Office 365 Integration in Carmen

Microsoft Office 365 is an online, browser-based tool that is available to Ohio State students and faculty for free (with the exception of Medical Center (@osumc.edu) employees). The traditional Microsoft Office suite is brought to a web browser and allows users to create and collaborate easily within Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

While Office 365 can stand alone as a useful tool for students and faculty, its recent integration with Carmen will allow for a greater and more practical use for Ohio State students and faculty. The integration creates another avenue for collaboration, creativity and sharing within Carmen.

Ohio State students and faculty can take advantage of Office 365’s features in four different areas within a Carmen course:

Collaborations

Instructors

Office 365 has now taken over the Collaborations feature in Carmen, which can be enabled/disabled in the course navigation by an instructor. Within Collaborations, instructors have the ability to set up a Word, Excel or PowerPoint collaboration for select students or pre-defined groups within the course. Collaboration settings can be edited at any point.

View this help article for a clearer step-by-step of this process and more information.

Students

If a student is in a group in a Carmen course, they will have the same access to Collaborations feature as instructors. Within that group, students have the ability to create Word, PowerPoint or Excel collaborations. As a student, keep in mind that instructors will be able to see any collaboration created within their course, even if they are not directly added.

Assignments

Instructors

Perhaps the most exciting feature of the integration is the ability for an instructor to create a “cloud assignment.” For example, an instructor may create a worksheet using Word in Office 365. They could then assign that worksheet to their students, and students could fill out the worksheet by editing the Word document themselves in Office 365. This could also be done using Excel or PowerPoint.

For a step-by-step of using this feature, view this help article. The article also highlights a few current limitations of the feature.

Students

Things aren’t too different from the norm on the student end of a cloud assignment. Staying with the worksheet example, students would see the ability to open and edit the worksheet in Office 365. Their work will be saved automatically, so they simply need to click “Submit” back in Carmen whenever they are finished.

To learn more about the student side of this feature, view this help article.

Along with the cloud assignment capabilities, on any assignment with “Website URL” as a submission type, students now have the ability to log into Office 365 directly from Carmen and select a compatible file to upload.

Office 365 tab

If instructors enable the Office 365 tab in the course navigation, students can now view their OneDrive files directly in Carmen. Clicking on a file will allow student to edit it in a new tab.

Essentially, this feature is just an easy access point to Office 365 from a Carmen course. To learn more about this feature, view this help article.

Rich Content Editor

Screenshot of a rich content editor toolbar in Carmen with the external tools icon highlighted

Lastly, students and instructors can link to OneDrive files within any rich content editor. By selecting the “More External Tools” icon in the tool bar (pictured above) and choosing Office365, any file located in a user’s OneDrive can be linked to. View this help article for a step-by-step of this process.

Using Office 365 is a great way to bring collaboration and innovation into your course(s). We encourage you to play around with these features on your own and come up with some ideas on how the integration may benefit you in one of your courses.

If you have any questions about this integration or anything related to multimedia elements of course design, feel free to reach out to me at tamburro.5@osu.edu.

Branching Activities – Planning and Building

Last month, I touched on the concept of branching activities, specifically focusing on the why and the when. Now that you’ve got a solid foundation and understanding of their practicality, it’s time to look at how we may plan and build out a branching activity.

Planning

Planning is the most crucial part of the branching activity process. In some cases, you’ll have a good idea of starting points for your activity but may not be sure where it will go from there. This could just be having a topic and understanding of what you want to accomplish with the activity without much content. To plan through a situation like this, we recommend identifying decision categories that students may need to work within and building out content from there:

In other cases, you may have an idea of where you want students to end up but aren’t sure how they will get there. You’ll have to plan backwards in this situation:

Either way, it’s important to think about every possible landing point that students may reach and map out every possible way they may get there.

While thinking about these things, there are multiple processes you may use to plan content for your activity. You may use pencil/paper or Dry-Erase, drawing boxes to represent each page. You may use notecards or Post-it notes in the same way with the added flexibility of being able to move things around. You may also use mind-mapping if you would like to plan digitally.

Building in Carmen

Once you’ve planned, the hardest part is over! It’s now as easy as building out your planned pages and connecting them. We’ll start by walking through this process in Carmen:

  1. Within Carmen, we recommend you start by creating a module specifically for your activity. You can move the activity into another module with the rest of your content later, but it’s easier to keep everything for this one activity contained during the building process.
  2. Within this module, create each page that you planned out. Think about it as a page for each notecard/Post-it note or each box if you used the pencil/paper or Dry-Erase method.
  3. When creating pages, naming convention is extremely important. Using “BA” (for branching activity) or some other recognizable naming structure at the beginning of each page puts every page for one activity next to each other in Carmen’s “Pages” list, which makes bulk publishing/unpublishing and/or editing much easier to follow.
  4. After all pages have been created, you’ll need to connect them together. Go to any one of your pages and list any other pages that can be reached from that page. Then, highlight text that want to turn into a hyperlink and use the “Links” tab to the right of the rich content editor to link to additional pages.
  5. Once everything is finished, you’ll need to decide whether your students should only see the beginning page of the branching activity or all pages within the activity, which you can toggle by adding or not adding pages to a module. Either way, every page in your activity needs to be published for students to see them, and all modules that hold any pages within the activity need to be published.

I’m guessing that this may have been hard to follow without any visuals, so we’ve created this step-by-step video to walk you through the process:

Building for Other Systems

There are other tools that will may be able to produce something a bit more robust than what Carmen can provide or produce something more specific to your needs. One alternative option is Twine. Twine is an HTML-based, mind-mapping software that is easy to use and produces basic scenario/decision-based activities.

Larger software programs like Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate are specifically made to create rich interactive projects with multimedia elements, but these tools are pricey and require a steep learning curve. Also, Twine, Storyline and Captivate are not OSU-supported.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of branching activities and how you may plan and build one for your course(s). If you have any questions about branching activities or anything related to multimedia elements of course design, feel free to reach out to me at tamburro.5@osu.edu.

Branching Activities – What, Why and When

Why interactivity?

Interactivity is an essential course design element in online learning. Interactivity could be defined in many ways, but let’s think of it in the context of passive vs. active learning. Passive learning environments contain little to no interactive elements and can be thought of as having stereotypical, “traditional” methods of content delivery and comprehension checks.

In these environments, students may go to class, take notes on everything that they see on a slide deck and take a structured weekly quiz, but they aren’t actually learning or retaining anything and aren’t able to regurgitate or apply the information in a practical setting.

In an active environment, the content may be the same as what is presented in a passive environment, but it’s interactivity that changes everything. Student learn by doing rather than just listening, and traditional methods of content delivery and reinforcement are replacing with hands-on, collaborative multimedia activities and assessments. Presenting content in more meaningful and engaging ways can lead to more effective learning experiences for students.

This is where branching activities come in.

Branching activities

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of a branching activity, think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure flowchart of choices that is based on scenarios and decision making. You may remember choose-your-own-adventure books from your childhood, where you would make decisions along a storyline that led you down certain paths and ultimately an ending point based on all of your previous decisions.

In the context of online learning, branching activities are one of the many ways to bring more interactivity into a course. A well-planned, well-thought-out branching activity can transform a passive learning activity into a rich, active learning experience, one in which students are immediately able to reinforce and apply the information that they just learned.

When should I use branching activities?

Branching activities are applicable in many learning situations and have been used successfully by instructors in a number of ways:

  • Scenario/decision-based activities
    • Nursing simulations where students make decisions on how to deal with a patient
    • Interview simulations where students have to react to certain question/reactions from the interviewer
  • Activities to guide students to resources/other activities
    • Asking students to “see where they are” before a new topic is started to point them towards specific resources
    • Asking students to participate in certain alternate discussions, activities or assignments based on their responses to topic-related questions
  • Reinforce concepts with optional branching activities that can be revisited
    • Study guides that aren’t just an outline of topics to be covered in an assessment (Gamification, etc.)

There are many other situations where a branching activity could be useful. Try to think of a project or idea in your course(s) that could take on a branched format.

Next, we’ll discuss how you can plan and build a branching activity.

If you have any questions about branching activities or anything related to multimedia elements of course design, feel free to reach out to me at tamburro.5@osu.edu.

Multimedia Innovation: Our Plan

Educational innovation is a top priority at Ohio State. Across our campuses, we strive to be at the forefront of a better and more modern student experience. Here at ODEE, we are no different. The Distance Education team works hard every day to make sure that our course design and development processes will lead to positive experiences and effective learning for online students.

A new wave of innovation has come into focus for our team in the form of multimedia advancement. Although we feel as though our multimedia efforts are already strong, we have developed an initiative that identifies some important work to be done in the next year (and beyond) that will allow faculty to present more dynamic and engaging course content to online students.

One of our bigger goals in the coming year is to get multimedia innovation integrated into our course design process. This means that there will be a section of each of our course designs that focuses solely on opportunities for multimedia advancement. Faculty will have conversations with our team to develop plans and identify possible work to be done in this area, which may include replacing a few traditional assignments with interactive, click-through activities, for example.

To go along with this, on our end, we will be developing a clear project management system that makes multimedia innovation easy for our faculty. A clear planning system will be drawn out and faculty will have the opportunity to complete clear and reachable goals surrounding multimedia improvements to their course(s).

Additionally, we are in the process of developing an ‘innovative tool guide’ that will help our instructional designers and online faculty identify tools that meet their innovative needs. Whether faculty are brand new to the multimedia game or have an idea that they are not quite sure how to execute, the guide will be there to provide answers. We are also piloting a storyboard that will be used to easily build out interactive projects.

We also have plans to explore the relatively new field of virtual reality, which has the potential to play a very interesting and impactful role in the world of online education. Additional new technologies will continue to challenge the way we do things on a daily basis.

All of these measures are being taken to ensure that our online students continue to receive the most dynamic and rich learning experiences possible. A few tweaks to traditional learning methods with an open mind of the advantages of multimedia learning can go a long way in greatly enhancing the student experience.

If you have any questions about our plan or anything related to multimedia elements of course design, feel free to reach out to me at tamburro.5@osu.edu.

Webinar Recording: Collaborating Live in an Online Environment

Male student studying with computer at 11th floor Thompson libraryWhether you are teaching an online, hybrid, or face-to-face course, at some point during the course you may want to engage with your students synchronously via the Internet.  You may have a remote guest speaker, a need for students to meet in groups, student presentations, you name it.  All of these experiences and more can be done through two OSU supported tools: Collaborations within CarmenCanvas and CarmenConnect.  On September 20th, Jacob Bane and Marcia Ham presented different ways each of these tools could be used to engage with students live outside of the traditional classroom.  Click the following link to view and listen to the recording of the 1-hour webinar: http://carmenconnect.osu.edu/p1poexawu4r/.

Please join the Office of Distance Education and eLearning’s DELTA team on October 17th when Dr. Matthew Stoltzfus will present a webinar discussing the topic of metacognition in an online course.

Webinar Recording: Teaching Large Courses Online (7/25/2017)

View the webinar recording at http://carmenconnect.osu.edu/p5p8lcegg1n/

In this webinar, Dr. Brian Lower  and his team, Kylienne Shaul and Ella Weaver, talked about some of the steps they have taken to develop a deeply engaging large online course, ENR2100: Introduction to Environmental Sciences. They will especially describe how they have used writing-based assessments and peer-review processes to enable students to think more deeply about the material and extend their understanding through interaction (in both on-ground and online versions of the course).

2013 in-person ENR Poster Session, the inspiration for a virtual poster session assignment that helps drive student engagement in the large course.  For more information and examples of student work, visit https://u.osu.edu/environmentalsciencesymposium/

Choosing Color for Accessibility

color palette from Coolors toolWhy we talk about color.

As we as a university acclimate to our new learning management system (LMS), Carmen Canvas, we now have the ability to alter the aesthetics of our courses, create custom content to insert, and make a variety of choices that were not possible in the old system. For some, this means adjusting the HTML code on “pages” or anywhere the Rich Content Editor is displayed. For others, it means creating videos and images to embed and display within the course. Creative use of the LMS spans all disciplines in appeal and utility: design is both a tool and an aesthetic, and we all want to convey our content in a way that is pleasing and effective. Overwhelmingly, we find that people universally want to affect the way their course looks. As we move toward more personal ability to make choices that ultimately affect the user experience, one of the key components that comes up both in terms of good design as well as universal design is color. Continue reading

Five Course Design Tricks to Maximize Learning, Creativity, Engagement (EDUCAUSE 2015)

On October 19th I was invited to present at a widely renowned national conference called EDUCAUSE. EDUCAUSE brings together higher education professionals, leaders, IT providers, administrators, faculty, and some of the most brilliant minds in the field.

My topic? Five Online Course Design Tricks to Maximize Learning, Creativity, Engagement.

Universal Design for Learning is a framework for designing learning experiences that meet the diverse needs of a wide variety of learners, including those with disabilities. Happily, when you design with those diverse needs in mind the experience of every student will be improved. The result will be increased learning, creativity, and engagement.

For an 8 AM session I had a large and engaged audience who were eager to share their ideas, impressions, and takeaways. At the end of the session, participants were invited to tweet at least one thing they would do now based on the presentation. Check out the hashtag #myUDL to see their responses. Below are some highlights:

Now I will:

  • @maggiericci says, “Check out the personas on u.osu.edu/universaldesign.”
  • @dancinjul says, “Create accessible templates”.
  • @maggiericci says, “Start the UDL conversation really early and make it positive, not apologetic.”
  • @CharleyButcher says, “Give students different ways to demonstrate their mastery of outcomes.”

Have UDL ideas of your own? Feel free to use #myUDL and share!

Want to join the conversation virtually or in person at the next UDL/Accessibility Think Tank at Ohio State? Register here.

Are we unintentionally inhibiting creativity?

Two dancers moving fluidly to music.In many professions the ability to think “outside of the box” and be innovative is desirable, if not crucial for success. Yet, we may be unintentionally inhibiting creativity in the way we design learning activities. In his book, “Effective Innovation”, John Adair lists several actions that creative and innovative individuals should do. Several among the list include:

  • Recognize assumptions and challenge them
  • Suspend judgment
  • Get comfortable living with doubt and uncertainty
  • Consider “invisible frameworks that surround problems/situations
  • Develop ideas drawn together from multiple sources

 

In addition, obstacles to creativity can include such things as over-application of logic and conforming to rules/regulations.

Now knowing this, how might we be inhibiting creativity in our classrooms? Let’s look at an example of a possible assignment.

Based on what you have learned about the topic of cognitive bias this week, find an image that represents an example of cognitive bias in society. In a one to two page paper describe how the image is representative of cognitive bias.

This activity is engaging and will likely be fun for students as they find evidence of cognitive bias in the world around them. So how is this activity inhibiting creativity?

The answer is one word—“image”. By framing the activity to require an image we are unintentionally limiting students’ creativity. Immediately students with visual impairment are excluded from the activity and students who may prefer to think outside of the box will find themselves limited. Let’s think outside of the box for a moment and consider if there might be a way to allow for creativity while still meeting the desired objectives for the assignment.

What else might students find as representation of cognitive bias in society? Sound bites? Podcast? Newspaper article? Blog? Facebook feed? There could be dozens of possibilities so let’s allow students the chance to think outside of the box and find a representation of cognitive bias that is most meaningful to them. How can we do that? Simple. Change the word “image” to “artifact”. One small change makes the possibilities limitless and accessible for all students.

 

“When all think alike, then no one is thinking.” – Walter Lippman, writer and political commentator

 

Goyette, B. (2007). Greg Sample and Jennita Russo of Deyo Dances performing in the modern ballet Brasileiro [Photograph]. Retrieved November 7, 2014 from Wikimedia Commons.