Category Archives: Technology Summary

rampage blog

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Submitted by Fan Zhang

For the technology assignment, I made a rampage blog as the repository for all the online teaching resources I found. The home page of rampage can be easily found using google and keywords VCU rampage. once you find the site, the first you need to do is register for a personal site using your VCU email. The process is very simple, but if you run in to any problem, you can easily find help by using the “trouble?” tag on their home page. I had to research out to them due to forgotten password once, the respond was fairly quick, and the recovery process was very simple.
The first thing you will see when you first log into your won site is the page of dash board. In here, you can make personalized modifications on the overall outlooks of your site. Under the “activation”, you have a number of high quality pre-made themes available. However, if you want make you site more personalized, using the taps under “active theme”, you can make changes to the color, background images, and placement of menus, widget etc.
The next step will be making contents. On the rampage, you can making content through three different ways: 1. Making a post. 2. Make a page. 3. Make a form. The posts are the first thing people will see when they log into you site. You can post all the content through here, however, in my case, since the contents are from to multiple courses, put all that information here might be too messy. So I only made one post as my home page. On this post, links to different course content can be found (as right now, only one link is live)
For the actual course contents, I used the page functions. The links provided on the homepage will lead the reader to the chapter outlines of each course, from there the the readers can make there ways directly to the chapter of interest. For each chapter, a page is created, and inhere I uploaded all the online teaching resources that I found that are related to this chapter. The edition of the page is very intuitive. The only thing I think is worth mention is that when you are trying to upload a online video, it is easier to do it using a coded link though the text edit mode.
The nice thing about the blog format is that you can make any changes at any time, and there is not a limit in the amount of content that you can included in there. And since the coding used here are universal to all WordPress site, when you are no longer associate with VCU, all these work can be easily copy and pasted into another WordPress site.
A link to my sites attached:
For the technology assignment, I made a rampage blog as the repository for all the online teaching resources I found. The home page of rampage can be easily found using google and keywords VCU rampage. Once you find the site, the first you need to do is register for a personal website using your VCU email. The process is straightforward, but if you run into any problem, you can easily find help by using the “trouble?” tag on their home page. I had to research out to them due to the forgotten password once, the response was reasonably quick, and the recovery process was very simple.
The first thing you will see when you first log into your won site is the page of the dashboard. Here, you can make personalized modifications to the overall outlooks of your website. Under the “activation,” you have several high-quality pre-made themes available. However, if you want to make your site more personalized, using the taps under “active theme,” you can make changes to the color, background images, and placement of menus, widget, etc.
The next step will be making content. On the rampage, you can make content in three different ways: 1. Making a post. 2. Make a page. 3. Make a form. The posts are the first thing people will see when they log into your site. You can post all the content through here; however, in my case, since the contents are from multiple courses, put all that information in one place might appear messy. So I only made one post as my home page. On this post, links to different course content can be found (as right now, only one link is live)
For the actual course contents, I used the page functions. The links provided on the homepage will lead the reader to the chapter outlines of each course; from there, the readers can make their ways directly to the chapter of interest. For each chapter, a page was creat, and here, I uploaded all the online teaching resources that I found that are related to this chapter. The edition of the page is very intuitive. The only thing I think is worth mention is that when you are trying to upload an online video, it is easier to do it using a coded link though the text edit mode.
The nice thing about the blog format is that you can make any changes at any time, and there is not a limit in the amount of content that you can include in there. And since the coding used here are universal to all WordPress site, when you are no longer associate with VCU, all these work can be easily copied and pasted into another WordPress site.
A link to my sites attached:
https://rampages.us/zhangf3/

Excel for reducing the pain of grading

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Submitted by Polina Beloborodova

Have you ever had over 500 submissions to grade in one week? If you have, you would understand my desire to optimize the process as much as possible. In this post I will share several MS Excel tools that I’m using for fast grading.

1. Grades calculator for tests

In one of my courses we have periodical tests with a combination of multiple choice and open questions. I do all the grading in Excel and then upload the file with the resulting grades to Bb. The process may look complicated, especially if you don’t work in Excel. But it becomes really easy when you actually do it! Also see attached my file for one of the tests. I removed students’ personal information, but left the grades so that you can see how they are calculated.

Here is the algorithm that I use: shorturl.at/czNX6
And the file: shorturl.at/jwNS0

2. Feedback phrasebook

In another course where I’m TAing, students submit a two or three little assignments each week and two additional big projects. My feedback tends to be repetitive, so I copy it from a separate file. To do it quicker, I organized my “feedback phrasebook” by tone of comment (positive/negative) and topic.

Here is the one I’m using: shorturl.at/IST26

3. TA hours tracker

In order to make sure that my TA hours don’t exceed 20 hours per week, as well as have a more realistic picture of how much I’m working, I made a spreadsheet to track my hours for each course.

I usually put my TA hours in my Google calendar, and then at the end of the week calculate weekly hours for each course where I’m TAing and put the result into my spreadsheet. Excel calculates total weekly hours, average weekly hours for current semester and draws a plot depicting my working hours throughout the semester. This helps me to plan my time and remember that each “hell week” is usually followed by a quiet period.

Here is the template: shorturl.at/afPS7

Voicethread for enhanced student learning

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Submitted by Cathrin Green

For my technology assignment, I decided to look into the potential of using Voicethread as a tool in my classes. Voicethread is a system that allows multisensory collaboration between faculty and students. This tool can promote learning engagement and allows all types of multimedia to be uploaded, including video, pictures, and presentations. Voicethread allows for a range of assignments. Instructors could require students to view content uploaded by the instructor, such as lectures. Instructors could also require students to upload their own content and have other students engage in a dialogue about this content. The neat thing about this tool is that it allows students to comment and respond directly to others’ posts in the form of a video, audio, or text message. In my opinion, this increases the intimacy of class discussion, especially in larger classes, and particularly more than a typical Blackboard discussion board that some instructors use. This is especially beneficial in larger classes where students might not be able to discuss course topics in small groups during class due to space, time, or other limitations. With Voicethread, the instructor is also able to create group assignments and assign students to subgroups without students having to physically be together to complete their work.

Perhaps one of the best parts about this system is that at VCU, instructors can sync this tool with their already existing class Blackboard page. Instructors would just create a Voicethread instance link within Blackboard. Therefore, the class roster will automatically be integrated into Voicethread and students would not have to create a separate account or sign up for a new service. Within this service, instructors are also able to upload grading rubrics and grade assignments. These grades are automatically posted into the instructor’s Blackboard gradebook. In conclusion, Voicethread appears to be an innovative and convenient way for students to be creatively and actively involved in the learning experience.

Caveat: There does seems to be a slight learning curve when using this tool for both instructors and students. If instructors would like to use it, I would suggest taking sometime in class to explain Voicethread to the students and demonstrating how they are to use it to complete assignments. Additionally, VCU has an amazing resource center to help instructors and students create a Voicethread and troubleshoot any problems that might arise.

VCU Blackboard Link: https://ts.vcu.edu/askit/teaching-and-learning/blackboard-elearning/courseorganization-management-/facultyleader/add-courseorganization-content/content-area-buttons/build-content/create/voicethread/

Top Hat for Lectures, Assignments, Tests, Textbooks, AND MORE!

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Submitted by Katrina Markowicz

For my online teaching skill, I decided to create a Top Hat account and learn how to incorporate the teaching tool into future courses that I may teach. I became aware of Top Hat while I was completing a teaching observation. Overall, Top Hat is a really neat tool which essentially would allow a professor to completely place their entire course on the Top Hat site. For example, you can take attendance, upload your lecture slides, choose an associated online textbook, upload and create exams, and create assignments. If a professor only uses Top Hat for free textbooks and course materials (i.e., Top Hat Textbook), as well as the “Top Hat Assignment” feature, students pay nothing. However, there is a fee for students if a professor were to adopt more features. For example, if the professor were to also use Top Hat Classroom, Top Hat Test, and premium textbooks/materials, the fee for students would be no more than $26 for one semester. Professors always sign up for free.

Top Hat Classroom (not free to students): When students interact with Top Hat Classroom, they can use their computers or mobile devices (i.e., mobile app or text) depending on the feature being implemented. For example, one feature that stood out to me was using Top Hat as a lecturing tool. You can easily drag and drop pre-made PowerPoint slides and use the Top Hat website to give the lecture. A benefit to this is that, if you allow it, you can allow students to follow along to the lecture on their computers. You can also annotate slides to circle key words or draw arrows pointing to specific figures. The downside is that when I uploaded some demo slides, my slides came out a little blurry. The classroom feature also allows you to take attendance for your class.

Top Hat Classroom – questions (not free to students): Another feature I enjoyed was being able to create “test-of-knowledge” questions that you can score for participation, correctness, or neither. Examples of question formats include word choice, fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, matching, sorting, and click on the target (i.e., “click which part of the picture defines this word”). These questions can be implemented in the middle of your lecture (i.e., “real-time feedback”) or assigned to the student to complete as homework. When you complete these questions during lecture, it allows you to show the students the correct answer after answering, provide feedback after answering, and set a time limit. One feature I thought was neat was while in presentation mode, is that you can set a count-down for “last minute submissions” to close submission. After students answer the question, you can show the frequency or percent of responses across answers (e.g., for multiple-choice type questions), and then show the correct answer. Some types of questions (i.e., multiple-choice) allows the student to answer on their computer, mobile app, or text, but others require the use of their computer or mobile app. The mobile app should be supported by most phones and across iPhone and Android, but if a student has an older phone, no phone, or a different type of phone, these features could be problematic.

Top Hat Assignment (free to students): You can also assign these questions for homework. Similar to presenting these in lecture, you can set it so they can see the correct answer, provide feedback, and a time limit. As homework, you set a start and due date. These questions can be assigned to the whole class or some of the class. When you assign the question for homework, it send the students a notification to complete it.

Top Hat Textbook (Sometimes free to students): The textbook feature allows professors to choose a text book and other course materials that their students can access. These can be found in the marketplace. There were 12 “premium textbooks” and 12 “free textbooks” under “Psychology,” which is pretty limiting. There are also course notes, slide decks, and question packs available. I could not explore this content further because my account needed to be verified as “professor.”

Top Hat Test (Not free to students): The type of test questions you can implement are similar to the questions you can assign for homework or administer in lecture. A professor types in correct answers to score, and these are scored automatically. There is not a feature to test the student’s knowledge on classroom material through short (1-paragrah) and long essay questions. Though, if a professor is able to change points for specific questions, using the “word answer” question, the student could type in a longer paragraph. That is, the professor could set the correct answer to “SCORE ME” and then change the score based on correctness. Though, as a student, it is possible that they may not be able to see their answer as a whole written out as the words disappear as one types. Overall, I feel like unless this feature allows you to change certain points, it is also difficult to assign partial credit. A benefit of this is that the test feature tracks a student’s use of their computer so if they were to “look up answers” the professor would see that they left the test screen to view online content. Though, the interpretation of what the report presents is limited and could potentially make a professor have to report more students for cheating than during a pen-and-paper test.

For more information, I highly encourage anyone to visit: https://tophat.com. You can also request a demo or create your own account!

Diigo

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Submitted by Samantha Mladen

I created a Diigo account with a number of useful links, including therapy videos, descriptions of disorders developed by the NIMH, and resources for students interested in a career in psychology. Creating this resource will be helpful for any future classes that I teach, but was also a useful exercise in thinking about the tone that I'd like to set in class. For instance, do I want to show tape of therapy sessions (a more applied approach) or do I want to have a more theoretical approach? Future students may also benefit from considering how the resources that they choose to prepare for lecture will set the tone for their course.

Youtube

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Submitted by Mattie Hedgebeth

In undergrad, I found YouTube to be a very useful tool in studying and learning class material. For my technology assignment, I compiled useful videos from the YouTube channel "CrashCourse" which give a short and fun explanation of educational subjects, in this case, subjects pertaining to social psychology. I have also added a few videos that are in a similar format and would be useful to students that may just need something explained in a different way or just want to quickly review material for a test or quiz. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCLUk397vKEZflM11NApNrA?view_as=subscriber

Jing for making screencasts

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Submitted by Sultan Hubbard

For my technology activity I chose to use the Jing application for screencasts. This is an excellent resource for capturing lectures on one's computer as a supplemental educational resource for students, have lectures posted for instructor absences, and an effective way to practice public speaking on challenging topics. In my activity I used Jing to discuss a particular methodology unique to dyadic data analysis that are typically employed in social psychological and personality research. By practicing the Jing application while lecturing the content, I could identify ways for more concise descriptions of the content area (Jing is free and limits casts to 5 minutes). After completing one's video, you can save it on one's desk top or on the online www.screencast.com website. This application does require adobe flash, so it is essential to have this updated on one's computer. I have posted a couple youtube instruction videos below that are helpful, however the application is quite user friendly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeb7nLLQfnU

Blackboard Training

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Submitted by Bianca Owens

To better prepare for a career as an instructor, I have chosen to go through online Blackboard trainings (Lynda courses) as my technology skill. There are close to 200 Blackboard video tutorials available ranging from introductory to advanced levels. I concentrated my training on courses that focused on the basics of Blackboard from an instructor’s perspective. I was able to gain knowledge on how to navigate Blackboard, effectively manage courses, and send information to students directly from the site, among other things. In addition, the training videos opened my eyes to more ways that students can use Blackboard as a centralized location for information regarding the course throughout the semester. As an instructor, use of Blackboard can act as a multipurpose medium. Of all the information received from the training courses, the most helpful was the customization features of Blackboard.  I was not aware that Blackboard was so customizable. This can be a great benefit when teaching multiple courses with varying goals. Overall, I would definitely recommend this site and training program. More specifically, to anyone who has never experienced Blackboard from the perspective of an instructor. It does a great job outlining and walking you through system. While I only focused on the basics, I see myself referring to these trainings as I enter into my role as an instructor. The training can be found at <a href="https://www.lynda.com/Blackboard-training-tutorials/487-0.html">Lynda.com</a>. Just enter your VCU EID and password to begin.

Google calendar/eLearning calendar

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Submitted by Hadley Rahrig

For my technology assignment, I decided to explore different online platforms for classroom calendars. I first discovered Google classroom, which seems to be very standardized, but requires administrator permission to create a class and develop a calendar. The standard google calendar app provided by Google Drive seems to be perfectly adequate. It allowed me to add in all due dates for the Interpersonal Relations class for which I TA. This calendar can then be shared with all classmates (with restrictions placed on editing functions). It should be noted that google calendars come with their unique ICAL link so that the calendar can sync with smartphone calendars.

I did a little more research and realized that Blackboard actually comes with this function! Under "my blackboard content" you can find a calendar application. You can use this application to schedule assignments and give links to those assignments directly from the calendar page. Each calendar comes with its own ical link so students have the option to import the blackboard calendar with any of their devices. The interface is fairly straightforward here and it allows you all of the same functions available with google calendar (i.e. repeat event; edit). According to the blackboard cite, all course items that are "assignments" with due dates are automatically added to the calendar. Two of my classes had all of their assignments added to the calendar. I'm not sure my instructors were even aware of this! Overall, I think this calendar application would be extremely useful for students and instructors and I think that the integration of this technology would be fairly seamless.

Socrative

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Submitted by Jeremy Barsell

The technology that I have decided to share is a web-based app called Socrative.  Socrative is an interactive app that allows for teachers to create a virtual learning environment for students.  Similar to how many college courses require the use of a clicker for quizzes, Socrative can serve a similar function.  Teachers can create a live quiz that students log into using a generated classroom code.  Each student would only need to provide their own laptop, computer, or smartphone instead of buying a separate clicker.  Instructors can view responses and statistics in real time, such as seeing how many students gave a certain answer on any given question.  The quizzes can also be set to anonymous responses, which can be a great tool for sharing opinions without outing the student.  On top of quizzes, Socrative has an exit ticket function, where it would be helpful to get every student's response before they leave class, and a group function.  Instructors can create separate groups or rooms to split up students into different activities.  Socrative is free to use, and can be upgraded to a pro account which has more features.  There are also separate logins for instructors and for students.  Overall, I think Socrative is an innovative classroom app that can engage students using technology.