USM still has several spots available for valuable free workshops and webinars from the Sloan Consortium. For a complete list of offerings, please check out the Sloan-C workshop web site at http://sloanconsortium.org/workshops/2013schedule. If a workshop is of interest to you, please contact Robin Russell at email@example.com.
Some of the new workshops for April and May are:
04/12 – 04/19
Powerpointless: Building More Effective Presentations without PowerPoint
PowerPoint had a revolutionary impact on presentations, but this tool is essentially one-way and does not easily invite continuing engagement, interaction and collective community building. Web-based presentation / publication alternatives exist that leverage the 2.0 potential to engage learners, build communities, provide full discussion and continuing dialog. In this workshop, you will examine a number of these alternatives and learn how to use them for your own online courses.
04/19 – 04/26
New To Online: Converting Your Course
Converting face-to-face classroom materials for use in online course can be challenging. This workshop will help you develop the knowledge and skills, including the ability to use different free online conversion services, necessary to easily convert different types of content into web-appropriate formats.
Easy Course Enhancements to Improve Access
This is a 4 hour synchronous event that will take place on Wednesday, April 24th, from 12:00pm – 4:00pm ET. Supporting documents for this workshop are located in our MOODLE LMS and will be available for you to access beginning on April 24th.
How accessible is your online course? What steps can you take to make it more accessible? In this half-day synchronous workshop, you will work with others to explore and answer these and other questions of accessibility and then develop an actionable plan for improving the accessibility of your online course.
05/03 – 05/10
New To Online: The Essentials
An essential component of successful online teaching is experiencing online learning for yourself. Gain important online learning experience as you explore critical differences between teaching online and face-to-face, including faculty and student expectations, role adjustments, and course design. Your explorations will include research-based readings and discussions with other new online teachers. This exploration will culminate in a quiz that will help you focus your future online teaching skills and knowledge explorations.
CTEL would like to extend a hearty congratulations to Paul Dexter, Coordinator for Learning Assistance Services at the Learning Commons, for being honored as the Sloan-C Featured Certificate Program Graduate for January 2013.
Paul started the Sloan-C Certificate Program last January, and according to the his interview with Sloan-C, he described the value of his experience with the Sloan-C Institute as ‘INCREDIBLY useful’. Paul joins a growing rank of USM faculty who participate and complete the Sloan-C Certificate Program. Congratulations, Paul!
To learn more about the Sloan-C Certificate Program, please refer to the Sloan-C Online Teaching Certificate site.
CTEL continues to offer a wide variety of workshops free to faculty and staff through Sloan-C.
Of special interest this semester is the Sloan-C Accessibility Webinar Series 2013: Student & Faculty Success in Online Education. There are three remaining webinar offerings:
February, 12-Student & Alumni Panel: What Students with Disabilities Want Faculty & Administrators to Know
March, 14-Faculty Panel: What Faculty with Disabilities Want Institutions to Know
April, 23-Accessibility Specialists: Understanding “Invisible” Disabilities & What this Means for Online Education
Please review these free offerings at the Sloan-CC Accessibility Series web site, http://sloanconsortium.org/institute/webinars/accessibility-series.
A full list of the Sloan-C general workshops are available at their web site, http://sloanconsortium.org/workshops/2013schedule. Listed below are a few titles and dates of upcoming workshops. Please contact Robin Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating in one or more workshops.
02/01-02/08 Effective Online Classrooms: Learner Diversity
02/01-02/08 Learning Environments: Mobile Apps
02/15-02/22 Successful Online Outcomes: ADA and Accommodation on the Web
02/15-02/22 New To Online: The Essentials
University College is once again offering “Teaching Online: A Short Course for New Online Faculty,” a completely online course, beginning Wednesday, February 6 and ending Tuesday, March 12.
There will be no “on-site” meetings. All of our work will be done online in a Blackboard site.
Our first goal is to provide a learning community for faculty who may be wondering how to get started on what may seem like a daunting task. Faculty will work with their own courses and have an opportunity to share their ideas with colleagues and get their feedback and support.
Through this structured experience, we hope to achieve our second goal: To give faculty a feel for what it’s like learning online. They will complete a short assignment for each of the course’s four modules. To complete the assignments they will access materials online, participate in discussion forums, and use some of the other Blackboard tools that they might expect students to use.
To enroll in this free course, contact Robin Russell at email@example.com (780-4077).
USM’s transition from BbCollaborate (Elluminate) to Adobe Connect as the web conferencing tool has gone extremely well. The tool has been used successfully by faculty who previously taught with Collaborate, as well as by faculty who have never used a web conferencing tool. As use of the tool increases, please be aware that CTEL has a resource site available with some commonly asked questions, tips and training videos. Please view http://usm.maine.edu/ctel/adobe-connect-0 to learn more!
by Dan Stasko
Associate Professor of Natural and Applied Sciences
Don’t attend in Spirit!
Meetings, Meetings, Meetings!! I am sure that everyone is super excited about hopping into the car, sitting in traffic (albeit Maine traffic isn’t that heinous), or fighting the weather (another story altogether), to rush onto campus for a 1-hour meeting. We have all experience ‘meeting days’ as well, where we hop from one conference room to another, sometimes across campuses to interact with our peers. And where do we squeeze in some intellectual growth, professional development, or just peer-to-peer hobnobbing? As we increasingly wear more hats while balancing our service to the university with our mission of student centered efforts and our own scholarly pursuits, why must we waste time sitting in our cars flitting between the three campuses or myriad of meeting spots?
Thankfully, we now have more options than ever for ‘attending’ a meeting in a way that isn’t necessarily corporeal. Fitting with the season, we can often be at a meeting in more ways than just in spirit. With a little planning we can be ghosts in the machine and haunt our colleagues in a disembodied fashion by the miracle of telepresence.
Telepresence is not a new concept for many of us. Utilizing the the polycom locations at each of the campuses is a viable option. The equipment and infrastructure is there and often available. The drawback is that you are locked to a few locations and there is a requirement for strong coordination within the meeting group to routinely arrange, setup, and connect the polycom locations.
Luckily for us, the ubiquity of wi-fi, webcam enabled hardware, digital projectors and free, mature technology & software makes it possible to be a virtual attendee very easily.
“The Ghost in the Machine”
Virtual attendance to a meeting requires a few tools. Like the title of this section references philosophical debates about the mind and the hardware upon which it is constrained, so too does effective telepresence require a connection between the hardware (how you connect) and users (the other meeting attendees). And like neurological underpinnings of the brain structure can influencing behavior and thought, sometimes this hardware can overcome effective meeting attendance. My goal in this little essay is to help minimize the influence of the ghost in the machine so that you can be a productive colleague in a remote situation.
Lets talk hardware!
What you need to succeed:
#1. A connection device
This is easy! Laptops, tablets, and even cell phones are now useful as tools to allow you to connect. I personally enjoy using an iPad in some situations, though I have ‘attended’ meetings via my cell phone or laptop. These devices have a webcam (optional but useful) and built in microphones and speakers.
#2. A connector
This is the software that you will use to host your presence. There are many versions of software out there but the most common software is Skype or the combo of iMessage & Facetime, both of which are convenient from iDevices like the iPad or iPhone. Besides those options, and maybe more simply, every USM faculty, staff and student has access to a suite of Google tools that includes Google chat and voice/video interactions built into there UMaine System account. There is NO EXCUSE for not being able to connect if you have a computer that has been purchased in the past 4 years. You just need to have activated your UMaine webmail interface (which causes no changes to your email client) which is easily done via http://mycampus.maine.edu or http://gmail.maine.edu (see: Migration Handout) and once you are able to utilize the web interface to the mail system, you can connect via the umaine.edu address we all have. (simple, browser based plug-in required). Using the pop-up button associate with each contact you can start a chat or ‘hangout’ for face-to-face virtual interactions. (see arrows in figure below)
#3 (optional) A headset or headphones
Having a headset will eliminate the most common problems associated with laptop/device based telepresence. This is the dreaded ECHO CHAMBER OF DEATH!! or at least the echo chamber of distraction. The software has come a long way to do noise cancellation and echo elimination, but it is far from perfect. The speakers in your laptop or device broadcast the distant meeting sounds and speaking and these feedback to your microphone in a lovely (read horrid) loop turning the conversation into a difficult echo loop. As the virtual attendee, judicious use of your mute button will also be helpful. By remaining on mute unless you have a contribution, you can avoid errant noises and echoes. This is particularly useful for low bandwidth connections often allowing you better sound quality when calling in from off campus.
The Buddy System (aka Playing the Host)
#4 Lend a hand?
Lastly and most importantly, you will need a friend to allow you to piggyback on their attendance to the meeting. This person will serve as the carrier of your avatar. This friend will be a gracious host and allow you to access the meeting. Your partner in this meeting setting will need the same items above (#1 and #2) and for a group meeting, the device they are using to host your avatar will ideally NOT be the one they want to use to take notes or surf during to boring parts since, in a meeting, the device used to host the avatar is best left just sitting in a corner where they can watch and contribute. Their machine will be the conduit for your virtual presence.
As a host, you should have a fallback option (aka a phone number) and be ready to open the connection early to work out the inevitable bugs. As the host it is also helpful to serve as a moderator for the discussion between remote and local participants. This is made easier by using a projector and external speakers to blow up the virtual attendee to a more manageable size than laptop postage stamp. Something that is y important for a larger gathering than 2-3 sitting around a table.
#5 The three P’s:
Okay, having a buddy was supposed to be the last and most important thing, but the real last and most important thing(s), are the three P’s, Patience, Persistence and Practice. Sit down with your buddy, bring you connection device, give each other connection information (sometimes usernames, sometime invites are needed), and have yourself a virtual meeting while in the same room. Work out the minor bugs or try and do it over the phone while you are each off campus. A little practice getting setup and rolling will go a long way. Once you have hammered out the initial hesitancy I am confident that you will find that virtual attendance is actually pretty easy (and typically there is coffee at home!).
So, attending meetings via a digital avatar is actually pretty apropos. In Hinduism, an avatar is an extension of a deity on earth whose purpose is to spread dharma. For us this often can be expressed as duty or vocation as well as proper or correct behavior. Our digital avatar allows us to dispense with our duties in a manner that is productive and beneficial and if more people would participate, rather than throwing up their hands and saying “ I can’t make it to that meeting because I am in portland/gorham/lewiston that day” imagine all that could be accomplished. With a judicious application of technology and a helping hand, this is very doable. In fact, it is so easy, there is no reason it can not be extended to other arenas such as faculty development opportunities as well.
Intrigued? Want to try it? Need help setting up a conference? I am happy to help. Drop me an email and we can test out a connection and session.
As you have heard, our license with Blackboard Collaborate will end on December 31, 2012, and our transition to Adobe Connect will be complete.
At that time, your Blackboard Collaborate virtual classrooms, moderator licenses and all of your recordings will be gone.
If you have recordings you want to preserve, you must use the BbC Publish software to re-encode them to a format that doesn’t require Blackboard Collaborate as a viewer, and you will have to move your files to the media server here at USM.
Here are the necessary steps:
- If you do not have media server space, please secure that by contacting the helpdesk. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Download the software from Blackboard Collaborate’s site: http://www.elluminate.com/Other/eLearning_Publish!/?id=357
- Convert your files using Publish. We recommend mp4 for the best ease of access for your students.
- Upload the files to the media server and post links to them (as desired) in your Blackboard site.
Here is a quick video intro to the Publisher process: http://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/jwsdetect/playback.jnlp?psid=2011-10-05.1133.M.BD911FEA5C8FEBEB9FE7D2A1B247BD.vcr&sid=2010037
If you are a current user of Blackboard Collaborate and plan to use Adobe Connect, fill out our online form to request your Adobe Connect license. We will NOT automatically be migrating your accounts, so your response is required.
Link to our form to request a host license for Adobe Connect:
If you have any questions about saving your Collaborate recordings or migrating from Collaborate to Adobe Connect, contact Scott Kimball (email@example.com).
Are you looking for a REALLY simple and free conferencing tool to use, or recommend your students use? It would be worth your time to check out LiveMinutes (http://liveminutes.com/) which allows for hangouts with document sharing, commenting on documents, synchronous note-taking and sketching/imaging abilities. The output is a simple report with all your saved details. Throw in FREE video and audio…and you have an incredibly easy web-based tool at your finger tips!!
University College and the University of Southern Maine, in collaboration with the Sloan Consortium, will co-host the Third New England Regional Sloan-C Conference on Online Learning. The conference will be held onFriday, October 26, 2012 at the Abromson Community Education Center on USM’s Portland campus.
We are pleased to be working with the Sloan Consortium again this year and hope that you will be able to join us.
You can find the conference schedule, session descriptions and online registration form at: http://learn.maine.edu/sloan-registration
As in the past, University College will cover hotel expenses based on double occupancy at the Clarion Hotel, 1230 Congress St., Portland for the evening of October 25 for:
· Faculty and staff traveling from UMFK, UMM, and UMPI
· Faculty and staff from UM and UCB who are presenting in the Conference
Posted on behalf of:
Glenn LeBlanc, Scott Kimball, and Barbara Stebbins, on behalf of the Sloan-C Conference Committee