Distance Education http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance Sat, 18 Feb 2017 21:51:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.2 Send a Course Progress Notification (CPN) http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/02/send-a-course-progress-notification-cpn/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/02/send-a-course-progress-notification-cpn/#respond Sat, 18 Feb 2017 21:51:18 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7506 Do you have students in your online courses who are struggling after midterms?  Do they know that they are struggling and do they know who to contact for assistance?  How about students who are doing well in your course, could they use feedback from you to reinforce their progress in your course?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should consider sending feedback to your students using the Course Progress Notification (CPN) tool.

What is a CPN?

A CPN is an early alert tool that allows instructors to quickly provide feedback to students regarding their course progress.  This can include notes about attendance, participation, grades and overall performance.  Additionally, the CPN tool allows instructors to include directions, resources and referrals that can help students get back on track. When you complete a CPN the information you entered is sent to the student’s PCC email account.  In some instances a copy is sent to advising staff if the student receiving the CPN is connected with a Trio program or Oregon Promise.

When to complete a CPN?

CPNs can be submitted at any time during the term.  You should consider using the tool whenever you have a student in one of your courses who is struggling.  With that being said, the tool can be most effective during the first half of the term as this provides students with enough time to evaluate their progress, seek out assistance, and improve their performance before the end of the term.

Students who are on Academic Probation or Academic Continued Probation are required to request CPNs from all their instructors during the fifth or sixth week of the term.  Once received, students review their CPNs with an academic advisor.

How can you find and use the CPN tool?

Go to the MyPCC Faculty tab and click on Summary Class List in the Tools channel.

On the Class Summary List, or roster, click on the CPN link located at the far right of each student name

Select the message type that addresses your concerns or commendations.  You also have the option to providing a current course grade and space additional comments.

After the CPN entry form has been completed, you can preview the message prior to sending it to the student. Both you and the student will receive the CPN email.

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D2L CD update 10.6.10 for February 2017 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/02/d2l-cd-update-10-6-10-for-february-2017/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/02/d2l-cd-update-10-6-10-for-february-2017/#respond Thu, 16 Feb 2017 17:05:44 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7492 February’s release is primarily focused on Daylight preparation, so you won’t see some of the updates until June 20th. There are a few nice updates that will appeal to many though.

Math & HTML updates

If you use the equation editor in your classes, the HTML editor has been updated so that you can actually see your equations while in editing a document. This is a vast improvement over the yellow placeholder box in previous versions.  Take a look:

Example of the new equation layout

The new format allows you to see the equation while you’re editing your post!

Example of the old equation layout

The old equations showed up with a placeholder image. Is this the right equation? I sure hope so…

Short Answer Question design

This month’s quiz interface update comes to the Short Answer Question format. It uses the new responsive design that gives you a bit of a preview for Daylight. It’s nothing fancy, but I figured I should share something new from the update.

Firefox/Updates link fix

A few of you  noticed that if you clicked on a link in the Updates widget that it would load the link within the Updates widget and it was very cramped. This has been fixed in the new release. Here’s an example, for historical reasons.

Assignments is awkwardly loading in the Updates widget

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Make your class activities Pulse friendly http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/02/make-your-class-activities-pulse-friendly/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/02/make-your-class-activities-pulse-friendly/#respond Mon, 13 Feb 2017 18:00:11 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7466 D2L has a student focused mobile app called Pulse that allows students to see what activities and due dates are approaching. Recently, the app was updated to allow students to view rudimentary content and reply to discussion posts. The app is intended to help students stay on top of their work, but it’s only as good as the information in the calendar tool in D2L Brightspace.

Here’s a student introduction to the Pulse app and how to use it at PCC. A glossier intro video from D2L is available, and it’s much shorter.

Here are a few things you can do to improve the usefulness of the tool.

Check “Display in Calendar”

Most activities, like Assignments, Quizzes, and Discussions, allow you to set the start and end dates for each activity. You can automatically add those dates to the calendar simply by clicking on the Display in Calendar option. This is usually found under the Restrictions tab where you set the date information.

The Display in Calendar check box

Use HTML for content

You’ve probably heard this chorus for us for decades by now, but it’s true. Using HTML – especially using one of our DL templates – means  your content will likely display well on a mobile device. HTML and our style sheets allow the content to size appropriately for the device. If you’re interested in learning more, talk to one of our Instructional Technology Specialists.

Frequent updates

We have waited to promote Pulse until we though the features were compelling enough for our students. Each Continuous Delivery update brings new features, so the app is evolving rapidly. It will remain a student-centric app and is never intended to replace the web interface that we use on a daily basis. Fortunately, the whole interface is getting an update after Spring term. We’ll have some opportunities for you to see the new interface in March.


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Using the Pulse mobile app for your online classes http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/02/using-the-pulse-mobile-app-for-your-online-classes/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/02/using-the-pulse-mobile-app-for-your-online-classes/#respond Sun, 12 Feb 2017 19:17:51 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7471 D2L has a mobile app for students called Pulse. The app isn’t intended to give you full access to your online class, but instead focuses on simple tasks like checking upcoming work, responding to discussions, and getting class notifications. Here’s a quick overview of the app and how to use it at PCC.

The application is in active development, so there are frequent updates. Some features we covered in this video may have changed, and there may be even cooler updates (or fixes) available now. Please use the feedback tool in the app (usually from the gear icon) to share what works and what falls short to help them make the app better for you.

Download the App

You can download the app from the  iOS app store or from the Google Play store for Android devices.

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Creating media with Office Mix http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/02/creating-media-with-office-mix/ Tue, 07 Feb 2017 15:53:51 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7437 Microsoft Office Mix LogoOffice Mix is a robust add-in for PowerPoint that allows you to create rich media easily. If you know how to create a PowerPoint, then you can create a “Mix.” The learning curve is minimal and Office Mix is packed with the features that you will use most.  What’s more?  It’s free!

  • Record audio to presentation slides
  • Record audio and insert a thumbnail webcam video onto presentation slides
  • Create webcam videos
  • Create a screen recording (record desktop/program on your computer)
  • Insert quiz questions (multiple choice or true/false)
  • Draw on your slides (requires a touchscreen or tablet)
  • Update/insert/delete a slide without having to redo the entire video.
  • Trim audio/video to remove long pauses, etc.
  • Notes section in PowerPoint can be used as a script for reading while recording.
  • Host your “Mixes” on the Mix website for ease of sharing
  • Save as an .mp4 to upload to YouTube or Kaltura (interactive quiz features will be disabled).
Getting started

To get started with Office Mix, you will need to be running Windows and Office 2013, 2016, or 365. If you do not have the latest version of Office and you are PCC faculty, please call x4400 to obtain a copy. Then go to the Office Mix website to download the add-in.

Office Mix Homepage

You will need to set up a free account for Office Mix. If you like, you can use your PCC email address by selecting sign-in with Google.

page for signing in to Office mix

If you encounter an error downloading Office Mix, it is most likely due to an out-of-date version of Visual Studio Tools.  To fix this error download Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Runtime.

Getting help

As part of PCC’s Distance Education Gear Up initiative, an Office Mix media session will be held at each campus in February.  This session will provide you with a introduction to Office Mix and how to create a basic Mix. Also, Get Started with Office Mix has a number of tutorials that walk you through the basics and advanced features of how to use Mix.

Image of videos on mix tutorial website

Get Started with Office Mix Tutorials Website

If you would like in-person training and can not attend a session, please contact an Instructional Technology Specialist to set up a one-on-appointment.

Limitations of Office Mix

Unfortunately, Office Mix is only for the Windows versions of Office 2013, 2016 or Office 365. It can’t be used with the Mac version of Office. Also, know that when last checked, students with disabilities should use Firefox and Jaws 16 when viewing a Mix. Lastly, know that the interactive quiz questions do not work on mobile devices. Instead, when you publish a Mix, a mp4 version is saved as part of the “file.” It is this video version that automatically plays on mobile devices.

Best practice: get help with media http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/01/best-practice-get-help-with-media/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/01/best-practice-get-help-with-media/#respond Tue, 31 Jan 2017 14:35:57 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7422 DL Tech Manager Andy Freed testing our new transparent whiteboard. Photo courtesy Ric Getter.

DL Tech Manager Andy Freed testing our new illuminated transparent whiteboard. Check out a sample video. Photo courtesy Ric Getter, Media Services.

Adding media to your course to increase your presence, engage students and enrich your instructional message online is a best practice we like to encourage. We also recognize that it can feel like ʻjust one more thingʻ when youʻre busy in your primary role guiding student success.  

To respect your work/life balance and support you in your exploration of using media in your courses, PCC offers a wide range of services and a team of dedicated specialists to help you. So much support, in fact, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin.  Hereʻs my take on a quick guide to help you choose just one new ʻmediaʻ thing to try:

Ask your Subject Liaison Librarian for guidance

Subject Liaison Librarians are here to help you sift through the vast ocean of vetted content available, including streaming video collections, copyright cleared for use in your D2L courses. If you donʻt know where to begin, meeting your subject area librarian is a great first step.

Reach out to our Open Education Resource (OER) specialist

The OER landscape is rapidly changing, so weʻre grateful to have both Jen Klaudyini here with us at PCC, and Amy Hoefer helping navigate at the state level with openoregon.org. If youʻre in a course development or revision phase, you can preserve more of your personalized media creation time by adapting OER content.  Student access and satisfaction measures are also improved by OERʻs reducing or removing materials costs.

Use the Media Production Request Form to request project help

A multi-department team receives notification when you fill out this form for everything from lecture capture to live event capture,  audio, video and multimedia production support.  We communicate with each other to connect you with best tool and support team for your project, sort it out on the back end, and get back to you with a single point of contact for your project. Itʻs like picking up the phone and calling nine  people across the district to explain your project idea to find out which one you should work with,  and all nine have also had a chat to agree. Handy! Pro tip: if you donʻt know where else to start with a project idea, you can check the “Help, I donʻt know what I need.” box, and one of us will get back to you swiftly to help you sort it out.

Apply for Video Camp

Video Camp productions are a professional development opportunity for faculty whose output is beautiful  subject supporting media that enhances instructor presence.  Faculty gain access to our video production team and technologies, including studio gear like our new transparent whiteboard in development – weʻve dubbed ours ʻproject learning glassʻ- more to come on that soon.  Hereʻs a link to the Video Camp F.A.Q, for more information.

Gear Up!

Donʻt have a webcam or a headset, but you want to explore adding your voice and/or video presence to your online courses? Check out our Gear Up sessions, in which you can learn or sharpen skills and earn equipment  to support you.

Use Royalty Free media resources in your course pages and supporting productions.

In a nutshell, if youʻre looking for copyright safe media resources – images, video clips, audio, etc. check out PCCʻs Royalty Free Media pilot for more info and a link to our resource request form.

Connect with your  campus ITS for advice on the right tool for the right job

Our Instructional Technology Specialist (ITS) team are an ace crew who are well versed in D2L and making the most out of itʻs ever expanding toolkit.  They’re another good place to start if you ever have an idea you want to run by someone on our team to find out what your options are and where you should go next.

Check out the “Media for your Course” page for more info

Thereʻs a lot more on our Media for your course page, including things like information on accessibility and copyright, Camtasia information and request form, and additional DIY help.

Whew! The list- maybe not so quick when we offer as much as we do. Hopefully it helps you find what you need to effectively use media in your online courses. Needing support for something ʻoutside the boxʻ? Connect with one of us!


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D2L CD update 10.6.9 for January 2017 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/01/d2l-cd-update-10-6-7-for-january-2017/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/01/d2l-cd-update-10-6-7-for-january-2017/#respond Wed, 25 Jan 2017 15:35:02 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7412 Despite the hectic start to winter term, progress keeps a steady grind. This month’s Continuous Delivery update includes a few things that students may enjoy for a change. There are many changes we aren’t going to mention because they will be hidden until the Daylight interface update later this year, but we’ll do a preview of that in a different post.  The following updates hit this Friday.

Update to Quizzes – long answer type

There have been updates to the Quiz tool for each of the last couple CD updates, and this month brings and update to the Long Answer type.  The new quiz creation interface has received positive feedback from a few faculty, and this simply adds the new look & feel to the Long Answer question type.

The long answer question type now looks way less dated.

Automatic release of final grades

Don’t you hate it when you release your final grades to your students so they can track their progress over the term and then someone adds the class and you have to go back and manually release the final grade to them? So did some other folks, and they submitted a feature request, and it was so popular that it got magically turned in to a feature. (there’s got to be a Schoolhouse Rock-like video of “how a feature request becomes a feature” video out there somewhere)

From the release notes:

This feature allows final grades to be released automatically to learners so that instructors don’t have to manually release them as learners enroll in a course. Final grades released before the end of a course serve as current grades for learners and can show them their progress throughout the term.

We are not going to enable this as default behavior, so you will need to make the change if you want, you can set your final grades to automatically release. If you already do this, please drop a comment about your (and your students’ experience).

Discussion updates

There are two relatively minor updates to the discussion tool that should make it more usable to some.

  1. When creating a group discussion topic, you will have easy options to set up individual topics for each group, or one topic with separate threads for each group. If you use group discussions, you’ll know that this is a nice update.
  2. The reading view interface has been updated to show all restrictions together. And a filter option that allows you to show posts/threads by their status (read, unread, etc.)
    Interface changes for 10.6.9 in the discussion reading view
Access to Content in Brightspace Pulse

We know that the Pulse mobile application isn’t getting wide use, but with one recent past update (responding to discussion posts) and this month’s update, we think this app may finally be something that students might want to kick the tires on. Now students can access and view course content from the mobile app, which makes it an excellent portal to your materials while on the go. It also makes access to your content a better option for people who use a mobile devices as their primary screen/internet connection. I’m downplaying this, but I’m excited. I’ve been waiting for good mobile access to be a leveler to help reduce the digital divide. That’s why we’ve been pushing the accessible content (HTML) template for the last several years. And that’s why we adopted Kaltura 5 years ago. And that’s why we’ve been trying to convince people not to use PDFs. So, here’s one more functional step towards decreasing that gap.

Content as viewed in pulse.

Browser support

This update formally ends support for IE10 and Safari 6, 7, and 8. Brightspace works best on the latest release of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Edge (yeah, that’s a browser. For tough people, I guess).

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Short videos improve instructor presence – part II http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/01/short-videos-improve-instructor-presence-part-ii/ Mon, 23 Jan 2017 18:00:38 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7383 In my last blog post: Short videos improve instructor presence – Part I, I talked about three simple options you can use to create short videos to improve instructor presence. I hope you get a chance to read it. If not, don’t worry… it’s not too late since I’m going to give you some tips before you get started.

Note: I want to let you know that the first 2 options: Video Note and Screencast-O-Matic are not readily accessible. Video Note should only be use for a simple quick video creation that you won’t retain for future use. Screencast-O-Matic, although creating it and hosting it in their site are not accessible, you can download the video, upload it to our streaming server and have it captioned when there’s accommodation need. Ok, let’s talk about what should you use to record video.

What should I use to record?

Nowadays, you have a lot of options since technology is more affordable. A lot more people have their smartphone or tablet that are usually come with a high resolution camera to shoot a video. It’s cheaper since you probably already own it and don’t have to buy a specialized video camera and carry too many things everywhere you want to shoot a video.

  • A webcam
    This option allow you to upload the video directly without transferring effort. This is what you should use when you try to create a video in my last blog (Video Note in D2L, Screencast-O-Matic, or Webcam in D2L).
  • A phone or a tablet video recording using phone
    Usually your phone or tablet will have a higher resolution compare to the webcam, thus, you will get a higher quality video. If you don’t have any options to upload the video to your own YouTube or our streaming server (Kaltura), you have to think of a way to transfer the file to the computer. You can try to email the file to yourself if it’s not too big, or maybe upload it to Google Drive or Dropbox.
  • A video camera
    If you want to use a video camera, I’d recommend to have a tripod so that your video will be steady. It would be hard watching a shaky video. Using this method, you will also have to think about transferring the file before you can post it and make it available for your students.
    I’d recommend you to talk to a professional if you want to create a higher quality video or have video project in mind. Our Video Production group will be happy to discuss it with you.
Recording Tips for non-video professionalsConsiderations for creating video for novices
1. V V S: Vertical Video Syndrome

Huh? What is that?

Regardless of what you choose, one thing I want to say is “Please don’t shoot your video vertically.” (ps: VVS: Vertical Video Syndrome), especially if you will post the video and make it available for everyone to watch.

Watch this 3 minute video to understand VVS:

Why? Your video will have the thick black pillar box bars on the either side of the video, which can be a little awkward. Human eyes are also designed to see things in widescreen. Remember that although you can view a picture vertically, it’s not the same as viewing video vertically.

2. Preparation

3. Recording Tips

What’s new this term?
  • Did you know that our DL department offer video campVideo Camp is a professional development opportunity offered to instructors teaching fully online classes at Portland Community College which supports the design and development of high quality video productions to enrich our online courses.
  • This term, we are also offering Gear Up Media sessions. Check our training schedule and register.
Still have questions?

If you still have questions or need guidance, the Instructional Technology Specialist at your campus will be there to help you every step of the way. Good luck!

In my next post, I will give you some tips on where you can do your recording and other options for recording video.

Announcing Gear Up media sessions http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/01/announcing-gear-up-media-sessions/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/01/announcing-gear-up-media-sessions/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 23:02:42 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7392 gearup

Gear Up is an initiative by PCC Distance Education to provide the resources and tools that online faculty need to create media in their online courses. By attending a Gear Up media session, faculty who are willing to share a short video that they produce using the tools that are introduced, are eligible to receive either a headset or a webcam (limited quantity).

If your computer doesn’t have a webcam or microphone, this is a great way to get the hardware you need to create quick videos or audio recordings that promote student engagement in your online classroom!

We have three Gear Up Media sessions being offered Winter Term:

  • Gear Up: Audio/Video tools in D2L
    Using video note to create short videos and using audio/video inside Discussions and Assignments tool in D2L. These recordings are meant to be for single-term use because they are only stored for a limited amount of time.
  • Gear Up: Office Mix
    Want a simple way to add audio and/or video? Office Mix is a free PowerPoint add-in for Windows users that allows you to easily add audio and webcam video to presentation slides and then publish it to video. This is a great alternative to learning complex recording software and you can insert quiz questions if you like!
  • Gear Up: Screencast-o-Matic
    Screencast-O-Matic is a free screen recording that allows you to record your screen and a webcam video and publish it. It is limited to 15 minutes. You don’t need to download and install any software to use it. Requires Java plug-ins.

Click on one of the links above to sign up for a training. The sessions are only 30 minutes and are held on each campus! Look forward to seeing you there!


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Spring 2016 online student survey results http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/01/spring-2016-online-student-survey-results/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2017/01/spring-2016-online-student-survey-results/#respond Tue, 17 Jan 2017 22:01:49 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7376 Here are the results of the Spring 2016 Online Student Survey. I’ve been trying to present them to our Distance Learning Advisory Council first, but the meetings keep getting canceled due to weather closures.

A computer screen with the word feedback on it

The survey asks online students about their preferences for interacting with the College, about their experience in online classes, and what worked well for them. Here are a few examples from the survey results.

Q1) As an online student, I prefer to receive information and updates from the college about available services via: (check all that apply)

Student survey results indicate that online students prefer to get updates from the college via email.

This is consistent with the results from 2013 as well. While the world cries that email is dead, our online learners rely heavily on on the mode of communication and would love it if all our college services supported it.

Q3)  “When I go online to view and work on my distance learning classes, I would like the navigation, layout, and general appearance to look the same from one distance learning class to another.”

Nearly 80% of students agree that consistent navigation and course layout are helpful.

While the results have changed a little since 2013, the overwhelming preference among students is for consistent navigation and layout between courses.  We’ve sung this chorus for years, but we’re also going to be updating the visual interface for D2L Brightspace in the coming year to give it a modern “lift.”

There’s a lot more in the full report. We’ll try to revisit some of the specific results in the coming year both on this site and in work groups.

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