This week I have the pleasure of attending the Sloan Consortium’s 7th Annual International Symposium: Emerging Technologies for Online Learning as a virtual attendee. I think this is the first time I’m experiencing remote participation in an on-site event … and it’s great!
Not only are there a lot of streamed sessions to choose from, the social media interaction is helpful in bringing us all together through shared conversations and resources. Thanks to Saint Leo University for making it possible for me as an adjunct instructor and course designer to experience this event.
Here are a few of the sessions I attended, along with (very) brief notes and links that take you to the conference pages where more information (including slides and handouts) are uploaded and openly available.
How’d You Do That? Tips and Tricks That Might Account for My 95% Retention Rate
- “Keep class fresh and fun for you and your students.”
- Try having students submit discussion questions – students may be more likely to participate.
- Provide a table-format course schedule with details about due dates, instructions, objectives, etc.
- Decide what your policies are (e.g., late assignments) and stick to them. “Otherwise it’s a guideline.”
- Good conference tip: “look for a few gems.” Ideas that intrigue you, make you think about what you are doing, and could be actionable.
Turning the Lens Inward: Analyzing Instructor Participation in Asynchronous Discussions
- Take a look at the Discussion Participation Tool presented in the session.
- Good breakdown of types of responses – social, teaching, cognitive.
- “It’s nice when you can’t tell who is the teacher and who is a grad student” in an online discussion forum.
- We’re all in search of a “desirable instructor profile” that includes optimizing frequency of posts and types of posts. Would expectations be different for full-time/part-time instructors?
Developing Collaboration Online: Comparison of Structured Group Assignments
- Challenges exist in creating outcomes and activities that meet the needs of students from novice to expert.
- Importance of the role of social presence cannot be overstated.
- Advice includes: move toward synchronous sessions, intentionality in assignments, complexity of group work, use of webcam, on demand videos and assignments.
- Consider designing, approaching online course in phases (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010).
- Provide step-by-step instructions for students’ “first night” in your online course.
- Reflective blog prompts bring closure to every assignment.
- Interesting assignments described, including “Cool Tool Duel.”
Thanks again to Sloan-C and Saint Leo! This is a small sampling of the range of speakers, topics, and interactions that are being shared. Explore the conference program online for more info – most session pages include downloadable materials and presenter contact details.
You may also want to follow @et4online to get updates about next year’s conference, and, of course, the #et4online hashtag.
Update! I’m an official Sloan-C Ninja after completing the conference’s social media challenges, including my first video upload. Check out the badges. :)
Are you familiar with the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies (C4LPT) annual “Top 100 Tools for Learning” project? Led by Jane Hart, this is a collaborative effort in which learning professionals all over the world submit their top 10 tools for the year. This year more than 500 submissions were included.
I’ve contributed to the project over the last several years, but having missed the deadline for the latest list, I thought I’d go ahead and post my thoughts here. As a blogger, freelance instructional designer, and adjunct online instructor, these are the 10 tools that have been the most helpful to me over the past year (in no particular order):
- Google Search: What would we do without it? As a blogger I use Google to begin the research for almost every post I write. In the process I’ve become a student of analytics and changing algorithms. I recently completed Google’s open access Power Searching class and highly recommend it if you have the opportunity to enroll or use the posted resources.
- Blackboard: I love it and I hate it. Both the class I taught in the spring and another I assisted with this fall used Blackboard to deliver content to online students. While it’s not my favorite, I think an LMS at its most basic can provide a helpful hub for information and communication during an online class.
- Gmail: Email may be dead, but I sure am using it a lot these days to communicate with students, co-workers, and even to conduct asynchronous interviews for blog posts. I currently have more active accounts that I really want to count, and continue to be issued new ones with new contracts.
- Twitter:Perhaps my favorite on this list, I spend a lot of time on Twitter for a multitude of reasons: current events, industry news, network building, conference backchannels, keeping in touch with friends and colleagues, community-building and more. I also moderate a weekly chat focused on online learning and presented Twitter-related topics at several conferences this year.
- MS Word: Still my go-to for all things related to writing, I use Word to draft all posts here and at work, as well as for note-taking. Although I am using shared Google Docs more and more when collaboration is needed.
- Skype: I initiated Skype use this past year for virtual office hours with students and found several other groups asking me to join Skype meetings as well. I have also had a Skype phone number for the past several years and find it is more reliable (and has clearer reception) than my cell for work-related calls.
- WordPress: WordPress.com is home for this blog, and Inside Online Learning is powered by WordPress.org. One of the highlights of my year was presenting at WordCamp Miami in February and learning more about how to use WordPress from other speakers and participants representing a wide range of blog topics and web development skills.
- Google Chrome: As my favorite browser (although Firefox is a close second) Chrome has come a long way and just makes my work easier with a streamlined interface and great add-ons like Awesome Screenshot.
- Camtasia: Earlier this year I designed and developed an online course for CEUonestop (LinkedIn) which required screencasting. The Camtasia app was affordable and much more intuitive than I thought it would be, allowing me to quickly capture and edit resulting in a nice looking final product.
- Flickr: I continue to rely on the generosity of photographers providing use of their images with Creative Commons licenses. Flickr makes it easy to search for these via keyword and license type so that I can find items suitable for use in blog posts. I also try to add to the pool when I can.
Take a look at C4LPT’s final Top 100 list below, but don’t stop there. Go to the main page to explore more details about the submissions in the “Best of Breed” list and to see how this year’s tools compared to those submitted in 2011.
Image credit: (Top 10) iabusa, Flickr, CC:BY-SA
This is my third year of submitting my Top 10 Tools for Learning to Jane Hart’s annual project. Jane invites you to add your input as well:
If you are a learning professional (e.g. teacher, academic, trainer, consultant, developer, practitioner, analyst, etc) and active in the field of (e-)learning, please share your Top 10 Tools for Learning to help refine the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2011.
She goes a step further and defines learning tool for us:
This could be a tool you use to create or deliver learning content/solutions for others, or a tool you use for your own personal learning.
This year I’ve done more writing than designing, but have put these tools through their paces for my own personal learning purposes. So, here’s my list (in no particular order):
- Hootsuite: I have written about information curation and management systems several times this year and use Hootsuite every single day to manage Twitter tasks: monitor the incoming feed, correspond with other individuals in the field, track topics of interest, follow conference events, and develop writing ideas.
- Twitter: This one pretty much goes without saying after #1! I have come to rely on Twitter a great deal, but I am also exploring Google+ more and more for information, conversations, and network building.
- Google Search: This is the go-to search engine for me without a doubt. Especially since I made the move over to Chrome.
- Chrome: Using this as my primary browser not only opens up the convenience of Google-related features and functions (e.g. searching via keywords in the address bar), but also does a nice job of tracking most frequently visited and most recently visited sites for easy return.
- GMail: Another Google product and the one I use for work. Email continues to be a mainline connector for me, and a place where other communication efforts (i.e. Twitter) seem to end up eventually. Did I mention it works well with Chrome? Chrome allows me to set up the notification of new messages so I get a visual on-screen.
- Feedly: This is another information management tool that I have written about this year. Set up your reading list of blogs and other websites, and access them in an easy to scan interface. This is a daily routine as well. (And, yes, connects with Google Reader). The Feedly App also allows you to sync your reading list and progress across devices.
- WordPress: I use WordPress.com for this blog, and my work is posted on a WordPress self-hosted blog. When asked for recommendations for pretty much anything web-based (i.e. blogs, websites, portfolios, online course delivery, content management ) I mention WordPress. With its large and helpful user community, easy to learn admin side, and design flexibility, you’ve got to give it a try. Oh, and don’t forget to check out a local WordCamp!
- MS Word: I made the move to a MacBook Pro over a year ago and haven’t looked back, but I still use Word. For me it’s tried and true. I know how it works and document creation is essential for me. I even admit to creating drafts in Word first before moving to Google Docs or WordPress to share, and then I back up the shared files in Word.
- Delicious: I’m still using Delicious pretty heavily, even after the move to AVOS last month. The transition was a little rocky, but everything seems to be back up and running – except, sadly, for Chrome extensions. So while I am shopping for another bookmarking system, Delicious is it for now.
- iPad: I am not sure if devices are allowed on this list, but it does fit the definition provided for learning tool. I resisted this purchase with the original then pre-ordered the iPad2 and use it to access everything listed above, except MS Word.
After I completed this list I looked back through my Top 10 for 2009 and 2010 and was a little surprised at how my use has changed over time. How about you? If you haven’t added your Top 10, consider doing so before the project wraps for 2011 sometime in the next few weeks!
UPDATE! Jane Hart’s list of the Top Tools for 2011 is complete! Take a look at the list and slideshow presenting the submissions of 531 learning professionals.
Image credit: zigazou76, Flickr