Smart Suggestions for Using Google in Teaching and Research

First, here’s a lovely graphic all about the suite of Google tools and their potential use in the classroom and beyond:

More concretely, here are some more detailed ways to use Google tools to boost productivity and student engagement:

1. You can use Google Forms to create all sort of questions (we’ve previously written about about Google forms and student self-reflection). For our purposes, though, you can also use Google forms to collect quick homework / reading check answers, poll students on their technology experience or ownership as a set-up for class activities, or ask students to briefly share their understandings of or questions about key concepts. If you create a question on your form that asks for the student’s name, there’s no need for your students to have their own Google accounts to complete the form (you can set up your form as a public or public with link form and allow anonymous submissions). This is a great primer on the benefits of using Google Forms for online surveys.

2. The way in which Google displays search results has changed recently; Google has added a Knowledge Graph panel to the right of the returned search results. This panel leverages Google’s powerful analytics about what information users are usually seeking when they search for a given term and which pages they generally end up reading. While perhaps shepherding users toward easy and common information, the Knowledge Graph is also helpful by providing ready-made contextualization of information. If one doesn’t know a particular term or personage provided in the Knowledge Graph, discovering the meaning or relationship is but a click away. This is a nice piece about Knowledge Graph and Deeper Searching.

3. Are you a Google Scholar user? Did you know that Google Scholar can integrate with the catalog of your local library, telling you whether material you’ve found is available nearby? Likewise, when paired with your work in Google Docs, Google Scholar will actually locate and then format your references in APA, Chicago, or MLA  format. this approach is a little clunkier and not as robust as one of the paid citation / reference programs, but, hey, the price is right! Last, Google scholar can tell you not only the number of citations a certain piece has, but also produce a list of them. Read all about these tricks in this post about Three Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Google Scholar.

4. If you’re using (or considering using) Google+ as a social networking or video conferencing option in your class, this post has some suggestions about how Google+ can help you get the most out of virtual office hours.

Also, writing about Google products is nothing new around here. Here is a list of past Google-related topics.

Last, if you have a favorite way to use Google or a favorite Google tool that helps your research or teaching, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Tips for Recording Audio

We’ve written about adding audio and video to your course shell, but this is one of the most comprehensive and useful list of audio recording tips I’ve seen in a while. These suggestions will definitely save you some frustration if you’re considering using audio in an instructor introduction, in unit or content introductions, or elsewhere in your course.

Note that if you follow their tip and use a script, not only will you sound more poised, but you’ll have your transcript (a must for disability accommodations) ready to upload. No need to take the time to transcribe after you make your recording!

As a reminder, the Koehler Center has information about recording and uploading audio clips.

Using Groups in Pearson LearningStudio

Do you have a Pearson LearningStudio course shell? Are there multiple sections in one shared shell, or are group projects a large component of your class? If so, using the Group Management tool in Pearson LearningStudio may be for you.

The Group Management tool allows you to place students enrolled in the course shell into distinct groups. Once your students are in groups, you can share certain content items with each group and create associated dropboxes, and use dedicated threaded discussions or chat rooms for each group. You or the students can also email the whole group using the email tool within LearningStudio. Likewise, you or the students can use the document sharing tool to share documents just with members of the selected group. Throughout the course shell, students will only see the items associated with their group, whereas you, as the instructor, will see items for all the groups.

You might use groups based on the registrar’s section numbers, project / paper / presentation topics, or grad students versus undergrads. Another extremely useful way to use groups is to create groups of students to allow for university-approved disability accommodations; in this way, you could use the same exams or paper topics but grant the student(s) longer time to complete the items or adapt the items in other appropriate ways.

The Koehler Center has a lovely video and some written how-to information about the Group Management tool.

Announcements in your Pearson LearningStudio Course Shell

As the semester begins and students start to log in and check out your Pearson LearningStudio course shell, I wanted to remind you of the many ways in which you can use the announcements feature.

If you’re unfamiliar with using announcements in your course shell, the Koehler Center has announcements how-to videos and documentation.

Once you’re familiar with how to add / delete / edit /date-drive announcements, we also have some additional announcements information. If you’re interested in learning about the different uses of announcements and the pros / cons of using course shell announcements versus email, check out this article on announcements from the Koehler Center newsletter archive.

Embedding Video Tutorials in your Pearson LearningStudio Course Shell

Are you using the Dropbox, Threaded Discussions, Doc Sharing, Webliography, or other course tools / features in your Pearson LearningStudio course shell? Do students ever struggle with the mechanics of this technology?

Of course, we know that you’re providing clear directions and you may even be linking to the Koehler Center’s Pearson LearningStudio student how-to documentation (note that each topic has its own page, so you can give your students exactly the information they need). The dedicated students may click on the links you provide, read the information or watch the videos, and resolve their issues. A more common scenario might entail a student having a question about how something in the course shell works, and then emailing you with the question and / or an excuse about completing an assigned task, or perhaps not contacting you and completing the task at all.

An easier way to handle this situation is to embed the video tutorial directly in your course shell. Now, you no longer have to rely on the students clicking the link to get the information – all they have to do is press the play button on the page they are already reading! Embedding the tutorials in your course shell is pretty easy since the Koehler Center has uploaded all our video tutorials to YouTube and YouTube provides you with some handy embed code that you can copy and paste.

Here’s a step-by-step guide how to embed

1. Find the video tutorial you would like to embed. You can look at the list of Pearson LearningStudio student how-to documentation, click on specific topics, and then on the video icon for the topic or sub-topic.

2. The video will display. Click on the share button in the upper-right corner of the video.

screenshot showing the location of the share link on a YouTube video (the upper right corner of the box)

3. The video background screen will change, and you will now see the embed button in the center-left of the screen. Click on this.

screenshot showing the location of the embed button on a YouTube video (center left side of the screen)

4. First, make sure the box next to “show suggested videos when the video finishes” is unchecked – you don’t want your students distracted by YouTube’s suggestions! Then, (using Ctrl+C on a PC or Apple+C on a Mac) copy the embed code highlighted in the box.

screen shot showing the highlighted embed code automatically generated by the YouTube video

Halfway done! Now you’ll just need to put that code you’ve copied into your Pearson LearningStudio course shell so your students can see it. You can opt to embed the video tutorial in any text/multimedia content item or unit homepage, an announcement, or a threaded discussion. Depending on your course, you’ll need to figure out the best place to put your tutorial; this might be alongside (or preceding) the first instance of a given type of assignment, with each instance of the assignment, or in a general video tutorials unit or content item in your course shell.

Once you’ve decided on the spot, here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Go to your Pearson LearningStudio shell and select the text/multimedia content item (or create a new content item). Once your content item is created/selected, then select the AUTHOR tab on the upper-left side of the screen to make sure you are in author mode.

Screenshot showing the location of the author tab in the upper left corner of the Pearson LearningStudio course shells.

2. Select the HTML tab in the bottom left corner of the visual editor. This will change the visual editor box to an HTML code view.

Screenshpt showing the location of the HTML toggle on the lower-right of visual editor window in Pearson LearningStudio

3. Place your cursor in the box, wherever you would like to place the video, and then (using Ctrl+V or right click>Paste on a PC or Command+V on a Mac) paste in the video embed code.

4. Save your changes using the save changes button on either the upper or lower right side of the page, and then select the COURSE tab (adjacent to the author tab on the upper left side of your page) to view your video. Voilà, the tutorial should appear right before your (and your students’!) eyes!

Four steps on the YouTube side, and four steps on the Pearson LearningStudio side! We hope you’ll use our videos to make your life and your students’ lives easier. Again, here’s the list of the Koehler Center’s Pearson LearningStudio student how-to documentation; you can find video tutorials by clicking on the specific topics.

p.s. I’ve highlighted how to embed video content using the Koehler Center’s LearningStudio how-to videos, but you could also follow the same procedure to embed any other YouTube video that you find / make – details are on the Koehler Center’s YouTube Videos and Pearson LearningStudio page.

The Big Picture

As the Fall semester begins, it seems like a good time to take a step back and consider some perspectives about teaching with teaching with technology.

Apps, programs, approaches, software packages, and devices all fall under the umbrella of “teaching with technology” – our goal at the Koehler Center is to keep the focus on what works for you and your students. Beyond solving problems for an immediate lesson or semester, teaching with technology can be part of a larger teaching philosophy or professional goal. If you’re thinking about how to fit some specific class-based solutions into a larger framework, the resources below might be helpful:

Nine Theses on Teaching with Technology – Thought-provoking, and ripe for adaptation into your own worldview.

When it comes to Education Technology, Video won’t Kill the Radio Star –  This post on the role of emerging educational technologies and the human connection in the classroom makes the point that “When more courses incorporate digital materials, there is less and less distinction between in-person learning and digital learning. Far from replacing the human aspect of education, this improved understanding of communications patterns and comprehension can lead to greater empathy and a more productive classroom.” (And, yeah, I totally wanted to link the video, but, hey, I already have!)

The Future of Educational Technology – Ideally, in using educational technology, we’re not just helping our students grasp key concepts, but also providing them with authentic, transferable learning experiences and skills, in fitting with the mission of the university and larger beliefs about the role of education in society. If you’re wanting some depth as you think about the larger place of educational technology, this post is a good start.

If the above links have you wanting more concrete information, here are some useful links:

20 Tips and Resources for Using Learning Technology in Higher Education – From our British friends over at The Guardian, this is a great round-up of practical information, collected from professors, instructional designers, and program directors in the U.S. and UK.

20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have – I wouldn’t read this as a must-have list, but more as a list of tools from which you might pick 2-3 to explore incorporating into your courses, as appropriate.

How to Learn the Basics of Digital Technology – New products are being released all the time; here are some great tips about how to approach tinkering with new items. After all, if you never try it, how could you ever incorporate it into the classroom?

Best, for TCU faculty, check out the Koehler Center’s workshop and events schedules. We hope to see you at one of our sessions!

Adding an Instructor Bio to your Course Shell

How do your students learn about your professional background and accomplishments, your contact information and preferences, as well as gain a sense of who you are outside of school and work?

A short speech on the first day of class (in a face-to-face class, of course) is one way to do this. And, provided your students aren’t scanning the syllabus or searching the room for friends or future friends, they might pay attention and remember what you say. But what if there were some way to put this information somewhere where the students could reference it at their own convenience and where it would never be lost?

Enter the instructor bio in your course shell – the perfect, permanent place for your bio! But what to put? And how to format it? The Koehler Center has a sample instructor bio, complete with a downloadable template that you can place in your own Pearson LearningStudio course shell.

Of course, if you are teaching an online course, you’ll absolutely want to have an instructor bio up, complete with a photo. Additionally, you may want to strongly consider having an audio or video introduction as well.

As motivation to make an informative instructor bio, I’d like to share one of my favorite cartoons (ever!) with you.

Last, turnabout is fair play: here are the photos and bios of the Koehler Center staff. We’d love to meet you at one of our open labs, trainings, or special events!