the title screen

Often an instructor will bring us media (like a collection of photographs) and ask if we could help create some sort of interactive exercise  (like a microscope simulation, to explore their photographs). We’re happy to do what you ask, but when time and interest permit – we like to push a little further. Sometimes we will ask if it’s all right to make a game.

This past term in Botany 350, we created an anime-themed adventure game, Plant Detective, which let students collect clues and present their findings to a humorous  caricature of their instructor. You can play it here, and I’ll discuss how we made it after the break.
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Some instructors are surprised when they first hear that they should begin preparing for a recorded lecture by writing a script. Some instructors believe that writing a script will take a lot of time, and that using a script will make the finished recording sound like they are reading, and that they should approach their online lectures the same way they do the on-campus ones – without a script.

Preparing a script for an online lecture is an essential step, however, that actually helps to save time and create a higher quality finished lecture.

So why script your lectures?

  1. To Save Time
      You will be surprised how much time and frustration you will save yourself when you are recording lectures. You won’t have as many flubs-ups or wonder if you actually covered everything you were planning on covering only to discover you didn’t. If you do mess up, it’s easier to re-record.
  2. To Keep Online Lectures at an Ideal Length and Quality
      A script will also help you keep track of time. We recommend that online lecture be no longer than 20 minutes (and shorter is better!). This time limit is very hard to achieve when you don’t know how long you plan on talking, or if you go off on a tangent.
      One trick you can do so you don’t sound like you are reading a script is writing your script in a less formal manner. How will you know if it’s less formal? Read it out loud after you write it! If you find yourself getting stuck on words or just find it hard to read, try restating the sentence as though you are just talking with a friend or a student in your office. Also, practice reading your script two or three times before you record; this will make the whole recording process go more smoothly.
  3. To Make Lectures Accessible
      An added bonus to scripting your lectures is that it would be transcribed for students with documented disabilities, or for those for whom English is a second language.

On-campus and online courses meet the same learning outcomes, but the online learning environment is different from the face-to-face environment. Writing a script as the first step in creating your online lecture content is a great way to help you create content that will be effective for online students.

A great example of a lecture that was recorded with a script was done by Julia Goodwin for her HST 104 course World History I: Ancient Civilizations, here is her lecture for week 8

Part 1 and 2 are both only 1 slide long, however they exemplify the change in the design. These were created after I found the Oregon State style guides, so they were created with official colors and a more streamlined layout. These allow students to practice identifying kids that might need alternative learning options. These don’t feature any groundbreaking changes, however they do show how I’ve become more layer oriented with a cleaner display.

Experience Part 1 or Part 2 of the storyline yourself.

This storyline project was created for CS 325 on General Recurrence. Katie Hughes the developer has this to say bout her experience:

While this is a seemingly simple project, I really consider it the turning point in my Storyline experience. On one slide, the instructor wanted the student to input a text response, and if that response contained a certain word it would be considered correct. Storyline has nothing supported that does any sort of text comparisons, so this is the project I learned how to integrate JavaScript. Learning JavaScript and how it works in Storyline really opened up a lot of options for other projects after this one. Also, this series of CS 325 lectures is really the first one where I began using a consistent layout for each Storyline project.

Click here, If you would like to experience the storyline yourself.

Looking for ways to make your online class more interactive? Wondering what your students are thinking about a certain topic in your class? Wondering if your students are struggling?

Surveys are helpful tools to help us meet these needs in online classes. Google Docs offers a free survey tool, Google Forms, which you can use in your online class by following a few simple steps:

1. Go to your Google Docs account.

2. Create a Form.

3. Choose a Theme.

4. Write your questions.

5. Share a link to the live form.

6. Collect your responses in one convenient location, your Google Form spreadsheet.

Click the image above to watch a brief video that explains how Google Forms can work in your class.


Here is a series of illustrations done for Neil Bell’s class on Plant Problem Diagnosis. These simple images will be shown along side real photos of diseased or otherwise inflicted plants to help students determine possible causes for the displayed symptoms. Illustrations are important for learning in this situation because the photos alone are so busy that they can be confusing.

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You might be thinking about adding videos to your course if you are:

  • Wanting to show a video in class for an assignment.
  • Creating an introduction video to your class.
  • Creating small video segments introducing to weekly modules or an assignment.

If you are interested in creating these videos yourself, we can teach you some of the best practices on how to make your video professional and having clear audio. We have flip cams available for loan and here are some helpful tips for beginners to get started shooting flip video.

So perhaps you are interested in showing a video in class for an assignment, much like what you may have done in the past for your oncampus course. Keep in mind copyrights differ between oncampus and online environments. The process of getting the video up to your online course is to either bring us a copy of the video, either DVD or VHS, or the call number if the video is available at The Valley Library. Keep in mind that blockbuster type movies are generally rejected from the studios or a heavy streaming fee will be taxed to the student, so please find an alternative.

After the video is brought to us, we will attempt to obtain copyright permission from the publisher. The video will be made available to the students and will be taken down if permission is denied. The video will then be hosted on a secure video server where viewers will need to login with their ONID account before viewing. The video is played back to students via a progressive download stream through adobe flash. For students on ipads or iphones they are also able to view the videos as it will switch over to an HTML5 player.

Creating an introduction video for your class is a great way to establish a connection between yourself and your students by seeing who you are. Keep introduction videos brief of no more than 10 minutes, 3-5 minutes is ideal. Information you will want to cover is a brief introduction of yourself, perhaps your background and your interested. Then proceed to cover an overview of the class and anything important the students will need to know. Avoid including date or term specific information, so that you are able to reuse the video per term. Otherwise you will need to create a new one every term.

You can also introduce weekly concepts or a project through a short video. The process is similar to an introduction video.