Our Annual Online Teaching Institute

We just wrapped up our annual institute…a part of our year-long Online Course Development Initiative.  Again this year, we have 20 faculty who joined our eLearning Team this week at the VCU Center for Teaching Excellence to focus on teaching and what teaching means in an online environment.

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During our final lunch, we all discussed what this week meant.  Many suggested that they came to the week expecting to learn about online courses, but left reconceptualizing teaching in general.  It was an intense forty-hour week, yet they left with more energy than they had the first day!  For that, I thank my team mates who once again made a huge difference.

I made good use of Prezi this week – here are five sessions I led:

Growth and Evolution of eLearning

[Un]Packing the LMS

How People Learn

Building Community

Choosing Digital Tools

All in all, a great week.  Now, the five of us in our eLearning team each have four faculty whom we will work with over the next year to develop and teach online classes!

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CTE White Paper on Online Teaching and Learning

The delivery of courses online is nearly as old as the web itself, but as with any innovation, some faculty members have been early adopters while others have watched the development with both interest and skepticism. As publishing and managing content on the web has become easier, and as the delivery of online courses has become increasingly more popular, more faculty members have begun exploring ways to offer their courses online.

There is a common perspective that moving a course online is primarily about designing and sequencing course content. While content is important, we also believe that recent changes on the web – toward a more social and interconnected space – have necessitated the rethinking of what it means to make the transition to online teaching and learning. The unprecedented access to information coupled with the ability by anyone to publish online are disrupting how one teaches and learns, raising questions in the minds of faculty as to whether their own practices should change.

Jeff Nugent, Bud Deihl, and I at the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Teaching Excellence where I work have authored a white paper, Building from Content to Community: [Re]Thinking the Transition to Online Teaching and Learning, that is intended to serve as a resource for faculty who are teaching online or are considering making a transition. We hope this paper serves as the starting point for conversation, and invite you to share your ideas by leaving a comment at our CTE blog or here.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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Happy New Year (and Zemanta)

Rodney the RamImage via Wikipedia

Academics go by a different timeline than the rest of the world.  Our year does not start on January 1, but rather on the first day of the Fall semester.  There is a different feel to Virginia Commonwealth University today with smiling students jossling between buildings and classrooms.  I threw the switch on my online class, and already a quarter of the students have peeked in!

I am also typing this just to try out Zemanta, after seeing a couple of tweets from Darren Draper. It is advertised as a blogging tool that “saves you time, brings more traffic and makes your posts beautiful.”  Not sure much can be done to beautify my posts…but I see the rationale.  If – while you were drafting – an “intelligent agent”understood what you are blogging about and suggested pictures, links, articles and tags – it would – as the advertisement suggests – make your posts more “vibrant.”  In other words, while you craft your post, Zemanta analyzes the text and recommends additional content you can use to spice it up.  Since I belong to the category of “I could use all the help I can get,” this seems like a useful tool.

And in my first drive it seems pretty easy to use.  I downloaded the Firefox Add-On and it loaded into the sidebar of my Edublog dashboard.  As I type and save, it updates suggested Creative Commons pictures (which is where I pulled the image of our mascot above), and also gives me suggested links, such as the VCU, Zemanta, Creative Commons, and Edublog links above.  It did not suggest a link for Darren, so it is not foolproof.

But even with that, it really does speed up the blogging process in embedding links, so I will continue to test drive it for awhile.  I need to work on the picture side.  It seems to only let me put one suggested picture in.  If I selected a second picture, it replaces the first.  Might be operator error.  But I can upload a second picture manually, as I just did with the logo to the left.

Be interested in how others have used it, and any tips on better use.

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