Distance Education http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:08:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Copyright conversations for faculty http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/01/copyright-conversations-for-faculty/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/01/copyright-conversations-for-faculty/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 17:02:59 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4832 ©

Faculty and others who produce content, do you fear this symbol when it appears on content you want to use? What questions or concerns does the notion of copyright raise for you? Are you confused about how copyright applies in online classes versus face-to-face classes?

Rachel Bridgewater, Cascade Librarian and chair of the PCC Copyright Committee, will be doing a brief presentation about copyright as it applies to teaching, followed by facilitated discussion with plenty of time for specific questions.

Dates and locations

  • 10am – 11am, Friday, February 6, Southeast TLC, Mt. Tabor 108
  • 1pm – 2pm, Friday, February 13, Rock Creek TLC Classroom, 7/116
  • 2pm – 3pm, Thursday, February 19, Cascade TLC, Cascade Hall 102
  • 2pm – 3pm, Thursday, February 26, Sylvania TLC, CC 223
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LMS tricks from Northwest ELearning http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/01/lms-tricks-from-northwest-elearning/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/01/lms-tricks-from-northwest-elearning/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:00:31 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4794 I really like going to conferences, it helps to widen horizons, see the bigger picture, find new trends and there is a lot to learn in just 2 or 3 days. In October of 2014, I went to Boise, Idaho for Northwest eLearning conference. Tim Chase from Baker Charter Schools was one of the most engaging presenters at the event. He runs a resource page and blog  that I would like to refer you to.

I am sure you’ll find a lot of helpful info on it along with his LMS Tricks slide presentation from the Northwest e-Learning 2014. Here are my 5 top tricks (from his 30) that I use every day working with LMS. They are very basic, but can be a big help organizing your workflow and may save you lots of time.

Naming by numbers

Slide - Naming by numbers

Slide – Naming by numbers (click to enlarge)

Tim is using numbers to name the assignments files. This way just by looking at the file name gives you a lot of information – the number of the week that assignment was given, the number of the the assignment in this week and at the amount of max points the student can get for doing it.
Naming with numbers can make much easier  to sort the documents in a larger folder if the file name starts with a number corresponding to a number of content module (week) a document is included in. This practice can be adopted by some PCC instructors when uploading course documents in the Manage Files area.





 Control click

 Slide - Control click

Slide – Control click (click to enlarge)

Control clicking gives you an option of opening that link in a different tab instead of taking you directly there. This simple trick can be priceless, when working with a list of of submitted assignments, discussions or even courses and when you want to keep that list handy on a separate tab. Working between the tabs can be much easier than navigating with Go back button.







 Bookmark folders

Slide - Bookmarks folders

Slide – Bookmarks folders (click to enlarge)

You can store all open tabs and get back to your browser’s configuration at any time later.
When using Bookmark All Tabs option you’ll create a folder that will store all of your open tabs and you can open them all again.






Clipboard History

Slide - Clipboard History

Slide – Clipboard History (click to enlarge)

Download and install Clipboard History, a free extension for Chrome browser. Now you have an access to the content that has been recently copied to the computer clipboard. The tool works with any data: text, images, files, etc. and can be used to paste data to any application. Clipboard history is available after computer reboot and has a search function.






 Browser Clipboard

Slide - Browser Clipboard

Slide – Browser Clipboard (click to enlarge)

Download and install Browser Clipboard, a free extension for Chrome browser. This tool can store for your multiple copy/paste items. Just drag and drop a portion of a text to the text container that will hold it for you. This technique can ease your life when providing feedback to your class, because quite often you are going to use the same phrases assessing your student’s work. Just drag a phrase from the container and drop it in your text.




Visit Tim Chase’s page  for more LMS tricks and help him to collect more by submitting your own ideas following this link.

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Announcing the Start Guide for Online Learners http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/01/announcing-the-start-guide-for-online-learners/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/01/announcing-the-start-guide-for-online-learners/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 18:00:10 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4764 Virtual Backpack

Virtual Backpack: The Start Guide for Online Learners

After January 20th, 2015, students who want to take their first online class at PCC will need to complete the Start Guide for Online Learners before they can register for an online course. The Start Guide, identified as the Virtual Backpack, is a collection of modules to help student learn more about online learning and decide if online learning is appropriate for them. The Backpack helps students prepare for their educational journey. More than just basic information, the Start Guide also includes information about additional support available to online students and what to expect in your first online course.

Why are we doing this?

We’re doing this is because we care about student success. We’ve spent the last several years researching, testing, and working with instructors, students, advisors, and other student success specialists to see how we can help students improve their success rates in online classes. We found that even the most competent technology users in online classes are unaware of all the resources the college provides to support their success.

What does it cover?

This is a sample SmarterMeasure report. It gives overall scores in the major areas of the assessment.

This is a sample SmarterMeasure report. It gives overall scores in the major areas of the assessment.

We’ve had a pretty good orientation for a couple years now, but we’ve updated the content with some exciting additions that will really help students prepare for online learning. The biggest addition is a Readiness Assessment, an interactive tool that helps students consider how non-cognitive skills and lifestyle factors may contribute to (or work against) their ability to be a successful. This Readiness Assessment, provided by SmarterMeasure, provides students with a custom report with their readiness scores and identifies resources that tell the student more about the different aspects of the assessment.

Overall, the Start Guide contains the following major topics.

  1. The Readiness Assessment
  2. Overview of what online learning entails
  3. Academic integrity
  4. Online student services
  5. Completion and Next steps

Who has to take it?

The Start Guide is required for any student who wants to take their first online class at PCC. Students who have already taken an online class at PCC do not have to complete the Start Guide. It takes most people less than an hour to complete, and according to one student who participated in the pilot, it will “pay mad dividends” for students down the road.

Where do I start?

If you’re considering taking your first online class at PCC, you can start any time you’d like. You can either read more about it first, or you can log in to MyPCC to access it. Here’s how.

  1. Log in to MyPCC
  2. Click on the My Courses tab
  3. Locate the “Ready to take online classes?” channel and click the link for the Start Guide for Online Learners.

If you’ve already take it, or you’ve taken online classes at PCC before, you’ll see a backpack with a green check mark and a message that you’re ready to register for online classes.

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Using taxonomies to develop your teaching http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/01/using-taxonomies-to-develop-your-teaching/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/01/using-taxonomies-to-develop-your-teaching/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 18:00:28 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4733 Most of us know Bloom’s taxonomy as a classic pyramid that organizes learning activities – and ultimately learning goals. Say you want to learn how to repair your bike. Bloom’s taxonomy might have you start with lower-level learning activities, such as learning the names of the parts of your bike, before you try to understand what each part does. Only later would you be qualified to engage in such higher-level activities as analyzing the various systems on your bike, or evaluating why one type of part is superior to another part.

Bloom's rose, a new way of looking at Bloom's taxonomy

Bloom’s rose, from Wikipedia, downloaded 12/22/2014 under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

If you have recently visited the Wikipedia page on Bloom’s taxonomy, you’ve probably been impressed by a new adaptation called “Bloom’s wheel” or “Bloom’s rose.” The wheel represents a less hierarchical and more flexible taxonomy – one that allows a learner to engage in more complex learning activities before fully mastering simpler learning activities. You may well ask: Does a learner really need a lot of knowledge before being able to analyze? Do I need to know the names and functions of all bicycle parts before I can analyze how to make them work more effectively? Probably not. As experienced educators know, the ways in which learners attain skills are not neatly organized into a hierarchy, but are instead a bit messy, with lots of “recursion” (gaining skill, losing it, and then gaining it back – often more strongly than the original acquisition). And we’ve all seen how “knowledge” and “understanding” and “analysis” can blend together – they are not discrete categories. I might argue that learning the name of each part of a bicycle cannot be divorced from an understanding of its function.

Recently a colleague in my learning community alerted me to a taxonomy I hadn’t heard of, by Hampel and Stickler in a 2005 article in the journal Computer Assisted Language Learning (the article is a bit hard to find: PCC library doesn’t subscribe to the CALL journal and it’s not indexed in EBSCO or the other databases the library subscribes to; if you do a Google search for “Hampel and Stickler,” you’ll find an article by Susan Sun and a summary by LLAS that describe the taxonomy).

Hampel and Stickler must have been inspired by Bloom’s taxonomy, as they created their own pyramid that describes an ideal way for online language instructors to acquire skills, in the following order:

  1. Basic computing skills;
  2. Technical competence in using teaching software, such as an LMS;
  3. Working within the constraints of the medium;
  4. Using the medium in a way that allows for online socialization;
  5. Facilitating communicative competence;
  6. Exercising creativity and choice; and
  7. Developing a personal online teaching style.

You can see how this taxonomy is specially adapted for language instructors, whose main goal is communicative competence. But any online instructor might ask how this taxonomy might challenge or inform her/his own online teaching. For example, we might ask ourselves, “Where do we lack basic computing skills or LMS-specific skills that are holding us back from reaching our potential as online instructors?”

I’m pretty sure that the skills described in Hampel and Stickler’s pyramid are probably more like a “wheel” or a “rose”: it’s possible to jump ahead on the pyramid, or fall back. But a really expert learner – in any field – would do well to ask, “Where are the gaps in my learning? How would filling these gaps help me perform more effectively?” The taxonomy provides us a structure for thinking about and answering these questions.


Bloom, B. Mesia, B. and Krathwohl, D. (1964). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (two vols: The Affective Domain and The Cognitive Domain). New York. David McKay.

Hampel, R. and Stickler, U. (2005). New skills for new classrooms. Training tutors to teach languages online. In CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning). 18 (4). pp. 311 – 326.

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Discussion grid view is back! http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/01/discussion-grid-view-is-back/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/01/discussion-grid-view-is-back/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 18:00:34 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4712 Since the Summer 2014 upgrade of Desire2Learn, many of us have missed being able to choose between reading view and grid view when working with discussions. Some of us may have become comfortable with the “new and improved” reading view, but others have yearned for the familiar grid view. Well, the wait is over! We were not the only institution to voice our dismay, and Desire2Learn has listened. Beginning Winter 2014, you now have a choice on how you work with discussions in your courses. Although reading view continues to be the default, with a couple quick steps, you can test out grid view:

  • While in discussions, click on the Settings link in the upper right, just below the navbar
  • Under Personal Settings, Default View, simply select Grid View and Save.

For a complete rundown of the grid view and other settings, watch the short video below.

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The era of mobile learning: a revolution of true anytime, anywhere learning (part 2) http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/12/the-era-of-mobile-learning-a-revolution-of-true-anytime-anywhere-learning-part-2/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/12/the-era-of-mobile-learning-a-revolution-of-true-anytime-anywhere-learning-part-2/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 18:00:48 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4697 Last time in part 1 best practices blog, I covered about best practices for online instructors to create mobile-friendly courses. I suggest reading it first.


credit to Eric Skilling, Vantage Path


This time, I would like to continue the conversation by focusing on using mobile devices to access our LMS, Desire2Learn and teaching using mobile devices. Let’s explore how to use mobile phones for learning and talk adopts learning theories and instructional design factors to maximize mobile phone educational opportunities. These include theories like situated learning, collaborative knowledge, constructivism, and behavioral learning theories, as well as cognitive load and dual coding, among many others.

Examples of learning activities using mobile devices.

PCC Course Content viewed on iOS devices

Using mobile devices to access D2L

You can access Desire2Learn from your mobile device, such as an iPad/iPhone, Android, or Blackberry. You can post in discussions, but other than that, the mobile site is read-only. The mobile version of D2L is not intended to do everything that the full software version will do. Different types of mobile devices may behave differently. Some features, such as Dropbox, Chat, Groups, and Quizzes are not available on the mobile site at this time, but D2L has plans to add more features. The D2L mobile version can be used for the following:

  • See global and course-specific news item
  • View course and course content
  • View course events
  • Participate in course discussions
  • Check grades
  • Create bookmarks to quickly access content later

Tips for faculty

  • Click on the Desktop Version link at the bottom of the mobile site’s welcome page to see the standard site and access all of the tools.
  • It is hard to access your email in D2L because of the design layout. Change the settings of the email layout prior to viewing and accessing your D2L email on the mobile devices.
    • Use a computer and go to your D2L Email.
    • Click on the Settings
    • Uncheck the box for “Show the Message Preview pane”
    • Click the Save button to save your changes.

Desire2Learn Apps

d2l binder app

 Binder Tablet App

Students can view course content live or download course content into Binder app for reviewing later. Binder is available for iPad, Windows 8, and Android tablets. Learn more about Binder tablet App from Desire2Learn and how to use it.

Note: students who download/access course content using Binder cannot be tracked in the User Progress tool.


d2l assignment grader app

Assignment Grader App

Use Assignment Grader App (only available on iPad) to grade your Dropbox assignments. Learn more about how to use the Assignment Grader App.

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Happy Universal Design Monday! http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/12/happy-universal-design-monday/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/12/happy-universal-design-monday/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 15:32:23 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4679 Are you an early adopter of technology? Do you like to try out the newest and grooviest devices and apps? I saw a picture on Twitter (check out Alexa Maros’s post on how to Tweet) that said, “People with disabilities are early adopters.” I thought it should be a t-shirt slogan because it’s so true!

When you are out perusing the Cyber Monday deals, think about how technology has made things easier for you. So many technological advances originated from assistive technologies but have also been found useful in the mainstream.

Speech to text technology/ Voice recognition software: originally designed to help someone who can’t type or write is now used by many to send texts while driving and to ask Siri to dial your Mom.

Captioning: originally developed to help people who are deaf, but also used by aging baby boomers, people learning English, and people in a noisy setting. And captions make video content searchable. Search a phrase on YouTube, and you’ll see what I mean!

text to speech

Text to Speech. Image Credit: Wikicommons

Screen reading / text to speech technology: Many of us (me included) thought screen readers were just for people who are blind. But that’s not true. When Siri or Google reads your text message aloud, that’s the technology they are using. Adobe Acrobat Reader has a read aloud function built right into it (View > Read Out Loud).

Zoom and Reflow: If you are reading a PDF on your phone or computer and you can’t see it well, you probably zoom in on the text. Well not only is that an assistive technology in itself, but did you know that you can also choose View > Zoom > Reflow from the Adobe menu and that will reflow the text so you don’t have to scroll horizontally? Try it out!

This is the idea behind Universal Design. If you design with diversity in mind, more people will find the product useful, right? No more does it make fiscal sense to design for the typical user, whoever you may think that is.

The same is true for online course design. There is no typical student to design for. It doesn’t make fiscal or pedagogical sense to design for the typical student. As educators, we need to consider diversity when we design our classes. We are legally required to make our course content accessible for students with disabilities, but diversity includes more than just content and more than just students with disabilities. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides a framework to think about how to make content and pedagogy accessible and flexible to meet the needs of a diverse student body through:

  • Multiple means of representation
  • Multiple means of expression
  • Multiple means of engagement

This winter, Disability Services and Distance Learning will be starting a UDL interest group. Let me know if you are interested. We will also send out email announcements. In the meantime, you can learn more about UDL at Cast.org .

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Paperless Classroom. Bring your own devices! http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/11/paperless-classroom-bring-your-own-devices/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/11/paperless-classroom-bring-your-own-devices/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 18:01:53 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4638 Sharon Hennessy is ESOL instructor from PCC  Southeast Campus

Sharon Hennessy is ESOL instructor and technology pioneer from PCC Southeast Campus

Paperless Classroom for distance learning is the reality now, but it still can be a challenge for many Face-to-Face teaching instructors. This week Southeast-based ESOL instructor Sharon Hennessy talks about her experience with going paperless.

Sharon is not using D2L or any other LMS, but prefers Google tools to create online interaction with her students. She likes this technique for it’s simplicity and ability to work well on mobile devices and knows that these 2 criteria are very important to ESOL students.

Also, Sharon finds a great use of PCC’s WebEasy in her process to navigate students to their class resources, while many of us think of this tool as a technology artifact from the past.

This Best Practice can be helpful to not only many classroom-based instructors, but also could be implemented by online instructors as their “plan B” for the times when the LMS is unavailable.

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Website Redesign http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/11/website-redesign/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/11/website-redesign/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:37:58 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4605 cat web designer

Photo credit: Julio Marquez CC 2.0

Welcome to the new and improved distance education student support website! It’s been a few years since we have made any major revisions to our web presence, and have high hopes for this new format. Our goal is to provide better information and resources for students as a they progress through their journey as an online student. You will find that the new site is separated into 3 main sections intended for specific student audiences:

  • Prospective students who are curious about online classes
  • Admitted students who are ready to register
  • Current online students who are looking for support

Our goal is to continue to grow our collection of resources for students in all phases of their online academic journey. The new website features some content that we’re especially excited to offer students, including:

The new content should help to better showcase the talented student support staff in our department and the services they offer to support our online students.


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Be Brave. Be Bold. Tweet! http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/11/be-brave-be-bold-tweet/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/11/be-brave-be-bold-tweet/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 18:00:19 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4542 Social-Media Bandwagon

Social Bandwagon. Image credit: Juan Iraola

Social media is over-hyped to be sure. But when it comes to bringing a sense of immediacy to your class, it can provide options that can boost student engagement and make your class more meaningful. How?

  • Making textbook topics more current and appealing by integrating real-time news items and the latest published thought on an academic subject.
  • Using a popular social media platform to partner with your students to create more relevant discussion topics and other homework options.
  • Creating an ancillary feedback loop for students and teachers.

Using twitter in your class is as easy as 1-2-3. Be brave. Be bold. Tweet.

Just do it

Step 1: Create an account

First, create your own twitter account (specifically for classroom use). The account is free and takes a matter of minutes to set up. You will have some options to make your public profile appealing. Make sure to take a little time to include a background image and avatar that represents you as well as a concise but meaningful description of what you do and why you tweet. Now you are ready to start tweeting your thoughts to the virtual world!

Step 2: Explore twitter

Second, explore the twitter musings of relevant thought leaders and publications in your field of interest. For example, I teach business classes so I look to online magazines like Fortune, Forbes, Inc. and Fast Company for interesting news and opinions about business topics like marketing or leadership. I also “follow” individuals like Malcom Gladwell and Warren Buffett who offer interesting insights on marketing and investing.

When you find content you like, you can “follow” them on Twitter. This automatically adds their content to your twitter feed, creating an interesting stream of “tweets” from various sources thus broadening the information available to your students. You can also “retweet” interesting articles to your “followers” e.g. the students and others who follow you on Twitter.

Step 3: Add it to D2L

Third, integrate your Twitter feed into your D2L course homepage. Start by clicking on “settings” from within your Twitter account. Then select “widgets” to create and copy the info you will need. Next, use the D2L widget tool to create your very own Twitter widget! Now you are ready to include your Twitter feed on your DL class homepage. You’ve just added the excitement of a real time, customized news feed to your class, bringing even the most mundane topics to life. Below is an example of what mine looks like:

Alexa's Twitter widget in D2L


Of course…there had to be some, we’re talking about social media here.

  • If a student “follows” you, don’t follow them back. I always assure my student about this because let’s face it, there is probably stuff on their Twitter feed they don’t want you to see and that you definitely don’t want to see!
  • Your students do not need to follow you on Twitter, nor do they have to create their own twitter account. That’s optional, as it should be. Remember, because of that nifty widget you created, students can see your tweets without joining Twitter. All of your tweets and those that you want to share are available right on your homepage. This way no one is left out, but neither are students “forced” to join Twitter.
  • Disclaimer. Sometimes weird stuff can pop up on anyone’s twitter feed. I let students know that up front. Hey, I can’t be responsible for every random tweet that may include a “bad” word or worse. Most students already know that. Still, always good to be on the record about it.
Twitter teacher. Image credit: Gust Mees

Twitter teacher. Image credit: Gust Mees

If you are interested in learning more about using Twitter in your courses, here’s a helpful article: Using Twitter in teaching. You can also follow me on Twitter @MsMpcc. Now, go forth and tweet!



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