Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tips for Flipping Your Class

What does it mean to "Flip Your Class"? 

The flipped classroom inverts traditional teaching methods so that face-to-face class time is used to create, collaborate, discuss and make connections as a result of students being introduced to content and the review of concepts outside of class through online content such as video, game simulations and other forms of content delivery.

The flipped learning model shifts the classroom from being teacher-centered where the instructor is the sole content expert delivering information to students, to a student-centered approach, where in-class time is meant for exploring the subject in greater depth through the creation of rich, interactive learning experiences (Hamdan, McKnight, McKnight, & Arfstrom).

"As flipped classroom pioneer Jon Bergmann says, 'The flipped classroom helps teachers break the habit of lecture.' Flipping provides a mechanism to transition toward deeper learning, opening up avenues for exploration and experimentation by freeing up class time. Beyond supporting teachers in their transition from "sage on the stage" to "guide by their side," what really happens in a flipped classroom is that the students become empowered learners with a host of tools to demonstrate their understanding. If we see flipped as an opportunity to break the habit of lecture, then a whole new set of learning opportunities begins to emerge" (Holland, 2013).

Another aspect of the flipped classroom is called "Just-in-Time Teaching" (JiTT) and is a technique for getting students to prepare before coming to class. JiTT uses formative assessment to determine student's understanding of course material so that class time can be planned and/or modified accordingly (Schaffhauser, 2014). For more information on JiTT, read Schaffhauser's article: 2 Great Techniques for the Flipped Classroom.

Research supports flipped learning

A recent literature review, "A Review of Flipped Learning" which is based on teacher reports, course completion rates, and supported methodology research indicates that flipped learning is more than just a fad for teachers and students--it's improving student achievement in classrooms across the country (Stansbury, 2013). According to the review, active learning has been shown to improve the academic performance of students in the areas of engagement, critical thinking and attitude (Stansbury, 2013). "A Review of Flipped Learning" - includes a review of how the model serves diverse student populations, the role of technology, and the research base that the flipped learning model is built upon. It also provides an analysis of implementations and results in higher education (Stansbury, 2013).

Evidence indicates that the type of active learning that occurs through the flipped learning environment improves academic performance, increases engagement and critical thinking, and improves the attitude of students (Hamdan, et al.).

Tips to Flip Your Class

  1.  It is not an "all or nothing" deal. Instructors do not have to present all of their content online. Holland and Morra (2013) recommend that you start small and build a library of resources for your students, choosing carefully when it is appropriate and reasonable to have your students learn independently. Once you get started, momentum will build and it will be come easier as you locate resources and add them to your teaching material.
  2. Recording Lectures:
    1. Smile - even if your face is not on screen, people can hear you smile, your video will have more energy, and your students will hear your passion and excitement for the subject.
    2. If you aren't enjoying the process of creating the video, then your students probably won't enjoy listening to it. Seek out a better or different way to present the material.
    3. Test your video once you have placed it into your course to make sure it will play.
  3. Use technology such as mobile devices to allow students to respond and give feedback during class. Socrative.com is a free tool that can be used to turn any mobile device into a personal response system.
  4. Have a plan for how you will use the in-class time with structured activities and objectives. For an explanation of the Flipped Classroom Model, see Gerstein's article, "The Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture".
  5. Create opportunities for peer instruction. The instructor might start with a short lecture that introduces or reviews the topic and then let students take turns leading class discussions. This encourages students to read the materials before coming to class and in order to have their topic prepared. 
  6. For more great ideas on how to flip your class read Beth Holland's blog, The Flipped Mobile Classroom: Learning "Upside Down".


Flipped Learning Network. A website containing case studies, white papers, resources, events, and support for flipped learning. www.flippedlearning.org

Gerstein, J. (2011, June 13).  The flipped classroom model: A full picture. http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/the-flipped-classroom-model-a-full-picture/

Hamdan, N., McKnight, P., McKnight, K., & Arfstrom, K. (2013). A review of flipped learning. Flipped Learning Network.

Holland, B. (2013, October 30). The Flipped Mobile Classroom: Learning "Upside Down". edutopia.org. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/flipped-classroom-learning-upside-down-beth-holland

Holland, B., & Morra, S. (2013, August 14). 5 Flipped Classroom Issues (And Solutions) For Teachers. Edudemic. (This article focuses on using video lectures to present material outside the classroom. It lists free apps for the iPad that can be used to create videos and other types of lecture materials.)

Infographic on "The Flipped Classroom"

Schaffhauser, D. (2104, August 13). 2 Great techniques for the flipped classroom. Campus Technology. http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2014/08/13/2-Great-Techniques-for-the-Flipped-Classroom.aspx?Page=1

Stansbury, M. (2013, September). Does research support flipped learning? eSchool News, 16(8). p. 6. Retrieved from: http://www.eSchoolNews.com

Stansbury, M. (2013, October). Creating videos for flipped learning. eSchool News, 16(9). p. 26. Retrieved from: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/b124b13d?page=36#/b124b13d/36 


Monday, August 25, 2014

What Should be in your Course Syllabus?

Every academic course has a syllabus that lists at a minimum the course objectives, schedule, textbook requirements, and how to contact the instructor outside of class. In an online course, a detailed course syllabus serves as an essential tool for the communication of expectations and requirements to the students enrolled in the course. In addition, the course and/or institutional policies with which the student is expected to comply should be clearly stated in the syllabus. Below are a list of suggestions for an effective course syllabus:

  • Instructor Information - how can students contact you? What are your office hours?
  • Textbook Requirements - provide a link to the bookstore or a website for renting or purchasing the book. Is the book available as an e-book?
  • Course Objectives - what will the student learn in this course?
  • Communication - how should students communicate with you and when will you be available? How should students communicate with each other? When are students required to log into the course to view announcements and updated course information? How long will it take for you to respond to an email message or question posted to a forum?
  • Attendance - how will this be tracked? How often do students need to log into the course?
  • Participation - clearly state the time commitment with detailed course pacing, due dates and requirements for participating in activities.
  • Technology - what skills are necessary to be successful in the course? What is the policy if their computer fails or their Internet goes down? What software will they be required to use outside of the LMS? Who do students contact for technical support with the LMS?
  • Policies - what is the institution's policy and what is your policy on things such as academic honesty, late work, absences, etc. Provide a link to the institutional student handbook or webpage.
  • Student Services - provide specific information on how to find student resources for disabilities, counseling, tutoring, etc. Provide phone numbers, locations, and a link to the website for each service.
  • Student Conduct - explain to students how you want them to behave in the course and what the consequences are of any unacceptable behavior. Provide information on student netiquette - don't assume that your students know how to communicate properly with technology.
The Importance of Policies in E-Learning Instruction by Waterhouse and Rogers provides excellent examples of the types of student policies that should be covered in an online course; a student code of conduct contract; and examples of intellectual property rights policies.

Need Help Developing Your Syllabus?

The Instructional Technology Resource Center at Idaho State University is available to assist you with utilizing tools within Moodle such as the Book or special blocks to deliver the syllabus information in an effective and efficient manner.

Additional Resources for Examples:

Online & Hybrid Course Syllabus Example provided by Pasadena city College

Netiquette Guidelines - Santa Barbara City College

Technology Support - Walden University

Monday, August 11, 2014

Looking Back at Previous Courses to Improve Your Next Online Course

The countdown is on for the start of the Fall semester, and with that comes the work of getting our courses ready to go live. This article is about looking back at previous semesters and finding information that will help us improve our future courses. Below are tips for where to look for clues on how we can improve:

  • Student Evaluations: read them and take note of the good, the bad, and the ugly. We are often so involved with our teaching and trying to get all the information covered before the end of the term that we overlook items that are important to the students. Evaluations can often reveal the missing pieces.
  • Student comments and emails: Look back at student emails and forum posts for additional insight into what needs clarification. For example, if numerous questions were asked about assignments, grading policies, etc., this would indicate that further explanation is needed in the course. Also take note of positive comments from students that indicate what activities and resources they especially liked and use this as a guidepost for designing future ones.
  • Activity reports: Look at the activity reports within Moodle to see how often students viewed specific resources or utilized tools that were included in the course. This will indicate resources that could be eliminated or improved and also emphasize the types of resources that students found most useful.
  • Take note of the "unexpecteds" that occurred during the previous semester. Were there activities that did not go as you planned, or assignments that took too long to grade, or quiz questions that seemed to stump the entire class? In the future, start a file or document where you can collect these items and your responses to them so that the next time one pops up you will be prepared and you can spend less time and energy dealing with it. This will also serve as a reminder of what to go back and fix the next time the course is offered.
  • Check your syllabus for items that need to be added, clarified, or updated. If students had questions about your late work policy, add this information to the syllabus. If you received numerous poorly written emails, include a section on netiquette.
  • Conduct an honest self-evaluation and look over and learn from your mistakes, oversights, and inconsistencies. Look for activities that you did not like or could have run smoother and improve them.
  •  Do a thorough check of your course for any broken links, layout problems, or inaccessibility issues. Be sure to test all url's to make sure they still work - Internet materials can be there one day and gone the next!
  • Keep a file of positive comments, new ideas you come across and student interactions that went especially well. The comments will serve as a reminder of your positive efforts and how they were appreciated by the students. The documentation of new ideas will help you to remember what you wanted to add in the future. The transcript of student interactions can be used as guide for future students who may need assistance with the project.
  • Set aside enough time to look over your course before it goes live to update due dates, textbook information and lectures. 
Remember that you may have taught this course dozens of times, but "to each of your students this may be a first experience having you as an instructor and thus having a course that works well in all aspects--layout, technical, explanation of assignments, correct dates, working links, and an engaged and concerned instructor--is what that student expects..and deserves. And only you can make that happen" (Sull, 2010).

Sull, E. C. (2010, January). Use end of an online course to better your next online course! Online Cl@ssroom.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Get Your Online Course Off to a Great Start

The first few weeks of an online course are a critical time for establishing instructor expectations, setting the tone for interaction, and showing students how to navigate the course. Below are some tips to help you get your course off to a great start:

  • Contact your students via email a week before class starts to welcome them, pass on textbook requirements and introduce yourself. This is a good time to encourage students to test their browser settings and to make sure they can get logged in to Moodle. A welcome email sets the tone for instructor to student interaction.
  • During the first week of class, direct students to resources that will help them be successful in the course. These resources might include the Student Success Center, the IT help desk, the Student Support menu located at the top of the Moodle window, and your course syllabus. The ITRC has many helpful resources for students on their website including a Student Guide to Moodle ISU, the survey "Are You Ready for Online Learning?", and a handout on software, browser and plugin requirements for Moodle. Feel free to incorporate links to any of these items into your course.
  • Establish expectations for participation in the course during the first two weeks of class. Use the News Forum to send announcements to students letting them know what the activities are for the week; explain to students how to use the communication tools; designate where to post questions about the course; and establish a connection with the students.
  • Begin with a few low-stakes activities. It helps to have some ungraded or low scoring practice activities during the first week of class to give students the chance to try out the course tools such as the forums and quizzes and to establish a routine for logging in to the course. For example, give a short quiz or design a scavenger hunt over the content of the course syllabus.
  • Have students introduce them in a discussion forum during the first week of class. The introductions help to establish a community of learners, breaks down some of the barriers to getting started, and gets them used to using the discussion tool. Start by introducing yourself first to set the tone. Provide specific criteria of what you want the students to talk about in the introduction such as their major, why they took the class, and something interesting like a favorite book or movie. Require students to make an initial post and then respond to at least two of their peers.
  • Add a question and answer forum to the first block of your course and designate it as the place for students to go to post general questions about the course. Some instructors call this the Cybercafe' or Water Cooler. 
Biro, S. C. (2010, May). Get your online course off to a good start. Online Cl@ssroom.

Friday, June 6, 2014

June Workshop Offerings in the ITRC

Please join us for a workshop in the Instructional Technology Resource Center during June. All workshops take place in the ITRC lab, Library Room B17. To register, visit the ITRC Calendar at http://www2.isu.edu/itrc/calendar/calendar.php and click on the link for the workshop you wish to enroll in. All workshops are free.

Voice Tools in Moodle - June 3, 9:00-11:00am
This workshop will show you the Voice Tools available to use in your Moodle Course. You will learn how to record an introduction, send verbal feedback via email, and set up a verbal discussion board.

Course and Module Objectives (QM 2) -  June 4, 2:00-4:00pm
At the heart of any course are the objectives. Writing course and module objectives that are measurable, precise and appropriate for students is critical in meeting the QM Rubric Standard 2.

Tracking Student Activity in Moodle -  June 5, 10am - 12:00pm or June 26, 2-4pm
Having trouble engaging and managing students? This workshop will show you how to track student activity using the reports. We will also be talking about some strategies for dealing with cheating and encouraging student engagement.

Moodle Quizzes -  June 10, 9:00-11:00am
This workshop will cover the new features and improvements of the Moodle ISU quiz tool and how to use it effectively in your teaching.

Assessment and Alignment (QM 3) -  June 11, 9:00-11:00am
Good course design is exemplified by the alignment of your assessments, materials, activities and technology to your course objectives. With a focus on assessment strategies we will discuss alignment and how to meet the QM Standard 3.

Creating Narrated Presentations Using Office 2013 - June 12, 11am-12:00pm
Learn how to narrate, design and publish PowerPoint presentations using Microsoft Word 2013. Learn how to export a presentation movie file and upload it to Moodle.

Using Moodle Forums - June 17, 3:00-4:00pm
Learn how to add, manage, and communicate using Moodle ISU 2 forums. This workshop will show you how to set up a basic forum, use the forum tool for class discussions, create forums for groups, and allow the forum posts to be rated.

Engaging Your Students (QM 5) - June 18, 9:00-11:00am
Using the Community of Inquiry (COI) framework we will look at strategies, tools and options for engaging your students. Looking at ways to improve teaching presence, cognitive presence and social presence aligns with meeting the QM Rubric Standard 5.

Introduction to Collaborate Web Conferencing - June 19, 9-11am or June 25, 9-11am
The Collaborate web conferencing interface has many tools to offer. In this workshop we will walk you through getting a Collaborate meeting set up, checking your system and moderating your meeting. We will also demonstrate several of the features available to you within the Collaborate environment.

Creating Course Materials (QM 4 & 8) -  June 23, 2:00-4:00pm
There are many tools and options available to create instructional materials that support your students in meeting your course objectives. We will look at various tools and discuss the benefits of each in additional to considering the needs of all students as we strive to meet the QM Rubric Standard 4 & 8. 

Minimizing Accessibility Barriers in Moodle - June 24, 9:00-11:00am
This workshop presents solutions for the creation of accessible Moodle content.

For additional information, contact the ITRC at 282-5880 or by email at itrc@isu.edu

Monday, June 2, 2014

Interactive Uses of the Moodle Feedback Activity


 Moodle's Feedback activity may not get a lot of attention, but there are many interactive uses for this tool within a course from simple quiz creation to class discussions designed to keep students engaged in the learning material.

 Creating an Ungraded Quiz

One of the biggest issues with the Quiz activity in Moodle is that the quizzes must be graded. However, sometimes you may want to gauge how well students are understanding concepts without grading them on that knowledge. This type of feedback activity can be used as a pre-test study guide; to measure attentiveness to a guest speaker/movie/field trip; or understanding of a topic covered in class the previous day. The Feedback activity allows you to ask more than one question and do so in an ungraded format.

The Feedback activity does not have the ability to know the "right" answer and because of that it cannot tell the student that they know or don't know the material. One way to circumvent this issue is the put the correct answers on a page that is displayed after the student has submitted their feedback (conditional release).

Sharing Input

One feature of Feedback is the ability to share answers with students by setting the option that allows the analysis page to be shown after submission. When this box is checked, the student will see their responses upon completion along with all others. You can choose whether the responses will be anonymous or with user names. This activity could be used to gauge/share the most meaningful topics of a discussion (ex: what are three take-aways from the chapter); to nominate officers for an election; to pull out mistakes found in a text or sentence structure; to list Web sites with supplemental material, etc.

Getting a Conversation Started

Feedback can be used before or after class to facilitate discussion. If your goal is to flip your classroom, create a Feedback asking students to respond to a question, video or other meaningful content before coming to class. This will give students time to respond and prepares them for a guided discussion in class because they know what the topics will be ahead of time. Feedback can also be used to continue or redirect the discussion after the class is over by restating the same question from class in another way.

Allowing Students to Create the Feedback Activity

By allowing students to create a class survey or produce class content within the Feedback activity you are empowering students to teach each other. Begin by adding a Feedback activity, naming it and adjusting the desired settings. Once saved, return to the course page, and with editing still on, select the last icon next to the Feedback activity (a person with a plus sign). Choose the instructor role and assign the student. The student will then be able to click on the activity and add questions and access the analysis page to see responses.

Assessing Student Perceptions of Course Components

Use the Feedback activity to assess students perceptions of an activity, assignment, or website that you have added to the course. This is helpful if you are trying out something new and would like to gauge how your students feel about it in order to determine if it was worthwhile, easy to use, and/or useful from the students' viewpoint, etc.

More Information:

If you would like assistance setting up a Feedback activity, contact the ITRC or view our Feedback Tool handout.

Dulaney, E., & States, T. Building Ungraded Feedback Activities in Moodle. (April 2, 2014). the Journal. http://thejournal.com/articles/2014/04/02/building-ungraded-feedback-activities-in-moodle.aspx

Monday, May 19, 2014

Utilizing Personal Response Tools and Software


A personal response tool is a device used to encourage interactivity between a presenter and his/her audience. The first technology introduced required a hand-held remote control type device that is often called a “clicker”. However, new software has been introduced that allows responses from the audience utilizing personal devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. There are many personal response tools available. Some are free and utilize personal devices while others are fee based and require a special remote.

Cloud-based software enables the presenter/instructor to create questions or polls that can be sent to the participants/students during the presentation or lecture or integrated into a PowerPoint slide deck. Results are instantly tabulated via the Internet, and can be displayed by the presenter to the audience either as anonymous responses or linked to the participants.

Benefits of using personal response tools

  • Improved attentiveness and engagement during the presentation
  • Increased retention of presentation materials
  • Facilitation of private student responses
  • Tracking of individual understanding so that the instructor can identify students who are not comprehending the material
  • Adaptation of questions written on-the-fly according to the direction the class takes
  • Immediate display of polling results to facilitate discussions and question and answer time
  • Creation of an interactive and fun learning environment
  • Confirmation of students’ understanding of key points immediately instead of waiting for an assessment activity
  • Gathering data for reporting and analysis

Response Products

Learning Catalytics: A “bring your own device” student engagement, assessment, and classroom intelligence system by Pearson. Students use their web-enabled devices to interact with open-ended questions that ask for numerical, algebraic, textual, or graphical responses. Instructors can access a question library with thousands of questions. Free instructor account and a student fee of $12 for 6 months.

Turning Technologies (TurningPoint): Offers instant management of polling participants, content, sessions and reports. Provides a simple interface in PowerPoint, or through a floating interactive toolbar. TurningPoint allows several response options ranging from clickers to smartphones and/or laptops. Pricing varies depending on use.

Poll Everywhere: A web-based application that allows participants to respond via any web-enabled device by sending text messages, visiting the web page, or using Twitter. The poll can be embedded within a presentation or web page and updates in real time. The free plan limits the number of participants to 40 per poll with higher-ed price plans available. Take a tour of Poll Everywhere.

Socrative: A student response system that empowers teachers and/or presenters to engage their audience through a series of educational exercises and games via any web-enabled personal device. For more information, view the 4 minute video produced by Socrative at http://vimeo.com/socrative/intro, and the narrated slideshow “Using Mobile Devices as Personal Response Tools”. Students can use the Socrative app or access it through the Internet without creating an account or login. The student response service is free for everyone but only 50 participants can be logged in at one time - but you can have as many as you would like throughout the day.

QuestionPress: A classroom response system that provides polling, surveys, forms, and online assessments through live interaction with the students. QuestionPress can gather a digital show of hands and more, whether the responders are in the same room or across the globe. Fees are based on sessions and the number of responders per session.

Google Docs: Several tools available in Google Docs can be used as to create quick assessment surveys for students. Instructors can use Google Forms to create a quick exit-ticket type survey of their students’ understanding. The Google spreadsheet can be used to watch students’ work in progress. The spreadsheet can be revisited by the students in order to gather information or to check their progress. Google Docs allows up to 50 multiple users to access a doc at the same time. Docs can be accessed by any web-enabled device through the shared link. Visit “Google Spreadsheets and real-time assessment” for an excellent article on how one instructor uses Google Docs for instruction.

Moodle: There are several activities available in Moodle that can be adapted to use as personal response tools such as
  • The Feedback activity can be used to create multiple, ungraded questions for assessment and polling. The Feedback activity will keep track of individual student’s results or can record responses as anonymous. See “Building Ungraded Feedback Activities in Moodle” for more information.
  • The Choice activity allows instructors to create one question with a number of options as the student’s choice. The publishing features available in Choice allows the instructor to choose when and if the results will be released and whether they will be anonymous or with names. See “Interactive Uses of the Moodle Choice Activity” for more information.
  • The Quiz activity can be used to give students instant feedback through graded questions. Instructors can set the quiz grade to 0 if they do not want the grade to count. With the many settings options available in the Quiz activity, multiple attempts can be allowed and adaptive attempts can be integrated.

Online Survey Tools

There are also many free online survey tools available for quick web-based polling. For more information about online survey tools visit the article, “A Few Good Online Survey Tools”. The article features information on SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang, SurveyGizmo, and many others.

Getting Started - Preliminary Questions to Think About When Incorporating Response Tools into the Classroom*

  • How do you plan to use the product?
    • what type of questions (multiple choice, true/false, other) would you like to use?
    • how would you like to collect students responses (anonymously or not)?
  • In which classroom are you going to teach (if already known)?
  • What is the expected enrollment for the class?
  • What response devices would you like the students to use (clickers, laptops, smartphones -- note: not mutually exclusive)?
  • How early in the class would you like to poll the students?
  • In what format would you like the results to be displayed?
  • Do you want the results to be available to students? 

 *Harvard University’s Academic Technology Group webpage provides an overview on using clickers and a pedagogical background for their use in the classroom.