Icepocalypse 2014 – How to have class if you can’t get to campus

weatherThe winter has been kind to our class schedules so far this semester, but it looks like there could be freezing rain on Sunday.  How will you keep your class moving through the content you need to cover if you can’t get to campus?  Consider recording a “screencast.”  There are online tools that allow you to open your PowerPoint slides (or any other media you want to show on screen) and narrate with the microphone and webcam that is built-in to your laptop.  Using screencast-o-matic and YouTube you can record your lesson, post it to your YouTube account, and then place the YouTube link in Moodle for students to view at their convenience.  Or you could simply email the link to all your students.  Screencast-o-matic is web-based so it works on all platforms; Windows and Mac.  You can even edit, add text overlays, zoom in, etc. with the paid version of the app.

Think about the possibilities with a tool like screencast-o-matic.  You could record test reviews for students to view instead of taking up class time.  You could demonstrate difficult skills or illustrate troublesome concepts that tend to confuse your students every semester.  If flipping your classroom is one of your goals, mastering the creation of your own multimedia content is an important first step.

Tips for good screencasts:

  • Clear audio is more important than high quality video.  It doesn’t matter what the students are seeing on the screen if they can’t hear you clearly.  Test your computer microphone quality before recording a lecture.  Consider using a headset with a microphone close to your mouth.
  • Lighting: If you are going to include webcam footage, make sure the lighting is adequate.  For facial shots, try not to put your head between the camera and a light source.  Keep the light source behind the camera.
  • Keep it short.  Consider “chunking” a lecture into separate subject matter explaining one concept at a time.  Try not to go over 15 minutes; limiting your talk to five minutes or less is even better.

Here is an example of a screencast that I recorded with screencast-o-matic demonstrating how to add content in Moodle:

What’s new in Moodle-Winter 2013

MoodleThe Moodle development community is constantly trying to improve their code and add features to the core Moodle product.  Moodlerooms, our cloud hosting provider, usually waits a few weeks (or months) to fully test the changes before releasing them to their clients.  Moodlerooms also adds new features to their joule product at that time.  Below is a link to the list of the extensive changes that were made in December 2013.

Most Noticeable Change:

The first change you may notice in your Moodle courses is the Course Settings page (see the screenshot below).  Moodle has collapsed the many sections of this page and provided “drop-down triangles” so you don’t have to scroll through an extremely long page.  Just click the gray triangle next to the section you are interested in and the section will expand.  Click again to collapse the section.

Moodle also moved the Course Availability section to the General section and renamed it Visible.  This setting controls whether students see your Moodle course or not in their list of available courses.  Set the Visible control to Show instead of Hide when you are ready for your students to see your Moodle course.

moodle-course-settings-changes

iPad as a Document Camera

ipad-documentcamsYou’ve probably noticed that the 5 megapixel camera on the back of your iPad takes some pretty good pictures and video.  You’ve also probably noticed that sometimes it’s tough to hold the iPad at the right angle and keep it still when using the camera.

The music department has taken this problem a step further, and in the process, has found another innovative use for the iPads.   Assistant Professor of Music Theory, Dr. Peter Purin, is considering using one of the new iPad gadgets seen in the pics above to replace some of the aging and broken document cameras in the music classrooms.  Stand-alone document cameras can cost $1,000 and more and are often not easily portable.

These devices, such as the two referenced below, are inexpensive and have multiple uses that take advantage of the portability and the high quality imaging available in today’s mobile devices. The image from the iPad attached to the document camera can be sent to the projector via VGA adapter cable, or via AirPlay through the Apple TV device that is installed in many classrooms.  They can typically be used with any mobile device that has a camera, not just an iPad, as long as you have a method to send the video to the projector.

Dr. Hinson Uses iPad Creatively in Classroom

Hinson pedal

Hinson uses Airturn pedal

A fellow OBU professor, Dr. Lee Hinson, has found new and creative ways to use his iPad in the classroom.

One unique piece of software Hinson is using is the Airturn BT105. This bluetooth pedal which, when combined with a digital sheet music program like forscore, enables him to display his music on his iPad and with his foot pedal flip the pages; no hands required. Hinson uses this in his “Leading Worship with Guitar” class. By incorporating this into his class, Hinson enhances the student’s learning experience by being able to teach more efficiently and by introducing them to technology that can improve their performance.

Hinson also uses his iPad to record his students so they can review their performances, and as a hymnal which can be enlarged for vision-impaired students. In the future he intends to use a program called SloPro to play back recordings in slow motion to allow his students to critique performances more precisely. Finally, in one of his fine arts classes, he uses a  free app which allows him to view all the paintings hung in the Louvre.

Hinson iPad uses

Some ways Hinson uses his iPad

It is so encouraging to see our faculty make efforts to use their iPads effectively in their field of expertise. This age of advanced technology offers many ways to do things faster, more efficiently, and effectively than ever before. The OIT would like to thank our awesome professors who recognize this and utilize it to enhance their student’s learning environment.

-Victoria Smith, Guest Editor

First Day of Class Activities that Create a Climate for Learning

First Day of School for Josh and Molly Young -- circa 2001

First Day of School for Josh and Molly Young — circa 2001

Today I am re-tweeting another timely, practical, and succinct Faculty Focus article by Maryellen Weimer.  Below are a few of the tips shared in the article.  Click on the link above if any of these pique your interest.  Also, please share any of your favorite “first day” activities in the REPLY section below on the blog page.

  • Syllabus Speed Dating
  • Best and Worst Classes
  • First Day Graffiti
  • Irritating Behaviors: Theirs and Ours

Happy teaching and learning for the new semester!

New Moodle-Turnitin.com Integration

Turnitin.com LogoNew Moodle-Turnitin.com integration means:

  • Users don’t have to create accounts and log in to Turnitin separately
  • Users can submit and grade papers directly within Moodle

New Turnitin Assignment ActivityAs of Fall 2013 OBU has implemented Turnitin.com integration with our Moodle learning management system.  If you have never used Turnitin.com, go to our main support page and read about the features.  If you use Tii often and you also use Moodle, there is now a simpler process for both faculty and students.  Instead of creating a separate Tii account, faculty go to their Moodle course where they intend for the students to turn in their written assignments.  They create an assignment there, directly within the Moodle interface instead of having to log in to Tii and create a class and an assignment.  The student also does not have to create a separate Tii account.  They log into their Moodle course and turn in the assignment there.  The professor can check originality reports and grade papers from within the Moodle course page taking advantage of all of the features of the Tii application.  There is even an iPad app for checking originality reports and providing detailed feedback with Grademark.

Installation:

There is no installation requirement. Simply log in to Moodle and go to your course. Faculty can view the tutorial video on how to add an assignment here.  This tutorial was created based on Moodle 1.9, but the information can easily be extrapolated to Moodle 2.x which is the version in use by OBU.

Tutorials and Help:

Apple TVs in the Classroom

Wireless projection is now possible in almost
half of the OBU main campus classrooms.

apple-tvApple TVs are designed and marketed for the home entertainment market, but they can be very useful in the classroom.  Anything on the screen of an Apple device such as an iPad, an iPhone, or a MacBook, can be sent wirelessly to the projector via the Apple TV device. The sound signal is also sent to the projection speakers.  It uses Apple’s “Airplay” protocol to connect wirelessly to other Apple products.  If you have an Apple device that is on the same wireless network as the Apple TV device (the employee network), you can mirror your screen onto the projector and show presentations, show web sites, show videos, demonstrate apps and other software, etc.

What’s new in Moodle-Summer 2013

MoodleThe Moodle development community is constantly trying to improve their code and add features to the core Moodle product.  Moodlerooms, our cloud hosting provider, usually waits a few weeks (or months) to fully test the changes before releasing them to their clients.  Moodlerooms also adds new features to their joule product at that time.  Below is a list of the extensive changes that were made in July.  We will be adding some of these features to our training session on assessments and gradebook.  The most useful changes in my opinion are the Group Assignments, Blind Marking, and Offline Marking features mentioned below:

Moodle 2.4 Major Features

  • Assignment Module Updated

    • Group assignments: Now it’s possible to setup an assignment that a group can work on collaboratively and each student can receive a common (or individual) grade.
    • Blind marking (not knowing the student’s identity when grading): Randomly generated Participant numbers will replace Students’ names.
    • Submission Date Extensions: Teachers can set a cut-off date (and time) beyond which submissions will no longer be accepted. They can also grant extensions for those who miss the deadline.
    • Submission statement: It will be possible to set a submission statement so students have to check a box promising their work is original before submitting it.
    • Offline marking: Teachers can download all assignments plus the grading sheet, view, grade and give feedback offline and then upload back to Moodle and have the grades/files/comments transferred into Moodle’s Gradebook.
    • Students can now see the content of advanced grading forms on their assignment page before they submit.
  • Workshop Module Updated

    • Full support for alternative grading evaluation methods.
    • Final grades are displayed to workshop participants when the activity is closed.
    • Ability to define a conclusion text to be displayed to workshop participants when the activity is closed.
    • Teachers can assess submissions in the grading evaluation phase without the need to switch to the assessment phase.
  • Miscellaneous

    • Users can set the order and number of courses displayed on their My home page.
    • Activities and topics can be restricted according to user profile fields.
    • The screen reader profile setting has been removed – all pages should now work with a screen reader
    • Submission added to the Activity Completion tracking options
    • When searching for users exact matches are listed first
    • The messaging providers page has been tidied and ordered
    • Safe Exam Browser window no longer includes a logout link
    • Blog system can be completely disabled
    • Automated course backup settings include options to specify whether the backup of certain courses should be skipped
    • Options to include selected user profile fields and custom profile fields in grade export

New Joule Grader

  • Updated Joule Grader to work with assignment team submissions and assignment blind marking
  • Assignment comments and feedback are now fully integrated with Joule Grader
  • Added a Full Screen Mode that offers more room to view documents/activities (enabled by default)
  • Joule Grader and Assignment comments have been integrated into the Moodle Messaging system

New Plugins

Pearson Direct

The Pearson Direct for Moodle plug-in facilitates direct integration between Moodle and Pearson’s MyLab / Mastering and CourseConnect products. Direct integration allows instructors and students to log in to Moodle and click a link to access their Pearson resources without the need for the user to create a new account, a course, or to log in a second time.

Mediacore

This plug-in gives you access to your MediaCore account from within Moodle. Using MediaCore (a cloud-based video education platform) you can browse, search, and add your videos directly to Moodle pages and courses. You can also upload videos directly to your Moodle course without needing to leave Moodle. The plug-in also works with MediaCore’s iOS Capture App, which means you can bring mobile video capture into the Moodle learning experience.

Combining Sections in Moodle

Moodle“I am teaching 2 (or more) sections of the same course but I only want to manage one Moodle course.  Can we combine the course enrollments into one large course?”

Link and PostYes you can.  Moodle calls this process “meta linking.”  You can go here to read more about it.  It is common for faculty to want to combine or merge sections of their Moodle course.  However we do not combine them by default because there may be a good reason not to combine.  For instance, you may want different deadlines for the distinct sections, or you may actually want to post different content for the separate sections.  Banner will continue to manage the enrollments of the meta course. If a student drops in one of the combined courses, Moodle removes them from the meta course.

It is possible for faculty to create their own meta courses, however we want the meta linked course names to be standardized, therefore OIT will combine your courses for you.  Fill out the form below and OIT will combine your courses within two business days from the date of your request.

Seminar Recording

Sorry we missed you if you could not make it to our end-of-year faculty dinner/seminar.  I will try to schedule it earlier in the Spring semester next year.  We had great food, useful door prizes, and we honored two of our best faculty “geeks” who showed exemplary use of educational technology in the past year.  Congratulations Amy and Krista!

  • Green Award: Amy Riggins
  • Gold Award: Krista Hands

Below is the audio-only version of George Saltsman’s lecture.  Sorry, I was unable to get his PowerPoint slides.