Pimp Your Post - Tips and Tricks for Jazzing up Intro Posts in Online courses


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Tips and Tricks for jazzing up intro posts and icebreaker activities in online courses. Facilitated by Tracy Roberts and Gina Bennett for ETUG, Feb 2010

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  • Welcome and thank you for coming today! (me and Gina on video?) This session is brought to you by ETUG! Etug (Education Technology Users Group) is a Grassroots group of Ed Tech folks in BC – reps and members at all BC post-sec institutions We do 2 f2f events a year, Innovations Awards Gina and I are on etug Steering Committee, have a sub-group decided to start doing these kinds of hopefully interesting ONLINE sessions We wanted to have sessions that would be useful and relevant to the broadest audience – so we started here, thinking that Intro posts = something we all do this is the first session of its kind so thanks for coming, etc Sandboxing session follows - Thanks Sylvia for setting that up
  • To get people participating actively and early, and to find out who’s in the room.... In chat, type where you’re coming from (city and institution As we go, hands up to talk/get mic Feel free to use the emoticons to signal agreement, confusion, etc
  • This is to warm people up for writing on the board
  • Get people to put on the board the kinds of questions they ask – short: words/phrases Could transition into: great, keep doing what you’re doing, and here’s some diff ways to do it
  • When we’re talking about ‘introductory posts’, we’re not always talking about icebreakers. But often we are. So when you’re designing your intro or icebreaker activity, think about what “ice” needs to be broken. For example, the introductory activity that you plan for a cohort group that has already met face-to-face & has taken perhaps a number of courses together is going to be different than the one you plan for a diverse group of total strangers. -- if you are starting off a new course with well-acquainted individuals, you may only need to break the ice that separates YOU. -- If you are bringing together like-minded people, the “ice” may simply reflect the fact that people have not yet met. -- If you are bringing together people from different groups within your organization for an open discussion, the “ice” may come from the difference in status between participants. -- If you are bringing together a group of strangers with different backgrounds & cultures, then the “ice” may come from people’s perceptions of each other. - If you are bringing together unwilling or mandated attendees, the ‘ice’ may come from their lack of buy-in for the topic of your course or workshop. You’ll need to handle these differences sensitively. Only focus on what’s important to your event. (Remember, you want to break some ice for your event, not uncover the whole iceberg, or bring about world peace!). Focus on similarities rather than differences.
  • Reference whatever they put on the board earlier – what they said was important Point here: present the research that backs up why this is important, the “problem” this will help solve
  • Point: relate this to instructor presence and community building, which are constructs often correlated with learning
  • A good start feeds all these things WHICH ARE RELATED TO positive impact on student learning Also: Provides you with good opportunity to do pre-assessment (We don’t always have access to info about learners before a course begins) Here’s what a lot of the research says on 2 important constructs: instructor presence and the learning community Features of instructor approach and course design  instructor presence  good learning and experience for learners OR Community factor  thriving learning community  good for learners Futhermore, much research attributes this to instructional design (activity design) and instructor behaviour, so a good start means the course design/activity design and what you do Introductions aren’t a cure-all/silver bullet, but they can do a lot to get things going in the right direction (start how you plan to continue)
  • Point: simply adding pictures increases the “personality” of a post. Easy to do.
  • Here is another version that could be JUST ppt, or ppt with narration – add an audio element
  • I’m an instructional designer, which means I work with faculty to create online courses. One of my favourite things about this job is finding new ways to use technology to create interesting and fun learning experiences for learners. Music to my ears is when a faculty member says, “ you know, I was thinking about another way to approach this assignment, they already write a lot of papers…do you have any ideas?” then the fun innovating begins!
  • I work at Royal Roads University, which I love. I have been there for over 5 years now. About a year ago, I moved off the island…
  • And now I live here. So I telecommute full time. This means I’m now walking in the shoes of our learners, and of many of our faculty and associate faculty. This has changed the way I do things. It’s forced me to rely on technologies I only had a passing familiarity with before (such as audio and video conferencing). I think it took about 6 months for most people to realize I wasn’t on campus anymore, which goes to show you how much we all email these days!
  • These are my interests and hobbies – I love mobile technologies, cooking, painting, yoga, coffee - and I’m a cat person
  • And Why?
  • These are fun/easy way to add a picture element
  • Fun ways to share stuff about yourself
  • Show an example
  • This first section = ideas Some are add-ons - things you can easily tack on to your existing intro post instructions Some are icebreakers or more interactive - could be added on, or could be a separate activity or thread. They are more specifically designed to create interactions between learners Research and experience indicates that the main thing is making it personal – trying to communicate a bit of yourself in the online space. It may not be that important HOW, just THAT you do this. So here are some ideas that INVITE this type of sharing. Goal should be safe, fun, culturally sensitive ways to “get personal”
  • Easy add-ons These are things that people are passionate about, but less likely to be controversial (like politics). Want to build the community into a safe place before tearing into controversial topics. Book : The intense personal passion and connection some people have with books makes this a good personal thing to share Movie and Music – like books, some people are movie freaks or music buffs. This provides a nice inroad to connection and finding commonalities Food - this is really popular and easy with any group. I guess because everybody eats, and it’s non threatening
  • This one is from etugger Judy Southwell, who did it in her RRU masters program e.g., travel mug because I’m an environmentalist, pottery mug I made, snowman mug I got for christmas, etc Take a picture in context, shows your workspace
  • **Ask them to add to chat room – what kind of test would fit with your course/pre-assessement goals Do you use quizzes like this?
  • Learning styles stuff gets people thinking about how they are gong to learn. And it is useful information for you. Implications for learners that are kinesthetic in a heavy reading/writing course is to adopt study strategies that will help them I like this part of the follow-up piece to the Felder & Solomon Learning Styles test: http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm It gives students ideas on how to "make up for" a class that isn't particularly designed with their "style" (preference) in mind. Good food for thought for us too, in facilitating/designing courses: How can active learners help themselves? Study in a group in which the members take turns explaining different topics to each other. Work with others to guess what you will be asked on the next test and figure out how you will answer. You will always retain information better if you find ways to do something with it. How can reflective learners help themselves? stop periodically to review what you have read and to think of possible questions or applications. You might find it helpful to write short summaries of readings or class notes in your own words. Doing so may take extra time but will enable you to retain the material How can sensing learners help themselves? Sensors remember and understand information best if they can see how it connects to the real world. If you are in a class where most of the material is abstract and theoretical, you may have difficulty. Ask your instructor for specific examples of concepts and procedures, and find out how the concepts apply in practice. If the teacher does not provide enough specifics, try to find some in your course text or other references or by brainstorming with friends or classmates. How can intuitive learners help themselves? Many college lecture classes are aimed at intuitors. However, if you are an intuitor and you happen to be in a class that deals primarily with memorization and rote substitution in formulas, you may have trouble with boredom. Ask your instructor for interpretations or theories that link the facts, or try to find the connections yourself. You may also be prone to careless mistakes on test because you are impatient with details and don't like repetition (as in checking your completed solutions). Take time to read the entire question before you start answering and be sure to check your results
  • Gina: we should have 1 or 2 to share in case of dead air
  • Red flag = concern of some kind...intercultural This is an example of a kind of icebreaker you may see out there if you google it (“embarassing moments” theme). Use with caution or not at all – Has anyone got a success or horror story with this kind of (embarassing moments) icebreaker?
  • Note – can we do this activity using poll Then ask them to pick out intercultural problem areas (e.g., if you had a course with international learners in it, would you use this? ***figure out how to ask this effectively This is kind of dorky in general, but it comes up a lot when googling icebreakers Red flag for cultural – pie eating contest not cultural universal. Thank god. Note datedness: phone or email (now the same thing!) Seems like a wasted opportunity to me, this kind of thing.
  • 6 simple rules to remember. The KISS principle Ice analysis: Who’s your audience & what are you trying to achieve? Not only a timeline, but a time LIMIT that is relative to the length of your overall course or workshop. Don’t have a 25 minute icebreaker for a 2 hour training session! (I experienced this once as a participant) You don’t have to involve the whole group, especially if it’s massive. Warm up & introduce functional working groups or subcommunities. Use warming-up activities when your group may need to RE-connect; e.g. after a strenuous team activity A backup plan might involve a facilitation strategy (to give it a nudge) or an alternative (if it really tanks). Even icebreakers end up stranded!
  • *Gina - provide link in web tour to the scope site
  • Pimp Your Post - Tips and Tricks for Jazzing up Intro Posts in Online courses

    1. 1. Ideas & Tools (& Reasons!) to Jazz Up Introductory Posts/Activities <ul><li>While you’re waiting! </li></ul><ul><li>Run Audio Wizard! </li></ul><ul><li>Test your Audio/Video </li></ul><ul><li>Try Text Chat </li></ul>If we remember to push the button, this session will be recorded... 
    2. 2. <ul><li>http://etug.ca </li></ul><ul><li>Today + next week </li></ul><ul><li>Meet Gina & Tracy </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Elluminate Warm-Up </li></ul><ul><li>Intros: Why bother? </li></ul><ul><li>Ideas & Examples </li></ul><ul><li>Tools : Free, easy-to-use </li></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>Where are you? (chat) </li></ul><ul><li># of emails in your Inbox right now? (chat) </li></ul><ul><li>Do you teach online? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you support faculty who teach online? </li></ul><ul><li>Do your courses require an intro post? </li></ul><ul><li>Have you ever written an intro post? </li></ul>
    5. 5. <ul><li>Try all them out! </li></ul><ul><li>Add text, move if overlap </li></ul><ul><li>Draw stuff </li></ul><ul><li>Play </li></ul><ul><li>1 min – go! </li></ul>
    6. 8. <ul><li>Spend some time thinking about what separates your participants initially. Possibilities include: </li></ul><ul><li>Your presence! </li></ul><ul><li>Just plain unfamiliarity: these strangers are simply ‘friends that haven’t met yet’ </li></ul><ul><li>Differences in culture & status </li></ul><ul><li>Willingness to be at your event. </li></ul><ul><li>These ideas come from here: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_76.htm (& there’s lots more where that came from!) </li></ul>
    7. 9. <ul><li>Instructor presence is a... “statistically significant predictor of student affective learning, cognition, and motivation ”. (Baker, 2010) </li></ul><ul><li>Central to the effectiveness of online learning is the issue of instructor presence and the role of interactivity in establishing this presence. (Mandernach, Gonzales & Garrett, 2006) </li></ul>
    8. 10. <ul><li>...highest functioning and performing teams are “ socially bonded beyond the scope of assignments” Lam, Chua, Williams & Lee, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Some degree of community building is critical to online learning success (Palloff & Pratt, 1999) </li></ul>
    9. 12. <ul><li>One Example, 4 ways... </li></ul><ul><li>Text </li></ul><ul><li>Text with images </li></ul><ul><li>Text with audio + images </li></ul><ul><li>Video </li></ul>
    10. 13. <ul><li>Subject : Tracy’s Intro Post </li></ul><ul><li>Hi, I’m Tracy. I’m an Instructional Designer at Royal Roads University. I’ve been there for about 5 years, and I love it. </li></ul><ul><li>About a year ago, I became a full-time telecommuter. I have found commonly-held assumptions about telecommuting to be untrue (e.g., you don’t get work done, it’s hard to be part of a team). </li></ul><ul><li>On a personal note, I like coffee, yoga, cats. I’m a vegetarian so I (am forced to) enjoy cooking  </li></ul>
    11. 14. <ul><li>Hi, I’m Tracy. I’m an Instructional Designer at Royal Roads University. I’ve been there for about 5 years, and I love it. </li></ul><ul><li>About a year ago, I became a full-time telecommuter. I have found commonly-held assumptions about telecommuting to be untrue (e.g., you don’t get work done, it’s hard to be part of a team). </li></ul><ul><li>On a personal note, I like coffee, yoga, cats. I’m a vegetarian so I (am forced to) enjoy cooking  </li></ul>
    12. 15. 3. PowerPoint Slideshow, with Narration
    13. 16. <ul><li>I work with faculty to develop online courses in Moodle </li></ul>ID Faculty
    14. 18. This puts me in learners’ and many faculty members shoes! MYTH I rely on different technologies
    15. 19. My interests and hobbies
    16. 21. <ul><li>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea4c_yuH2f8 </li></ul>
    17. 22. <ul><li>A – text </li></ul><ul><li>B – text + pictures </li></ul><ul><li>C – ppt slideshow + audio </li></ul><ul><li>D - video </li></ul>
    18. 23. <ul><li>Free Tools You Can Use... </li></ul><ul><li>to add images, audio, video </li></ul>
    19. 24. http://bighugelabs.com/
    20. 26. <ul><li>The Great PowerPoint Sensation of 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Tips: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep it SHORT (5-7 slides) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Change Quality  Telephone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Save As.. SHOW </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Just attach to message </li></ul></ul>
    21. 27. <ul><li>Easy!!! </li></ul><ul><li>You need: webcam, mic, internet </li></ul><ul><li>How to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pick background </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click to record/stop </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get link </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Share link in your Intro message </li></ul></ul>
    22. 28. <ul><li>Record directly in, or... </li></ul><ul><li>Record (locally) and upload </li></ul>
    23. 30. <ul><li>Web/video conferencing </li></ul><ul><li>“ students in synchronous online courses reported significantly higher instructor immediacy and presence ”. Baker, C. The Journal of Educators Online, Volume 7, Number 1, January 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/Directory/Tools/conferencing.html (Jane Hart rules!) </li></ul>
    24. 31. <ul><li>Add-ons, Icebreakers & Inter-activities to help establish presence and build community </li></ul>
    25. 32. <ul><li>Book ? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;Reading surrounds us, labels us, defines us” ( Rich Gold) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>fiction, non-fiction, childhood, related to course? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Also: Movie , Music , Food... </li></ul><ul><li>Personal/passion w/o controversy </li></ul><ul><li>Use : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy add-on </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make it interactive : Find 3 others with something in common, comment/ ask questions about their posts </li></ul></ul>
    26. 33. <ul><li>Include picture of favourite mug </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tell story of how they got it (where, when, who) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How/does it represent you? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy add-on </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alt. for people who prefer not to use “real” picture </li></ul></ul>
    27. 34. <ul><li>Task: write a story together. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rules : each person puts up 3 words. You can post again if at least one other participant has gone. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At the end, summarize whole story or read (get learner to read?) and post as audio or video file </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>do this in a WIKI (does your LMS have one?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Invites interactivity/checking back in on the story </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May fit in with content later in the course? (e.g., re/write ending to something, make predictions) </li></ul></ul>
    28. 35. <ul><li>Course: Organizational Change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learners completed and shared results on Tolerance for Change Scale </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shared stories/experiences with personal and organizational change (reaction to change, response/handling of change) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What kind of test (however “serious” or “valid”) would fit with your course or your pre-assessment goals? </li></ul>
    29. 36. <ul><li>Learning Styles Inventories </li></ul><ul><li>Jung Typology Test (similar to MBTI) </li></ul><ul><li>Gardner Multiple Intelligences: </li></ul><ul><li>Use: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy add-on (incl. Results) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make it interactive : find & respond to 2 others: 1similar to you and 1 completely different </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make it a reflective/journal springboard </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Team formation? (homogeneous or heterogeneous) </li></ul></ul>
    30. 37. <ul><li>Do these ideas jog any memories of neat ones you’ve done or heard about? </li></ul>
    31. 38. <ul><li>Ask participants to share most embarrassing computer (or other?) mishap. Share yours too </li></ul><ul><li>Good outcome : few laughs, loosen people up if nervous about technology? </li></ul><ul><li>Bad outcome : could backfire/create concern </li></ul><ul><li>Use with caution </li></ul>
    32. 39. <ul><li>...always win pie-eating contests or wheelbarrow races? </li></ul><ul><li>...be able to hear any conversation or take back anything you say? </li></ul><ul><li>...be invisible or be able to read minds? </li></ul><ul><li>...be the most popular or smartest person you know? </li></ul><ul><li>...be the sand castle or the wave? </li></ul><ul><li>...give up your computer or your pet? </li></ul><ul><li>...never use the internet again or never watch TV again? </li></ul><ul><li>...not be able to use your phone or your e-mail? </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Teampedia icebreakers for online teams </li></ul>
    33. 40. <ul><li>Keep it Simple </li></ul><ul><li>When planning your activity, understand your 'ice‘ and match the activity to “break” it </li></ul><ul><li>Have clear expectations, instructions, & a timeline for completion (a tight timeline keeps things moving) </li></ul><ul><li>If teams central to your course, consider classwide and within-team activities </li></ul><ul><li>Icebreaker doesn't have to be limited to only the beginning of your session! </li></ul><ul><li>Oh yes – Have a backup plan :/ </li></ul>
    34. 41. <ul><li>Join us for a week of Sandboxing in SCoPE! Feb 12 – 19, 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Try out activities we saw today, share your Intro/Icebreaker ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Invite your friends  </li></ul>
    35. 42. <ul><li>June 7 – 8 in Victoria, BC (UVic) </li></ul><ul><li>“ 3 Cups of T: Teaching, Technology, Transformation” </li></ul><ul><li>Call for Proposals is out! </li></ul>
    36. 43. <ul><li>http://joitskehulsebosch.blogspot.com/2009/03/10-online-icebreakers.html </li></ul><ul><li>http://twt.wikispaces.com/Ice-Breaker+Ideas </li></ul><ul><li>what superhero are you? http://www.matthewbarr.co.uk/superhero/ </li></ul><ul><li>Jung Typology Test (similar to MBTI) http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Styles Inventories http://www.learning-styles-online.com/inventory/ </li></ul><ul><li>Gardner Multiple Intelligences: http://www.ldrc.ca/projects/miinventory/miinventory.php#form </li></ul><ul><li>Baker, C. (2010). The Impact of Instructor Immediacy and Presence for Online Student Affective Learning, Cognition, and Motivation. The Journal of Educators Online, Volume 7, Number 1 , January 2010 http://www.thejeo.com/Archives/Volume7Number1/BakerPaper.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>Lam, W., Chua, A., Williams, J.B. & Lee, C. (2005). Virtual teams: Surviving or thriving? Proceedings of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Annual Conference. Brisbane, Australia. </li></ul><ul><li>Mandernach, Gonzales, Garrett (2006). An Examination of Online Instructor Presence via Threaded Discussion Participation. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching Vol. 2, No. 4 , December 2006 http://jolt.merlot.org/vol2no4/mandernach.htm </li></ul><ul><li>Palloff, Rena M., and Keith Pratt.  Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace: Effective Strategies for the Online Classroom , San Francisco: Josey-Bass Publishers, 1999. </li></ul>
    37. 44. <ul><li>Big Huge Labs: http://bighugelabs.com </li></ul><ul><li>Voice Over PowerPoint: http://office.microsoft.com/en-ca/powerpoint/CH063500681033.aspx Help/troubleshooting if you have trouble: http://www.indezine.com/products/powerpoint/ppnarration.html </li></ul><ul><li>BubbleJoy: http://www.bubblejoy.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>YouTube: http//www.youtube.com </li></ul><ul><li>VoiceThread: http://voicethread.com </li></ul><ul><li>Video Conferencing: http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/Directory/Tools/conferencing.html </li></ul>