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Tech for Teaching @GC

Community-based, student-centered, technology-enhanced learning and teaching

Posts tagged Online Learning


Desire2Collaborate: How can we learn from other D2L clients?

Posted Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 Tagged:

Online learning isn’t about using technology for its own sake. Rather, the technology is seen as a medium by which we can engage learners in new and creative ways. I know this ideal and truly believe it, but I also recognize that good technology surely can make e-learning more effective when applied in the right way and at the right time.

Thanks to our partnership with Desire2Learn as our learning platform, I recently had the privilege to hear from the University of Wisconsin about their award-winning instructional approach, U-Pace. The U-Pace approach is a prime example of using technology to improve learning online and lead to greater success academically. In this post, I am sharing resources to help you learn more about U-Pace and the Desire2Learn Community, wherein I was able to learn about this innovative approach. I hope to inspire some online instructors at Greenville College to consider the U-Pace approach, and perhaps apply it in their courses.

The University of Wisconsin U-Pace Approach

The webinar recording “Implementing an award-winning, technology-enabled instructional approach in your online program” linked below is provided courtesy of Desire2Learn.  The webinar explains how developers used a combination of D2L’s release conditions and repeatable quizzes along with instructor-initiated amplified assistance to improve student learning.

Webinar Recording (March 12, 2014)

U-Pace Website

U-Pace Whitepaper

University of Wisconsin System Case Study

Desire2Learn Community User Network:
Perhaps the best way to collaborate with other D2L clients

This site is a free resource available to all clients who are using Desire2Learn, giving everyone a direct way to collaborate with Desire2Learn and other colleges and universities. Every Greenville College instructor using Desire2Learn is highly encouraged to join the community.

What kinds of things can you do in the D2L Community? You can ask questions. Look for answers. Learn from what other schools are doing.  Post new ideas. Suggest product improvements. “Vote” on product ideas others have posted. Ideas with the most votes get the most attention from D2L developers!

To learn more, contact me. I’d be happy to collaborate with you!


Adobe Connect. A Timesaving Tool.

Posted Thursday, March 20th, 2014 Tagged:

Special Guest Blogger

Jessa Wilcoxen, M.F.A., Assistant Professor of Digital Media

Photo Credit: Demond Meek

I started using Adobe Connect during my 2nd semester (Spring 2011) of teaching at Greenville College. As a professor in the Digital Media department, I spend part of my classes giving tutorials on how to create technical effects in relevant software. I was disappointed to find myself repeating tutorials on how to accomplish a technique to students who didn’t remember what I showed them in a previous class or who missed a previous class. When I had to take class time to repeat a tutorial, I was losing valuable class time that I could be art directing the student projects, brainstorming with them, or encouraging creative experimentation. Adobe Connect was my solution.

Using Connect Pro in the Physical Classroom

During 2011-2013 I came to each class a couple minutes early to setup the software needed to record my lecture or tutorial in real time. After class I would add the link to an online page that I shared with my students. Almost overnight this practice solved my problem of having students request that I teach techniques more than once. When students asked about a technique that I had previously taught, I often directed them to the class’s webpage that contained the recorded tutorial links.

Using Connect in the Online Classroom

In the summer of 2011, I decided to offer my first online summer class, Introduction to Animation. Since I had recorded every one of my tutorials during the previous spring semester, I simply created a calendar for my summer online students and placed each link on the appropriate date. While I still had much of the other preparation work associated with transitioning a face-to-face class to online, the piece that would have taken the most preparation time was already completed. I applied this same technique the following summer when I taught an advanced graphic design class. The spring before I recorded all of my design history lectures and shared those with my summer online students.

Features of Adobe Connect I Hope to Use in the Future

As a design professor I want to have face-to-face interactions with my students and I need to see their work in progress, as my feedback is an important aspect of the student learning process. At this midway point, I can help redirect a student down a more creative path or correct a technical issue before the project is turned in for grading. I also want to mimic the physical classroom in which the students present their final design and I deliver a face-to-face critique. In the past, to achieve web conferencing in my online class I scheduled biweekly online meetings with each individual student and used either Join.Me or Skype’s free screen sharing capabilities. I recently learned that Adobe Connect pro does not require my students to also have the software so I plan to test out this feature at my next online conferencing session.

How I Use Adobe Connect Today

After teaching at the same college for four years, I do not have any new “preps” on my schedule. With that said, when you teach in a technology field every semester will involve new tutorials and techniques. I now only record new tutorials and lectures and I keep the older links (that are still relevant) posted on my class webpage. If I anticipate having several students absent for a sporting event or college field trip, I will record that day’s tutorial as well. On snow days that are too treacherous for me to drive to campus or for my students to walk around campus, I will record a lecture from home and email my students the link. This keeps my class on schedule and no one has to venture out in bad weather.

In summary, my students are no longer asking me to repeatedly show them a technique. They are learning the material by participating in the tutorials in class and reviewing them outside of class. In return for the few extra minutes I spend setting up a recording I have gained more classroom time for me to help them develop their own creative skills and design thinking abilities.

Here is a short clip from a beginner tutorial in InDesign recorded in my Graphic Design 1 class:

Note from Rhonda:

I’d like to say a special thank-you to Jessa for sharing her insights and experience about Adobe Connect. Greenville College Instructional Technology has a limited number of Adobe Connect licenses that I administer to faculty. Please contact me if you are interested in learning more or giving Adobe Connect a try in your class.


Beware Oxymoron D2Ling!: A Luddite Teaches Online and Offers Suggestions on the Human Connection

Posted Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 Tagged:

While I’m not ready to follow the children’s author-Illustrator Tasha Tudor back into the 19th century (she lived as if it were 1875 nearly her entire life), I’d be the first to support a back to basics movement that inspired people to set down their technology and focus on human interaction at the dinner table, playing family board games rather than video games, and reading a physical book vs. the e-book version.  Yet, I write my own books on a computer and some of my most rewarding teaching experiences have happened online.  Seeing as how I’m more luddite than techie, I’ll leave the technical advice to folks who are far more capable than I am and offer some practical tips on how to put the human touch into your on-line class.

My first tip comes to you courtesy of our former colleague and continuing good friend, Dr. Vickie Cook.

1. Professor Introduction: Post a video introduction of yourself so that your students have a face to go with your name and a brief sense of who you are as an instructor.

There are multiple tools to help you do this. Rhonda Gregory recommends QuickTime which is available on the Mac and can be downloaded for the PC. AdobeConnect is another option here at GC. Here is my video:

YouTube Preview Image

2. A Pre-Introduction to the Class: E-mail your students before the class starts to introduce the course, give them a basic introduction to finding information on the class site, invite them to familiarize themselves with the site, point out that online courses require self-discipline and familiarity with D2L, and share your contact information.

3. Encore, Encore, Encore: Every student travels through D2L differently and sees different things, so I recommend that you have at least three paths to the same information and/or have information posted in at least three places (Announcement, Content, Discussion, E-mail, to name a few).

4.  Class Warm-Up: Start your class with an introduction forum under discussions.  Ask students to introduce themselves, describe their major and their career goals, and discuss how this course will help them in their chosen field, then require them to read and respond to everyone’s posts.  It helps to have them include a photograph of themselves in addition to their online avatar.  You can also try common warm-up games, if that’s more your style.

5. Weekly E-mails with Add-ins: Send out weekly e-mails with an overview of class assignments and offer course related links to encourage them to get further involved with the online content and building online community. It helps to have a written assignment early in the class that allows you to provide links.

For instance, if you’re teaching ENG105 and a student writes about living in the dorms, you can say,

Mindy is writing about living in the dorms, she might like to check out this blog from a student who struggled with dorm living:

You can even invite students to share their experiences with Mindy. You can also use it as an opportunity to talk about the different types of articles from the student based blog which falls under personal experience and can only be used as colloquial advice.

Here is a blog from a professional in the field:

You can also guide them to an academic article on the same subject, saying, I found this article.  How would you go about finding it using our library electronic databases?

“Personal, Health, Academic, and Environmental Predictors of Stress for Residence Hall Students” by Dusselier, Dunn, and Wang

To get you started, here’s a link to our library:

By linking students to resources and discussing the work of other students, you’re encouraging them to build connections with each other and find additional resources for their papers.

6.  Networking:  When you respond to student discussions, help students make connections between their ideas and the work of other students, inserting the fellow students’ e-mails and encouraging those students to connect.

7.  The Personal Touch: Require students to address each other by name and sign their posts to personalize their writing and increase interpersonal communication.

8.  Ready, Set, Engage:  You can add online content that inspires discussions of course material and faith.  In my lyrical writing class, we discussed spoken word poetry and responded to this poem which takes a unique and thought provoking take on the genre of spoken word poetry and religion vs. spirituality.

YouTube Preview Image

9. Q & A: Have a Q & A discussion forum for each unit, even if you don’t have an online discussion for that unit, and subscribe to that thread so that you receive the questions via email as they come in.

10. Shameless Plug for Student Publications:  Thanks to the hard work of Deloy Cole and Taylor Likes, The Papyrus recently launched a new interface called “This Week in the Papyrus” which is e-mailed out to all GC employees. This allows everyone to quickly link to various sections of our online news outlet and makes it easier to access articles that might be useful to online discussions.  If more faculty members would include a link to The Papyrus on their class pages, more students may engage with The Papyrus by reading and responding to articles and, even better, submitting writing of their own.

Recently, we published this article on Christian Competition:

It’s a great conversation starter on Christian ethics and provides an example of how an article could be used in an online class to explore a given topic.

Real world writing opportunities are often hard to come by for our students, but The Papyrus offers them a chance to submit their work and share their ideas with the campus. They can do this through the submit an article link at:

How does this add a human touch to your class? Well, here’s my thinking, if more students became involved in creating, reading, and responding to The Papyrus, it would become more representative of the diversity of our campus community and build a greater sense of belonging and inclusion on campus.  Students would feel more a part of our community.

As someone who is often stumped by technology and seeks the help of Rhonda Gregory and Mark Ufert to bail me out of whatever techno mess I’ve gotten myself into, I can say that even for Luddites like me, it’s possible to use technology to create a dynamic and enriching classroom community.  I hope my comments can help someone do just that. Thank you for your time.

Special thanks to Alexandria LaFaye for sharing her insights in this guest blog.

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