I was hit by a nasty, nasty cold this week, so I’m a bit behind, but I want to thank Rachel, Greg, Veronica, Sara D., Dawn and others for responding to my blog and offering tips on discussion forums,etc. As a new blogger,I have yet to figure out how to respond directly to your comments without e-mailing you. (I don’t want to set up an edublog account just to be able to respond to those of you using edublog.) Two of my to-do’s take-aways is to add a rubric for discussion posts and more clearly define my expectations for their responses to each other. I do provide exemplars and I chime in to applaud students’ worthwhile posts and to ask more questions to prompt further thinking. And, I do grade their posts, but these two additions may help. Mahalo!
Veronica, thank you as well for your post on using audio recordings to add the “human touch.” This became my focus this week. It raised a lot of questions and some techie frustration. Here, I’ll launch into a how-to discussion that may not interest most folks (especially since you’re all on Week 4!, but I thought I’d put it out here:
I find my online writing students love my audio comments. Ones that had been lurking also seemed to become more engaged. I started using them when TurnItIn.com offered a new voice message tool last year. It gives an instructor 3 minutes of recording time, so I had to get used to being concise. I also liked it because I found myself focusing on positive feedback more and I felt more personally connected to my students. In addition, I found it saved me from additional wrist and back aches because I wasn’t typing as much. (Ahhh! The hazards of this kind of work! 😉
This week, however, I returned to experimenting with other voice tools since I’d like to interact this way outside of TurnItIn.com. I experimented with using Adobe Pro’s voice embed tool and I thought, “This is slick and easy!” I saved their essays as pdfs with my comments and just clicked Insert voice memo. Nope! Several of my students couldn’t see the speaker icon in the pdfs. I researched this but got completely overwhelmed because it seems students with different hardware and software will experience different luck with this. Forget it!
So, then I tried ScreenCastOMatic which is also easy and slick. ( I had contacted my instructional tech team about all this and they recommend it again.) I loved it because I could scroll through the essay on the screen and talk my written comments, etc. But, I’m hearing from students who say they can’t open it with their media players. Harrumph! I’ve tried both ScreenCastOMatic options of QuickTimePlayer and WindowsMedia MP4s and AVI files. I’m also experimenting to find out if Laulima/Sakai limits the size of the attachment sent via Messages. I think it does.
So, these are the challenges that instructors face when experimenting. If anyone has any tips, I’d love to hear them! I don’t want to give up on this.