Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Teaching Online: Interaction & Collaboration Activities

Reposted from the UW-Stout Infobytes Newsletter, edited by Karen Franker

Two people working at computers

Online Teaching: Interaction and Collaboration Activities

Special Issue on Online Collaboration
The February 2006 issue of the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN) contains eight articles which provide an excellent overview of effective methods for structuring online collaboration activities.

Relationships between Interactions and Learning in Online Environments (PDF)
Kathy Swan presents research findings on best practices in interactive learning and how they can guide effective course design and facilitation.

Online Learning Communities
Jan Engle and others describe how an effectively-designed online course can facilitate movement of a class through group development stages and deepen the learning experience. Key elements impacting student interaction include: the level of structure required, teamwork skills, discussion forums, and cooperative/collaborative learning exercises.

Understanding Interactions in Distance Education
Veronica Thurmond and Karen Wambach ask educators to consider if they are making optimum use of interaction and feedback, and describe four types of interactions commonly seen in online classes.

Earn a Graduate Certificate in E-Learning and Online Teaching!


For More Information about Classes Forming Now.

What Our Students Are Saying…

About the Online Classroom: Creating Collaborative Communities course:

"...the course design fostered a level of cohesive participant interaction that I have not experienced in many places. The instructors provided an effective model of online facilitation while teaching about online instruction. Every potential online instructor should take this class." ~ Paul Mugan , High school biology teacher, Waverly, Iowa


Tech Tip –
RSS Feeds in Internet Explorer 7

The new Internet Explorer 7 for Windows makes it easy to set up RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Feeds for favorite Web sites so that you automatically receive personalized information updates. This can be a huge timesaver, as the updates are automatically sent to your Favorites Center, so you only have to look in one place. To set up an RSS feed:

1. First, check your favorite Websites to see if an RSS feed is available. To do this, open a Website and look for an orange and white striped icon in the toolbar (usually next to the Home icon), which means that RSS feed capability is available for this page. If there is no RSS feed for this page, the icon will be gray and white.

2. Next, click on the small black triangle next to this orange Feed icon to see which site items are available via RSS. Select an item from the list. A new window opens. In the new window, click on the Subscribe to This Feed text near the top of the screen.

3. To read your RSS feeds, go to the Favorites Center in Internet Explorer 7 (yellow star icon at left side of screen) and click on the Feeds button. A list of your selected feeds will appear. Select a site feed, and the content will open in a new window.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Feedback in Online Classes

This is a repost of work by Karen Franker, Editor Of UW-Stout's Infobytes Newsletter

e-learner works at computer

Using Peer Feedback to Enhance the Quality of Student Online Postings: An Exploratory Study
Writing for the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Peggy A. Ertmer and others describe how peer feedback was used to promote higher-level thinking and higher-quality student postings in online classes.

Strategies for Providing Feedback
The Illinois Online Network staff provides fifteen effective feedback strategies to promote high-quality student participation in online classes.

Using Asynchronous Audio Feedback to Enhance Teaching Presence and Students’ Sense of Community
(Registration required -- be sure to register for this wonderful free resource!)
Philip Ice and others in the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks report on the use of audio feedback to provide a more personalized communication with online students.

Effective Feedback
Paul Hammond lists the characteristics of useful feedback, and includes tips for providing effective feedback in a professional manner.

Tech Tip – Convert MS Word Documents to PDF Format
PDF (Portable Document Format) is a popular file format that is readable on Macs and PC’s. PDF’s are especially suited to documents with special formatting and graphics (such as classroom newsletters) which will be displayed on a Website. Converting to PDF format retains the formatting of the original document.

On OS X Macintosh computers there is a built-in PDF converter which is accessed by opening your document and choosing File – Print. In the Print window, click on the PDF button, and then pull down to select "Save as PDF..." which creates a PDF version of your file.

For Windows, there are two free options:
PrimoPDF or CutePDF Writer (both are free downloads).
When downloaded and installed on your computer, these applications can convert most documents into PDF format by going to File - Print, and ‘printing’ to the PrimoPDF or CutePDF printer which appears in the Print window. If you don’t wish to install PrimoPDF on your computer, you can use the new Primo Online converter which allows you to upload a document to the Primo site, convert it online, then download it as a PDF file.

What Our Students Are Saying…

About the E-Learning and Online Teaching Certificate Program:

Julie Fischer is a business and information technology instructor at Hayward and a candidate in UW-Stout’s online Master's in Education program. She selected the E-Learning Certificate courses to learn more about teaching online and how to “create an environment where students could have flexible learning and to provide options for students who may be home-schooled or enrolled in charter schools and taking courses from our high school which would help them learn to meet state technology standards.”

Sign up soon for Fall Online Classes. Instruction begins October 2007.
For more information, contact Dennis O’Connor, program advisor at
oconnord@uwstout.edu Phone: (530) 318-1145
Register online at: http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/register.shtml

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

NETS-S 3: Research and Information Fluency


I'd like to beat the drum for the refreshed student nets.



My focus is on Standard 3: Research and Information Fluency

Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students:

a. plan strategies to guide inquiry.

b. locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.

c. evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.

d.process data and report results.


Since the last century I've been working to train teachers in the essentials of Information Fluency.

I hope that by teaching teachers to search, evaluate, and ethically use digital information, I'll also be teaching kids. The universal cry is there isn't enough time in a test prep curriculum to teach these skills.

My answer is a combination of providing great free materials, modeling integrated units of instruction, and explaining that digital natives remain untaught and gullible when it comes to finding information on the web.

It's an uphill battle to find a way in, but worth the struggle. For years worth of free research based learning materials (including flash games, lesson plans, micro-modules, and online classes) visit the 21st Century Information Fluency Project at: http://21cif.imsa.edu