UW Bothell Learning Technologies Blog Rotating Header Image

online tools

As High-Tech Teaching Catches On, Students With Disabilities Can Be Left Behind

3509153865_ffb5ff9340_b

Credit to James F Clay

 

In our digital day and age learning is an opportunity granted to almost everyone. The internet has given us a medium of information transfer that can touch millions of people, anyone can learn anything now. These advancements in learning have been adapted to the college classroom in many ways as well–teachers will use videos, PDF documents of texts, as well as devices like Clickers to further their student’s understanding of the topics addressed in class.

But this can prove to be a difficult feat for those who are disabled.

In an article on the Chronicle of Higher Education, by Casey Fabris, the issues of discrimination against those with disabilities in the classroom is examined.

Students who are blind or deaf are having difficulty gaining access to resources that are offered to their other classmates. One instance of this is the flipped classroom model that many classes are adapting, assigning students videos to watch or texts to read outside of class then coming prepared to discuss them. Unfortunately closed captioning on all videos is only just starting to emerge. Many people are making an effort on sites like YouTube to close caption their videos, but sadly most still aren’t. This leaves behind students who have disabilities, and in some cases professors just excuse them from the assignment, leaving them out of a great learning opportunity.

There have been numerous lawsuits against Universities who have failed to supply their students with proper materials to perform their duties in class. Things like PDF documents being incompatible with their reading software, videos without closed captioning, and the lag time between translation of questions and students using clickers have all been issues that people with disabilities have to deal with.

This is an issue that continues to plague many campuses, sadly leaving many students behind. Many universities are fighting back against this, doing everything they can to accommodate those who need help, but the issue still persists. There needs to be more of an effort to include everyone in classroom activities, and one good way to start would be to spread the word of this problem.

For more information on this topic visit the link above.

One Reason to Offer Free Online Courses: Alumni Engagement

14305644882_bb9314acca_z

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.

DC1 Final Projects: Fantastic UWB Student Work!

Ever wonder what first-year UWB students are doing in their Discovery Core classes? Well, now that Autumn Quarter 2011 is over, you can take a look at students’ final projects from two very interesting, technology-enhanced courses:

First is a video from BCUSP 110B: Digital Thinking: Animation, Video Games, and the Social Web, a 5-credit DC1 class taught by Kelvin Sung. The video tells the “story” of the class from the beginning of the quarter to the end. The students start off without experience, then build up to basic animation exercises, get more advanced while learning about digital art and how games work, until finally producing a (very cool) video game final project! Check it all out here:

Another batch of great projects comes from the Discovery Core series BCUSP 104G/107G: American Idol(s): How Stories Shape Culture and Identity, taught by Amoshaun Toft and Kari Lerum. The course focused on personal storytelling and the study and analysis of storytelling in popular culture and academia. Additionally, about half of this course focused on students’ production of their own stories. The final project was a showcase of the digital storytelling skills students had learned in the form of a 3-5 minute video. In it, students were asked to tell a personal story while incorporating visuals and extra sounds. Students wrote, recorded, edited and exported their stories, which turned out wonderfully. To see some of the stories, visit the Films section of the class website.

Great job to students and faculty this quarter!

Chronicle of Higher Ed: Students Assess Their Professors’ Technology Skills

The Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed four tech-savvy students to get their viewpoint on how professors use technology in the classroom. More information about the interview can be found here.

Tips on Teaching Classes Online

uw bothell students laptopThe following tips are excerpts  from Michelle Everson’s 10 Things I’ve Learned About Teaching Online article about teaching online. The full article is at http://www.elearnmag.org/subpage.cfm?section=best_practices&article=57-1

  1. Teaching online is a lot of work.
  2. Students appreciate regular communication and timely feedback on their progress.
  3. Many great tools exist but aren’t always necessary.
  4. Assignments and activities take more time online.
  5. Students need extrinsic motivation.
  6. Give deadlines.
  7. Online courses are not right for all students.
  8. Ask students what works and what doesn’t.
  9. Share ideas, collaborate, and commiserate about the online teaching experience.
  10. Teaching online can inform what you do in the classroom if you have opportunities to teach both online and classroom-based courses.