Clearly Naming Your Files

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There are a lot of ways that doing a little work at the start of the course can save you A LOT of time in the long run.

One of the simplest things you can do to make your life easier is getting into the habit of giving your files clear names. This is something that can make a world of difference for you and for your students.

Have you ever gone back to look at your files and found something like “Chapter 2.pptx” and wondered what exactly the topic is? Or even worse, found a file like “12573786_574587379357471_3402002897720853131_n.jpg”? 

Instead of leaving these files with cryptic names, we can rename them something clear and consistent, something that tells us what the file is and where it belongs.

So what makes a good file name?

Think that we can search our computers (or Google Drive, etc) by file name, so we can ask ourselves “If I wanted to find this file, what would I type into the search?”. So some common things like this might be the course name; the topic of the material, the author, or the type of resource.

If I had a Powerpoint presentation for a history course, a good file name might be something like: HIST 322: Chapter 6 Lecture – Jeanne d’Arc and the Hundred Years War.pptx

If I had an assignment in Biochemistry it might be something like this: CHEM 342: Assignment – Amino Acids.pdf

If I had an image for an English course, a clear file name for it might be something like: ENG 402: Guernica by Pablo Picasso.png. 

Alternatively, you could model proper citations by structuring your file names in a similar way that you would expect your students to list a citation.

Giving clear filenames means that you should be able to more easily find your files (such as if you’re teaching the course again, or teaching a related course, or putting together a portfolio), it’ll make it easier to identify if the file is important such as if you’re deleting files, or have bought a new computer, and it will make reviewing and organizing the files much easier for your students.

Everyone benefits when you give your file a clear name.

An Important Partnership

It’s no secret that we, in the E-Learning Office, love working with students. Faculty, we love you too, obviously… but you have to admit that working with students is super fun.

Two weeks ago Megan, one of our Instructional Designers, had the opportunity to attend and present at the annual conference for the Atlantic Association of College and University Student Services (AACUSS) held at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

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AACUSS is a wonderful organization that connects college and university Student Affairs professionals in the Atlantic Canada region. The annual conference serves as an opportunity to connect with counterparts at neighbouring institutions and encourage and promote professional and ethical practices in Student Services.

The obvious question at this point is: why is an E-Learning Instructional Designer attending a conference for Student Affairs professionals? Well, that’s a good question.

Those amazing people that work in Student Affairs and Services are the people that keep our students at the centre of what we do. As an Instructional Designer, it’s so easy to get caught up in the how of teaching that it’s easy to forget the why and the who of what we do. By making efforts to remain current in the issues facing the students on our campuses, we’re doing our best to ensure the courses we work on are designed with student learning at the centre.

The AACUSS conference kicked off with a pre-conference about assessment. Now, we spend a lot of time in the ELO thinking about assessment. This pre-conference workshop provided a great opportunity to reconsider our program assessment processes and set some new targets for our programs and services.

The conference schedule offered several concurrent sessions to learn more about programs and services at other institutions, current research in Student Affairs, and issues and trends in Student Services in Higher Education. Megan co-facilitated a session on Universal Design for Learning that explored UDL as a framework for designing programs and services to facilitate student success. The resources from the workshop can be viewed at this link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0By6oWloIi9_jQVVrZExFSmtxSG8

The highlight of this conference was receiving an AACUSS Special Project Grant, which is a grant awarded to members to develop new programs or services related to issues in student services. In collaboration with Accessibility Services in UPEI Student Affairs, we applied for a grant to develop a series of OERs on the topic of Universal Design for Learning. With these OERs, we intend on building a training program for staff and faculty that can be used at UPEI and by our colleagues across the region.

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Megan with Cathy Rose, Coordinator of Accessibility Services, UPEI and Sara Rothman, AACUSS Past President.

Finally, as a result of attending this conference, we are entering a new partnership with UPEI Student Affairs to develop a new workshop series for faculty on student-centred course design. We are looking forward to updating you on this series as it is developed. We are hoping to pilot some of the workshops this fall and are excited to get your feedback!

There is no question that our connection with UPEI Student Affairs is an important one. Our attendance at the AACUSS annual conference is just one of the things to do to make an effort to remain up to date on the current issues facing our campuses. We are truly grateful for the opportunity to remain connected with our students through our relationships and collaborations with student affairs professionals at UPEI

To all of our colleagues across campus who are busy advising, recruiting, planning programs, training student leaders, debriefing, reflecting, and supporting: thank you for all of the work you do to to create a safe and supportive learning environment for our students!

What is Digital Literacy? An Abridged Twitter Chat

On April 8th, @digpedlab hosted a Twitter chat about digital literacy. I participated and saw some great thoughts and conversations take place and I thought I’d try to make something that would let others see what I’ve seen and put out an invite for you to join in on future #digped tweetchats or the Digital Pedagogy Lab Summer Institute in Prince Edward Island this July.

If you’re not familiar with a tweetchat, it’s a largely synchronous but chaotic conversation that takes place on Twitter. Participants mark their messages with a tag, in this case #digped, to let others find and respond to their comments without having to have known or be following the person beforehand. When you include a tag in your tweet, it lets people who are searching that particular tag to see your tweet, they can also respond to that tweet as well.

This means that you might coordinate a conversation on Twitter with people you know, or people who regularly participate in a particular tag, but others may stumble across your conversation and be able to offer their own perspective and responses.

In the poster below are some highlights of the conversation made of little speech bubbles, the person who made the statement is identified by their twitterhandle or online pseudonym right beneath the speech bubble. Bubbles that are touching are responses to each other, whereas ones by themselves are replying to the overall question of the section.

What is Digital Literacy

If you’re interested in using Twitter, send an email to us at elearning@upei.ca

 

Getting the most from your Instructional Designers

Do you know who these cute faces belong to?

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We’re your friendly neighbourhood Instructional Designers! We work in the E-Learning Office and spend our days working with faculty, supporting the use of Moodle, developing resources, and (obviously) writing awesome blog posts.

We get really excited about helping you find new and exciting ways to deliver content, engage with your classes, and assess student learning. In the E-Learning Office, we get most excited about teaching with technology and spend most of our time supporting online courses. But we also work with faculty doing innovative things in face to face, blended, and hybrid courses.

But what, exactly, do we do? Good question. Every person we work with has different needs, but we can help with things including:

  • reviewing your course outline and offering feedback and suggestions;
  • discussing teaching methods and offering ideas for approaches to meet outcomes;
  • brainstorming and offering new ideas;
  • helping you sort through all those great ideas (see previous point) to find things that will work for you;
  • developing (or co-developing) assessments and instruments (e.g. rubrics, marking guides, grading schemes) for implementing assessment;
  • managing the course design (or re-design) process;
  • creating resources;
  • training on the use of Moodle, Blackboard Collaborate, Google Apps, and other tools;
  • supporting the use of Moodle in your courses (including content, activities, grading, reporting, etc.);
  • ensuring accessibility in your course content, activities, and assessments;
  • offering in-class (face to face or online) presentations, workshops, activities;
  • facilitating post-course debrief, self-assessment, and goal setting.

And much more!

As you can see, we are prepared to assist with any stage of course design or delivery. If you’re not quite sure what role we can play – get in touch with us! If nothing else, we can have a coffee and chat about your teaching. We’re very friendly.

So what can you expect when you start working with an instructional designer? And how can you make sure you are getting the most from us? Here are our top five tips for getting the most from your Instructional Designer.

Be honest.
It’s okay if you’ve never used Moodle before, but it’s important that we know that. It’s also okay if you are totally committed to a particular type of assessment or instructional method, but if we don’t know that we can’t help you find strategies that align with your philosophy and style. Every course will not look the same (nor should it!); it’s our job to learn about you and your students and find ways to meet your goals. You’re not going to like all of our ideas, and it’s okay to tell us that. We’re here to help you create something that you are proud of – honesty really is the best policy to get us there.

Stay in touch.
The people that have had the most success are those that book regular meetings, e-mail updates and questions, and attempt to touch base often. One of our favourite strategies is a standing meeting (every month, every other week, every week) to keep on track. This ensures that the project keeps moving forward with regular deadlines. As you get more comfortable with the tools and strategies you are using, your meetings will become more infrequent… but we still want to hear from you!

Do your homework.
Okay, maybe it’s not homework. But after a meeting or conversation, we will both leave with a list of things to do for your course. Maybe it’s research, reflecting, developing something, or writing questions for quiz banks. It’s really easy to push these things off, but please don’t! We want to alleviate some of the stress of designing your course, and regular communication and staying on top of the project will prevent us from falling behind.

Let us help you.
Often we will say that we can teach you to do something or do it for you (e.g. setting up your gradebook, importing quizzes). We mean it. There are a lot of things to learn. You don’t have to learn them all at once. We will share the work, and as you get comfortable and gain new skills you will discover you need us less. Which brings us to our next point…

Stay realistic!
You want to be the best, most amazing teacher ever. We get that. We’re also overachievers who don’t do anything halfway. But it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to completely re-design your course in one semester, but a few intentional changes every year will shape your courses into something you (and your students) will enjoy.

We are very excited to work with you and help you discover some new teaching strategies. Please get in touch with our office to discuss how we can support you! There are lots of different ways to get in touch with us: e-mail, twitter, or visit us in the Office of Skills Development and Learning. You can also check us out on our new Pinterest page, where we pin things that we think are cool and interesting – check back often for new resources.

Stay tuned to this blog, where we post new content every Thursday! If you have ideas for future blog posts, let us know!

What are Learning Outcomes?

By the end of this blog post, you will be able to:

  • Explain the difference between General Learning Outcomes and Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Compose General Learning Outcomes
  • Compose Specific Learning Outcomes using your General Learning Outcomes

An outcome is a statement that tells students what you expect them to achieve or be able to demonstrate by the end of the course. You can present your outcomes in your course syllabus or as a separate resource. And there are a lot of benefits to taking the time to provide your course outcomes:5 Ways Outcomes Can Benefit Your Course

So how do you write an outcome?

If you’ve decided that you want to try providing course outcomes, the first thing you should check is whether your department has already prepared Program Outcomes. Program Outcomes can provide a great starting place for you, and could also be provided with the outcomes for your course.

For this blog post, we’ll stick to two types of learning outcomes: General Learning Outcomes and Specific Learning Outcomes.

Like the name implies, General Learning Outcomes are going to be broad statements about the expected outcomes of your course. They’re are almost how you might answer someone you meet in a hall, “Why should I take this course?”. Your answer would likely summarize the core goals of your course without getting into too much detail of the topics or assessments.

Some examples of General Learning Outcomes would be “By the end of this course you will be able to: “Identify key historical events that have shaped modern Istanbul”, or “Describe the process of DNA replication”.

As you might expect, Specific Learning Outcomes are more specific. They should be written in ways that are assessable. These statements help students identify the expectations of how they’ll have to demonstrate their learning. The Special Learning Outcomes are the measurable pieces that make up the larger General Learning Outcomes.

Specific Learning Outcomes are usually structured to be short statements that have a single descriptive verb. Some examples of specific learning outcomes would be “You will be expected to: arrange the elements in order of electronegativity”, or “compose lines of poetry in iambic pentameter.”

One tool that can help you write your outcomes is Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s Taxonomy can help you identify which type of learning you’re trying to facilitate and can recommend some of the verbs that work well in a representative outcome.

Here’s a table from the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission guide to writing outcomes that provides some verbs that go with the categories of learning in Bloom’s model.

Categories

Content Verbs for Specific Learning Outcomes

KNOWLEDGE

Facts, places, information, objects, events, characteristics, vocabulary

Arrange, define, duplicate, know, label, list, match, memorize, name, order, quote, recognize, recall, repeat

COMPREHENSION

Words, sentences, ideas, definitions, meanings, new examples, relationships, aspects, consequences

Characterize, classify, complete, depict, describe, discuss, establish, explain, express, identify, illustrate, locate, recognize, report, relate, review, sort, translate

APPLICATION

New situations, problems, difficulties, situations

Administer, apply, calculate, choose, compute, conduct, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, implement, interpret, operate, perform, practice, prescribe, sketch, solve

ANALYSIS

Causes, effects, principles, connections, events, conducts, devices, parts, instruments, errors, fallacies, facts, hypotheses and arguments

analyze, appraise, categorize, compare, contrast, critique, diagram, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, detect, examine, experiment, explore, explain, inventory, investigate, question research, test

SYNTHESIS

Undertakings, writings, narrations, descriptions, colours, shapes, stories, theories, structures, models, discoveries

Combine, compose, consolidate, construct, create, design, formulate, hypothesize, integrate, merge, organize, plan, propose, synthesize, systematize, theorize, unite, write

EVALUATION

Advantages, disadvantages, decisions, similarities, difficulties, agreements, disagreements, strengths, weaknesses

Appraise, argue, assess, critique, defend, distinguish, envision, estimate, examine, grade, inspect, judge, justify, rank, rate, review, value, validate

This table isn’t comprehensive, but is one tool that you can use for writing outcomes. There’s also an app that you can use to help you write your outcomes is the Objectives Builder by James Basore.

If you have any questions about writing or presenting the outcomes in your course, feel free to contact us.