat down and looked at the ‘bones’ of your course?

Course outcomes form the backbone of a course – telling us what students should be able to do by the end of the term. All content, assignments, assessments and other activities should support the course outcomes.  We call this concept alignment. According to the Quality Matters rubric, a national benchmark for online course design, alignment is defined as “the critical course elements working together to ensure that students achieve the desired learning outcomes.” Reviewing the alignment, or lack of, within your course can help you identify areas for future improvement.

A course-planning chart is a tool that you can use to begin examining the alignment of the elements in your course. It can help you identify orphan content or activities that do not support a corresponding learning outcome – or if there are learning outcomes that lack associated activities.  It is also useful in determining if there is a good mix of activities to engage students and whether the course meets workload requirements for a class.

Sketching out how all of the elements of your course align with each other is a good first step in identifying where you can strengthen your course.

Resources:

Ecampus course planning chart
Learning Outcomes: Tools for You
Quality Matters

Want to add an engaging “wow!!” factor to your teaching, on-campus or online? Try using augmented reality (AR). It’s simple, easy, and there is a wide range of educational apps for iOS and Android devices, many for free. Best of all, AR taps into the eager desire many young people express to use technology in innovative ways, including as part of their learning experience.

Per a recent survey from Adobe Education, 93 percent of Gen Z students said that technology in the classroom was essential for their career preparedness, as reported in a 2016 EdTech article. The survey found that “Gen Z students see technology and creativity as important and intersecting aspects of their identities.”

jan17blog_surveygraphic

2017blog_pokemongo

Remember the headlines for Pokemon GO? Maybe you, too, got hooked. If so, you were one of about 21 million users who were playing every day! This is the compelling aspect of AR–it’s fun, engaging, innovative and for some, nearly addictive. The astonishingly realistic and detailed displays of many AR apps, such as those for physiology, add an exciting and engaging dimension to learning. And with AR instantly available in the palm of your student’s hand, there’s no reason not to explore this creative and exciting technology.

(Image by Paintimpact pokemon go)

But AR isn’t just for fun or entertainment. It got serious and life-saving applications as well. AR, and related technologies like virtual reality (VR), are being used in medicine with extraordinary outcomes. In 2015, a baby in Florida was born with only half a heart. Surgeons used a cell phone, 3D imaging software, and a $20 Google Cardboard VR viewer to “peer into the baby’s heart.” The surgeon, Dr. Redmond Burke, said, “I could see the whole heart. I could see the chest wall. I could see all the things I was worried about in creating an operation,” as recounted in How Virtual Reality Could Change the Way Students Experience Education.

Though many AR apps are geared towards a K-12 audience, there are still plenty of ways to effectively include AR in the college classroom. Nearly every discipline has AR apps, including anatomy and physiology, physics, geography, American history, language translation, astronomy, science, geometry, chemistry, marketing and advertising, mechanics and engineering, interior design, architecture, and more! Check out the 32 Augmented Reality Apps for the Classroom from edshelf, or simply do your own internet search for “augmented reality education” and explore.

You might be wondering how to employ AR technology in the online classroom. For apps that make AR targets available online (many do), just provide the URL and have students download and print. Some apps use the natural world as a target; for example, Star Chart uses GPS to calculate the current location of every star, planet, and moon visible from Earth – day or night – and will tell the viewer what they are looking at.

The possibilities are endless! Give it a try yourself. I am willing to bet that you will exclaim, “Wow, that’s so cool!”

Online courses are open 24/7. This is more convenient for students, but it also means they don’t really know how/when to get in touch with you, the instructor. Online courses benefit greatly when the instructor creates a communication plan and communicates it with their students, especially in weeks one and two of the term.

 


Here’s a sample communication plan:

“Please post questions about the course in the Q&A discussion forum so that the entire class can benefit from our back-and-forth. Please reserve email for questions of a personal nature.

I will reply to email and questions posted in the Q&A discussion forum within 24 hours, usually sooner.  I strive to return all graded work, with my feedback, within 5 days of the assignment being submitted. Please do look for my detailed feedback and use it.

If I need to deviate from this schedule, I will [send an email] and let you know. I will usually not be available on Sundays. Most assignments are due on Monday evenings.

Students should [check Oregon State University email, log in to the course] at least three times per week.”


For the last couple of paragraphs – you might prefer to post an announcement, or adjust the course home page. In your communication plan, you may want to address your recommendations for students in setting their own notification patterns in Canvas to suit how you plan to communicate, as well as expectations that students check their Oregon State University email accounts.

Your communication plan may be different, but it should address communication channels (discussion board, email, phone, Skype), your estimated response times for questions, your estimated time to complete grading, and any days when you expect to be unavailable. This might be a certain day of the week, or perhaps a few specific dates during a given term while you give a conference, etc.

Icons for Multimedia and Web tools

 

Who doesn’t like free stuff? But in the field of education finding free materials that fulfill your needs often proves difficult. In this blog post, I have annotated a short list of websites that provide free resources that can be used by anyone (instructional designer, teacher or student) and for any purpose from a personal or professional website to a multimedia presentation to an online course or assignment.

 

 

 

Picture Image Icon

Pixabay
What is great about Pixabay is that not only can you use these images, but you can modify them to suit your needs and even use them for commercial purposes without having to pay any fees. Nearly all are free of copyrights, which means attribution is NOT required…so no need to worry about citing sources here.

 

Audio Sound Icon

Freesound & SoundBible
These sound effects sites are “open source” which simply means everyone can create and share. Great for teachers providing feedback for students or for anyone to use for creative purposes. For these sites please check the “terms of use” as some require attributions or have restrictions on use.

 

World Wide Web Internet Icon

H5P
This open-source authoring tool site can be used to create multimedia presentations or activities and games that involve drag and drops, hot spots, fill-in-the blanks, etc. To create content all you need to do is register with the site (which is free) and either install the web plugin or embed the content on your site.

 

Let’s keep this list going…For this I encourage you to post a blog comment listing any free resources (images, videos, sound effects, games, tools, etc.) that you have found. Let’s see how many OERs we can collect and share here with the OSU CDT blog community.

 

Happy hunting!

Do you ever wonder where your students go once they log into an online course? John Whitmer (Blackboard analytics, blog link) and Kevin Reeve (instructor and director of Teaching and Learning Technologies at Utah State University, Canvas Analytics video link) did some hard work to seek answers to this question. Kevin presented his team’s preliminary results at Online Learning Consortium conference in Nov. 2016. Some of the findings were obvious, some not so.

My question is: what can we do with this information? How can we use this learning analytics to guide our course design practices as online instructors and online instructional designers?

Here is a summary of Kevin’s report and my ideas of course design based on learning analytics of students’ course visiting behavior patterns:

Student course visit behavior Observations from Canvas learning analytics: Course Design Ideas:
Students’ first visits to online courses may be exploratory.

activitiesannouncementdqtodoviewcalendar

Use announcements to connect with students before course start and during course session; Create navigation tutorial video to guide students; Design course homepage, Start Here module, and syllabus for easy navigation and communicate important information with clear instructions.
Some students visit “Grades” early on to view the weighting of grades and other details Have an accurate grade book available from day 1
Some students visit assignments first Put link to learning module, or related learning materials, learning outcomes, instructions etc. in each assignment.
Many visits to course do not start with homepage Design your course homepage to be attractive and put information that students care to read there; Direct student attention to course homepage if you intend to put important information on homepage, otherwise do not overly rely on homepage.
To do list is driving students entry points once course starts. Enter due dates for graded assignments so the assignments will appear on the calendar and to do list.
Syllabus is being missed by some students during the first few visits Make syllabus prominently visible and accessible.

In the same time, put important information from syllabus in multiple places such as course home page, Start Here module, and first assignment directions, in case students visit assignments directly.

If you have ideas for Canvas course design based on the above observations or your own observations of online students course visit behavior patterns, feel free to share with us

Happy Holidays!

If you’d like to adopt group work in your online course, but want to ensure accountability among your students, consider asking your students to create a group contract to guide their work. Beginning online group work with a mutually agreed upon contract creates a blueprint for the project, and it facilitates the process of students establishing norms and expectations within their group. These norms help to remove the instructor as the sole authority figure, and instead give the team the power to hold one another accountable, according to the guidelines they agree upon, rather than just personal opinions or perceptions.

One way to help your students begin to think about what to include in their group contract is to initiate a conversation with your students about their preconceived notions of group work. Have they done group work before? Have they had good or bad experiences? Ask your students to clarify what ideal group work looks like to them and what specific things they hope to avoid. A discussion about their past experiences may also help your students to better understand their peers’ perspectives and what skills they bring to the team. Key areas for your students to consider and map out in their contract are:

  • Roles and participation responsibilities
  • Communication expectations (mode and frequency)
  • Project timeline/milestones
  • Conflict resolution plan
  • Consequences for breaking contract

To get you started, take a look at these sample group contracts that you can adapt to fit your needs:

References

  • Barkley, E.F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Additional Resources