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

12 Days of Learning: Designing Presentations

Atomic Learning has created the 12 Days of Learning, a series of articles designed to kick off resolutions to keep learning in the new year. We thought this was a great idea and have decided borrow (shamelessly steal) it and do our own. Day 8’s resource focuses on improving your presentation design.

We’ve all sat through boring, tedious presentations with too much text in too small of a font that we couldn’t read from our seats. So much so, that “Death by Powerpoint” is a thing.

Don’t do that. Instead, review these Atomic Learning tutorials on Effective Presentation Design below.

 

Effective Presentation Design

A. Presentations: What You Need to Know 

B. Getting Started

C. Communicating

D. Telling the Story

E. Getting Ready for Delivery

F. Resources

 

 

12 Days of Learning: VoiceThread Doodler

Atomic Learning has created the 12 Days of Learning, a series of articles designed to kick off resolutions to keep learning in the new year. We thought this was a great idea and have decided borrow (shamelessly steal) it and do our own. For our Day 4 post, let’s look at VoiceThread and the Doodler tool.

The Doodler tool in VoiceThread allows you to annotate your image or slide in VoiceThread using your mouse (or finger if you’re using a mobile device) to draw on the presentation area. It’s as if you had a pointer to direct the viewer’s attention to a specific area of the slide. All doodles will play back in time to your recorded voice so you can describe the detail you’re highlighting. Use the Doodler to annotate charts and images, sketch out a diagram or show someone how to solve a tricky math problem just as if you were with them in person. However, they can play it back as often as they need to in VoiceThread.

View the short overview video about the Doodler tool in VoiceThread below and access VoiceThread’s documentation for more information.

The Online Learning Community as Digital Village Green: Interview with Joan Thormann Part III.

This post is the third in an interview series with author and Lesley University Professor Joan Thormann regarding the design and facilitation of online learning environments.   Joan Thomann will be presenting at an upcoming eLIS Brown Bag event, The Online Learning Community as Digital Village Green.  This event will take place on Friday, November 15th from 12pm to 2pm at Lesley’s University Hall at 1815 Mass Ave in Cambridge on the third floor, within the Creativity Commons.

By Tony Alter from Newport News, USA (Homework  Uploaded by theveravee) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Your book indicates that building community is critical in online learning environments. How do you accomplish this?  

Joan Thormann: I develop assignments that result in idiosyncratic postings so students have the opportunity to learn from each other.  Students are required to post all assignments publicly in a designated weekly Blackboard Discussion Board forum.  This ensures that students’ assignments are not just for the teacher — they are for everyone in the class.  Sharing their work publicly helps to create authentic learning experiences.  It also improves the quality of the work.  Students do not want to be embarrassed in front of’ peers so they are less likely to submit poor work.  Knowing that classmates will read their assignments also helps to create a bond among students.

To deepen the connection among students, most assignments require students to post comments and questions to at least two classmates and respond to all comments and questions that are posted to them. Rubric-based points are earned separately for participation in each discussion. This requirement and grading system helps to insure that students read classmates’ assignments and get to know each other.

Another community building strategy is to assign what is called a ‘jigsaw’ once or twice during a course, where students focus on different aspects of one topic and then learn about the topic from each other. This type of assignment makes students dependent on one another to learn about the whole topic.

Using student moderation also makes students depend on each other since moderators can only be successful if classmates respond to each moderator’s effort to deepen understanding of the topic.  Students come to understand that it makes sense to participate since everyone will take on the role of moderator at some point and need full participation from peers to be a successful moderator.

Once a term students work with a partner or small group to complete an assignment.  I allow the students to select their own group members.  This encourages students to pay attention to others in the class.

By Charles Hamm (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to the student moderators, required participation and jigsaw activities, do you have other strategies you use to build community within your online courses?

Thormann:   I feel that the Coffee Shop forum, where students can chit chat, is another community building tool.  When I know that a student has a special event coming up or a special interest, I urge the student to post pictures or share what’s happening in the Coffee Shop.  For example, one student won an award, another posted photos of a cruise she had been on and another posted pictures of herself with celebrities.  This gives the class the opportunity to congratulate each other and also learn about classmates’ interests.

The Coffee Shop is not the only place that interests are shared.  The very first assignment is an Introduction, which includes having students describe themselves and their interests.  This assignment is often the most robust of the course. As with the student moderators, I make sure to model the interaction by responding to each student’s introduction.

I also set up a Teachers’ Room forum.  Students are encouraged to discuss ideas not necessarily directly related to the week’s work but that align with their professional interests.

There are a number of different outlets for students to build community and make learning among students strong.  The result is that all of the postings in the weekly assignment forums on the Discussion Board are substantive and on task – they are never irrelevant. This pleases me, and I hope it pleases my students too.

These strategies, community building and student moderation, seem to suggest a paradigm shift, where students are empowered as leaders and help to generate knowledge within the class.  How do your students respond to this shift away from the traditional hierarchy?

Thormann: Judging from my research and that of others, most students see this shift as positive.  They like receiving feedback from their peers.  They feel empowered.  They learn new ways of interacting with each other.  Part of the student moderator’s assignment is that they do not have to post the weekly assignment, but they have to be familiar – maybe even more familiar – with the content.  Moderators often say they have learned much more about the topic for the week by moderating.  They learn the material in greater depth and also learn from their classmates.

It was interesting that one student wrote that she was going to use student moderators in her face-to-face classroom with her fifth grade students. She and others really seem to embrace the paradigm shift.

In implementing this paradigm shift it is important that I, as the instructor, do not abandon the class while working to empower students.  As I said earlier, I post feedback publicly.   I also send students personal feedback.  This may sound like an overwhelming task, but I use templates that help make the feedback process easier for me. The details of using templates are discussed in my book, The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Designing and Teaching Online Courses.

Stay tuned next week for part IV of the series.

The Online Learning Community as Digital Village Green: Interview with Joan Thormann Part II.

This post is the second in an interview series with author and Lesley University Professor Joan Thormann regarding the design and facilitation of online learning environments.  You can read part one here. Joan Thomann will be presenting at an upcoming eLIS Brown Bag event, The Online Learning Community as Digital Village Green.  This event will take place on Friday, November 15th from 12pm to 2pm at Lesley’s University Hall at 1815 Mass Ave in Cambridge on the third floor, within the Creativity Commons.

By Left rj (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Please share more information about student moderation, why you decided to do this, and how it works.

Joan Thormann: When I first attempted to use student moderators to lead the class discussion, I asked for volunteers.  There are always passionate go-getters in every class and those were the students who volunteered.  It seemed to work well, so I started requiring that each person in my class take a turn moderating.

One of the reasons I thought student moderation would work stemmed from when I first started teaching online.   As the instructor, I was reading wonderful and informative assignments that students produced. Nonetheless, I felt like something was wrong with that picture.  Shouldn’t they be the one’s learning from one another?  This is when I began to encourage students to facilitate class discussions.  Student moderating requires students to read all of the weekly assignments.  This increases their interactions and ability to learn from each other.

I find that students who moderate early in the course often become involved in a way that goes beyond required participation. They ‘get it’ and want to learn from their classmates.  Both being a student moderator and responding to student moderators also helps to build community within a course.  All students must be prepared and actively participate.  It provides students with a stake in the process – the students have agency and a shared responsibility with classmates.

This is a leap in mindset for some people.  But once they take the leap they find this type of interaction to be very valuable.

What are some strategies to ensure success of the student moderator process?

Thormann: It is very important that the instructor model how to facilitate a discussion.  For the first two or three assignments, I moderate the online discussion in order to provide a model of moderating.  Students do not have to do it my way, but they do need to reflect on and think about how to help their classmates dig deeper and delve into the weekly topic.  I also post a summary of the weekly discussion when I am the moderator for the first few weeks in order to demonstrate how to do this as part of the student moderator assignment.

Even though student moderators lead the discussion, it is essential that I, as the instructor, continue to be present during the online discussion.   I send feedback to each student on their assignments a portion of which I post to the weekly forum.  However, I post comments and questions towards the end of the week so that students can take an authentic leadership role.

Delaying my feedback is an approach that I learned from students.  They told me, “Well, if you put your voice in early on, it undermines me as the moderator.”  I post questions and comments but not until students have had a chance to work with their classmates. I also try and cheer the moderators on so that they feel supported in this new online role.

A detailed description of how student moderation works can be found in my book The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Designing and Teaching Online Courses.  I’ve also written two articles that address issues relating to the use of student moderators in online courses.   The ‘how to’ article is Student moderators in online courses published by Online Cl@ssroom and the scholarly article based on research conducted with colleagues at Lesley and the Instituto Piaget in Portugal is Interaction, critical thinking, and social network analysis (SNA) in online courses published by The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning.

Does the process of using student moderators create additional work for the instructor?

Thormann:  No, student moderators help save me time because I’m not the only one involved in facilitating discussions. Additionally, one of the side benefits is that students gain different perspectives from peers and appreciate the peer feedback and interaction.

Stay tuned next week for Part III of this series.