Minimum Technical Skill Requirements for Online Learners

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One of my tasks as an instructional designer on my college campus is to provide learning guidelines and protocols for distance education. One way to prepare students for online learning is to provide a list of minimum technical skills required and make recommendations on where they can seek help if they do not possess such skills. Below is what I prepared for our students. I’d love your feedback on it.


Students,

The following is a list of basic technical skills you should have to engage productively in an online course:
● use the learning management system (e.g., Schoology) tools to post
discussions and upload assignments;
● use different browsers, clear browsing history, cache, and cookies, and refresh the screen;
● use email with attachments;
● create and submit electronic files in word processing program formats;
● copy and paste text;
● download and install software (e.g., media applications);
● download a media file for viewing or listening;
● use spreadsheet programs (e.g., Excel, Google Sheets, etc.);
● use presentation and simple graphics programs;
● use collaborative tools like Google Docs and shared folders on Google Drive; and
● use search engines to access digital books and articles from library databases.


Sandra Rogers, Ph.D.

Facebook is Unsafe

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As an educational technology evangelist at work (school), in my service projects, and research, I keep abreast of the latest technology innovations, instructional integrations, and issues. So when email servers such as Yahoo are hacked and I am a subscriber, I close my account. Initially, Yahoo stated  1 billion users were hacked in 2013; the latest account states that all accounts were hacked totaling 3 billion (NPR, October 2017). If you’re a techie, especially someone who promotes the use and safeguards of technology at the workplace, what does it say about you if you’re still using it? For me, it was difficult to close my Yahoo account because it was tied to many professional Yahoo Groups such as my alma mater’s outreach to instructional design alumni and the Electronic Village Online virtual moderating group of educators for training.  I also closed my Tumblr account because Yahoo owns it.  To protect our online data, we must take precautions and desist from using potentially dangerous technology even as seemingly mundane as a free email account.

Social media networks such as Facebook are definitely more difficult to stop using when they place user’s data at risk because of the connections we built with friends, family, and organizations. Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, to access the data of 50 million users without their permission (TechCrunch, March 2018).  Of particular rancor, besides the possible effect on the 2016 US election, is that Cambridge Analytica was able to access your friends’ and family’s data. This means your use of Facebook could put other people’s data at risk and vice versa! Grandma may be having a great time on Facebook connecting with everyone, but has she configured her settings to safeguard her data?  This year, 50 million Facebook accounts were also hacked  (CNN Business, October 2018).

Facebook is unsafe because of their misuse of our data for financial gain and system vulnerabilities to hackers. Furthermore, they can do better! We should expect more from tech giants especially for platforms that we want grandma to use. I closed my Facebook account in May after downloading all my photos and letting my connections know other ways to reach out to me. Facebook also owns Instagram, so I closed it, too.  No, I don’t plan on going back. Instead, I’m connecting via other means. It has been extremely difficult to not be connected on FB with my friends and family. On the bright side, I’ve noticed I have real conversations with family regarding milestones because, otherwise, I’m out of the loop.

“Facebook can feel relatively benign and passive. It’s a tool we use to procure information, camaraderie or great products. We forget, all too often, that it is a business, with interests and purposes of its own. We forget that it can leverage our information for profit. Its power over our lives is largely hidden under a veneer of passivity and algorithmic detachment (The Washington Post, March 2018). Technology is only useful if it’s consistently helpful, and its misuses are minimalized through rigorous safeguards.

Join me at AECT in Kansas City, MO!

Photo of Sandra Annette Rogers
Say hello if you see me.

The Association for Educational Communications & Technology (AECT) is, in my humble opinion, the premier association for instructional designers. My professors in my doctoral studies had been promoting this professional organization and their educational technology standards to their students. I finally attended the AECT conference last year and was blown away by the professional level of everyone I met and how cordial they were to newcomers. This year, their 2018 conference will be held in Kansas City, MO from October 23-27 at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. I’ll be there, so let me know if you plan to attend. For AECT members, I placed my slides and research paper on the new conference online portal.

This time around, I’ll be presenting on my latest research and giving a workshop on the Online Community of Inquiry Syllabus Rubric that  I co-developed with Dr. Van Haneghan. It serves as a great collaboration tool to provide feedback to instructors and for syllabi content analysis for action research. Here’s my schedule:

Wed, Oct 24, 9:00am to 12:00pm, Marriott, Room-Bennie Morten B

Use of Online Community of Inquiry Syllabus Rubric for Course Developers and Collaborators, Drs. Rogers & Khalsa

Workshop – Registration Required
The syllabus serves as an action plan, which can be used as a resource for collaboration with instructional designers. In this session, participants will discuss how the Online Community of Inquiry Syllabus Rubric© (Rogers & Van Haneghan, 2016) can be used to pinpoint course development discussions on cognitive, social, and teaching presence for distance education instructors. Research and development of the rubric, a worked sample, commonly shared feedback, and rubric rater training will be provided.


Division of Distance Learning

Thu, Oct 25, 9:40 to 10:05am, Marriott, Room-Julia Lee A

Rubric to Evaluate Online Course Syllabi Plans for Engendering a Community of Inquiry: Round II, Drs. Rogers & Khoury

We replicated a research study that analyzed online course syllabi with the Online Community of Inquiry (COI) Syllabus Rubric© (Rogers & Van Haneghan, 2016). The rubric consists of the following elements: instructional design for cognitive presence, technology tools for COI, COI loop for social presence, support for learner characteristics, and instruction and feedback for teaching presence. We reviewed 31 syllabi across disciplines and found above average cognitive presence, average social presence, and basic teaching presence.

#AECT2018 #elearning #communityof inquiry #edtech

Blackboard Test Generator Converts MS Word Formatted Tests into LMS Quizzes

The Blackboard (Bb) Test Generator converts your electronic file tests (i.e., MS Word or Text) into the learning management system (LMS) test questions. Bb Test Generator is an open educational resource. This will save time from building a test online one question at a time IF you already have it prepared. The College of Southern Idaho provides a Bb test generator website where you can copy-and-paste your test to the Bb test generator to convert it into a zip file that can be uploaded into Schoology. The directions on their Website are fairly straightforward. After you convert the text, you’ll obtain a bbquiz zip file.

For Schoology LMS, follow these steps after you log into your  course to upload the test:

  1. Create a blank test in Schoology.
  2. Then select Add Question.
  3. From the drop-down menu, select Import Test/Quiz.

  1. Select Blackboard 7.1-9.0 button for import type from the pop-up window. Select next and locate your bbquiz zip file for import from your computer.

5. Then provide the appropriate test settings within Schoology.

  1. Save!

Note. In Schoology, the default points awarded for test questions is 1. To change them all to something else without having to manually do this one-by-one for long tests, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Options tab within the Quiz Questions view, and save your test to the Schoology Question Bank. Make a new Question Bank if you don’t have one already. Save Question Bank to your personal Resources (Home) on Schoology.

Schoology Test creation options include a drop-down menu for Add Questions to Bank

  1. Then delete your quiz after you’ve saved it to the Schoology Question Bank. Yes, start all over!
  2. Create a new test (Add Quiz), and use questions from your test bank.

  3. Select From Question Banks from the drop-down menu to Add Questions.

Quiz creation tool includes a tab to Add Questions with a option in the drop-down menu for From Question Bank5. Open the Question Bank in your Resources to add Set Points BEFORE you copy it over. This is the only material you can actually edit within your personal resources in Schoology.

In your personal resources, within your saved Question Bank, you can set points for all test items by typing in the value

 

My Schoology Gradebook Training Notes

Schoology Gradebook tool to copy settings to new courses resides in Grade Setup view

For the past two years, our College has used Schoology‘s Enterprise version as our learning management system (LMS). We’re very pleased with it as administrators and have received positive feedback from faculty and students on its functionality. During this time, I’ve developed supporting documentation and videos for in-house training purposes. This post focuses on Schoology’s Gradebook. These are my training notes for this tool. Granted, Schoology provides their own Support Center with very good information supported by interactive screen captures (gifs) to illustrate directions. My notes provide specific tasks and tool features for an overview based on frequently asked questions in my role as the LMS support on campus.

Workshop Agenda for Schoology Gradebook Review  (9/19/18) 

  1. GRADING CRITERIA: Use Grade Setup for weighted categories after you add categories to the Otherwise, all categories are set to 100% by default! Select the checkbox titled Weight Categories. It’s invisible until you add a category to your Gradebook. Make sure the grading criteria and naming convention used in your syllabus match that of your course grading categories.
  2. GRADEBOOK COLUMNS: Add a Grade column manually to Gradebook for items that are not assigned in Schoology (e.g., participation). Select the plus sign (+) in Gradebook view. Afterward, add grades manually by hovering over the grade slot or import from Excel sheet by selecting the vertical 3-dot icon near the plus sign in Gradebook and selecting Import from the drop-down menu.
  3. IMPORT/EXPORT GRADES: Import/Export grades to/from Gradebook by selecting the vertical 3-dot image in Gradebook view. Then select Import or Export from the drop-down menu. For imports, make sure the Excel columns are named as you would like to display them in Gradebook.
  4. REUSING GRADEBOOK SETTINGS IN OTHER COURSES: Use the Copy Settings tab of Gradebook in Grade Setup before copying course content into a blank shell to lay the operational foundations. Copy the original course by selecting the Options tab near Materials. Select Save course to Resources and then pull it into your new course after you copy the Gradebook’s settings.
  5. ACCESS ALL YOUR CURRENT GRADEBOOKS: Grade multiple courses from Gradebook view. Select the notebook icon in the upper right-hand corner and then select which course’s Gradebook you want to view next.
  6. BULK EDIT GRADEBOOK: To view the settings of all assignments, discussions, and tests at once, go to the vertical 3-dot icon in Gradebook view, and select Bulk Edit to see the name, category, points, factor, rubric, due date, and period.
  7. ACCESS USER ANALYTICS: Select Analytics to see User Statistics. Select a username to see stats per item.
  8. EXPAND GRADEBOOK VIEW: Toggle the Gradebook to full screen with the bidirectional arrow icon in Gradebook. This will help you see all the items in Gradebook instead of scrolling over.
  9. ACCOMMODATIONS: For accommodations for students with certified disabilities, copy test or assignment and assign to an individual when you create it. Within Assignment creation (or edit mode), select the three-dot pyramid icon for Individually Assign. WARNING: Do not re-assign original test from class to individual or your class test grades will disappear. (If this happens, re-assign test to regular class and the grades should reappear.)
  10. RUBRICS/SCALES: You can create Rubrics with criteria and/or Scales for grading such as P/F with ranges (F = 0-60 & P = 61-100). You can reuse rubrics/scales in other courses by saving them to your personal Resources.
  11. ALIGN LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Your school’s LMS administrator can add your departmental student learning outcomes from an Excel sheet to the Schoology system for use in course assignments. After they’ve been added to the system, when you create an assignment (or in edit view), select the bull’s eye target icon for Align Learning Objectives. Then select the Custom Learning Objectives to find your departmental ones under the School heading.
  12. DROP LOWEST GRADE: Follow this pathway to drop the lowest grade: Go to Gradebook>Grade Set Up>Add button beside Categories>Type the Category for your Quiz and then type in # in the section for Drop Lowest Grade>Click Create. To avoid grade inflation early on, don’t turn this on until later in the semester.
  13. EXTRA CREDIT: To give extra credit in Schoology without penalizing those who didn’t do the extra work, create a new assignment worth 0 maximum points within one of your existing Grading Categories, and then assign the number of extra credit points to each student who completes the item accordingly. (Note: You must already have something else graded in that category for this to work).

Do you use Schoology? Let me know if you found this information helpful! View my Advanced Schoology Gradebook video tutorial for a virtual tour of its features.

Hashtags: #LMS #Schoology #Gradebook #training #tutorial

Dear First Generation College Student,

Dr. Rogers shows participants the various learning activities provided in StudyMate program

Dear First Generation College Student,

Decades ago, I was you. Specifically, I was first-generation low-income (#FLI). Now, I have a doctorate and teach and train others. As an undergraduate, this was not my goal, as I simply pursued a single college degree and a good job. Math, science, and writing were difficult topics for me due to poor reading skills and lack of academic vocabulary. Why? Several variables lead to poor reading and vocabulary, some of which may apply to you. They are as follows with my insight as a former FLI college student and developmental reading instruction specialist:

  • Lack of prior practice reading (e.g., no library visits or books around the house due to lack of funds, free time, or low priority/value);
  • Lack of K-12 homework help (e.g., no available time with a parent, parent unable to tackle homework or no funds for tutors);
  • No direct instruction of reading skills and strategies in secondary school (i.e., generally secondary schools focus solely on writing skills in English class); and
  • Peer or family pressure for the practical status quo.

Lacking academic vocabulary is a snowball effect because, with each scholastic year, more vocabulary is taught or otherwise required of you. Don’t fret, with a lot of effort and a growth mindset, you can decrease the gap between you and your high-achieving peers. Tackle your reading assignments early by previewing (skimming and scanning) and looking up unknown words. Keep a log of useful words to reuse in your writing assignments. Use software applications such as electronic flashcards and Grammarly.

Here are some reading comprehension strategies & study aids:

  • Use this online form to review, summarize, study, and think about your reading assignment: Student Guides & Strategies
  • SQ4R: Interact with the text by following the SQ4R strategies: survey, question, read, respond, record, and review. This originated from Robinson’s (1970) SQ3R study method of survey, question, read, recite, review.
  • Cornell Note-Taking was developed by Walter Paulk at Cornell University in the 1940s and is still used today. Download Cornell’s PDF to use.
  • Learn how to read a scientific article with this guide: Study Guides & Strategies.

This presentation provides some metacognitive strategies to improve your reading skills for college: (Cook, 1989)

For more information on metacognitive strategies, and to access a student learning organizer, visit my college’s LibGuide on Learning Strategies.

References

Cook, D. M. (1989). Meta-cognitive behaviours of good and poor readers: Strategic learning in the content areas. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.  

Robinson, F. P. (1970). Effective Study (4th Edition). New York, NY: Harper & Row.

An observer’s notes on the Socratic method in action

Scorates talking to a man who is eagerly listening at his side.
Image source: Wikimedia
Here are my notes from the dialectic dialogue of the Socratic Seminar: An International Forum on Socratic Teaching held at the Association of Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) conference in Jacksonville, Florida in 2017.  I attended to learn more about the #Socratic method in general but also to learn how to apply it to the academic task of advising doctoral students’ dissertation writing. This is what occurred in a simulated environment with a doctoral student, her advisor, and a panel of experts. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen offered at a conference—and far few people saw it, as the panel outnumbered the attendees.  I took notes for future reference and also to share with the student who was the target for this activity.
 
Introduction by Adviser, Dr. Abbas Johari: “This is a respectful dialogue between master and student….An example would be guided questions for the learner…Panelists should not make a statement but bring her to an understanding of a concept via questioning.”
Topic of Dissertation:  The student, Cheng Miaoting, gave a brief overview of her dissertation titled,  Technology Acceptance of LMS in Postsecondary Schools in Hong Kong.
MethodologyStudent used survey and interview methods to address several variables (e.g., SES, environment, context) based on the technology acceptance model (TAM 3).
Panels’ Questions: Each expert asked the student a question while she listened. I was not always able to attribute who said what as I feverishly took notes. Please understand the missing attributions.  See link below for panelists’ names.
  1. What is the problem? Tech or culture?
  2. What are you expecting to find? Recommendation for action? The assumption is __________.
  3. What are the assumptions underlying acceptance? Why is this good? Response to facilitate learning?
  4. Which theory will you use and why?
  5. Which variables affect learning?
Dr. Michael Thomas’ statement: “Tool has no agenda as in gun law. Is it possible to argue if a bad thing?” He recommended seeing Technological Sublime (aka Machine Messiah).
Dr. Amy Bradshaw’s statement: “What is modernity with Chinese characteristics?” Deficit ideology where X fixes them, whereas X is tech, mainland Chinese are needing a fix and solution is technology.
Adviser’s Guidance to Student: He told his student to address the master’s guidance by asking following questions or to paraphrase what she had learned. She had a question about the term ‘factors’ in research.
Panel Questions continued:
6. What type of psychological adaptation will you use? Acculturation Framework? Cat mentioned Hofstede’s but panel discouraged it based on its hostility and stereotypical frame.
7. Fundamentally, what is the burning question you want to answer? The human question—why you want to do it. Solve one problem at a time.
8. How do things change in society? Need theory on societal change.
9. Why are immigrants coming to HK?
10. What are schools doing to address this? (Here is where you addressed the practical significance or human question, which was the missing piece of training for technology.)
11. Have you looked at other countries tech adaption for immigrants?
Adviser called for Debrief: The student acknowledged the need to focus study and reflect. She will reach out to other researchers to negotiate understanding, as was done today. She will talk in practical terms and not just in research methodology.
Panel Debriefed with Suggestions: 
  • Free yourself, but 1-directional.
  • What is the one thing they do not want you to talk about? That is your research questions.
  • Focus on commonality and not just differences.
  • Find ways to hear immigrants to inform study.
  • Remember the humane as well as the human.
  • Have an open mind in research design—always question research design.
  • Look at the polarity of human existence. What is up/down? In/out? What is not there? What’s obvious? Hidden? Who implemented these types of change?
  • Listen to your adviser.
  • See work by Charles Reigeluth and Carl Rogers.

Here is a link to the #AECT conference abstract and list of panel members.