Karin Brown – St. Thomas E-Learning And Research
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Karin Brown

Best Practices, Tips, and Tricks

More Ideas about How to Enhance Your Online Discussions

This post builds off another post I wrote in May 2018 titled Enhance Your Online Discussions. In that post, I spoke briefly about best practices for writing online discussion prompts and shared some ideas I learned about at a conference. If you haven’t read that article, I recommend you start there and come back here when you’re finished.

In this post, I will highlight a few more techniques I learned about at the April 2019 Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Conference that took place in Denver, CO.

Using Images

This method allows students to share an image either in lieu of or in addition to what they would normally post. For example, in a marketing course, you could ask students to visit a local store and take pictures of a marketing display. They would then share the picture(s), perhaps with a short description or analysis, in the discussion thread. This could apply to any course where pictures of things found in nature, workplaces, schools, museums, or factories would be relevant to the content. Pictures of different types of infrastructure might also be valuable in some disciplines. This method provides variety and allows both you and your students to bring some creativity into the course.

Bringing In Outside Discussions

This method gives students a prompt around a particular topic, and students then discuss a particular viewpoint or set of questions with someone in their life, like a friend, colleague, or family member. These discussions can happen either in-person or over the phone. After this conversation has taken place, students log in to their online discussion board, share a reflection, and consider the ways their views on the topic may have changed during the course of their conversation. This method is a great way to add an in-person element to online discussions and to switch things up.

Role Play

This method works well if you want students to discuss a thorny issue that has many different viewpoints and stakeholders. Before the discussion takes place, students will be assigned to play a certain role as they participate in the discussion. For example, if you want students to discuss vaccinations, they could respond from the viewpoint of a pediatrician, a parent who is morally opposed to vaccinations, a parent with a child too young to receive vaccinations, an unvaccinated college student living in the dorms, or any other relevant stakeholders. This gives students the opportunity to think about an issue from a perspective that may be different from their own or that they haven’t previously considered. It also reduces the likelihood of the “Great point, I agree!” responses that are regrettably common in online discussions.

Fishbowl

In the fishbowl method, the class is split into two halves. One half participates in the online discussion as normal (inside the fishbowl) while the other half watches the discussion as an observer (outside the fishbowl). Once the discussion has closed, the students who did not participate consider what they learned by hearing and reflecting on what they saw their peers share and respond to several reflection questions. They then submit this response directly to the instructor as an assignment.

 

So there you have it! Four new ways to spice up your online discussions and create more variety in your online courses. Feel free to leave us a comment below if you try one of these methods in your course or have ideas other than those shared here.

This post was written by Karin Brown on behalf of the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. Please visit our website at www.stthomas.edu/stelar or email us at stelar@stthomas.edu.

Best Practices, Tips, and Tricks

Selecting Images that Comply with Copyright Laws

Have you ever been building a course in Canvas or adding something to your personal website, realized you needed an image, and used an online search to find one? Did you then wonder if that image was copyrighted, but were unsure how to tell? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, then this post is for you!

The vast majority of the images we find with a simple online search are copyrighted, which means it’s illegal to use them without written permission from the creator. If you use such images without permission, you can receive a cease and desist letter or, worst-case scenario, the university could get sued. Throughout my years of studying and working in the field of online education, I’ve heard the assumption that as long as the images are used for educational purposes, it’s complying with the laws. Unfortunately, this is not what copyright laws state and even in the field of education, we need to be careful about the images we choose to use. Next, I’ll give you a few tips and tricks about where to find images that are legal to use and how to tell if you need to provide attribution.

My favorite image databases are Pixabay and Unsplash. All images on these websites are free, non-copyrighted, and non-attribution, meaning you don’t need to cite your source. You can simply find an image, download it, and use it however you want. Couldn’t be easier!

However, the downside to Pixabay and Unsplash is that they are relatively limited databases and don’t have anywhere near the same number of images to choose from as Google or another large search engine. So if you can’t find an image you like on these two sites, you’ll likely find more options using a Creative Commons search. After clicking on the previous link, uncheck the box for “use for commercial purposes” (since that doesn’t apply to educational institutions), type in your search terms, and click on the “Google Images” box. Any image you find on the search results page is copyright-cleared, although it best practice to follow the link to be sure, and the image will likely require attribution. But be careful, any “related images” Google suggests may not be copyright-cleared, and even those that are will still likely require attribution.

Providing image attribution is similar to citing a source in a research paper; it is a way to communicate to readers the origin of the artifact. What’s more, there is specific information that must be included when providing attribution, the same way that there is for APA or MLA citations. The required information includes (1) the title of the work, (2) the author’s name, (3) a link to the source, and (4) a link to the license. As an example, I used Creative Commons (linked above) to search for images of kittens and I found the following gem:

Three gray kittens with black stripes laying on a blue blanket

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s how I would properly provide attribution for this image: “kittens” by Mathias Erhart is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

As you can see, the title of the work (“kittens”) is also a link to the webpage where I found the image, which takes care of criteria for both (1) and (3) above. (Quick tip- you can create a hyperlink using CMD+K on a Mac or CTRL+K on a PC.) I also included the author’s name, taking care of requirement (2). You may notice that I made the author’s name into a link to their profile. This is optional, but it’s a nice way to encourage readers to check out more of the author’s work. Finally, I found the type of license and the link on the image’s source webpage by clicking on “Some rights reserved” under the right side of the image, which satisfies requirement (4). Depending on the website where you find your image, you may have to hunt a little harder for this information, the same way that you might have to do for some sources cited in a research paper. Just remember, all four criteria must be included in order to comply with the attribution requirements of copyright laws.

And one final bonus… here are some other databases you might choose to use:

Most, if not all, of the images found in these databases will require attribution. You will need to check each individual image to make sure.

And there you have it! Now you know how to find images that are legal to use in addition to knowing when and how to provide attribution. If you have any questions about this process, feel free to let us know.

This post was written by Karin Brown, an Instructional Designer for the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about this topic, please visit our website at www.stthomas.edu/stelar or email us at stelar@stthomas.edu.

Best Practices, Tips, and Tricks

Universal Design for Learning Recap

Last summer, Faculty Development hosted a Summer Seminar on Universal Design for Learning, or UDL. One of STELAR’s Instructional Designers, Karin Brown, presented on the Multiple Means of Action and Expression component of UDL and wrote a recap for Faculty Development’s Synergia newsletter. Click to read Karin’s article, “Using Principles from Universal Design for Learning to Create Opportunities for Student Choice.”

This post was written by Karin Brown, an Instructional Designer for the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about this topic, please visit our website at www.stthomas.edu/stelar or email us at stelar@stthomas.edu.

STELAR Events

Introducing the STELAR Scoop

Have you seen this sign around campus?

Flyer about the STELAR Scoop Events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or maybe you’ve seen this banner on OneStThomas or other websites.

Flyer about the STELAR Scoop Events

Either way, we want you to know that STELAR is starting a brand new series of round-table discussions called the STELAR Scoop! Faculty and Staff, feel free to stop by STELAR St. Paul (LIB LL20) on Wednesdays from 3:00-3:45pm to “get the scoop” about the latest trends in educational technology and pedagogy. Oh, and also stop by for the free ice cream!

These sessions are very informal, so feel free to come late or leave early as needed.

Sessions begin on Wednesday, October 10, 2018.

This post was written by Karin Brown, an Instructional Designer for the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about this topic, please visit our website at www.stthomas.edu/stelar or email us at stelar@stthomas.edu.

Technology Tools

Introducing the New Learning Outcomes Inspirator!

Do you have learning outcomes in your syllabus? Do you conduct training sessions or webinars with staff or students? Then the UST Learning Outcomes Inspirator is for you! The brand new Inspirator will guide you to write learning outcomes that are measurable and grounded in Bloom’s Taxonomy, leading to clearer expectations and a greater chance of success for learners.

Please visit and bookmark link.stthomas.edu/Inspirator and start using the Inspirator today!

This post was written by Karin Brown, an Instructional Designer for the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about this topic, please visit our website at www.stthomas.edu/stelar or email us at stelar@stthomas.edu.