Using video posts to promote engagement in online graduate learning

July 16, 2018

The first time I engaged with a group via e-learning was in 2005. I have been teaching graduate courses online since 2011. We often follow a standard learning design of having students read material and then write an online discussion post summarizing and/or reflecting on their readings. They repeat this format in just about every course they take. Students have anecdotally reported that they find this process tiresome, static and not very productive in terms of learning.

As a course instructor, I also find it somewhat unproductive. Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that written tasks have their place. At the same time, I also believe that we can provide students with challenging and engaging ways of learning that go beyond the traditional text post on a discussion board.

With that in mind, I have been playing around with using video to make online learning more engaging for my students. Since the course I am teaching right now is as Master’s level course called Language Learning and Technology, we are learning about how to incorporate technology into learning meaningful ways. I figured that if continue to engage through traditional text-posts, we are not really learning how to incorporate technology in new ways! So, I  have challenged the students to do video posts about their course readings, instead of their usual weekly write ups. Students are creating and sharing videos of 3 minutes or less that classmates and I can read and respond to. Students post their videos within our learning management system (D2L) that is associated with the course.

To lead by example, I have also been posting weekly videos welcoming students to each week of the course. In this week’s video post, I offer my own reflections on a recent article that I read, showing them how they can do their own reflections on a reading in their video posts.

Reflections on what I have learned from an instructional perspective

I realized after I posted my video that I could have conducted a more in-depth reflection in my post. This was good learning for me, because I had a lot more thoughts swirling around in my head about the reading I did, but I didn’t express them all in the video. In a written post, I would have taken the time to write, edit, revise and then maybe edit and revise some more. In the video post, I shared my reflections, but didn’t fuss over whether it was perfect. I will be mindful of this when I engage in my assessment of students’ learning using this format.

You can see that I start off with the date, and mentioning the weather for today in Calgary, where I live. I wanted to show students that I was not recycling material and that what I was creating for them was new and fresh.

I think showing that the material is new not only enhances learning and promotes principles of academic integrity, it shows we are not being lazy as instructors. I think that traditional text posts can be problematic in terms of academic integrity because students may be tempted, from time to time, to have someone else write posts on their behalf. This is a form of contract cheating (where a third party completes work on behalf of a student). Curtis and Clare (2017) reported that about 3.5% of students admitted to contract cheating. Even though that percentage is small, it is still important for instructors to offer students ways of demonstrating learning in ways that go beyond traditional writing tasks. It is important for instructors to changes the circumstances that might make it easier or more tempting for students to have someone else complete work on their behalf.

I mention this only because I research and write about topics related to academic integrity, so it’s always on my mind. By and large, I think our students are committed to their learning and act with integrity as professionals and as learners.

My intention with these activities is to offer students an opportunity to engage in ways other than text that is authentic and interesting. The process of reflecting on readings is different when we engage verbally than in writing. We are still using text-based elements of the course such as replies to weekly posts, but so far, video seems to providing a fun-yet-rigorous way for students to showcase their learning.

References:

Curtis, G. J., & Clare, J. (2017). How prevalent is contract cheating and to what extent are students repeat offenders? Journal of Academic Ethics, 15(2), 115-124. doi:10.1007/s10805-017-9278-x

Kumar Basak, S., Wotto, M., & Bélanger, P. (2018). E-learning, M-learning and D-learning: Conceptual definition and comparative analysis. E-Learning and Digital Media, 15(4), 191-216. doi:10.1177/204275301878518

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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.

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Online Academic Integrity Tutorial for Graduate Students

June 26, 2018

I am super excited to share a new resource with you. I’ve been working with colleagues, Jennifer Lock and Meadow Schroeder, to develop an online tutorial to help graduate students in our school’s online and blended programs improve their knowledge about academic integrity.

In 2017, we received a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Grant from the University of Calgary to develop, test, and research the effectiveness of this online tutorial. What’s cool about this project is that until now, there has been very little support for students in our online and blended programs to access support. They’ve always had to come to campus to attend a face-to-face workshop. This tutorial represents a new era in supporting the success of online graduate students!

Check out our project website:

AI Tutorial website jpg.jpg

The tutorial is housed within our learning management system. It is only accessible to students enrolled in graduate programs in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.

But I can tell you about it! The tutorial is designed to help students learn about these key topics:

  • Plagiarism
  • Self-Plagiarism
  • Cheating
  • Collusion
  • Contract Cheating
  • Preventing Breaches of Integrity in Graduate Work.

Here’s a screen shot:

Screen shot - AI tutorial Werklund jpg.jpg

We are launching the tutorial this week, just in time for students who start their summer courses in July.

We are excited about this project not only because it provides support to our online students, but also because we get to study how well the tutorial works because of the generosity of a research grant. I’ll keep you posted on how this project goes. Time to celebrate the launch of our tutorial!

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


Signature pedagogies for e-learning in higher education and beyond

March 6, 2017

http://hdl.handle.net/1880/51848

This report explores the notion of signature pedagogies within the field of e-learning for higher education. We build on previous work that examined signature pedagogies in education, linking the concepts of signature pedagogies, the profession of education and e-learning as a means to help educators develop their practice and understanding of the profession.

Background

In November 2016, approximately thirty scholars, practitioners, industry leaders and government officials assembled at The White House for the “Technology in English” event, which was a collaborative effort between The White House Office of Global Engagement and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of English Language Programs. The event was part of the inter-agency English for All initiative, announced by President Obama earlier in 2016 (United States Department of State, 2016). The purpose of the event was to gather together individuals with combined expertise in educational technology and English language learning and teaching. Sarah Elaine Eaton, one of the authors of this report, was among those invited to take part in The White House event.

One outcome of the meeting was a commitment to develop a prototype or resource that would serve as an Open Educational Resource (OER), not only for participants of programs sponsored by the U.S Department of State, and educators generally. The project is to be presented at the TESOL 2017 International Convention and English Language Expo in Seattle, Washington State.

In addition, experts were invited to develop and contribute additional resources that would benefit educators in their professional development. This report was prepared as an additional Open Educational Resource for use by those interested in developing their knowledge of signature pedagogies for e-learning in education.

Here is a citation for the report, which you can download for free online:

Eaton, S. E., Brown, B., Schroeder, M., Lock, J. & Jacobsen, M. (2017). Signature pedagogies for e-learning in higher education and beyond. Calgary: University of Calgary. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/51848

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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

 

 


New research project: Student learning in synchronous online classes

January 23, 2017
Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you involved with online learner as a student or an educator? Have you ever wondered how effective those real-time synchronous (webinar) sessions are for students?

A couple of colleagues and I were wondering the same thing, so we set up a research project to study it.

The primary research question guiding this inquiry is:

  1. How do online synchronous sessions support student learning in professional graduate programs engaging in research active opportunities for scholarship of the profession?

Secondary research questions include:

  1. To what extent do online synchronous sessions impact student learning in researching authentic problems of practice through distance delivery courses?
  2. How do the online synchronous sessions align with the learning outcomes for research design courses?
  3. What signature pedagogies make for successful learning during online synchronous sessions?

Check out our full research brief here:

Eaton, S. E., Brown, B., & Schroeder, M. (2017). Student learning in synchronous online classes: Research project brief. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/51792 doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.29667.55844

We are grateful to the Office of Teaching and Learning, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, who awarded funding for this project under the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Grant, 2016-2017.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


10 Tips for Succeeding in Virtual Teams

March 27, 2014

Almost all of the online courses I teach involve group work of some kind. Some groups thrive in their virtual teams and others fail miserably. After observing what works and what does not, here are ten tips to those who are new to online collaborative projects:

  1. Give one another the benefit of the doubt.
  2. Be kind to each other. Point out one another’s strengths.
  3. Refrain from commenting on each other’s weaknesses.
  4. When in doubt, assume good intentions. Tone is very difficult to “hear” in online communications. If you find yourself miffed or offended, take a step back. Are you sure that you are not making an assumption about the other person’s intention? Then ask yourself, “Is this really the hill I want to die on?” Forgiveness is important in virtual teams.
  5. Focus on supporting each other through the process.  No one gets left behind and if there’s an assigned leader, that person doesn’t forge too far ahead. Instead, keep the group together and moving forward.It’s a journey and your job is to make it up the mountain together.
  6. Be flexible with one another. Scheduling can be especially challenging in an online context. Change up the meeting times to accommodate people from different time zones. Don’t expect the same person to always get up at 2:00 a.m. for a meeting.
  7. Ask what you can do to help or what others need most from you. Don’t assume that your virtual team mates know your strengths.
  8. Avoid writing frustrations down and sharing them. If you need to work out issues, find a way to talk about it (e.g. Skype or phone).
  9. Sometimes you are right and sometimes you are wrong. It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about working together.
  10. Everyone is responsible for making back-ups of the work along the way. If one person’s system crashes, they get a virus or their laptop is stolen, the other members of the team all have copies of the back-ups. Using online storage such as Dropbox or Google drive is a great idea, but it’s not the only idea. Back everything up.

Working in virtual teams can be challenging, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. With a bit of patience, common sense and a good sense of humour, you’ll be surprised how much you can achieve in a virtual team.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


How to create excellent online discussion board questions

January 26, 2013

This semester I have incorporated an activity into my online courses. Students are required to facilitate the online discussion board for one or two weeks, depending on which course they are in. We use an online learning platform called Blackboard, but there are a number of different platforms available.

Here is a handy 1-page resource I created to help my  students develop and facilitate great questions that enhance learning, keep participants focussed and encourage in-depth online discussions.

View this document on Scribd

Click here to download your own copy of it: How to facilitate a Blackboard discussion

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Thrilled to be nominated for a TechRev Award

April 14, 2012

TechRev Award, nomination Exceptional Webinars, Sarah Eaton, Sarah Elaine Eaton, Calgary, webinar, webinarsOne of the projects I’m involved in is Exceptional Webinars, where we run train-the-trainer programs on how to develop and deliver great webinars. We started in 2011 and have run live courses and workshops, as well as e-learning training programs.

Since we started, we’ve had almost 200 people through the various programs, working with teachers, non-profit organizations, professional speakers, workshop facilitators, adult educators and corporate trainers.

Last week, we were honoured and thrilled to receive a notice saying that we have been nominated for a TechRev Award. Those who are selected as TechRev Innovators meet these criteria:

TechRev Innovators may be at any stage in their company’s life cycle. We are pleased to include those companies who are pre-commercial as well as those who are firmly established with a history of success.
Companies from across the broad spectrum of advanced technology innovation are eligible to be considered for TechRev Innovator recognition.
Global trend analysis may suggest greater potential in certain key sub-sectors such as geomatics, clean tech and wireless, while companies in ICT, life science technologies and advanced engineering among others are also considered important to regional innovation sustainability.
The winners are announced in September. For now, we are honoured to be nominated for the award.
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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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