Tag Archives: web 2.0

Real Time Collaboration: Google Docs & Class Participation

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.

It’s Easier to Learn What You Already Know: Using Facebook in Class Discussions

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.

A Screenshot of the Facebook Live Stream Box

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.

Click Less, Discuss More!

One simple rule to follow when working on the web is that if we can increase the ease of access to something, we can automatically increase its use. Building on this idea, we can make the learning environment even easier for our students to participate in and succeed.

In the course Communications, Technology, and Convergence, we embed a webpage directly within a discussion page. Originally, the design of the activity required the students to open another browser window or tab, download a pdf reader, and toggle between pages to participate. All of this took away time and interfered with the students’ ability to seamlessly progress through the activity.

By embedding the page within a discussion webpage, students can refer to the paper instantly without leaving the activity. This allows the students to focus wholly on the content of the article, and how it relates to the questions proposed in their discussion section. And, with one click, they can print and/or view the paper in full screen mode.

Ready, Set, Go! Next Gen Learning Goes Mobile

T-Mobile HTC G2 (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)In response to the growing use of mobile technology, CDL has several projects underway that focus on increasing mobile accessibility to our online courses. Discovering Math Across Generations, a course in which math partners work together on learning activities, utilizes available mobile math applications and podcasts to increase convenience and flexibility of course content delivery. In addition, revised activities will incorporate use of popular mobile devices, such as iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad and Androids.

Our new course, American Popular Music of the 20th Century (first offered this fall), will feature integrated mobile technology applications that allow students to access course content and participate in online discussions while on the go. The ability to instantly upload audio, video and images to the course will expand students’ learning environment and allow them to connect with their classmates from almost anywhere!

e-Reader (AP Media)Other projects include exploring the potential benefits of e-readers, such as the Amazon Kindle, in literature studies. In particular, students could take advantage of pre-1923 titles, thousands of which are available in digital format from Project Gutenberg, Open Library and others.

But we understand mobile technology’s practical and logistical value as well, and consistently strive to make our adult students’ lives a little more manageable. Currently, those enrolled in GPS and the New Geography are able to access their course schedule via smart phone, to keep up with assignments and due dates.

The Mobile Learning Task Force, a collaborative committee with members from the CDL faculty, Curriculum & Instructional Group and the Office of Academic Technology. The committee will participate in a panel discussion at the 2011 Empire State All-College Conference (March 23-25) and the CDL Conference (April 29-30). Stay tuned!

Social Bookmarking Meets Academic Research

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.

Technology Made Easy: Teaching Tools for Instructors

For instructors to maintain a presence and foster a mentoring relationship in their courses, they don’t want to spend the majority of their time trying to learn a new technology. Because the online environment is in a constant state of flux, it might seem like there is always something new to learn about – and that requires an investment of time, which is in short supply for most of us these days.  Our new courses at CDL include Instructor Notes, informational materials written specifically for instructors to allow ease with the new teaching tools and resources. Providing this instructional material to instructors may seem redundant at first, but it allows our teachers to spend more time focusing on their students, and less time troubleshooting new technology.

The use of the Mapblog in courses offers a unique example. Because the Mapblog tool has been upgraded over time, it now includes that many more features  and can therefore be daunting to new, or even seasoned instructors who are not consistently working with the tool.  To address this issue, now included with the upgrade to the new mapblogs, CDL has released interactive instructional material for instructors that quickly review the pedagogical principles of the mapblog, offers tips for grading, and provides instructions for getting started.

No More Flashcards: Learning and Teaching Foreign Language With Digital Imagery

 

In foreign language courses at CDL, we encourage students to interact with visual content in order to immerse them in the language by providing context and meaning to their learning experiences.  

The traditional ‘flash card’ approach to teaching and learning foreign language  relies primarily on memorization and subsequent translation.  Through the use of visual and dynamic content (shown above), instructors and students can rely on ostensive learning.  That is, students are able to manipulate and change visual images in order to learn, define and translate any given vocabulary word or phrase.

The use of visual tools can augment the curriculum of any language course by offering students a chance to interact with the language, and derive meaning through the provision of familiar context.

Flipbooks: Content With Style

At CDL, one of our primary curricular goals is to encourage active learning in every course we offer. Often, we achieve this goal by providing students with guided explorations of the many resources available on the web today. Under the instruction of faculty, students are supported in their search for content that fits their style of learning and enhances their experience in the course. The Curriculum & Instructional Design group collaborates with faculty to create and provide exploratory opportunities like these.

Flipbooks are a great way to provide students with a variety of content related to the course – as well as the option to explore it at their own pace.  Multiple presentation styles (timelines, lists or maps) are not only visually-rich, but allow students to choose the method of presentation that works best for their own style of learning.

Below is an example of a Flipbook currently being used in the Caribbean History and Culture course at CDL.

Click on the link to see a full screen version of this learning object, http://www.dipity.com/timeline/Caribbean-History-And-Culture/flip/fs

Travel Simulation and Learning Maps


In Italian: History and Culture an interactive map creates a simulation of the travel paths of Frances Mayes, author of The Sweet Life in Italy. Developed in collaboration with faculty, curriculum design staff and instructional technologists at CDL, this unique learning map offers detailed information about regions, cities, and the cultural attractions of Italy. The map includes features that allow students to pan, zoom and explore the geographical, cultural and historical background of the area. A dropdown menu offers students the opportunity to target specific zones of interest to them, and uses web links, videos, still images and text descriptions to provide regional information.

Using Video to Teach Drawing

A picture can say a million words.  Illustrating the various ways to draw perspective can be vastly more effective with the use of video. In Introduction to Studio Art, we use mash-ups (web 2.0 web application hybrid), to create an interactive video tutorial that illustrates 1, 2 and 4 point perspective. Tutorials like these augment the instructions and assignments.

Using the tools in the mashup you can enlarge areas, use the fullscreen option, stop video play, or enlarge the small video screen. The slider-bar, located below the mashup, or the side tabs, allow easy access to other tutorials.