Active Learning Online – Part 2

The first post about active learning looked at how to include active learning in an online course. You heard about how a history professor used an interactive timeline. Each student added images, facts, and descriptions to the timeline, and the result was a visually-rich historical review. Students had fun while learning about facts and events. This is an example of collaboration and active learning at its best. The second example focused on interactive textbooks as an alternative to printed books. The Top Hat product combined words, images, video, and engaging activities to improve learning and make it more active.

In today’s post we look at two new active learning ideas: mind mapping and annotated reading. Although these two technologies are different from each other, they offer similar benefits. Mind mapping requires the student to visually depict a concept, process, or system. Students label relevant parts or steps, show how these are connected, and identify key relationships. Annotated reading, on the other hand, allows students to enter short comments to passages of text, which encourages peer-to-peer interaction and sharing. While reading, students identify confusing sections, ask (or answer) questions, and interact with others. Both methods actively engage students in the learning process and support them to apply and analyze course concepts.

A Picture is Worth…

You know the famous quip about pictures, so let’s consider how using a visually-based tool for active-learning can support online learners. Wikipedia defines mind mapping as “a diagram used to visually organize information.” Similar tools are concept maps and information maps.

Why are images important for learning? Mind maps help students understand concepts, ideas, and relationships. According to Wikipedia, a meta-study found that “concept mapping is more effective than ‘reading text passages, attending lectures, and participating in class discussions.'” One reason is because mind maps mimic how our brain works. They help us see the “big picture” and make important connections. Not only are mind maps visually appealing, they are also fun to create! Students can work alone or in teams.  This mind map about tennis is colorful and stimulating.

If you want to try mind mapping yourself, here’s a free tool called MindMup. There are many others available, some free and others with modest fees. The Ecampus team created an active learning resources mind map, made with MindMeister. Take a look. There are a lot of great ideas listed. Try a few!

Close Encounters

College student with an open textbookMost classes assign reading to students. Yet reading is a solo activity, so it offers a lower level of active learning. But there are ways to raise reading’s active learning value, with or without technology.

Using a technique called close reading, students get more active learning benefits. Close reading is a unique way to read, usually done with short sections of text. With careful focus, close reading helps students reach a deeper understanding of the author’s ideas, meaning and message.

Three students pointing to laptop screenIf you want to add technology, you can make reading even more active! Using an app called Perusall, reading becomes a collaborative activity. Perusall lets students add comments to the reading and see what others are saying. Students can post questions or respond. Instructors set guidelines for the number of entries and discover which content is most confusing. Originally built for the face-to-face classroom, Perusall is also an effective tool for online learning. Perusall is like social networking in the textbook. It helps students engage with materials and be more prepared to apply the concepts and principles to later assignments. Perusall can be used with or without the close reading technique. 

Want to Try?

Let us know if you have questions or want to try an idea. We are here to help! If you are already working with an Ecampus instructional designer, contact them to ask about these active learning technologies. Or send an email to me, susan.fein@oregonstate.edu, and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

References

Images

Susan Fein, Ecampus Instructional Designer, susan.fein@oregonstate.edu

On May 2nd, Ecampus held our annual Faculty Forum which showcases the outstanding work that OSU is doing in online education. Sixteen interactive sessions allowed faculty the opportunity to learn more about innovative teaching methods and share their experiences in online teaching with each other.

This year we were delighted to have Dr. Kevin Gannon, a professor of history and director for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Education at Grand View University, present a keynote address on a very timely and relevant topic for all online educators – designing online classrooms where inclusive discussions can take place while effectively engaging students with challenging or controversial materials.  His presentation – Sea lions, trolls, and flames – oh my! Navigating the difficulty places in online learning – was a thought-provoking and inspiring call to action for online educators.

Mega phone & speech bubbleMay I have your attention please? This is what we are saying when we add an announcement to an online course. Typically, the announcement tool is used for reminders, deadlines, or other key pieces of information. Announcements are quick, efficient statements meant to get the point across in just a few words.

But have you considered using the announcement tool to promote instructor presence? As Arbaugh (2010) noted, “Instructor presence is a positive predictor of perceived learning and student satisfaction.” Students want instructors that are engaged or present in the course (Eom, Wen & Ashill, 2006). This is easy to achieve in a face-to-face classroom, where students can see the instructor, ask questions, and get immediate feedback. Achieving this can be difficult for online instructors, though. Given the 24/7 nature of the online classroom, engaging with students in a timely, effective, and efficient manner can seem time consuming and sometimes daunting to instructors. The announcement tool is an effective and efficient way for instructors to remind students they are on hand and involved.

Try using the announcement tool to summarize the week’s activities or discussions and provide insight into content. Or maybe use it to point out key topics and notable student discourse. These are just a couple of great strategies for maintaining presence in your course without feeling you have to participate in every discussion post.

-Cyndie M McCarley

 

References:

Arbaugh, J. (2010). Sage, guide, both, or even more? An examination of instructor activity in online MBA courses. Computers & Education., 55(3), 1234–1244.

Eom, S. B., Wen, H. J., & Ashill, N. (2006). The Determinants of Students’ Perceived Learning Outcomes and Satisfaction in University Online Education: An Empirical Investigation*. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 4(2), 215–235.

Guest Expert Video: Post Production

Having a guest expert video in your Ecampus course provides a number of learning benefits. One important benefit is to introduce a second, collaborative voice to instruction (Last, 2015). In Part I of this two-part article series we address interview planning decisions and their relationship to producing an engaging guest expert video.  In Part II we explore the value of instructors collaborating in the post production stage of guest expert interview video editing.

Staging the video capture of an outside expert voice was the focus of the first article on this topic in a previous blog post. Once primary and B-roll video is captured it needs to be compiled and arranged into a coherent presentation for your course. This is where working with an Ecampus video editor comes into play.

Students see an enormous amount of video in their academic experience. Developing video content that is focused, tightly packaged, and presented in an interesting fashion makes your guest expert video worth watching. The ultimate purpose of editing your guest expert video is to ensure it contributes to the learning objectives of your course. This is why faculty, as subject matter experts, become valued collaborators in the editing process.

Editing Is….Editing

Faculty have extensive experience in editing of papers and manuscripts. These familiar skill can translate to video editing. Let’s look at some of the primary roles of a video editor. A video editor…

  • Uses an mixture of artistic and technical skills to assemble shots into a coherent whole.
  • Has a strong sense of pace, rhythm, and storytelling.
  • Works creatively to layer together images, story, dialogue, and music.
  • Reorders and tweaks content to ensure the logical sequence and smooth running of the final video product.
  • Determines the quality and delivery of the final product.
  • Serves as a fresh pair of eyes on shot material. (Wadsworth, 2016)

Instructors are engaged in similar processes when planning lectures or writing manuscripts. They often are making decisions about coherent writing, related pace and rhythm, creative approaches to communicating complex ideas, the logic of a narrative, quality of communication, and have developed a careful eye for the effectiveness of the final product. What faculty may not bring to the video editing process is an understanding of the technical nature of video editing or the language of screen-based video communication.

Instructor as Co-Editor

Once your guest expert interview video clips are recorded Ecampus videographers coordinate the editing process. An Ecampus video editor compiles the final video sequence, optimizes sound, and perhaps music, graphics, and text elements are added. Decisions about these video elements is a creative and interactive exchange of ideas as editors and faculty collaborate through Frame.io. Frame.io is a post production tool that permits precise editing and video annotation at the frame level of a video. A sample of a Frame.io editing session can be seen in the screenshot below.

Using the web-based interface of Frame.io an instructor is invited to contribute comments or edits for specific locations in a video timeline. Ecampus editors then incorporate suggested changes and pose other suggestions. The progression of this collaboration is seen by both participants and the process leverages the skills and knowledge of video editors and content experts. In essence the course instructor becomes a co-editor of the video being edited.

The Final Product

In Part I of this series a course designed by Dr. Hilary Boudet was involved in planning a guest expert video for her course. Dr. Boudet used Frame.io to help Ecampus editors shape the final video presentation for her course. Watch the PPOL 441/541 guest expert video again. Before you do think about the role a video editor plays in creating the final guest expert video. Also consider what Dr. Boudet might bring to the editing process as a subject matter expert. Can you see evidence of this collaboration in the final video product?

In a well planned and edited video production the skill sets of videographer and content expert blend to create a coherent narrative video that presents a focused and quality viewing experience. As course instructors Ecampus faculty are engaged in the planning and staging of a guest expert video. It is in the post production process of video editing that the initial vision of the guest expert video content, as a series of carefully planned video recordings, comes to life and helps fulfill the learning outcomes of a course.

Resources:

  • Laist, R. (2015). Getting the Most out of Guest Experts Who Speak to Your Class. Faculty FocusHigher Ed Teaching & Learning. Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/curriculum-development/getting-the-most-out-of-guest-experts-who-speak-to-your-class/
  • Wadworth, C. (2016). The editors’s toolkit: A hands-on guide to the craft of film and TV editing. New York: Focal Press – Taylor & Francis Group.(Available in the Valley Library as an ebook)
  • Frame.io video review and collaboration software.

 

 

Mary Ellen Dello Stritto, Assistant Director, Ecampus Research Unit

Online Learning Efficacy Research Database

Person looking at the research database on a computer screen

Despite the prevalence of online and hybrid or blended courses in higher education, there is still skepticism among faculty and administrators about the effectiveness of online learning compared to traditional classroom learning. While some individuals may have a basic awareness of the published research on online learning, some want to know about the research findings in their own home discipline. The Ecampus Research Unit has developed the Online Learning Efficacy Research Database, a tool to help address these needs and concerns. This searchable database contains research published in academic journals from the past 20 years that compare student outcomes in online, hybrid/blended, and face-to-face courses.

Using the Database

Screenshot of Research Database

The database currently includes 206 research citations across 73 discrete disciplines from 153 different journals. The database allows users to find discipline-specific research that compares two or more modalities (e.g. online versus hybrid). Users can search the database by keyword, discipline, modality, sample size, education level, date range, and journal name. The database also includes the ability to filter results by discipline, modality, sample size, and peer review status.

This new database improves upon other older searchable databases by adding the capability to search by specific disciplines. On a monthly basis, the database is updated with the latest published research. To learn more about scope of the database, sign up for monthly database updates, or to suggest a publication for inclusion in the database, see our FAQ page.

The database is also a valuable tool for those who are interested in or are currently engaging in research on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. It will provide users with an efficient way to find gaps in discipline specific literature and pursue research to fill those gaps.

Term Paper

Those two words can be the cause of stress and anxiety for some but it doesn’t have to be that way. The creation of staged assignments can help!

For students, the looming deadline of a paper near the end of the term can be complicated by poor planning and/or leaving inadequate time to complete the assignment. This procrastination means an assignment gets done all at once and possibly poorly.

For faculty, papers done in a rush at the end not only require attention on a shorter time frame but the quality is often poor and grading can be arduous.

What is “staging”?

5 Steps of a staged Assignment as listed in the article text

Staging is the sequencing assignments and activities to allow ample time to develop ideas and make revisions.

To do this, look at the large assignment in your class. Think about how it could be divided up and assigned throughout the term to allow for greater success (and less procrastination).

You’ll likely find some breaking points that students could do in smaller assessments. This will build in structure that doesn’t allow them to procrastinate as much and give you more opportunities to provide feedback.

How do I stage an assignment?

Let’s take a research term paper and break it down.

The expectation is that the paper has a title, an abstract, the body of the paper with organized content, and references in order to have a complete paper and for it to be free of grammatical errors. How can we stage this assignment?

  • Week 2: Article Abstracts – Find articles that relate to what your project might be, cite, and provide a summary.
  • Week 4: Project Proposal – Based upon your articles and feedback from your instructor, create a proposal
  • Week 6: Outline of Paper including references
  • Week 8: Rough Draft of entire paper to be instructor and peer reviewed
  • End of term: Final paper with revisions based upon peer and instructor feedback.

With this staging, both you and the student will know the paper is on track and will have both have had the time to head off problems before the final submission. It’s a win-win!

 

Read more: Queen’s University: Formative Feedback & Multi-Stage Assignments

Icons made by three from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

Build Instructor Presence & Student Engagement in Online Discussions

At the OLC Innovate Conference, I attended a presentation that laid out a strategy often used for in-person discussions but retooled for use in online courses. This strategy resonated strongly with me as it addresses questions I often get from instructors I work with in course development. How do I increase student engagement in discussions? How do I increase instructor presence in the course?

The presentation was given by Zora M. Wolfe, Ed.D. (Widener University) and Christopher A. Bogiages, Ph.D. (U. Of South Carolina) and was titled “A Brick-and-Mortar Strategy to Online Discussion Boards”. The strategy derives from the “5 Practices” framework developed initially for in-person mathematics course discussions. The basic structure is broken down into the following 5 steps; anticipate, monitor, select, sequence and connect. In this blog post I cover how these steps can be adapted to an online environment based on the presentation and a brief discussion I had with the presenters.

Proper planning and setting realistic deadlines for student posts, replies and follow-ups is an important part of this process. The instructor will not be present to monitor discussions synchronously, as you would in a face-to-face class. You’ll want to allow time for thoughtful responses and self-reflections (if you require them).

Anticipate

In this first step, build the requirements and instructions for the discussion. Present clear instructions about expectations for student responses. Use language and keywords that you expect students to use. Prompt their thinking. Anticipate how students may respond to questions. This will help clarify your instructions to guide student thinking. A bonus here is that getting students to use anticipated language and keywords will allow you to more quickly find (control-f) responses that you can use for your follow up engagement.

In a larger class, it can be beneficial to break students into discussion groups as you would in an in-person course.

Monitor

As the discussion opens and unfolds, the instructor will periodically monitor student responses. Pay attention to how students are thinking about the subject. Consider stepping in with a comment if the discussion needs guidance (as you would in a face-to-face discussion). What should be emphasized? Are there misconceptions that can be used as a learning opportunity? Are students connecting their thinking to previous discussions?

Select

In this step, the instructor will choose student posts as examples to emphasize the learning outcomes. The responses selected will depend on the pedagogy used. Did a student briefly hit all the points? Has anyone gone in-depth on a point you want to emphasize? Did a student connect concepts in a creative way, or build on previous knowledge? The instructor may discover new ideas that hadn’t been anticipated.

For a discussion that has been broken into groups, consider having each group write a summary of their conclusions. This is another strategy used in face-to-face discussions that will help an instructor manage a course with a larger enrollment.

Sequence

In these last two steps the instructor will develop a summary of the discussion and any follow up activities they will have students participate in. Take the selections made in the previous step and sequence them in a way that will emphasize the subject matter and where you want to guide student thinking.

Connect

In this final step, present your summary to the students. Use this opportunity to connect student responses with the learning objectives, course material or previous discussions and content. Where does this discussion fit in with the overall course goals? How might it shape their thinking for upcoming material and learning objectives? The main goal here is that the instructor is using the students own words and thoughts to guide learning.

The strength of this discussion summary is that the instructor is engaging with the ideas presented by students and using them to build knowledge towards meeting weekly outcomes and course goals. This will also build motivation as students begin to realize that they will be recognized for thoughtful responses.

You can record your summary as a video to further increase instructor presence or you can simply add the summary as a page in the course. Another option is to follow up with personal self-reflection assignment. Post your discussion summary as an introduction to the self-reflection to help prompt their thinking

While this strategy requires more ‘maintenance’ by the instructor, it can help move student and instructor engagement to a central position in the learning process.

UDL

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a practical tool for guiding course design to ensure that every learner succeeds, based on scientific insights into how humans learn (cast.org).

As seen from the illustration below, there are three main principles of UDL, namely:

  1. multiple means of representations,
  2. multiple means of engagement, and
  3. multiple means of expressions

UDL

(image by Tianhong Shi, CC0)

There are many applications of UDL design principles in OSU Spring 2018 online courses.

A. Multiple Means of Representations as seen in BA 354 S18’s weekly content planning.

    • reading in text (Chapter 1 of Trevino and Nelson, Managing Business Ethics)
    • listening to podcast (Ponzi Supernova podcast audio from Radio-lab
    • watching instructor lectures in video (Course Introduction)
    • Watching complicated assignment explained in video and graphics:

B. Multiple Means of Engagement as seen in BA 354’s discussion forums and assignment feedback: 

    • Students submit Personal Ethical Action Plan Initial submission – Instructor provides feedback students incorporate feedback from instructor and submit final submission;

Instructor Feedback in Rubrics

  • Discussion forums: students post answers to prompts; students reply to peer classmates’ canvas discussion forum.

C. Multiple Means of Expressions as seen in BB 481/581 S18 and BA 354’s assignments:

  •  3d imageGraphic expression – Assignment #1: Create a three-dimensional image
  • VideoAudio/visual expression – Assignment #2: Create a video to explain what “reciprocal space” mean to you
  •  Text Textual expression – Assignment #3 & #4: Literature search & Quizzes & Discussions & write a letter to a relative to explain why the Fourier transform is so important to NMR spectroscopy
  • ApplicationTextual expression of application – Application type of project: Personal Ethical Action Plan

(Icons from SlidesCarnival’s Solanio template)

If you are interested in applying UDL in your courses, feel free to contact us at  to brainstorm possible applications together.

What is a Student Persona?

A student persona is a summary of a specific type of student. This persona represents archetypes NOT stereotypes of a broader student segment or group. A student persona summarizes who the student users are and why they are using the learning system, as well as what behaviors, assumptions, and expectations determine their view of the learning system.

Why Create Student Personas?

There are many reasons why instructors and instructional designers and developers create and use student personas, such as:

  • To represent the major needs of the key student user groups.
  • To provide a reliable and accurate representation of your targeted student audience.
  • To enable you to focus on a manageable and memorable group of students.
  • To help you create different designs for different kinds of students and to tailor the design to meet the needs of the most important student user groups.
  • To inform on the functionality of the learning system, uncover gaps in instructional design and development, or highlight new ways to deliver learning.

What Makes Up a Student Persona?

Like all personas, student personas generally include several key pieces of information, which are outlined on usability.gov

Here is an example of a student persona that I created for an online Intro to Permaculture MOOC that includes the essential elements of a persona.

Student Persona ExampleDescription of the user research conducted to create the student persona:

Student user research was conducted through an online Welcome survey that was embedded in the online course. As in all persona creations, user research should be conducted and the collected data should be used in order to ensure accurate representations of your users. Student user research can be conducted online or face-to-face through student surveys, interviews, or observations.

Student Persona Example (Enlarged View)

How Are Student Personas Used?

More than one student persona (3-5 student personas) should be used for an instructional development project from the analysis phase to the design, development, implementation and evaluation. As such, these student personas can be used in numerous ways.

Smashing Magazine, A Closer Look at Personas – What They Are and How They Work, discusses some of the general uses of personas:

  • Build empathy
  • Develop focus
  • Communicate and form consensus
  • Make and defend decisions
  • Measure effectiveness

Resources

While there is no one way to create and use a persona, there are plenty of examples, free templates, and instructional videos and readings available to help you get started to create personas of the students that you serve and to use them in your instructional developments. These resources are available through the following links.

Examples

Tobi Day
Rita
Marketing Mary
Clark Andrews

Templates

Fake Crow Free Persona Template
Persona Core Poster Template | PDF

Video

How to Create UX Personas (3:01)
(Note: This video talks about service design for customers, but for student personas, you will want to keep in mind that the students and learners are the customers)

Readings

Personas by usability.gov
A Closer Look at Personas – What They Are and How They Work by Smashing Magazine