Friday, November 21, 2008
Excel-ing in Administration Tools
After distributing this week's lecture worksheets, I handed back the graded Unit 2 exams and asked for questions about the test. Overall, the students did well on this exam and had no questions for me.

So, we moved on to this week's workout - using Microsoft Excel to create an electronic gradebook. I demonstrated how to do a weighted average and create a lookup table to assign letter grades. I ran into a little problem with the lookup table and finally figured out that the scores needed to go in the first column and the associated letter grades in the second column. Also, it was a bit challenging to go through this workout demonstration using the Windows version of Excel 2007, as I had prepared for the lesson using the Mac version of Excel 2008. I found the locations of some of the features to be slightly different in the two versions.

After the workout, I reviewed the e-portfolio rubric with the students and answered questions about the e-portfolio. I had prepared a Google Sites e-portfolio quick tips sheet for two repeated questions that I had received during last week's lab time, and this came in quite handy during the e-portfolio work time today. I noticed many of the students referring to it, which allowed me to circulate and assist in other ways. The students seemed to appreciate having time to work on their artifacts and e-portfolios in class, as they were able to get help when needed.

For next semester, I would like to explain and work with the e-portfolio in the first few weeks and plan for time throughout the semester to revisit and built onto it. I think I will be able to do this now that I am feeling more comfortable with Google Sites and what the final product should look like. For now, I am considering creating a checklist that they can use during next lab to make sure that they have all of the necessary elements on their sites. I think this will help them to identify areas of their e-portfolios that still need work.

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posted by SG @ 12:01 PM   0 comments
Monday, November 17, 2008
I went over my observation with Karen Hallett this past week. She was very encouraging, saying that I was doing a good job overall. We talked about ways to improve participation in the weekly discussions. She suggested using an Oncourse poll at the beginning of class. She also mentioned taking at look at Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers for more ideas.

After the students finished completing the second unit exam, we talked about defining assessment, providing examples of assessment, and describing challenges teachers face with assessment. I then led them through the process of creating a rubric using RubiStar. I showed them how they could create a permanent file that they could access later on the RubiStar website or just a temporary file. I showed them how they could save their files as webpages and Excel spreadsheets.

We worked on the e-portfolios the rest of class. I fielded lots of questions on how to link directly to their work, so I plan to create a job aid for that and will share it with other instructors.

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posted by SG @ 9:18 AM   0 comments
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Making a Big Production
I have to say that the students seem to really get into the labs with a production component. So, with this week being focused on production tools, the lab went really well. I set the stage for the workout by asking questions about some key concepts from the assigned reading. With it being halloween, I gave out candy for right answers. I encouraged the students to open the reading from the lecture website and search through the text to find the answers. We talked about the roles of teachers and students in production activities, a variety of production tools and tasks, stages of production, and ways to assess production projects. I realize that it is about mid-semester when students have lots of their plates, and class readings can fall to the bottom of the priority list. So, my intention for this activity was to remind them about doing the readings and to help them glean the main concepts from this week's reading.

They then got into groups of 2-3 to create their productions from the leaf scenario. With a few students absent, this made for four groups. Because the groups were formed during their lecture sessions, I noticed that some of the students were working with others that they had not worked with in past group activities in lab. This provided the students with the opportunity to get to know other students, which I think is a really good thing.

One group went to the TTL lab to use Inspriation software. Another group began creating a scrapbook in PowerPoint. I noticed the third group had PowerPoint open as well, and so I guided the students in how to make their presentation different from the other group. I showed them how to create an interactive quiz in PowerPoint by hyperlinking text and images to other slides. They had never used PowerPoint in this way and excitedly proceeded with building their show. The fourth group also had decided to do a scrapbook and wondered what tool to use to create it. Since two groups were using PowerPoint, I steered them in the direction of Windows Movie Maker. Having done the digital story a few weeks prior, they needed no additional instruction on how to use the software and got right to work. They imported pictures they had taken of trees, bark, and leaves around campus. They added narration and titles to their slides and then published the resulting two minute movie.

It took the students about 45 minutes to create their productions and 15 minutes to present them in class. During each presentation, the students talked about how they created their products. I then added some ideas for how the production could be extended given more time and resources. I was pleased with how the students were engaged throughout this workout and with the diversity in the products.

Since groups were using different tools and thus finished their projects at different times, I structured the rest of the class period to be independent work on their fourth artifact proposal and their electronic portfolios. I circulated and worked with students individually on how to create a files page in their sites, upload files, and copy the link locations in order to create links to their files on other pages. I also met with some students about past assignments that I wasn't able to access through Oncourse.

I would definitely like to do this workout again in future semesters, though we may want to change the topic to something else for the Spring semester, such as shapes found in the real world, since there may not be any leaves on the trees at that time. It was good to work on the electronic portfolio during this class session. I would like to have provided time before now to work on it in class. So, maybe in the Spring, we can build in time during some of the lab sessions throughout the semester to update the portfolios. I would also like to bring back the blogs in the coming weeks, because that is another thing that hasn't been used since the start of the semester.

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posted by SG @ 8:00 AM   0 comments
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I am attempting to develop practical instructional applications of developing technologies and provide educators with tools to implementing instructional technologies effectively.
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MUVEs, Web 2.0, assistive technologies, digital video

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