Thursday, September 27, 2007

Web 2.0 Inside D2L - Zoho Writer and Sheet

This video shows the use of Zoho word processing and spreadsheet documents inside Desire2Learn. I'm a big fan of Zoho and find it very useful for managing documents that I want displayed on the web and works great for student group projects for collaborative writing.

Here is the link to the video in (full-screen option available).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Web 2.0 Inside D2L - Embedding Video

Putting video inside your online course can enhance learning if it is done well. That's a big IF, but still, good videos are useful ... as long as you can see and hear them. Unless your college has a dedicated multimedia streaming server, you should look at alternatives rather than uploading your video files directly into D2L.

This video above promotes embedding videos inside a Desire2Learn online course by using the free video hosting services such as YouTube and where they will convert your video to flash and give you the html embed code for you to paste into your D2L course. Easy, peasy.
Direct link to Blip where there is a full-screen viewing option.

Monday, September 24, 2007

E-Learning Mythbusters #2

Myth or reality? The "distance" in distance education means something?

Ummm, no, it doesn't! At least not for the vast majority of e-learners. The GIS map above shows the geographic distribution of 98% of the e-learners for LSC Online in the fall semester 2005. The other 2% (corrected 9/25/07) came from other places besides Minnesota and Wisconsin. About 50% of the students indicated on the map (probably more) could not have easily attended LSC by coming to campus since they are more than 30 miles away.

So, that makes it sound like there really is something to this distance thing, right? Wrong. When you ask these students (as we have) why they signed up for online courses they do not indicate distance as a leading reason. In fact, it comes out quite far from the top. We have seen this data collected using two different instruments. The Noel-Levitz PSOL includes ten "factors to enroll" for students to rank how important the factor was in their decision-making to enroll online. "Distance from Campus" comes in ninth out of ten factors, and a distant ninth at that.

We also ask students to submit surveys each year that allows us to keep abreast of changes in the demographics of our online learners at LSC. 61% indicate the number one reason for taking online courses is the need for time flexibility and busy schedules. Even "online courses are a better fit for my preferred learning style" (10.7%) is a more popular reason than distance from campus (6.7%). Even those who live more than 100 miles from LSC do not choose distance as an important factor - in other words, they'll find it somewhere else if not from us.

Apparently we need to come up with a more descriptive term than "distance ed."

Friday, September 21, 2007

E-Learning Mythbusters #1

I'm putting together a presentation titled "e-Learning Myth-busters." The goal is to explore and explode a dozen or more myths about e-Learning.

Here is an example: "E-Learning is anytime, anywhere learning."

Here's one quote: "AAL – Potentially the single most significant educational initiative in decades"

No hype there. It's also nice that it has an acronym: AAL, although some people call it anyone, anytime, anywhere learning which must be AAAL.

Busting the myth: it's a nice catch phrase, but it really isn't true when you consider the individual student experience. If you work 45 hours per week, have two kids, and all the other normal demands on your time and attention - you can't just engage in your learning anytime and anywhere. You may have a 3-hour window on Friday nights (oops, the library with their wireless access is closed? - so much for anywhere) and another large window on Sunday afternoons when your spouse is watching football. If that is the case, then the most essential aspect of your e-learning experience is flexibility.

I've seen far too many faculty who say that they are being flexible by having a four-hour window of opportunity for students to take an online exam (or other assessment). You can take that exam ANYTIME you want between 4:00 & 8:00 PM on Thursday. That is definitely not anytime, anywhere to the student who works at her second job on Thursday nights. Finding the right mix of allowing time flexibility and giving a time line to keep students on task is a difficult balancing act. I've seen more examples of a rigid time line for an online course than I have of great time flexibility.

Update: looks like this topic has been debated quite a bit already. I don't particularly have much to add to all of that. Maybe I'll just reference their work in the keynote.

CC photo credit: advisorymatters

Web 2.0 Inside D2L -

Here is a third short video from the presentations that I make about using Web 2.0 tools inside D2L. This video shows the use of embedded pages inside D2L content pages, and suggestions for using the social bookmarking tool for group projects and other web research objectives.

You can also view this video at with a full-screen option available.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Web 2.0 Inside D2L - SlideShare

Here is a second short video from the presentations that I make about using Web 2.0 tools inside D2L. This video shows a couple of embedded SlideShare presentations inside D2L content pages.

You can also view this video at with a full-screen option available.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Web 2.0 Inside D2L - YackPack

This first video (4 min.) is a demo of using an embedded YackPack inside Desire2Learn using a content page. This is very simple to set up by just linking to the URL of the YackPack that you have created.

YackPack is free. (UPDATE: It appears that YackPack will no longer be free, which probably means that I will no longer recommend it. It's cool, but not that cool. $35 bucks a year per user probably won't work for us. Free account still allows 10 second messages, but that is pretty limited.)
You can also view this video at where you have a full-screen option in the lower-right hand corner of the player.

Proposal Deadline for e-Learning 2008

The proposal deadline is nearing for the ITC e-Learning 2008 conference. Friday, September 28 is the deadline for submitting a proposal for the conference.

Year in and year out, this is the best e-Learning conference that I attend. If you're looking for a high-powered research-based conference where everyone makes presentations about their dissertation results, then look elsewhere. This conference is all about online teaching and learning with presenters coming from most of the leading schools in online learning.

The fact that this next conference will be held in St. Petersburg Beach is just a little icing on the cake. I will be presenting two half-day pre-conference workshops which will be hands-on sessions in the computer labs at St. Petersburg College. My friends at SPC have great facilities to share and are genuinely a great bunch of people to work with. I'm really looking forward to it.