Adventures of a Technology Challenged Online Instructor

Turning Ideas Into Action (Week 8)
Turning Ideas Into Action (Week 8) avatar

Maybe I’m just overwhelmed with all of the technology options that are out there, but I seem to have more and more questions than answers about how to utilize these tools.

First off, I was all excited about “creating community” in my online sections, so I went into Blackboard and created a “chat” discussion board where students could talk about what they are doing for the “Lifestyle Wellness Project.”  (A semester-long project where they change one health related behavior about themselves.)  I thought this would be a good start for students to connect with each other and get a chance to discuss their projects with other student who may be working on similar health changes.  So, I create the discussion board (text based, asynchronous) and emailed students letting them know that a new board was available to them.  I told them that they wouldn’t be graded on this discussion thread, but that I encouraged them all to just write a quick reply letting everyone know what their project is so they can connect with others.  I create the thread 4 days ago.  The total number of responses thus far?  ZERO.  Is creating community something that needs to be forced (via a grade for the assignment?)  Is the text-based discussion just not cutting it?  I don’t know.  In my face-to-face class, I give students 5-10 minutes each class period to talk with classmates about how their projects are going.  There’s no grade involved, but they are in class and community is easily developed.  How can I achieve the same idea in my online class if nobody wants to participate voluntarily?

I was then able to play a little bit with Blackboard Collaborate and I watched Ted Major’s Presentation on Audio and Video .  I really can agree with his suggestion of keeping the audio/video components short.  I haven’t tried using Jing yet, but I think that may be a great way for me to include short video snipets for lectures, or key ideas.  But watching the Collaborate session, again, left me with more questions.  When do you use Collaborate sessions in your class?  Office Hours?  Lecture?  I’m not really sure where Collaborate fits in the course design.  And then after checking out Google + Hangouts, I think I was even more confused.  I like the ease of Google + Hangouts, but at the same time, I like how Collaborate is already integrated into Blackboard.  Would Google + and Collaborate be used for different purposes?  I wasn’t really clear on that as I see them being very similar in their use.  For those of you who use these tools, what do you use them for?  How often in a semester would you say that you use them?

Having just started using the Wimba Voice Tools in Blackboard, I really liked the VoiceThread program we looked at this week.  It was very simple to use and I liked how there was a central theme in the middle of the page.  But again, with the questions!  Can we integrate this program into Blackboard?  I could see using something like this in discussion topics, but how would I include it in my CMS that I already use?  Another thing I noticed was when I played my comment back, the audio quality wasn’t very good.  I was using my headset that I normally use when creating voice annoucments in Blackboard.  I hadn’t noticed the voice quality being poor in my regular voice annoucements, but in VoiceThread, my comments sounded very grainy.  Hmmm…technology or user issues?  Probably user issues!  🙂

Okay, now to just figure out the answers to all the questions I have!  Any suggestions, comments?


2 Responses to “Turning Ideas Into Action (Week 8)
Turning Ideas Into Action (Week 8) avatar

  1. Pilar says:

    Hi. Regarding your question about how to incorporate your Voicethread in Blackboard, I just grab the embed code and stick it where it belongs in my course. The students had no trouble setting up an account and posting comments. At the beginning of the semester, I tell them that we will be using more than one tool and that they should use the same username and password for all of them. The students really love the Voicethread and none had technical difficulties with it. Hope this answers your question.

  2. Rachele DeMeo says:

    Short videos seem to be a must nowadays. When videos were relatively new, telling students they were going to watch a video was a source of excitement and joy. Now, with bombarding information surrounding us at all times of the day, students (in my opinion), don’t seem to have enough concentration to watch a long video.