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Online/Hybrid Learning

Virtual History

When we think about studying history in school, it often involves reading a long boring textbook. However in Marc Perry’s article he highlights a new form of teaching history. Perry interviewed Claudio Saunt, a professor at the University of Georgia, and Stephen Berry, who both founded the U. of Georgia’s Center for Virtual History. Mr. Saunt and Mr. Berry have created websites that show pictures, videos, documentaries, and many more virtual representations from history.

For example, Mr. Saunt’s map, “The Invasion of America,”goes beyond a class lecture or a regular book. The map creates a visual representation of how the United States captured 1.5 billion acres from indigenous people between 1776 and 1887. You can click on the timeline to see the United States slowly change each state’s color representing the captured land. Since the website released, “The Invasion of America” has attracted more than 90,000 viewers on this website alone. A YouTube video about the invasion was created as well and has received over 95,000 views.

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Picture by: Hastiin Tilden

With the mass audience received from ‘The Invasion of America” Mr. Saunt proposed to collaborate with Mr. Berry to create another website called IndianNation. Mr. Saunt refers to it as a historical “Facebook of the dead.” In this website you can click anywhere in the United States and Alaska and it will show you which tribes where and are actively present. You can also search different people by gender and location. When you click on a tribe you can see pictures, videos, and documentaries about them. I clicked on a few tribes located in Eastern Washington, but no pictures or documentaries have been submitted yet. It might be because Mr. Saunt and Mr. Berry want the community of descendants and students to help by having actual tribe members share their stories, photos, and letters documenting the lives of its members.

There are some barriers to teaching and writing in new ways for historians. For example, they are encouraged to publish traditional books and articles. However, with the technology, historians will be able to inform so many more people. The number of viewers show how much of an impact teaching through technology can have, which is something historians and other educators should take into consideration.

What Makes an Online Instructional Video Compelling?

In an article published on Educause they take a look at findings from Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education (SCE) on what makes an online instructional video compelling.

In order to gain insight into what videos received the most views, SCE used analytics provided by Kaltura, an open-source video platform. SCE also interviewed students to gather information that the analytics couldn’t provide.

Here are some of the findings from the study:

  • Videos with high view counts usually had a direct connection with course assignments.
  • The average view time was four minutes. So when producing longer-format lecture content the SCE production team breaks it up into shorter content segments.
  •  Students related faculty presence in the video as a key factor in their engagement and described humor and wit positively.
  • Audio/visual elements were repeatedly described by students, as useful aspects of online course videos.
  • Students had mixed feelings about production value with some preferring higher production value, while others found it distracting.
  • Students reported that their viewing habits mirrored that of sitting in a class lecture. Most of the students interviewed said that they took notes as they watched the videos.

Using Badges in Higher Education

In a recent blog post by Trent Batson on The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning’s (AAEEBL) website, an interesting topic about centralization and democratization of education emerged from the use of information technology. Either side of the issue, whether to centralize and control technology or to allow students to have control over their own learning in higher education, was compared to identify both the profitability of centralizing control of technology and/or the efficiency of giving control over to students to enhance learning.

To assess either side of the issue, Batson talks about the use of badges in online learning scenarios as a way “challenge how grading is done”, while creating a system of “micro-credentialing”.

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Higher Pass Rates for STEM Courses Using Active Learning

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and developed by lead researchers at the University of Washington, which included Scott Freeman, Mary Wenderoth, Sarah Eddy, Miles McDonough, Nnadozie Okoroafor, Hannah Jordt, and Michelle Smith, findings about STEM courses utilizing the active learning model illustrated higher pass rates than courses using a traditional lecture model.

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Enhancing Foreign-Language Learning with “Telecollaboration”

Having accessible technology provides many opportunities for enhancing the learning experience for students. In the case of learning a foreign-language, such as Spanish or French, what better way to learn the language than from an actual student from Spain or France?

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently posted an article about a Portuguese class at Virginia Commonwealth University that uses video-conferencing software, such as Skype and Google Hangouts, to connect VCU students with English-learning students in Brazil to facilitate “authentic language-immersion experiences.” Using teletandem, or telecollaboration, allows students from both countries to teach each other their native languages, creating a genuine and highly engaging language-learning experience.

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