Home » Content Development

Category Archives: Content Development

Thoughts on Adding Technology to Blend Courses

Tags: , ,

By in Content Development, Course Redesign, IMPACT, Musings on Technology on .

This Spring, I made a decision to enroll in a Blended Learning course sponsored by EDUCAUSE called “Becoming a Blended Learning Designer”. This MOOC requires participants to complete the course in six weeks, and during that time participate in discussions, blogging, and readings.

As I went through the readings for the first week of the class, two lines stuck out to me:

“Blended learning is not simply adding an online component to a face-to-face course.  Technology in a course should be used wisely – to facilitate student learning.”  (Thompson, 2015, p. 7)

I’ve seen cases all too often where faculty members try to add technology in to the course because they’re trying to meet a need.  They know they should be adding technology but they’re looking to add something that may not always be the most practical or the most appropriate for their class.  Some instructors I have worked with have looked to using the LMS to replace in-class quizzes, for example.  Great idea in theory, but they were not prepared for some of the variables:

  • Students trying to use smartphones or tablets to take the quiz (when the LMS doesn’t necessarily support this well)
  • Students taking the quiz with other students
  • Students using their notes/books for the quiz

The instructors in these cases were thinking it would be simple to replace their low-stakes quizzes with ones that could simply be taken online. But they wanted a full replication of the in-class experience, one that mitigated “cheating” (or as some prefer to call it, “collaboration”).

For me the first part of a blended learning course is determining which parts should go online, and which should not.  It should be a careful, deliberate process that seeks to allow technology to assist in teaching, not trying to force technology into a role that faculty may regret later.

If you are looking to redevelop your class, consider applying for the IMPACT program by visiting http://www.purdue.edu/impact. If you know what tools you want to use and need help getting those tools integrated into your class, contact us at tlt-consulting@purdue.edu.

Brett Creech
Educational Technologist

Citations:

Thompson, K. (ed.). (2015).  BlendKit Reader (2nd Ed.).  Retrieved from https://blended.online.ucf.edu/blendkit-course-blendkit-reader-chapter-1/

How is Student-Centered Instruction Different than Traditional Instruction?

Tags: , ,

By in Classroom, Content Development, Course Redesign, IMPACT, Professional Development, Uncategorized on .

Student-centered learning looks at where students are when they enter the classroom and attempts to customize teaching to allow students some freedom in choosing how to learn. This kind of teaching allows instructors to free themselves from the traditional lecture and allows them to change the learning space to one that best fits the needs of the student. Students are led to what they need to know instead of listening to someone tell them and they can become actively engaged in their learning.

What has been for some, a liberating style of teaching and learning, frees instructors by allowing them to lead the adventure instead of dispensing it. It is not unusual for instructors to struggle with the transition in the beginning and many feel as if they are giving up some control, which is not inaccurate. However, giving up some control allows students to become actively engaged. Learning can reach new heights without limit. More focus is often put on the quality of students questions instead of the quality of their answers. Higher order thinking skills are engaged since students are able to keep moving towards a goal, work together, ask questions and build on what they know. According to John Dewey in his book entitled How We Think, he notes deep thinking takes time and cannot be expected to happen when prompt answers are required (Dewey,1910). Student-centered learning allows students to make those higher order connections by giving students time to explore and be actively involved in their learning.

This change in the dynamic of the classroom can often intimidate those new to the process, but I liken it to a typical lab experience often seen as a normal part of many lecture courses. That shift instructors feel when they go from lecture-based courses to a lab class is the shift they are referring to in student-centered instruction, switching from dispenser to facilitator and learners going from passive to active learning. Most of the instructor’s work happens before the lab begins with perhaps a pre-lab, setting up the equipment, making sure students stay on task by outlining lab report requirements and having students turn in documentation showing what they have done. This is student-centered learning. The instructor set up the experience and then sits back and let them experience it. There is no lecturing during a lab, yet students learn. Learning through active engagement helps students better relate what they are doing to what they already know resulting in higher levels of retention and comprehension (Angelo & Cross, 1993).

Although not a new concept, some may struggle with the shift to the student-centered approach. Taking this familiar concept and applying it to the lecture part of a course is something many might find foreign. Many others have found it worth their time in making the transformation in everything they teach because many students are more engaged and respond much better to being an active participant in their learning. Other students though who were counting on putting in seat time for another lecture series while chatting on their phone, napping or doing other things have been found to resist the expectation they engage.  Each instructor needs to decide what is best for their learners, but keep in mind there is no one right way to create a student-centered environment. Your subject material, student population, and personal comfort level should all be taken into consideration.

The IMPACT Program at Purdue University provides resources and support for instructors to redesign their course in a student-centered way. The comfort level of the faculty member is of utmost importance and nothing is imposed without the instructor initiating the desire for change.

On April 10th, IMPACT will be hosting Eric Mazur who will be talking about how he transformed his course from lecture to student-centered. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend.

 

References

Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers.

Dewey, J. (1910). How We Think. New York: D.C. Heath & CO.

Related Links and Articles:

http://www.purdue.edu/impact/

http://www.teachthought.com/learning/4-principles-student-centered-learning/

http://www.teachthought.com/technology/10-tools-student-centered-creative-expression/

http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/learner-centered-pedagogy-fear-losing-control/

http://www.teachthought.com/learning/metacognition-50-questions-help-students-think-think/

Confluence as an Alternative Learning Management System

Tags: , ,

By in Content Development, Software, Tools on .

Recently, a faculty member commented to one of my colleagues and I that Blackboard was simply “too much” for things he wanted to do within his course.  That got me thinking as to why someone might consider Blackboard Learn to be a tool that might be excessive for specific needs.

Blackboard Learn offers to faculty a rich set of tools – but what happens when a faculty member does not want to use the clear majority of those tools?  What if a faculty member only wants a place to place their syllabus and course schedule, content for students to read, upload an occasional video, and so forth?  Does a faculty member have an option for a simpler way to get course content to students at Purdue?

The answer is yes – the Confluence Wiki.

While it might seem odd that a wiki could be an alterative to Blackboard, the Confluence Wiki can perform many of the same functions for faculty that a traditional LMS would be able to provide.  Confluence offers the following for faculty:

  • On-Demand Course Creation:  Unlike Blackboard, where course sites are created automatically, faculty may create their course’s space (site) in Confluence on demand by using the Space Creation application located at http://www.purdue.edu/apps/Confluence.  This will automatically create a space on Confluence for the class and enroll all students and instructors in the class into the newly created Confluence space.
    Confluence Space Creation Application
  • Automatic Enrollment Management:  When a space is created using our Space Creation application, as noted before all students and instructors will be added to the newly created space.  In addition, as students add or drop the class, those changes are reflected in the Confluence space.
  • Content Management:  Faculty can easily upload documents and images to Confluence, and then quickly replace those documents with up-to-date versions.  For example, if the course syllabus changes, a new syllabus can be uploaded and replace the existing file.  Additionally, web links to other sites and to multimedia may also be included in Confluence.
  • Flexibility:  A Confluence space can be very simple (one or two pages with all the content needed) to highly complex, depending on needs.
  • Privacy:  Academic spaces in Confluence are only accessible to those enrolled in the course; they are not accessible by the public.

There are a few features Confluence does not have that is important to note.  First, Confluence does not offer integrated homework submission and quizzes/exams, like Blackboard.  Faculty who want to offer online exams (such as pre- or post- assessments) would be able to use Qualtrics and survey panels within the Qualtrics tool to control assessment delivery.

Also, Confluence does not offer an electronic gradebook, which would require students to track their own grades.  Additionally, while Confluence does offer the ability for students to comment on pages, there is no threaded discussion board available like what is available in Blackboard.

One other concern would be that if Confluence is used instead of Blackboard Learn, students will need to be directed to Confluence to access course content.  In this case it is recommended that any instructor using Confluence provide directions to students in class on how to access the Confluence site and make the site a favorite, so the site is quickly accessible after login.

Although there are these concerns, the Confluence Wiki does provide a great amount of flexibility on how the online portion of a course can be set up.  As much (or as little) information can be made available to students as desired.

While Blackboard Learn has many tools that faculty may wish to use in their teaching, there may be a desire for something that simply does not do everything that Blackboard can do, and that’s where Confluence can assist.  An example “course” in Confluence has been created at https://wiki.itap.purdue.edu/display/confcourse/Confluence+for+Courses+Demonstration+Home to provide some ideas on how Confluence may be used as an alternative to Blackboard.

Confluence for Courses example homepage  example course schedule in confluence

For more information about using Confluence as an alternative to Blackboard, or adding wikis to your course, please contact us at tlt-consulting@purdue.edu.

Brett Creech
Educational Technologist

Qualtrics as a Quick Quiz Tool with Scoring

By in Content Development, Distance Education, Software, Tools on .

We often think of Qualtrics, Purdue’s online survey software, as primarily a research or data gathering tool, but it will also allow you to set up quizzes with scores and display results to students.  Though the tool is by nature anonymous, a simple solution would be to ask students to fill in their name using a text fill in the blank question, if they want the credit for a given quiz.  Results may be viewed in Qualtrics to provide the instructor with a composite view of the classes’ responses; as well as downloaded to Excel for further analysis or uploading to a grade column in Blackboard. It is not as robust as assessments in Blackboard, but if you are looking for a different kind of student self-study guide or short quiz format, this might be worth exploring.

For example, let’s review setting up a self-study quiz. To set up the quiz, create the questions in Qualtrics as you would usually do using multiple choice, ranking, fill in the blank or true/false formats.  You may also create question display mapping based on certain responses to questions.  What this means is that you may provide additional questions to a student if they had an incorrect response to an earlier question or to proceed past those extra questions, if their original response was correct. A mapping technique based on their answer choices is often useful as a self-study guide to develop mastery over course content outside of the traditional class environment.

To apply the scoring feature, while in Edit Survey mode, click on the Advanced Options button in the upper right of your screen. Then select Scoring on the lower half of the Advanced Options menu.

Qualtrics Advanced Options tab

Qualtrics Advanced Options tab

Menu item for Scoring

Menu item for Scoring

 

 

 

 

The next step is to select the correct answers by clicking on the answer choice that is right.  It will default to 1 point value.  You can click on the number 1 and type in a different value if desired. For fill in the blank questions, you may add alternative answers by clicking the plus sign to the right of the answer choice.  Note each alternative answer needs a score value entered to the left of it to be scored properly.

Example of scored question

Example of scored question

To display the score to the student at the end of each question or at the end of the survey, or both; click on scoring options in the upper right of the screen and select your choices.Score display options

The final score displayed to the student will look like the snapshot below after they click the submit button. Score displays per question may be used in addition to a final display.

Final scored display

Final scored display

 

If you would like to read more about scoring, use the following link http://qualtrics.com/university/researchsuite/advanced-building/advanced-options-drop-down/scoring/ or please contact one of our Ed Tech staff at tlt-consulting@purdue.edu