Distance Education http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:45:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Screen reader users are standing by… http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/07/screen-reader-users-are-standing-by/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/07/screen-reader-users-are-standing-by/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:30:41 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3852
Web Accessibility logo

Web Accessibility logo from Wikimedia Commons

Are you curious how accessible something you use in your online course is to a blind student? Well thanks to Disability Services, we have blind accessibility techs available to test your course with a screen reading program. The techs are graduate students at PSU, who have in-depth experience using screen reading programs like JAWS to navigate their learning materials and other online information and resources.

While the PCC accessibility guidelines for online course content address accessibility for many types of disabilities (blind, color-blind, low vision, photo-sensitive seizure disorder, deaf, hard of hearing, mobility, and some learning disabilities,) how a blind student operates a computer is something many people have never seen and sometimes can’t imagine.

What should be tested?

If a document uses real text (and not an image of text), it is generally readable by a screen reader. Formatting that document though is very important to it being understandable to all students, but especially someone without vision. The screen reader will read out the formatting of headings, lists and links.

Forms and objects that require input from the student need to be tested with a screen reader to determine if the buttons and form fields are labeled properly and can be navigated and operated without a mouse (a mouse is a visual tool, so blind users navigate solely with the keyboard). And software that is required but not an essential function of the course (such as publishers’ online tools), also should be tested to make sure it is usable to someone using a screen reader.

So what do you do if your learning object isn’t accessible to a screen reader user? Don’t worry, you don’t have to get rid of it. We in Distance Education and staff in Disability Services are available to help you come up with an accessible, equally effective alternative, which is the requirement under the law. Read more about the legal side of accessibility.

We recommend and can help you set up testing of publisher’s online tools and ebooks before you adopt their textbook. Schedule an appointment with me (karen.sorensen@pcc.edu) to have something in your course tested by a screen reader user.

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Jot down a quick, accessible equation (or formula) http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/07/jot-down-a-quick-accessible-equation-or-formula/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/07/jot-down-a-quick-accessible-equation-or-formula/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:00:49 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3846 Sometimes when you’re responding to a student question in the discussion, you absolutely need to use an equation. And sometimes, the nuisance of having to push all the buttons in the equation editor seems like a brutal punishment. (Especially before Desire2Learn v10.3) Well, there are some tools that let you quickly jot down an equation (or chemical formula, or symbolic logic statement) and convert that nicely in to MathML or LaTeX to paste in to Desire2Learn (D2L).

I’m a big fan of Web Equation, from Vision Objects. It does handwriting translation in to equations, plus it gives you the actual math markup to use in your online course in a format that can be easily copied and pasted in to D2L. Bonus – the equation is rendered nicely in D2L with the MathJax math rendering engine and stored in MathML so that screen readers can decipher the equation.

Here, for example, is an image of a square root of 16 drawn using Web Equation.

Square Root of 16, using Web Equation

Example of Web Equation converting handwritten equation in to a formula

But how do you get that in to D2L? Well, at the bottom, click on either LaTeX or MathML, and copy that corresponding code. Then, when you’re in your discussion post, click on the right-side of the insert equation button, and click on either MathML equation or LaTeX equation. They are different, so make sure you choose whatever you used when you created your question.

Insert either a LaTeX or MathML equation

Alternate options for inserting an equation include a LaTeX equation or a MathML equation.

Then, you paste the equation you copied from the Web Equation editor. It will render a preview for you to make sure it understands your equation. If you’re happy with the equation, simply insert it in to your post.

pasting LaTeX notation in to the D2L equation editor

pasting LaTeX notation in to the D2L equation editor

These are very simple equations, but they demonstrate a really powerful tool. You’ve undoubtedly gotten used to writing equations by hand, and for many, it’s a fast and effective way to create an equation. Give this tool a try and see if it fits your workflow. (Don’t worry, we’ve already asked D2L to add this functionality to the editor.)

Oh, and whatever you do, don’t push the Compute with Wolfram Alpha button.

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Are your online learners adult learners? http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/07/are-your-online-learners-adult-learners/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/07/are-your-online-learners-adult-learners/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 17:24:08 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3785 We who teach – especially those of us who teach online – are sometimes unaware of the assumptions we make about our students. Take the following quiz to check on some of your own assumptions:

  1. True or false: My students need to know why they need to know something before they will learn it.
  2. True or false:  My students are self-directed – they want to direct their own learning.
  3. True or false:  My students have important life experiences that I need to take into account in order for them to get the most from their education.
  4. True or false:  My students won’t learn unless they have achieved a state of readiness, usually related to their real lives, not to my class.
  5. True or false:  My students’ orientation to their learning is life-centered (or task-centered or problem-centered), not subject-centered.
  6. True or false:  My students are internally motivated to learn: grades may be somewhat important to them, but they are motivated most by self-esteem, quality of life, and love of learning.

If you answered “true” for most of those questions, then you may be surprised to discover that your assumptions about learners align nicely with a body of thought known as “adult learning theory,” pioneered mainly by Malcolm Knowles beginning in the 1950s. Knowles led community-based education programs and started to notice that the adults in his classes seemed to learn differently than school-age students. He and other researchers distilled their ideas into the six adult-learning principles above.

Okay, already I can sense your discomfort with some of these principles! I share your discomfort – and I think anybody who has taught college students, either face-to-face or online, might have some objections:

Progression from infancy to childhood to adulthood to old age

Learning apparently happens a bit differently at different ages

  • “Students are self-directed? Are you kidding?? If I didn’t give my students deadlines, they would never do anything!”
  • “Students don’t care about grades or other external motivators? – on which planet, exactly?? Students care about grades more than anything else, and in fact won’t do anything unless it’s tied to a grade.”
  • “Most of my students are in my online class because they need to check a box and fulfill a requirement somewhere else. My class exists within this world of program requirements, grades, and other external requirements.”
  • “Hello?! – this is community college, so I have students of all ages in my classes – everyone from retiree octogenarians to middle-schoolers. How can I design an online class that would appeal to such a wide range of ages and life experiences?”
  • “How can I even know about the ages of my students? They are online so I’ll never see them.”

These concerns are certainly valid, but I think we’d be remiss or closed-minded if we failed to acknowledge that there is wisdom in adult-learning principles as well. Consider the following points:

  • As a busy and well-educated – and aging – adult, you recognize the value of time. Aren’t you more motivated to learn when you know why it would be good for you to know something – because it would help you in your career, in your family life, or in meeting your goals? I know that as my aging brain gets more and more cluttered with everything I’ve stuffed into it over the years, I find myself conducting a kind of mental triage every time I look at a newspaper, magazine, or online news site: if the info isn’t useful to me, I won’t pursue it. As instructors of online adult learners, we can improve learner motivation by providing a more productive context for learning. Yes, there’s lots of “just plain interesting stuff” in all of our fields, but chances are low that our adult learners will be motivated to learn for that reason alone.
  • All learners – but especially adult learners – learn most effectively when they are able to connect prior learning with current experiences. And the more relevant experience a learner brings to your class, the more opportunity you have to tap into this experience and use it to advance the learning objectives of your class. Since students often learn more from peers than they do from instructors (sad but true), a class with more experienced learners offers more potential learning “nodes.” If your experience as the instructor is the only experience that matters in your class, you’ve shut off a rich vein of experiences that could also benefit students.
  • Of course we all recognize that our classes occur within the larger context of our academic departments, our academic divisions, our college, and even the larger educational system, which require grades, assessment, learning outcomes, etc. It’s important to acknowledge the motivators within this context, but I try to remember that education is not only about these things. A student’s readiness to learn, her life experiences, and her goals cannot help impacting the experience in an online class, and even if we don’t understand everything about how these factors impact education, we are prudent to honor them.
  • At a community college, we certainly see a range of ages among our students – from early teens to retirees. For those early teens, a strict pedagogical approach (teacher-directed, subject-centered) might be entirely appropriate. For your older learners, you should consider a growing body of brain research that seeks to describe how students of various ages apprehend and process information. Roger Anunsen, for example, taught me that the best person to teach older adults is usually an older adult who processes info at the same speed (check out Roger’s wonderful collection of videos). While we can’t change who we are, we can try to tailor instructional experiences to match the level of receptivity of our learners. For this reason I think the student’s introductory discussion posting is one of the most important pieces of information a student can provide. From it you can learn much about the student’s life experiences, goals, and even age. While it’s probably not appropriate to ask students directly about their ages, you can create a survey that asks students for general info about their backgrounds, their goals, and their ages (in a range such as 20 and under, 21 to 30, 31 to 40, and so on). In this way you can get a good idea of the ages and experiences of your students. If you see that an online class contains mostly under-20 students but also a few older students, you’ll know that you might need to appeal to those older students a bit differently.

The bottom line is that we can only improve our online classes by taking into account the ages and life experiences of our learners, and considering the sources of their motivation and their desire to direct their own learning (or not).


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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It’s summer, and time to play! http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/07/its-summer-and-time-to-play/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/07/its-summer-and-time-to-play/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 16:19:57 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3689 The annual Desire2Learn Fusion conference is coming up next week, and this year’s schedule includes sessions on Gamification and game-based learning. If you haven’t yet been exposed to these hot topics, Gamification is the use of game mechanics in instructional design to engage and motivate learners, and game based learning (GBL) is the use of games as curriculum materials. Games used can be commercial off-the-shelf titles or custom developed for a subject area.

For a brief overview, take a look at this infographic below on Gamification  sourced by Knewton from information at gamification.org and from MIT’s Education Arcade.  For an excellent introduction on using Gamification and some best practices to consider, check out these three posts from the ASTD blog by Karl Kapp, Instructional Technology faculty at Bloomsburg University:

If you’re a PCC faculty member interested in using Gamification or game based learning in your curriculum, or you already incorporate any of these strategies into your online teaching practice, connect with me! as an Immedgineer, I’m especially interested in harnessing the seductive engagement of gaming experiences as a tool for self improvement.

Remember, you can always follow what’s happening at Fusion by using Twitter and searching for the #D2LFUSION hashtag. Need help with hashtags? Here’s help on hashtags from Twitter.
Gamification Infographic

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media



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Distance Learning Faculty- Get paid to create video for your course! http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/06/distance-learning-faculty-get-paid-to-create-video-for-your-course/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/06/distance-learning-faculty-get-paid-to-create-video-for-your-course/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 23:06:11 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3671
Image credit: dny3d / 123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: dny3d / 123RF Stock Photo

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, July 7th, 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 July 7th  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 our video producer Michael Annus or multimedia developer Monica Marlo in Distance Education. 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, July 11th 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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Are students exceeding your Quiz time limit and submitting late? http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/06/are-students-exceeding-your-quiz-time-limit-and-submitting-late/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/06/are-students-exceeding-your-quiz-time-limit-and-submitting-late/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:41:43 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3548 Chances are that you may not fully understand how D2L allows you to control your quiz timing restrictions. One would think that when you enter your time limit, say 30 minutes, and check the box “enforced” and have a grace period of 1 minute, the minimum, that you are done. At 31 minutes, the time will be enforced and the student will be forced to submit their attempt. WRONG, you’re not done yet! It’s on the next section, on the restrictions tab where you find Late Submissions, which controls how you want submissions to be treated when the time expires.

A late quiz attempt

There are 3 options

    1. The default is to Allow normal submission. And it does just that; it allows students to exceed your time limit indefinitely. You will see red text that indicates just how far past your desired limit any student went. The only way to determine which questions were answered after your intended time limit is to review the individual submission:
      • Click on Quizzes
      • Click on Grade in the action menu for the quiz
      • Click on the students attempt link
      • Click on Quizzes Event Log.
      • This will allow you to determine which questions were answered after the time expired. You can then adjust their score accordingly.
      • What a hassle.
    2. The second option is Use late limit of _____ minutes.  Students will be able to submit their quiz regardless of your set time limit. If the quiz is submitted after the Time Limit plus the Late Limit time expires, students  receive a score of zero on the quiz. You can manually grade the quiz if you feel that a student deserves more than zero. The Late Limit restriction only applies if the enforced check box is selected. That’s also a hassle.
    3. The last option is the one to select in order to control the time limit you set, Auto-Submit Attempt. After the time limit and grace period expire, the quiz does not complete any action that students try to perform. They are prompted to submit their quiz attempt. If users take no action, the quiz shows the attempt as ‘attempt in progress’ in the quiz grading area. To enable auto-submission you must also select “enforced”.
      Thumbs up to Auto-Submit Attempt

So, as you can see, the best way to enforce your intended time limit is to choose Auto-Submit Attempt when you set up your restrictions on any quiz.

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Mandatory DL Orientation Update http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/06/mandatory-dl-orientation-update/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/06/mandatory-dl-orientation-update/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 19:12:39 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3657 This is an update from Distance Education about the mandatory DL orientation project and a delay in its implementation until Winter 2015.

For background, Distance Ed. is developing a mandatory orientation for students wanting to take their first online course at PCC. There are many reasons we are doing this, but the primary reason is to improve student success in online courses. This mandatory orientation will help prepare our students for the rigors of online coursework and allow the student to decide if online courses are appropriate.

Panther Path

Additionally, this orientation has been frequently requested by DL faculty and addresses an EAC Distance Learning Recommendation. The plan for the orientation has been presented to and approved by the Distance Learning Advisory Council, the District Student Services Leaders, Deans of Instruction and Division Deans, and the Educational Advisory Council.


  • The mandatory DL orientation is self-paced and can be completed any time after admission.
  • Orientation takes about one hour.
  • Students will be notified of the requirement and provided with instructions on accessing and completing the orientation.
  • Students who have already taken a DL course will automatically meet the DL prerequisite.


The orientation addresses study skills, technology skills, covers academic integrity, information about college student services, and include a readiness assessment that helps student explore how personal life factors impact successful online learning.

Updated Timeline

The orientation will be implemented this November in time for Winter 2015 registration. This is a delay from our previous target of Fall 2014, largely due to some technical complications that will require additional communication and training. We expect that adjusting the timeline will make for a more smooth roll-out.

Summer 2014

  • Complete technical implementation.
  • Create training materials and communication plan.
  • Work with Marketing to improve branding.
  • Build awareness with student support staff and faculty.

Fall 2014

  • Continue communication with staff, faculty and students.
  • After the 2nd week of Fall term, update the DL website and go live with new orientation.

Winter 2015 and beyond

  • Assess rollout, review content based.
  • Review success and persistence rates for students who completed the orientation.
  • Evaluate content for changes and potential phase 2-type improvements.

What’s next?

Watch for messages and visits from Distance Ed. over the summer and into fall for updates about the required DL orientation, including a new name for the orientation and more details on implementation

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The era of mobile learning: a revolution of true anytime, anywhere learning (part 1) http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/06/the-era-of-mobile-learning-a-revolution-of-true-anytime-anywhere-learning-part-1/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/06/the-era-of-mobile-learning-a-revolution-of-true-anytime-anywhere-learning-part-1/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 17:00:54 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3617 We’ve read so many best practices for instructors on how to engage students in their online class by replacing standard text and course materials with more interactive and engaging content using multimedia and technology. These course materials can be video clips from recorded lectures, electronic textbooks, publisher’s online resources, PDF files, recorded whiteboard animations, etc.

PCC Course Content viewed on iOS devices

The era of VHS tapes, videocassettes, and slide projectors are gone. This is an era where everyone is surrounded by technology. Everyday I leave my house carrying my house key, car key, smartphone, and tablet. I used to carry around my planner book to check my day-to-day activity, but now I cannot live without my phone. I rely heavily on my phone with my daily schedule and always checking my messages and emails at least one every hour. I can imagine some of you who read this nodding your head, agreeing with me that you do the same things I do in your daily life.

There is a rapid rise of students accessing and completing coursework by using mobile applications and devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. It is a revolution of true anytime, anywhere learning. They may not have their laptops or tablets with them, but they will have their smart phones, 3G (or 4G) access, and a data plan that help them accessing their course while waiting on the bus or shuttle, or do their homework while waiting in the coffee shop. It’s the real power of mobile learning, access at your fingertip.

You can see trend growth in people who are accessing our PCC Desire2Learn (D2L) website using mobile devices vs. computer from Google Analytic data. Below are some snapshots of the data.

Google Analytic showing computer vs. mobile devices accessing PCC D2L from April-May, 2014

The statistic above shows that in just within these 2 months, almost 11% of people are using their mobile devices to access our PCC D2L and still 89% are using regular computer. It’s because not all course content can be accessible using mobile devices (credit to Andy Freed).

Google Analytic showing computer vs. mobile devices accessing PCC D2L from April-May in 2013 vs. 2014

You can see above a snapshot comparison between last year and this year, from March 31st through May 30rd. The growth of accessing PCC D2L using mobile devices has doubled in 2014 to almost 11% in comparison to 5% in 2013 (credit to Andy Freed).

Google Analytic showing variety of mobile devices accessing PCC D2L from April-May, 2014

The above snapshot is a comparison of a variety of mobile devices people use to access PCC D2L. Apple iOS devices (iPhones and iPads) are in the top two, with a little over 60%, followed by android devices due to their varieties (credit to Andy Freed).

If mobile learning is really the new trend and it continues, we will see about 20% of visits from mobile devices next year, instructors would need to adjust teaching/learning pedagogy for their online course. Consider usability and accessibility on mobile devices when selecting or creating online materials and e-texts to make the most of mobile technology. Design your course materials, from the start, to be accessible and navigable on mobile devices, rather than attempting to translate print materials or more traditional online materials into a mobile format later.

Best practices for online instructors to create mobile-friendly courses

PCC class content displayed on the laptopChunk your content into smaller sections

If you think about students who spent about 13 minutes per session in Desire2Learn using a computer, they would only spent 8 minutes using a tablet, and just 4 minutes using a smartphone. So by chunking your content into smaller sections, it’s easier to navigate smaller sections of content rather than one long page.

Use the course templates provided by Desire2Learn and PCC Distance Ed.

These course templates, as you can see from the picture above, aside from being consistent and have beautiful layout, are also accessible and responsive on mobile devices. Use your existing course template to create a new one and follow the tutorial on how to create a new html page. And if you need to request a course template, contact the Distance Ed. Faculty Helpdesk.

Stop using tables for formatting

Do not format your content using table; use it only for displaying tabular data. Tables are difficult to adjust, slow to load, and often hard to read when viewed on a small mobile device screens. Be aware that students who are using screen reader software will read the table in a linear way from left to right, top to bottom, one cell at a time (no repeats). If cells are split or merged, the reading order can be thrown off. You can visit the WebAIM website to learn more about creating accessible table or DL Website to learn about creating accessible page in Desire2Learn.

Reduce file size

You probably don’t notice anything when uploading and sharing a large file, like a 50MB PowerPoint file, when using a computer and good network connection. However, users on mobile devices often suffer from large files. Mobile users rely on a good Wi-Fi or 3G/4G data connection, plus there might be charges for larger file downloads. Often time, students won’t be able to access the files on their devices.


image from PCC IS Accessibility website.

Consider breaking larger files into smaller parts, or remove unnecessary images and media from PDFs and PowerPoints. Some software also has the option to optimize the page for web before saving the file. If you use video, do not embed the video into the file. You should host the video on a streaming service, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Kaltura, or Mediasite, and link to it or embed it inside Desire2Learn. These services reduce file sizes, can be captioned, are mobile-optimized, and can avoid additional plug-ins that may not be available on mobile devices.

no-plug-ins-iconUse mobile-friendly media

Simply avoid Flash and Java, as the majority of mobile devices don’t support activities that rely on these plugins. Unless the activity is absolutely necessary, try to find an alternative. The new Desire2Learn upgrade version 10.3 support HTML5 equation editor and doesn’t rely on Java. Blackboard Collaborate also has a mobile app version to do web conferencing.

Advise the student

Unavoidably, there will be times when the content or an assignment cannot be optimized for mobile use. It is important to keep in mind that there are some students who will use mobile devices as their primary device to access your course. Advise them to find an alternate means, most likely using a computer, to complete an assignment, read content, or interact with the course. For example: if an assignment requires Flash, Java, use of a camera or microphone, or uploading of a file.

Do you want to try creating a mobile-friendly course now?

You may think that this whole buzz about mobile learning is a lot of work and you may avoid mobile apps because you don’t want to spend a lot of time or money exploring them. However, it would be a wise move to at least check out your content on a mobile device, if possible on multiple platforms, even if you don’t personally use them. It would be best if you can design your course as accessible and mobile-friendly from the outset. After all, that is what your students are doing. I will end here, but look my next post, part 2 of the era of mobile learning.

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PCC attends Oregon Open Educational Resource Summit in Astoria, OR http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/06/pcc-attends-oregon-open-educational-resource-summit-in-astoria-or/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/06/pcc-attends-oregon-open-educational-resource-summit-in-astoria-or/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 16:22:48 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3546 Several staff and faculty from PCC attended the first Oregon Open Educational Resource (OER) Summit in Astoria, OR on Friday, May 9th. OERs include any educational material (physical or electronic) that is released with less restrictive rights on their use. The Summit was intended to bring staff, faculty and administrators from Oregon’s seventeen Community Colleges together to discuss the potential that OERs can have in reducing the cost of attending college for students. Cable Green, Director of Global Learning for Creative Commons was the keynote presenter. Cable’s keynote (slides available) highlighted the rising cost of college, the impact of debt on students, the challenges of traditional copyright, and the opportunities available to educators and colleges through Creative Commons licensing.

Rather than try to summarize his keynote in text, which would likely fall flat, I’ve added a recording of a very similar presentation done at Ohio State in 2013.

Fascinating, huh? Is there anything we can or should do?

What about PCC?

PCC was represented by Donna Reed (Library Director), Ken Brown (Bookstores Manager), Dan Dougherty (CIS Dept. Chair & Faculty), Rondi Schei (Econ Instructor & DL Mentor), Rebecca Robinson (MSD Dept. Chair, Faculty, and DL Mentor), and Greg Kaminski, Loraine Schmitt, Steve Beining and Andy Freed from Distance Education. Over lunch, we were able to discuss the benefits and challenges that the use and adoption of OER could face at our institution.


  1. No identified licensing process for College-produced content
  2. Lack of awareness of OER and it’s potential
  3. Difficulty finding and evaluating OER content
  4. Somewhat limited compliment of activities and dynamic homework sites
  5. Quality of materials varies greatly


  1. Significantly reduced costs for students
  2. Students have access to content on first day (not after disbursement)
  3. Greater academic freedom – faculty can select content from a variety of sources and create an experience to meet course outcomes
  4. Content can be updated or adapted (for an accommodation) more quickly
  5. Supports College’s mission, vision and goals

Obviously, this is an abbreviated list. The challenges and benefits are more complicated than a few bullets, but there is ample room for discussion within our own institution.

OER in your course?

Thus far, we in Distance Education have not had any formal course development requests that have specifically identified the use of OER (either found or self-produced) in the development process. However, it’s certainly something we’d love to explore with you.

If you’re wondering if there are any open resources available for your discipline, you can start by looking at some of the resources identified in the video, or try sites like OpenStax or OPEN’s FindOER. And if you know of any even better options for your discipline, please share!

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Keeping in touch with your online class using Notifications http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/05/keeping-in-touch-with-your-online-class-using-notifications/ http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/2014/05/keeping-in-touch-with-your-online-class-using-notifications/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 17:00:44 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=3563 Subscribe to Topic button in D2L activates Notifications for the Discussion topic.Many of us love learning and teaching online because of the flexibility that modern technology can offer. You can be anywhere in the world and work on your class in day or nighttime.

Keeping in touch with your class activities and not being logged into your D2L account is easy with Notifications.  By selecting an appropriate setting you can choose amount of updates you get while you are offline.

Have you ever explored Notifications?  Notifications can be found  in the upper right corner, under the Action Menu next to your name on D2L page.

Find Notifications page in the upper right corner, under the Action Menu next to your name on D2L page.

Notifications is a feature of Desire2Learn that allows you to receive a periodic summary of activity, or instant notifications as things happen in your course. You can receive them as text messages on your phone or by email if that suits you best.

You can receive Notifications  as text messages on your phone or by emailIf you like to receive a summary of activities in your course, Desire2Learn will ask you about time when you’d like that summary to be sent to you. This feature can really help you to plan your work schedule.

Notifications can be very useful for your students and help keep them engaged with the class. Many students appreciate the option of getting a message once a grade is received,  a News item is updated, or a reminder about a Quiz end date. Please encourage your students to use notifications at the beginning of your class with a News item or have a topic in the introduction module or your Syllabus.

Instructors find it very useful getting notified of new posts in online discussions. Once you select this option on the Notifications page, proceed to your Discussions area and find the Subscribe button on the right from every topic or thread in your list of discussions.

 Subscribe button is located on the right from every topic in your list of discussions.

While you may decide that being notified on every discussion post is not necessary, a good practice would be to subscribe to instant notifications from Student Q & A topic. This way you will instantly know that one of your students have a question and need your help.

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