Ontario Extend mOOC: Teaser Trailer

If you’ve been counting down the days in your calendar like I have, you’ll know that we’re exactly 19 short ones away from the Ontario Extend mOOC presented by Trent Online. For weeks now our team has been making concerted efforts: forging the right connections, sliding all the interlocking parts into place, quietly collecting micro-credentials, and consolidating the ways in which we hope to inspire you.

One thing that occurred to our team, as part of our promotional efforts, is that cool things usually have promotional teaser trailers to stir up interest and “build hype”. In keeping with the traditions of new media, we felt it prudent to contribute and verse and thus, our video was born.

Pretty snazzy, right? If the upcoming Ontario Extend mOOC is something you’re interested in, you can sign up by clicking on this link. And if you’re just here for the memes, you can share the video and say hi over on Twitter.

The Extend Radio Revival: Teacher for Learning – Part 1

Between Superbowl Sunday and this rollercoaster, it has been an exciting couple of weeks to say the least! Here at Trent Online, we’re looking to keep that energy alive with some excitement of our own. To start with, we’ve gone viral (kind of)! Our upcoming Extend mOOC has now, officially, generated interest both at home and abroad. We’re overjoyed by the initial enthusiasm and thought now might be a good time to kick off ‘Extend Radio 2021’.

As we work through the modules our goal is to publish a series of podcasts in which we explore and share our experiences with the activities. As well, once the mOOC officially kicks off this coming spring, it’ll serve as a platform which you can use to chat with us, each other, and everyone listening. In our first episode down below, we got together and chatted about our work so far with the Teacher for Learning module (along with some pretty rad song selections to round out all the pedagogy).

This week we tackled the “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) and the “Like driving a car” activities. WIIFM had us reinterpreting the relevancy of particular learning outcomes, while “Like driving a car” asks that we consider the component skills required of “mastery”. It’s all down below for your listening and reading pleasure. And if you’re interested in letting us know that you’re interested in being a part of the adventure later this spring, you can fill out our statement of interest form right here.

Kristine

For the WIIFM activity, I tried to think through the process I use in Tech Tools to get students to complete one of their first assignments, a course conversion proposal (F2F to Online/Blended). A lot of students struggled at times with the idea of writing an essay in a tech tools class for elearning, but what I outlined was the central nature of good persuasive communication skills in the elearning field as something the assignment asks of students, and as skills for them to develop for their future jobs or work placements. I continued to focus on the Tech Tools class for the “Like Driving a Car” activity in which I breakdown the steps in order to develop a video recording from start to finish. See the WIIFM here and the Like Driving a Car here.

Stephanie

For this week’s activities, I continue to draw from my experience working with Trent faculty in assisting their transition to remote teaching. For the “What’s in it for me?” activity, the student perspective I am using is from the faculty members themselves as they have had to learn how to navigate from teaching in the face-to-face classroom to teaching in the online classroom. For the “Like Driving a Car” activity, I’m exploring the threshold concept in online learning design that online learning can be equal to or in some cases richer than face-to-face teaching. If that piques your interest or if you’d just like to see a GIF of Kermit the Frog riding a bicycle, please visit my responses and feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Christian

I used the WIIFM activity to try and brainstorm different directions for our professional development. Being able to move past the notion of “we need to do this because we have to” allowed me to nail down specifics and identify topics and outcomes that can build skills that will work beyond the LMS (things students will want to learn and build on). ‘Like driving a car’ got me to consider the importance of equipping people not just with “the answer”, but with the ability to creatively get to the answer in new and different ways. I tried a couple different things which you can check out at the usual place.

Terry

Head on over to my Teacher for Learning workspace to see my WIIFM list. It only really has two things (which is I guess the minimum number of things you need in order to be able to call it a list!) I think they are two pretty good ones so I’m happy with calling it a list. And below that, you can see how I think that creating a syllabus is like driving a car and how Maureen Glynn’s Online Course Design for Humans workbook is like the driver’s manual.

What’s Next?

Thought vectors is up next! An activity which Terry describes as “juicy”, we’ll all be reading through the award-winning Ontario Faculty Patchbook, extracting a choice passage that we feel speaks to us, and then creating something with that thought or feeling. It’s very iterative and very cool and we hope you’ll join us next week!

Interested in maybe joining us this spring? Add your name to the growing list of those interested in maybe joining us here!

Image Source: Sacha Verheij via Unsplash

How to Take Advantage of Random Blocks

I’m not talking about the gift-bearing cubes from Super Mario here (although that would also be very, very cool), I’m talking about the way that tests in Blackboard can be structured. Using random blocks in your test is great when you only want some of your test to be randomized. Or if you want to only serve up a fraction of the total question pool.

A quick demonstration of how to create a random block of questions in Blackboard

To create a random block, you’ll need to have already created a pool of reusable questions. After selecting the questions from the pool that you want to use (I opt to grab everything) you’re then able to select how many you’d like randomly displayed to students during the assessment.

If you’ve already created all your questions in a test but would like to take advantage of the block system, you can populate a pool with these by clicking the “Find Questions” button while in the Pool Canvas (this will be a visually similar process to what you see above, but instead of selecting questions from pools to put into your test, you’ll be selecting questions from a test to put into a pool).

Random blocks (and question sets) are great ways to organize and administer testing in Blackboard. Do keep the following in mind while crafting your assessments:

  • Double check how many questions you want to display from the number selected (this is generally set to ‘1’ by default)
  • All questions found in the block or set will award the same number of points; you are not able to adjust the scoring of individual questions.
  • The order of questions (or blocks) in a test can be adjusted by hovering your mouse over the left-hand side of an element, dragging, and dropping into place

You can learn more about Test Pools by reading Trent IT’s user guide. If you think you need a helping hand with things, or a couple extra pointers, you can get in touch with all of us by emailing online[at]trentu.ca.

Featured image by Christian Metaxas

3 Open Source Tools to Help You Create

Over the summer the goal of our work was to help people scale up quickly and get ready to deliver the good stuff online in time for September. Now that we’re confidently knee-deep into autumn, and you’ve got the basics down pat, you might be considering taking it to the next level.

Below we’ve listed just a few open source media tools that can help you create, edit, and refine your learning materials. Depending on your technological proficiency these programs might look a bit daunting, but everyone starts somewhere. The more you play around and experiment the better you’ll get. And we’re here to help and encourage your experiments!

OBS Studio

Open Broadcaster Software gives you the ability to record or stream video all on your own. If you’ve seen some of the crazy things people can do while streaming on YouTube or Twitch, you get the idea of just how far you can take things. And OBS is a tool that many of them use to make it happen. With OBS, you’ll have the power to fine tune your video production (the layout of visual elements, organizing different audio inputs). OBS is a great tool to play around with if you’re looking to move beyond simple virtual backgrounds, or for anyone looking to add more visual flair to their videos. Here’s a guide to get you started.

Batman dropping in on a makeshift green screen created in OBS

GIMP

GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, a free and open source Photoshop alternative that has been in the works for decades. GIMP is packed full of features and tools that will allow you to create, edit, and save images in a variety of formats. While the interface might seem excessive, GIMP is an excellent choice when MS Paint or Preview won’t cut it—without the price tag that comes with a tool like Photoshop.

Toggling layer visibility in GIMP

Audacity

Yet another open source tool that has stood the test of time, Audacity is a program that will let you record and edit digital audio. You’ll be able to visually observe your waveforms, snip and paste selected segments, and export your edited audio. Audacity is for people looking to record podcasts, or work with their audio independently of other media.

Cutting and pasting audio in Audacity
Cutting and pasting recorded audio in Audacity

It takes some time to master these open source tools, so don’t expect overnight edu-stardom (maybe give it a week or two), but as you learn the ins and outs and develop material, you’ll likely see how they can help you to refine and create even better stuff for your students.

Remember that as a student or faculty member you’ll have access to Trent’s Virtual Computing Commons, which will allow you to remotely operate a school desktop environment with access to a variety of specialized software.

Want to learn more? Shoot us an email at online[at]trentu.ca!

image source: “Open is Never Having to Say You Are Sorry” flickr photo by cogdogblog https://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/26865079377 shared into the public domain using (CC0)