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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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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Hidden Gems – Multimedia Presentations with Microsoft Sway

Scenario

Jamie Jameson is teaching a combined 400/800 level course this term and the final project is a group presentation of their students’ work as a digital poster. In previous years Jamie’s assignment was often submitted as a PowerPoint presentation. This year they wanted to try something new, enabling students to create and curate multimedia into the presentation, as PowerPoint always made this feel clunky; as well as asking students to create something that is shareable not only in a remote learning context but is also easily shared with a broader audience.

Jamie considered continuing to use PowerPoint, but having students work in groups would sometimes result in multiple versions and led to confusion about which draft to present to the class. Sharing of the PowerPoints was also a problem. If PDFs were shared, the presentations felt static and lacked the multimedia elements that enhance the presentation. Visually rich presentations resulted in very large file sizes and could become increasingly difficulty to distribute, not to mention that viewing them on different devices could drastically alter the perception of the presentation. Jamie also considered asking their students to create a website, but concluded that their own comfort level with teaching their students the intricacies of web design could detract from the purpose of the assignment, the students’ research.

After consulting with an instructional designer about the project, Jamie settled on the final assignment submissions by way of Microsoft Sway. Their students created responsive Sway presentations of their research collaboratively online, presented it to the class, and they were also able to post their Sway projects to the class website.These presentations were brought to life with pull quotes, animations, student created video as well as YouTube videos, and images. Finally, students were able to include their work in the e-portfolio they assembled over the course of their program. Continue reading “Hidden Gems – Multimedia Presentations with Microsoft Sway”

Don’t have a Scanner? Submitting Assignments with a Mobile Device

Much of the work we produce in online classes takes the form of discussions, and assignments. Most of this is done online, using a computer (either desktop or laptop), and using applications such as Word, PowerPoint, SPSS, and more. However, there are times were we might have work to complete “off-screen” such as illustrations, graphs, charts, calculations, musical notation, etc. In these cases you might have a document or paper you’ve written on, and need to submit that work. There are a few ways you can use your mobile device to scan and submit these documents. Continue reading “Don’t have a Scanner? Submitting Assignments with a Mobile Device”

Peer Review in Canvas: Tool Quirks & Workarounds

In working with instructors more closely this term on implementing peer review in their new Canvas courses, we are starting to get a better sense of what issues and errors are most likely to crop up, and how to manage those. At the same time, we are learning about the quirks of the Peer Review tool in Canvas (what it works well for, and what it does not) and some situations in which going another direction might be preferable. This post will cover what we’ve learned recently, and share some tips and resources for designing peer review activities in Canvas (either with or without using the dedicated “Peer Review” tool). Continue reading “Peer Review in Canvas: Tool Quirks & Workarounds”

The Case of the Missing Journal

One of the glaring omissions from the Canvas LMS toolkit is the Learning Journal. This tool often provided a personal space for student reflection where instructors could see evidence of learning from each student’s perspective. In Blackboard Learn there was a dedicated tool called Journals that allowed for these entries to be collected, shared and graded in a variety of configurations. We found that in situations where a discussion was not necessarily appropriate a reflective journal entry provided the evidence of learning that instructors needed to know their course design was having the desired effect.

In Canvas there is no Journal tool specific to this task and as we at the Distance Education Unit (DEU) work with instructors to migrate courses from one LMS to the other we’re beginning to find ways to recreate this activity using the available tools in Canvas. Here are a couple options to recreate a journal activity in Canvas. Continue reading “The Case of the Missing Journal”

Basic ePortfolio Activities and Tools

Often ePortfolios are used as a tool for students to collect and share evidence of their competencies across an entire academic program. Outcomes at the institutional, college, and program level are all mapped and tied to the course level objectives through a curriculum mapping process and students organize their course work within these constructs of competencies. Tools like Instructure’s Portfolium are robust enough to tackle programmatic ePortfolio designs of this nature and will serve your department and your students well. You can learn more about getting your students started with Portfolium in this blog post. But what if you’re looking to use a portfolio style assessment just at the class level? Let’s take a look at a few different types of basic portfolio designs and the simple tools you might use to get the job done. Continue reading “Basic ePortfolio Activities and Tools”

USask’s New ePortfolio Tool: Portfolium

What’s an ePortfolio?

An electronic portfolio/ePortfolio is a collection of student work that is useful for showing both the product and the process of learning – while the product demonstrates accountability to learning objectives and showcases the students’ developing skills, the process creates an ongoing workspace for self-reflective learning. As such, an ePortfolio can be a powerful tool for assessment as learning and also assessment of learning.

A portfolio shouldn’t be simply an archive of student work; instead, the real value is found in portfolios as living, dynamic presentations of learning, developing competencies, and intellectual and professional growth. Portfolios can be used at the course level — often as a replacement for a summative final exam — or might be used across a degree program to ensure that students are meeting important high-level competencies and curricular outcomes. Especially when integrated across a student’s entire degree program, an ePortfolio allows them to exit with a thoughtfully-compiled collection of their best work, a timeline of their growth and development as a learner, and a showcase of who they are as a professional and scholar in their field. Continue reading “USask’s New ePortfolio Tool: Portfolium”