One of the trends of 2014 is the explosion of infographics. Although they have been around for centuries, the creation of infographics has been limited to specialists such as cartographers, graphic designers, and others who specialize in data visualization.
The popularity of data visualization experienced a surge in 2006 when Hans Rosling created the free Gapminder tool and presented The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen on the TED stage. He demonstrated the need for easily accessible tools regular people could use to transform complex information into easy-to-comprehend visual format.
The word infographic has undergone a shift in popular usage over the last three years. In the past, it meant anything that conveyed data or complex information in visual format, including charts and graphs. It now refers to digital posters in which graphics are used to present any type of information. This shift is due in large part to the proliferation of many online tools which make the creation of infographics incredibly easy.
Leading the pack among the vast number of online infographics creation tools are Infogr.am, Pictochart, and InfoActive.
The ease of use makes infographic tools ideal for student use. Instructors can create assignments in which students are asked to create infographics which they then share with their classmates. These can be highly engaging when used as discussion starters.
Here is an example of an infographic we created for the course GRAD 550–Introduction to Online Course Development and Facilitation.
The 2013 Survey of Online Learning Report was released last week on the Sloan Consortium website. This annual series tracks trends in online higher ed in the U.S. through use of institutional data and responses from chief academic officers at colleges and universities nationally. Among key findings of the 2013 survey, three-fourths of chief academic officers think the learning outcomes in online education are the same or better than with face-to-face instruction, but more than 40% of them say that retaining students in online courses is more difficult than in face-to-face courses.
Fortunately, Blackboard has built-in tools to help you monitor student progress. In addition to the Grade Center, check out the Performance Dashboard and Retention Center in the Evaluation section of your Blackboard course Control Panel. These tools can be used with no set up, though you do have the option to customize the Retention Center. The Performance Dashboard gives you a quick overview of each student’s online course activity (for example, days since last Blackboard course access, and level of discussion board participation). The Retention Center provides a more detailed picture of which students may be struggling or at risk in your course. A glance at the Performance Dashboard and Retention Center can give you a heads-up at any point in the term about student engagement and success, so that you can take steps to communicate with students about your concerns and offer strategies for improvement.
Beyond this, make sure your students know about the Ecampus Student Success links, which direct students to Ecampus Success Counselors, online tutoring support, Academic Success (ALS) courses, personalized coaching services from InsideTrack, and other services available to OSU online students.
What strategies do you find most successful in retaining online students in your courses?
Occasionally in my work with faculty I find them wanting to reproduce a brainstorming session activity from the brick and mortar classroom. They want students to ‘shout out’ ideas, arguments, or topics and create a list so that everyone can participate and the best ideas can ‘float’ to the surface. There is value in pooling ideas to generate all possibilities given the varying background knowledge of students.
In OSU’s learning system, Blackboard, there are tools such as wikis and discussions that can allow students to generate ideas but these tools don’t always have the options needed to take the ideas and vote on them and have the class decide which are the best.
So one alternative option is the free digital tool Tricider. Tricider is an efficient online brainstorming and polling tool.
I stumbled across Tricider as I do many tools by reading popular educational technology blogs and bookmarking my favorites, examine any limitations it may have, and then I use it in my own online classroom. After the first term of using it, I found that Tricider required few instructions, did not require a login by my students, and was simple and intuitive to use. Those faculty that use this tool find that it is the only tool that really does what it does.
When would you want to use Tricider:
- In an icebreaker activity
- To brainstorm and collect ideas (class or small group)
- To brainstorm solutions and list pros/cons of each
- To brainstorm ideas and vote on them so the favorites rise to the top
- Have small groups brainstorm and share or compare/contrast their ideas with others
How to get started?
- Go to http://tricider.com, create an account if you want to be able to revisit your “questions”
- Type in a question and click on Go
- Change the deadline if you wish it to be open more than 14 days
- Click on Share and Invite
- Copy and paste the URL anywhere that your audience can access the link
- Brainstorm and/or Vote!
Try it out: http://tricider.com/brainstorming/1GEq1
(Instructional Designer, Ecampus)
You can create an easy study tool that students can take with them on their smartphones, use on the computer, and easily engage with as they study for your class.
Cram is a free flash card creation tool that allows instructors and students to develop a study tool for their students. You can create study aids without an account . Cards can be shared publicly or be made available only to those who have a link. Instructors and students can create these study aids. Imagine creating a short tool for students and then creating an assignment in which they create flashcards for the entire class to use!
- Import information from Google Docs
- Copy and paste from Microsoft Word
- Create study aids in a vast number of different languages
- Create 3-sided cards
- Add images
As students study with the cards, they have three options to work with:
- Study like a regular set of cards
- Self-test, telling the program if they got it right or not to keep score and to allow them to review in the next round only the cards they got wrong
- Test themselves using a one of 4 testing options. (Matching, Written, Multiple Choice, and True/False)
See a six-card sample to try it for yourself!
OSU’s Curricular Policies and Procedures specify that every course syllabus should include measurable student learning outcomes. The outcomes are defined as “learner-focused statements reflecting what a student will be able to do as a result of an instructional activity. Each outcome statement should start with a measurable action verb that indicates the level of learning, followed by a precise description of the learned behavior, knowledge, or attitude.”
For guidance in developing learning outcomes, educators have long turned to Bloom’s Taxonomy, with its pyramid of cognitive levels. Two much newer tools can help you refine learning outcomes for a course or find learning activities and associated tech tools that will align with your course outcomes.
1 – On the Ecampus website, the interactive Objectives Builder, created by James Basore, is a wonderful tool to assist in writing learning outcomes. It’s easy to use and can do wonders if you’re grappling with learning-outcome-writer’s block!
2 – Allen Carrington’s Padagogy Wheel has hot links to 63 iPad apps, many of which exist in forms for other mobile platforms as well. Each app is arranged on a wheel to align with learning activities that could be done with the particular app, related action verbs, and the corresponding cognitive domains from Bloom’s Taxonomy. Brilliant . . . give it a try!
The multimedia developers at Ecampus have the tools and experience to quickly generate cartoons for your course, illustrating hard to describe (or photograph) concepts with a dash of charm. Here are three recent examples of the quick cartoons we can make – each completed in about a week – with some insights into the development process.
There is an exciting new feature in Blackboard which will help instructors provide more detailed feedback in less time. This is the rubrics feature.
What are they?
Rubrics are tables of assessment. Blackboard uses the most common layout, which has columns of proficiency with the greatest levels of achievement on the right moving down to the lowest levels on the left. The rows indicate what is being measured. For example, a piece of writing may be assessed on measures of grammar, structure, clarity, formatting, and citations. Points are attached to each aspect being assessed, with the highest possible points in the right column. Different aspects can have different values. For example, perhaps the focus of this assignment was proper citations, so these would have higher values than grammar or structure, but in another assignment in a future week another rubric could be used in which clarity is the focal point.
Why should I use them?
- Measure multiple aspects on one assignment
- Save instructor time during grading
- Ensures fairness while grading
- Guidance for students while completing assignment
- Ability to be re-used for multiple assignments
How do I make it happen?
Rubrics can be built right into Blackboard and utilized time and time again. Once you create a rubric, that same rubric can be modified to work for other assignments so there’s not a need to start from scratch. Learn how! (linked) http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/dce/walkthroughs/Rubrics/story.html
Here are some examples from the Center for Teaching and Learning to help.
Thinking Rubric (Linked) http://oregonstate.edu/ctl/thinking
Communication Rubric (Linked) http://oregonstate.edu/ctl/communication
Collaboration Rubric (Linked) http://oregonstate.edu/ctl/collaboration
Share your experience with rubrics! Click on “Leave a Reply” below.
Looking for a way to bring pizzazz to your online course content? To gain your students’ attention? To use visual rhetoric to communicate complicated ideas succinctly, clearly, and persuasively? To inject some humor into an otherwise dry subject? To bring clarity to a muddy point? Whiteboard animations may be the solution!
Here’s an example Ecampus multimedia developers Warren Blyth and Drew Olson created with content by Linda Brewer from the department of Horticulture. (You can find more information here: http://agsci.oregonstate.edu/research/writingimpacts.)
How do you know if your content is right for this kind of presentation? Well, it should be relatively short. When read aloud, the script should take no more than three to five minutes in length. A script is necessary before beginning this kind of project so that the illustrations can be planned. It also helps if the content is vivid in some way — humorous, ironic, vivid in figurative language or imagery, or somehow able to be conveyed or partially conveyed in simple drawings.
How do you proceed if you’re interested in having this sort of resource in your online or hybrid class? Contact Ecampus!
Digital timelines are a great way to display a series of events in your online course. They can be used to capture historical events or a series of steps that occur in specific order, for example, a lab activity.
TimelineJS is an easy to use online tool that allows you to create a timeline by pulling in various types of online media such as video, images, and maps from easy to integrate sites such as Twitter, Flickr, Google Maps, YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Dailymotion, Wikipedia, and SoundCloud. The magic happens in a Google spreadsheet and it is as simple as inserting dates, links, and text into the appropriate columns.
If you are interested in having Ecampus create a timeline for you using this tool, all you need to do is contact your instructional designer. Click the image above to view a timeline that was created for French 329, a course on francophone cultures and film.
Providing feedback to students is a critical component in any course and perhaps even more important in an online course where the instructor and students are not in the same physical space. Although written feedback is the primary method used when providing feedback to students, some instructors are turning to the use of audio feedback and finding that it is both easy to do and effective. Research has shown that audio feedback can allow for more nuanced messages to the student. It has also been shown to involve the student more deeply in a class and make them feel that the instructor really cares. One study even found an association between the use of audio feedback and better retention of course content.
There are several online tools that allow you to create and share audio clips easily. One that I’ve used recently is Chirbit. You only need a microphone and you can record clips up to five minutes in length. There is no limit to the number of audio posts that you can share on Chirbit. Once you create an audio clip you can mark it as private and then share the link that is provided with your student. Chirbit has a number of other capabilities for sharing clips that you can explore even further, including the ability to attach transcripts or QR codes directly to audio clips.
Consider choosing one assignment next term that you could experiment with by providing audio feedback to students. Some instructors have reported that giving audio feedback is actually more efficient for them than giving written feedback. It is definitely another way to extend your presence in the online classroom.