Pow, Gami, Mate Oh Me Oh My!

I have used a few tools for my projects.  When I created these I was doing different responsibilities, some of which will continue in my new Instructional Design position.  Others may or will not. I say this for you to understand with the purpose was behind these projects. I have experience with the tools PowToons, StudyMate, Tellagami.

Tellagami Animations  I would say that I have a tie for my favorite. One is Tellagami.  Telligami fun. I have not tried it but I believe it would be appropriate for students to learn by creating. I believe it would also be useful for instructors and students to use Tellagami® to create book reports, solve math problems and recite lessons. It has short comings, such as getting it to work in D2L, or getting the character to say where you put it, and you cannot get back to the gami when once posted online except to make minor text changes.  If you use it for specific purposes, it can be useful.  The product currently is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, IOS 6.0+. I use my iPad. You can share it with a link, embed code, or save it to your IOS device. Output is in all browsers.. The help consists of an FAQ and email contact. No bad for a small product. When I stared using it I can concerned about accounts required by students, support, usefulness, and ease of use. If the instructor is the only one using the program, then many of those concerns are not a problem.

I use it as my welcome message for our online student orientation course for D2L.  I call it a NancyGami. I made a quick Tellagami to show everyone.  I would call this an Introduction and App Samples. I believe the Tellagami Edu is the better version.  You do have to pay for it.  Unfortunately, I do not remember the price.  I am to finding the price. The question(s) I ask myself is can I find other ways to include it in and online class.

StudyMate Authoring Tool My other favorite is StudyMatSe Author. Our state system provides us with 2 products, Respondus and StudyMate.  We have StudyMate Author. Pricing is done through our state system. Using StudyMate Author student can master the material for a course by using learning activities, self-assessments and games. Students select activities that appeal to their learning style, making the whole experience personalized and effective. The help is actually very good. They have tutorials, user’s guides, and email support. I have used this and it is actually very good. It can be use in LMSs and  all browsers.

Creating the questions to use can be time consuming unless you have quizzes in Repondus that you can use by importing them in Study Mate.  If you are creating questions from scratch, they have to be formatted in a specific way.  For example, an M/C question has to be formatted as below. Basically there has to be an ) or . after number of question an ) and . with an a * showing the correct answer. Plus, only one line between a question or answer choices.  Not hard but tedious.

3) Who determined the exact speed of light?

a) Albert Einstein

*b) Albert Michelson

c) Thomas Edison

d) Guglielmo Marconi

Here are some Product Samples.  Here are those products used with a History Example. You can upload products to StudyMate.com or export as html or some file types. Questions I have include, will they ever update the types of choices you can create?  Some seem rather childish for Higher Ed. Will the standard for formation questions in word or text files get easier?

PowToon AnimationsLastly, I have used PowToons. This product does have a free version but of course it is not full featured.  There is also Educational Pricing.

I found creating this not quite as easy as they claim. They claim 5 mins.  However, anything with substance will take longer. They do have tutorials, an FAQ, email contact, help tickets, and a PowToon’s blog.  It can be use in LMSs and  all browsers. You can also go from a PowerPoint to a PowToon.  You can upload your work to PowToons, export them, and use embed code to share them. I created a Cybersecurity Awareness piece on phishing emails. I may still use it for our online student orientation.

My biggest concern with using PowToon or Tellagami with students is the fact you have to create accounts. You can log in with Facebook or Google accounts. However, to me that could be a security and privacy problem.  Our students complain about “another password” to remember.  Plus, how will that work for elementary school or special needs children. All this is going to need more experimentation.

Creating an Online Teaching Philosophy

technology_tools_online_teaching_learningWelcome to Educational Technology in Online and Blended Learning

Creating this philosophy, I came across some quotes that I found intriguing as well as inspirational.  One by Jennifer Fleming states, “Teaching in the Internet age means we must teach tomorrow’s skills today.” (Nunez, 2015) Fleming’s statement is intuitive as well as correct.

The other, I believe, is the most prevalent today is by Cammy Bean, “People expect to be bored by e-Learning—let’s show them it doesn’t have to be like that!” (Nunez, 2015) This quote made me think about the online course I have seen. Just a series of links to publisher content and publisher PowerPoint slides.  Nothing at all like I believe an online course should be.

I feel an online teaching philosophy encompasses several factors but no limited to; engagement, community, collaboration, student orientated, facilitation and more. I believe that the days of teachers standing up and lecturing are coming to an end.  I strongly feel it is more import to create an environment where the focus is no the student. This encourages critical thinking and self-sufficiency.

Using various types of social media works to create community and collaboration. Students cannot meet in an online class as they would in a podium class to interconnect. Therefore it is critical to create an atmosphere where everyone is comfortable and willing to contribute without fear or feeling left out. Use of social media in the classroom can also help students gain a social network that can lead them to professional connections for the future. Especially in their specific field.

Communications is vital in online learning.  The facilitators must outline what they expect of students but what students can expect from them. Communication student to student is important as well.  Twitter, Facebook and other social media programs can be an effective tool in encouraging this element. Bard has it right!

“To utilize social media tools effectively and properly, you must absolutely generate spontaneous communications in direct response to what others are saying or to what is happening in that moment. Be yourself. Be conversational. Be engaged.” (Bard, 2016)

Privacy, security, and technical ease of use, and support are another critical area that I believe is paramount. With the prevalence for viruses, malware, and social engineering the need to be keenly aware of these elements. Keeping as much as feasible in an LMS is one of the best solution. Students can then use the blog, discussion, and chat tool in confidence for privacy and security. This also protects the facilitator and university in the event a student posts items that are unacceptable.

I find that making sure students know where to find technical support is fundamental for online learning.  Facilitators need to be free to concentrate on the content.  The break fix or technical questions should be directed to a university support team. I put contact information in my syllabus and introductory module overview so our student technical know where to find the support area.

I am careful choose the types of media tools for my courses as these tools are becoming indispensable in online education. “Teaching with technology isn’t just about staying current on the latest tools, it’s about knowing how to successfully incorporate the best tools into your teaching when and where it makes sense.” (Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications, 2016)

There is definitive criteria for selecting education tools for a course. Get to know your students and their learning styles. Technology must benefit and enhance the learning environment. If most students in the class are non-traditional then the students may have technical phobia. The tools must be easily accessible to the students, easy to use,  and know what support materials are needed. Are the tools cross platform? An instructor cannot expect students to use and Apple based tool if most of the students use Androids.

I work to avoid the social media mistakes that can be made. Mistakes are similar to ignoring the community. Instructors must give regular feedback to the students so they feel a part of the online community. Another poor use of social media involves properly broadcasting information to students. Not all communication media is the same as the others. “Essentially, the rules to good, creative content applies across social networks, while still taking into account each platform’s audience.” (Giuliano, 2015)

Using social media for e-Learning is here to stay.  The Babson Survey Research Group reports, “90% of all faculty are using social media in courses.” (Moran, Jeff, & Tinti-Kane, 2011) Educational trends can change rapidly. I am sure I will be updating my online teaching philosophy over time.
Works Cited
Bard, M. (2016, ). 99 Favorite Social Media Quotes and Tips. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from www.mirnabard.com: http://www.mirnabard.com/2010/04/99-favorite-social-media-quotes-and-tips/

Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications. (2016). (Magna Publications) Retrieved June 22, 2016, from Teaching with Technology: http://www.facultyfocus.com/topic/articles/teaching-with-technology-articles/

Giuliano, K. (2015, July 2). CNBC Social Media. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from The 5 biggest social media mistakes to avoid: http://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/02/the-5-biggest-social-media-mistakes-to-avoid.html

Moran, M., Jeff, S., & Tinti-Kane, H. (2011, April). Teaching, Learning, and Sharing: How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from ERIC: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED535130

Nunez, M. (2015, March 31). Famous Quotations (#My Fav.#). Retrieved June 18, 2016, from http://margsjemkristelnunez.blogspot.com/