Have you ever wondered how the use of multimedia tools in teaching impacts your students’ learning? A 2015 survey of educators by Kaltura shows that instructional video content improves the learning experience of students, and can particularly engage visual and auditory learners. When captioned, it has the capacity to engage “all cognitive learning styles” (p. 20).
But, even if interactive multimedia has the capacity to engage students in new and exciting ways, it might seem difficult to get started, or to get acquainted with a new tool. To that end, we are offering a special spring-break Video & VoiceThread Bootcampfrom April 25 through May 1.
This hands-on workshop is learner-focused and adapted to suit the needs of individual participants: If you have never made a video or created a VoiceThread before we will get you started. If you have some experience, we will show you how to sharpen your work. By the end of our week-long session all participants will develop the skills to create VoiceThread, screencasts, or webcam videos for course introductions, lectures, and discussions.
If you’d like to join us on this spring break adventure, pleasesign up here.
Locally, instructors here at CUNY SPS are joining the ranks of other educators to make their schools, classes, and course materials accessible to people with disabilities.
Keeping in mind the diversity of our students, faculty, and staff, including individuals with disabilities, OFDIT collaborates with instructors and administrators to make all of our online learning environments accessible and inclusive, and to contribute to a richer learning environment. In order to fulfill this goal we created an Accessibility Resources Site listing materials on Universal Design in Learning (UDL), as well as how-to guides for creating accessible course documents.
This month we continue our efforts through the introduction of a new Accessibility Training Series covering how to use the tools already at your disposal to make your online courses accessible to all students. Sign up for our short lunchtime training sessions on accessibility features in Microsoft Word, captioning course videos, and more. We look forward to continuing our work with faculty to ensure that we serve all of our diverse students!
Antonia, Dominique & Sarah
PS: Check out our latest UD Nosh post on the third UDL principle, featuring your colleague Prof. Julie Maybee from the Disabilities Studies Program as our co-author! (Thank you, Julie!)
Welcome back! We hope your spring semester is off to a great start. OFDIT is welcoming the term with new trainings, workshops offered by VoiceThread, and an announcement about Blackboard’s discussion board.
February Faculty Training. We’ve added new topics to our successful half our lunch-time training series: BrownBagBytes. This month’s sessions spotlight features that help make courses more accessible and discussions more dynamic. Our captioning training shows you how to use YouTube to add accurate captions to your videos in a few simple steps. Captions aid language learners and students with hearing impairments or organizational issues. Our training on Blackboard’s student view explains how to use the tool to streamline and simplify your course site. In addition to our lunch series, we are also offering a full hour-long training: Introduction to VoiceThread. These show how the VoiceThread tool integrates audio and video commentary in your course discussions.
Sign up here to register for our February trainings, or use this form to schedule a one-on-one session that works around your schedule.
Workshops by VoiceThread. If you can’t join OFDIT, there are still opportunities to learn from workshops offered by VoiceThread this month, including sessions on incorporating VoiceThread discussions into your Language and STEM curriculum.
Issue with “Tree View” on Blackboard discussion board. You might have noticed that since January, your view of the Discussion Board keeps reverting back to List View automatically after setting it to Tree View. Blackboard is working to find a solution to this issue, but in the meantime, we’d like to pass on a helpful note one of your colleagues had drafted (thank you!) to explain the situation to his students. Please feel free to use this to make your students aware of the issue as well.
This course relies on the Blackboard Discussion Board for our class discussions. However, there is currently an issue with how we are able to view the discussion forum. Each time you enter the forum the posts appear in what is called “List View.” We need to see them in “Tree View,” however, in order to follow the threaded discussions and for you to see who has commented on your posts and for you to participate in ongoing exchanges with your classmates. What to do? — For now each and every time you enter any forum you need to look at the upper right and click on the “Tree View” button. I do hope this will be resolved soon and that the tree view will be the default and remain the setting for all forums. Until then, thank you for your patience and understanding.
If you have questions about these or any other instructional technology please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We look forward to working with you this spring!
The beginning of the semester is always a good time to try something new to make teaching more effective and more efficient. We’d like to start the spring semester with both a pedagogical tip and a practical tip that hopefully will make your courses more successful and less time-consuming to manage.
Pedagogical Tip:Be consistent in both the structure and formatting of elements in your course site. For example, compare these two screenshots of my announcements page with each other:
While it’s true that the second picture looks a little boring, compared with the variety in colors, titles, and fonts in the first picture, students will find it easier to develop the habit of attending to weekly announcements and to absorb the information they contain when the structure and the formatting are consistent.
Another reason to keep formatting consistent and low-key is to make text more accessible to screen readers, i.e. text-to-speech programs used by the visually impaired. Screen readers can get tripped up by inconsistent formatting or text with lots of different types of emphasis. So pick a font that you like and stick to it, and pick either bold, underline, or italics for emphasis, and stick to that. It will make things easier for both you and your students!
Practical Tip: Keeping your Dev sites up to date. As you all know, the process of getting online courses up and running at the beginning of the semester can be a bit hectic (or even very hectic). A great way of making your own life easier is to keep your Dev site updated with all the changes you make to your course during the semester (the ones you want to keep, of course). You have a couple options for how to go about this:
Always make changes to the Dev site immediately after making them in your live course
Keep a log of changes as you make them in the live course site in a document or spreadsheet. You can even keep this document in your course (just don’t make it available to users). Then, at the end of the semester when things are not so hectic, take an hour or two to sit down and add all the changes you want to keep in your Dev site.
Why is this so useful? Once you’ve updated your Dev site, your course is ready to copy. All you have to do at the beginning of the next semester is adjust all the due dates and availability dates for time-sensitive items in the course. This makes for a relaxing break!