There’s No Contagion in the Virtual World!

Bethany's Tiny Cat Avatar with Gas Mask & Goggles

Bethany’s Tiny Cat Avatar with Gas Mask & Goggles

eCampus has been especially busy recently, with multiple inquiries coming in about options for remote teaching with technology. Those of us who are young and healthy might not be particularly worried about the escalation of COVID-19 in the US, but for those of us with elderly parents or friends with compromised immune systems, we certainly are worried about contracting this and passing it along. Now is an ideal time to plan for the very real possibility we may need to self-quarantine, or that our students might need to do so. 

This disruption is also not just affecting teaching and learning in the classroom. One of my eCampus colleagues flew out of town for an ed tech conference last weekend that was cancelled upon arrival. Dealing with this sort of thing is inconvenient or even scary, but the truth is it need not disrupt our education or conferences. We have long had all the tools we need, but we’ve just not been in a position where we really had to use them. Obviously there’s no time like the present to start taking a serious look at the many underutilized tools we have that can help us connect digitally. And that includes virtual environments. 

Coincidentally, I’m scheduled to present at the Online Learning Consortium conference at the end of this month. It hasn’t been cancelled….(yet?). And ionically I’m presenting on Purposeful Tinkering: Experiential Preparation & Networking In Virtual Worlds For VR-Ready Educators. So I’m going to a physical world conference where I’ll be talking about my ongoing virtual collaborations with global colleagues using desktop VR. At these physical events I’ve often mentioned cost, accessibility, engagement, and environmental factors as just a few of the good reasons we should all be advocating for the wider adoption of virtual worlds for meetings, teaching, and conferences. It had never occurred to me until now to add pandemics and social distancing to the list. Yet here we are. 

So I’m scheduled to present on this topic at a  physical world conference that likely has no good plan to host it any other way if it gets canceled. Even more inronically, however, I’ll be presenting in-world in two weeks time at the 13th annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education, which of course will not get cancelled because it’s (gasp!) held in a virtual environment!  And let me be entirely clear what I mean when I say a virtual conference, because I’m certainly not talking about a live streamed webcast. That’s a very poor substitute and not interactive at all. Have you ever attended such a thing, only to actually spend most of the time on a second screen?  So tell me how good a virtual conference is, when you can walk away from it and nobody even knows you’re missing?!

A conference in a virtual world, however, is totally different. If you take your headset off while sitting at your computer, you better set your status on your avatar as “away”. Otherwise people might actually talk and chat at you and think you’re just being rude by not responding. They assume you are on the other end because you are literally present in the digital environment represented by your avatar. In a virtual conference, when a presenter takes questions from the audience, everyone can see who you are, everyone can hear you speak, everyone can see your questions and comments when you post them in chat. It’s incredible interactive. If the group is exploring someone’s exhibit and you don’t keep up as people walk or fly around the corner, the audio actually drifts away. If you don’t keep up, you won’t be able to hear them. If you don’t participate actively, you actually miss out. You don’t really have an option to be passive. So a virtual conference is a lot like a physical one. (Well, except for the flying part!….And the part about being able to log in from anywhere in the world while in your pajamas, and that your avatar can represent any aspect of your personality that you want, etc., etc.)

So I have little tolerance for crappy “virtual” events that are non-immersive and non-interactive. If you want to experience a real virtual conference, now is your chance to attend one of the very best! The 13th annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education  starts in two weeks and it’s free! You can meet some really innovative educators from around the world who regularly meet up in-world with their students and other educators to promote teaching and learning and global citizenship. If you want to attend, I can teach everything you need to know in less than an hour. We can do this in-person or via Zoom. I think it will blow your mind, and spoil you for what more conferences should be. 

I’m also excited to be presenting again at VWBPE this year. I have an immersive event on March 15th, I’ve also built an exhibit for the Stellar space theme which ties in nicely with what I’ve build in OpenSim, and I’m also on a panel discussion with my iSchool VCARA and CVL colleagues. The panel discussion is about the findings of a survey conducted late last year. We wanted to know what educators thought were the most important features needed for the educational use of VR platforms. (By the way, SJSU’s School of Information recently posted an interview with me about my work with them in virtual worlds for their Community Profiles page.) Like many of my colleagues that have used virtual worlds for years, and who are also actively exploring social VR platforms with head-mounted displays, I too have some opinions on the topic. All of us have valuable insights to share about what features we think are needed for education, and how different VR platforms stack up with what we’ve been using for the last 16 years with desktop VR. In fact, I made a video of an in-world presentation on this topic for a colleague at SUNY Empire State College. It’s for her student educators in one of her classes. My presentation is titled Beyond the Hype of Head Mounted Display (HMD) Virtual Reality.

So that’s my update. There’s no contagion in the virtual world, so come join us! Contact me if you have any questions! I’m happy to help your or your students get in-world. eCampus has computers with the Firestorm viewer already installed, so you or your students can access Second Life or OpenSim. And if you want to learn more before reaching out to me, check out my Canvas course, VW101: Burning Man in Cyberspace. You’ll find links to more information about some of the educators I know, many of whom I expect will be presenting this year at the conference. 

 

 

Effective, Targeted Feedback 🎯


Feedback, offered in a timely way, encourages learners to persist through challenges.” CAST Professional Learning, 2016

In my last post about online discussions as a means to engage learners, I touched on the importance of providing instructor feedback to encourage student participation and communicate clear assignment expectations. Continuing with the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principle of engagement, this post will focus on tech tools to support one of its underlying guidelines – sustaining student effort and persistence through feedback. According to CAST research, effective feedback is described as “relevant, constructive, accessible, consequential, and timely” (CAST, 2018). In addition, the CAST UDL Increase Mastery-Oriented Feedback checkpoint outlines further elements as listed below.

    • “Provide feedback that encourages perseverance, focuses on development of efficacy and self-awareness, and encourages the use of specific supports and strategies in the face of challenge
    • Provide feedback that emphasizes effort, improvement, and achieving a standard rather than on relative performance
    • Provide feedback that is frequent, timely, and specific
    • Provide feedback that is substantive and informative rather than comparative or competitive
    • Provide feedback that models how to incorporate evaluation, including identifying patterns of errors and wrong answers, into positive strategies for future success” (CAST, 2018)

Canvas and Zoom are two tech tools with features designed to aid effective and efficient instructor feedback. In Canvas quizzes, there is an automated, pre-populated feedback feature so that students can receive prompt, corrective intervention on assessments. Audio or video comments in Canvas assignments allow for specific, personalized feedback. Finally, Zoom is a great video conferencing tool for more in-depth, individual or group learning support akin to in-person office hours. And, these tools can be used not only for corrective feedback but also as a means to encourage (or praise!) all learners in the class. See below for limited instructions on how to implement these tools; as always, eCampus is available for further consultation.

Canvas Quizzes Automated feedback can be pre-populated in the quiz answer comment fields.

  • In Canvas Quizzes, click the “Edit” button and then click the “Questions” tab to view quiz questions.
  • [1] Click on the comment field beneath each answer to leave a specific comment for that particular answer.  OR
  • [2] Create general answer comments for the quiz question as a whole. Correct answers receive feedback in the green comment field. Incorrect answers receive feedback in the red comment field. The blue button comment field provides feedback to all students regardless of in/correct answer response.
  • The comments field can also be used to connect feedback to resources by including a link to a Canvas page within the course or external site.

pdf on chat

Image and instructions from  Canvas Guide on Multiple Choice questions.

 


Canvas Assignments Audio or video feedback (text and attached file too) can be provided via Canvas SpeedGrader.

  • Audio and Video support different learning styles and foster student-instructor interaction for online students.
  • Audio comments are especially helpful for language learning. 
  • Files can also be attached to the comment section by clicking on the paperclip icon.

In the Canvas Assignment, Click on SpeedGraderpdf on chatOpen Student Submissionpdf on chat Add Media Comment to Record Audio or Videopdf on chatSubmit Commentpdf on chat

Images and instructions from  How do I leave feedback comments for student submissions in SpeedGrader.

 


Zoom Video Conferencing for in-depth student support and virtual office hours.

  • Can be used for standing, weekly virtual office hours or as-needed basis.
  • Option to use Zoom as audio call only or video conference.
  • Screen Sharing allows for instant sharing and review of materials on your computer, laptop, or mobile device.
  • Whiteboard allows you to write or draw on a blank screen and share with participants. And, you can save whiteboard sessions.

 Sharing a Whiteboard

 Click the Share Screen button located in your meeting tool bar.pdf on chat

 Click Whiteboard.pdf on chat

 Click Share.

The annotation tools will appear automatically, but you can press the Whiteboard option in the meeting controls to show and hide them.

Use the page controls in the bottom-right corner of the whiteboard to create new pages and switch between pages.pdf on chatNote: Only the participant or host that started sharing the whiteboard has access to create and switch pages.

 When you are done, click Stop Share.pdf on chat

Images and instructions from  Zoom Sharing a Whiteboard.

 


Of the above tools, Zoom (headquartered in San Jose!) is my favorite for many reasons. First, it’s accessible and easy to use. Just send an invitation link and the recipient can click on the link to access the Zoom meeting right away; no prior setup or account registration is required. And, students are impressed with Zoom’s ability to serve as a tech aid in their learning process. I can screen share their progress on Canvas assignments and also seamlessly switch over to the whiteboard to write out a particular concept or draw a graph. Lastly, student exposure to Zoom is beneficial as this communication tool is used in the workforce as part of the recruiting-interview process and on-the-job to collaborate with remote coworkers or interact with clients.

This post wraps up the UDL engagement principle. Next, I’ll share about Multiple Means of Representation and a new tool I want to try to support this principle.

Image Source: CAST UDL Guidelines, http://udlguidelines.cast.org

 


References
Canvas Guides. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2020, from http://guides.instructure.com/m/4152/l/41477-how-do-i-create-a-multiple-choice-question
CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org
How do I leave feedback comments for student submissions in SpeedGrader? (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2020, from https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-12746-415255023
Sharing a whiteboard. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2020, from https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/205677665-Sharing-a-whiteboard
Top 10 UDL Tips for Engagement (2016). Retrieved February 19, 2020, from http://castprofessionallearning.org/project/top-10-udl-tips-for-engagement/

Let’s Engage | Online Discussions

This month, we’ll take a look at the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principle of engagement – the “why” of learning for students. The CAST UDL Guidelines on Engagement provide more detailed information on multiple ways to motivate and tap into the interests of learners.

Image Source: CAST UDL Guidelines, http://udlguidelines.cast.org

Online Discussions as a Means to Engage Learners

There is not one means of engagement that will be optimal for all learners in all contexts” (CAST, 2018) so in this post, I will explore one means that I have used  – online discussions. Online discussions are an integral component of online courses and can be used as an alternative means of expression for an in-person course to promote student engagement, facilitate the exchange of ideas, and deepen understanding of course content. For online courses, these discussions provide necessary social presence and interaction (instructor-student, student-student, and student-content) as similarly achieved in a traditional classroom and support student learning perception and a sense of community.

Purposeful design that incorporates online communication between students and instructors, as well as between students and peers fosters effective learning interaction (Johnson, 2017)

Online discussions require more than just an interesting question or prompt although this is a crucial component. Here are a few key features and resources to address in designing and facilitating asynchronous online discussions. 

Promote Netiquette and Provide Feedback Due to the absence of visual and auditory cues in online discussion forums, a netiquette policy sets upfront expectations for constructive online communication and behavior. Providing netiquette rules and guidelines lays the foundation for a safe, shared learning environment.

Active participation by the instructor reinforces the model behavior as established in the netiquette guidelines. Additionally, instructor involvement and feedback encourage student participation. Further, providing detailed feedback and comments to student posts early in the semester helps develop good habits and discussions that meet expectations. (Simon, 2018)

Set Clear Expectations A clear expectation of depth of discussion post, frequency, interaction with peers and instructor, and evaluation criteria facilitate better student engagement (Johnson, 2017). This helps students’ awareness of what is required and facilitates not only participation but engagement with peers and the content. There are various protocols for structuring online discussions but in general, all share a well-defined objective, set clear interaction roles and rules, and clarify deadlines. The Save the Last Word for Me protocol has been shown to support student engagement and ownership of discussion. (deNoyelles, 2015)

Add Relevance “Why do I need to know this?” is a common question amongst learners. The instructor can offer opportunities for students to see the relevance and value of course content by providing a question or prompt and connecting it to a current event or real-world model. 

Add multimedia Beyond text, student to content interaction can be boosted with the use of multimedia – image, audio, video, and animation. Visual tools engage students by creating a connection between student and content and reinforce discussions. (Harris, 2011) Further, “context-based videos in online courses have the potential to enhance learners’ retention and motivation.” (Choi, 2005)

Provide a Rubric for Assessment Online discussions can be assessed from a surface (participation) and/or deep level understanding (critical thinking and application of course content), depending on the learning objective and design for that particular discussion assignment. (Johnson, 2017)  Although online discussion assignments can either be graded or non-graded, graded posts incentivize both student participation and quality of posting. For graded discussion posts, the use of a rubric is beneficial as it defines assignment expectations (e.g., clarity, critical thinking, grammar, and word count) for both the student and instructor. Henri’s five key dimensions of content analyses can be used to evaluate the content and engagement level of student discussion posts and serve as the basis for the instructor’s own grading rubric.

Summary of Henri’s Five Dimensions of Content Analyses and Indicators for Engagement

Description of indicators Dimension
Student has participated in posting to the discussions area to the group. Participative
Student text focuses on interacting with other group members in a supportive way yet does not address the content topic. Social
Student responds to other group members by discussing specific items addressed by other members. Interactive
Student begins to ask additional questions regarding the topic content to other group members and begins to make inferences. This writing demonstrates development of his/her learning process on the topic. Cognitive
Student writing demonstrates that the student is reflecting on their content knowledge through a critical lens of self-questioning and self-regulation. Metacognitive

Table: Summary of Henri’s (1992) Five Dimensions of Content Analyses (Henri as cited in Johnson, 2017)

 

To learn more about the pedagogy of discussions, check out the eCampus Guide (Canvas log-in required).

 

Tech Tools to Facilitate Online Discussions 

There are various tools that can be used to facilitate online discussions. Canvas Discussions and Piazza are both supported by eCampus.

Canvas Discussions is probably the easiest tool to set up and use as it is a feature of the Canvas LMS. Canvas discussions can be graded or not and have the option to include a customized rubric. 

And, check out the upcoming February 17th eCampus workshop Canvas IV: Creating Community with Discussions, Groups, Chat, Collaborations, & Conferences (Online) to learn more about implementing Canvas Discussions.

Piazza is a wiki style platform that integrates with the Canvas LMS and encourages collaborative student engagement. Take a look at some Piazza Professor Success Stories.

 

 

References

CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org.
Choi, H. & Johnson, S. (2005). The Effect of Context-Based Video Instruction on Learning and Motivation in Online Courses, American Journal of Distance Education, 19:4, 215-227.
deNoyelles, A., Zydney, J.M., & Seo, K.K. (2015, April). Save the last word for me: Encouraging students to engage with complex reading and each other. Faculty Focus. 
Farrell, M. (2018). Rethinking Online Discussions for Inclusion. 10.13140/RG.2.2.19115.28964. 
Harris, M. (2011). Using YouTube to enhance student engagement. Faculty Focus.
Johnson, C.E., Hill, L., Lock, J.V., Altowairiki, N., Ostrowski, C.P., Santos, L., & Liu, Y. (2017). Using Design-Based Research to Develop Meaningful Online Discussions in Undergraduate Field Experience Courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(6).
Simon, E. (2018, November). Ten Tips for Effective Online Discussions. Educause Review. 

Anthony Bolaños

Anthony Bolanos

I am very pleased to announce that our eCampus team is growing. Anthony Bolaños has joined us as our new Instructional Designer. With more than 6 years of experience, he’s obsessed with innovating new ways for simplifying the tasks of all the instructors and students.

Anthony is from Bakersfield, and he graduated from CSUB in 2015 with his degree in Computer Science/Information Systems. At CSUB, he started his employment as a student tutor for the computer science department. He then took on a job with the Faculty Teaching and Learning Center (FTLC) in January 2014. His first initial FTLC job was an Instructional Technologist position from January 2014 to November 2018. He was then promoted to Instructional Designer at CSUB starting November 2018.

Anthony has an amazing professional journey and innumerable accomplishments. He was a system administrator for their Learning Management Systems, Blackboard and the Canvas Pilot, that will be seen in production by Summer 2020. He was an admin for SharePoint, InfoReady, TechSmith Relay for lecture capture, and Turnitin. He made several audio podcasts recordings sessions of professors or students presenting their work at CSUB. He recorded Dr. Anthony Flores’ interview for the BBC in 2016. Anthony has recorded Dr. Kim Flachmann presenting several chapter introductions for her online book through Pearson Publishing.

He is a technophile and has a lot of interest in AR/VR development and Computer Programming. He also is a connoisseur of food and loves to talk about it. He also has one more exceptional talent; He is a drummer. He said, “If I wasn’t an Instructional Designer. I would have been a VR/AR developer or a touring drummer.”

The most liked thing about eCampus according to him is “Working with a great team of many talents, also meeting professors and helping them out with their courses”. At eCampus, he is currently working on ArcGIS workshops and assisting professors with migrating Vimeo videos to our Studio video server on Canvas.

When Anthony is not working, he travels with his wife Jodie and their miniature poodle Trini down to visit their son Isaac, a freshman at CSU Channel Islands. He also plays on different musical projects when asked and goes to live concerts and fine dining restaurants with his wife as much as they can.

On behalf of eCampus, SJSU, we would like to welcome Anthony. All of us here are excited to get to know him and work with him on upcoming projects.

 

References

Bolaños, Anthony. (2020, Feb 11). Interview type [email].

Zoom, Just got better!!!

Zoom just launched some really cool and much awaited features. Lets unbox the new Zoom.

Meeting/webinar features

The webinars will no longer need a search for a tidy/formal space to sit when attending a video conference as you can now set a virtual background. You can now attend your video conferences without thinking which background looks decent enough.

Image/Video as Virtual Background

Users can select an image/video as their virtual background. You might need to have a image available on your system or select one of the default options available. You can also have a video in your system for virtual background or use the default video available and use it for the meeting. Make sure the video is in mp4 or mov with a resolution of 360p-1080p.

To achieve the same, let’s create a new meeting on Zoom.

Steps

You will see some default images available for virtual background

Default Images for Virtual Background

You can select any of these

Default Image set as Virtual Background

Or you can add an image of your choice by adding it from your computer. Click on the Plus(+) icon and then click on add image

Add Image from PC

Select an image from your PC and click on Open

Uploaded Image

Now when we check the virtual background it should be set as the image we selected

 

Lets check how we can set a video as virtual background

We do have some default video options present

Default Video Options

Select any of these to see a video virtual background

Default virtual video background applied

Want a video of your choice to be on the virtual background , select a video that you want as the virtual background from your computer.Add video

Select from computer

Add Video from PC

Select the video you added

Select Video from System

Add or edit profile picture during a meeting.

Users logged into their Zoom account can now add or edit their profile picture during a meeting. If they are not logged in, users will be prompted to login or sign up with Zoom and can subsequently change their profile picture from their Zoom web portal.

Steps:

  1. Make sure you login to Zoom.
  2. Go to the meeting you want to join. When your camera is turned off, the participants in the meeting can see your profile picture. You can change it if you want to even during the meeting.Profile Picture Visibility
  3. Go to the home screen of zoom application. Click on setting button below the profile picture on the top right corner

 

Settings

 

4. Go to Profile tabProfile Settings

5. Click on the profile picture and a new window should open up. You can edit your current profile picture from this window or change the picture for a new one.

Edit Profile Picture Screen

Change Picture–> Select a new profile picture from your PC and click open.

New Picture from PC

New profile picture

Click on save and you should be able to see your new profile picture in the meeting tab

New Profile pic on meeting

 

Meeting features

Skin tones for meeting reactions.

Users can now set a skin tone for their meeting reactions.

Go to Settings –> General –> Select the Reaction skin tone

Colour

You can send reactions when on the meeting from the reaction icon in the bottom panel of the meeting

Chat features

Format text in chat messages:

Users can now format their chat messages with bold, italics, strike-through and bullet points.

Start a chat by clicking on the chat icon on the home screen of zoom application

Chat Screen

You can format your text as below. Highlight the text and you should see some options above

Bold

Bold

Italics

Italics

 

Strike-through

 

Bullet Points

Bullet Points

 

Reply with an image, file, voice message, or code snippet:

Users can now reply with an image, file, voice message, or code snippet, in addition to text and emoji replies.You will see a reply option right next to every message. When you click on it a reply text bar comes up

Reply with Image

You can reply with a screenshot or an image that is available on your google drive or your system.

Reply Bar Options

Select the portion you want to screenshot and click Capture to insert it in the chat

 

Reply with File

You can reply with a file that is available on your google drive or your system. The file can be a image, pdf, a audio file or a video file.

Select File

Audio file from computer

Select audio file from computer and Click open

Audio file from computer

Audio on Chat

Video file from computer

Select video file from computer and Click open

Video file from Computer

Video on Chat

 

Pdf from computer

Select pdf file from computer and Click open

pdf file from computer

 

pdf on chat

Reply with Code Snippet

Code Snippet option should be enabled on zoom chat if not already done

Go to settings –> Chats

Check the first option

Show “Code Snippet” buttonChat Settings

Click on code snippet option in the chat and then download window should appear. Download the same.

 

Click on inset code snippet on the chat and the below window should appear.

Enter title and language of code. Enter the code and click create snippet.

Code snippet should be added to the reply.

Code snippet in chat

Reply with emojis

You can reply with emojis via any of the below icons

Smiley icon below the message

emoji1

From the reply text window

emoji 2

Enhanced “happy birthday” reaction:

When a user sends the message “happy birthday”, the Zoom client will now show cake emojis.

Enter a message Happy Birthday. Click Enter

Happy Birthday message