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Differences Between Blogs and Journal Entries


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.


  • 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.

Videos Find Their Place In and Out of the Classroom

Videos have started to become an integral part of education and could become as important as textbooks.

The research was done by SAGE Publications out of curiosity to see the variety of perspectives on the same topic.  Elisabeth Leonard, an author at SAGE Publications, claims that she was “intrigued by the variety of reasons students had for using videos.” The study shows that, from the 1,673 students surveyed, the majority watched educational videos simply because the professor played it during class. The second most popular response was that they used the videos for help in understanding the course material.

(Photo Credit: http://www.sagepub.com/repository/binaries/pdfs/StudentsandVideo.pdf)

An interesting finding was that many students looked directly at Google and Youtube for their videos and were unaware of the resources that the library had. Students suggested that, to solve this, the library market them through the websites, social media, posters, as well as deliver specific and personalized messages rather than general ones.

As the research shows that videos are becoming more popular in the classroom, it is important to note how a video can be appealing and informative to the student so that they can get the most out of it. Researchers Greenberg and Zanetis found that there were three main factors involved in the impact of an educational video: Interactivity with content, where the student relates to the content by note taking or applying concepts; engagement, where the student becomes drawn into the video; and knowledge transfer and memory, where the student remembers and retains information.

The speakers in the video themselves is an important factor in making the video more compelling. Students stated that they didn’t like videos where speakers were monotonous, did not look at the camera, or looked nervous. All of these factors determined how long the student would watch the video. Many people are quick to judge whether they would sit through the entire video or not; most students would watch a couple minutes unless the video had all of the factors mentioned above.

Source: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/videos-find-their-place-in-and-out-of-the-classroom/56113

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









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

Flipping a Classroom


(Photo credit: http://www.knewton.com/blog/education-infographics/flipped-classroom-infographic)

As the world advances, so too does classroom technology. Of course tied to that are new strategies for teaching alongside technology. Interestingly enough some classes throughout the U.S. have been using a flipped classroom design to better prepare students for the work ahead. What the design entails essentially asks professors to create their lectures via lecture capture (online recordings), students are then supposed to watch the lectures prior to class. Homework would then be done in class the following day(s), as the professor would be able to personally assist students in understanding how the lecture applies to the work being done in class.

The “flipped classroom” design encourages student engagement outside of the classroom, while providing face to face assistance from the teacher with homework or discussion questions. It also allows for an easier transition between homework and lecture for students whereas the current system forces students to learn about a subject, then do the homework at a later time without the help of the person teaching it, thus clearly disrupting a student’s flow of fully understanding the material presented to them. With that said, the lane seems to be widening and with it comes a surplus options of for creating engaging classes.

Learn more here: http://ctl.utexas.edu/teaching/flipping-a-class