Time-saving Tips for Teaching Online Part 1

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Commonly Used Software to Save Time

Teaching online courses is very time-consuming, especially if you have to build the course yourself.  Here are a  few tips to save time on various tasks. They include free or otherwise open education resources (OER) and premium software.

Assignments

Microsoft Word (premium software). Most educators know that MS Word provides the ability to give feedback on student papers through the Track Changes feature within its Review tool. However, most don’t realize that it also provides a way to automate common feedback through the AutoText tool.  To create your own automated personalized feedback, type word or abbreviation for common error and the corresponding corrective feedback and writing guidelines (i.e., APA or MLA) in a table. Then follow these steps:

  1. Highlight the text description.
  2. Select the Insert tab from the toolbar.
  3. Select Quick Parts in the Text section of the MS Office ribbon above.
  4. Then save the selection to Quick Part Gallery in Normal.dotm.
  5. Update name and description in the Gallery. If you make a mistake, edit the description provided by retracing your steps; it will ask if you want to redefine the Building Block entry when it detects similar content.

If the aforementioned directions don’t work for your version of Word, see their website. Not only will this save time grading, but it will help with consistency in feedback. I recommend providing the page number to the writing guidelines along with good examples as in Table 1. The more specific the better.

Table 1

Common Error with Corrective Feedback

doi Search for digital object identifiers (doi) at this site: www.crossref.org/simpletextquery. If you don’t find one for the article, provide the URL to its online location with the reference. See APA p. 49 for examples of references.

Google Classroom (free software). Google Docs also provides the option for corrective feedback on student writing. In this situation, you’ll need to be given access to the document and work within Google Drive or Google Classroom to use the tool. However, you’ll need to use Google Classroom to be able to save and reuse comments in their Comment Bank.

Content

Google Suite (free software). Google Suite of desktop publishing tools includes the following: Docs, Drawings, Slides, and Sheets. Because it’s cloud-based, after posting a link (or embedding them) in your online course or website, you can make updates from your Google Drive. This saves time when you encounter an error or need to make an update each term. You no longer need to remove it and upload a revised one as with MS Word or PDFs, which are static and based on your desktop.

Mobile Apps

To save time, install the mobile app for your learning management system (LMS) to readily access it on the go. This is helpful when you need to check something in the course that a student brings to your attention while you’re away from your computer. It’s also useful to see how responsive your course design is on a Mobile device. Consider other mobile apps for commonly used ed tech tools for the online environment (e.g., Zoom for video conferencing, Google Drive for collaboration and storage, MS Word for publishing).

Quizzes

Respondus 4.0 (premium software)This is a Windows application that helps you upload your paper-based tests or surveys or that of your textbook publisher’s test bank to your online courses directly.  This will save you from having to create test questions one-by-one in the LMS if you already have it prepared. There’s only a little advance formatting of your paper-based test for it to be rendered by Respondus. See their website for tutorials.  Ask your instructional technologist to see if it’s available at your school. [Note: Respondus also makes test integrity software which is something altogether different.]

Blackboard Test Generator (OER). This software converts your electronic file tests (i.e., MS Word or Text) into LMS test questions. It’s hosted on this website where you copy-and-paste your test to convert it into a bbquiz zip file that can then be uploaded into your LMS when you create a new quiz. The directions on this website are fairly straightforward. After you convert the text, you’ll obtain a bbquiz zip file. This works much the same as Respondus. The limitation of this free software is that it doesn’t convert images; you’d need to add those afterward within the LMS. For a more robust conversion, see Respondus 4.0 above.


What are your time-saving tips? Please share those in the comment section! I’ll be updating this as I remember short-cuts in building and running online courses. Part II will cover some non-software tips such as Ctrl+Z to undo mistakes on the web or LMS platform when there’s no undo button.


Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

Teacherrogers Products
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

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 multiple choice or T/F 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


Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

Teacherrogers Products
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

Getty Images Available for NonCommercial Blogs!

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Thank you, Getty, for allowing bloggers to use your images.  We know that blogs with images get more traction on the Web. And of course, images convey meaning, mood, and are a reflection of our taste.  Now I don’t have to scan the web for copyright free  images each time I post a new blog.

I found the photo above on GettyImages.com in search for gaming. There were 15K results.  It was an easy copy and paste task to embed in WordPress. Thank goodness because sometimes widgets and other embed codes don’t work in WordPress. The embed code includes the photo source, which makes it a win-win situation for all concerned.

Now I can find exciting images to replace the same game consul icon I’ve been using for my gaming blog posts.  I know many educators with blogs that will be very happy with this news.  The release of Getty Images has inspired me to add another category to my blog: open education resources.  This is known as OER.  More to come on that topic later.

 

Your blogger,

Sandra Rogers