Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Managing Online Burnout: Tips 2-3

As we continue our discussion of reducing burnout and reviving your online courseroom, consider tips 2 & 3 below. Please post your own ideas and experiences as well!

Tip #2: Try using some Web 2.0 tools!

If you want to reach a variety of learning styles, Web 2.0 technology is the way to go. There are a number of free and easy tools available at your fingertips and take less than 5 minutes to learn. While TWU provides a number of these tools through Learning Objects (included in every Blackboard online course shell), there are also number of innovative tools available on the internet. Some, by category, are listed below:

*Blogging: Try Blogger.com; Wordpress.com; Vox.com, and/or Blogspot.com

*Audio/Mp3 recorders (for leaving audio messages): Find a multiple of audio recorders for your computer (free) at http://www.freedownloadcenter.com (or http://www.Audacity.com (allows you to edit your audio files)

*Vodcasts: Include digital video in your online classroom to enhance your online discussions! Search ItunesU at http://www.itunes.com, Youtube (http://www.youtube.com), or Discovery Streaming
(http://streaming.discoveryeducation.com/index.cfm) for videos to share with
your students

*Wikis: Try out http://www.pbwiki.com or http://www.wikispaces.com. Or, try the wiki tool that is available to TWU faculty and staff through Blackboard.

*Social Networking: Are you familiar with Myspace or Facebook? Now you can establish your own “social network” that allows students from your class as well as others to stay in touch using Web 2.0 technology. For example, I have established a social network for all 3 sections of our Community Health class for students in Health Studies. All three sections are taught by 3 different instructors, but we meet on our Community Health Ning site to share video, blogs, photos, and dialog. To explore this in more detail, visit http://www.ning.com

Document Sharing
: Allows students to peer review and share documents online. Try Google docs at http://www.google.com

Phone chats or webcasting: Try http://www.freeconference.com, http://www.Skype.com, http://www.centra.com, or http://www.Elluminate.com. Want to try out a webcast with your students? Contact your college's instructional designer for more information.

Podcasts: There thousands of helpful, free audio podcasts available for students to download on disciplines ranging from Anthropology to Zoology. Visit iTunes U (http://www.itunes.com),Podcastalley (http://www.podcastalley.com),and/or Yahoo podcasts (http://podcasts.yahoo.com).

Second Life: Take your class to the "4th Dimension" of learning through virtual simulation by touring the Second Life universe at http://www.Secondlife.com (TWU hosted a portion of the Annual Student Creative Arts and Research Symposium through this medium last year). Educators around the world are finding Second Life to be a powerful teaching tool.

Tip #3: Create a more “affective,” diverse environment.

As learning theory supports, the affective domain is just as important as the cognitive or psycho-motor. What rattles the soul can often stimulate the brain! This is true for online learning as well. Add in some “affective” type questions or assignments that allow for a range of answers and perspectives. Consider adding in some opinion-related questions, discussion topics, or field activities that allow students to share their own experiences. Avoid posing discussion questions that initiate only one possible answer. The students’ responses will grow stale if you don’t incite a diverse range of discussion topics. Students will feel less inclined and less enthused about logging in over time. This also gives the student a "voice" beyond what the textbook authors or experts in the field have to say.

To inject some “affective” interaction and rev up the discussion, try posting audio messages to the class as well as to individuals. This can be done by using a simple computer headset with microphone from Best Buy, Walmart, or Target, and your computer (or phone or voice recorder). Or, try some asynchronous and synchronous forms of group audio discussion by visiting Yack Pack (http://www.yackpack.com) or Voice thread (http://www.voicethread.com).

Want more tips? Tune in tomorrow for tips 4&5!

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