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Online/Hybrid Learning

Differences Between Blogs and Journal Entries

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In an article on The Chronicle for Higher Education, Casey Fabris takes a look at a study done on the differences between public blogs and private journal entries.

With the current hype about blogging, Drew foster, a doctoral candidate in sociology, decided to try them in his introduction to sociology course. He immediately noticed a higher quality of work than what he had seen when students submitted private journals. He then decided to see what differences there might be between the two formats.

Initially he had expected to find that blogs resulted in more thoughtful reflections, which didn’t seem to be the case. After looking through a large collection of journal and blog entries from the University of Michigan, he discovered that one format wasn’t necessarily better than another, they were just different.

It seemed that when students were writing for a public blog, where fellow students could see and comment, they took more intellectual risks, crafting complex arguments on controversial discussions. While students who where tasked with writing a private journal took more personal risks sharing their own personal experiences.

As an example, Mr. Foster mentions that a student discussing the American dream may use her own family’s socioeconomic status or financial struggles; however, she might hesitate the share something so personal on a public blog.

Ultimately, it comes down to instructors needing to decide what is best for their courses. Mr. Foster goes on to say, “It’s to our benefit as teachers and instructors to try and maximize the type of reflection and the quality of reflection that students are engaging in.”

5 Lecture Hacks

Students often get confused and bored during lectures. With the help of technology instructors can hold students’ attention both inside and outside of the classroom with engaging videos. Here are 5 lecture capture devices that can help make instructors videos more engaging:

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Dynamic Green Screen:

  • Recording a presentation while the professor is standing in front of a whiteboard or projector can make it difficult for students to see the presentation clearly. Chromatte is a dynamic green screen which is made from a ring of LEDs that go around the camera lens. These lights can shine green or blue on the Chromatte to change the color of the background in the video. The different color helps distinguish the presentation material clearly.

Virtual Green Screen:

  • Personify is a software that inserts a video of the instructor into a PowerPoint or other online material. You will need a 3D camera, similar to an ordinary webcam, mounted on the computer. Next, the instructor will record himself with the 3D camera, and Personify automatically filters out the background so the instructor appears in front of the presentation material in the video similar to filming himself in front of a green screen. This is an easy way to insert an instructor into a learning presentation.

Lightboard:

  • Instructors often have to turn their backs on students while writing on the board, blocking the students’ view of the content on the board. The Lightboard is an illuminated 4-by-8-foot sheet of glass, which allows an instructor to write on the glass from behind using fluorescent markers, so the writing “glows” in front of the person. This helps students see what the instructor is talking about while writing rather than seeing somebody’s back write on the board. On camera the writing appears reverse, but can be digitally flipped or recorded with a mirror. The Lightboard itself costs about $2,000 for the glass frame.

Multi-Perspective Video Capture:

  • Mediasite MultiView is a great multi-perspective video capture tool that records both the instructor and the presentation material. While Chromatte, Personify and Lightboard produce a video where the instructor and presentation materials appear in the same view, Mediasite MultiView captures multiple video streams and allows students to view them side-by-side simultaneously or zoom in on one or the other.
    • This is an excellent tool for people with disabilities. For example, a student with disabilities can see an interpreter using sign language in one screen while watching the instructor’s PowerPoint slides displayed on another screen. With the help of technology students with disabilities can even zoom in to the singing to receive a closer look.

Interactive Video:

  • Instructors often don’t know if students actually understood their video lectures or if the students even watched them. With the help of eduCanon instructors can use this free tool to embed questions into online videos to create interactive lessons. As a student watches a video, it pauses wherever the instructor has embedded a question and students can’t continue watching the video until they answer the question. EduCanon helps teachers comprehend if their students understood the lecture.

For more information on this topic click here.

Creating Dual Classrooms. A Positive or a Negative in Higher Education?

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(http://www.hotcoursesabroad.com/india/blog/seven-major-advantages-online-classes/)

In most classrooms, and especially in higher-education, the students of today rely on the flexibility of their work and social life balanced around a school schedule. What’s often seen when that delicate balance is even slightly thrown off is a decline in student performance. This could range from missing classes, not turning in assignments and even dropping classes as a whole (in certain cases). What if universities began to adopt the idea of a flexible course? Meaning that classes offer both online and the in class learning experiences. Obviously this sounds exactly like the traditional “hybrid” course, however the structure for a dual classroom differs in the sense that students are allowed to switch between being in the online course to being in class from week to week, depending on what best fits their schedule. In the scope of learning technologies, this initiative could perhaps accelerate the online learning curve at major universities throughout the U.S. On the other hand it would then require professors to prepare both an online and in class course to maintain this structure. Peirce College decided to try this structure out via a pilot test and what they found was that in the flexible course “absenteeism fell from 10.2 percent to 1.4 percent” (Fabris 1). The drop in absenteeism is major, especially for teachers who rely on participation as a focal point for grading. It also gives students the ability to form school around their life and rather than vice-versa, subsequently creating more focus on the class, regardless of whether the student is in class or learning online.

While the notion of dual classes is interesting and Peirce’s example does shed a positive light on ways to decrease absenteeism, it should be noted that Peirce College is a bit of an outlier. First they specifically cater to working adult students, who typically need the flexibility offered by Peirce. Second, the professors at Peirce already offered both versions of their course online and in class, so the transition into the dual classroom wasn’t as difficult as it would be for a professor who only taught online or in class versions. Overall the purpose of this study was to see if this allowed students more flexibility, while also proving beneficial to classroom focus, and while that was successful it is also imperative to think of how successful this would be at other campuses across the nation.

Source: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/online-or-in-person-one-college-lets-students-switch-back-and-forth/56265

One Reason to Offer Free Online Courses: Alumni Engagement

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Photo Credit to Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography

It is assumed that once you graduate from college you will no longer need to spend time in the classroom. A diploma from a university is a pinnacle moment of your educational career and once that has been obtained there is no use in spending any more time in a classroom. This idea is incorrect.

Casey Fabris examines the benefits of offering free online courses to college alumni in his article on The Chronicle of Higher Education website. This article examines the experiment conducted by Colgate University over the past few years in which they invited back alumni from the school to participate in MOOCs (massive open online courses). The courses offered ranged in subjects from “The Advent of the Atomic Bomb” to “Living Writers”. In a course offered last spring pertaining to atomic bombs they even invited veterans to participate in class discussions online to give the students a better perspective on their experiences with the war, since many of them weren’t even born at that time.

By offering free online courses to alumni from the school they are able to keep them connected with the community of both former and current students. During the first enrollment period Colgate University was able to enroll 380 alumni, when their original goal was only 238. The numbers grew to a whopping 800 online participants as the courses continued. The alumni participating in these courses were asked to share their feedback on the university’s experiment with online learning, and officials behind it considered it a success.

Other universities are now trying to engage their alumni using free online courses, offering former students a way to learn throughout their lives after university. The courses offer ways for alumni to engage each other if they wish and increase their knowledge even after their education has ended.

For more information on this topic visit the article above.

5 Apps for College Students

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Picture by: Nasser Almulhim

Now more than ever is technology part of daily life. The way college students study has changed from carrying stacks of papers, flash cards, and highlighters to carrying an electronic device. The Apple Store notes that there are now more than 20,000 educational apps alone. With finals week around the corner, here are 5 apps that U.S. News Education believes every college student should use:

1. StudyBlue Flashcards: Preparing for a big exam often involves carrying around a pile of flashcards. With StudyBlue Flashcards, you can access millions of flashcards created by other users or make your own. StudyBlue also has a  filter setting that can help week out concepts students have mastered and review questions that have been answered incorrectly. (Available for: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android, and web browsers; cost: free)

2. Graphing Calculator: This app has to be one of the most money saving apps a student could download. While students can purchase a graphing calculator ranging near the cost of $100 the app store offers apps that can also plot and trace multiple equations on the same graph at the fraction of the cost if not free. The apps are equipped with graph tracing, trigonometry symbols, and much more. (Available for: iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Android; Cost: Free – $1.99)

3. School Helper:  Everyone know life as a college student can be messy, but there are many apps are specifically for daily organization. School Helper helps students stay organized by keeping track of grades, homework assignments, notes, and exams on the home screen. Students can add widgets to the main phone screen as reminders for assignments. Another helpful tool is found under “Marks,” it allows students to keep track of their grades in a particular course by adding assignment or exam counts that go toward the final grade. (Available for: Android; Costs: free)

4. Trello: It’s no surprise that when it comes to group projects someone gets the short end of the stick. Trello is an app designed to help group projects, both big and small, manage who is responsible for what. Group members can also create deadlines, assign, and tasks. Trello also sends group notifications when changes have been made. (Available for: iOS Devices, Android, Windows, and web browsers; Cost: free)

5. Google Drive: Being in group projects can often be a mess, but Google Drive makes collaborating a breeze. With Google Drive students can see when changes are made to files such as presentations or group papers. (Available: iOs Devices, Android, and web browsers; Cost: free)

Lytle, Ryan. “5 Apps College Students Should Use This Year.” US News. U.S.News & World

Sheehy, Kelsey. “5-Must-Download Apps for College Students.” US News. U.S.News & World