by Elizabeth Ramos, Office of the CIO
Whether they’re developing an engaging introduction to an online class, reshaping a course from quarters to semesters or simply doing more with less, Ohio State instructors are finding new ways to capitalize on existing learning technology to serve their students in changing times.
In preparing for the semester switch, professors are looking for effective ways to restructure their courses not only to fit new timelines but to make the most of face-to-face instruction. In semesters, students will be taking around five classes at once, rather than three. With the space limitations semesters create from the higher demand for classrooms, some courses are going hybrid, introducing distance-learning elements.
“We’ve looked at ways to take elements of the course that took a lot of time in-class and put them online instead,” said Ola Ahlqvist, associate professor of Geography and course coordinator for Geography 200.
Ahlqvist and a team of instructors used Carmen as a primary element in redesigning the Geography 200 course. Watching videos, reading articles and taking weekly map quizzes used to take place in the classroom. By moving these activities to Carmen, they can make the most of their face time with students for reflection and interaction.
As more classes are going hybrid or fully online, instructors are working to make sure their students stay informed and engaged. Psychology lecturer Jacqueline von Spiegel tackled both course and Carmen orientation in her online class with one innovative solution: A treasure hunt.
“A part of the treasure hunt is a student characteristics survey,” von Spiegel said. “In this survey, 42 percent of the students responded that they learn best by actively participating, as compared to 28 percent and 29 percent preferring watching a video or reading, respectively.”
For this interactive exercise, von Spiegel offers clues which direct students to different parts of the Carmen site, and several areas of the General Psychology course material as well.
The clues are hidden so that the students need to complete activities such as reading the syllabus, watching an orientation video and navigating the Carmen course site in order to get to the next step. Each step gave access to more of the course content students would need, such as practice questions, lecture videos and quizzes.
“It is a big time investment up front to set it up, but since most of it is automated by Carmen, the time spent on it while the students are going through it is minimal,” von Spiegel said. “The great thing about that is that while I don’t have to spend a lot of time checking students’ progress, each student gets a sense of individual accomplishment and connection with the course on a personal level.”
By improving her process for online assessment, Chemistry lecturer Ruth Kinder presents another learning technology success story. Kinder has explored Carmen’s Desire2Learn quiz function and capitalized on its utility to automate the grading process, and not just for multiple-choice. This saves hours of manual grading and can still allow for flexibility with open-ended answers such as misspelling and partial credit.
With regular expressions she writes codes for flexible automatic scoring including short answers and fill-in-the-blanks. She also uses pre-placed general feedback which appears automatically and immediately upon submission. This general feedback enables the learner to correct misassumptions and to reinforce accurate information. This process recreates the assessment experience into an additional learning opportunity for all students.
“Effective feedback is much more than ‘right’ and ‘wrong,'” Kinder said. “An instructor can use their experience base and familiarity with the course content to pre-explain concepts and applications in feedback.”
Instructors looking to utilize Carmen and other Desire2Learn tools – whether it’s to improve an element of their course or consider a whole redesign – have plenty of resources.
To support the university’s Quarter-to-Semester project, the Office of the Chief information Officer’s Carmen team will be creating Semester Development course shells for each course in the new curricula. These course shells can be used by instructional staff to develop resources in Carmen before the actual Carmen course sites are available.
The Digital Union offers a myriad of workshops, many of which are targeted to help instructors synchronize their courses and the eLearning tools available. For more, visit ocio.osu.edu/elearning.