VoiceThread: Peer Review and Advanced Commenting Features (Webinar Recording)

On January 20, Sadie Anderson from VoiceThread conducted a training webinar for Lesley faculty, focusing on peer review and the advanced commenting features now available in VoiceThread. A recording of the webinar is below.

For more information on VoiceThread’s new commenting tools, see:
Private Commenting
Threaded Commenting
Direct Reply
Comment Moderation

Want to learn more about using VoiceThread in your course? Sign up for one of VoiceThread’s free online workshops or view a recording from a past workshop: https://voicethread.com/workshops

Blended Learning Case Studies: The Case of the Missed Discussion

During Pump Up Your Pedagogy week, eLIS instructional designers, John McCormick and Jaclyn Travis, presented a workshop for faculty on strategies for creating blended learning activities. Faculty worked through a problem cases together to come up with solutions for common instructional challenges. Below is the case of the missed lecture and a few potential solutions to the problem. Below is the second case faculty reviewed, the missed class discussion due to snow days, and some potential solutions.


The Case:
Professor Michael Sanchez frequently uses small-group and whole-class discussion to engage students in the content of his undergraduate business course. His course meets once a week for 2.5 hours, and due to recent snowstorms, they have now missed two classes in a row. There is one week before the class next meets.

Michael would like his students to engage with each other on the topic of best practices in managing organizations, rather than doing only individual assignments, since it will have been three full weeks of working on their own by the time they next meet. How might you advise him on using the online environment to facilitate discussion in a class of 25 students? How would you recommend he subsequently uses the next face-to-face class?

The Problem:
The students will not have met for 3 weeks unless the online environment is used before the next face-to-face class. The professor’s goal is that his 25 students engage collaboratively on the topic of best practices in managing organizations.

Because of the large number of students, small groups will have to be a component of any solution. It would be ill-advised to attempt a large online group meeting, whether it be live or asynchronous. Online discussions with this many students would be unwieldy and live sessions would be both difficult to schedule and challenging to achieve the type of engagement one might expect in a face-to-face situation.

A good solution would involve breaking the class into small groups of 3-6. Ideally, students should engage on the topic in an authentic way, so moving beyond a wide-ranging discussion around best practices in managing organizations towards a more articulated, applied activity might work well. For example, each student group could be given a case or problem-like scenario to work on. Groups can then share out their solutions in a common location online, either using text-based or voice-based technology tools. The next face-to-face class could include Q and A or discussion around those solutions.

Updating Your Syllabus in myLesley

In this episode, Agent L helps faculty easily update their syllabus AND all the links to it their myLesley course.

BenBen Friday: Hi, Agent L. No time to talk now. We will have to grab coffee some other time. Must run.

Agent L: Ben, what happened? Why is everyone so busy?

Ben: A new semester started and faculty have uploaded their updated syllabi to their myLesley courses.

Agent L: That’s great! They are sharing their syllabi digitally instead of on paper. … Isn’t it…?

Ben: Yes, but they’ve linked to the syllabus from multiple places in their online course site. All of those links need to be updated with the new file. It’s a lot of work to go through your course to find and update them all.

Agent L: Ummmm…. Ben…. there’s a much easier way to do this.

Ben: What? How?

Agent L: We can overwrite the old syllabus file with the new one in Course Files. All the links to that file will be updated to the new file in one step. Here, let me show you.

Log into the course you need to update. Then go to the Course Management area in the left-hand menu.

CourseFiles  agent L

Click on Content Collection and then the Course ID for your course. It’s elis_training_2014 for this course. This will open up the Course Files area of your course. It contains every file (documents, images, videos) uploaded to your course.

Locate the syllabus file in the list. Now click on the gray arrow at the end of the file name. Select Overwrite File from the menu that opens.

overwrite file

Click Choose File and locate the updated syllabus document on your computer.

choose file

The new syllabus MUST have the same file name as the old syllabus. The contents of the document can change, but you will need to save the new syllabus with the same name as the old one.

old file name Syllabus_English101.docx Syllabus_Fall2015.docx
new file name Syllabus_English101.docx Syllabus_Spring2016.docx

Once you have selected your updated syllabus file, click Submit.

That’s it. All the links to the syllabus will now download the new one.

Ben: You mean we don’t need to tediously go through the entire course and change all the links. We only need to replace the file.

Agent L: Yep. As long as the new syllabus has the same file name, it will work perfectly. It also works with reading lists, study guides, rubrics, images… any file really.

Ben: Wow! That’s great! Maybe I have time for coffee after all.


agent LTo learn more about how to best take advantage of your Course Files, see Blackboard’s Best Practices on Attaching Files. For more myLesley tutorials, visit the Agent Support Site.

Blended Learning Case Studies: The Case of the Missed Lecture

Last week, eLIS instructional designers, John McCormick and Jaclyn Travis, presented a workshop for faculty on strategies for creating blended learning activities. Faculty worked through a problem cases together to come up with solutions for common instructional challenges. Below is the case of the missed lecture and a few potential solutions to the problem. Over the next couple of weeks we will review the cases and present potential solutions including strategies for preparing for snow days.

The Case:
Professor Sara Brown teaches an introductory level sociology course to undergraduate students. The course meets once per week for roughly 3 hours, and class time combines a mix of lectures, full-class discussion and group activities. In the third week of the course, Sara’s class is cancelled due to inclement weather.

Fortunately, there is no substantial group activity planned for week three, and Sara already has her students using BlackBoard for online discussion, so she feels they can easily make up missed class discussion time on the course site. However, in the lecture portion of week three, Sara planned to introduce fundamental, but rather complex, sociology concepts, and she strongly believes the students’ comprehension of course content will suffer if this lecture gets skipped.

How can Sara use the course site (and other online resources or tools if applicable) to deliver the lecture content to students? Also, how can he use the following week’s meeting to ensure this online piece is integrated with the rest of the course? Keep in mind that this lecture was supposed to contain complex content that some students may not be prepared to digest on their own.

The Problem:
Students have missed one week which includes lecture and full-class discussion. It is critically important that students gain an understanding of the lecture material, which includes complex sociology concepts.

It is important that the solution to this challenge include a way to check comprehension of the lecture, which the instructor has stated is very important to the course. It’s difficult to tell if and how the discussion activity was intended to integrate with the lecture for the week.

The delivery of the lecture can be delivered in a similar way in the online environment. For example, she could use VoiceThread, which allows voice-over recording of slides. This is recommended over video recording of the instructor because of the difficulty in obtaining high-quality performances of a “talking-head” videos and because VoiceThread is based on slides that the instructor may already have created.

Checking lecture comprehension: There are several options available. Students could be required or allowed to ask questions based on the lecture, or in other ways respond to the content. This could happen online and/or in the next face-to-face meeting. A useful option may be to ask students to post responses or questions to the lecture, either within VoiceThread or within a dedicated discussion board or blog. Decisions on which tool to use for this depend on the number of students, the volume of the contributions, and the instructors’ comfort with the various tools. The responses and questions should give the instructor an initial idea of learners’ level of comprehension. The instructor could then plan the face-to-face follow-up with this knowledge. Depending upon the nature of the content and the instructor’s teaching style, she could then have students discuss the most challenging or misunderstood concepts and ideas in small groups or as a class, or she could ask them to write something brief that might serve as a comprehension check.

Discussion: The discussion could take place entirely online or could be blended across the two environments. As with all online discussions, the discussion prompt and guidelines will have to be outlined to help the discussion flow well without the constant presence of the instructor. One option is to create small online groups and have them post a summary to a separate discussion thread. The instructor can again use this information to plan a potential follow-up activity for the next classroom meeting. The face-to-face meeting could take the discussion deeper and the instructor can highlight or pull pieces of the online discussion as a catalyst for further in-class work.

Note: Giving credit for or grading required online portions of the work is good practice when blended learning. It shows that the instructor values time spent in the online environment.

Pump Up Your Pedagogy

Next week is Pump Up Your Pedagogy week. Join us for three days of events. Learn more about:

  • preparing for missed classes due to snow or other emergencies
  • how to engage students with social media
  • creating and managing online discussions
  • collaborating online using OneDrive and Skype for Business
  • creating and using video with Kaltura
  • using VoiceThread for peer review
  • finding grant resources
  • the library’s streaming video databases
  • the mobile constructivist classroom
  • and much much more….

Faculty Development Day on January 21st will focus on inclusivity and how to create a safe and inclusive classroom environment.

Download the schedule and make your plans. We’ll see you there.