Technology-category

Designing with Technology

Educational technology represents the application of knowledge for the practical purpose of learning. Michael Spector, a leading scholar who has written broadly on the subject of educational technology, suggests that we define it as “a technology that can help a person learn something” (Foundations of Educational Technology, 9). Educational technologies can represent a wide range of potential applications, including everyday items like pens, paper, books, or personal journals. We can broaden our understanding of educational technologies beyond computers, tablets, and smartphones to include applications such as self-check quizzes, video introductions, story boards, and online forums.

Best Practices for Using Video Online

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Incorporating video in your course can be a great way to help learners engage with the content. Creating your own videos is a fantastic way to enhance your teaching presence in the online environment. But the overuse of video does have some drawbacks. In this post we want to consider some suggestions for best practices in the use of video. Video lectures for course content Research shows that the optimal length of videos for student engagement is about 6 minutes or less (source). Beyond 6 minutes, student engagement drops off (source). If you have a longer video lecture, you might want to consider breaking it into smaller chunks. One way to do that is to make your video lectures interactive by adding in questions. Edpuzzle is a free resource that allows you to cut videos to your desired length and also add in questions for your students to answer. It...

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Alternatives to Video

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While video may be the first option that many of us think about using to create online lectures, there are actually many other options out there for communicating content to our learners. We will discuss a few of those options in this post. Moodle Tools Moodle offers several ways that you can share content with your students. One way is to upload a file (Word doc, PDF, etc.) for your students to download and read. This is a great option for articles, white papers, or even handouts you typically use in class. Tip: when you upload the file, there is an option in the settings to force download when students click on the link. A second option is a Moodle Page. If you have a short amount of content to share, for example, a two-paragraph introduction to the unit, you can post that in a Moodle Page for your students...

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Free Online Tools

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If you need help finding the right tool to create content for your course, the following list is a good place to start looking for ideas. Canva – easily create and download graphics (offers free Pro accounts for non-profits) Loom – record and share videos up to 25 minutes long (Note: The free version will support unlimited video lengths until July 1, 2020. Pro accounts with unlimited video length are available for free to teachers and students.) Openclipart – clipart, all licensed under CC0 (free to use and modify, no attribution required) Pixabay – photographs and clipart, all licensed under CC0 (free to use and modify, no attribution required) Prezi – presentation software, alternative to PowerPoint Screencastify – record and share videos up to 5 minutes long (Google Chrome only) Screencast-o-matic – record and share videos up to 15 minutes long Tuxpi – free image editing tool (including fade effects)...

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Finding Images to Use

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A picture may be worth a thousand words, but finding the right picture can be a challenging task. And once you do find the perfect image, figuring out whether or not there are copyright restrictions attached to it, and what attributions might be needed can be even more challenging. This post will introduce you to some tools that aim to make that task more manageable. Before we talk about where to find images, we first need to talk about copyrights. The author of an image has the right to determine whether or not the image may be reproduced or modified in any way, and they also have the right to be credited as the author any time the image is used. The phrase “all rights reserved” was once widely used to indicate that an author reserves all the rights associated with an image, meaning the image may not be reproduced...

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Video Recording Tools

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When you are teaching an online class, using video is a great way to increase your online presence as students hear your voice and see your face. There are plenty of free tools that help you capture and edit videos and make it easy to share videos with your students. These tools are also easy for students to use to create video presentations for the course. This post highlights a few of the free tools that we make use of at Horizon. If you want to make a quick video to introduce yourself to students at the beginning of a course, or highlight key information at the beginning of a new unit, or even give feedback on an assessment, there are several screen capture options that make it easy to do so. The Atto editor in Moodle comes with an option to record audio or video. This is great for...

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Presentation tools

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How do you present content to students when you teach in a face-to-face classroom? Do you lecture from notes? Write on a chalkboard? Project a file or presentation on a screen? Some of these methods are easier than others to replicate in an online environment. In this post we will focus on presentation tools that you can use to communicate course material with your students. PowerPoint was the standard presentation software for many years and is thus the presentation software that most people are familiar with. PowerPoint gets its fair share of criticism, but it is a powerful tool that we can leverage for online learning. When we think about PowerPoint (or Keynote or Google Slides) presentations for our face-to-face lectures, the ideal presentation contains graphics to support the spoken content, but the presentation itself has limited text projected on screen. Books like Slide:ology by Nancy Duarte and Presentation Zen...

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Moodle Books and Lessons

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Moodle lessons and Moodle books are two common ways for presenting written content to students. Both are useful for different purposes. Moodle Books Moodle books are a great option when you want students to be able to easily navigate through the material. Moodle books have a table of contents sidebar where students can see the titles of every page in the book and track their progress through the book. Students can also click on any of those pages and jump to that point in the book. Moodle books make it easy for students to return to the content at a later date and quickly find the point they were looking for. Another benefit of Moodle books is that the table of contents allows for both headings and subheadings. Allowing students to see those levels of organization in the way the designer has arranged the content can be a teaching tool...

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Forum Subscriptions in Moodle

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Moodle discussion forums are one of the primary ways that students interact with one another and with their facilitator in an online course. There are several forum subscription settings that you need to know about as a course designer. Subscription to a forum means that you receive an email whenever a user posts to that forum. There is an option called “forced subscription.” If this is enabled, then all students are subscribed to the forum and will receive an email whenever someone posts to the forum. This is especially useful for News & Announcements forums where the teacher posts important course information and wants to make sure all of the students see it. However, in a forum where lots of discussion is taking place, getting an email every time someone posts can be overwhelming. So there are other subscription modes that let students determine if they want to receive email...

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Google Tools

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At Horizon we frequently make use of Google tools to collaborate on projects. We find them so useful that we ask everyone who takes Designing for Online Learning to sign up for a Google account if they don’t already have one. Here are some of the Google tools we have found most useful for collaborative activities in online courses. Google Docs (docs.google.com) Google docs can be easily shared with anyone and allow for multiple people to edit the same document in real time. For example, you could ask students to ideate (generate ideas for) a topic and they could all contribute (either synchronously or asynchronously) to a Google doc. Google Drive (drive.google.com) If you ask students to collaborate on a research project, they could list articles they find in a shared Google doc, but they could also upload files to a shared Google drive folder. Google Forms (forms.google.com) If you want...

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Video Conferencing for Meetings

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There are many technologies we can use for communication these days. Email, texting, What’sApp, SnapChat, Facebook, Twitter. The list goes on and on. In this post we want to highlight two video-conferencing technologies that can be used effectively for collaborative learning: Skype and Google+ Hangouts. Skype can be downloaded for free and used to make both voice and video calls. Skype-to-Skype calls are free, but you can also use Skype to call phone numbers if you are willing to pay for the service. Skype includes a chat feature. The video calls include a screen-sharing option. Google+ Hangouts is a free web-based app that can be used to make voice and video calls. It also includes a chat feature. It is easy to add multiple people to a Google Hangout. The video call feature includes a screen-sharing option. Google Hangouts can be easily integrated with other Google tools. For example, if...

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