07 August 2013

Taking Your Screencasts to a New Level - Paul Tannahill

Paul considered picking apart many other presentations and worried that it would be a presentation of a friend or of someone in the audience. Rather, he showed his own screencast for us to pick apart. Driving Question: What are all the good things about doing screencasts?

Many screencasters use PowerPoint. Many people make a screencast and say, "Now make your's just like mine." Several people talked at length about the tools they used, rather than the actual making of the screencast. Let's define screencasts for the purpose of this discussion: A software tutorial program, rather than a recorded lecture of a keynote or powerpoint. Specifically, a recording to answer a question that is asked over and over and over.

Already I am seeing the need to continue my quest to acquire Captivate by Adobe.

You need to have the following three things for a good screencast:

1. Technical Excellence


  1. interface simplicity & clarity
  2. effective transitions
  3. zooms and pans


  1. vocal clarity
  2. vocal inflection - dubbing in your audio creates problems here
  3. volume
  4. computer sounds - keyboard? clicks?


  1. Embed using YouTube, Vimeo, Google Video, TeacherTube
  2. Not a link to a native file

2. Sound Pedagogy


  1. Needs assessment
  2. What do students/clients need to know?


  1. Plan your screencast
  2. Storyboard
  3. Script


  1. Don't put too much in
  2. Don't include distractions
  3. Don't underestimate

3. Watchability/Readability


  1. Title it correctly
  2. Tag (taxonomy)
  3. Share via every social media you have
  4. Ask others to share and comment


  1. Invite comments and suggestions
  2. Use a hit counter. How many times was it watched?
  3. Suggestions?

Stepping Up to the Challenge of Education and the Road Ahead - Dr. Mark Milliron

There was a point in time when education broke the cycle of poverty. That's not necessarily true in a day and age when only 50% of students who start college are able to finish.

We must think about the journey for students. How do we structure learning environments? How do we instill a sense of purpose in students? How do we help them to inventory their desires and wants and get that sense of purpose sooner rather than later? Note - the modal learner of today is from the late 20s to the early 50s with a mean of about 37. The traditional students are not going away, but they are no longer the modal learners.

Look into the Virginia Education Wizard and check out what it does. It's not useful outside the state, but the idea is awesome. Why is full-time status the default? Why do students have to talk to someone to make an exception to attend half-time? Why do students feel like they are filing for welfare or at the DMV? Students need to get on purpose from day 1. It doesn't mean they have to pick a major, it means that they need to understand the importance of knowing where they want to go.

We need to dispel the myth of edutainment. We must get them to understand that they must work hard in order to succeed. WGU Texas calls it the Texas two-step. Read the book Mindset. Shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. You don't already know everything you need to know. You are here to learn and that's intended to be hard. If it wasn't hard, it wouldn't be worth doing.

There's a big difference between the kids who are scaffolded throughout their life for college. Contrasted with the students who have NO ONE in their life who understands the higher education journey. Check out Practical Magic for reading. Students need to leave our classrooms better prepared for the next part of the journey. Persistence and tenacity are two very important pieces. However, this must be combined with a purpose and strategies for success.

There are 3 academic mindsets. Social, academic perseverance, and learning strategies. However, many think you have to choose one. But research shows that you must have a combination of all three to be successful. With everything we do, we should ask the question: Does this expand students' learning? That and the data behind it should frame every decision we make. How do we leverage technology to make a connection with students?

How do we build the right infrastructure, to get the right data, to the right people, in the right way? The consumer world is decades ahead of us in using data. Within 2 hours of you losing your credit card, a man in India will call you to see if you have lost your card. This is triggered by your spending habits and quick, closed-loop feedback. Let's apply that to learning.

06 August 2013

Rules of Engagement, Using the Personalized Learning Designer - Tara Thompson

What can MoodleRoom's PLD do for me?

  • Provide Positive Reinforcement
  • Pop-up reminders
  • Automatic Feedback
  • Turn specific content "on"
  • Encourage at-risk students
How does it work? Faculty set up rules, which contain 3 parts. Faculty will determine an event to trigger an action which is evaluated against certain conditions. Faculty will define each of these three components. PLD is analogous to a robot that is checking students grades and performance on each assignment. For instance, if a student has not verified in the course, they can be automatically directed to the verification quiz. 

The course must have activity completion turned on. 

A MoodleRooms Guide to Almost Everything - Phil Miller, VP of Product Strategy

The Moodle community continues to grow at a rapid pace. There are about 60 million Moodle users in 100s of countries. This isn't just for education anymore. MoodleRooms is at about 1000 customers with about 2200 sites, worldwide. There is a movement in Moodle to consider the social justice ramifications of the use. MoodleRooms would like to be good stewards of the partnership they have. There is another mention about learner.moodle.net, a MOOC which will start on 1st of this year. You can earn a badge showing that you completed it and this can lead to Moodle Course Creator Certificate.

MoodleRooms is working towards with the movement of Standards Based Grading (SBG). MoodleRooms is sponsoring the certification from the National Federation of the Blind, which is a huge push by Moodle to integrate more easily with accessibility tools, such as screen readers.

So what is my responsibility as a user? Participate in the conversation. Contribute to the community (code - which I don't do). Expand the community, maybe by pushing the MOOC? Engage in the community. Look into research projects (this could be a good idea for class). All of these would contribute to the global reach of Moodle.

Collaborate might be an option for synchronous opportunities. Joule Classroom is $10k. The limitation is 50 total users. xPlor is also a new thing coming. It is a content repository.

MoodleMoot Portland Keynote - Martin Dougimas, Moodle Founder and CEO

Martin is joining us from the future! He's 16 hours away in Austrailia, via GoToMeeting.

So who needs teachers? Students are able to get knowledge anytime they would like. There have been a lot of predictions about what education would look like. Some say that Google will be feeding us information before we even know that we need it. Go to YouTube to learn an instrument. The hole in the wall project in India, etc. However, Moodle's position is that teachers are important. They need support and resources. The human component is missing when you take the teacher out of the equation. Even when learning happens over the internet, you still make a personal connection.

One of the great things about Moodle is that even though it is open-source, it can be run on your own server, with your own data, keeping everything that you want as private as you want. There is one site that is supporting over a million students, with several running over one hundred thousand. Moodle supports teachers and learners.

Given that as the mission, how do we get there? By development. Moodle allows many plugins to talk to other plugins. Such as a student posting an assignment and that triggering some action. Or the reverse, where a students doesn't post an assignment which triggers some external log, etc. Caching allows an increase in performance cutting down the amount of work the program has to do (cutting out repetitive actions). Moodle partners are allowed to prioritize their bug fixes (MoodleRooms).

So where are we going from here? Moodle 2.5! And then some discussion happens about bootstrap, which I have no idea to what he is referring. I got a bit lost here. Something about Responsive Design. We are currently running 2.4.4. The other priority Moodle is working on is outcome-based learning. If you are interested in this, look into standards-based grading. There are also a significant amount of improvements on forums, such as accessibility, discussion subscription, improved navigation, in-line reply, and posting stats. Additionally, they are working on data-driven improvements. In other words, analytics and reporting. I suspect that our reports for students not attending class or not turning in assignments will be coming soon. They will also be working on Course Management. According to Martin, the current one is rubbish. Improvements to grading papers, the ability to annotate assignment (via PDF), will be coming. Accessibility!! Gradebook!! Bug Fixing. These are not all coming in 2.5, but many will be coming in future iterations. Many people are unhappy with the Moodle app. However, it is impossible to have the app do everything the full site does. It is more focused on offline work, e.g. being able to download course information and grade or read.

Look into signing up for AirNotifier Server when it becomes available? This would enable notifications, meaning that students could be notified by text about due dates, etc.

Look for a new Moodle.org coming soon. This will include badging for users who are particularly helpful in the forums. Consider taking the MOOC, which occurs starting on 1 Sept 2013 at learn.moodle.net. You will earn a Mozilla Badge. There is a Moodle Course Creators Certificate that can be earned as well.

Martin shared a great list of research questions asked and explored at the Moodle Research Conference (this year in Tunisia, next year maybe the US.) What about data? How do we address issues of privacy? What about notifications? Specifically, notifications when students need help, without them asking for it? How can we motivate students with data? Can badges be motivators?