Making it Your Own: How to Add the U in a Course

Michelle Piper & Amy Clark session got started with introducting everyone to Kahoot, a neat interactive tool to gauge audience knowledge on a particular topic. I was a little disappointed that the questions were surrounding higher education or K-12. Just because I’m not in those 2 areas doesn’t mean that I don’t teach.The presenters mention that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to being “present” in an online course. Based on the Kahoot from earlier, most people who teach from a master shell don’t have the ability to make a lot of content changes – so how do you add engagement?The presenters asked the audience to evaluate their own teaching “style.” Are you a happy, silly, angry, etc. teacher? I’m not really sure what the context is for this question. I’m hoping that they connect the dots sooner rather than later… 15 minutes in and I haven’t learned anything useful in this session.One of the first things the presenters mentioned is that an attention span of millenials is 8.25 seconds. Compare that with a goldfish, which is 9 seconds. They said they can provide the citation for that data, but Barry Dahl has another perspective. first step to add the “U” into your course, is to humanize your syllabus. Ideas like rethinking the order, adding video & images to introduce your self, add a scavenger hunt or quiz, humanize the language. I don’t disagree with the notion of humanizing the syllabus, but that’s not really a “new” concept. I suppose for those instructors who are given a “stock” syllabus from their department, this may be a helpful tool. But the syllabus that I use is only 3 pages (not the 20 pages that some people in this session use), and is already very humanistic. Another thing that they mentioned is to be as specific as possible. When you mention turning assignments in using the Dropbox, where does that exist? Would students think that they have to come to your office and look for a physical dropbox? Be specific!The 2nd method is to add videos, images, and memes. The presenters mention using TubeChop to use custom start/end times for longer YouTube videos. I think that’s a cool idea, but what are the copyright implications? I haven’t used memes much in any of the courses that I’ve taught, but it certainly can be a creative way to keep students’ attention. But how does that add the “U” in your course? I don’t think adding memes (or videos) is a way of adding presence to your course.Suggestion number 3 is focusing on the positive. Sending encouragements, feedback. Certainly not a new concept.The last suggestion they have is to customize the support/resource materials. Again, not a new concept. If a student has difficulty with formulas in Microsoft Excel, send them a short video to show them. Duh!Overall, the session was ok, but I didn’t learn anything new in this session. I’ve had this opinion in the past, but I really think the conference schedule should indicate who the intended audience is. This one is intended for those who are given shell courses to teach so that they can make minor changes to personalize. For those of us who don’t use master shells or who develop our own master shells, this session wasn’t much use. I think the only thing that I took away was the possibility of using Kahoot in a face-to-face class/training for engagement. Not really something that can be used in an online course.

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