A new assignment – getting students to use new technology
Laura Paciorek

This semester I was inspired by a colleague of mine to try a new assignment with my students.  In my online class, I wanted to have students do a small research assignment, but I didn’t want them to write formal research papers.  I decided on having the students create either a short video or the equivalent of a one-page handout with information from the research and visuals.  I thought these would be a lot of fun!

Here’s the potentially tricky part.  I wanted my students to share their mini research videos or visuals in a discussion board so that they could comment on and view all of the students’ work.  However, attaching files can be problematic.  It might be difficult or impossible to open for some students.  I wanted students to submit their work only as a link or as an image inserted right into the post so that no one would have to download anything.

I thought and thought of how students could do this.  Google tools were my first thought, but I knew that there should be more.  I scoured the internet, including Twitter, and came up with a pretty decent list of options for my students.  Some colleagues in a Facebook group about online teacher gave me more ideas.  Besides YouTube, Google Drive, and taking screenshots, I also gave students these options:

One pretty cool thing happened. Two students used tools that I had not even suggested.  One used PowToon and the other used OneDrive.

Many students went the route of inserted images or Google tools.  There were videos.  One student did a Glogster poster-like visual with an embedded webcam video.

I did have to make and find some tutorial videos to assist students.

How to insert a link into a discussion post:

CDWebTeach (2015, October 21). Adding a link to a discussion post in Blackboard
          [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/r2_nz0gteBs

How to insert an image into a post:

Teach Paloma (2015, February 23). How to insert an image into your Blackboard
          discussion post [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/wIrb_JPn0pI

Using Video Everywhere in Blackboard:

sdccdonline (2014, February 7). Creating video discussion posts in Blackboard using Video
         Everywhere [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/PQKiNAFQMeU

How to get a shareable link for Google docs and put the link into a discussion post:

CDWebTeach (2015, October 29). Sharing Google docs and making a link [Video file].
Retrieved from https://youtu.be/3DNctHDxXXg

Overall, I feel like I accomplished what I hoped to accomplish.  First, students in my class might, realistically, be asked to create a newsletter for a job they might hold.  This assignment used some of the same skills that would be used in creating a newsletter.  Second, students were able to share their research with one another.  Third, students could create something that was a little different and more open-ended than a formal research paper.  I liked the way this tied in with Universal Design for Learning.

I had a great time reading, watching, and grading their work on this assignment.  I also learned a lot from people about cool tools that are out there that students and faculty might be able to use to display their work.

Here comes the part where I ask you for feedback.  I am curious to hear what you think about this assignment.  Do you have any suggestions for me?  I am all ears!

Thank you for reading my post.  I cannot wait to hear from you!