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May, 2012:

Open Courses Give Students Educational Options

An article from USA Today discussed the recent trend of Ivy League and top-tier universities offering free or low-cost online courses. Institutions such as MIT, Princeton, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania are among those offering “open courses” to the public.  This model of virtual instruction allows those who are not enrolled in these universities to access the same education and learning materials a student taking the traditional class would have.

In the article, Katrina Trinko suggests that these programs could serve as a substitute for a traditional education. If a high school student doesn’t get into Harvard, for example, they have the option of taking Harvard courses online without being enrolled in the institution. Students win in this situation, as they are able to access the courses without having to be physically in Cambridge or pay the $50,000+/year traditional students do. Additionally, a world-class education is at their fingertips. They are being taught by some of the best professors in the world, and it’s wonderful that this kind of access is now available to anyone with an Internet connection.

It is no doubt that open courses amongst such powerful and established higher institutions are making quality education more accessible to the masses. However, it is important to note that open courses are a relatively new idea. There currently is no universal system (and for many programs, no system at all) put in place to deal with how students could gain credit or legitimacy with the courses they take. Additionally, many course catalogs are limited at this time. Perhaps the system needs to develop a bit more before open courses replace, or are even seen as an alternative, to traditional face-to-face education.

Do you think open learning is the future of higher education? How do you think traditional students feel about their institutions offering open courses? Would you/have you enrolled in an open course? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Tegrity User Conference Sessions Now Online

Last month, (4/18-20) the 6th annual Tegrity User Conference took place in Seattle, WA. UWB Learning Technologies’ own Andreas Brockhaus and Ian Porter were able to attend, along with many other administrators, IT specialists, faculty members and users of the lecture capture system.

But for those who weren’t able to make it, we’ve got good news: conference sessions are now available through the Tegrity website. Topics of interest include:

There are many more sessions to choose from, and they are all very interesting regardless of how experienced with Tegrity you are.

Please note that these sessions are actual Tegrity recordings and may require an additional plugin to play (although we’ve found that using Internet Explorer allows them to run without complications)

Click here for more information about Tegrity at UW Bothell.

And once more, the list of Tegrity sessions from the conference.

UWB LT Blog Included as a “Must-Read” by EdTech Magazine

We’re proud to report that this blog was included in The Dean’s List: 50 Must-Read Higher Education Technology Blogs, an article by EdTech Magazine highlighting 50 fantastic educational technology blogs. Learning Technologies is absolutely honored to be included among some incredible writers and institutions. We are also pleased to see that some of our favorite edtech blogs made the list, and are excited to explore and discover new ones!

We have a great team here at UWB Learning Technologies, and we couldn’t do it without one another! Thank you to all of our readers and Edtech Magazine for including us in this list. We’ll keep doing what we’re doing!

Journaling in Blackboard: Reflect On And Deepen Learning

Journaling can be a powerful tool for students to reflect on their learning. Journals can be used to:

  • “record the development of ideas and insights and / or those of a group in a given context and can include concepts, ideas and main points from experience and theory
  • reflect upon the subject content and personal experiences as a means to increase understanding
  • analyze one’s own learning in and for self-development.” (from the Study and Learning Center at RMIT University)

Blackboard now offers a journaling tool which will allow students to create their own reflective journals. The most important thing to note about this tool is that creating one journal for an assignment will automatically create a private journal for every student. You do not need to create a separate journal for each student! The essential steps to create a journal are:

  1. Select Journals from the course tools menu in the control panel.
  2.  Create a journal keeping in mind that this will automatically create a journal for every student. So choose a journal name that reflects the assignment.
  3. In journal settings, decide if you want students to have the ability to delete their entries and your comments. All journals are private, so other students won’t be able to comment on another student’s entry.
  4. If you select the option to grade the journal, a grade column will automatically be added to the grade center

Once the journal has been created, each student’s entry will be displayed in a box on the right side of the journal. You can also comment on students’ postings if you want.

You can find more information about using journals in Blackboard including several videos at the Learning Technologies Journal page.



Students Like Short, Compelling Tegrity Videos, According To Athens State Professor

At the Tegrity Conference held in Seattle, April 18-20, Jeff Johnson, Assistant Professor of Management at Athens State University, presented on course surveys that had been done on his campus which captured student feedback on best and worst practices for producing a Tegrity video. These videos were primarily done by instructors outside of a class period, recorded in an office or at home. Here are the main findings of those surveys.

  • 96% of students surveyed slightly to strongly agreed that lecture capture enhanced learning
  • 93% of students surveyed slightly to strongly agreed that they wished that all courses used Tegrity.
  • Over 90% said that it was easy to use and that they were satisfied with it.
  • Students had a mixed reaction whether a faculty face should be in a recording, though they did note that an instructor needs to be careful of the background if he/she does record his/her face.

The majority of students recommended that videos be no longer than 30 minutes. Other tips included:

  • Don’t read slides
  • Act like you enjoy the subject
  • Be clear and conversational; don’t talk too fast
  • Avoid audio problems by doing a short recording to see if it’s loud enough. Getting a better microphone can help.
  • Make PowerPoint slides and visuals available outside of recordings so students can print it out.
  • Use charts, graphs, and visuals
  • Avoid outside distractions while recording like cell phones going off

Students also said that it was really helpful if faculty listed in a syllabus if classes were to be recorded.