Sep 19, 2014

Starting Soon: Five Free (MOOC) Courses on Teaching and Tech Tools for Educators

There are lots of MOOC's (Massive Online Open Classes) available that are often free and easy to register for. They usually last 4-6 weeks, and you can contribute as little or as much as you want. More importantly, MOOC's can be wildly entertaining or extremely helpful, and sometimes, they are both. Personally, I can live without a lot of jazzy features if the course makes me think and learn.
MOOC Poster (no border) by Mathieu Plourde (CC By 2.0)
I often find good and great courses at Coursera and, so check out the five listed below. They may turn out to be fantastic or not-so-great, but then again, they are FREE:
If you take any of these courses and learn from them, let me know by commenting on this blog post, and I will encourage other folks to take it too in the future (I moderate comments, so no one will see your comments unless you want me to post it).
MOOCs Directory: Higher Education MOOC Providers
MOOCs from Great Universities (monthly calendar provided)

Sep 17, 2014

Why is the Sakai Chat Room popular with students and instructors?

What is the Sakai Chat Room? The Chat Room is an interactive, real-time tool where you can have conversations with your students who are in your site at the same time. In the example below, the instructor, Jessica was answering student questions in a chat session she had announced to the class. Jessica used the Chat Room for online office hours. 

Sample Chat Instructor and student questions and answers

What about students who missed the chat session?
All of the conversations were archived. All of the students can go to the Chat Room on the main menu, scroll up, and read the prior student/instructor questions and answers.

Do you have to be in the Chat Room at the same time as your students?  No! 
Your students can post questions anytime in the Chat Room. Then you or other students can answer questions later, since all questions/conversations are archived and saved. 

How do you add the Chat Room? 
Go to Site Info, Edit Tools, check beside Chat Room, click Continue, click Continue again, and click Finish. The Chat Room tool will be added to the course main menu

How could groups use the Chat Room? 
By default, the main chat room is created after you add the Chat Room tool to your course site. In the Chat Room, at the top, click on Options. You can create a separate Chat Room for each of your groups.


Sep 15, 2014

Is there a way to work with Groups in Sakai?

Sakai has lots of ways for you to work with groups. 

Modern Business: Team Work by Kevin Dooley  (CC By 2.0)

After you create your groups using the Site Info tool (see details below), these are the Sakai tools you can use to customize your communications, content and activities for your groups:
  • Announcements and Email 
  • Lessons
  • Forums/Topics
  • Tests
  • Assignments
  • Gradebook
  • Roster, Schedule and Sign-up
Use this Working with Groups in Sakai handout to set up your groups, and to find out how to use Sakai tools you're interested in, with your groups.


Sep 5, 2014

Does Sakai provide a way to allow students or groups to create "projects"?

Lessons provides a link (in the More Tools drop-down), called Add Student Content, that allows your students (or groups) to add pages of their own.

After you click on Add Student Content, your students will see a heading Student Pages and each student or group will see a link they can click on to create their project, titled Add Your Own Page, as shown below. After adding their student page, students can update the title for the page; otherwise, just their name will display:

Student Pages with Add Your Own Page link

Once your student clicks on Add Your Own Page, they will be presented with many of the same buttons that instructors use in Lessons: Reorder, Add Text, Add Multimedia, Add Resource, and Add Subpage:

Student View of Student Content page
Can you grade Student Pages? Yes. Click on the Edit button to the left of the Student Pages area, to add grading, add comments to each page, and/or add grading for comments students make on each others Student Pages.

Add Grading and Comments for Student Pages
What's are examples of how instructors can use student pages?
  • Instructors can assign students a course project, where students use student pages to celebrate their favorite author, investigate a famous person in history, explore a recent electronics innovation, or document how different types of cloud computing are being used by individuals and companies.
Want more information about Student Pages? Rutgers has information about using the latest version of Lessons-Student Pages.

Need to learn more about the basics of Lessons? Here's our instructions.

Aug 22, 2014

How do I get students to look at/listen to my feedback?

Have you spent hours giving feedback to your student's papers, lab work, and assignments, yet notice that your students keep making the same mistakes? 
That's frustrating, for you, and your students. Before sharing your feedback, let's make sure it's effective, based on a few ideas from Types of Feedback and their Purposes:

  • Timing: Is your feedback timely or too late for them to remember the assignment?
  • Volume: Do you write a paper or barely say a word?
  • Comparisons: Do you provide a grading rubric or sample assignment, so your students know what is expected of them?
  • Audience: When many students make the same mistake, do you point this out in class, on your Sakai home page or in a Sakai Announcement, instead of repeating the same comments to each student individually?  
  • Mode: Do you provide audio or video feedback for those who don't read/write well?
Now that you are creating effective feedback, here are a few ideas to get your students to look at your feedback:
  1. Make it easy for your students to find your feedback: I wrote detailed feedback into the Sakai Assignments instructor summary comments area, for each student's lab assignment. Even though I'd told them where to find the feedback, I noticed that students were making the same mistakes. I added in bold letters, highlighted in yellow, on the course Home page, that I had also copied, pasted and emailed the feedback for the lab assignment to each student, and told them where to find it next time, if they wanted to succeed in the class. From then on, I also highlighted my Assignment instructor summary comments, so my feedback was easy to see, too.
  2. Provide incentives for finding and reading your feedback: Marie Revak, in her recent article about creating expectations in online courses, said that for her second online assignment, she puts a secret code (unique to each student) in her assignment feedback, that students can add with their next assignment, to get extra credit points.
  3. Give students a good reason to look at your feedback: Of course we think our comments are important, but Maryellen Weimer suggested we focus on "feedforwarding", where we point out what the student did incorrectly, but also, quickly focus on what the student can change to improve on their next assignment.   
Adding Feedback in Sakai:
Create and Grade Assignments Instructions
How to Create and Grade Forums/Topics Handout
How to Grade Discussion Posts Video
Test and Quizzes Handout, pages 8-9