Distance Education http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:55:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Paperless classroom in 5 easy steps http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/03/paperless-classroom-in-5-easy-steps/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/03/paperless-classroom-in-5-easy-steps/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 18:04:02 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=5006 Kathy Casto is working using desk top computer and ipad

Kathy Casto at her Southeast office on SE 82nd street.

Kathy Casto is an English/Reading/Writing instructor based at PCC’s Southeast Campus. Last summer she switched to paperless assignment grading and is using this practice very successfully for her classroom based courses.

Kathy is combining 3 components of technology in her work:

  • Google docs – to collect assignments from students and convert their work to pdf format.
  • Dropbox – to access students files comfortably via iPad
  • iAnnotate (iPad based application) – to provide the feedback for submitted assignments.

Here is how she does it in 5 easy steps.

A screenshot of submitted assignments shared with instructor via Google Docs

Submitted assignments named with a specific code word can be easily searched for and be selected.

Step 1

Kathy asks her students to upload their work on Google docs and share files with her. She asks students to use a specific code to name their work for every assignment they submit.  For example FD3 can be used for Final Draft #3 assignment.








A screen-shoot of downloading pop up window providing an option to download multiple assignments as PDFs via zipped folder.

Google Docs allows to download selected assignments as zipped PDFs on local computer.

Step 2

She performs the search for this code name in Google docs and selects all the files to be downloaded in PDF format. Google docs can convert any format of students submitted work into PDFs  and places the zipped folder in Downloads folder of Kathy’s computer.











The screenshot of the Downloads folder with unzipped assignments that need to be moved to Dropbox folder.

Unzipped files need to be drag-and-dropped into the Dropbox folder

Step 3

Next step is to move the unzipped files from Downloads into Dropbox folder and access them with an iPad.
Dropbox is a free cloud based storage solution, where you can store up to 2GB  worth of data and can access from any computer or mobile device you have.










a screen shot of pad based ianotate application with a students assignment and given feedback.

Iannotate provides a variety of tools to mark up student’s work.

Step 4

In this step Kathy opens the student’s work on her Ipad with iAnnotate application.
This program offers a great set of tools such markers, stamps, and text boxes to provide any sort of feedback. You can even leave an audio feedback.Kathy finds very useful a combination of Stamp tool for some recurring or pre-made type of feedback and Comment tool to type more specific and personal comments to student’s work. Also, iAnnotate allows to write on the document with a stylus.
Kathy prefers Jot-Pro Stylus for her work.







screenshot of the email window of iAnnotate application

iAnnotade can send the document back to a student.


Step 5

After the document is annotated, it can be emailed back to a student right from the application. Flattened option is preferred,  as this way the annotation can be viewed but can’t be modified.



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Using small data http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/03/using-small-data/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/03/using-small-data/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 17:00:11 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4993 I recently attended the ITC eLearning conference in Las Vegas, NV, and, as always, was excited to learn what my colleagues at different colleges are doing to support their online students and faculty. One session that seemed especially applicable to poach for a Best Practice post was on using in-course analytics, or “small data.”

If you spend any time in higher education thinking about technology, you are probably tired of the word “Analytics,” and I don’t blame you. This craze promises to collect massive amounts of data about student learning, patterns of access, engagement and more with promises to help school administrators do everything from push-button program reviews, predict which students will fail which courses, and how many minutes of that video lecture students are actually watching. Real big business stuff.

But that’s where this notion of small data comes in and shakes off all the pretense and provides a few tangible examples that you can use without dropping big dollars or requiring an advanced data science degree to interpret.

Get practical

The learning analytics cycle

Image Credit: Doug Clow, CC-BY

In this post, I still want to focus on the learning analytics cycle, because no matter the size of your data, you can still use the cycle to adapt your course based on what you observe.

None of this is groundbreaking; most educators already do something like this all the time. You observe something (e.g. looks of confusion from a majority of the class) and you try another method of illustrating that concept. This post will hopefully give you an awareness of some of the tools available to you now to learn about your learners since you won’t be seeing confused faces in your online classes.

Practical examples

D2L provides you with a number of paths to observe student activity so that you can harness the small data learning analytics cycle to inform your teaching practices. My favorite place to start is the User Progress tool, which gives you a quick glance at your class to see student activity. It’s a budget “dashboard” that gives you an overview of login history, grades, discussion posts and more that is somewhat customizable for your course. And it’s a very easy way to spot students who are not engaged in the course.

User progress tool showing two students and their course activity

For example, consider these two students. Their login history is relatively similar, but their grade history is quite different. Also, the second students has viewed much more of the content than the first. So what to do with this information? Well, the grade activity and lack of content access might indicate that the student is struggling. The cycle suggest that you apply some intervention. Sometimes that can be as simple as reaching out to the student. Email is great, but sometimes a phone call is warranted. And what do you say? Just check in. Offer information about free online tutoring. Make sure the student knows where they are in the class. And just let them know that you are there and you are interested in their success.

There are lots of practical examples, and this is supposed to be a brief post, so I’ll simply point you to two more examples from our own instructional technology specialists. They provide a great start to knowing more about your students’ activity.

  • Melany shows how to use the quiz statistics to evaluate individual quiz questions. You can use this information to find problematic questions or difficult concepts to address in the content.
  • Jim looks at Content viewing statistics, which you can see where specific items aren’t getting viewed by students.

There is no end to what you do with this topic, and I’m sure many of you have practical examples of your own. Please share them in the comments. If you aren’t sure how this applies, don’t think big. Think small data and small changes. Those too can have meaningful effects on student learning. If you aren’t finding information about a topic or activity you want to learn about, ask us, we might know if it is available.

More information

The session I attended at eLearning was “Using course analytics to inform teaching, learning and assessment” by Janet Latricia King. She’s offering a webinar on the subject on May 12, 2015. Let me know if you are interested in attending.

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More than chicken scratch: the benefits of hand-written work in an online class (and some apps that assist!) http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/03/more-than-chicken-scratch-the-benefits-of-hand-written-work-in-an-online-class-and-some-apps-that-assist/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/03/more-than-chicken-scratch-the-benefits-of-hand-written-work-in-an-online-class-and-some-apps-that-assist/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:00:36 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4961 a hand writing on paper

Image credit: Sevenheads – Pixabay

For the most part, having students use a computer or other electronic device to complete their online coursework suffices quite well. But have you ever felt that it was sometimes limiting or that something was just lacking? As I mentioned in a previous post, when I first started teaching math online it was clear that requiring students to type their assignments was an overwhelming barrier for some students. Those that were naturally tech-inclined caught on quickly and enjoyed it, but others seemed to waste hours (and sometimes tears) every week struggling with an equation editor. Incorporating hand-written work as an option into my online course has had a lot of benefits, many of which were unexpected. Additionally, there are a handful of (free!) apps for tablets and smartphones that make submitting hand-written work in pdf format quite easy.

Benefits of hand-written work

Increased submission rate

This benefit was the one that I expected when I first allowed hand-written work to be submitted. By allowing student to hand-write and scan their work, students submitted higher quality work more often. It removed multiple barriers they were experiencing, from struggling with an equation editor to having infrequent/unreliable computer access.

Increases knowledge retention

A handful of articles and studies cite the benefits of hand-written work over typed work. One advantage is the increased understanding, synthesis, and generalization of knowledge gained when taking notes by hand (as one cannot simply transcribe), as discussed in this Scientific American article. Further more, this Wall Street Journal article refers to the increased cognitive function that handwriting enables, stating that, “For those writing by hand, there was stronger and longer-lasting recognition of the characters’ proper orientation, suggesting that the specific movements memorized when learning how to write aided the visual identification of graphic shapes.” Case in point: I’ve lost count of the number of times an online student has written “In”(as in capital i, lowercase en) instead of “ln”; it’s an abbreviation of logarithmic naturalis…

Reduces plagiarism

When assignments are typed, it can be very challenging to identify plagiarism, particularly anything that is skill-based or fact-based and does not heavily involve creative or deep thinking. I’ve found copying much easier to identify in hand-written work because the process of re-writing causes students to leave strange tell-tale errors/omissions. Plus, it requires more than Ctrl+C. Case in point: I didn’t realize that two students (in different sections) were copying off each other until week 5, when they made their first inexplicable and unique error.

Mirrors in-class assessment

This might be specific to math, where we require two proctored, on-campus exams. Per our CCOGs, these are hand-written, closed note, and closed book. In the course I teach, the CCOG also requires that these exams constitute a minimum of 60% of their grade. Having students complete work and receive feedback in the exact same manner that they will complete their exams—this one just makes sense.

Allows more flexibility in assessment design

Once you open the door to hand-written work, you can simply do more. Want students to demonstrate something with a picture or a graph? You can do it. Want to take a look at the brainstorming that happened before their finished product? You can see it, chicken scratch and all. And the best part of this flexibility? Your tech-savviest students will find a way to do the same thing using technology—in a seriously impressive way.

Free scanning apps for tablets and smartphones

Physical scanners are fine, but students don’t always have access to one. An alternative is to use a scanning app on a smartphone or tablet. Truth be told, these scanners create far better quality documents than most physical scanners a student would have at home or use in a library.

If you Google “scanning app,” you’ll find that there are dozens available for Android and iOS. My favorite scanning app is Scanbot. It’s free and available for Android, iPhone, and iPad, including older versions of each; it creates quality pdfs directly; it allows you to edit/mark up/sign pdfs; it automatically identifies backgrounds and crops/squares images; and it allows immediate uploading to Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud Drive, Box, OneDrive, email, and others. Evernote’s Scannable is a close second, but it wasn’t available to my outdated Android phone or have as versatile of options to immediately upload documents.

Have you incorporated hand-written work into your own courses? Do you have any other apps for scanning that you use? Add these to the discussion below!

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Finding online classes that aren’t full http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/02/finding-online-classes-that-arent-full/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/02/finding-online-classes-that-arent-full/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 00:16:02 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4946

When you are planning your schedule before the start of a term, you might find the advanced course search very useful. It will let you look up classes based on their instructional method (classroom, online,etc.), date and time, and other important factors. These instructions will show you how to find an online class and determine if there is any space left in the class.

  1. Log in to MyPCC and click on Add or Drop Classes link in the Registration Services channel.
    Add or Drop Classes
  2. Click on Look Up Classes
  3. Select Term Details
    Select the current term (e.g. Winter 2014) from Search by Term and Credit Class from the Class Type of Search field then click the Submit button.
  4. Find online classes
    To specifically find online classes (WEB), click on the Advanced Search button.
  5. Use Advanced Search. The Advanced Search page has many options. This example will show how to find an online Economics class.
    1. Select Course Subject (e.g. Economics).
    2. Click the Selection Search button.
    3. Select the Instructional Method (Web).
    4. Note: You can also select the a specific instructor. In this example, we’ll look at all the options.
  6. View the results. The results will list the courses found based on your search options. In our example, we can see the online Economics classes listed.
  7. Register for a class. After deciding on which class(es) you wish to register for, click on the check box to the left of those class(es). Click the Submit button to register.

Note: After the term starts, you will not be able to register for the course or add yourself to the waitlist. You will need to contact the instructor for an override after the first day of the term.

Do not forget to attend your class in the first day to be sure you are not dropped for No Show.

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A smorgasbord of strategies http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/02/a-smorgasbord-of-strategies/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/02/a-smorgasbord-of-strategies/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 18:00:59 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4932 Image of smorgasbord of cheese & fruit

Image credit: Zhanna Tretiakova

What a rich knowledge base, a smorgasbord of online teaching strategies we have being shared among online instructors at PCC through the Faculty Learning Communities. Consider a few new strategies to blend into a rich online learning experience. Be sure to check out the upcoming schedule, which will soon include sessions for spring.



Specific strategies shared at a recent FLC sessions

Cool tools & features (SY)

  • Create quiz questions in D2L that use variables, so students get different number values with each quiz attempt. (Erik Dean, Economics)
  • Increase class survey participation be embedding it as a widget right on your course home page. At PCC we have license to use Qualtrics for such surveys. (Rhonda Collier, Economics)
  • Prezi can be used as an alternative to PowerPoint to liven up those presentations and help students make connections. (Rhonda Collier, Economics)

Effective online discussions (CA)

  • Give students a choice of discussion topics and have them interact in small groups to increase their motivation to become engaged and bond with other class members. (Sheila Brown, English)
  • Have a different member of a small group discussion post a comprehensive summary of the group’s findings for each topic. (Elizabeth Bilyeu, Art History)

Create an engaging home page (RC & SE)

  • Add a “Q & A” Discussion widget right on your home page for easy access. Include a good icon with it to direct attention. (Rondi Schei, Economics)
  • Add a “News feed” and/or a “Twitter feed” to your home page to keep it dynamic and engage students. (Alexa Maros, Business, & Rondi Schei, Economics)
  • Use new images with weekly news items as an alert that something new has been posted. (Greg Kaminski, Distance Ed & ESOL)

Time management / How to reduce online instructor workload (SY & SE)

  • As an effective time saver, in “Grades” use “Grade All,” and follow the link to “Details and overall feedback” to offer feedback that applies to the whole class. You can also add personal feedback for each student, and both types show up in student grades. (DeLyse Totten, Business)
  • As a time saver as well as something that benefits the whole class, encourage students to post questions to the “Q & A” discussion instead of emailing the instructor. (Ron Bekey, CAS)
  • Front load the feedback — Intensively grade the early assignments, offering tons of formative feedback. This gives students ideas they can apply early on creates a sense of high expectations. (Phil Seder, Business)
  • Break up a longer assignment into phases to provide early opportunities for feedback. (Lisa Regan-Vienop, ABE/GED)
  • Students discuss topics in small groups and then collaborate on one group post, or a different person from the group posts a summary each week. (from Strategies for Managing Online Discussions, Rob Kelly)
Smorgasbord of canapes & desserts

Image credit: Zhanna Tretiakova

Rubrics (RC)

  • Rubrics help define our expectations for students. Add a rubric to discussions only to show it to students, but since that one doesn’t transfer to the grade book, grade using the rubric in the grade book. (Rondi Schei, Economics)
  • Tell students how to update “Instant Notifications” to be notified when a grade or news item is released. (Rondi Schei, Economics)

Online Rooms (SY & CA)

  • Online Rooms in connection with a tablet provides a great opportunity to meet students to clarify difficult concepts live, e.g. chemical bonding structures. (Kathy Carrigan & Ken Friedrich, Chemistry)
  • Hold “Town Hall” style discussions virtually in Online Rooms. This gives a chance to engage students in dialog to see what they don’t understand. (Doug Jones, CS)

Retention (SE & RC)

  • Front load week 1 to give a realistic picture and to improve retention. Make a number of things due the first Thursday. Friday morning drop those you haven’t hear from. (Samm Erickson, English)
  • Make sure students are reading your feedback by adding a “hidden word” to your feedback. Students tell the instructor the “hidden word” before adding the grade. (Kris Fink, English)
  • Make sure students have a realistic sense of what the course will be like in terms of rigorous expectations. (Carey Larson, Distance Ed)
  • Quiz students on the syllabus and course information. Set a conditional release on content, dependent on completing the syllabus quiz. (Rondi Schei, Economics)

Join the gathering to share expertise at a Faculty Learning Community near you.

Upcoming Faculty Learning Community sessions – Schedule & topic details
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Presidents with Disabilities http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/02/presidents-with-disabilities/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/02/presidents-with-disabilities/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 18:00:55 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4894
President George Washington

Image credit: Gilbert Stuart [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In honor of Presidents day, let’s take a look at the U.S. Presidents who have or have had a disability.

According to the The Ability Center’s post on the subject:

  • Presidents Ronald Reagan (40th) had and William Jefferson Clinton (42nd Pres.) has a hearing impairment
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd) had polio
  • Presidents George Washington (1st), Thomas Jefferson (3rd) , Woodrow Wilson (28th), Dwight D. Eisenhower (34th), John F. Kennedy (35th) all had learning disabilities.
  • President Kennedy (35th) suffered from chronic pain.
  • President Abraham Lincoln (16th) had severe depression
  • President James Madison (4th) had epilepsy

I don’t have a disability, although I certainly have plenty of my own limitations. So I don’t want to come off as an expert on disability, because I’m not. But here’s what I’ve learned in the last few years working closely with Disability Services and students and employees with disabilities.

Don’t let your expectations of someone with a disability limit them. Asking if you can help is OK, but don’t assume help is needed.  

We don’t have to do anything special for students with disabilities. We just have to provide them with the same learning experiences as other students. We can make D2L pages, word documents and PDFs accessible pretty quickly, but what we cannot do is make materials on other websites accessible.

Text based articles on other sites are usually accessible. (The test is: If you can copy and paste the text, the text should be readable by assistive technology).

Accessibility problems arise mostly from forms, media players and other things that require user action. If you are using 3rd party materials like these, especially publisher’s online homework sites, please have them tested for accessibility soon by emailing karen.sorensen@pcc.edu.

Let’s remember that students with disabilities might become President one day if given an equal opportunity to succeed.


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Regional OER Conference coming to PCC http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/02/regional-oer-conference-coming-to-pcc/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/02/regional-oer-conference-coming-to-pcc/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 18:00:42 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4885 OER Regional Conferences: Registration Open – for immediate release

Be a champion! Use open resources to reduce student costs

Open Educational Resources – materials that are freely available on the web or in the library – benefit students immediately through cost savings and can be a great vehicle for faculty looking for new ways to refocus their teaching. The purpose of this workshop is to share ideas on quality content, effective teaching practices, and institutional needs in order to move OER from a great idea to implementation. Faculty, administrators, librarians, and other community college stakeholders are invited to attend a lively discussion on setting achievable targets and reaching those milestones in this important effort to support student success. Please attend if you are new to OER, have found ways to reduce student costs in your course, or already the greatest champion of open resources on your campus – we want to talk with you!

Bring your ideas, teammates, and laptop to discuss your real needs for planning and support in order to redesign courses and programs around high-quality, freely available materials. Registration includes travel reimbursement as well as stipends for part-time Oregon community college faculty. Please register by the Early Bird deadlines for first consideration.

Register online

Dates and locations

This one-day workshop will be offered on the following dates:


Thursday, February 26, 2015, 9am-4pm
Portland Community College, Sylvania Campus, Oak Room
Early Bird registration: February 17

Friday, February 27, 2015, 9am-4pm
Portland Community College, Sylvania Campus, Oak Room
Early Bird registration: February 17

Friday, March 13, 2015, 9am-2:30pm*
Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, Science and Technology Room ST-200
Early Bird registration: March 2

Friday, April 24, 2015, 9am-4pm
Lane Community College, Eugene, Center for Meeting & Learning
Early Bird registration: April 13

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What do you think about online course materials sharing? http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/02/share-your-thoughts-about-course-sharing/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/02/share-your-thoughts-about-course-sharing/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 17:33:05 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4880 What do you think about online course materials sharing?


Online Course “Sharing Models That Work:” An Inquiry to Learn More

Distance educators at PCC have asked questions about online course sharing for a long time. For example, the Distance Learning Task Force (DLTF), in work conducted for the EAC around 2011-12, asked in a Gap Analysis some important questions about course sharing: “Who owns a “shell” and who can use it?” “How is academic freedom impacted?” and “[What is the] SAC role in determining which course will be offered in a DL modality[?]” Among other things, the DLTF Gap Analysis points out a lack of understanding of the impacts on academic freedom, personal creativity, and intellectual property when online course materials are shared among instructors. Four years later, for the most part, the answers remain fuzzy. As we have learned more about this complex topic, other questions have emerged as well. We need to learn more about this.

Sharing Gears (a metaphor for work)

Sharing Gears (a metaphor for work)

As the college’s eLearning Manager and an academic, I think it is important to better understand the range of thinking about course materials sharing among stakeholders at PCC. Our practices around sharing potentially impact the overall health and efficacy of PCC’s DL programs, students taking online courses, online instructors working within a discipline, and DL staff.

It is particularly important to determine best practices around course materials sharing. What is the best practice when, faced with situations within a particular discipline, instructors are assigned to teach an online course for the first time? We should consider situational factors, for example, the experience levels of instructors, students taking the course, and the needs of adjunct instructors, in this inquiry. The DL department wants to better broadly understand subject area approaches to course materials sharing. By improving our knowledge and teaching others, DL also hopes to improve understanding within subject areas.

During this (winter 2015) term, I will work to begin this inquiry. The inquiry is an early step towards the adoption of several EAC DL task force recommendations, brought forth in June 2012, to identify the online course development and sharing strategies and models in use at PCC, that work for any particular Subject Area Committees, and that deal with the operational aspects of such decisions. These recommendations (#26 to #31) can be found in the final EAC DL Steering Committee recommendations.

Helping a subject area identify “sharing models that work” (Recommendation #27) must include educating others about the concepts and perhaps exposing them to new ideas around course materials sharing, so part of the inquiry will be focused on learning what others know, and do not know, about this concept.

I wish to know what others think about online course materials sharing. To spur discussion, I would like to present some merits and demerits of course sharing, from the perspective of a DL manager, and to invite responses from individuals within the college community as to how you, as a practitioner in your area or discipline, view my perspectives. I invite your critical responses. Please reply with your comments.

The merits and demerits of online course materials sharing are:


  • Providing an already developed course reduces the time required for an instructor to get ready to teach a course for the first time because much of the work of designing the course is already done.
  • Providing an already developed course allows instructors to focus on teaching and student learning rather than curriculum design and development. This is particularly important when teaching the course the first time as, presumably, students receive more feedback.
  • Using an already developed course provides a framework and working model for teaching the course as others have taught it. This helps the first-time instructor understand the course and how the pieces fit together. Providing an instructional guide within a shared course can enhance this understanding. Students receive a better organized learning experience.
  • Using an already developed course provides an understanding of the scope of the course as others have taught it. Allows the first-time instructor to learn what learning outcomes are, and are not, included in the course. Helps ensure that students are taught all of the pertinent learning outcomes.
  • Different sharing models can be used to support course- or program-level goals; for example, the sharing of “master” courses can ensure high levels of curricular consistency across multiple sections in programs where a state exam is administered for licensure. Students across different campuses have consistent learning experiences.
  • A shared course can be made highly accessible, with equally effective materials already included in a course before a student with a disability enrolls.
  • When a first-time instructor struggles with a course component, support /advice may be available from a course lead and/or other instructors who have previously successfully taught the course. This enhances collegiality.
  • Allows PCC’s norms of quality for design and delivery to be passed along, which is especially important for instructors new to the college or profession.
  • PCC has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in developing its online curriculum. Course sharing allows instructors and students to benefit from that investment.
  • Course sharing, when embraced by multiple instructors working together and over time, can lead to a course-embedded, outcomes-based, assessment-driven, continuous improvement cycle for courses, and opens numerous possibilities for creating built-in enhancements for learners, such as designs incorporating differentiation and remediation. The effectiveness of courses developed under these circumstances can greatly exceed those developed by individuals working in isolation.


  • The teach-ability of an already developed course is subjective. Sharing may be messy when the design strategies, teaching and assessment methods, and philosophies of the course developer and those of the teacher do not align.
  • An overly rigid application of course sharing can suppress academic freedom or lead to curriculum and instruction being so proscriptive that there is limited space for an instructor to share his/her own creativity, expertise, and growth. The course may be less rich in the display of instructor style/personality as a result. Course sharing decreases idiosyncrasy.
  • Some instructors do not want to share the materials they create for their online course.
  • Adopting course sharing within a subject area requires some degree of oversight by both the subject area leaders and individual instructors to ensure the curriculum meets the SAC’s professional standards. Setting and maintaining professional standards for online curriculum may take more time that many SAC leaders and instructors have available.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my assumptions about course sharing? Have I missed any important considerations concerning course sharing?

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Get Googly with Google Docs http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/02/get-googly-with-google-docs/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2015/02/get-googly-with-google-docs/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:00:28 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=4842 PCC Bridge Newspaper clipping titled PCC Gets Googly.

PCC Bridge: PCC Gets Googly!



You’ve seen the latest email from TSS about PCC Gets Googly! It describes how much the PCC community loves and uses Google Apps. Its uses for education is clearly huge and it is one of the best cloud tools out there. Today I want to share with you some useful tips on how to make use of some hidden features in Google Doc for research.

Before we start, please read the following precautions:

  • Google Docs is still not 100% accessible.
    “Google Drive is great for sharing documents and media, but Google Docs are missing some key accessibility functionality. Docs with tables and images are especially difficult for users of assistive technologies and co-editing is also a challenge. Whenever possible, offer students a choice of word document applications to use.” (http://www.pcc.edu/resources/instructional-support/access/google-doc-access.html)
  • These tips only work with the full desktop browser version of Google Docs, not the mobile versions.


The research tools is a hidden gem! You can search without ever leaving the document, add citations, link articles, and more! You can use different Google services including: Scholar, Images, Quotes, Dictionary, or just regular website.

  1. To use the research function, click on Tools from the menu
  2. Click on Research.
  3. Research window will show up on the right side. Enter any text you would like to research and choose which tools (everything, images, scholar, quotes, or dictionary).
    How to activate Research function in GoogleDoc: Step 1 and 2

    Google Docs Tools – Research. How to activate Research function, Steps 1 and 2

    What you can do with Research function in GoogleDoc: Step 3

    Google Docs Tools – Research. What you can do with Research function, Step 3

  1. When you find a web link you want to add to your document, hover your mouse pointer on that link and you can click either on the Preview, Insert link or Cite. If you click on Insert link or cite, it will automatically be displayed in the place where you want it to show up on the document.

    Preview of one of the search results in GoogleDoc: Step 4

    Google Docs Tools – Research. Preview of one of the search results, Step 4

  2. You can apply citations, when you click on the Cite button, Google Doc will automatically inserts the citation according to the style you want (MLA, APA, or Chicago). Click on the arrow below the search bar to select the citation style.
    Using Research citation function: Step 5

    Google Docs Tools – Research. Using Research citation function, Step 5

    Changing Research citation style: Step 5

    Google Docs Tools – Research. Changing Research citation style, Step 5


Ever wonder where you can do spell check? Google Doc has an integrated spelling checker that automatically underlines any misspelled word. However, if you are working on a bigger writing document and you want to make sure your document is free of spelling-errors, click on Tools from the menu and select Spelling. All misspelled terms will be featured in the displayed window. If you use a  term repeatedly, you can add it to your personal Dictionary.

How to activate Spelling function: Step 1

Google Docs Tools – Spelling. How to activate Spelling function: Step 1


Word Count

If you require your students to write a certain number of words, they can use the Word count function to know how many words they have written in the document. Just click on the Tools menu and select Word count.

How to activate Word count function: Step 1

Google Docs Tools – Word count. How to activate Word count function: Step 1

Word count result

Google Docs Tools – Word count. Word count result


The paperless classroom with Google Docs

Eric Curts guides you through the different stages of turning your classroom into a digitally focused environment where you will no longer have any need for papers. This is all done through the effective use of the different Google Drive features and functionality.

That’s all for this week’s blog. If you have any tips you want to share, please write a comment. Hope you get a chance to try any of these tips.

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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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