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.

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.

Good assignments for online classes share many of the same qualities as good assignments for on-campus classes, but may require the use of some different tools or different approaches. If you are looking for ideas for improving or creating assignments for your online course, check out this video, which includes suggestions about different types of assignments to use, tools you and students may need for online assignments, tips for creating and managing group assignments, as well as some tips for evaluating assignments in online classes.

Gaining students’ attention is the first of Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction. A great way to gain attention is to provide a catchy animated video about the topic you are presenting.

What’s that? You’re not a trained animator? Don’t let that stop you! If you can choose items off a menu and type some dialogue, you can create an animated video for free at www.xtranormal.com. The animation below was created for an upcoming professional development workshop at Ecampus. The whole project took about 10 minutes to create.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGnBN2VTlNI

We worked with some Fisheries & Wildlife instructors last year to develop a sperm whale dive simulation in Flash. This was designed to bring their data to life, and give students a deeper understanding of what was happening as a sperm whale dove to great depths, hunted food, and resurfaced. This was delivered as a simple 2D animation, with some limited interaction (which I’ll post later, if the instructor approves).

Soon after delivering the 2D version, PDT started experimenting with a 3D version of the dive that was closer to an fully interactive video game. The plan was to make this game using Unity3D instead of Flash. At the time, we had a student worker, Wes Starr, who was learning to use Autodesk’s Maya (a popular 3D modeling program). The two videos featured in this post are samples that he generated (output from Maya) so we could seek feedback on the whale’s motion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl–nNTt4tA

We are still experimenting with the Unity3D version of this simulation (or game), but since the 2D version works – this notable revision has ended up a low priority project. I thought it would be nice to share these work-in-progress videos. 🙂