Quality Course Framework Online Tutorial

The Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence at the University of Utah has developed a Quality Course Framework Online Tutorial site that demonstrates the essential elements of a quality course and shows faculty how to design and develop a quality course.  https://utah.instructure.com/courses/33024

The tutorial specifies four phases in the course development process and six essential elements for a quality course. Detailed explanations are provided for each phase with examples, checklists, videos, and design templates.

This type of online tutorial presents numerous benefits for faculty. It provides faculty with a one-stop workshop on quality course development, accessible at the convenience of faculty’s own time and location. It also helps promote a culture of and best practices for quality teaching on campus.

When we saw UTAH’s site, we contemplated the creation of something similar for our faculty who uses ELMS to teach at UMD. After one year of development, we have come up with 5 Canvas courses, each focusing on key competencies required in content development, communication, collaboration, and assessments.

The interactive self-paced courses we have created not only serve as guides and resources for faculty’s efforts in designing ELMS courses, but also emulate the best practices that enhance quality course design. These courses are now available in Canvas Catalog.  Check them out. https://umd-dit.catalog.instructure.com/


I would like to share some e-books I read recently.

  • e-learning trends and predictions for 2017   EI-Design-eLearning-Trends-and-Predictions-for-2017-14ft6z5

    This list of eLearning trends and predictions is based on  how ideas evolved into trends in the last few years and ideas that are in practice today.  The author provides three lists

    1. What will continue to offer value (what has worked and delivered value in the recent past).
    2. Where we will see increased focus.
    3. What to watch out for in 2017.

The author compares the popular Disney princesses as e-learning issues. He also provides an action tip for each issue.

Check out this infographic 🙂

Gamification is hot new trend in e-learning industry and will continue to remain so according to the author of the first e-book listed above. This book  offers guidance for designing and implementing effective gamification initiatives. The author offers 22 best practices and the topics include identifying goals, game design, the role of leaderboards etc.

I hope you enjoy these books!

Continue reading e-books

Involving Learners

We instructional designers always try to identify the most effective ways to engage learners online when creating tutorials or learning objects. Yet, it’s too easy to create learning which falls into  the “information shoveling” type, a bunch of slides with audio added on top with no or minimal interaction between the learners and the content. Letting our ID mind run free with engagement strategies feels like a tough game sometimes.

Cathy Moore, an internationally recognized instructional designer, shares her answer to the question, “how do I design engaging learning?”.    The answer actually sounds simple: designing the learning in a way where your learners will enjoy exploring it as much as you enjoyed creating it.

So, the key word is “exploring” instead of “receiving”.  Let learners explore and experiment. Avoid the information dump and make our training learner-focused.

In her blog,  Cathy Moore shares some great engagement strategies including providing practice activities, and using a mini-scenario.  Do not push information out, and let learners pull information in instead. Check her blog out.

eLearning Trends 2017 Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

How to really involve learners

Best Practices for Deploying and Using TurnitIn

Call it an anti-plagiarism tool or a tool that detects originality, TurnitIn is going to represent a change in the way many faculty review and grade assignments delivered through ELMS.    As you experiment with the tool in umd.test.instructure.com and talk with the faculty that you support, please share your thoughts about best practices for the tool and best practices for its use.

Sharing Best Practices in Accessible and Inclusive Learning

I recently returned from a 2-week visit to the University of Edinburgh, thanks to a grant from the UMD Global Partnerships program for my proposal “Sharing Best Practices in Accessible and Inclusive Learning Between the University of Maryland Learning Technology Design and the University of Edinburgh Institute for Academic Development.” I’ll be presenting about my experience at the ITL Conference in May, but I’ve also been keeping a blog during the trip.  Although I’ve been back for about a week, I continue to process what I learned and how I can use this experience to inform my work in accessibility, and in instructional design in general. So although the trip is over, I plan to keep writing at the blog as I continue to process everything I have experienced. My latest post is an attempt to sort through some of this, so I hope you enjoy:

Lessons Learned (Part 1)

If you are interested in learning more about the Global Partnerships grant program, I’d be happy to answer any questions about my experience. It is truly a wonderful opportunity provided by the University.

Conference Presentation and/or Participation Opportunity

The 3rd annual Mid-Atlantic Group Instructing with Canvas (MAGIC) conference will be held on Friday, April 7 at Howard County Community College (Columbia, Maryland).   Conference coordinators are looking for proposals to present on topics related to

  • innovative pedagogical strategies
  • agile LMS administration
  • assessment and learning metrics
  • faculty development and implementation
  • other ideas you might want to contribute

Deadline for submitting a proposal to present is March 8.  Submit at: http://www.canvasmagic.org/cfp/   (Presenters receive free conference registration.)

Conference registration is also now open at a fee of $27.49.

TOEP – Tools of Engagement Project

Recently, I attended a webinar about the Tools of Engagement Project (TOEP) developed by The State University of New York  (http://suny.edu/toep).  The instructional design model for this project is built on discovery learning.  Instead of cataloging tools and how to use them in the classroom, the TOEP project flips this model and lists types of assignments used in a classroom. The user can then search on the assignment type and the tools that support it.  For instance, “presentations” offers suggestions for implementing this type of assignment, numerous tools to use in a presentation assignment (MSPowerpoint, Prezi, Google Presentations,Haiku Deck, and more), and presentation assignments developed by peers in other colleges and universities.  I really like this resource because it is comprehensive, innovative and constantly being updated by peer educators and instructional designers.  This project  goes into depth with resources,  research and exercises for each type of assignment. Badges can be earned as well.  Instructors are encouraged to add to the data base for fresh ideas.  This is a valuable resource for all instructional designers to add breadth and depth to their repertoire of pedagogical solutions.  Below is a screen shot of one of the Presentations pages.

TOEP page for Presentations

Educause Learning Initiative Focus Session Announced

ELI will conduct an online focus session on “New Directions in Instructional Design:  Keeping Pace in a Time of Rapid Change” on April 19 and 20 from noon-3:30 p.m. each day.  ELI will confer a digital badge to those who are actively engaged during the sessions as a recognition of their professional development accomplishment.   See ELI Online Focus Session for more details and to register.

Considering Twitter for “Essay” Writing

In her contribution to the Digital Pedagogy Lab, “Twessays and Composition in the Digital Age,” Donna M. Alexander, American Studies lecturer at University College Cork, makes a case for integrating Twitter into the college essay writing process. She likens Twitter and essay-writing to haiku and poetry. Twitter and haiku both rely upon the writer to be focused and adept at conceptual imagery in a succinct presentation format. Alexander and researchers she cites, believe Twitter can “contribute to student learning in terms of critical thinking and engagement”. She provides interesting examples of assignments in which her students were asked to provide a 140 character response to a writing prompt; even her assignment description was provided as a Tweet.

I must confess that I had to re-read Alexander’s article a few times and then spend some time reviewing the examples of students’ responses before I actually “got it”. I put this struggle directly on my own aging shoulders. I have not grown up with social media, nor have I tweeted much of anything in any seriousness. To start to consider the potential of a writing “tool” with which many students are not only comfortable, but fluent, took a bit of suspension of my own disbelief and a bit more critical thinking. But I now have a glimmer of an idea of how I might try to integrate a “tweessay” into my own course, in a meaningful way. Currently I require several one minute papers on course content or readings, for which the student response is provided in a Canvas survey posting. Students are asked to identify a “muddiest point” and a “salient takeaway” related to the content. I am envisioning replacing one of these surveys with a Tweet in which students provide feedback in 140 characters, visible to and shareable by all. It will then be interesting to get their feedback on their perceptions on the effectiveness of these formats for providing me with their feedback.

Old dog, new trick. Yes, I think I can be taught…even though it is nearly impossible for me to communicate in 140 characters or less!

Closed captions, transcripts aid learning for almost all students

New research from Oregon State University highlights the importance of providing captions to videos for the benefit of all users. As described in the article Closed captions, transcripts aid learning for almost all students, the researchers found that “98.6 percent of students say captions are helpful, with 75 percent of them noting that they use captions as a learning aid in face-to-face and online classrooms.”

So while we now that we must provide captions for students with documented disabilities, the reality is that almost 99% of all students can benefit from them.  By including captioning in the planning of any video component in your course you can be confident that you are creating content that will impactful for the vast majority of all students who view it.

As we continue to work to find an affordable way to provide captioning services on campus beyond those captions required by law, which are coordinated by the UMD Disability Support Services, there are free options for creating captions using Camtasia, YouTube, or Vimeo. It’s important to remember that many qualified students at the higher education level choose not to identify as someone with a disability, or do not have the documentation necessary to receive accommodations for their disability.  Add to this the number of students who are not native English speakers, and you have a roster full of students who would utilize captions to further their learning — if captions were available:

For video transcripts, students referenced the tool as a learning aid 85 percent of the time …. More than half of students surveyed said captions help by improving comprehension. The most common reasons students use captions are to help them focus, retain information and overcome poor audio quality of the videos, while transcripts are often used as study guides and to find and retain information.

I encourage you to read the full Study from Oregon State and 3Play Media, and then begin thinking about how we can increase the use of captions to help our students have a more meaningful learning experience in our online spaces. What do you think?

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