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

More Burning Man in Cyberspace Shenanigans

avatars in a boxing ring

Smackdown Redux!

Bethany's avatar presenting

Bethany presenting at OSCC 2019.

This was my third year attending the OpenSimulator Community Conference, which brings together a global group of developers, educators, and artists who are passionate about the open metaverse of OpenSim virtual worlds. It’s always inspiring to hang out in-world with old friends and to meet new ones, see presentations and hear about what others are doing with their colleagues, students, and friends in OpenSim virtual worlds. 

Panel Discussion & Smackdown Redux

San Jose State University was well represented. In addition to my own short presentation, I participated on a panel discussion with my Community Virtual Library colleagues, Dr. Valerie Hill and Dr. Marie Vans, as we talked about our ongoing projects on the Kitely and Avacon grids.  CVL also presented a redo of our Virtual Worlds vs Virtual Reality Smackdown debate, which was a real hit! (Pun intended!) I even built a boxing ring for the occasion. Val played moderator as before, but this time I was debating Marie, an iSchool alumna. Marie was embodied as a fantasy creature that well suited her passionate advocacy for virtual reality with head mounted displays. (She’s also a wee bit intimidating to debate. Marie is a senior research scientist at Hewlett Packard, and her current research area is virtual reality and education!)  Undaunted, however, I chose to embody the very symbol of OpenSim, the Hippo. And don’t be fooled by the humble appearance, the hippo is actually the most dangerous animal on the African continent. So it’s a worthy symbol of open source virtual worlds. Of course, the OpenSim crowd cheered wildly for me when they saw me come out swinging! 

Immersive Art OER Resources Presentation

My own presentation was about some new OER content I’d developed, initially as an idea for  Dr. Eileen O’Connor, one of my virtual world colleagues. Eileen is the coordinator for SUNY Empire State College’s Masters of Arts Learning & Emerging Technology (MALET) Program.  Eileen has been teaching in virtual worlds for a number of years, and I’ve attended events at Marian Island on Kitely. Marian Island is her OpenSim world where she introduces other faculty to virtual worlds, and it’s where she showcases the work of her students who’ve also built worlds on the Kitely grid.  I had been inspired to create some content and tutorials to help any event organizer like her, (who certainly has their hands full!), to have an immersive activity that could teach a newer participant to learn how to create a simple piece of art they could share in the virtual environment. Of course then, it just made sense to share it with anyone in the community via a Creative Commons license. The more I do in the virtual world, the more I continue to develop expertise about how we can use these spaces in engaging and educational ways. 

If you want to hear more about the content and tutorials I created, you can watch the video of my session Art Gallery Contribution: A Plug-n-Play OER Immersive Activity.

⏰ It’s that time: Back-to-school is here

Welcome back from the winter break. The new semester always brings a fresh start and, of course, a flurry of activity to prepare for classes. As I ready my online course, I will also begin something new. For this spring semester, Dr. Jennifer Redd, eCampus Director, has invited me as a guest faculty blogger to share my experiences teaching with technology. Are you interested in redesigning your course to fully online or introducing technology into your in-person classroom? If so, I invite you to join me as I explore leveraging technology to enhance teaching and support Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles. 


Teaching with Technology

Fall 2017, I began teaching fully online. However, my journey of using technology in the classroom began in 2014 – I created a Canvas course page for my in-person course; that was it. I did not input grades in Canvas much less use Canvas features such as quizzes. Not even one announcement post. But, I had a Canvas page and felt a bit tech-savvy incorporating edtech for “digital native” learners. Then, as I switched to the flipped pedagogy, I heavily integrated Canvas LMS functionalities into my curriculum – modules, quizzes, and publisher content. Fast forward a few years, and I marvel at the ways technology can be used to enhance learning anywhere, anyplace, any pedagogy. 

Universal Design for Learning framework

Ok, so what is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)? According to the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), it is a “framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.” Further, this framework guides the design of instructional objectives, assessments, and materials to meet individual learner needs. There are three overarching principles – multiple means of engagement, representation, and action & expression. 

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

The full list of UDL principles and guidelines can be found on the CAST website. Also, the SJSU Center for Faculty Development has a resource page on UDL.

This spring 2020, monthly posts will share best practices, tools, and resources on how technology can be incorporated to support one of the UDL guiding principles, geared more towards fully online courses.

Getting Started: Are you tech-ready for the semester?

Last semester’s faculty-in-residence blogger, Dr. Rayna Friendly, shared her guide for preparing courses for the beginning of the term and it includes great tips and resources. As always, it’s best to start with your syllabus and learning objectives. Here, I’ll offer a few suggestions on how technology can be used in the classroom as you begin the semester. Yes, it’s already the first week of classes, but the benefit of technology allows you to (fairly) easily include some quick additions to your course using Canvas LMS functionalities.

In-person

  • Schedule a consultation with an eCampus instructional designer to learn about the Canvas LMS, university-supported edtech tools, and effective techniques to meet your curriculum needs.
  • Utilize your Canvas course site – every instructor automatically has a Canvas site each semester.

Instructure Canvas log-in image

URL: https://sjsu.instructure.com
Username : SJSU 9-digit ID
Password : SJSUOne Password

    • Set up a Canvas Course Homepage and include your contact info, office hours, short bio, and a course introduction.
      • NOTE: You first need to create a Canvas “Page” with your content. Then, set that “Page” as your “Front Page” so that it will display as the course homepage.
    • Upload a copy of your syllabus to your Canvas course site and save time, paper, and money.

When logged in to your Canvas course site, click “Syllabus” on the left-hand navigation bar

Image Source: Canvas LMS Community, https://community.canvaslms.com/

Click on the “Files” tab on the upper right side of the screen

Image Source: Canvas LMS Community, https://community.canvaslms.com/

Select “Upload a New File”

Click “Update Syllabus”

  • Utilize the Canvas Calendar and add important dates so that students are aware of key deadlines and high-stakes assessments.

Hybrid or Flipped

  • Include a “Welcome to the Course” message via Canvas Announcements. If you’re feeling ambitious, create a short video using Canvas, Zoom, or Camtasia.
    • Most easily, you can use the Canvas Rich Content Editor to record a video. Canvas only provides basic recording and editing while Camtasia offers more robust functionalities (and a steeper learning curve!). A 3-4 minute welcome video is ideal where you can introduce yourself and tell a bit about the course. And, make sure to include closed captioning!
  • Set up the Canvas Gradebook to include all assessment scores whether conducted in-person or online.
  • Incorporate online activities or assessments using Canvas discussions and quizzes, publisher test bank, and/or LinkedIn Learning.

Online 

  • Send a “Welcome to the Course” email to enrolled students before the first day of instruction.
  • Create a Class Introductions Discussion for the first week of class.
  • Include a low-stakes Orientation quiz in Canvas that assesses students’ readiness to navigate and access online course materials.

That’s it for now. Looking forward to sharing learner engagement strategies using technology in the next post.