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Tips for Online Discussions

If you are running an online discussion, here are some tips to consider to have students interact more effectively.

  • Dual Deadlines: have the initial post due by mid-week and then follow-up posts by end of week. This ensures that students have something to react to as part of their follow-up activities.
  • Hyperlink the instructions. If you have instructions or a grading rubric, create a hyperlink which is easily accessible to all students. It is best is this document can open in a pop-up window. (For HTML gurus, this is the target="_blank" )
  • Problem Solving / Critical Thinking without the details: If students are asked factual questions, there is very little to discuss after one student answers correctly. If instead students are given "case study" questions in which they are given only part of the information, then students will need to analyze what questions they can answer, what additional information they will need, and what course of resolution they recommend.
  • HELP ME!!! It is very powerful to both students and instructor to create a Questions discussion in the course. This allows the instructor's answer to be "heard" by the whole course - rather than just one email recipient. Additionally - student peers will often jump in and answer the questions (allowing other students to get back on task more quickly). I normally have 3 discussion threads for Questions and Answers:
    • Questions about the Content: what students don't understand in the textbook, articles, handouts, videos, podcasts, and supplementary resource materials.
    • Questions about the Assignments: what students seek for clarification.
    • Questions and Tips about Technology: how to navigate and use the course more effectively.
  • Students Answer Their Own Questions: I ask that students post very specific questions AND also give me what they feel the correct answer is. This allows me to congratulate them when they are on the right track, and similarly it helps me identify where they might have gotten off-track. It is also a huge time solver, because I can properly scope the answer to the specific need... rather than writing huge blocks of text to try to re-explain the content.
  • Private Discussions Instead of Email: I set up private 1-on-1 discussions between myself and each student. I have students use those areas instead of email, since I know immediately the student's name and the course when a question is posted. Also - this allows me to quickly see a history of interactions (no searching through old email).

>>> James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

Hulu - brings you Dr. Horrible

Neil Patrick Harris was featured in an online musical called "Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog" - which is now available at Hulu.com.

If you didn't see this when it came out last summer... you ought to see it now.

Also check out the official Fan Site for Dr. Horrible's Sign-Along Blog.>>> James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

Hardware, software, and underwear

James says...
Hardware, software, and UNDERwear,
should be kept clean,
and then thrown out and replaced at least every three years
to get rid of the holes and to improve performance.>>> James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

Webinars for Online Learning Tips and Techniques

I am presenting some webinars relating to Online Tips and Techniques on Thursdays until the end of summer. Anyone from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System is welcome to join in on the sessions (email me for details). Here is the list of dates and topics. The sessions run Thursdays from 12:10pm to 12:45pm.
Date Topic
4/23/2009 Google Blogger (free tool) 4/30/2009 Audacity Audio Recording and Editing (free tool)
Modifying Word 2007 Paragraph Styles 5/14/2009 Adobe Presenter Turning PowerPoint into Flash-based Lectures 5/21/2009 7 Basics for Making Your Word 2007 Documents Accessible 5/28/2009 NO SESSION
6/4/2009 Using and Creating YouTube Videos for D2L Sites 6/11/2009 NO SESSION
6/18/2009 Blemish and Wrinkle Retouching in Photoshop, and other tricks 6/25/2009 Google Groups – Free Tools for Collaboration, Editing, and File Sharing 7/2/2009 Skype Online Phone Conference Calls for up to 10 Callers (free / low-cost) 7/9/2009 Speech Recognition in Microsoft Vista – Turning Speech to Text Transcripts 7/16/2009 Introduction to Creating Tutorial Videos with Adobe Captivate
7/23/2009 Student Readiness for Online Courses – A Model for Orientation and Certification of Online Learners 7/30/2009 Respecting Copyrights: Strategies and Resources to Keep You Out of Trouble 8/6/2009 Creating PDF Handouts from PowerPoint Files 8/13/2009 Podcast Your Classroom Lectures with a Pocket-Sized Voice Recorder 8/20/2009 Virtual Office Hours: Tips, Tricks, and Technologies
8/27/2009 Creating Custom Cartoons for Courses (free tool) >>> James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

Blackboard vs. the World... continuing Saga

The Chronicle of Higher Education posted an article that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has now preliminarily rejected all 57 patent claims by Blackboard. This is great news for any school using the software by Desire2Learn -- the company which continues to fend itself against lawsuits by Blackboard over patent infringements.

Mineral Oil Cooled Computer

This is a very interesting idea - cooling your computer with mineral oil. The main advantage is no noise (no fans whirring in the background). This might be especially useful in audio and video recording applications in which the background noise needs to be kept at a minimum. Also, the mineral oil distributes heat to a wider area, and a submersible pump can ensure that the oil circulates and dissipates the heat.

Video by Puget Custom Computer Systems.

How NOT to do PowerPoint

Here are a few fun videos about how NOT to do PowerPoint.

Don McMillan - How NOT to use PowerPoint

Alexei Kapterev - (Avoiding) Death by PowerPoint

Talent = 10,000 hours plus luck

What does it take to succeed? What is talent? Finally - you have your answer! (not workplace safe)

Batteries, Batteries, and Where Will They Go?

Wonder what to do about a dead battery? Can it be safely tossed out with the wilted lettuce and over-ripen cucumber? Or, does it need to be treated as highly-hazardous material?

TWICE magazine has put together a guide on how to dispose of and recycle batteries.

Common Cartridge Standard for IMS Materials

Common Cartridge is a new standard which allows content developed for one Instructional Management System (IMS) to be exported and imported by another. Moving beyond the SCORM standard, the Common Cartridge allows better integration of collaborative tools and activities.
Here are some FAQs about Common Cartridge and also a Chart of Common Cartridge as it relates to an IMS.

Music Tools

More tools for music...
Making Music Blog
Musician's Friend - great low-cost gear
American Musical Supply - more great low-cost gear
Denemo - Open Source Sheet Music Editor
Audacity - Open Source Multi-track Sound Recording and Editing