8 Vital Tips for Teaching Faculty Using Webinars!

There are many articles on webconferencing and a lot of schools & institutions of Higher Ed have already jumped in and started using webinars to provide training to faculty. If you haven’t yet made the jump here are a few considerations that may encourage you.

Webinar

 

8 Vital Tips for Teaching Faculty Using Webinars:
A Strategy for Professional Development Sucess!

1. The Strategic Advantage of Webinars. Webinars can build relationships with faculty/customers/clients, increase your name recognition, establish your expertise, communicate important changes, and can attract (or keep) your customers (in this case faculty and students).

2. Consider the Costs. A few cost considerations include staff time, presentation development time, marketing time and presentation materials as well as the cost for the webconferencing tool if applicable.

3. Choose a Tool. There are a variety of tools. Be sure and choose a tool that will serve your purposes and work well for your situation. If you have an LMS, I’d suggest using a tool that easily works within it. We use Blackboard Collaborate. However, there are also a variety of free options. Here is a list of 10 Free Webconferencing tools.

4. What to Present. This is one of the most important keys to consider. You have to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Why would they want to spend an hour of their time (yes it should only be an hour) sitting at their computer watching your webinar? I would make a list (and ask those around you to help) that includes a variety of different topic options. Then most importantly, send a survey out to your faculty and ask them what topics THEY feel are needed.

Also consider checking out what other similar institutions are doing for their webinar series. This information is often on their website. This will help you to get some ideas of what types of topics you should present. Make a good list of webinar topics.

Here are just a few topic examples: What’s New in Blackboard 9.1?, How to Use the Gradebook Tool, How to Present Engaging Webinars, Innovative Topics with Faculty, Mobile Learning, Best practice for Teaching Online, Best Practice for Developing Online Courses, Webtools, etc. The key is to make the topics relevant to what your faculty need or want to learn. Remember your trying to convince them that they shoudl give up their hour for your webinar. Make it worth their while!

5. Survey Your Faculty.  Before you put in stone what you will present, create a simple survey using a tool like SurveyMonkey. List all of the webinar options you and your team have brainstormed and be sure to have an “other” category so faculty can type in their suggestions as well. This will help ensure that webinars presented are in step with faculty needs.

4. When to Present. Consider the semester timeframe. One of the great advantages of webinars is that you can present them at key points when faculty need them with just-in-time training. At the begining of the semester, faculty may benefit from a refresher on best practices for teaching or a review on how to use the grade book. At the end of the semester, a good review on how to develop study guides for students or final exam procedures may be helpful. Consider holidays, busy times, etc when planning your calendar. You will want a calendar on your website complete with all the webinars clearly marked and a simple registration system (or email if you have no other option) so that you have an idea of which and how many faculty plan to attend.

5. The Process. After you know what and when you will present there are three steps to the basic process a) Invitations – client list, prospect list, newsletter link, link on your website, etc b) Deliver the content – Webinar on relevant topic w/ knowledgeable speakers c) Follow up with a survey and a link to the archive or handouts (whitepapers, docs, etc).

6. Creating an Audience. Email is a great tool to contact your participants. Create a marketing email promoting your webinar and send it to existing or potential clients/faculty. Encourage invitees to forward the invitation onto other colleagues. Place a link on your website and put it in your newsletter along with links to the registration page, previously archived (recorded) webinars, and to the master webinar calendar. If you have a marketing team, leverage other marketing options that you have available. Remember, if faculty don’t know about your webinar they will not attend. 😉

7. Best Practice for Presenting a Webinar. Always be sure and practice a run through of your presentation prior to going live. Make it engaging and interactive (not just a one way presentation). Have participants ask questions and encourage interaction through the use of poll questions, annotative tools, etc. Its also good to have one person be a moderator who welcomes the participants, checks their audio, answers questions, and introduces the speaker. Here is a link to some tips and best practices for presenting in a webinar.

8. Don’t Forget to Archive! Whenever you do a presentation, be sure and save an archive of the presentation. Its likely that some of the registered participants will be unable to attend and its nice to forward them a message containing a link to the archive after the webinar.  This also begins to establish a library of presentations that your faculty can refer to in the future (if you place a link to them on your site). Archiving is also good because as a presenter you can watch yourself and think about what went well and what didn’t for future improvement.

 

What other tips do you have for using webconferencing to teach faculty? Do you use a web conferencing tool for professional development at your institution? What have you found to be most effective?

Why Gamification? Quests & Badges to Engage Students


“Badges, I don’t Need No Stinkin Badges”

Actually Yes I Do and Students Do Too!

If the caption above confuses you, this youtube video is where it came from. You can rest assured the video has nothing to do with online learning. 😉 But badges on the other hand, yes, they certainly do!

When I was in Boy Scouts years ago, they had a merit badge system. Complete the projects and learn what you needed to learn (competency based) and then you would earn a badge to show everyone that you accomplished something. This article talks more about badges for competency.

Now consider video games. One of the motivating components of a video game is the fact that you can earn points, acrue tokens, weapons, or other advancements as you proceed through the game.

Both of these concepts can be applied to online learning. There are a variety of articles on gamification in learning. Boise State University developed a 3D Gamelab Professional Development course, which I took last summer. It was a learning management system developed to implement gaming principles. There were options and rewards with a totally different setup compared to what you often see in traditional learning management systems.

So I’m left to wonder, If I’m using Blackboard, what principles of gaming could I still do? Here are a couple ideas but I’m hoping those of you reading this will provide some additional insight in the comments area below.

1)  Develop Modules So They Are Quests With Options. Give students the choice of selecting a number of the options (or quests as 3DGamelab calls them) to complete. You can even make the diffrent quests worth different point values (which is similar to how the 3DGamelab works).

Imagine you have 10 quests (modules/topics). Students are asked to choose however many topics they like, but they have to earn 100 points by the time they complete the course. Some modules may be worth 10 points, others 20 points or more, but this gives students a choice as to what they want to learn (which quest to complete). It also makes it clear of what is needed in order to “win the A” (earn 100 points). Finally students are free to choose what they like while still learning the key concepts the instructor wants them to learn).

2) Implement Badges as Proof of Concepts Mastered. Imagine being able to have simple proof that you’ve mastered something. Yes, a degree is that in a sense, but how much learning goes on that isn’t attached do a degree? How much learning is going on inside just one class or maybe even inside one unit? You still learned a skill. Why not have a badge that you can show for it?

There are several articles that talk about the use of badges in learning. What I take away from it is that students want to be able to say “Look, I learned this”. If a course is vague or not relevant to students, its less likely they will be able to finish the course and say to themselves (or better yet a future employer) “I have learned this skill, and this skill, and I know how to do this….,etc”. 

Badges are a great way to movitate students and let them know just how much they have learned. I think the motivation is similar to that of being “certified” in something. I’d sure like to add an “Social Networking” or “Adobe Photoshop” badge to my digital portfolio that shows mastery of these concepts. When relevance is often forgotten or overlooked in courses, these badges can really make a lasting impression on students.

3) Even better, do both! One of the cool things about the 3D Gamelab was that it had the best of both of these. It had quests (topics) open so I could pick topics that most interested me as I earned the points.  It also had badges, awards, and achievements to motivate me.

Here below is a video introduction of the 3DGamelab.

This all sounds great and I get really excited until… I remember that I’m not using the 3DGamelab system, I’m using Blackboard…But wait! There has got to be some way to implement these ideas (at least partially) using a standard LMS. Right? Now, I’m bound to figure out some way to implement these principles in a regular online class using Blackboard. I think its going to be a little tricky but its definitely worth considering!

Have any tips for me? Do you do quests or badges in your online courses (or using a standard LMS)? Please leave  comments in the area below.

Social Networking: Educators Jumping Out of the Silos!

Growing up in Idaho, you see a lot of these silos. They work great for storing materials and keeping them separate and isolated from other materials. Isolation is good in this sense because you don’t want to mix the “outside” with what’s “inside”.

Silos

Unfortunately, in education, too often we live and work in silos, trying to solve problems, innovate, and advance education with only a limited view of what we are doing, unable to see “how others are doing it” or being able to ask questions to those doing the same thing we are doing simply because we don’t know them. Conferences are great but sometimes you want more!

When was the last time you searched out someone doing your similar role at a different institution and started collaborating? I realize that some are not interested in sharing ideas or collaborating and that is okay, but there many educators that would love to ask  questions and receive feedback, suggestions, and responses. With all the growth of Professional Learning Communities, I think now is the time to start asking questions and really collaborating, building upon ideas to advance education. What works for one situation may help in another. Why reinvent the wheel again and again?

Follow me on Twitter at @Kodystimpson, if you are interested in online learning, Edtech, Instructional Design or Technology.

I also just created a new Twitter account specifically for educators interested in Online Learning in Higher Education @HigherEdOnlineL  It doesn’t matter what college, university, or school you work in. If you’re interested in collaborating, asking questions about online learning in Higher Ed (policies, processes, best practice, instructional design, tools, etc), please follow and ask your questions, I’ll tweet them out and let’s get some answers. Also be sure and reply to other’s questions. You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be willing to SHARE your perspective.

So let’s begin collaborating & break out of these silos once and for all!

If your still wondering about whether to create a Twitter account, check out this post on Why Every Educator Should be On Twitter.

See you there!

Lucky 13: 13 Free Resources for Blended Learning

Halloween is officially over so we need be superstituous no more. A black cat actually ran right in front of my car the other day and yet it survived and I’m still here, so no bad luck yet! 13 is sometimes considered unlucky, but today and for the next few posts its going to be a very lucky number. Today I’ll share 13 of the best online free resources for Blended Learning I’ve found. Later I’ll post 13 of the best web tools for Blended Learning, and then 13 great mobile learning tools for Blended. If you really don’t like the number 13, just leave a comment with one of your favorite resources and then there will be 14. 🙂

Lucky 13: Free Resources for Blended Learning

#1. World Digital Library. If you teach culture, history, languages, etc, you will want to know about this site. First you select the time (from 8000BCE to 2011AD) on the time indicator. Then you click anywhere on the world and it zooms in with pics, vidoes, and text (all free primary resources) to learn about the world. 

#2. SAS Curriculum Pathways. A few years ago this resources was somewhat expensive but of amazing quality. Now still amazing quality but free for educational use. High quality videos, practices, and content that would normally be costly to purchase. Its great! Content areas include English, Math, Science, and Spanish. The objects can be linked right in your LMS too.

#3. MERLOT. Multimedia Resources for Online Learning. This is a giant repository of peer reviewed educational materials. Everything from presentation slides, videos, lessons, websites, etc for a multitude of content areas.

#4. LangMedia. This one is a must for World Language Educators. Resources are organized by language and cover 40+ languages. There are videos of native speakers as well as audio clips and great content on culture, life, religion, history, etc of different countries and languages.

#5. Wikibooks. Similar to the great wikipedia, there are whole books you can download and use for free. Wikibooks are community created and community vetted so you’ll want to consider that when you review them. If you are a K12 educator, you may be also interested also in CK12.org for customizable, free, curriculum-aligned content.

#6. Hippocampus. Hippocampus provides high quality, multimedia content on general topics for secondary and higher education courses. Its all free and they have some amazing content. Its part of a project with MIT. Some topics are Math, Science, and Social Studies.

#7. Teachertube. This is similar to youtube except that the content is filtered and is all educationally based. If you have some great videos you’ve made upload them here to share with other educators. If you need some lesson vidoes on a particular topic, its a great place to check.

#8. TED Videos. This site contains rivetting talks, updated daily with remarkable people talking about amazing things in the world. It has excellent speakers on topics like: Technology, Entertainment, Design, Business, Science, and Global Issues.

#9. MathTV.com Where was MathTV when I took Algebra? Math.TV has video tutorials on a variety of math topics with several examples of how to work through each problem. The best part is that you have multiple teachers teaching the content. You can choose from 3 or 4 different people going through similar problems so you get different perspectives and clear explanations on how to complete the problems.

#10. KhanAcademy. Another fantastic resource for Math & Science is Khan Academy. There are clear, concise and easy to understand video demonstration tutorials on related topics. Some schools are actually flipping their classroom, having students watch these videos at home and then coming to class to work on the assignments together. If you just need a pool of videos to draw from when referring struggling students, this is a great option.

#11. National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. Looking for simulation practices for Math? Topics include: Number & Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis.

#12. Biodigital Human. Want to explore the Anatomy or Disease of the Human Body? This 3D site, lets you zoom in and view the whole body and individual organs and the effects of disease. It is amazing and easy to use. You may have to use the Google browser to support the Advanced Graphics for it. Its very cool and much more engaging then pictures of organs or just memorizing handout diagrams of Anatomy.

#13. We Choose the Moon. This simulation recreates the moon take off and landing along with background history and information. I wasn’t alive when it happened but viewing this simulation really makes me feel like I’m right there. This is why technology can be so amazing and engaging for learning. I can hardly wait for more learning simulations like this to become available. If you are teaching Science, Space, History, or anything to do with the Moon this is a must see.

 

What other blended learning resources are there? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments area below.