Using Synchronous Sessions: Learning in Real-time

In discussing online learning broadly with faculty, instructors, students, staff, and the public, it becomes evident very quickly that there are as many different interpretations of what it means or can look like as there are people to talk about it with. In higher education in particular, it is quite common for online learning to seem like it is an asynchronous (anywhere anytime) setting. Live real-time classes have existed in a variety of formats over the decades, from classes broadcast over television and radio networks, to closed network screens, and now through the use of web conferencing tools such as Zoom and Webex. This post includes just a few ideas for using synchronous strategies in your online class as a first step.
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Synchronous Session Hack: Use Your Phone as a Document Camera

There are times where a hand-drawn sketch, diagram, or solution might be the best way to illustrate something to your students, or walk with them through the steps of solving a new problem.  The ideal option for doing this in synchronous video sessions would be to connect a dedicated document camera to your computer, and switch the video feed. But, what if you don’t have access to one? This post will take you though a quick alternative “hack” in order to use your smart phone as a document camera.

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USask Instructor Engages Students with Escape Room Learning Activities

This past year Dr. Michel Gravel, a faculty member in Chemistry in the College of Arts & Science, challenged his students by developing an “escape room” activity using WebEx and a variety of tool options in Canvas. After creating a series of “locked doors” using the quiz tool and module requirements in Canvas, with content pages in between the quizzes to add storyline and context, the students were placed into three groups. The activity was introduced in a synchronous WebEx session by the instructor and then the groups were moved to separate breakout rooms and began competing to be the first group to escape. Once in their own breakout rooms the first module was released and the game was on! One student from each group would navigate to the Canvas module and share their screen within WebEx and the group would work through the storyline and complete the quizzes in Canvas that would unlock the next door. Continue reading “USask Instructor Engages Students with Escape Room Learning Activities”

Share your Synchronous Success

We’re starting an interactive component to the DEU Digest this week and we need your great ideas to make it a success.

Share with us, and your fellow USask instructors, some of the best synchronous learning activities you used to engage students over this past year. Write a short description of your best synchronous learning activity ideas below and add your voice to the conversation. Then upvote the ideas that inspire you to try something new.

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Featured image by: Interactive Content CC BY via Flickr

WordPress Case Study: Student Blogs for WGST 210

When designing online courses, it can be helpful to consider in which ways you, as the instructor, might make best use of the online format. What forms of assessment, types of media, or platforms for student interaction will help you and your students take advantage of the online and completely digital and distributed format? In this post, I will present a case study of how student blogs are being used in WGST 210 to increase student engagement, build interconnectivity in student work, and help students lean more fully into the internet-immersed and media-focused aspects of the course.

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Setting up Syndicated WordPress Blogs

If you are looking to facilitate writing in your courses that is more reflective, iterative, interactive, and media-rich than more traditional writing assignments (such as essays and papers), blogging can be an excellent way to go. Through the USask Sites platform, it is possible to get each student in your class set up with their own WordPress blog. This post will cover how to set these up for your students, and then arrange for syndication of student blogs into a central class blog roll.

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Hidden Gems – H5P

Scenario

Leslie Langham has taught most of their courses online at least twice now. They put in long days, evenings and weekends developing content for their courses – choosing readings, finding relevant videos and images, crafting assignments – and interacting with students providing feedback. Leslie feels confident in the courses they put together and deliver online, but also feels like a little something is missing. Sometimes students seem to miss the most important points made in the videos, or pick up on some key concepts but miss others.

In their face-to-face class, Leslie is used to using a student response system and other activities and technology to check for student understanding, but aside from using the Canvas Quiz tool, doesn’t know how else to support students by providing interactive opportunities to self-check their new understanding and practice their new skills. After consulting with an instructional designer they settled on incorporating some H5P activities into their online course.

Leslie now has a variety of interactive learning activities throughout the course, providing students timely, relevant, and specific feedback on key concepts automatically. This includes interactive videos where students can check their understanding as the video is playing, check the outcomes of their decisions with branching scenarios, test their knowledge with digital flashcards, analyze images with interactive elements, and more. All of these activities are presented right in the course content, allowing students to engage with it straight away rather than going away into some other platform requiring yet another login.

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Creating and Sharing H5P Activities from WordPress and Pressbooks

If you haven’t tried H5P yet, or don’t know much about it, you can read the article Hidden Gems – H5P for Interactive Content, which describes the tool generally and gives a pretty good overview of why you might use it. For more articles about H5P, check out our entire category of H5P related posts.

What this post will help you learn
  • how to create an interactive activity with H5P  using WordPress and Pressbooks.
  • upon creating your activity, how to embed that activity in another website, including Canvas.
Learning Technology Used
  • WordPress (USask Sites) – Authoring & Publishing
  • Pressbooks (OpenPress) – Authoring & Publishing
  • Canvas – Publishing


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Creating and Sharing H5P Activity Without a Website

If you haven’t tried H5P yet, or don’t know much about it, you can read the article Hidden Gems – H5P for Interactive Content, which describes the tool generally and gives a pretty good overview of why you might use it. For more articles about H5P, check out our entire category of H5P related posts.

What this post will help you learn
  • how to create an interactive activity with H5P using the Lumi desktop application.
  • upon creating your activity, how to get that activity into your Canvas course.
Learning Technology Used
  • Lumi Education – Authoring & Exporting
  • Canvas – Publishing


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Podcasts as Assignments

Podcasts are a great assignment alternative to more “traditional” approaches such as written essays and research papers. They can demand an equivalent level of research and academic rigour, but give students a chance to gain effective communication skills while also building new technological skills. They also work great for capturing more spontaneous discussions, reflective of real conversations or interviews. They work well as a format for a series of small assignments or a larger capstone project, and can be used for both individual and group assignments.

In this post, I will outline some of the questions you should ask yourself while designing a podcast-based assignment, some tips and resources you can share with students to get them started, and detail some specifics on submitting audio files through Canvas.

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