Lync Web for Online Meetings

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Lync Web App is an instant messaging and audio/video chat tool. It’s a great option for online meetings, ad hoc conversations, advising and tutoring. Lync Web includes text-based instant messages, audio and video chat, the ability to share Powerpoint presentations or even your desktop to demo applications or processes. There’s also a whiteboard for quick collaboration and a polling tool for rapid feedback in larger groups.

It’s easy to get started with Lync Web. It runs entirely in your web browser and you only need to install a quick plugin to start your first session. Lync can be accessed using the same login and password as your Lesley email.

Having trouble finding time to meet with your colleagues? Why not schedule your meetings virtually? You can do this directly in Outlook or the Outlook Web App, just as you would any other type of meeting. Select the “Online Meeting” options and a link to the Lync meeting will be included in your invitation. Need to meet with someone who isn’t part of the Lesley community or want to invite a guest to your class discussion? No problem. Include their email address in the meeting invite and they will receive guest access to the online meeting. Note: Guests have slightly fewer privileges for presenting, but will be able to fully participate in the discussion and access the whiteboard.

Lync allows you to participate in online meetings in a variety of ways. There is a desktop client for both Windows and Mac and mobile clients for Windows, Android and iOS so you can even stay connected when you aren’t at your desk.

You can find more information on how to get started with Lync at support.lesley.edu.

Not sure if Lync is right for you and want to consider other options? Check out the Comparison of Online Meeting Tools for a quick overview.

Teaching Body Movement Online with Kaltura Video

Nancy Beardall teaches Body/Movement Observation and Assessment for the Expressive Therapies program. This September, she taught the course in a fully online format for the first time. Initially, Nancy couldn’t imagine how she could successfully support students learning body, effort, space, and shape at a distance. Enter Kaltura, a video recording and sharing software that is integrated directly into myLesley.

Nancy’s students were required to observe and practice the fundamentals of body movement, but they were only going to be on campus for a few weeks during their summer residency. Nancy’s solution was to record her on campus students performing the body fundamental exercises and then uploaded these videos to her online course using the Kaltura Media Gallery. The online students could then review the videos as often as they needed, comment on what they observed in their assignments and discussions, and then practice the movements on their own. If students had questions, Nancy could refer them to the videos and even reference specific moments or clips within the movies.

body fundamentals video screenshot

The Kaltura videos worked so well that Nancy’s on campus students wanted to use it as well. The videos provided them with an easy way to review and practice their observation skills outside of class. They also uploaded selected dance project videos to Kaltura to share with their classmates for feedback.

Nancy has nothing but good things to say about Kaltura. She refers to it now as a “lifesaver” for her online course. She and her students also found it much more accessible and less cumbersome than previous software tools they had used to share video. Considering that Nancy didn’t get access to Kaltura until three days before the start of her course, and needed to get both herself and her students comfortable with the tool, this is high praise for its ease of use.

So what are you waiting for? Contact eLIS and start using Kaltura Video in your online or face-to-face courses today.

Looking at Technology on the “Horizon” for Higher Education

The NMC Project Initiatives ModelWith new technology developments in education constantly increasing and changing, how do you keep up with the latest technology trends for higher education? How do you decide which technologies to implement and how to do this effectively? Where can you find examples of what other universities and faculty are doing? One option is to read the 2014 Higher Education Edition of the Horizon Report, an annual publication of the New Media Consortium (NMC), in collaboration with the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). This annual publication, released early this year, examines key trends, challenges, and specific emerging technologies or practices that are predicted to have a major impact on higher education over the next five years. An international panel of experts in education, technology, and related fields identify the topics that appear in the report.

The report identifies six key trends grouped by estimated time of impact, six significant challenges grouped by difficulty, and six emerging technologies grouped by estimated time of adoption (1 year or less, 2 to 3 years and 4 to 5 years).

To give some examples, the report identifies key trends such as the “Growing Ubiquity of Social Media” and the “Integration of Online, Hybrid and Collaborative Learning” as likely to drive changes in higher education over the next 1 or 2 years. Significant challenges, according to the report, include “Low Digital Fluency of Faculty” and “Keeping Education Relevant”.  Technology identified as having an important impact on higher education for the 1 year or less horizon include the “Flipped Classroom” and “Learning Analytics”.  To find out more about these and other trends, challenges, and technologies in the report, you can download a free copy of the report from the New Media Consortium (NMC) here. You can also find out more about the research process behind the report by checking out the Horizon Report’s wiki.

The Horizon Report encourages and inspires discussion and this past May I was able to attend a 2014 Horizon Report Symposium that was presented at NERCOMP (Northeast Regional Computing Program) in Norwood, MA. The symposium, organized and led by Bryan Alexander (one of the Horizon Report’s expert panelists), offered the chance to attend a presentation and to discuss the report and it’s implications with other higher education professionals, including educational technologists, instructional designers, IT professionals, librarians, administrators, and faculty.

The presentation was structured around Bryan Alexander’s wiki resource for the 2014 NERCOMP Horizon Report symposium, which includes links to related articles, websites, videos and more, as well as notes generated from the day’s discussion. Throughout the presentation, participants shared concerns, success stories, and even failures around the implementation of various new technologies. As is often the case, in the end more questions were probably raised then answered, but it’s always helpful to hear issues and examples from other professionals who are working with technology in education.

Following are some key takeaways from the event:

  1. It’s important to use new technology effectively to meet learning goals, rather than just for the sake of the new technology (even the most promising technology can be used poorly).
  2. There is a need to devise ways to support faculty in learning new technologies and help them to implement the technologies in effective and beneficial ways.
  3. There is a need to make sure the use of the technology is of benefit to the students and the learning process (especially in the case of technologies such as learning analytics).
  4. It’s also important to consider issues of concern, such as distraction (especially with social media and mobile devices), increased faculty workload, student privacy, and digital citizenship, among others.

A quick video overview of this year’s Horizon Report can be viewed at the New Media Consortium’s YouTube channel or below:

If you’d like to explore how some of the key trends and technologies from the Horizon Report can be applied to your own teaching (trends such as “The Growing Ubiquity of Social Media” or “Integration of Online, Hybrid and Collaborative Learning” and technologies such as the “Flipped Classroom”), contact eLIS at elis@lesley.edu.

Source for trends, challenges, and technology examples mentioned from the Horizon Report:

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., Freemam, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report:  2014 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

myLesley Blogs, Journals & Wikis, Oh My!

Did you know that myLesley has its own built-in set of blogs, journals and wikis? They’ve been around for a while, but with the latest myLesley update now is a great time to take another look.

Blackboard blog

What’s so great about Blackboard blogs and wikis?

Faculty who have already switched over to these built-in tools have found them to be far easier to use and set up. This is especially true if you create individual blogs for your students. Now there’s no need to manually set up a separate blog for each student. Just create your blog, click a single button (Individual to All Students) and Blackboard will automatically take care of the rest. Note: If you select the Course option all of the students will post their entries to a shared single blog.

individual blog setting

Blackboard blogs, journals and wikis have the same text editor as the discussion board so your students do not need to learn a new tool. Adding images and media is far more straightforward and obvious and because theses tools are native to the Blackboard environment, they have access to all the Blackboard tools. This includes the ability to easily add and/or record video with Video Everywhere, recording audio with Voice Authoring and integration with the Grade Center.

What you need to know?

All Blackboard blogs, journals and wikis are private to your course and can only be accessed and viewed while you and your students are logged into myLesley. This set-up fully complies with FERPA regulations. This privacy feature also means that you cannot copy blog or wiki content to another course.

If you have created a template for a wiki assignment, we recommend that you set it up in another course, such as a development shell or your myspace (aka Faculty Demo Student Account). You can then manually copy and paste the pages of the wiki into your new course. You could also create a Word document with the structure of each page and save it with your other course resources. This may seem a little more cumbersome than simply copying the wiki from course to course, but it’s easier than having to delete all the pages and student comments from last semester’s wiki assignments in order to start with a clean template.

Where to find out more info?

Please review the support pages below for more info on how to set up the tools, create and edit content, and grade student work.

Blackboard Wikis
Blackboard Blogs and Journals

What to Look Forward to in Blackboard for Fall 2014

On August 26, 2014, myLesley will be upgraded to the latest version of Blackboard (Blackboard Learn 9.1 April 2014). This scheduled myLesley upgrade will resolve known issues and include several new features and enhancements that are especially useful for faculty. They include:

Student Preview – Quickly View Your Course as a Student
Toggling the new Student Preview button provides instructors with the capability to see and experience their myLesley courses exactly as their class does. While in Student Preview mode, instructors can perform the following student activities: submit assignments, take tests, create blog posts, create journal and wiki entries and view traditional student only tools, such as My Grades. For more information, review the Details or watch the Overview Video below.

SafeAssign
SafeAssign, the tool that reviews assignment submissions for plagiarism, is now integrated as an option right in the Assignments tool and also includes a suite of new reporting features. For more information, review these Details.

Atomic Learning
Atomic Learning is a free service available to all Lesley students and faculty. Atomic Learning features hundreds of self-paced video tutorials on popular software tools and online resources. You can now add these tutorials directly to your myLesley course for students to review without needing to login to a different site. See our Atomic Learning tutorial for more information.

Achievements Tool
The Achievements tool allows instructors to define criteria for issuing rewards to students in the form of both Badges and Certificates. Students can see which rewards they’ve earned and what’s required of them to receive additional rewards, providing insight into learning progression toward defined competencies. For more information, review the Details or watch the Overview Video below.

Anonymous Grading
Instructors can hide student names from submitted assignments for anonymous grading. Review the Details for more information.