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Engaging Students with Active Learning

There are now more ways to get students active and interested in classes.

Professor Perry Samson from the University of Michigan experienced a significant increase of the amount of students in his class after he simply added the word “extreme” to the class name. Now that he had to deal with about 200 students from just 40, he decided to come up with a way to effectively teach his lectures to all of them.

Professor Samson is an entrepreneur as well and is the cofounder of a popular weather site and an active learning platform known as LectureTools. His purpose for LectureTools was to get students participating in class through their technological devices in class. This software allowed real-time feedback from the students and was able to capture notes that students were taking, how they answered questions and questions that they asked.


Co-founders of LectureTools (from left to right): Kiran Jagadeesh, Jason Aubree and Perry Samson.
Credit: AnnArbor.com

According to a report from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, students enrolled in STEM courses that used active learning techniques had exam scores that were 6 percent higher than the students who did not have active learning. In fact, it was shown that students who did not have active learning were “1.5 more likely to fail course exams”.

Samson concluded that a strong relationship exists between the students’ active learning participation and their outcomes. He says that, although the typical Learning Management System provides grading, assignments and collaboration potential, it does not provide tools that students can use to participate and be active during class time.

Ever since Samson introduced his software into his classes, 68% of his students asked questions in class; there was more of an even distribution among women and men and non-English and English speakers asking questions.

Source: http://campustechnology.com/articles/2015/04/15/engaging-students-with-active-learning.aspx?admgarea=News

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.

Anonymity of Students in Social Media

With the ability to be anonymous on social media, students feel more confident in releasing their hate and negativity without realizing its repercussions.

Yik Yak is an app that allows students, in colleges and universities only, to anonymously post to everyone within a 10-mile radius; it is similar to Twitter, only there is no need of an account. It has rapidly become successful among many universities around the world.

Casey Fabris discusses the issue of Yik Yak and how it has developed into cyberbullying- including sexual insults towards female professors. Many students use the app to release their frustration towards their classes, professors, other students, and university life in general. However, because the app allows everyone in the area to view what others are posting, professors are able to see students’ rants against them as well.

(Photo credit: Shutterstock and Twitter)

Professors have admitted to being emotionally affected to at least a slight degree from reading various posts. Colleges are trying to find more constructive outlets for professor evaluations. eXplorance believes that its new service, Bluepulse will be a more positive version of Yik Yak since it will have both students and instructors involved. It is uncertain, however, whether this will stop students from posting hateful comments on Yik Yak.

Another similar service that Sabrina Huyett, a teaching assistant at Birmingham Young University, uses is DropThought. She believes that “giving students an outlet where they can constructively criticize might prevent them from airing grievances negatively on platforms like Yik Yak.” Huyett admits that the larger the classes, the more likely there will be negative criticisms.

David Parry, an associate professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, explains that even if new platforms are developed for student’s feedback, it will not stop them from using Yik Yak. What needs to be done, instead of trying to move students away from a specific social media platform, is for colleges to teach students how to use social media responsibly.

Fabris, Casey. “Anonymous Feedback, Fine. Insults? Not on These Platforms.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. N.p., 04 Feb. 2015. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.

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.

What You Need to Know About Yik Yak, an App Causing Trouble on Campuses

A new mobile app is sweeping college campuses but not for good reasons.

The app is known as Yik Yak, an anonymous virtual bulletin board which gives you the ability to post your thoughts for others to read.  But postings from college students aren’t what you’d expect.

Postings range from inappropriate comments regarding sex, racism, sexism, and escalate to threats of violence as well as public safety threats. In a few instances college buildings were actually closed or campuses put on high alert due to anonymous threats made on this app. A sophomore was actually arrested in connection with a post about a possible campus shooting.

This app also opens up a new avenue for cyber-bullying—bullies are taking advantage of the anonymity that comes with using this app to attack people.

That being said, “Not all colleges are treating Yik Yak as a threat. Mr. Buffington reported that several had contacted his company to express interest in harnessing the app to learn more about what their students really think.”

For more information please read:

http://chronicle.com/article/What-You-Need-to-Know-About/149005/?cid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en