One site that I recently stumbled upon is Podcastomatic. This handy site allows you to convert “your favorite blog into a podcast using a free text-to-speech technology.” Simply enter the URL for your favorite blog (*I recommend blogs.maryville.edu/learn !), and Podcastomatic will automatically convert each blog posting into a podcast episode. You can then listen to these episodes on the web, subscribe to the via RSS, view in iTunes, and/or download each episode.
To covert the 10 most recent blog posts on this site took about 20 seconds. Then I was able to select “Play” to the right of each one and listen to the blog posts being read (don’t expect perfect sounding audio0….it does sound a bit like a “robot.—but for a free text to speech, it’s pretty good !).
According to the Horizon Report (a yearly publication by the New Media Consortium (NMC) that details what they believe to be emerging technology trends in higher education), one thing to look out for in the next 2 to 3 years is game based learning.
I think that there is often a misconception of what exactly “game based learning” means. Some people take it as students playing “Call of Duty” as homework, and somehow relating this to learning objectives. What we need to understand, though, is that people are creating games specifically for learning. While these games are “serious” in nature, they are not the same as spending time playing Xbox all night. These games are usually created with specific objectives within the curriculum in mind.
Why should someone use “games” in the classroom ? Well, research has proven that they work (i.e. increase learning). For example, research shows that playing games “stimulate the production of dopamine, a chemical that provokes learning by reinforcing neuronal connections and communications.”
Games are found to have a large impact in three distinct areas: engagement, motivation, and problem-solving skills. I think it’s pretty easy to see why games have this impact on people.
In addition, if you look at the pedagogical applications of games, they actual hit on all levels of blooms taxonomy.
Due to these benefits, many universities are experimenting with gaming in the classroom. For example, the IE Business School in Madrid is using an in house created game called “10 Downing Street” to explore complex economic issues. In this game, learners take control of the British PM as he navigates economic policy. The students debate the merits of different paths they could take in the game, and see how it plays out.
Penn State launched the “Educational Gaming Commons,” as a group on that campus that explores how games can be used to “improve teaching, learning, and research.” They are creating games in house designed specifically for certain faculty to use.
Some of the games that Penn State has crated, that are FREE to use by anyone.
ECON-U: Players use economic principals to build and grow a fictional university. Teaches the following principal (great for ECON courses): elasticity, trad offs, supply/demand, costs, diminishing returns, scale.
Chem Blaster: Players are in a fast paced memorization game where they are expected to connect symbols, charges, and names based on the period table of elements and 53 additional ions.
Time and Patient$: This game situates the layer as the head of a walk in clinic and forces them to make tough decisions about a number of different factors, including staffing, amenities, and overall policies in order to keep the clinic afloat. (Coming Summer 2013).
There are, of course, other initiatives of organizations and/or universities creating free to play games.
“Virulent,” which gives you control of a virus as you attempt to infect, replicate inside of, and escape from the host cell. This teaches cellular biology principals.
“Progenitor X” is a turn based game that takes place during a zombie apocalypse You play as a group of scientist that are tasked with saving the human race by creating a cure. This will teach students relationships between cells, tissues, and organs.
Center for Game Scienceat University of Washington created one of the biggest success stories for game based learning in recent memory.
There game, “Foldit,” has players fold the structure of selected proteins to the best of the player’s ability, using various tools provided within the game. The best created are analyzed by scientists to look for “real world” applications. This has lead to a few major breakthroughs. In 2011, players helped scientists figure out the structure of an enzyme of an aids causing virus on 10 days….it had stumped scientists for 15 YEARS.
I think that we are just at the beginning of a game based learning adoption among higher education. I believe in terms of adoption, we are currently in the “Innovators” (see below) stage, but this could all change in the next few years as the technology improves.
At the end of each semester, I always get questions about how D2L interacts with final grades. A couple of reminders:
D2L is not connected to AccessMaryville. Final grades in D2L will not automatically translate to “official” university grades. So, if you keep a gradebook in D2L, you will still need to key these grades into AccessMaryville.
If you keep a gradebook in D2L, the “final grade” (Final Calculated/Final Adjusted) is not automatically released to students. You have to manually tell D2L to release the final grade. Now, you do not have to release these “final grades” in D2L, however, in my experience, students are always asking for this.
D2L has the ability to do some pretty amazing things. One example of a creative way you can add media to your course is by adding a Twitter feed to the course home page.
Here is the process for adding a Twitter feed to your course home page !
There are two phases to this addition. First, you need to set up the widget to display the proper twitter feed. Second, you need to put the twitter feed on the course home page.
To set up the correct twitter feed on a widget:
1. From a course, select “Course Tools” in the upper right hand corner, then select “Widgets.”
2. This will give you a list of available “Widgets” within the course. Locate the “Twitter Feed” widget, and make a copy of it. When you select the “copy” button, a dialogue box will appear asking you to confirm this action.
3. Once copied, a new widget will appear in the list called “Twitter Feed-Copy.” Locate this widget and choose the “Edit” (Pencil Icon) button.
4. This will take you to the “Edit Widget” page. Select the “Content.” tab. Also, feel free to change the name of the widget to something more appropriate than “Twitter Feed-Copy.”
5. From the “Content” tab, select to edit the “HTML” code for this widget. The “HTML Source Code Editor” will appear. Locate the Twitter username. It will follow the code “setUser (“Twitter Username”).start ();
5. Replace this username (‘csamgo87′) with the username for the twitter feed you are going to use. This is typically located on the Twitter page, OR you can use whatever comes after “Twitter.com/_______”
The example below is the Twitter account for the Wall Street Journal. The Twitter username is “WSJ.” You can locate that in two locations (see below).
When finished, select “update” on the HTML editor (bottom left hand corner).
6. This will take you back out to the “Edit Widget” page. Go ahead and “Save and Close.” This will take you to the list of Widgets. You can preview the widget. If satisfied, select “Course Tools” again.
To add this Twitter Feed widget to the course home page.
1. From “Course Tools,” select “Homepages.”
2. Locate the “active” homepage. Then choose the down arrow to the right of its name and “Copy” it. 3. This will produce a copy of the active home page called “Course Default-Copy.” This copied home page will be highlighted blue, select the name of this home page to edit it. 4. This will take you to the “Edit Homepage” page. You can rearrange the default widgets as you see fit. To add the Twitter Feed widget, select “Add Widgets.” This will bring up a list of available widgets. Locate “Twitter Feed-Copy” OR whatever you renamed the widget to, and choose “Add”
5. The Twitter Feed will be added to the homepage template. Select “Save & Close.” This will bring you back out to the list of Homepages.
6. The last step is to use the drop down on this page to set your new homepage as the “Active Homepage” for your course. After you select your homepage, choose “Apply.”
7. Now you can go to your Course Home page and admire the new Twitter Feed !
The Digital Public Library of America just launched the other day ! Basically the DPLA aims to brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science.”
What does this mean ?
The DPLA has millions of artifcats (photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images) from libraries, archives, and museums around the U.S. that are FREE to use for anyone online. Everything is “searchable,” by specific exhibitions, timelines or key word.
As you may know, Maryville University has a campus wide license for Lynda.com. Lynda.com is an online library of courses on software tools and skills. With a library of over 80,000 videos, Lynda.com is the premiere organization in terms of providing opportunities for personal and professional development.
To get a glimpse of what Lynda.com is all about, please view:
To sign up for lynda.com (from on campus), go to http://iplogin.lynda.com and fill out the registration form (“create a profile”) to create your user name and password.
To sign up for lynda.com (From OFF campus), you will need someone on campus to create your profile for you (contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up your account). We need your Maryville email address, first name and last name. Once we create the account manually, you will receive an email from Lynda.com asking you to “complete your profile.” (see below)
Once you select “Complete Profile,” (the blue link the center of the email) you will be taken to the Maryville University Login for Lynda.com. It will ask you to set up a password, choose your user type (student, staff, faculty), and to choose your area. All of these questions need to be answered. Once completed, select “Save,” and you will be logged into Lynda.com.
From now on, you can go to http://lynda.com, and log in directly to the site by using your Maryville University email address as your username and the password you just set up.
For those of you who don’t know, we recently updated D2L from 10.1 SP4 to 10.1 SP5. With this upgrade comes the return of the navigation bar within the gradebook! Before this upgrade, the navigation bar disappeared when you were in “enter grades,” and there was no obvious way of getting out of the gradebook (see below).
Above is the old version where the navigation bar disappeared. Below is the new and improved version !
If you use the “Dropbox” tool, one thing you may need to do is reorder the folders. Folders are listed in the order they where created, so if your first assignment was the last folder you set up, it will be at the bottom of the list. It makes sense to put these folders in chronological order.
To reorder Dropbox folders:
1. Select “Dropbox” from the navigation bar, then choose “More Actions” and “Reorder.”2. This will bring you to the “reorder” page. Use the dropdown arrows on the right side column (“Sort Order”) to reorder the folders. When finished, select “Save.”
3. When you select “Save,” it will take you back out to the Dropbox main page, and your folders will be in their proper order !