There are many types of media to include in an online class. Everything from Audio, Video, PPT Voice Overs, Screen Captures, Conferencing videos, Interactive videos, and a combination of video types to name a few.
Audio files are fairly simple. They are usually in the form of MP3’s. It can be used to listen to reading, music clips, or any form of audio only files. It can be useful to help students in understanding language pronunciations or listen to music compositions. In the past few years podcast have become very popular. Text to speech software has also become popular, allowing instructors of easily convert text files into audio instruction. This conversion is not intended to replace the written word, but help the audio learner and busy student to learn on the go.
Used in conjunction with exercises and discussion question Video files can be used to enhance the learning process for many students. Various technology exist today to easily make video files available to students. Faculty can even create brief lectures with cell phones, ipads and other readily available products.
PowerPoint shows have become a classroom standard for classroom lecture presentation. By using tools available within the presentation software, a voice over can add clarity to the visual content. Having both the visual clues and the audio explanations can enhance the student learning experience.
Screen captures allow faculty members to capture events happening on their digital screen and preserve it in a video format. Depending on the method of capture, voice-overs may be included in the final video file. This is a good method of demonstrating steps to a process. Examples may include a demonstration of how to use a particular piece of software or how to log on to a specific website.
Conferencing software is most often used in synchronous meeting events, but some conferencing software allows you to record the meeting for later viewing. The advantage to this software is often it combines a number of elements to help convey a richer learning experience. Often the software records a video of the speaker as well as the speaker’s whiteboard or desktop. The major drawback to this software is the inability to edit the final product.
Interactive instructions is one of the more difficult media to create. It involves software that requires a high level of expertise to master. It often involves a combination of several types of media such as images, videos, and sounds. The final product requires students to interact with the information provide within the media.
There are other types of media available for the online classroom but these will be the main I focus on in this article.
Four basic rules to using media in the online class include:
- Be clear about your Instructional Goals
- Integrate your media with student activities
- The media should be easy to identify and locate
- Keep media clips short
Using streaming media successfully in an online course depends on its integration in the course and how it applies to student learning. As an instructor your first job is to be clear about your instructional goals and choose media that helps you meet those objectives. Adding media for the sake of media distracts from purpose of the class.
As instructor you will need to integrate your media with student activities. That means you cannot post a video and expect the students to know what they should receive from the media. You must prepare students for viewing the media clip by introducing the clip and explaining its purpose. You should explain what to watch or listen for in the clip. After they have completed the video have them do something with what they have learned in the video such as answer a question or participate in a discussion.
The media should also be easy to identify and locate. You do not want to explain the video and activities in one location and expect the students to hunt for the video elsewhere in the class. It should be an integrated part of the course materials that flows with the structure and sequence of the learning module.
Watching educational videos is not the same as watching a 2 hour blockbuster movie. It is should not be a mind numbing experience, therefore keep media clips short and to the point. Most research suggest that the media should be under 10 minutes in length. You can do this by dividing content into small sections and choosing only the most applicable portions of video/audio for viewing.
Streaming media helps puts learning in the hands of the student and gives the instructor options on types of material available. As for student learning, students:
- can re-wind and replay at their own speed
- will have the ability to repeat/pause the media
- can take in more information when presented visually
- receive information quickly compared to reading long text files
- can learn anywhere, anytime
Faculty can use streaming media to:
- provide an interactive teaching environment
- deliver dynamic presentations and content
- generate support for teaching and learning
- provide a mix of content for students
- address different learning styles
- compliment lectures and other course material
Just as there are reason to use streaming media in an online class, there are reasons to limits its use. Following are a few of the things one needs to consider before loading their course with tons of media.
- Bandwidth and Storage – Streaming media require sufficient bandwidth to play, especially at higher quality. It takes up a lot of space. Lack of proper bandwidth can result in slow playback, possible start/stop of video if connection is not good, and poor quality of video. In developing the media the instructor needs to be mindful of this and use it when pedagogically sound reasons exist.
- Online Only – Student can only watch the video when they are online. If the user’s Internet connection is cut during playback or they need to watch your content offline, they will be out of luck. As an instructor, make sure you provide the link to the students well in advance so they will have plenty of time to view the materials prior to any due dates.
- Cost – Media can be costly to produce. Depending on the projects it can include expensive camera equipment and high-end computers, as well as technical expertise. Check with the technical staff concerning the amount of assistance you can expect and the equipment available to you before starting any major project.
- Creation – Producing good video content isn’t always easy. You will need to write scripts, properly light your subject, record and edit it, all before you can Stream Media. There are some simple techniques that you can use, which we will discuss later, but for now know that creation can be costly and time consuming. It is better to start off with a small manageable project than to shoot for a Hollywood style media project that never gets produced.
- Copyright Issues – An alternative to creation of your own video is to use media that someone else has already produced. If you choose to not create your own media project then you must make sure you have settled any copyright issues with the creator of the video. Streaming copyright protected materials can land you and the education institution in legal battles.
There are several advantages to providing streaming media to an online class. The following is a list of reasons, but it is not comprehensive.
- Instant Playback – Media files are large. If a media file is loaded into a standard Learning Manage System (LMS) such as Blackboard, the student would have to download the entire file before viewing, which can take considerable time depending on the bandwidth provided by their Internet Service Provider (ISP). Streaming media allows the student to start viewing quickly and jump forward and backward in the video.
- Piracy Protection – Although nothing is completely secure, Streaming Media technology is harder to copy. The technology does not stored the media file on the viewer’s computer and once the media is played, it is discarded by the media player. This provides the content creator more control over intellectual property.
- Education – Streaming media can be used to augment educational opportunities, particularly in online education. It helps to engage students at both the auditory and visual level, which improves retention of material.
- Anytime Anywhere – Students can access the media anytime and anywhere. Students can take as much time as needed to study and review the materials. After viewing the material they can take time to formulate question and analysis the materials before engaging others in discussing the media.
- Equal Access – Video has been used for many years in the traditional classroom for a variety of pedagogical reasons. Distance learning classes should have equal access to visual material. Streaming media gives the instructor that opportunity without wasting a lot of valuable time downloading the media.
Streaming media is video/audio content sent in compressed form over the Internet. With streaming media, one does not have to wait until the file is completely downloaded to play because it is sent in a continuous stream. This continuous stream allows it to be played as it arrives. Users can pause, rewind or fast-forward, the media just as they can with a downloaded file. The exception being with live streams.
In this series live streams will not be discussed, instead recorded media will be the focus. Recorded media has the advantage of being editable, whereas live streams takes place in real time. Live streams are not modified as they are streamed to the audience, therefore mistakes are included.
With recorded media the instructor has the ability to pull out all the little golden nuggets of wisdom and rearrange the media to flow in a fluid manner. This allows the instructor to maintain control of the content and the order in which the student receives the materials. This is not the only advantage to using media in the online classroom, but I will discuss this in greater detail later in the series. This series will cover the following topics:
- Advantages of Streaming Media in the Classroom
- Disadvantages of Streaming Media in the Classroom
- Pedagogy for Streaming Media in the Classroom
- Types of Media and Instructor can create for the classroom
- Getting Started Creating Streaming Media
- Tools for Creation of Streaming Media
- ADA Compliance of Streaming Media
The Tasks tool is a great asset when working on large course projects. You can use the tasks tool to organize projects/activities by defining task priority and tracking its status. As an instructor you can keep student’s on-track by prioritizing activities and monitoring their progress. The Task tool can also be use by the student to organize and prioritize their activities in a single course or in all their courses.
There are two types of Task, Course task and Personal task. A Course task is created by the instructor and can be used to monitor the students’ progress. Personal task are created by students and cannot be viewed by anyone except the creator.
From the Student Menu click Tools> Task> Create Course Task
Faculty View of Task List
Student View of Task List
Faculty View of Task Status
Faculty can see a list of course task with a summary of students’ progress.
By clicking on the Number associated with the Task a detailed summary will open with a list of student names and statuses.
Personal task are created by students and cannot be viewed by anyone except the creator. The process of creating a task is the same except the task must be accessed outside an individual course. To create a Personal task you must log in to Blackboard. On the BridgeValley Online tab under the Tools Module select Tasks> Create Personal Task.
This is a great time saving tip for students and faculty. One way Discussions are used in an online classroom is to create community. There are many other reasons to use it, but despite the reasons sometimes it is difficulty keeping up with all the post. Normally you would click the post open, read and reply, close it and repeat the process for the next post.
In the example below there were about 80 post to read. Instead of going through the normal process for each post you can select the post you want to read by clicking the selection box to the left of the post (or all post can be selected at one time by clicking the select box in the row header) and clicking the Collect button.
A new window will open where you can view all the selected post on one screen. Not only can you view the post, but you can reply to the individual post. In addition, you will have the ability to sort and\or print from the collect view.
The Glossary is an often under-utilized blackboard tool that creates a list of terms with definitions for students. One of the major drawbacks to the glossary is keying all the terms. This can be time consuming and tedious work.
Recently I came across an article by Barbara Schroeder on the Technology Teacher blog titled, Collaborating in Blackboard: Student-created Glossary. The article explains how she turns this exercise into a collaborative activity for her students. This activity not only helped the students learn the terms but made them feel some ownership with the course.
Basically Ms. Schroeder would share a common document with student and require each student to input one word and definition a week (In the proper format) into the document. The students would include their name at the end of the definition as proof of their participation. After the due date the instructor would save and upload the file to the glossary and assign points for each student’s participation.
This resulted in the continuous improvement of a course glossary that could be used in future courses.
Formatting of the shared document is simple:
- It must be in TXT or CSV format.
- Each record must be on a separate line and do not include blank line between records.
- Each field must be enclosed in double quotation marks.
- Each field must be separated with one of the following delimiters: comma, colon, or tab.
Record format is as follows: “Term”,”Definition.”
“Genre (ZHAHN-ruh)”,”a type of literature. We say a poem, novel, story, or other literary work belongs to a particular genre if it shares at least a few conventions, or standard characteristics, with other works in that genre.”
For detailed instructions on creating a course Glossary and uploading a Glossary file, check out the Blackboard Glossary Instructions help page..
Providing extended time for exams for students with accommodations just got easier with the new Test Availability Exception in Blackboard 9. Instructors can build their test as usual, but when the test is deployed an additional setting allows the instructor to create exceptions. This option replaces the need for creating a duplicate exam and using adaptive release.
Tests must be deployed to a Content Area before accommodations can be set. Instructors can provide accommodations for the following items:
- number of attempts
- time duration
- force completion
- more than one student can have unique availability exceptions added
Once the test has been deployed in a content area, edit the settings by selecting the action link next to the title of the test. Select “Edit Test Options.”
To add an exception:
- Select “Add a User or Group” under the Test Availability Exceptions.
- Adjust the Attempts, Timer, Availability and Force Completion settings to suit accommodations.
- Press Submit.