I attended the Creating Futures Through Technology at the beginning of March in Biloxi, Mississippi. This a local conference that is geared towards the use of technology in higher education in Mississippi. This year, I presented along with my colleague Dr. Cindy Handley on our use of ConnectYard at USM.
Archive for Distance Learning Tools
Engagement, Persistence, and Retention: How USM use ConnectYard to Successfully Enhance these Key Factors
A couple of weeks ago, I attended the 2012 Blackboard World Conference in New Orleans, LA. Blackboard World is always a huge conference with a lot of information. Like years past, there were a lot of useful sessions and time well spent collaborating and meeting new folks from other schools learning about their experiences and key take aways. There were several things I thought they could have done better, but the big negatives were the food and location. Considering we were in a city known for their great food, what they provided at the conference was a disappointment. And, although I love New Orleans, having to shuttle back and forth to the convention center from my hotel was a pain and the few times I had to walk the 2 miles to get to the other end of the convention center wasn’t pleasant, although admittedly the exercise was good for me Overall, though I’m glad I was able to attend.
On the first day of the conference, along with my colleagues Sheri Rawls and Cindy Handley, we presented with ConnectYard. We have been using ConnectYard for about a year to enhance the communication within our online courses. ConnectYard provides the ability to set up alternate communication channels within Blackboard so students and faculty can self-select how they would like to receive discussion postings and announcements from their courses. They can select channels such as Facebook, Twitter, cell phone text messaging, or e-mail. Feedback from our students and faculty has been overwhelmingly positive. They like the customization of the service and that it allows them to access their messages from anywhere on their mobile devices. We are currently pursuing other use cases for ConnectYard, such as for marketing and recruitment for our online programs and university wide communications among departments and online students. To view our presentation, see below.
My colleague, Sheri Rawls, and myself gave this presentation at the 2010 Creating Futures Through Technology Conference in March. We spoke about the e-learning initiative The University of Southern Mississippi has undertaken to increase student and faculty satisfaction in our online programs as well as improve enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. This is an ongoing project that will continue to improve our online programs. The project included 5 main workstreams: Faculty Development, Course Development, Change Management, Scheduling, and Financial Model. Through a partnership with Blackboard, we have been able to grow our online programs and ensure a satisfying experience for our online students.
To view our presentation, please click on the link below:
Recently, at the Creating Futures through Technology Conference in Biloxi, MS, me and my colleagues gave a presentation titled, “Does Second Life Belong in Higher Education?”
As novice users ourselves, we wanted to evaluate what we felt are the pros and cons of using Second Life in education. Our hope was give our audience some things to think about when trying to decide whether to incorporate this as an educational tool.
We presented arguments for and against using Second Life in higher education classrooms. We discussed how current institutions are integrating Second Life into instruction, including the hybrid mashup of Second Life and Moodle called Sloodle. We also showed the audience an example of an educational community within Second Life as well as educational resources that are available for the use of Second Life. The slides from our presentation are below.
In this presentation we discussed the implementation of Wimba Classroom at The University Southern Mississippi. Southern Miss implemented the virtual classroom in phases, choosing to do a pilot before full implementation. We discussed the lessons we learned throughout the implementation process. We also included a discussion on the policy and procedures that were developed to effectively deal with any issues.
As illustrated in the presentation slides we are using Wimba Classroom in different ways out our institution, including academic and non-academic uses. We developed a set of best practices to assist instructors as they are preparing to incorporate a virtual classroom into their course which are also discussed. As a result of what was learned during the pilot and implementation, we also found that the training we offered needed to evolve in different ways to be of the greatest benefit to our institution. To learn more about what we discussed, view the slides from our presentation below…
The University of Southern Mississippi (Southern Miss) chose to implement a virtual classroom due to the increase of fully online courses being offered and the need to accommodate different types of courses through an online medium. Many of the departments that were asked to put courses fully online were concerned about the lack of interaction and student engagement tools available. Southern Miss decided to investigate the feasibility of adding a tool to our current Learning Management System, Blackboard, that would increase opportunities for student-to-instructor and student-to-student interaction. After auditioning applications from several different companies, Southern Miss decided that Wimba Classroom was the best fit for the goals and objectives it had set out to achieve.
Southern Miss began implementation of Wimba Classroom in spring 2007 with a pilot group of 15 faculty across multiple disciplines. The University entered full implementation in summer 2007.
To evaluate the implementation of Wimba Classroom, instructor and student perspectives, and the impact on student engagement and learning outcomes, two survey instruments were developed. A survey instrument was created to administer to instructors and a separate survey instrument was created to administer to students. The survey instruments were sent to the instructors who used Wimba Classroom for their courses. The instructors were asked to distribute the student survey to the students in their course. The surveys were collected and the data was analyzed.
Results to be discussed in the session include items such as: (1) all the instructors and more than half of the students had used collaboration software prior to using Wimba Classroom, (2) students reported that they found learning to use Wimba Classroom easier than did their instructors, and (3) instructors reported using application sharing more than twice as much as their students.
We are currently revising the instruments and preparing to administer the questionnaires to multiple institutions, which use Wimba classroom. Data collected will be compared to see if findings are consistent across multiple institutions and provide further evidence for the generalizability of these findings. The data collected in the evaluation of the pilot are outlined in the following presentation.
I am working on forming a Mississippi Wimba User’s Group. Wimba has become a product that is widely used across our state and I wanted to create a way for us to collaborate and share our experiences. I’m not sure if any other states have done this, but if there is another Wimba User’s Group out there, I would be interested in hearing from you. Since we are just starting up, it would help to hear what others are doing. One of the great things about working at an educational institution is being able to collaborate and learn from what other institutions are doing.
I found a new Web 2.0 tool that is pretty cool. It is a free virtual classroom called WizIQ. You must create an account to be able to use the virtual classroom, but it is free. You can create meeting times and invite other members to attend. It allows you hold live meetings with audio and video. It also has a text chat area. It allows you upload content that will show up in the content area for everyone in the room to see. It has a great eBoard toolbar with all kinds of visual tools to use to make annotations on top of your content (very impressed by the amount of options on the toolbar). It has a tabbed content interface to allow you to have multiple content open at the same time. It has a large set of math symbols to use as well. When I tested it with a colleague the audio and video worked very well.
The meetings are archived, but I couldn’t figure out how long the archives would be available for me to view. There are some other things that would be nice to have, such as application sharing, breakout rooms, and a call-in phone number for users that might not have a microphone. With that said, for a free application, this is a very nice. There is a premium membership that you can pay $49.95/year for additional features.