Center Staff Discuss Online Teaching and Learning in Higher Education with Visitors from Tianjin University

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meeting with visitorsStaff from the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center met with six faculty members and administrators from the Tianjin University in Beijing, China to discuss online teaching and learning. Some of the topics covered included: online program decisions, online teaching skills and time commitments, and design models. “It is always an honor to share ideas and best practices with colleagues from across the globe,” said Jason Rhode, the director of the center.

To reinforce the concepts, the staff demonstrated some sample works of closed-captioned presentations, audio-enhanced lectures, and methods for creating a welcoming and interactive course. The Chinese delegation also received resources on development timelines, support models and quality assurance guidelines. The delegation included faculty and administrators from multiple colleges and they were interested in a broad spectrum of the organizational support necessary to fully support online teaching and learning initiatives.

 

“Your talk was important to understand the full picture. I learned a great deal meeting with you and your staff. You have a professional team there.” ~Visitor from Beijing Delegation

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is grateful to have the opportunity to engage in conversations with other higher education professionals on a variety of teaching and teaching with technology topics. To find out more about what the center does, read about it in the 2016-2017 Annual Report.

Communicate with Your Students On-the-Go!

Tracy Miller using a selfie stickVideos can be a great way to deliver a message to students in your online course, and it’s never been easier. Many of us carry our video cameras with us everywhere we go, after all. So let’s start with pulling out your smart phone, and follow these four easy steps.

1. Pick a Location: Find a location that is convenient or important to your message. You will want a nice background, with minimal clutter but more interesting than a blank wall. Try different locations around campus or your home. Even better, record video at conferences or while completing field research, so that the location is relevant to your content.

2. Plan Your Message: Think about what you are going to say. Are you welcoming your students to a new week? Do you want to remind them of a due date? Did something important come up in the news? You can write a script, if that helps you feel more comfortable, but it is generally better to sound casual and conversational as opposed to reading a very formal written script. Students appreciate when you sound approachable!

3. Record Your Video: After you have thought about what your message is, just start recording. You can have a colleague record you, prop up your phone on a bookcase or other handy furniture, or use a “selfie stick” and record on your own.

4. Edit and Publish: After you’ve recorded, upload the video to a video hosting site like YouTube (where you can keep the video Unlisted, if you want, so that you don’t accidentally become a viral video star). You can do that directly from your phone using the YouTube app. The video can then be edited and enhanced if you wish, and you should edit the captions to improve upon the often-glitchy auto-captions YouTube provides automatically. Then you can add it to your Blackboard course by using Video Everywhere to search videos in your YouTube channel, by posting the Share link, or by using the Embed code.

Unfortunately, if you ever used Video Everywhere to record from a webcam, it is no longer an option in Blackboard Learn. Google eliminated the ability to record from a webcam on YouTube, so it is no longer available in Blackboard, either. However, using your mobile device to record is easy and unchains you from having to record from your desktop or laptop computer.

Some benefits of capturing these quick and easy videos:

Convenient: Recording short video clips from your mobile device be done anywhere, anytime. All the equipment you need is in the palm of your hand. This method is great for when you are at a professional event and you want to share the experience with your students.

Connective: Videos are useful in helping students feel like there is a human being guiding their learning process in an online course. By creating on-the-go videos you will allow your students to see into your professional world and that world doesn’t revolve around a desk.

Contagious: Videos work for you and your students. Students can use videos to respond to discussions, as part of an assignment submission, or as a presentation tool.

Tips for communicating with your students with a video message:

  1. Outline what you want to say, but keep it informal (It doesn’t have to be perfect)
  2. Keep it short and to the point!
  3. Take a few minutes to think about your location (lighting, background)
  4. Save your video as Unlisted within YouTube and embed it in your Blackboard course to keep the message between you and your students
  5. Use YouTube’s Manage subtitles and closed captions for accessibility and usability

Sitting at a computer is not the only online teaching and learning environment. Mobile technologies make connecting with your students simple, yet meaningful. It is important to communicate with your them frequently in an online course, and using videos can enhance your interaction. For more information about online learning technology, watch the recording of our workshop on Promoting Learning with Technology, below.

Free Online Workshop on “Quality Online Courses: Getting Students Started”

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Woman with laptop
Source: Pixabay CCO Public Domain

Northern Illinois University’s Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is opening its virtual doors with an online workshop entitled “Quality Online Course Series: Getting Students Started“, offered on December 14, 2015, from 12 – 1:00 pm CT. This one hour, fully online session is part of a series of workshops focused on quality online course design and best practices in online teaching and learning. The series has been well received by the NIU community, but now we’d like to invite more of our colleagues in higher education.  There is no charge for participating in this workshop, but you will need to register in advance.

As you prepare your online course for next semester, or even next year, you might be wondering how to set the right tone and support student success by helping them to get started with a welcome, a course tour, or a navigation guide. In this workshop, you will explore best practices for introducing your course structure to your students and beginning to build community.

Learn more and register.

New Online Program Development and Support Services Now Available

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It’s now easier than ever before for faculty and staff interested in online teaching to receive support for developing and teaching new online courses online at NIU. The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center and eLearning Services have joined forces to provide centralized support for online course design and development as part of the new Office of Online Program Development and Support (OPDS).

OPDS LogoThe Online Program Development and Support (OPDS) Office was formed to strengthen NIU’s position as an institution offering high-quality online programs and courses. This office combines the talents of the professional staff in the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center and eLearning Services. The office provides instructional design services, faculty development opportunities and quality assurance guidelines and strategies to create and support programs moving to online or blended delivery. The office also manages the promotion of NIU online offerings through several outlets including, the NIUOnline web portal, the Online and Regional Academics portal, and through customized email and other media campaigns.

The office is building communities of support and inquiry for faculty engaging in online instruction and interested in research in the field. Additionally, OPDS will engage online learners in a supportive community, reflecting best practices identified by research in the field.

For more information about the online program development and support services available, visit opds.niu.edu or email opds@niu.edu. For the latest news, trends, resources, tips, and best practices for online teaching and learning, follow NIU OPDS on Facebook or Twitter.

How To Write Engaging Questions for Online Forums

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Online asynchronous discussions are often incorporated by faculty into blended or online courses, providing opportunities for rich dialog among students outside of the traditional face-to-face classroom environment. A number of steps can be taken to promote an engaging and interactive online discussion, beginning with drafting the discussion questions that students are asked to respond to. This infographic highlights a variety of suggestions that can yield more meaningful and deeper online discussions.

How to Compose Engaging Questions for Online Forums Infographic
Source: BangTheTable

What additional suggestions do you have for writing engaging questions for online discussion forums?  Feel free to leave a comment with your ideas!