Being Faster and More Productive with Brightspace Tools and other Web Tools

Nate Wadman, Pikes Peak Community CollegeBarry Dahl, D2L

Abstract

Five Free Tech Tools to Make You More Productive at WorkWhat good is technology if it doesn’t make your life easier, or your work more productive, or both? In this session, you’ll learn about five free tools that you can use with or without Brightspace to help you get things done. Phone apps, browser apps and extensions, tablet apps, and PC programs – we’ll look at a few tools that just might surprise you with what they can do.Top 10 Tips to Being Faster in Brightspace Learning EnvironmentIt’s Friday night and you have social plans. However, you have course work in Brightspace. How do you get these tasks done quickly without compromising quality of instruction? Come see 10 Tips to help you be faster and more productive in Brightspace!

Top 10 Tips to Being Faster in Brightspace Learning Environment

  • Put direct links to pages (discussions, etc.) into a bookmark folder and open all tabs at 1 time.
  • Use Manage Dates to adjust dates when copying courses
  • Use QuickLinks
  • Bulk Edit tools (like in Grades)
  • Edit account settings
  • Rubric with Pre-Loaded Feedback
  • Use Grade All / Set Grades
  • Use email wherever possible, and using the email functionality that provides context (email from within the Grades tool, Discussion tools, etc.)

Five Free Tech Tools to Make You More Productive at Work

  • Voice-to-text
    • Dictate using Evernote app for phone, have Evernote convert to text, then copy paste text into Discussion, etc.
  • Text Expanders
    • Create canned text that gets reused over and over
  • H5P – Create interactive HTML5 content that can be embedded into D2L
  • OneTab – Chrome extension
  • Screencast-o-matic
  • Relax

Everything Else: Program-level Courses in Brightspace

Ted GirardQueen’s College of Nursing

Abstract

Queen’s School of Nursing, and Health Quality Programs department uses Program-Level Communities in Brightspace. These communities are set up for each program, and are used for automating student interaction, data collection, and administrative tasks as well as coordinating clinical requirements.

Notes

The program-level courses are not for curriculum/course content. The communities are set up as course offerings so that they can be copied from year-to-year.Students are enrolled in the program-level courses upon acceptance into the institution.When students are accepted, the 4-page letter with instructions is cut down to 1 page. The instructions direct students to log into the LMS, access the program-level course, and do the other admin stuff upon entering the LMS.

The first 90 days: Engaging with students before they get to campus

What

  • Required forms, training modules, quizzes
  • Set Brightspace notifications
  • Calendar subscribing
  • Access to university and clinical resources
  • Student support services
  • How

    • Move the “start” of the program back 90 days
      Treat the first 90 days as an online course
      Apply pedagogical concepts to administrative tasks

    Benefits of Using Brightspace Communities – Students

    • An introduction to Brightspace
    • Platform consistency with courses
    • Everything in 1 place
  • Benefits of Using Brightspace Communities – Staff

    • Fewer emails (written & sent out manually)
      Less paper (and digital documents)
      Automated processes
      One master student list
      Stretches administrative submissions over several months, instead of all at once
      Fewer sick days

    Uses for Communities

    • News & announcements
    • Events calendar
    • How-to videos/technology support
    • Social media
    • Course introductory videos
    • Student Handbook
    • Intensive week information
    • Required form submissions
    • Online discussions

    Thoughts/Reflection

    I wanted to attend this session because of our recent implementation of D2L. We’ve been using it for more strategic programs and are now considering a widespread rollout for all employees to use D2L as a central training/learning hub. Assuming this takes hold, what are the next steps? I’m seeing the possible use of Brightspace to expand to more community based site. In thinking about new hires within our company, having a community site that every employee is enrolled in could prove to be helpful. Including things like our company history, resources that are available, etc. could be beneficial. It would also help us get through some of the housekeeping work that we typically have to do at the beginning of the strategic courses. Having all of the students do this work when they first join the company would allow us to cut down on that work at the beginning of the courses.I thought session was very well done in terms of explaining how they implement these communities at Queen’s School of Nursing. Now I just have to figure out the best way to implement these in our organization.

    Bridging the Gap: Evidence Supporting the Value of the High-Tech/High-Touch Teaching Model to Improve Student Outcomes and Perceptions in Two Introductory Level Courses

    Presenters

    Christopher Roddenberry, Wake Technical Community CollegeClaire McElvaney, Wake Technical Community CollegeRobyn Arnette, Wake Technical Community College

    Session Abstract

    The High-Tech/High-Touch Teaching Model (HTHTTM) is an innovative evidence-based course management protocol designed to improve minority success in online education. It involves the use of low-cost and free tools and an intentional communication strategy. Three high-tech tools: texting, custom-made videos, and web conferencing, allow instructors to personalize themselves and create opportunities for synchronous interaction. Together, these high tech tools and this high-touch communication strategy enhance student engagement and performance in online courses. Minority student success rates in courses taught by HTHTTM instructors were 12% higher than minority success rates in control classes, with success rates for all students in HTHTTM classes five percent higher than for students in control classes. Participants will leave with ideas for creating and assessing innovation in their online programs, as well as a practical example of an engagement enhanced class.

    My Notes/Thoughts

    High Tech Tools

    • Custom videos
    • Secure texting
    • Web conferencing

    High Touch Behaviors

    • Expanded orientation activities
    • Intentional highly responsive communication style
    • Opportunities for synchronous interaction
    • Lots of low risk assignments with quick & detailed feedback
    • Inclusive course shell design

    One of the interesting things that Chris mentioned was that the instructors, as part of this grant, are required to respond to student emails within 6 hours of receiving the initial inquiry. There hasn’t been a chance to ask questions yet, but one of the questions that I have is “are there off-limit times?” What if a student emails at 9pm, is an instructor really expected to respond to a question by 3am? And then as a follow-up, what about weekends? These are just questions off the top of my head, it’ll be interesting to see what their perspective is on these.Not only do they assume that the high tech/high touch method is better, but they actually went through the process of quantifying the results. It’s interesting to see the process by which they created the controlled environment. In looking at the results, student success increased (something like 13 points for minority students), instructor presence increased, and overall there was a positive correlation between the high tech/high touch method and student success.One of the anecdotes that was discovered by instructors is that by using the high tech/high touch method is that teaching is more fun now. Students are asking questions that are more about the content of the course, the number of emails has drastically decreased, and instructors were spending time doing of the “fun” parts of teaching.Overall, I think this was a great session. The concepts aren’t anything new, but what I really liked about this session was the process by which they collected the data. I can’t believe I just said that – I’m not much of a research person. But seeing how they created the control vs. treatment groups and some of the results of the student surveys/evaluations was encouraging. And I think one of the best parts was that one of the presenters (can’t remember his name) is self-identified as “not a tech person,” so it’s nice to see that this can work with those types of instructors as well.

    teAchnology: Swaying the Biased, Herding the Dinosaurs, and Overthrowing the Technocrats

    Presenter

    Cristina Sullivan, Tarrant County Community College

    Session Abstract

    Adjusting the course to meet the needs of the students instead of expecting students to adjust to our styles and expectations. The biggest obstacle to being student ready is instructor mindset. This session will focus on 1) recognizing and reflecting on our attitudes and actions in online course spaces 2) mapping strategies to address instructor led activity that may diminish student outcomes and experiences. Specifically we will address faculty bias about student abilities, faculty who are not yet proficient with technologies proven to enhance student learning and instructors whose tech knowledge and enthusiasm leads them to give students app overload or feel left behind. We will share and solicit best practices for creating inclusive, accessible, and engaging online courses.

    My Notes/Thoughts

    Dinosaurs

    Definition/characteristics: Care about students, less confident with tech, grounds in older paradigms, want to improve, may be easily overwhelmed, initiative overload victims.Herding the dinosaurs

    • Scaffold changes
    • Communicate
    • Allocate resources
    • Make it meaningful

    https://twitter.com/TGustafson/status/963817084063924224What I find interesting about the dinosaurs category is that they (Tarrant County CC) is providing A LOT of resources to help instructors revamp their courses. They have a studio for instructors to record videos and then the ID staff makes it look fancy/cool – that’s a great idea, but how many resources (people, money, etc.) does that require? And is that scalable?What I like about their approach with course design is that it’s an 8-week course, and the instructors that work on the courses are given a $1000 stipend. It’s done as a team approach with the ID as the project manager. Not only does the ID work to keep the development team on track, but the process is very prescribed – during week 1 of the process, you are developing the syllabus; during week 2 they are creating the course outline, etc. I really like this process because while every course design is different based on the content/department, but this process breaks it down to make things easy to understand and not as overwhelming for the instructors who are developing the course.

    Biased

    • Deficit mindset
    • Feel “alone in wilderness”
    • Weary, burned out
    • Afraid to be enthusiastic
    • Confident in their skills and their “way of doing things”

    https://twitter.com/evinsmj/status/963819140640206848

    Technocrats

    • They love technology
    • They use Twitter, GroupMe, Padlet, Wizlette, Bitmoji, Google Hangouts
    • They are early adopters
    • They get excited by potential fixes
    • They care about engagement

    https://twitter.com/evinsmj/status/963820863916093440I really liked this session. Oftentimes, people assume that all instructors are dinosaurs or biased and therefore resistant to change, but that’s not the case. Also, people assume that all students are technorats, but they discussed during the session that that’s just not the case either. There are ways to engage with all categories of faculty, and similar to us not wanting to leave our students behind, we should feel the same about our instructors also. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, however, the types of engagement to cover all categories of instructors requires adequate funding – which is usually not available.https://twitter.com/MsEyres/status/963822722177355778

    eLearning Master You Will Become!

    Presenters

    Alison Consol, Wake Technical Community CollegeJessica Hatcher, Wake Technical Community CollegeCindy Foster, Wake Technical Community College

    Session Abstract

    This session focuses on advanced professional development for online instructors. As part of Wake Tech’s QEP project, a certification program was developed and deployed to train faculty to become Master Online Instructors. The objective is to develop eLearning experts and leaders within the college to raise the quality of online courses and ultimately, student success rates. We will discuss the development, deployment, and effects of this program. The session is interactive, with Q&A.

    My Notes/Thoughts

    • Successful online courses includes student and faculty preparedness
    • Best practices in online design and delivery
      • Navigation
      • Communication
      • Collaboration
      • Assessment
    • Participatory, team-based development by faculty and eLearning staff
    • Based on research into best practices

    Options for online teaching certification can consist of either

    • 30 hours of professional development
    • Having your course peer reviewed
    • Mentorship

    When looking at the 30-hours of professional development, the courses include LMS training, accessibility, UDL, and then the core components of a course (communication/collaboration, navigating, assessments, etc.) and then the PD concludes with a capstone. The capstone consists of having a partially completed online course.I definitely like this approach, no surprise there (I’m sure), because it creates levels of consistency across all of the online courses. This also allows faculty to keep their academic freedom – much like programs similar to QM.One of the tools that they recommended for creating videos is TelePrompTer, an app that allows you to read from a teleprompter while recording yourself. It’s a useful tool because faculty have to create a transcript for the video anyway, so why not read from the transcript when doing the recording?! I’ve used (and still use) this tool for larger scale videos and it’s a great tool.Overall, it was good session. I enjoyed hearing about the different ways that faculty can get “certified” to teach online. In my role, the Instructional Designers are the only ones who really teach classes, but I can definitely tell that implementing these techniques in higher ed can reap strong benefits for faculty (and students).

    Mini-Bytes: Introducing Non-Traditional Students to Online Classes

    Presenters

    Carli Cockrell, Great Falls College Montana State UniversityBrenda Canine, Great Falls College Montana State University

    Session Abstract

    The eLearning team at Great Falls College Montana State University often hears students say they do not want to take online classes because they have never taken one before. GFC MSU is a 2-year community college located in rural North Central Montana. Our average student age is 26+ and our students often drive more than 30 miles to attend courses. The flexibility and remote nature of online classes would be a great fit for a lot of our students, but many are nervous about trying something new or worry about the technology component. The eLearning departments solution was the creation of Mini-Bytes. A Mini-Byte class is a free 2-week sample of an online course. Instructor that teach the full 16 week watch over the courses and interact with the students who can sign up at any time. Students get to dip their toe into the college class in the actual LMS environment they would be taking the full class in. We will discuss the implementation of Mini-Bytes, what we have learned so far, and share our perspectives of the Mini-Byte pilot.

    My Notes/Thoughts

    Unfortunately, after about the first 10 minutes, I decided that this session wasn’t for me and I stepped out.

    What is Learning Experience Design (LxD)?

    Presenter

    Eugene Jars, Pima Community College

    Session Abstract

    This session focuses on Learning Experience Design (LxD). In this session we cover the differences between instructional design and learning experience design and why you should consider the learner experience when designing your online classes. We cover how creating a good learning experience requires different skills than the traditional Instructional Designer uses to create a course. I provide a brief history of the roots of Learning Experience Design, including how LXD evolved from User Experience Design (UX). We’ll then go over a few basic tools for designing the learner experience, including how to build simple personas and a user journey map. These tools help you plug the loopholes in your traditional online courses. You walk away from this session with an understanding of how LXD focuses on the learning experience and why designing for the student learning experience is just as important as designing for the content and course objectives.

    My Thoughts/Notes

    Parts of the definition of LXD

    • Experience
    • Design
    • Learning
    • Human-Centered
    • Goal-Oriented

    Differences between instructional design and LxD

    • Typically ID focuses on content, the what and how (delivery).
    • LxD focuses on the learner and how they acquire knowledge.
    • Less about building modules and more about curating the learning experience.

    LxD is a new concept to me, although not so new in terms of the principles. I appreciated hearing about the history of LxD and how it evolved. Knowing that helps see the evolution of design.https://twitter.com/chambo_online/status/963159764673871872One of the interesting distinctions between LxD and ID. In Instructional Design, the most common design model is ADDIE. But one of the LxD models includes:https://twitter.com/evinsmj/status/963160684367290368I think the issue that I have with this model, as well as how ADDIE is typically presented, is that it’s a linear path. Whether you’re looking at ADDIE or the model above, it should be a cyclical process. Continuous improvement is incredibly important, but usually isn’t included in visual representations.https://twitter.com/chambo_online/status/963163722016481280Another thing that he points out is that empathy is the strongest difference between ID and LxD. Focusing on student/learner feedback, by allowing small “focus groups” evaluate and provide feedback on the course, will help in design the course for learner experience. He suggests that having a group of 1-5 students provide feedback will identify 30% of issues in the course. This is different than course surveys because these focus groups review the course beforehand (or during), not after.https://twitter.com/evinsmj/status/963164146060570624Moving away from the background/history – what tools are available for LxD? He identifies the creation and use of personas – user profiles of fictional students that you can keep in mind as you design courses. By focusing on the personas, you can consider how someone that doesn’t have access to a tablet device or an ESL student would proceed through your course and identify points in which they may get stuck in the course. He then mentions xtensio.com that allows you to create personas.https://twitter.com/marcdrumm/status/963167169872764928Overall, I really enjoyed this session. It’s not often that I sit in a session where the content is completely new/foreign to me. The only thing that would have improved this session is to take a real example and walk through the difference in ID/LxD approaches. Take a math/English/science class or module and walk through what the approach would look like. Regardless, this was a great session and I look forward to learning more about LxD.

    Designing for Success: Fostering Self-Regulated Learning Through Online Course Design

    Presenter

    Bill Knapp, Grand Rapids Community College

    Session Abstract

    Numerous studies show a strong relationship between student achievement and self-regulated learning skills. The self-regulated learner is more likely to successfully complete the online course than students lacking these skills. This session offers practical ideas/suggestions on how to embed learning activities into the course design tat promote self-regulated learning and offer support to the at-risk online learner.

    My Thoughts/Notes

    Most likely to succeed in an online course

    1. Academic self-efficacy
    2. Organizational skills
    3. Time management
    4. Self-directed (autonomous)
    5. High GPA / SAT / ACT
    6. Experience with eLearning

    Here is the slide with the reference:https://twitter.com/marcdrumm/status/963116001771495424I think it’s interesting that one of the examples he’s using to justify these characteristics is his nephew, who, as a 10-year military veteran, completed his Bachelor’s degree in less than 1 year. When he mentioned that, there was an overwhelming gasp in surprise. One of the things he mentions is that his nephew wouldn’t have been able to complete the degree in that timeframe if there was more structure and dialogue built into the course. Those aspects would have held up the ability to complete the course. By making courses more autonomous and competency-based, students can complete (and be successful) their courses in less time.An interesting slide that he showed was “What kinds of interactions matter most?” When the slides are made available, I’ll post what the 7 interactions are. But the gist of it is that the more often students interact with the course and content, the more successful they are.Suggestions for the forethought phase

    • Send out welcome message with introduction (1-2 weeks before class starts)
    • Use the calendar tool
    • Help students to set realistic expectations by adding a syllabus quiz
    • Have students build a study plan using the assignment dropbox
    • Introduce technology

    Suggestions for the performance phase

    • Students connect with peers using the discussion forum (introductions)
    • Establish teaching presence through synchronous communication
    • Use the Gradebook
    • Use video and audio feedback to increase instructor immediacy
    • Provide examples of acceptable work

    Suggestions for the self-reflection phase

    • Formative assessment techniques
    • Reflecting / revising the study plan
    • Multiple drafts
    • Peer review (rubric)
    • Have students keep a journal

    Overall, I don’t know that there was anything new that I learned in this class, but I appreciate the way that it was presented. By thinking about the different phases of the course (forethought, performance, self-reflection) and the tips/suggestions for each of those phases allows you to consider these actions that can be built into the course. I also appreciate the quote and reference to Ken Bain “What the Best College Teachers Do.” Overall, a great session!

    Student Engagement: Connective Instruction

    Presenter

    Rick Walker, STARLINK

    Session Abstract

    Research shows engagement is a key predictor of student success. Connective Instruction methodology has proven to be seven times more effective than Academic Rigor and Lively Teaching methods of engagement. Join STARLINK Director Rick Walker for this fast-paced, interactive workshop that includes online engagement tips from faculty. This session will equip you with new ideas and strategies to better engage your students.Engagement tips:

    1. Be relevant, be concise, implement entertaining dynamic
    2. Be visible, be current
    3. Increase your personal presence

    My Thoughts

    It’s interesting to hear about how others at our table engage with students. It sounds like most of the engagement techniques from those I was sitting near include students in small groups and students working with each other. It also sounds like the methods that I currently employ are the norm compared to others around me.I have to say, I was hoping for more examples of things that can be done to engage with students, but after 1/3 of the class, we haven’t gotten into any tips/tricks/tools/examples on how to best engage with students. The presenter had some videos to show, but none of them worked because the ITC staff transferred the presentations to laptops for the meeting rooms and he didn’t do any testing of his presentation ahead of time. In the end, the videos worked (after hotel/conference staff came to help), but it was definitely a distraction to the session.It turns out that the videos that didn’t work early in the session were about the engagement tips and with the videos not working, we weren’t going into much detail on the tips. The videos did end up working, so we went back and covered them, but it was a pretty surface level. I had a hard time following the different engagement tips that he presented. I thought that each of the tips (included above) could be broken out to make a much longer list with examples and ideas for how to implement them.Overall it was a very high-level session. I completely understand the desire to engage with the session attendees and to get audience participation, but when that’s all the session is, I feel like the session isn’t what I hope it’d be.

    The Importance of an LMS

    I haven’t posted anything besides conference notes in the last year, or so it seems. I’ve been to ITC eLearning in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the Desire2Learn Fusion conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. My postings during these events were notes from the sessions that I went to, but I haven’t done any free writing or reflections on much lately. Well now we change that.If you don’t follow me on a personal level (my professional presence has been non-existent lately), you likely don’t know that I’ve been evaluating Learning Management Systems lately. Having experience with Blackboard, Canvas, and Sakai, I wanted to see what LMS could meet the needs for my employer. And for me.This goal is what prompted my attendance at D2L Fusion in July. I wasn’t overly familiar with D2L, but knew that higher education sang its praises. So I figured I needed to at least investigate. Without going into detail about my findings and the recommendations that I am making, let’s just say that I explored and carefully vetted the platform.What prompted this post, however, has nothing to do with vetting an LMS. What prompted this post is on something I heard, third hand, from someone in my organization. The comment that I received is that an individual was choosing not to use the LMS that we are using because they felt it was “too clunky” last time. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this comment. Is our LMS perfect? No. Does it aid in learning from the program participants? Without question. So why would someone choose not to use the platform? Is it really so bad that they chose to “short” the learning potential of the students? That boggles my mind. So what makes the platform so clunky?Many people who complain about an LMS are those who don’t spend time learning the platform. Are there easy ways to post content, links, documents, videos? Of course! But those who don’t take the time to fully learn the product will never understand that. Is there a user friendly way to post a reflection of a learning experience in a discussion forum? Of course! But those who don’t take the time to fully learn the product will never understand that.What irks me even more is that people who complain about the LMS feel that they have to do everything themselves. Like they are on an island with no instructional or administrative support. Regardless of your industry or higher education/corporate environment, that just isn’t the case. There’s always someone willing to help. Or at least someone willing to teach you how to quickly and easily use the platform.A Learning Management System is such an important tool, possibly the most important tool, to facilitate and guide student learning. I’m hoping that as time goes on, I’ll be able to clearly articulate its importance…</rant>