eLearning Technology Blog

An Insider's Look at Course Verification

by WSU Online 25. June 2014 12:34

How do I submit changes to my online course? What format should I submit my changes in?

I frequently hear these questions from instructors, and since they are such common questions, I wanted to share the answers with all of you.

Global Campus uses the Course Verification system to communicate with instructors. Course Verification is a great tool because it allows us to communicate back and forth with the instructor about their course, keeps a running log of the conversation, and allows anyone on our team to view the conversation.

This visibility is a great benefit because if your course designer is out of the office, another member of our team can still log in to view the changes you are requesting. It also helps us keep a record of the changes that were made to a course.

Course Verification is also the perfect way to communicate changes you want to have completed in your course space. In this blog post, we’ll be discussing a few specific types of changes you would request through the General Maintenance tab (General Maintenance is where you’ll request any changes that are not related to media, textbooks or proctored exam requirements).

If you want us to make large changes in your course, the best way to communicate those changes to us is to copy and paste your course content into a Microsoft Word document, then use the Track Changes feature in Word to make your changes. This will show us exactly where you want to make changes and exactly what those changes will be. You can upload this Word document directly to the General Maintenance tab within Course Verification. In the comment box, just let us know that you’ve attached a document with the changes you want our team to make.

However, you may have small changes to make such as a word or a phrase on a page, it is simplest to type this request into the comment box. You can tell us something such as, “In Lessons > Week Two: Overview, the second paragraph has the following sentence: “Using this process, we start by looking at the the assignment.” Please delete the duplicate the.”

If you have any questions about the best format to submit your particular changes in, please don’t hesitate to ask us! A simple way to ask a question is to type it into the comment box in the General Maintenance tab. There is someone assigned to your course who can give you great suggestions and help you work through the process.

Still interested in how instructors use Course Verification? Check out this recent posting by Dr. Moe: Now on an Island.

Celisse Ellis

Free, fun and effective tools for adding video and audio to your online content.

by WSU Online 1. June 2014 10:21

If you’re a regular visitor to our blog—and we do hope you are—you may have realized that we eLearning Consultants do attend conferences, but without building up frequent flyer miles.  We attend many webinars, workshops and conferences virtually and, for the most part, really enjoy our experiences. 

Recently, I participated in The Sloan Consortium’s week-long conference, “New to Online: Introduction to Audio and Video Tools.”  Although I’ve been working with audio and video for quite a few years, I thought this introductory level course might include materials, best practices, and tools appropriate for instructors just beginning to work with online audio and video. 
And so it did.  Let me share some information with you.

Audio and Video Content Aggregators/Curators

Only someone living under a rock hasn’t heard of YouTube, and almost all of us are tuned into TED Talks.  But there are lots of other sources for audio and video content that you could include in reading lists or assignments.  Like what, you ask?  Well, at Annenberg Learner http://learner.org/, a compendium of academic content from many fields, I found many fascinating resources, such as a simulation tool ideal for college-level courses exploring energy resources and climate impact.  The “Energy Lab” simulation asks the user to choose a balance of various energy resources and then plots the supply, demand and atmospheric CO2 for the next decade reflecting the user’s choices.


Here are a few other audio/video aggregator/curator sites to explore:

•    Academic Earth http://academicearth.org:  a collection of free online college courses from world-class universities.  I like the “Playlists,” video resources grouped by the website editors to explore topics like “Understanding the Financial Crisis.”
•    SciVee http://www.scivee.tv/: Their tagline is “making science visible.”  Video resources include conference keynote presentations, explanations of online tools, and image banks compiled by “Nature Explorers” as they examine such sites as the Lassen Volcanic Region.
•    Eviada http://www.eviada.org/default.cfm An Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded project, Evia Digital Archive collects “Ethnographic Video for Instructions and Analysis.”

Audio and Video Tools to Experiment With

These aggregators are incredible resources for generic material, but at the same time, it’s becoming easier and easier to create video and audio resources on your own.  It’s not difficult to video-record and post a talking head video on YouTube, as some WSU Online instructors have been doing.  One English instructor set up a YouTube channel for his WSU Online literature course and then generated weekly video-lectures that were custom-designed to reflect his class’s progress through the material that particular semester. 

It’s even relatively easy to use the YouTube video editor to actually edit content and create more than just a talking head video, as I did with this project for the Sloan-C conference, “Washington State University Global Campus’ Course Creation Team.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPpJ_N9gL_g  (Thanks, Theron, for being my videographer.) 

Imagine the possibilities: you could video a field trip into a geological or agricultural area, record a process, or even shoot footage of a lab experiment.  And not only instructors, but also students, can be challenged to create multimedia projects, not just research writing.  Video and audio resources that are easy and inexpensive to create can easily be switched out when outdated or even re-done to improve their pedagogical impact.  As WSU moves to Blackboard Learn and its “self-support” model, even instructors of WSU Online courses will find it easy to create, add and delete video and audio content without technical support.

Here are a few of the tools we experimented with during the Sloan-C conference: 

•    Kaizena https://kaizena.com/:  With Kaizena, a reader (an instructor or another student) can upload a document, such as an essay draft.  Then Kaizena allows reviewers to highlight a section of text and easily add an audio recording to be associated with that highlighted text.  In this way, instructors giving feedback or students reviewing a peer’s work can record their comments and recommendations.  Besides audio, comments and suggestions can be recorded as text.
•    Screencast-o-matic https://www.screencast-o-matic.com/:  As an aside, I get a kick out of the retro-50’s name of this tool, but there’s nothing retro about the tool itself.  Screencast-o-matic is a free, easy-to-use member of the “screencast” category of tools that include some better-known and expensive tools like Camtasia.  Screencast tools make a video and audio recording of whatever happens on your computer’s screen.  So let’s say you’re an engineering instructor needing to grade pages and pages of scanned and submitted student homework.  Call up a student’s file onto your computer screen, activate Screencast-o-matic, and use your cursor to point, highlight and edit while audio-recording your feedback to the student. 
•    Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/: Instructors I work with often want easy ways to communicate spontaneous thoughts to students, such as welcome messages, feedback about discussion forum conversations, summaries and even feedback on student work.  Soundcloud is the answer.  All you need is a microphone and something to say.  Soundcloud’s playlist feature also makes it easy to manage files; the instructor can organize the files according to course, or perhaps even for each lesson within a course.

A final thought about best practices

Yes, many of these tools are new, but they (or their category of tool) have been around long enough for cognitive science, educational technology, and pedagogy researchers to explore their most effective uses.  Best practices for audio and video in online course content is a topic for another blog post, indeed for a book, so check back in the future for more on A/V best practices.  We all know, though, that the fundamental principle underlying effective teaching, though, is this:  the best use of any tool is to stimulate and engage students’ curiosity and critical thinking.

Dr. Charmaine Wellington

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