Have lots of papers to grade? Lots of student assignments that need your expert, detailed feedback? Instructors and students alike know the value of formative assessments, but instructors know how much time quality, detailed feedback takes to supply. Shortkeys is a helpful program that can help instructors provide detailed feedback and save time in grading by reducing the need to re-type the same passages repeatedly.

Shortkeys is a macro program, which is a program that allows you to set up replacement text for a small number of user-defined keystrokes. If there is anything you type multiple times, this program is for you. There is a limited-use free version, called Shortkeys Lite. The full program costs around $25.
Benefits of using this program:
  • Significantly reduces grading time – a clear benefit for instructors
  • Much more efficient than copying and pasting from Word files
  • Reduces errors due to typos
  • Significantly improves the depth of feedback instructors can provide, given time limitations – a clear benefit for students
  • Useful for URLs, HTML code, phone numbers, email addresses, library card numbers, page references in textbooks, or any other information you find yourself having to look up more than once

How it works:
The user programs each “shortkey” code and types out the replacement text. Once the shortkey is saved, it is ready to be re-used. For instance, for a shortkey that is programmed to explain a comma splice and how to fix one, a user could set the shortkey as “##cs.” As soon as the user types that code, a full explanation about comma splices is placed in the document: This is a type of run-on sentence called a comma splice, which is two complete sentences linked with nothing but a comma. Two complete sentences need more than a comma to separate them. To correct this, change the comma to a semi-colon, add a conjunction, or simply make two separate sentences.

Possible applications:

  • To explain common grammatical and punctuation errors
  • To provide examples to students, such as example thesis statements
  • To refer students to outside resources
  • To demonstrate proper citation styles for various types of sources
  • To include “here’s what I was looking for & here’s how your assignment measured up” notes for student assignments
  • To record summaries and announcements that you re-use in my courses from term to term
  • To remind students of course policies, such as late policies
  • To record HTML code you use frequently in Blackboard

Where to get it:

To order the software or to download a free trial version, visit www.shortkeys.com.

Jing is a free program that allows you to create annotated screenshots and narrated screencasts (“movies” of anything you can show on your screen, with your voice-over narration). Jing screencasts can be up to five minutes long, which makes it ideal for online instruction. Jing works with word processed documents, spreadsheets, websites … anything you can show on your computer screen.

Instructors can use Jing screencasts to provide mini-lectures, feedback on student work, web-tours, demonstrations of software, assignment directions, online course orientations, or any time they would like to bring their voice to the online classroom. Students do not need special software to view Jing videos; any modern web browser will display the videos. Jing is a great way to bring life to an online class!

Jing works in partnership with Screencast.com, a site that provides free storage (2GB of storage and 2GB of monthly bandwidth). You record with Jing, upload to Screencast, and then share the image or video with the link Screencast provides. (There’s even an option to get an “embed” link if you wish to embed the video on a webpage.)

Once you download Jing, you’ll have the Jing Sun on your desktop, an easy-t0-use interface that hangs out at the edge of your screen, ready to help you create an annotated screenshot or narrated screencast video.

Jing is easy to use, and both Jing and Screencast are free. You can download Jing at http://www.techsmith.com/jing/. Register your Screencast account at http://screencast.com/.

 

Part of quality online course design is ensuring that students have opportunities to practice with course content in active, engaging ways. Providing students with lectures to read and hear passively is a start, but is generally not enough to help learning happen. To make real learning happen online, it’s important to encourage students to engage with the concepts they are learning actively.

Another best practice of online course design and teaching is providing opportunities for formative assessments, that is, low- or no-stakes practice activities with feedback that lets students know if they are on track for summative assessments, such as final exams.

Yes, but who has the time?

These kinds of practice activities and formative assessments are great, but they can take time to create, facilitate, and respond to, and most of the instructors we know don’t have excesses of time!

Thankfully, there are tools available to help create quality learning activities quickly and easily. StudyMate games are a quick and easy way to include these sorts of activities in your classes. Furthermore, the feedback is built into the game, so once they are created, they don’t require additional time for facilitation. Best of all, students find the games to be enjoyable and effective ways to study course concepts.

StudyMate games are built using one of three types of questions:

  • Single answer (such as a term and its definition)
  • Multiple choice
  • Calculated (math problems)

Instructors provide the questions, and the OSU instructional design team can help create the games. Games include flash cards, matching, crossword puzzles, and a Jeopardy! – like challenge game.

You can even use this software to create a glossary of terms for your class:

Try some StudyMate games used in Charisse Hake’s Math 105 class.

To learn more about StudyMate and to see other sample games, visit the StudyMate Sample Games Page.

To learn how to create StudyMate games for your class, contact instructional design specialist Shannon Riggs at shannon.riggs@oregonstate.edu.

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. 🙂