Monday, February 16, 2015

Instructional Technology and Snow Days

Have your courses been impacted by the snow days? Are you looking for a way to continue student learning even when classes are cancelled due to weather? 
A picture of North Shore Community College Danvers Campus covered in snow in February, 2015

Instructional Technology and Design has created a list of a few instructional technology tools that can be used to extend the teaching and learning environment outside the classroom walls to support your students’ engagement with the course content and facilitate your communication with them. Please contact if you need any additional information or support to implement these in your courses.

ANGEL: A great instructional technology tool that can aid you in maintaining the continuity of your course. All face-to-face courses automatically have an ANGEL shell that provides faculty with a “private classroom” area for you and your students. In ANGEL, faculty can post announcements about the status of class with instructions on how to proceed through related learning activities; upload various types of content such as assignments, readings, lecture notes, or PowerPoint slides; link to related online resources such as YouTube videos or web sites; set up drop boxes where students can submit homework; and facilitate discussions for students to engage with the course materials.

Video Anywhere: A feature within ANGEL that allows faculty (and students) to easily record video anywhere in ANGEL (for example, Announcements, Pages, Discussion Forums, Drop Boxes, etc.) using their webcam, upload it to YouTube, and embed that video, as well as any other videos already uploaded to YouTube, directly into any of the content editor text boxes present within ANGEL.

Screencast-o-matic: An easy to use screen capture software program that allows you to record anything on your computer screen (PowerPoint presentation, software program, etc) along with your voice. Screencast-o-matic can be used to create pre-recorded mini-lectures. Video files can be stored in ANGEL, on YouTube, or Google Drive. NSCC has a ProPage subscription so please contact ITD for information about pro access.

Adobe Connect: A web-conferencing tool that can be used to facilitate interactive online course activities such as live lectures, review sessions, and online office hours. Adobe Connect supports audio, video, slide presentations, document sharing, screen sharing, whiteboard activities, chat and polling. Adobe Connect sessions can be recorded for later viewing by students who are unable to attend the live session. NSCC has several licenses for Adobe Connect so please contact ITD for more information.

TodaysMeet: A backchannel online chat tool that allows you to extend the conversation beyond the classroom and have real-time discussions.

Audacity: A free audio-recording program that can be used to create MP3 audio recordings. Audacity is simple to use and can be used to create pre-recorded mini-lectures. Audio files can be stored in ANGEL, on YouTube, or Google Drive.

Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets: Web-based collaborative tools (documents, presentations, or spreadsheets) that can be used by students to easily work together on a project. Available through our NSCC Gmail account under Apps.

Google Hangouts: A web-based conferencing tool that can be used to facilitate small group conversations or collaborations. A Google Hangout supports audio and video conversations, text chat, and YouTube video, screen, and Google Docs sharing. Available through our NSCC Gmail account under Apps (Google+).

YouTube: A repository of videos of all sorts with ample educational content on nearly any subject. Instructors can create videos to post here or create playlist of lectures and instructional content already available on YouTube. To share or watch a video, no account is necessary. To create a playlist or upload a video, an account is necessary. Available through our NSCC Gmail account under Apps (YouTube).

Films-On-Demand: A library database of instructional and documentary videos accessible to students and faculty through the NSCC Library. Faculty can share links to specific videos or create specialized playlists that chunk together segments from different videos. An activated library account is needed.

What other instructional technologies have you used to extend the teaching and learning environment and to keep your classes moving forward even with snow day cancellations?

When one of my evening classes was cancelled due to snow, here is how I used various instructional technologies to keep the students on track and not miss a beat.

1. I sent an email to all my students providing them information on the activities we would be completing instead of class and directed them to the learning management system for more detailed information.

2. In the learning management system, I posted an announcement with detailed directions on the learning activities that the students needed to complete during the week to make up for the cancelled class.

3. I used Screencast-o-matic to record several mini-presentations demonstrating the key tasks and concepts covered in the chapter (we were just getting started with Excel) and walking them through the steps of the project that they needed to complete. These videos were posted up in the learning management system for students to view.

4. In the learning management system, I posted directions for a project that the students needed to work on and then submit through the assignment drop box feature of the  learning management system.

5. I also held a discussion forum in the learning management system where students posted their thoughts on and discussed with each other the benefits of using Excel, the ways it could be used personally and professionally, and the types of decisions that need to be made when creating workbooks and charts.

What specific strategies have you employed to keep the learning process going when classes are cancelled due to snow?