All posts by Michael

2 Great Online Presentation Tools for eLearning

If you want to present a lecture without too many words, then your best bet is to prepare a presentation and let your slides talk for themselves. This makes presentations a convenient tool for teaching online courses. There are quite a few Web 2.0 presentation creation tools available, but the best free options to consider are Prezi and SlideShare.

Click through to read more about each technology!

via EmergingEdTech

Prezi is a web-based presentation tool that allows you to build presentations that visually map, zoom in, and display relationships (rather than a static slide show). Prezi has been vetted by eLi and the AECs, and is listed on our Free Tech Tools tab at the top of the page.

SlideShare is a free online repository of slide-based presentations. Users can view presentations that other users have uploaded, or upload their own. You can also obtain codes to embed presentations within your Blackboard sites. In Blackboard 9.1, there is a tool that will allow you to easily add SlideShare presentations to your course sites, without having to use embed codes.

Are online courses more effective?

The Department of Education’s analysis pointed to blended learning–a combination of online and in-class instruction–as the most effective teaching method, which has since been echoed by the findings of Marc Loudon, a professor of medicinal chemistry at Purdue University, who once doubted the effectiveness of online coursework. Loudon examined the performance of 226 organic chemistry students in fall 2009. Those that engaged in online homework on top of their class lectures and textbook homework had a full-grade higher average than their peers who studied without the aid of the online tool.

Loudon, who authored the textbook but had no hand in the creation of the online material, checked to see if the students who did the extra work online were more driven, or perhaps better students overall, but found no correlation between their organic chemistry grades and those they’d previously received in general chemistry. “Students are highly engaged when they work online because they get instant feedback,” he says. “The degree of benefit surprised me–I hate to admit it. The study convinced me of something that I didn’t believe would happen.”

via U.S. News & World Report

Student Opinions Mellow on Social Media Blackout

Harrisburg University of Science and Technology made headlines in September when it announced that it would block the use of social media on the campus network for five days.

Three months after the experiment, a post-mortem by the university says that many students and professors who initially disapproved of being forced to unplug for a week seemed to moderate their opinions once their connections had been restored. Furthermore, according to surveys and focus groups conducted by the university, many students said that during the so-called blackout they found lectures more interesting, enjoyed greater health and concentration, and devoted more time to their homework.

One student told the university’s provost, Eric D. Darr, “that he had to actually talk to his professor during the blackout,” the report notes.

It’s amazing how connected we are at this point. Cell phones, iPods, laptops, netbooks, tablets, always on and always connected to something. But is this a blessing, or a curse (or both!)? What do you think? Would you put your students on a social media blackout if you could?

via The Chronicle of Higher Education

Children and Technology

Here’s a great little video of young French students playing with older technologies, and trying to guess what they are. We had a good laugh over what these children thought of things like floppy disks and a GameBoy. It’s interesting how younger folks can take technology for granted because they’re just not aware of what came before it.

This video is Rated O, which means it may make some viewers feel older. Viewer discretion is advised!

Welcome Back

Things have been hectic around Tri-C as we all prepare for the new semester. Students have been waiting in line to register for classes and buy books, while faculty have been preparing materials and furiously building online courses. Here at the Office of eLearning & Innovation, we’ve been working to provide outstanding faculty and student support for Blackboard. We’ve also been working on some fantastic new things for the coming year, which will culminate in our transition to Blackboard 9.1 over the next two semesters (keep checking the blog for more details!).

While we were on holiday break, I came across an article about teachers in Madison, Wisconsin. It was essentially about how some educators were using technology in meaningful ways to improve the learning experiences of their students. But there was one passage that stood out to me:

I have a student who misses a lot of school. But I’m aware of her presence online at night, keeping up with the class, and doing her work. In the past, this is the kind of student who would just fall behind, and be at a real risk for failure.

via The Cap Times

This quote came from an Algebra II teacher, who uses an online course to help teach her class. It’s amazing, isn’t it? This one student went from drop-out risk to active participant, purely because she had the ability to access the course from any place with a Wi-Fi connection.

eLearning courses are having a dramatic impact on education, and have made courses available to students who may not be able to regularly come to a campus and meet in a face-to-face classroom. Students with jobs, with families, with responsibilities, or with a simple preference to work at their own pace, are now all being served by Web-Based and Hybrid courses.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing more success stories, statistics, infographics, videos, App reviews, and some other great content that will be new to the blog this year. But for now, as the first day of the semester begins, I’d like to simply wish you luck. May the bookstore have all your books, may your syllabi be error-free, may your room assignments be correct, and may your first day (online or face-to-face) go beautifully.


Holiday Wishes

From everyone here at eLearning & Innovation, we’d like to wish you and yours a happy holiday season! The blog will be going into hibernation until next year. Check back then for some exciting new features including:

  • More regular postings
  • More free technologies
  • Stories of how some Tri-C faculty are using campus technology
  • iOS and Android app reviews
  • And even more cool things!

See you in 2011!

eLi Announces the eLearning Service Request System!

The Office of eLearning and Innovation is proud to announce the launch of the eLearning Service Request System (eLi SRS)! The eLi SRS is a new way for you to request services and support from the Office of eLearning and Innovation, including:

  • Assistance designing and building eLearning courses
  • Requests for training or assistance implementing a technology
  • Access to eLearning technology, such as license key requests or log-on information

Check out a preview at:

Open enrollment, online schools alter education landscape

With the exploding popularity of distance education, it’s become more important than ever to remember that not all students are created equally. Some prefer fully online courses, while other prefer a blend of the two. Still others prefer only on-ground courses. Online education is available for all, and we as educators have the unique challenge of determining how to best-meet the needs of our students.

The Cap Times

October 21, 2010

By contrast, Middleton’s new eSchool, run through the school district with district employees, has been designed from the beginning to be integrated into the rest of Middleton’s public schools rather than operating outside of the district. In this inaugural year, besides the 37 full-time online students, there are also 49 regular Middleton High students who are taking one or two courses electronically.

“Our goal in putting this school together was primarily to serve our own students who were interested for a variety of reasons in taking their classes online,” says Sherri Cyra, Middleton’s director of teaching and learning. “We learned we weren’t providing the kind of education some of our families needed, and we didn’t want to lose them.”

The school offers a customized online curriculum, purchased through several content providers and developed by the Middleton district to reflect student interests and needs. Classes include such subjects as advanced placement art history, advanced game design and marine biology. Students may also participate in some of the non-academic experiences of a bricks and mortar school, including art and music classes at the middle school, or extra-curricular activities like theater or band.

Teachers from the Middleton district are involved in teaching some of the online classes, and, in fact, have developed some of the courses. Next semester, a Middleton teacher and some of her students will explore an extreme version of long-distance online learning: From Australia, she will be teaching a computer programming course that she designed.

For eighth-grader James, online learning has been a blessing. On several recent mornings, he has turned his family’s suburban kitchen into a science lab. Using common household supplies like molasses and cooking oil, he’s doing experiments that teach lessons about density, properties of materials and specific gravity.

“This is the first time he has really enjoyed science,” notes his mother, Chan Strohman.

A shy student who found it hard to speak up in class when he went to a conventional bricks-and-mortar school with other kids, James likes his online academic classes, including math, reading, social studies, language arts and science, all organized around his home computer. His virtual lessons are supplemented with textbooks and workbooks as well as the glass beakers and other tools that allow him to do the kitchen-based science experiments he loves. But the biggest bonus, he says, is being able to enjoy art and music in a noncompetitive atmosphere with kids his age.

Full article available at