Distance Education http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance Mon, 02 May 2016 17:00:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5 Creating an effective and accessible webpage for D2L http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/05/creating-an-effective-and-accessible-webpage-for-d2l/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/05/creating-an-effective-and-accessible-webpage-for-d2l/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 17:00:06 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=6623 Do you have a plain lecture page in your course? Would you like to make your page pretty, consistent, and accessible like this? Why do you need to have your content accessible? Check the PCC web accessibility website to help you understand about accessibility and why it is required.

Accessible template syllabus page

It’s not hard to create a page to look like that. You can choose one out of these 2 options:

Option I: Create a new accessible webpage

Follow these directions under “Steps to apply template to a blank HTML page.”

Add your content accordingly and making it accessible using these guidelines:

  • Edit the template that appeared in the html editor.  You will see a blue Title section (H1), three Topic sections (H2), and in each topic section an additional subheading (H3). Use the headings as needed. If additional are needed, you can write the title of the section, highlight the text and go to the toolbar, click the down arrow next to the paragraph box, and select H2 or H3 depending on your needs.
  • Keep in mind that hyperlinks, images, and even video can be added to the lecture HTML page. The first three buttons in the toolbar will easily guide you through adding these elements!
  • When finished editing, click the Publish button from below the HTML editor.


Option II. Get our template files and use them in your course

Step 1. Getting the template files


  1. Download the DL template zip file that contain the styles and some template files you would need.
  2. Go to your D2L course and click on Edit Course from the navbar.
  3. Click on Manage Files and click on Upload.
  4. Upload window will open. Click the Upload button, select the zip file that you’ve previously downloaded, and click Open. Click the Save.
    Upload a file inside Manage Files area
  5. Inside your course, find the zip file (either inside Download folder or on the Desktop) and click on the action menu and select Unzip. Click OK to continue the process of unzipping the files into your course.
    Unzip a file
  6. You should have 2 new folders now: course-info-module and html-templates. Inside the html-templates folder, you can find various template files that you can use as introduction, lecture, conclusion, or any page you’d like. You can find inside course-info-module:
    • course information outline
    • instructor information
    • syllabus
    • course calendar
    • course calendar in text
    • discussion grading rubric example 1 & 2
    • citation
Step 2. Use them in your course

To add the files into your Content is easy:

  1. Go to course course and click on Content.
  2. Go to the module you want to add the file.
  3. Click on the New button and select Add from Manage Files.
  4. If you want to use the syllabus, double-click on the folder course-info-module.
  5. Check the box next to the file you want to use (e.g. Syllabus) and click Add.
    Add a file into Content area
  6. The syllabus file should now be inside the module. Click on the file name to preview the content. You can change the name at the top by clicking on it and press enter after you make the changes. If you want to start changing the content,

Follow these directions to create another lecture page using the same layout from the template.

Still have questions?

Don’t worry, if you still have any questions or need more guidance, the Online Faculty Help Desk (971-722-8227) will be there to help you every step of the way. Good luck!

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Releasing Final Grades (Running Points) in D2L grade book http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/04/releasing-final-grades-running-points-in-d2l-gradebook/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/04/releasing-final-grades-running-points-in-d2l-gradebook/#respond Mon, 25 Apr 2016 17:00:06 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=6582 The most frequent question that I have received answering Faculty Help Desk phone in last couple months was about releasing final grades in D2L  to students. So I’m taking this opportunity to go over this topic for my Best Practice Blog post.

I hope it will be helpful for some of our faculty who recently joined D2L users club. Please bookmark the page and get back to it when you need it.

Final Grades are unreleased with crossed eyball symbal displayed in the column Final Grades are not released to your students by default.
If you are looking at your Grades and see a “crossed eyeball” in the Final Grades column, that means that your Final Grades are not released.

Final Grades Released Eyeball symbal


The released Final Grades will have an “open eyeball” symbol in that column.


Dropdown Grade All


In order to release Final Grades, you should use a drop down menu in the heading of this column and select Grade All.


On the next page,  make sure that the boxes are checked for each student in the column Release Final Calculated Grade.  You can select select them all for the entire class by using select all button and Release/ Unrelease button. Don’t forget to click Save on this page.

Grade All screen Now you should see an open “eyeball” symbol in the  Final Grades column by the grades numbers and your students should be able to see their final grades.

Settings button

Grade settings

It is very  important to to set up your Grades Settings correctly.

Find Settings link in the upper right corner of your Enter Grades or Manage Grades page.

Calculation Options tab Final Grades Released option screen

Click on the Calculation Options tab.
Under the Final Grade Released heading, choose Calculated Final Grade if you want to release final grades calculated by D2L to students.
Or,  you can choose Adjusted Final Grade if you plan to change manually the grade at the end of the term.

You can switch to this option at the end of the term and have Calculated Final Grade released during term, so your students can see the received running calculated points.

There are two important settings under Calculation Options heading that determine how the ungraded items are calculated:

Grade Calculations options screen Drop ungraded items: Excludes ungraded items from the calculation of Final Grades. This option will keep student final  grades more accurate throughout a semester.
Treat ungraded items as 0: Assigns a value of 0 as the points received for ungraded items. This option is useful at the end of a semester if you would like all uncompleted student assignments that were ungraded for any reason as 0s.

Make sure to check the Automatically keep final grades updated box.

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D2L CD update 10.6 for April 2016 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/04/d2l-cd-update-10-6-for-april-2016/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/04/d2l-cd-update-10-6-for-april-2016/#respond Thu, 21 Apr 2016 23:46:38 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=6579 icon continuous deliveryIn this month’s Continuous Delivery update, there isn’t too much to be excited about, but I wanted to make sure that you were aware that it was coming on Friday, April 29th. We do not expect any downtime for this update. There are more exciting updates coming in the May release.

There are a bunch of bug fixes, but most haven’t been identified in our environment. That’s not a bad thing though.

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Faculty development at Valencia College: Could PCC do something similar? http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/04/faculty-development-at-valencia-college-could-pcc-do-something-similar/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/04/faculty-development-at-valencia-college-could-pcc-do-something-similar/#comments Mon, 18 Apr 2016 17:00:23 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=6576 PCC’s recently updated collective bargaining agreement with the Faculty and Academic Professionals includes a sizable outlay of resources specifically targeted for professional development. This displays PCC’s commitment to ensure the college has highly training professionals at the ready to teach students. Certainly, the influx of resources has brought heightened focus on professional development, faculty development, and our Teaching and Learning Centers (TLCs); this presents a wonderful opportunity for PCC.
Faculty discussion

As part of exploring new approaches to employee development, a catalog describing the faculty development activities at Valencia College, in Orlando Florida, was shared. I was impressed with what I saw in the catalog. Valencia provides comprehensive faculty development organized around the habits of and principles adhered to by successful educators. As a manager concerned with faculty development for online teaching, I wondered, “could PCC do something similar?”

As part of answering my question, I looked for differences and similarities between the colleges. There are many, and three that I wish to tell you about. First, a similarity that I found is that both PCC and Valencia rely heavily upon faculty leaders to build their development programs and the programs are both focused on student-centered learning and increased collegiality. Valencia centers their efforts within the Teaching/Learning Academy, PCC within the Teaching and Learning Centers (TLCs), and both are driven by committed forward-looking educators who want the best instructors possible who provide fabulous learning experiences for students. Both institutions realize that the faculty must be central to faculty development; teachers learn best from others who share their norms and practices.

Valencia’s Seven Essential Competencies

  • Assessment as a Tool for Learning
  • Inclusion & Diversity
  • Learning-centered Teaching Strategies
  • LifeMap
  • Outcomes-based Practice
  • Professional Commitment
  • Scholarship of Teaching & Learning

There are two notable differences. At Valencia, there seems to be clear direction as to what the faculty, as a collective group, should know and be able to do to successfully support student learning, including articulation of seven “essential competencies of a Valencia educator.” These competencies, developed jointly by deans and faculty, seem to be widely shared and expected of everyone. All of the faculty development offerings in the catalog help the faculty to meet the competencies. This is different than PCC. Other than the What Works Well in Online Teaching at PCC document, I know of no other documents at PCC that try to establish organization-wide guidelines for teaching behaviors or that drive the offerings of the TLCs. We should work to create something like what Valencia has.

At PCC, there seems to be an overlap in the meanings of professional and faculty development. PCC tends to call topics that focus on improving teaching and learning “professional development,” while Valencia is clear such topics are “faculty development.” I find it notable that Valencia differentiates faculty development from professional development, acknowledges that instructors are professionals in a discipline as well as educators, and sets expectations for currency of knowledge and skills in both endeavors. For example, one of Valencia’s seven competencies addresses professionalism in one’s field; it is referred to as “professional commitment” and Valencia’s Teaching/ Learning Academy offers topics in this area. I think PCC could do a better job of emphasizing the dual roles of instructors, defining and differentiating between aspects of professional and faculty development, and ensuring topics that address these different needs are available.

Many, if not all of us, hope that the recently outlay of resources drives an enriched long-lasting cultural commitment to professional and faculty development. There are great models, like Valencia College’s program, that PCC can learn from. I hope by presenting my thoughts about this in this post that more people will check out the Valencia catalog and assert “PCC can do something similar!”

See Valencia’s Faculty Development catalog.

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Simple instructions for accessibility compliance of your online course content http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/04/simple-instructions-for-accessibility-compliance-of-your-online-course-content/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/04/simple-instructions-for-accessibility-compliance-of-your-online-course-content/#respond Sun, 17 Apr 2016 21:51:55 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=6564 ""

DL Access Team: John, Supada, Karen

By now, the message has gotten out to most instructors that your online course content has to be accessible to students with disabilities. But there’s confusion on what that means exactly. Does it mean videos have to be captioned? Does it mean that you have to remove content that works for some students? No and no. So what does it mean, and how can you self-evaluate your course content?

That’s where the PCC / QM Standard 8 Rubric comes in!

All PCC fully online courses are evaluated using the Quality Matters (QM) Standards. QM Standard 8 is on accessibility. There are five criteria that make up Standard 8. Two of those are considered critical and have scores of 3 points each. The other three criteria are less critical and have scores of 2 points each. Your course will not meet Standard 8 if you miss a critical or 3 point criteria, but you can miss a 2 point area and still meet Standard 8. So how do you ensure you meet these criteria, especially the 3 pointers?

The PCC / QM Standard 8 Rubric aligns the QM 8 criteria with the PCC Accessibility Guidelines, so you know which PCC Accessibility Guidelines apply to the QM 3 point criteria and which ones align with 2 point criteria. And the final column in the PCC/QM Standard 8 Rubric explains why that standard and guideline are important and links to instructions (and videos) on how to meet them!

Now I’m not saying to ignore the 2 pointers! The 2 point criteria are still important, and they will help improve the usability of your course content for all students. So don’t ignore them. But I hope the PCC / QM Standard 8 Rubric will help you focus on the most critical areas first.

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An interview with Allison Gross http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/04/an-interview-with-allison-gross/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/04/an-interview-with-allison-gross/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2016 17:00:36 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=6543 Allison Gross, English instructor

Allison Gross, English instructor
(PCC photo by James G. Hill)

Peter Seaman sat down with Allison Gross, online writing instructor, to learn about her journey as an online instructor and to find out what works best in her online practice. Allison provided some fascinating thoughts on getting into online teaching, creating rapport with students, using online video, and other topics. Peter’s questions and comments appear in italics; Allison’s answers and comments appear in regular type.

So, Allison, thanks for taking time to check in with me! I remember you took the OIO [Online Instructor Orientation, the training program for new online instructors] a few years ago, when you were new at PCC. I recall you really flew through the training. Is this a good time to make an inappropriate and ageist observation about how younger people are better at online stuff?

Thanks, Peter – nice to see you too! And no, it’s never a good time to make an ageist comment of any type. I started teaching at PCC in fall of 2011 and I took the OIO in spring of 2012. I was excited to get into online teaching at PCC because I had done research on online pedagogy while I was teaching writing as a graduate student. At the time, I had reason to try and experiment with a hybrid composition course, which was not typically offered at the University of Washington.

So it wasn’t just because you were in your, um, 20s, or maybe your 30s at the time? Okay – now I’m just trying to find out how old you are.

No, Peter, it had nothing to do the fact that I am in my 30s [laughter]. But family considerations did play a role, since I was starting a family at the same time that I was finishing my PhD. Online courses help faculty and students to balance work, family, and education. But for me, getting into online teaching had more to do with my interest in pedagogy and theory. I really like to diversify my teaching practice and challenge myself, and I’ve found that online teaching provides a kind of variety I can’t get anywhere else. I think online teaching can be as effective as face-to-face teaching but you need a strong pedagogical grounding. It’s not less work, it’s just different work.

What online courses have you taught at PCC so far?

I started off by teaching WR 122, and I taught 2-3 sections per year for a few years. Last year I picked up WR 227, technical and professional writing. I teach 2-4 sections per year.

You teach both face-to-face and online, so here comes the inevitable question where I ask you to compare the two.

I guess I would just repeat what I said before about the work being not better or worse but different. I find that in some ways I connect more quickly to my online students, even though I never see them. Students share more in their introductions in an online class than they do in a face-to-face setting. It takes longer to find out about them as students online, but you find out important things about them as people sooner.

Is there something special you do to get students to open up about themselves?

I don’t share anything really personal about myself or my family, but I do share my hobbies, interests, and background. Actually, as I’m thinking about it now, the introductory discussion in an online class has become a genre of its own. So if students have taken an online course, they know the genre.

Okay, I missed the lecture in English 101 about genre. What is a genre, exactly?

The easiest way to think about genre is as a set of language conventions that govern practices. The introductory online discussion has its own set of conventions that writers learn to follow.

It sounds like you are already teaching writing on the first day of class, since students are writing introductions in a particular genre.

Yes – exactly. Everything is writing in an online class! Since every interaction and utterance is written, students have more opportunities to practice without my having to prompt anything. In fact, there’s so much writing to read that I have to pick and choose what to respond to. I really enjoy getting to know my online students and I’ve had my online students take my face-to-face literature classes after taking my online class. I try to resist the impulse to think that there is a stereotype or default image of who the online student is – a persona, or an image. These are real people!

What are some things you do in your online class to resist stereotypes and keep the students real in your mind?

My favorite new thing is that I have started doing videos. Dave Stout, my dean, is really into videos and is always recommending them.

That’s interesting. My dean, Loraine Schmitt, made an effort a few years ago to ensure each online course has an introductory video from the instructor. Do you think the deans talk to one another?

Probably. Anyway, I just jumped in and started doing one video per week. Sometimes I do narrated PowerPoints; sometimes it’s just me speaking — nothing more than five minutes. Sometimes I just talk about the writing assignments. The students have responded really well to the videos, which have done a lot to help me build rapport with students. Remember I said that the online instructor needs to remember that the students are real people?  Students, too can be more adversarial if they don’t think of you as a human being. The videos have helped me seem more real to my students, I think.

Are there other things you do to connect with your online students?

My online writing classes have a required conference component, so I have an in-person meeting or I talk with students on the phone. I also do Skype conversations. You can really tune in to your students during these conferences, but I have to admit I wasn’t comfortable doing them at first. When I was doing my dissertation, I had to work with my chair over the phone, so I learned how to do that. You have to invest time for it to go well, but you can learn the skills.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about your online practice?

Teaching online forces you to be a better teacher. You have to articulate your rationale and approach to teaching — you cannot improvise online the same way you can in your face-to-face class. If you do, your online class becomes a hot mess! Since I started teaching online, I have developed my own teaching tools — PowerPoints, handouts, mini-lectures. In a face-to-face class, you can improvise without losing credibility. But in an online class, organization is much more important.

Uh oh – I just realized you said earlier in the interview that you have your PhD. Should I have been calling you “Doctor” this whole time?

Stop it.

Thanks so much, Allison, for sharing your thoughts about your online practice!

You’re welcome, Peter. Glad to do it.

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D2L CD update 10.5.7 for March 2016 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/03/d2l-cd-update-10-5-7-for-march-2016/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/03/d2l-cd-update-10-5-7-for-march-2016/#comments Tue, 08 Mar 2016 21:16:00 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=6530 icon continuous deliveryThis month’s D2L Continuous Delivery update, 10.5.7, has a number of bug fixes, but relatively few changes that will affect faculty. But here are a few bug fixes, just so I have something to write about this month.

  • PRB0051256 – Now, when navigating using the browser’s back button from within a discussion thread, previously set filters at the topic level are remembered so you don’t lose your place.
  • PRB0050401 – Now, when you attempt to email the classlist or reply to an email on an iPad running iOS 9, the Compose Email dialog box appears as expected. (Phil, Susan!)
  • PRB0050932 – Now, when you attempt a quiz on an iPad running iOS 9.1, you can zoom out as expected. (We still recommend taking exams on a desktop/laptop)

There are also improvements to the Discussion Rubric interface, which was released last month. In initial testing, Rondi Schei noticed that while the rubric is a great addition to the tool for the instructor, the rubric results, grade, and feedback do not yet automatically flow to the grade book for the student to view. We have an internal discussion going on to see how long it takes for the functionality to reach full usefulness.

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New, more powerful Release Conditions http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/03/new-more-powerful-release-conditions/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/03/new-more-powerful-release-conditions/#comments Mon, 07 Mar 2016 18:00:58 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=6521 The Release Conditions and Intelligence Agent tool in D2L can be a great way to automate routine activities in a course like sending an email when a student has completed a quiz with a low score. Or a quick email to commend a student on doing well on an essay. Or a number of things that all require that a student has done something. In fact, the biggest limitation of the Intelligent Agents in the past was that it required that a student DO something before the agent could be triggered. This limitation was immediately obvious to many of our faculty who have looked at using the tool. So I’m very pleased that with the last update in February, we can now set release conditions and trigger intelligent agents based on a student NOT having done something.  Rather than type all the examples of what can be done now, I’m simply going to paste in from the documentation:

  • Incomplete checklist – Has not completed checklist: <name>
  • Incomplete checklist item – Has not completed checklist item: <name>
  • Competency not achieved – Has not achieved competency: <name>
  • Learning objective not achieved – Has not achieved learning objective: <name>
  • Content topic not visited – Has not visited content topic: <name>
  • No discussion posts authored in topic – {No threads added to discussion topic: <forum>/<topic>, No threads or replies added to discussion topic: <forum>/<thread>}
  • No submission to dropbox – Has not submitted to dropbox folder: <name>
  • No grade score – Not graded on grade item: <name>
  • No completed quiz attempt – Has not completed an attempt on the quiz <name>
  • No completed survey attempt – Has not completed an attempt on the survey <name>

Still not excited? I’ll give you a practical example for how you can use the new functionality in your course. I tend to focus on the first week of the term, but these types of activities can be used throughout the term to reinforce when students are completing work or reminding them when they need to complete something.

Practical example – Read the syllabus!

Some instructors have a syllabus quiz, and some have other activities like a required email or discussion post during the first week. But one consistent requirement across all classes that I’ve seen is for students to review the syllabus. The document is quite important, right? So what if you set up an Intelligent Agent to nag the student every other day during the first week to read the syllabus until they actually read it? Well, now you can. And here’s how.

  1. In your class, click on Edit Course
  2. Click on Intelligent Agent (if you don’t see it, call the DL Faculty Help Desk)
  3. Click on the New button to create the agent
    1. On the new agent screen, enter a title and a description. I strongly recommend you write a useful description for later, or of other instructors who may some day inherit your course.
    2. Leave the status checkbox unchecked for now. We’ll activate it once we’re done configuring the agent.
    3. For this action, we’re going to skip the login and course activity sections and go right to the Release Conditions. Click the Create and Attach button
      1. Under Condition Type, select Not visited content topic
      2. Under the Condition Details, for Topic, select your syllabus
      3. Click the Create button
    4. Next, under Agent Action, we are going to select the second option Take action every time the agent is evaluated and the agent’s criteria are satisfied for the user because we want the agent to run several times and continue to notify the student until they visit the syllabus.
    5. Select Use Schedule because we don’t want this thing to run beyond the first week of the term. If the student hasn’t read the syllabus by then, they need to be No Showed.
    6. Next, we’ll click the Update Schedule button to plan when the agent will run.
      1. Select Daily under the Repeats heading
      2. Enter 2 in the Repeats Every option to have it run every other day. You can set 1 if you want it to remind students on a daily basis. Experiment and see which is more effective.
      3. Check the Has Start Date and Has End Date options and enter a start and end date that match the first week of the class. No need to exceed that on this agent.
      4. Click the Update button
    7. Next, we’ll craft the message that is being sent.  In the To field, enter {InitiatingUser}
    8. In the Cc field, enter your own username (e.g. andy.freed) so you get a copy of the message and know who is triggering the event. It’s a great way to see who hasn’t read the syllabus, and a great way to make sure it’s actually working.
    9. In the Email Subject field, you can have some fun with the title, and write something like Hey, {InitiatingUserFirstName}, You need to read the syllabus! That weird bracketed thing is called a replace string. In this case, it will enter their First Name in the subject. You can click the links below the Bcc and Subject lines to see which strings are available.
    10. In the Message, write something instructive to the student, and feel free to drop in the {InitiatingUserFirstName} so that the message is addressed to them and seems more personal.  Here’s an example:
    11. Click the Save and Close button
    12. You’re now taken back to the agent list. Remember that it isn’t active yet, so let’s click the action menu next to our agent and select Edit Agent
      action menu for agent
    13. Check the Agent is enabled option and then click the Save and Close button
    14. Assuming it’s the first day of the term, let’s run the agent. Otherwise, wait until the first day and the schedule will make it run automatically. However, if you want it to go right away, you can trigger it manually:
      1. Click the action menu next to your agent and select Run Now
      2. A dialog box will open asking to confirm that you want to submit a request to run the agent. Click the Run button
      3. A confirmation page will come up with details, but it may take some time to get the email confirmation. Your agent request has been added to a system queue, so it will process when it reaches the front of the queue. You’ll get an email when that happens

You’ve now successfully used an Intelligent Agent to nag your students about reading the syllabus. This is a fairly simplistic example, but I’d love to hear what other examples you’ve come up with, or examples of agents that you’d like to see. We’d love to explore this tool with you and see how it can be helpful to you and your students.


Oh, and by the way, when the agent completes, you’ll see an email like this.

Confirm agent email

You’ll also get an email where you’ve been Cc’ed on a message to the students who haven’t completed the criteria, which in this case, is viewing the Syllabus. Neat!

The big caveat

The notifications that are sent by Intelligent Agents are sent to the student’s D2L email address. Unless the student logs in to D2L, or they have their D2L email forwarded to their PCC email account, the student may not see your message. There is wide disagreement as to whether this is a good or a bad feature, but it is something that PCC decided when we moved to D2L in 2010 because it  mirrored how email worked in WebCT/Blackboard. Unless we change how email is handled, there will always be limitations to tools like the Intelligent Agents, Notifications, and more.

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Commas Do Matter – Even Virtually! http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/02/commas-do-matter-even-virtually/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/02/commas-do-matter-even-virtually/#comments Mon, 29 Feb 2016 18:00:28 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=6465 Do you teach a class that you just don’t know how to make exciting? Do you wish both you and your students were more engaged in a class? For me, that class was Business Editing which teaches punctuation, grammar, and spelling to administrative assistant students. I found my coursework on punctuation to be especially dry, and I know my students weren’t excited by it either. What could I do to kick start this class for everyone, and do it virtually?

In many of my on-campus classes, I add a Community-Based Learning (CBL) component which allows students to put their course skills to work in a real, community setting. CBL is a hands-on, doing teaching approach. But how would this work virtually… and with punctuation? I read an article about an instructor who was having his students work with non-profit websites, and that gave me an idea. My students could proofread websites for non-profit agencies in the greater Portland area. I wasn’t exactly sure what we were getting into, but I thought had to be better than the textbook assignments that were boring all of us.


Licensed from: 123rf.com

At the start of the term, my students each picked a non-profit agency they were passionate about and wrote them an email message (perfectly proofread, of course) asking if they could proofread the agency’s website. Then they dug into the website questioning punctuation and spelling while not even realizing they were applying the rules they were learning in class. Suddenly, commas mattered! They wanted to help their agency, so they were getting excited about making sure the grammar and punctuation was correct. Were we actually enjoying this?

This project ended up doing much more than I hoped. Not only did it reinforce the skills in this class, it hit home in powerful ways. One term I had a student who had been homeless, and his family was helped by the Portland Mission. For our class project, he chose the Portland Mission and was able to give back to them. His self-esteem clearly increased as he worked to improve their website. He couldn’t believe he could actually do something for them.

Want to try adding CBL to your own DL class, but don’t know where to get started? As a CBL Faculty Coordinator, one of my roles is to assist other faculty in successfully integrating CBL into their classes. Think it can’t be done in your class?  Let’s talk about it…. I love a good challenge!

About Diane Shingledecker

Diane is a full-time Computer Applications Instructor on the Sylvania campus, as well as, the district-wide CBL Faculty Coordinator specializing in CTE programs. She has incorporated CBL into both her on-campus and online class for the past 12 years.

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Become more proficient and effective in the quizzes tool http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/02/become-more-proficient-and-effective-in-the-quizzes-tool/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2016/02/become-more-proficient-and-effective-in-the-quizzes-tool/#respond Mon, 22 Feb 2016 18:00:22 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=6497 There are Specific settings in the quizzes tool you can use to make you more effective and efficient.

1. Create all questions within the Question Library first

If you create all your questions within the Question Library first, you can reuse the questions in various quizzes, surveys, and self-assessments, as well as setting it up as a random question sets.

How to do it?

Follow this tutorial.

2. Set a number of questions per page

Break down large quizzes into shorter, more digestible bits by placing questions on multiple pages. It will benefit students to focus on selected questions. Put 5 or fewer questions on a page.

This will also help students in case they have technical issue because D2L will automatically save the answers when they go to the next page.

How to do it?

Set a number of questions per page in a Quiz


Edit your Quiz, in the Properties tab below Quiz Questions, enter the number of questions you want to view per page in the set Questions per page box, and click Apply. Click Save and Close when you’re done.



3. Group question order using Sections

Group your quiz questions by concept. Switching back and forth between concepts can be confusing for students. You can create different sections to group all questions that belong to each section.

How to do it?
  1. Edit your Quiz
  2. in the Properties tab below Quiz Questions, click Add/Edit Questions
  3. Click New and choose either Section or Random Section
  4. Enter the name for the section and Save. Students may see the section name if you release the quiz submission view.
  5. Click on the section’s name that you just created and start adding your questions
  6. Click Done Editing Questions and click Save and Close to save your changes

Quiz questions organized by sections

4. Have clear question titles

Use the same text for your question titles as your question text, or put hints in the question title so you can easily preview and identify the questions later if you need to make changes. Your students will not see the question titles.

Question title inside a quiz in D2L

How to do it?Change question title in D2L
  1. Edit your Quiz
  2. In the Properties tab below Quiz Questions, click Add/Edit Questions
  3. Click the question name to edit the question and under Title, then type the appropriate title for the question (hint: you can copy from the question text)
  4. Click Save
  5. Click Done Editing Questions and click Save and Close to save your changes


5. Set the Quiz with Auto Export to Grade

This setting enables students to see their scores as soon as they submit their attempts. Combine this setting with the option “allow attempt to be set as graded immediately upon completion,” enables auto-graded attempt scores to be sent directly to the grades tool.

How to do it?

Edit your Quiz and click on the Assessment tab. Under Automatic Grade, check the box for “Allow attempt to be set as graded immediately upon completion.” (note: D2L will grade automatically grade question type that contains pre-recorded answer, such as multiple choice, true/false, matching, etc.)

Then under Auto Export to Grades, check the box for “Allow automatic export to grades.” (note: make sure you already created a Grade Item). Follow this tutorial for more info.

Auto grade and auto export quiz in D2L

6. Question feedback and question hints

Provide contextual clues to help them understand where they erred. This would prevent student emails asking why they got certain questions wrong. You can provide clues to help students in 2 ways:

  • Using question hints while taking the test to suggest how to approach a question. Be sure to activate the hints in the Quiz Properties tab, under Optional Advanced Properties by checking the box for “Allow hints.”
  • Using question feedback when they see their results to provide comments as to what you are looking for in the question. You can add question feedback and hints when you create or modify the quiz questions.
Question hint and Question feedback inside D2L Quiz questionHow to do it?

Edit your Quiz, in the Properties tab below Quiz Questions, click Add/Edit Questions. Click the question name to edit the question. You can find Question Hint and Question Feedback at the bottom of the page. (Note: Using the Question Feedback at the bottom of the page allows students to see the general feedback whether they answer the question right or wrong for multiple choice and multi-select questions.)

Click Save when you’re done. Click Done Editing Questions and click Save and Close to save your changes.


Is that all?

Yes, you should have everything you need to become proficient and effective in the quizzes tool.

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