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Instructional Technology Council Newsletter

Welcoming the Class

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by Ruth Alsobrook-Hurich, Instructional Designer, Yavapai College

Adding a welcome video to a fully-online course is essential to student success.  This small act gives students a way to know the person behind the screen is real.

Creating a video can be simple.  You do not need to be a theater major to say “hello” to a group of people.  There is no need for a full media studio either.  YouTube makes this painless.  Not only is it FREE to create an account, the site guides you through the recording process step by step.

For those who wish to remain private and fear the World Wide Web will find your video, mark the end result as “unlisted” and it will not show up in someone’s YouTube search.

Here’s an example welcome video…


The 9x9x25 Challenge: Nine Posts, Nine Weeks, 25 Words

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by Todd Conaway, Instructional Designer, Yavapai College

What if professional development was a challenge?  What if you were rewarded with the recognition of your colleagues—locals and across the planet—throughout the process?  What if everything was free?

And what if you learned about critical digital literacy skills, and the best practices your colleagues offer their students along the way, and it all happened in a “class-like” environment on the open Web?

Well, that is just what faculty at Yavapai College, a small community college in central Arizona, did during the past nine weeks—17 faculty members rose to the occasion and 16 completed the challenge.


Writing to Think

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by Nancy D. Schafer, English Professor, Yavapai College

I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.
—Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I have taught the same course, ENG 140, online and face-to-face for the pasts three years. As I developed the online course, I tried to ensure that the students in both delivery modes would receive similar experiences. One of the ways I accomplish this is through weekly discussion boards that mirror the small and large group discussions I have in class.

In the online class, students are required to post at least a paragraph to the discussion prompt, and they must respond to two other students in a way that furthers the conversation.


Constructivist Theory and Web 2.0 Technologies

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by Tina Luffman, Developmental Reading and Writing Instructor, Yavapai College

Constructivist Theory focuses on a way of learning where students construct meaning by going beyond what they are taught. The new Web 2.0 technologies that are emerging today can certainly facilitate constructivist thinking and learning.

The students and teachers are responsible for creating this reality for themselves and for their classrooms respectively. Learning will not likely take place regardless of the learning tool without desire, discipline, and dedication.

Each of the Web 2.0 tools we read about in Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning by George Siemens and Peter Tittenberger create the connectivity to allow for better teaching in hybrid, online and the face-to-face environments.

Social learning can be greatly enhanced when using Wikis. For example, Dr. Barb Davis, English professor, created a vocabulary Wiki for her class last semester. The students chose their own words they came upon while reading the novel The Kite Runner and loaded them into this Wiki.


An Ode to the Discussion Board

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by Erin Whitesitt, Psychology Instructor, Yavapai College

I first encountered Yavapai College's (YC) course management system, Blackboard, about four weeks before I taught my first class for YC.  I was nervous, overwhelmed, pregnant, and had never even taken an online course, let alone taught one.  "Don't worry," Jason said.  "Blackboard is very intuitive.  It will be a piece of cake.  I'll help you."

"That's nice of you," I said.  "Okay, first question: What does this discussion board tab do?"  "It's intended to help simulate the feel of a classroom.  It's an online forum that allows your students to have... well... a discussion."

"Huh.  Do you use it in your classes?"  "Of course!  It's best practice."  "Can I NOT use it?" He shrugged.  "It's best practice." I used it.

The key with Blackboard's discussion board, at least in my own experience, is to make sure every single question or topic proposed by the instructor is sufficiently engaging, unique, and debatable to entice participation from most of the students in the class, but to accept that even with my best efforts, my worst nightmare will often come true.


On the Other Side of the Screen: Confessions of an Online Student

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by Suzanne "Sukie" Waldenberger, Humanities Professor, Visual, Performing and Liberal Arts, Yavapai College

For me, one of the greatest perks of teaching at a college is the opportunity to take classes for free. I get to sample various topics in which I am interested, and I am interested in a lot of things!

But, of course, I do have a full-time job and then some, so, like a lot of our students I look to online classes to allow me to fit school into my schedule. I also teach online classes every semester and have for years, so I am quite familiar with online education.

However, being an online student has really given me insight on the challenges our students face. One of the biggest hurdles I've found, is simply interacting with the course materials.

I am not an idiot. I thought I had better clarify that right up front, because I have found myself making the same irritating mistakes that drive me up a wall when my students do them in my classes.


Web 2.0 No! Advice from an Investment Banker

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by Curtis Kleinman, Instructor, Languages, Yavapai College

I’m getting fed up with Web 2.0. These tools can help us become dynamic online teachers. So we go to training institutes, learn how to them, and then—they quickly disappear. Meebo anyone? I loved that one, but it is now gone without a trace. Visit the site and you will see a page as empty as your life without the product you came to love.

You know what else is empty—your syllabus! Because you incorporated the product so fully and masterfully into your course, you realize you have to start from scratch.

The worst part is that these services often take all of your content with them. You are left to flounder in a digital void, waiting for your service to be reinvented in a more profitable venue elsewhere. Which teaching services did you come to love, but are now defunct? Here are my fav five:


Lakeland Community College launches Software Institute

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by Bill Knapp, Dean of Learning Technologies, Lakeland Community College

Those who responded to ITC’s annual survey of distance education in 2012 listed “engaging faculty to develop online pedagogy” as the number-one challenge facing distance learning faculty.

Additionally, the survey respondents listed “support staff for training and technical assistance” as the third greatest challenge for distance learning administrators.  Seventy-two percent said their institutions require their distance education faculty to participate in some form of training program.

Despite reduced state support and a budget impacted by fewer enrollments, the Lakeland Community College's Center for Learning Innovation (CLI) is expanding its faculty training services by inviting faculty to join the CLI team.


Kudos to Karen Lynden, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

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Karen Lynden, Business Administration Instructor, Rowan Cabarrus Community College

Online learning allows students to participate in learning outside of the traditional classroom. Rowan-Cabarrus Community College aims to provide students with greater flexibility in scheduling classes while affording faculty with new and innovative approaches to teaching.

One instructor at Rowan-Cabarrus has taken online education to a new level. Karen Lynden's commitment to her online classes was evident when she received not just one, but two separate national awards for her leadership and management skills class. Both Blackboard and the Instructional Technology Council (ITC) recognized Lynden's class for excellence.


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