The Nursing Pharmacology course at CDL uses a unique action-controlled assignment in which all students are preassigned a particular topic and enrolled in teams. The teams are designed to represent one student working on each topic. Students present their work to their teams and then peer-review each other as part of a group assignment. All the navigation is controlled by team actions and dependencies that are built-in to the activity in ANGEL, the Learning Management System (LMS).
These behind-the-scenes, automated actions generated by the LMS control how and when students receive assignments, work in a group, and access peer-review forms. The complex layers of the activity would prove burdensome to the instructor if done manually. This activity therefore allows the sharing of student-generated content, the honing of presentation skills and encouraging social interaction – all without the instructor or the student needing to learn new technology or monitor ongoing submission or completion of assignments. Rather, the instructor can focus on the quality of the learning experience their students are having.
In the Women in Business course at CDL, students use a shared document to compile data related to their research on female CEOs from around the world. Each student is asked to provide authentic biographical data for a female CEO in business today, and to add it to a shared form in Google Docs in preparation for a class discussion and later in the course, a research paper.
The data each student enters on the Google Doc serves as an abbreviated research paper thesis, and because other students can view the entries of their peers, they not only learn a bit about other CEOs they may not have chosen themselves, but they also learn to recognize a growing number of influential businesswomen in today’s market.
The Google doc provides a real-time save/edit feature that provides students with the most current, up-to-date information recently added to the form by their peers or the instructor. It is important to note that students do not need gmail accounts to participate; the document is set up to allow anyone with the link to view and add data.
Because the Google Suite (Apps, Docs, Mail) doesn’t yet communicate with certain screen reader technology, students with visual impairments have the option to contact the instructor and receive a downloaded version of the document that they can add their data to and resubmit.
Throughout the Digital Art and Design course, students are asked to publicly share their art design work via the use of blogs. Peers use discussion threads to critique their peer’s art designs while the instructor monitors to ensure that communication is respectful, relevant, and useful. Peer critique is an interactive, formative and dynamic process that inspires enhanced performance in an authentic setting.
For peer feedback to be an effective instructional strategy, the instructor should supply clear deadlines, a rubric/guidelines, a sample critique, and course credit or incentives for peer reviewers. If peer feedback and critique are embedded throughout the course, it is not viewed as an activity but as a necessary step in the process of creating quality work.
Peer feedback allows for gaining insight from multiple perspectives, while the public posting allows for self reflection; Students see the differences in their quality of work, which in turns helps them calibrate superior performance in the class and model top performance.
In the Communications for Professionals
course, a professional, collaborative online environment is created to challenge students to tap into their existing knowledge and experiences, and incorporate newly learned skills when presenting themselves in a professional venue. It is intended to build self-confidence and professionalism into their communications.
This activity is designed to encourage participatory learning. The course instructor is charged with channeling the students interests and aptitudes into a more professional focus. By molding online and collaborative abilities and interests into academic pursuits, an authentic learning environment is created. While focusing on discipline-specific learning goals, the instructor scaffolds the learners through a series of activities that increase in complexity, thus shepherding the development of higher-order thinking skills.
Scaffolding activities: A series of role-play introductions to specific work environments, where each work environment is introduced by a first -and report from current employees and business owners (via video).
Collaborative social environment: A course blog was created specifically for the course, while also being open to the academic community. By placing the students in a collaborative social environment like a blog and scaffolding the activities, the students can role-play authentic learning activities.
Social media poses an interesting challenge to online educators. As educators, it is imperative that we understand the potential uses and implications of including social media in our pedagogy, but oftentimes, our own students know more than we do about what’s out there, what’s working, how, and why. Our task, then, has become two-fold: Harness the positive and collaborative aspects of social media in online learning while still effectively teaching and preparing our students for life outside the virtual classroom.
In Dr. John Beckham’s section of the Diversity in the Workplace course, we are piloting the use of Facebook in student discussions. Using their course email, students are asked to “friend” other students taking the course. Providing a live stream in the course via Facebook (below) allows students to communicate with each other while also seamlessly participating in class discussions. Their discussion posts are also sent to their Facebook wall, which effectively acts as an electronic portfolio of their discussion posts.
Integrating the Facebook live stream with course discussion offers several unexpected advantages. Because of its popularity, most students are familiar with the Facebook interface. Students can readily and easily harness the powerful interactivity of the Facebook platform and effortlessly create a virtual e-portfolio of their own discussion participation throughout the course. Another benefit is the mobile accessibility of Facebook accounts, which make it easy for students to access their own profile, and thus, the activity taking place in the course discussions, via their cell phones and/or other mobile devices.
A moderated “Think Tank” is created for students to collaborate and support one another as they plan, research and formulate a research project while taking the Nursing Research course at CDL. Students work collaboratively in Diigo to create a shared online reference repository, and their final research projects are “showcased” in a student gallery and peer-reviewed. It is hoped that students will feel some ownership for their peer’s projects when they have collaborated in the “think tank” and worked together in the shared reference assignment.
The Global Workplace: Its Impact on Employers, Workers, and Their Organizations
The Global Workplace course examines recent global trends, especially the transformative effects of information technology and the increasing importance of service work on the economy.
Students participate in several class discussions to establish an informed position on some of the issues of the global workplace. Using posts from every discussion, the course instructor creates an image using Wordle, a free wordcloud generator, and posts the link to the wordcloud for students to see each week.
Before the end of each learning module, students are able to visualize those thoughts, ideas, concepts and themes generated through their discussion participation. The word collages therefore become evocative of the most pressing and controversial issues in the global economy today.
Students in the Play, Fantasy and Reality course use Glogster to keep a 15-week reflective journal. In week 15, the final week of the course, they re-read their Glog Journal and create a second Glog to describe their “play” throughout their life. Glogging is a new way to create posters on the web – it’s fun, and free for students.
Glogging allows the expression of opinions, feelings and ideas in a way that isn’t possible with the use of mere words. Students can add background images and themes, graphical representations, photos, titles, audio, links and videos. After a Glog is created, students publish and share theirs with classmates.
Developing new and innovative ways to teach foreign language, CDL is incorporating VoiceThread into various courses, including Spanish for the World of Business. VoiceThread is a digital medium for housing, displaying and distributing nearly any type of media (images, documents and videos). VoiceThread allows students taking the Spanish course to collect media files, display them, and comment on them in 5 different ways - by using a microphone, a telephone, using written text, an audio file, or recording a video with a web cam. Students can create and share their media with anyone, anywhere.
Additionally, VoiceThread hosts group conversations, allowing students to practice their Spanish by sharing their thoughts on their media collections – in this case, their most loved and most hated foods.
Students taking this course also use VoiceThread to market a product of their choice, in Spanish. The product can be food, computer software, services, a store, etc. Students write their own advertisement and present it to the class, while the instructor and other students will record and share their own comments, in Spanish.