Distance Education http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:00:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Faculty Learning Communities for online instructors http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/10/faculty-learning-communities-for-online-instructors/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/10/faculty-learning-communities-for-online-instructors/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:00:48 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4102 What a wealth of expertise we have right here within our PCC community. It’s amazing what one can share in 5 minutes. The “lightning-round” style sharing of online teaching strategies during various in-service week sessions were filled with excellent and often unique approaches to the teaching and learning issues we grapple with each day. Here’s a sample of the topics shared.

  • Reaching out to students – making connections – “digital love”
  • Using Collaborate to promote connections with students
  • The power of choice to engage students
  • The most important characteristics of an outstanding online instructor (in the eyes of students)
  • Effective group collaboration
  • Flipping the online class
  • The importance of creating the instructor voice
  • Fostering student engagement & building community
  • The importance of rich feedback
  • Designing effective discussions

Thanks so much to all who shared: Laura Sanders, Fran Bozarth, Tani McBeth, Kathy Carrigan, Ken Friedrich, Rebecca Robinson, Lori Wamsley, Alexa Maros, Ann Cary, Marc Goodman, Doug Jones, Usha Ramanujam, Gayathri Iyer, Heather Mayer, Bryan Hull, Greg Rapp, and Phil Seder.

Next steps

Now we have an opportunity to move this forward, to become involved with a Faculty Learning Community focused on online teaching issues. Are you interested in discussing online teaching strategies with other instructors? Would you like to connect with other faculty to share online teaching tools, resources and best practices, or to discover new technologies that might help build connections with students and teach more effectively?

Welcome to the Faculty Learning Community! These communities are being formed at each campus, and there will eventually be a virtual community as well. Each community will be meeting a couple of times this fall. You are invited to participate at any campus. We look forward to gathering campus-specific input at each location regarding topic focus, a standard meeting time, and session format. If the next meeting doesn’t work for you but you’d like to participate, please contact me to discuss your availability.

Here are the upcoming sessions. Each of the sessions will include time for sharing and discussion of the proposed topic. You are also welcome to think of a strategy you would like to share at the session. That might involve showing something from an online class, or simply talking about something briefly.


Communities around the world

Image credit: Nopporn Suntorn, fgnopporn / 123RF Stock Photo

Oct 21 (T), 1:00 – 2:00, CA TLC (CH 102)
Topic: Promoting online student engagement

Rock Creek:

Oct 27 (M), 2:00 – 3:30, RC TLC (7/117)
Topic: Faculty Engagement online


Oct 28 (T), 3:30 – 5:00, SE TLC (Mt. Tabor Hall)
Topic: Promoting online student engagement


Nov 3 (M), 1:00 – 2:30, SY TLC (CC 223)
Topic: Promoting online student engagement

Faculty Learning Communities can be an excellent way to stimulate innovation and to increase communication and collaboration among faculty who are often isolated from their colleagues. I hope you’ll consider joining us to share your ideas!

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Efficiency or Bust http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/10/efficiency-or-bust/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/10/efficiency-or-bust/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 17:35:36 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4089 A recent study done at Anne Arundel Community College found that instructors who “responded at least three times daily to all online course emails, graded all papers within 48 hours of submission, offered specific feedback on all written work, and were compassionate to students’ needs” had pass an average pass rate of 82%, compared with a 59% pass rate for instructors who were not required to do the above. Although this study was small, it makes a strong statement about the role that delivery plays in the online classroom. It’s also a bit daunting. If we as online instructors are to even come close to these standards, we have two choices:

  1. Spend every one of our waking hours teaching our online course, or
  2. Be really efficient.

My first full time job was an internship at Thomas Keller’s restaurant Per Se. The shifts were either 6am-6pm or 1pm-1am, and no one stopped moving. Ever. Directly underneath the clock, so planned that it was tiled into the wall, were the words “Sense of Urgency.” This is not to be confused with hurrying though, which in a kitchen has consequences that are either painful or unforgivable. Thomas Keller’s sense of urgency is one of extreme planning, scheduling, focus, and ingenuity—one that results in unparalleled efficiency and quality. Coincidentally, these four components can also make a substantial impact on the efficiency of an online course.

High Efficency

Image Credit: Tom Magllery


We’ve all probably done it. We set up our course before the term starts, think we’ve checked everything, and then WHAM, partway through the term we find a glitch that takes hours to fix. And we have endless emails to reply to regarding it. Or we realize we forgot one aspect of setup and we’re scrambling at midnight to finish it before anyone in the course notices. If you haven’t made one of these mistakes—then you can probably stop reading this because you’re either a genius or God.

Being more intentional in planning my own setup for each term has been really instrumental in minimizing wasted time. I created a checklist I use each term, making sure that the order minimized the process as a whole. Here’s my current Math 111 Course Transfer Checklist if you want an idea of what it looks like.

Once the course is running, I always keep an eye out for areas where unnecessary repetition occurs. Did four students email me a question on the exact same topic? Then my notes or videos need an update. Did someone ask me where Document X was for the eighth time this term? Then some aspect of my course organization has gone afoul and needs to be fixed. These updates are not always short, but they definitely save time long term… and will make you stop wanting to pull your hair out.


There are a lot of ways that scheduling can improve one’s efficiency, so I’ll focus on my top two.

The study at Anne Arundel noted improvement when assignments were returned within 48 hours. This short turnaround time would have been unfathomable to me my first few terms teaching online. But since then I’ve made shorter, weekly assignments and placed their due dates right before a 48 hour window when I know I can get them graded. For me, the main due date is Wednesday. My goal is to finish grading them on Thursday, my backup is to finish them on Friday, and my last resort is Saturday morning.

The study at Anne Arundel also emphasized that it’s important for students to feel that we are available and present in the course. But for our sanity’s sake, it’s important that they feel this way without us feeling like we’re on-call 24/7. I find it helpful to schedule self-sufficient activities for my students on days that I want to grade or not be working. I open my modules on Thursday and expect my students to be primarily self-sufficient until Monday morning. Their weekend tasks are low-level cognitive tasks (reading, watching videos, etc.). Any assignments that are due are no-stakes (i.e. they are graded as credit/no-credit or can be resubmitted for full credit).


As I mentioned with regard to planning, mistakes and repetition can be a major time drain. But unfortunately some things have to be done over and over again in an online course. In a kitchen, it’s critical to make any repetitive task require as few steps and movements as possible. The same is true of an online course. With discussions posts, I read them once, assess them immediately, and never re-read. If a student resubmits, I reference my feedback, read their resubmission, re-assess, and it’s done. Any process that you have to do over and over is worth scrutinizing.


With technology constantly changing, there are often ways that something we originally created for our course could be greatly improved. Or maybe something is simply outdated or no longer necessary. The Google apps (Google Docs, Google Forms, Google Spreadsheets, etc.) are endless examples of this.

The biggest impact technology has had on my own course is with regard to providing feedback on worksheets. The first set of worksheets that I graded for my first online course took me 13 painful hours, and they might have been equally painful for my students. At that time, it was standard to require that students write their math homework with an equation editor and feedback was then input directly into their assignment with said equation editor. The feedback they received wasn’t same as the feedback I provide in an on-campus class though, and it’s little wonder why students rarely read it.

Fast forward 3 years, and I have this magical machine on my desk called a Smart PodiumTM. It’s basically a giant tablet. I have to convert every assignment to a Smart Notebook file in order to electronically write on it, but my total grading time is down to 2-4 hours for a set of worksheets. And because I can emphasize minor details without writing full sentences, my online students receive feedback that’s just as effective as my on-campus students’ feedback. In addition, I let go of requiring typed assignments. A picture of a hand-written assignment taken on a student’s phone is surprising clear and easy to read. Not to mention far more likely to be submitted in the first place.

Have any of your own tips for being efficient? Share them below!

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To Wrap or not to Wrap, is that the question? http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/10/to-wrap-or-not-to-wrap-is-that-the-question/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/10/to-wrap-or-not-to-wrap-is-that-the-question/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:00:56 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4063 to wrap or not to wrap image

Image Credit: Jim Johnstone.

Let’s face it, web pages with images are much easier to read than just scrolling through screen after screen of text. When using an HTML editor, added images take up more page real estate that we would like. This is because the image uses a whole row of space on the web page. This typically leaves white space the same height of the image, filling the remainder of the row with white space. You may ask yourself, if I could only wrap text around that image I could save my students from having to scroll and scroll and scroll.

Watch this very short, under 2 minute, video to see how easy it is to wrap text using the Desire2Learn HTML editor. You’ll never ask the question again, “to wrap or not to wrap?” Be a wrapper!

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Distance Learning Faculty- Get paid to create video for your course! http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/10/distance-learning-faculty-get-paid-to-create-video-for-your-course-2/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/10/distance-learning-faculty-get-paid-to-create-video-for-your-course-2/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 17:46:33 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4075 Congratulations to the 2013/14 participants of Video Camp!

Check out their wonderful productions:


Do you want to create beautiful and engaging media like this for your online course? Read on!

Applications due to Monica Marlo monica.martinezgallagher@pcc.edu by 5pm on Monday, October 6th, 2013

Distance Learning Faculty:

Do you have an instructional video project you’ve been wanting to create for your distance education course, but you’re not sure where to begin and/or would like design and production assistance?

Apply for Video Camp!

Present your ideas to us by 5PM on Monday October 6th  and come join us this summer for Video Camp! We will be selecting a pool of applicants from the project ideas you submit to help you bring your ideas to life from design, scriptwriting and storyboarding on through production and post-editing.

How to apply:

You present the idea in two pages or less and if your idea is selected we will offer funding to pay you for your subject area expertise, and provide services and staff to support you through each step of the experience. Your idea should be for a video or videos that add up to ten minutes or less in length and support an objective in your curriculum. Want to submit an idea as a faculty team? Preference will be given to video projects that include multi-faculty or multi-discipline teams. Have more than one idea? Feel welcome to submit as many ideas as you have.

When writing your project proposal, please include the following:

  • What are the subject area and instructional concepts covered?
  • Who are the faculty involved?
  • What course(s) will the videos be part of?
  • Is this video imagined as being filmed on location, or in a studio? (It’s ok if you’re not sure, we can help you decide.)

Want help?

Want some help thinking of a great project? Check out these done by  PCC’s Video Production Unit for a great selection of videos produced by our in-house team. Also look here for examples of presentations created at Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) Video Camp (with the assistance of PCC video producer Michael Annus). These feature the work of CGCC philosophy instructor Dr. Bill Noonan who has been building his set of videos over the course of several years.

If you would like assistance getting started or thinking of an idea prior to writing your proposal, please contact Michael Annus (mannus@pcc.edu) on our video production team, or multimedia developer Monica Marlo (monica.martinezgallagher@pcc.edu) in Distance Learning. We like to be in contact with you as early as possible in the process to help support your successful production’s development.

How will you be notified?

If your project is selected to participate, we will contact you by Friday, October 10th to let you know, discuss your project’s scope and budget, and work with you on the next steps of creating your project.

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PCC offering free MOOC for online educators http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/09/pcc-offering-free-mooc-for-online-educators/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/09/pcc-offering-free-mooc-for-online-educators/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 00:05:29 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4060
WAMOE logo

WAMOE – Web Accessibility MOOC for Online Educators

Web Accessibility MOOC for Online Educators (#WAMOE)

  • Registration opens today!
  • Free 5 week course from October 20 to November 22.

WAMOE!  We are excited to announce that PCC’s Distance Education department is partnering with D2L to offer a free Web Accessibility MOOC for Online Educators (Twitter hashtag: #WAMOE).

This MOOC provides educators with practical, hands-on professional development on how to incorporate web accessibility into online learning.

It’s free and it’s fun!  Learn tips and tricks to make content accessible for students with disabilities!

  • Develop a personal knowledge base in web accessibility for online education;
  • Create accessible photo images, diagrams and charts for online courses;
  • Build accessible audio and video components for online courses;
  • Create or reviewing accessible HTML content pages for online courses;
  • Construct accessible course content in other non-HTML formats.


This MOOC is offered through D2L Open Courses and registration is open from September 29th to November 14th, 2014.  Active course facilitation lasts for five weeks. The course begins October 20, 2014 and ends November 22nd, 2014.

Completion certificate

Participants have the option of receiving an electronic not-for-credit completion certificate from D2L at the end of the MOOC offering. As this MOOC is intended to be an activity-based learning opportunity, participants will have successfully demonstrated knowledge about the major topics prior to being awarded a certificate.


Our own Accessibility Advocate, Karen Sorensen, is the Subject Matter Expert for this MOOC and joins Barry Dahl, D2L’s Senior Community Manager, as a co-facilitator.  To learn more see this post on the Brightspace Blog or register at D2L Open Courses.
For more information on accessibility in PCC’s online courses, see our online resources for web accessibility.

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Learning contracts for online learners http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/09/learning-contracts-for-online-learners/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/09/learning-contracts-for-online-learners/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:00:36 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3923 In the past couple of months, we’ve looked at ways to apply adult learning theory in the online classroom:

This month I’d like to look at learning contracts and how they can be used in the online classroom.

In my many years in higher ed, I’ve often heard instructors say, “The syllabus is a contract between the instructor and the student.” But is it really? What if the syllabus is nothing more than a tightly prescribed list of assignments and due dates? Think of contracts you have signed in your lifetime. When you bought a house, how much input did you have before you signed the contract? Were you handed a contract and told, “Sign here – take it or leave it!”? I hope not. I hope you had a chance to specify when you’d make the first payment, when you’d move in, what would stay in the house and what would go, what condition you’d find the house in when you took ownership, and so forth. The bottom line is this: A contract is an agreement between two or more parties that is designed to meet both sides’ mutual needs. If you hand your students a tightly prescribed list of assignments and due dates and say, “Here’s your contract,” what you are really saying is, “Here are my terms for this learning experience – take ‘em or leave ‘em.”

There is another way.

As Ann and I noted in our previous posts, adult learners respond positively when they have a say in the design of their learning experiences. Ann talked about “open inquiry” – allowing a student to choose his own path for reaching a learning outcome. A variation on this idea is the learning contract, which can be used to structure any part of a learning experience – an entire course or an assignment within a course.

The real power of a learning contract is in reaching a learner at her level at the beginning of the learning experience.

Here are some steps for developing a learning contract in your online course:

  1. Work with the learner to decide where she is now and where she wants to be at the end of the course or assignment; the gap is called a “learning need”;
  2. Translate the learning needs into learning objectives;
  3. Work with the learner to specify learning resources and strategies (what the learner will *do* to meet the learning objectives);
  4. Specify evidence of accomplishment (what the learner needs to show you, to demonstrate she met the learning objectives);
  5. Specify how the evidence will be evaluated;
  6. Check with colleagues and other experts to make sure the contract is a good one;
  7. Carry out the contract;
  8. Ask the learner to evaluate her learning experience: did she fulfill the learning contract?

You can see that formulating a learning contract with each student could be a lot of work, but if the learning contract helps to reach the learner where he is and motivates him to learn more effectively, it will be well worth the effort. And in the online environment, you can use the dropbox to pass the learning contract back and forth until you and your student have reached a final agreement. Many of the mechanisms for contracting are already built into the learning management system.

Note that the application of adult learning principles assumes you are in fact working with *adult* learners! Some (and possibly many) of the learners you encounter in your community-college online classroom won’t be mature enough to direct their own learning, in which case a learning contract won’t work for them. But for your adult learners, a learning contract can be a powerful means of giving these learners more control over their own learning experience and thereby motivating them to learn more effectively.

You can find good examples of learning contracts by searching online. The University of Waterloo, in Canada, has a helpful page that discusses how to develop the learning contract, with a sample learning contract derived from the work of Malcolm Knowles.


Malcolm S. Knowles, Elwood F. Horton III, and Richard A. Swanson. The Adult Learner: The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. (6th ed.) Elsevier, 2005.

Available from Cascade Library – you can read it when I’m done with it. ♥

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Webinar: 104 Best Practices for D2L Technology on Sept. 23rd http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/09/webinar-104-best-practices-for-d2l-technology-on-sept-23rd/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/09/webinar-104-best-practices-for-d2l-technology-on-sept-23rd/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 19:30:18 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4045 Next Tuesday (9/23/14) at noon, Tom Tobin from Northern Illinois University will do a rapid-paced webinar that highlights best practices in a variety of different areas using Desire2Learn Tools. These practices focus on areas of student engagement, usability, universal design, academic integrity, instructor presence and more. The webinar his hosted by Desire2Learn (who rebranded their product as Brightspace this summer).

If you’re interested, sign up online.

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Faculty learning communities: an opportunity for professional growth http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/08/faculty-learning-communities-an-opportunity-for-professional-growth/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/08/faculty-learning-communities-an-opportunity-for-professional-growth/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 23:03:29 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3913 Most of us have experienced moments in the online world when something really clicks. The interaction is rich, students are deeply engaged, and there’s a strong sense of community. Yet how often does this actually happen? What strategies can we implement to promote more instances of this rich engagement and meaningful flow of ideas? Beyond the training that Distance Education has to offer, what opportunities do we have to learn about such strategies?

Before I attempt to answer that, allow me ask another question. Do you ever find yourself secluded in the silo of online teaching? In spite of your robust discussions with students in your online classes, do you find yourself closed off from interacting with your own teaching colleagues at PCC? Are you yearning to gain some perspective that is outside of the box, to interact with peers to share ideas and effective strategies for online teaching?

In a box

Image credit: Paul Vasarhelyi, Copyright: imageegami / 123RF Stock Photo

My own perspective is that one of the best opportunities we have is through online faculty sharing their own strategies and expertise with colleagues at PCC. I have heard from a significant number of online instructors who are looking for opportunities to share and learn in this way.

Welcome to the Faculty Learning Community!

With this opportunity for sharing and professional development in mind, I invite you to consider a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) approach, specifically for online instructors focusing on instructional topics of the group’s choice. There are plenty of topics that would be of interest, e.g. promoting student engagement and interaction, academic integrity, the “problem” student, online student retention, strategies for providing feedback, truly communicating our own voice in the online environment, effective assessment, effective use of audio and video, unexplored tools in D2L… I’m sure that you have a number of additional topics in mind. In their book Developing Faculty Learning Communities at Two-Year Colleges, Susan Sipple and Robin Lightner highlight a number of potential benefits of an FLC for faculty, including

  • exploring strategies that can improve teaching and impact student learning
  • improving the professional lives of faculty by reducing the sense of isolation and burnout
  • creating opportunities for peer mentoring relationships
  • providing the time and space for scholarly reflection
  • developing additional expertise in teaching and learning that supplements discipline-based expertise (Sipple & Lightner, 2013).
Communities around the world

Image credit: Nopporn Suntorn, fgnopporn / 123RF Stock Photo


Faculty Learning Community exploration sessions during in-service week

To begin the exploration and implementation of this opportunity, lightning-round style presentations focusing on strategies for promoting interaction and engaging students in the online environment have been scheduled during in-service week at each campus. These will be followed by some time for discussion, and the final part of the session will be dedicated to exploring the concept of a faculty learning community, interest in such a community, preferences regarding the structure, and possible topics of focus. The goal is to collect input and begin one or more faculty learning communities fall term.

It would be great if we could have a Faculty Learning Community for online instructors at each campus, and a fifth one meeting virtually. This will depend on interest and having at least one instructor interested in co-facilitating such a group. (You are welcome to let me know if you might be interested in such a role.)

Here are the sessions scheduled during in-service week. The CA & RC sessions could use more volunteers for the “lightning round” sharing. Let me know if you’re interested ;-)

  • Sept 16 (T), SY, FT Faculty In-service, 2nd breakout
  • Sept 17 (W), RC TLC, 1:30 – 2:30
  • Sept 17 (W), SY, PT Faculty In-service, 8:00
  • Sept 18 (Th), CA Terrell Hall 100, 1:00 – 2:00
  • Sept 18 (Th), SE, PT Faculty In-service (TBD)

In closing, faculty learning communities have been popular in other states for many years. They can be an excellent way to stimulate innovation and to increase communication and collaboration among faculty who are often isolated from their colleagues. I hope you’ll consider joining us to share your ideas.

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“Applying the Quality Matters Rubric” – Online workshop for Oregon CC instructors http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/08/applying-the-quality-matters-rubric-online-workshop-for-oregon-cc-instructors/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/08/applying-the-quality-matters-rubric-online-workshop-for-oregon-cc-instructors/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:33:51 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3905 I am pleased to announce the next opportunity for online instructors at PCC and other community colleges in Oregon to participate in the online workshop “Applying the Quality Matters Rubric.” The workshop will start on Tuesday, October 28th and end two weeks later. It will be facilitated jointly by Kristen Kane (Columbia Gorge CC), Tani McBeth (PCC/Clark CC), and Greg Kaminski (PCC). The workshop is totally online, so you’ll plan your own schedule. There are numerous engaging online activities during the workshop, so you do need to be able to dedicate time during that 2 week period, up to 20 hours total.

I am handling registration for this workshop, so just let me know if you would like to participate. All you need to do is create a “MyQM” account at https://www.qmprogram.org/myqm/. I will do the rest. The cost of this workshop is covered through our statewide OCCDLA grant.

Workshop Description:

This workshop explores the Quality Matters Rubric and provides a framework to improve the quality of online courses. This is the QM foundation workshop for anyone who might be interested in participating on a peer review team in the future, and participants will surely be able to apply the strategies to their own online course design. During this workshop participants have the opportunity to explore many standards of the Quality Matters rubric in depth, and to apply those standards to a demo course.

Those who complete the workshop might have a future opportunity to participate in the “Peer Reviewer Certification” course offered through Quality Matters. (The PRC is a 2-week online workshop designed to follow the “Applying the QM Rubric” workshop.) I can highly recommend these workshops and participating on a peer review team as excellent professional development opportunities.

Just let me know if you have questions, or if you would like to participate in the “Applying the QM Rubric” workshop.

Greg Kaminski

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10 free eLearning audio and video tools for teachers http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/08/10-free-elearning-audio-and-video-tools-for-teachers/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/08/10-free-elearning-audio-and-video-tools-for-teachers/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 16:53:09 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3886 Audio icon

Image source: Microsoft clip-art

Some time ago I ran into the article 10 free ELearning Audio Tools for Teachers. I wanted to bring that list to your attention and to share some of my thoughts based on experience working with these tools. I’ll follow the same order as it was listed in the article above and I will make the names of the applications I recommend bold.

10. Windows Movie Maker (Windows only). It used to be installed on every PC and came with every Windows OS.  But not anymore. It is still available on Microsoft site for free. This is a great simple video editor and possibly this is the only video editor you need for creating a simple video content for your class. You can record right into it from your computer’s camera or you can work with files recorded on camcorder or smartphone.

What if you have a Mac? Movie Maker’s brother from Mac OS side is iMovie. It’s installed on every Mac by default and does all what the MovieMaker does, and a little more, but overall they both are similar, simple, effective, straightforward from user’s point tools, that get the job done.
I’ve used them both with great results, but really mastered iMovie lately. Check out my staff intro video, it’s done on iMovie.

9. Photo Booth / GarageBand (Mac).  Photo Booth is a simple program that allows you to capture a video or take a photo from your webcam, trim a video and export it in .mov (.jpg for photo) format. This is possibly just what you need to make a simple video. But for more tweaks you have to go to IMovie. Why not to use that one from the very beginning?

GarageBand comes for free on Macs and is intended to serve beginning musicians providing relatively simple and relatively powerful multi-track recording and a MIDI virtual studio. If you know how to operate it – good. You can record your audio on it, edit and export in MP3 format. If you are not familiar with it, I’d recommend to start with Wavepad – it will save you few hours of trying to figure things out.

8. PowerPoint. Yes, PowerPoint can record your audio notations and embed the audio … But it is probably not going to work for the online environment  that well. Theoretically, you can store your PPTX files in the Learning Management System (LMS), but then your students will have to have PPT software on their computers to be able to open your file after the download. That might be a challenge for many of them. We suggest our instructors to convert their PPT files into PDF format, and if you have PPT with audio embedded into it, please refer to Camtasia software to make a video out of it. This will work better!

7. Audacity (Windows/Mac/Linux) is an audio editor that you can get for free. It allows you record, edit and save audio in different formats.  It works on PC and Mac and is simple to use. One thing to keep in mind, you’ll have to download and install MP3 codec/plug-in separately. I have a copy of audacity installed on every computer I’ve had for the last few years and I’ve used it a lot!

6. Sound Recorder (Windows). This sound recording program is built into every Windows equipped computer. You can find one in Start > All Programs > Accessories. It is good for taking notes for yourself. It’s not great for posting on the web as it records only in Windows Media Audio (.WMA) format. You will need a converter to make a widely used MP3 file. I would not rely on this tool as a content creator.

5. YouTube. Everyone knows and loves YouTube nowadays! But do you know that you can record right into YouTube from your webcam and then trim and tweak the recorded video? Give it a try – this is probably the easiest way to get your out there and embed into LMS later on. Beware that your video can be seen by anyone now. The trick to keep it to the limited audience is to give the video a gibberish code name, so people searching for say “math 101” will not get it in a the search result.

On another hand, PCC has Kaltura, a streaming server integrated with D2L that allows you to do the same thing and limit access to just your courses.

4. Jing. Jing is a screen capturing software that will capture your screen and all the movements on it along with your voice notations. It is made by TechSmith, who also makes Camtasia, but is much simpler and gives you an option to host your video clip on a free screencast.com account. You can embed the video or send a link of it to your student. That would be the simplest, most streamlined way to get your message across, if the screencasting works for your subject. You can also download your clip for more editing and post it later on YouTube or Kaltura site. This video explains how Jing works.

3. Vocaroo. A simple and efficient online voice recorder. To start with it go to the vocaroo.com. Click record, review your recording, click to save and share your recording with the world. Embed, email, tweet, Facebook, create a QR Code or download. You cannot change privacy settings – everyone who has the link can hear you. Here’s a recording that I’m sharing with you.

2. Voki. There are folks who don’t like to be on camera. And there are folks who like to have fun in virtual reality. Check out voki.com, where you can create your personal avatar, who can speak with your voice (if you record your audio), or simply type the text you want read aloud. Here’s an example of a Voki recording.

1. Italk. It is a great app for people on the go, but there are a couple drawbacks that I can see just from reading the description. It doesn’t save files in MP3 format and you need an external converter to do this. Also extracting the recording from your mobile device can be tricky.

But wait… the article we are looking at was written almost 1.5 years ago and things got changed and improved over that time. There is a ton of audio recording apps for mobile devices out there and we should make a separate post to review some of them in the near future.

Note: This program was not on the article’s list, but it is my very favorite audio tool that you can get for FREE: http://www.nch.com.au/wavepad

WavePad (Windows/Mac) is an excellent audio editor for both Mac and PC. It offers many features and has very straight forward user interface. It works with lots of audio formats (WAV, MP3, AIFF, MP-4, Audio, RAW, etc.). It’s easy to understand how to edit and correct your audio, it has great video tutorials and “how to” links build to the interface so you will not get lost. It’s not easy to find a free version of the software, but you can get one from the NCH Software website if you look for it hard enough. Normal version of WavePad has free trial period of 14 days, then asks you to pay around $100. I was able to find free one that is not a demo version. Enjoy!

“The free version does not expire and includes most of the features of the normal version. If you are using it at home, you can download the free version here. You can always upgrade to the master’s edition at a later time, which has additional effects and features for the serious sound engineer.”

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