Wednesday, November 11, 2015

GaETC 2015 - Atlanta, GA - 11/4-11/6

Wow! GaETC never fails to be a fun and informational conference.

Keynote Angela Maiers

Wednesday morning, we heard from keynote Angela Maiers on the "mattering gap." What is that, you ask? It's exactly what it sounds like. Anyone who has ever had a 4 year old knows that they know they matter. They know they are awesome. But the older we get, the less we feel like we matter. The only way to change that is to change the attitude surrounding it. Elementary teachers often set aside time for praising their students, whether it be open house, when they show the parents how awesome their kids are, or school play night when the whole school cheers them on. But as grand as that sounds, it's not enough. Mattering is more than just an instance here and there. To know we matter, we have to feel it around us everywhere.

I know, you're thinking "we're college professors, it's not our jobs to coddle our students." And I'm not disagreeing with you. Our students are adults now. We aren't raising them like elementary teachers are. However, this notion of mattering applies to more than just kids. Based on Angela Maiers presentation, there is a huge, huge percentage of the workforce that say they would "run to work" (or in other words, be excited for their jobs) if they were more appreciated. And I wholeheartedly agree. I came back to KSU after a year away because I wasn't appreciated in my previous job. I love it here because I am appreciated here. I enjoy coming to work because whether I'm told or not, I know that the faculty I work with are appreciative of the job I do, just as I am appreciative of the job they do.

So while we're not elementary teachers, why can't we show our college students that they matter? Why not praise them on their awesome work? Why not give the extra attention? I challenge anyone reading this to think of just one way that you can show your college students that they matter.

Let me just say, Angela Maiers changed my whole perspective and made me understand why I am where I am, and how we can help college students get there too. She ended the session by having us write that we matter, that we are enough.

Project-Based Learning Presentations

The first concurrent session I attended at GaETC was on project-based learning and presentations by Stacey Tanner at Fulton County Schools. She started out by directing us to this awesome site with tons and tons of project-based learning resources:

She covered some essential elements and best practices in PBL:
  • key knowledge, understanding, and success skills
  • challenging problem or question
  • sustained inquiry (guided practices)
  • authenticity
  • student voice & student choice
  • reflection
  • critique & revision
  • public product
And then she introduced us to a few presentation tools:
  • Wideo - make animated online videos
  • Flipsnack - convert PDFs to interactive flipbooks
  • Emaze - visually appealing online presentation software

Chrome Extensions That Will Save Your Life

This session was one of my favorites. Chris Craft from South Carolina told us about some Google Chrome extensions that would be so, so, so beneficial to educators, and even some that are beneficial to everyone. First, though, he explained the difference between a Google App, a Google Addon, and a Google Extension.
  • Google App - Third party service that can be used with a Google login
  • Google Addon - Can affect Google Docs, Drive, etc. 
  • Google Extension - Impact the browsing experience
And then he jumped into the awesome extensions, some of which I have already added to my browser.
  • Print Friendly & PDF - removes everything except the document itself (ads, etc.) for printing.
  • TinEye Reverse Image Search - you can take an image and search for it, and it will track down the first place it was ever posted. Good for helping your students properly site images. 
  • uBlock Origin - adblocker that doesn't weigh down Chrome. Better than Ad Block Plus because ABP slows Chrome down, but uBlock Origin does not. 
  • Clearly by Evernote - takes everything except the main text away. Good for keeping yourself from getting distracted by other stuff on the page.
  • The Great Suspender - after an hour of non-use, tabs are suspended to free up memory (but the tab stays there, so you don't lose your spot). Also has a white list feature for things that you want to keep active always, like email.
  • OneTab - condense tabs into one webpage full of the links. Good for if you want your students to look at a bunch of different things, but don't want to create the list of links yourself. 
  • CraftyRights - every time you search Google Images, every result will be copyright free.
  • CraftyText - pulls up a big text box in the middle of the screen. Good for if you're in class and need your students to see the URL for something, but it's too small for them to see. 

Academic Integrity

Marcia Philosophos from Florida Virtual School did a presentation on academic integrity in virtual environments, and while most of what she said was stuff that we either already knew here at KSU or was only applicable to lower grades education, she did point out some free web-based plagiarism checkers:

Engaging Students Online

KSU CHSS's own Dan Farr presented on how to engage students in an online environment on Thursday morning. He said some good stuff about structuring your online courses:
  • have a clear and logical layout of course materials
  • be consistent in organization throughout the course
  • have multiple cues - text, links, visuals, etc.
  • use tools that encourage students to be organized - he mentioned that he uses one of my videos (from when I was a student at KSU) on organizing the KSU student email accounts as an organization tool for students
  • have a clear syllabus and clear guidance

Adding Power to Your Point

KSU (Bagwell and CHSS)'s own Kali Alford presented on tons of cool presentation software and add-ons for PowerPoint.
  • Nearpod - create interactive and visually appealing presentations; also features a teacher tool where students can create presentations and you can assess from within the website
  • Microsoft Sway - brand new Microsoft presentation tool that is free to use and cloud-based
  • Office Mix - PowerPoint add-on that revamps what you can do with PowerPoint presentations
  • ThingLink Edu - create interactive images, maps, and other traditionally stagnant presentation items to increase student engagement
  • Notegraphy - write and publish to social media while adding your own personal style
  • Flipgrid - make visually appealing collaborative discussions with video replies

Side Notes

During the Chrome Extensions session, I heard a woman behind me mention Quizziz, which is apparently similar to Kahoot.

At some point during the Engaging Students Online session, I also heard about Animoto, which is another video and slideshow software. 

My Presentation :)

I presented on open educational resources for foreign languages. After presenting a few OERs, we had a great collaboration session of foreign language teachers helping each other and telling about the resources they use in their own classes. To get the links to the resources from my presentations, click here.

Overall, GaETC was a really fun conference with tons and tons of technology resources. Though to conference generally focuses on K-12 education, some of the best tools and ideas come from those grade levels.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Keynote at GAETC 2015

Angela Maiers delivered one of the keynotes at the GAETC 2015. Everyone was talking about how awesome it was. What was also awesome was an artist who created a graphic of each keynote. Here was his rendition of Angela Maiers'.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What I Learned at the Online Learning Consortium in Orlando, Florida October 12-16, 2015

Tiffani did a GREAT job telling us about FlipCon! It was a wonderful resource, especially for those of us exploring more about blended/hybrid learning. And it was very interesting to hear what high school teachers are doing across the disciplines.

I attended the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning ( master class before the Online Learning Consortium conference began.

I learned quite a bit in that day-long workshop--

One element that got a lot of discussion was a faculty member's charisma in teaching an online class. I was surprised to learn a few tips to increase a faculty member's online charisma:
1. Write like you talk--implement short videos of yourself teaching/lecturing with the first "take." That is, let students see your mistakes and see the "real" professor.
2. Talk "off script." Fellow faculty sharing this information said that talking "off script" (that is, not reading a prepared sheet of paper onto a camera but rather lecturing more like you would in front of a class) increases faculty charisma, which in turn increases student retention.

Another very interesting ideas had to do with student-student interaction outside of online classes. One institution with a lot of online students said that online students had set up clubs based on identity such as students who are parents, returning students who are military, etc. The students used Yammer, but the faculty member sharing the information said Facebook would also work.

Another topic that was discussed was standardization of online courses. On the one hand, it might make sense to standardize the course look across an institution. However, one institution experimented with standardizing an entire program--with the look and feel of every course, right down to the same number and type of  assignments in every course in the program. The institution found that overstandardization can negatively impact critical thinking skill development of students.

An additional idea that was discussed had to do with improving online courses--and doing so mid-semester. One institution has formal, early-semester evaluations. After the evaluations are completed, the institution's center for teaching excellence reads all the evaluations, looks for patterns, and approaches faculty and offers assistance to improve elements of the course that seemed to be an issue for multiple students. If the faculty member agrees, improvements are implemented mid course to improve the student experience. Pretty bold!

The Online Learning Consortium Conference itself is an amazing whirl of technology, instructional design, pedagogy, and faculty development strategies.

Many of the panels I attended addressed best practices in faculty development. Highlights included ideas like making sure that your institution appreciates scholarship of teaching and learning if you want your faculty to ask for/participate in faculty development. Also, if you want your institution to appreciate and support faculty development, you want to make sure you measure the success of your faculty development efforts in ways that administrators can understand and appreciate. Another panel addressed ways of collaborating faculty development and online program administration efforts across multiple campuses--15 multiple campuses to be exact! I also attended a panel on gaming that used SoftChalk to create gamified online classroom scenarios to engage students and increase student success.  Another panel explained the task of translating the QM Rubric into Chinese! And I learned about software tools such as GoReact, Educannon, and Zaption.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

FlipCon Atlanta 2015 - KSU Social Sciences Building - 10/9/2015

Tammy Powell and I (Tiffani Reardon) attended FlipCon Atlanta last Friday to learn about the flipped classroom, and we found a lot of information that applies well to hybrid classes and some cool technologies that we can use in online and hybrid classes. So here is what we learned at FlipCon Atlanta 2015:

The Why and How of Flipped Learning

There are four "T" hurdles of flipped learning:
  • Thinking - we have to convince people of what class time should look like
  • Training - there is no one way to flip, but there are wrong ways. Here are some best practices in flipped learning:
    • Don't make videos too long.
    • Replace things, don't add - that is, if you add a video for students to take home, get rid of something in the classroom, like the traditional lecture.
    • Don't rescue students who don't do homework. Hold your guns. 
    • Plan for students who don't do homework - this doesn't mean rescue. This means have a plan. A lot of people said that they will have them sit in the corner and do the reading or watch the video while the rest of the class gets the practice and application time that they are missing out on.
    • Don't give up too early.
    • Don't make content too difficult to access - that is, don't put videos or readings in a different place every night or make them have to sign in to too many places to access it. With D2L, we don't really have this problem. But it's a good rule of thumb that applies to Quality Matters, too. 
    • Plan for kids who don't understand the videos - some people at the conference said that they would set aside 10 min or so to go over information with the students who didn't understand while others get started on practice work. 
    • Build in interactivity - don't just make them watch a lecture video with no accountability. Build in question, make them take notes, anything that keeps them awake and alert. 
    • Teach them how. Don't just send them home with homework and not show them how to access it or what to do with it. For online classes, we already do this by using a course tour or navigational instructions in our courses to meet QM. But in a hybrid or face-to-face course, you can show them in class how to find their information in D2L or you can post a course tour like we do in online classes. 
    • Get stakeholders involved - this one applied more to elementary/middle/high school because in higher ed our stakeholders are our students, but essentially it means get the parents involved. Tell them what you are doing in class and even be as bold as to give them homework too. 
    • Make good use of class time. This is the whole point of flipped learning. If you are going to have them watch videos and do the less engaging stuff at home, make it worth it. Have discussions in class, have practice time in class, do labs in class. 
  • Time - it's a lot of work. You have to find the time to flip your class.
  • Technology - find the right technology for you. 


We learned about some cool technologies! Here are a few:
13 tips for making a good video:
  • keep it short
  • animate your voice
  • work with a partner
  • less text, more pics
  • video clips
  • callouts/zooms
  • copyright friendly
  • add humor
  • audio matters
  • don't waste students' time
  • annotations
  • PIP
  • quizzing/interaction

 Other Miscellaneous Stuff We Learned About

  • Student Choice Boards - where you give a few options for learning the content and a few options for showing that you learned it. Basically, I don't care how you learned it, I care that you learned it.
  • Siri-proof your quizzes! - if Siri knows the answer (or Cortana on Windows), your students can look it up too
  • Project-based learning is more than just doing a project - form the whole learning experience around a project 
  • Studies have shown that students respond better to content that you created yourself rather than videos and content made by other people!