Distance Education https://www.pcc.edu/distance Tue, 20 Mar 2018 06:42:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 5 ways to make your videos binge-worthy at PCC https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/03/5-ways-to-make-your-videos-binge-worthy-at-pcc/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/03/5-ways-to-make-your-videos-binge-worthy-at-pcc/#respond Mon, 12 Mar 2018 17:25:17 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=9012 decorative

One of our Online Learning department effective practices is to internally share useful resources as we discover them, so when Greg passed a link off to us last week for this excellent blog post via Campus Technology by Dian Schaffhauser on “5 Ways to Make Your Videos Binge-Worthy.” I thought the best way to share this information on with our faculty was to localize it. So once you read the initial blog post and are hungry for progress, hereʻs how you can move forward at PCC:

  1. Framing questions – Our instructional media design team can help you reflect on the content of your lecture and offer feedback on framing questions. When you fill out our Media Production Request Form, you can add a link in the form to a draft of your script which gives us all a head start on the development process. If you feel like you come across as “wooden” when you start from a written script, try voice typing when creating your script in a doc on Google drive- that way you can capture your natural speaking voice, giving your instructional design partners an initial feel for the scope and pace of your presentation. When you fill out the Media Production Request Form, be sure to check the ʻconsulationʻ box, and share a link to your script on Drive in the formʻs comments box. 
  2. Use of Animation– Here at PCC we always use a ʻfind firstʻ philosophy when it comes to expensive media components like animation, helping maximize our development budget and preserve faculty time for student centric practices. Start with our Subject Liaison Librarians to search for what may already be available in either our collections or open education resource (OER) directories.  Remember too that if you do a search on the general web for resources, you can always link out to copyright-sensitive content, but it will be your responsibility to check your links before your lessons run to be sure that content is still available, and external content may need additional internal support for accessibility. If you canʻt find what youʻre looking for due to lack of availability, good news! This gives us an opportunity to add to open education resources ourselves! While we donʻt have access to a pool of talented graduate students at the CC level, we do have programs like Video Camp and our course development pipeline that can get you access to animation services as the instructional need is identified.
  3. Quizzing– We are currently evaluating Kaltura and H5Pʻs Interactive Video Quizzing functions, so if youʻre an instructor who is interested in adding interactive quizzing to your media playback, please let us know here on our interest form.
  4. Use of Experts– Want to enrich your course with expertise? Use the Media Production Request form and we can invite area experts to media studio space available here on Sylvania campus for a professional capture. Please note that this is a service that can require planning time, so put your request for support in as soon as possible. Want to take the D.I.Y. route and capture expertise as youʻre out and about with your smartphone or tablet? Instructor Seth Bloombaum and Community Ed have you covered, and you can gain these skills in two half-Saturdays coming up in April.
  5. In-Video Prompts– Iʻm going to circle back here to the answer that I gave for number one framing questions – If you are looking for advice on how to use in-video prompts, we can help you as an overall review of your script. Fill out the Media Production Request Form, link to your script, and check the “Consultation” box. Weʻll get back to you within two weeks with feedback and next-step advice.


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D2L CD 10.7.10 update for March 2018 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/03/d2l-cd-10-7-10-update-for-march-2018/ Thu, 08 Mar 2018 20:56:47 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=8999 Guess what: The Manage Dates tool will now update due dates!

Sorry, getting ahead of myself. I know you’ve been waiting for that one since like 2014. But here are some highlights of changes to D2L Brightspace coming on March 28th, 2018.

Manage Dates

You can now manage Due Dates in Manage Dates. This has been a shortcoming of the tool for years and has generated a grumble or two with our help desk. So there you go. Finally.

D2L Manage dates now includes due date

LaTeX input in quizzes

This one has a much more limited impact but in a recent update, the LaTeX equation editor disappeared from the quiz. Now it’s back.

My Courses widget uses enrollment dates

There’s another subtle change to the My Courses widget that orders courses in a slightly different fashion. The explanation is somewhat complex, so I’m just going to share what D2L has used to describe the change:

  • The My Courses widget shows manually pinned courses followed by current enrollments, then future enrollments (if they are available or visible to the user) for a total of 12 enrollments. Note that more than 12 if all the course enrollments might appear if they are all manually pinned.
  • The Course Selector drop-down menu shows manually pinned courses, followed by current enrollments, then future enrollments (if they are available and visible to the user), and finally, past enrollments (if they are visible to the user).
  • The View All Courses navigation drills down into the courses by showing manually pinned courses, followed by current enrollments, then future enrollments (if available and visible to the user), then past enrollments (if available or visible to the user) as the default sort. If the user changes the sort order, the filter does not separate pinned courses from other courses based on sort order, filters, and search terms.
Excel docs no longer converted by Document Conversion Service

In a previous update, Excel documents were automatically converted to PDFs to view online instead of downloading. This annoyed a lot of people who wanted to open Excel docs in Excel. Because Excel.

A few missed updates

And here are a few features from the last update we forgot to mention.

  • When a user wants to start a quiz, clicking the start button actually starts the quiz. They no longer have to click an additional button to confirm they want to start.
  • When you insert an image in to HTML, you now have the ability to make some minor adjustments with image editing tools. As you can see, you can do things like rotate, flip, scale, and add a description.
    The HTML editor now allows you to make small adjustments to images like rotating, adding captions, and more
  • Quizzes can have due dates now, which means students can submit quizzes late.
Online Rooms / Collaborate Ultra improvements

In addition to the changes coming to Brightspace, there are a few updates for the Online Rooms tool (aka Blackboard Collaborate Ultra). A complete list of updates can be found on the Ultra Release Notes page.

  • A number of small updates to the interface improving accessibility of the product
  • Better bandwidth management for sharing applications
  • Dial-in only option lets you get phone info without having to log in to the meeting.


Takeoffs, Turbulence, and Smooth Landings: Building our courses as we fly them https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/03/takeoffs-turbulence-and-smooth-landings-building-our-courses-as-we-fly-them/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/03/takeoffs-turbulence-and-smooth-landings-building-our-courses-as-we-fly-them/#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2018 14:43:26 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=8993 airplane in the sky at sunrise

Copyright: 06photo / 123RF Stock Photo

In the field of distance education, you’ll commonly hear the phrase, “we are building the plane while flying it.” I hate flying, so I’m not a fan of this metaphor. In fact, I hate flying so much, I can’t believe I’m even writing this post. My palms are sweaty just thinking about flying. (Maybe this is a quest to squeeze some meaning and purpose out of my years of embarrassment and shame.)  Nonetheless…

imagine the plane as your course, the students as passengers and crew, and you as the pilot.

As online faculty, we need to make “inflight” tweaks to courses, prepare our students for a smooth landing, and simultaneously prep the plane for the next takeoff. Oh, and sometimes we’re flying two or more planes at the same time! (I’m already seeing there are limits to this metaphor because the idea of flying two planes at once is ridiculous, but please stay onboard with me if you can bear it. I think we can get somewhere with this.)

The following are my reflections from some not-so-smooth flights over the years teaching online at PCC.

A safe and on-time takeoff is imperative

Course content copied? Check. Dates changed? Check. Welcome message posted? Check. Discussions updated? Check. For a complete list of pre-flight safety checks, check out the Getting Your Class Ready at the Start of Each Term page. (I once learned the hard way about a “Delete all module content” button the night before the start of the term. Don’t worry, it’s hard to find. I don’t recommend getting your course ready the night before the start of the term.)

several airplanes queued up for takeoff on a runway.

One of my most memorable flights was a departure out of Long Beach. It was so windy that day that I thought the palm trees were going to snap. I spent the entire time at the gate considering taking a different flight the next day. I boarded the plane anyway. The captain never mentioned the wind and within a few minutes we were at our cruising altitude. Because of the experience of the pilot, you wouldn’t have known that we were flying out in high winds. Course takeoff sets the tone for the entire term.

Don’t wait until takeoff to make sure your students are aboard 

An updated Course Details Page prior to registration helps students learn about your course and decide if this is a flight they might want to take. Will there by cushy seats? An onboard meal? Other entertainment? Will they be asked to shape their learning experiences by playing the roles of crew, captain, and passenger at different points in the flight? One to two weeks prior to the start of the term, send your students a personalized email message about the course (“This is your captain…”) and include a copy of the syllabus. This sort of communication will help make sure that the students are in their seats with their seatbelts fastened for a safe and on-time start-of-term takeoff.

Oh, no! There’s turbulence

You’ve done everything you can to ensure a safe and on-time departure. Your crew and passengers know what to do in the case of catastrophic events, but you have suddenly been caught off guard by unexpected mid-flight turbulence. Do not panic. Once the captain and flight crew are caught panicking, there’s little hope for the passengers (especially ones like me). Remember that turbulence is normal. No matter how hard you’ve worked to follow the best flight path, sometimes we can’t predict what will work for our students in a given term. Sometimes there are outages. (An outage sounds extra scary in this metaphor). Sometimes there are snowstorms. Sometimes our beautifully crafted assignments fail. Sometimes we screw up release dates. Sometimes we forget to grade a late assignment.

Most students are forgiving of a little mid-flight turbulence– they just want to know you are there and are working on a plan to get things back on track. Your presence in the course and ability to make reasonable and timely changes to the flight path or altitude is what our students appreciate. Students will panic a little (OK, some a lot) when they can’t find the captain or a single member of the flight crew to assure them that there will be a return to smooth travels soon. Monitor your emails. Pay attention when several students have not submitted a quiz, an assignment, or failed to participate in a discussion. Were your deadlines unclear? Were the assignment details vague? Was there a broken link? This sort of inflight course monitoring helps you make in-the-moment adjustments so that you can get back in the air quickly. Maybe you’ll need to drop altitudes a bit so the cabin will quickly resume regular functions. Most of all, our students want to know we are still onboard with them.

Don’t forget to enjoy the view from the cockpit

Sure. There may seem like there are a lot more things to screw up in an online course compared with a face-to-face course. (Remember, my run-in with the “Delete all module content” button? Yeah, you get the idea.) There are the emails to respond to, the messed up due dates, the broken links, the videos that won’t play, and a seemingly endless ways I have managed to make my own job as an online instructor harder than it should be. However, do not forget that online learning is the only option for some of our students. Many students are juggling life demands that don’t permit for on-campus instruction. You get the chance to provide high-quality online education for these students. You get to share your passion for your discipline. You get to immerse them in media that you might not otherwise get the chance to in a face-to-face setting. You get to see the students grow and engage with their peers.

View from the cockpit of a plane at night. The instrumentation is all lit up.

Be forgiving of your mistakes (trust me, this is a big one) and use the friendly staff at the Faculty Help Desk for when you need help you can’t find in the manual. (When I first met Donna Swanson, I wanted to hug her. I don’t hug and I don’t fly. That’s how patient she’s been with me over the years and I’ve screwed up a lot.) Most of all, don’t forget to enjoy the view from 39,000 feet. When you’ve reached cruising altitude, you really get to teach. That is, after all, why you got into this work.

Prepare for landing

Let’s face it. We’re on a quarter system so we are constantly preparing for landing when it seems we just reached cruising altitude. Send Course Progress Notifications (CPNs) at critical points in the term to students who are struggling. (I’ve sometimes sent them to students doing well in my courses, too.) CPNs can be especially helpful after midterms. Get caught up on your grading and try to return feedback on critical assignments as quickly as possible. (I know this one is not easy. I used to provide myself small rewards for every five assignments I graded. I recommend, coffee, water, nut-free snacks, and little flight wing pins.) Make sure students know the impact of not submitting higher-stakes exams and assignments, as well as the impact of not participating in key end-of-term discussions. Send a few extra reminders about key due dates. You can help ready them for a smooth landing. You’ve been cleared for landing. It’s time to bring this plane, its crew, and your students in for a smooth landing.

Wait. Another takeoff? But I just landed this thing!

You’ve landed the plane. The crew and passengers have safely disembarked. You fill out your final entry in the flight log. You think about what worked and what didn’t. You reflect on choices made during times of turbulence. Did you do the right thing? Was that assignment worth it? Did students achieve the outcomes of the course? How many stayed onboard? You check current weather conditions. You make changes based on the past flight experiences, your expertise, and feedback from the crew and passengers…and you get ready to do it again all because you love the views from 39,000 feet.

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Use D2L to shovel out your class https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/02/using-your-d2l-shovel-to-dig-out-your-class/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/02/using-your-d2l-shovel-to-dig-out-your-class/#comments Wed, 21 Feb 2018 23:43:41 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=8968 Class cancelled or delayed due to weather or emergency?
School closed due to weather sign

(image from sun-tech.org https://www.sun-tech.org/blog/2018/01/17/school-closure-2/)

You don’t need to worry about that anymore. Instructors who teach campus courses can use D2L Brightspace when campus is closed due to weather or an emergency. Using D2L Brightspace allows you to communicate with your students and put some activities online, so your students don’t miss out on valuable instruction time.

Note: Activate your D2L Brightspace course

To use D2L Brightspace, you first need to activate your D2L Brightspace class. Follow these directions to activate your D2L Brightspace course.

Below I have outlined 5 easy things you can do in D2L Brightspace for a campus class
1. Email class from the classlist

Email iconGo to your D2L Brightspace course to send email to your students. The email you send from Brightspace will go to your students’ PCC email. Follow these directions to learn more about sending email from your class and organize your Gmail.

2. Create an announcement on homepage

News iconOnce you’re inside your D2L Brightspace course, you can quickly create an announcement for your students.

“Today PCC is closed due to snow, but I’ve posted some files for this week’s class. You can find these materials…”

An announcement item stay on the homepage of your course and will not be email out to your students, unless they signed up for notifications.

3. Add files to your course

Document iconYou can add files to your course using the Content tool found on the navigation bar. D2L Brightspace allows you to upload any file type with no file size limitation. Text, Word, PDF, PowerPoint, and Images will display directly in D2L Brightspace and not require students to download. Follow these directions to add files to the ContentDon’t worry if you make a mistake and upload the wrong files, learn how to rename, reorder, or delete files from your content.

You can also link to websites, YouTube videos, a Google Doc, and more! (Read Peter’s blog post about sharing GoogleDocs to your course and don’t forget to give students the correct sharing access).

4. Have students submit work to an assignment folder

Upload file iconYou can quickly setup a folder for students to submit assignment online rather thanhaving them clutter your email. Instructors can view, grade, and leave feedback for each student’s submission. You can even set a date and time for the folder to lock. Here’s how to add an assignment folder.

You can write up the assignment description right in D2L Brightspace or attach an already created file. Make sure you let student know what type of files you’d accept, e.g. .doc, .docx, .txt, .pdf, or a GoogleDoc file.

5. Host an online class meeting

lecture meeting iconYou can quickly set up an online meeting room so that your students can join you virtually instead of coming to campus. It saves travel time for you and your students, and only requires internet access and a computer, tablet, or phone to access.

What you need to do to set up an online room:

  1. Learn how to add an Online Room to your D2L Brightspace course.
  2. Watch the video to learn about Collaborate Ultra basic features
  3. Learn more about the features on how to use it as a moderator (teacher).

What your students need:

  1. How do they join the session? You can email them the link after you create the session or have them login to your D2L course, click on Online Room from the navigation bar (follow Step 1-Option 2), and click on the session’s name to join.
  2. What do I need to know about Collaborate Ultra?
  3. How do I set up my audio? If you don’t have microphone, use the phone to call into a session.
How do I check if my students can see what I have in my course?

You can access your course as a student to make sure that your students can view your content. Here’s how:

  1. Login to Brightspace and click on your course.
  2. Click on your name at the top, right corner of the screen and click View as Student. If you never done this before, click Change and select Student from the list.
    View your D2L Brightspace course as a student

  3. Check your course as a student. When you’re done and need to go back as instructor, click on your name again at the top, right corner and click the X next to Viewing as Student.
    Exit view as a student in your D2L Brightspace course
Still have questions?

Question mark icon

Don’t worry, if you still have any questions or need more guidance, contact the Online Faculty Helpdesk (email dlhelp@pcc.edu), 971-722-8227 or contact an Instructional Technology Specialist. They are there to help you every step of the way. Good luck!

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Tips from eLearning 2018 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/02/tips-from-elearning-2018/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/02/tips-from-elearning-2018/#comments Mon, 19 Feb 2018 21:02:32 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=8958 Suguaro cactus in the sunI had the good fortune to attend the ITC eLearning conference last week in Tucson, AZ. Rather than a specific Best Practice, I wanted to share a few things that stood out to me from the conference that seem timely based on what has been happening here at PCC.

Online Assessments as tools for deep learning

This presentation was by Kirsten Butcher, PhD from the University of Utah. She herself is an instructional designer but also teaches to aspiring instructional designers. The presentation was great (and my full notes from this session are in Spaces), but I want to focus on her defense of multiple-choice question as a tool for deep learning. From working with faculty for years, we know that there can be problems with multiple choice questions. However, Kirsten argued that they can be an excellent tool for formative assessment if you write them well and provide constructive feedback. And using the LMS quiz tool means instant feedback for students. To summarize her session:

  • Deep, low-stakes assessment can improve long-term knowledge retention and reward motivated students
  • Questions that require that the student infer from lecture/reading to answer the question forces them to think harder about the content.
  • Detailed (and instant) feedback gives the student the freedom to get things wrong and learn from their mistakes.
  • In the quiz settings, make the quiz worth something (a few points), but don’t set a time limit and allow many attempts. Let students see the feedback to promote reflection. Show only one question at a time to reduce cognitive load.

There was a lot more but too much for a brief post, so I suggest checking out my notes or her slide deck.

Evidence supporting the value of the High Tech, High Touch Teaching Model to Improve Student Outcomes

Christopher Roddenberry and Tom Rankin, Wake Tech College

This session detailed the efforts behind a grant-funded program to increase student retention (especially among minority and first generation students) by using a combination of high-tough interaction facilitated by technology tools. There are many such projects like this, but I appreciated that this project has been happening now for several terms and has useful data. I also appreciated that the co-presenter identified himself as a non-technical instructor. Some of the biggest take away ideas were:

  • The methods used in the pilot are effective. One instructor saw a 4% increase in student retention and noted that 92% of his students performed better than the control population.
  • The first week of the term was more work than before, but it had very high returns on the time invested during that week.
  • The methods used in the pilot that seemed to have the greatest impact were:
    • Option for a 1st week orientation. This was often in-person and allowed the students to meet the instructor and learn the software and course in person. (note: they don’t have something like the Start Guide)
    • Week 1 contacts to “at risk” students – either because of attendance or grades, contacting them directly (usually via Text or via the Remind app) payed dividends.
    • Instructors in the pilot made a commitment to have a 6-hour response time during the pilot.
    • Casual, low-fidelity instructor introduction videos are powerful. It doesn’t need to be polished. In fact, the lack of polish makes it personal.
    • Virtual office hours were popular among students

Again, this was an info-packed session. I’ll try to add the slides to my notes but they weren’t that pretty. One of the things that I think might most resonate with instructors was something Tom mentioned. “Teaching is more fun now!” He acknowledged that there was more work in the setup and first week, but overall, less time was spent on administrivia. And the course evaluations from students were much higher than those in the control group.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that students really appreciate interaction with their instructor. That seems to be time and time again one of the most valuable things online students refer to. I also attended a panel discussion from online students from Pima Community College. Interaction and timely feedback were the most critical things for them to stay motivated and feel connected.


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“Hacking” the PCC stylesheet https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/02/hacking-the-pcc-stylesheet/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/02/hacking-the-pcc-stylesheet/#comments Tue, 13 Feb 2018 15:07:02 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=8894 While working on the development of my OER Economics class, I decided to convert the chapter sections [Example] of the OER textbook as HTML pages in my D2L Brightspace course shell. [Example].  The major benefits was that I was able to add to the areas that I felt were weak, customize the chapters I wanted to use, and insert relevant videos to specific parts of the readings.  

There are two images. The one of the right shows a chapter section from OpenStaxx and the right image shows the same content converted into the PCC stylesheet.

During this experience, I added a number of design elements to spice up the PCC stylesheet. To make the process a quick copy/paste, I developed embed code “templates” that I could use. I added all of these embed code templates by using the Insert Stuff tool in the D2L Brightspace HTML editor and selecting Embed Code.

Image showing the Insert Stuff button as the first button in the HTML editor toolbar. A pop-up window then loads and you need to select "Enter embed code."

This shortcut saved me so much time wading through code and frankly, who wants to do that? I know I have better uses for my time! So, I compiled five of my most common PCC stylesheet hacks for you to ‘steal’ and use with pride.   (Note: The colors I chose to use as part of the default template, complement the PCC Teal Stylesheet.)

1: Outlined boxes

Want to highlight specific information? Like a “note” or to visit a link? Use the following code:

<div style="margin:  0% 5% 0% 5%; border: 3px solid #cccccc; padding: 15px 25px; border-radius: 25px;"><p>Write your text here...</p></div>

The color code is in bold (#cccccc). This default in a medium gray, but you can change the color by entering a different color code (stay away from light/pale and fluorescent colors). For instance,  I used orange to highlight external resources links. 

Once you have inserted this code, your template will look like:

An image of the template. A box with a gray outline and curved corners,

Just replace the existing text with whatever you want! Add links, images, and videos inside the box too!

Here are a couple of examples:

Examples of outlined boxed. On the left is a box with gray outline and on the right is box with orange outline.

2: Colored boxes

Creating a box with a colored background is also a nice option. The key here, is to ensure that there is enough color contrast between your background color and your font color. So, the lighter the better. A color that looks really really light, looks much darker when filling a larger area. I found that I would end up needing to select a color that was only a step or two from being white.

Use the following embed code template:

<div style="background-color: #eff5f5; padding: 15px 15px; margin: 0% 10%; "><p><strong>Write your text here....</strong></p><p></p></div>

Note: If you want a different color, simply replace the background color number with the accessible color number of your choice.

Once you have inserted this code, your template will look like:

a colored box using a light teal color. There is no outline, just a solid block of color.Here is an example:

An example of the box with background color in use on an HTML page. A teal color that highlights the questions students should think about as they read through the page.

3: Quotes

Would you like to indent a quotation and have a neat quotation image show up?

Here is the embed code:

<blockquote> Write text here… </blockquote>

Once you have inserted the code, it will look like:

Image of blockquote code with the words write text here...

Here is an example:

An image that shows the blockquote embed quote with a quote from Adam Smith.

4: Adding titles and captions to images

How about adding more stylized titles and captions to your images? Ones that align properly with your image?

Use the following embed code:

<div style="text-align: center;"><strong>Image Title</strong></div>
<div style="text-align: center;"><em>Highlight this text only and replace it by inserting image.</em></div>
<figcaption>Write your caption here.</figcaption>

Once you have inserted this code, your template will look like:

Image that illustrates what the template will look like visually before the image is inserted.
I highly recommend inserting your image first and then changing the text for the image title and caption.

Here is an example:

A image of an image (production possibilities curve) that has an image title: Figure 1: A healthcare vs. Education Production Possibilities Frontier. The image also illustrates a fairly detailed caption as well.

5: Adding titles and descriptions to YouTube videos


Note: This does not replace the need for closed captioning.

This code is a little more complicated, but it’s really neat because it’s mobile friendly. That means that the video will resize for mobile devices. You will need to add the embed code twice, once for the template and once for the video.

Here is the embed code:

<div style="padding: 15px;">
<div style="text-align: center;"><strong> Video Title</strong></div>
<div class="youtube-sizer">
<div class="youtube-container" style="text-align: center;">Highlight this text only and replace by inserting video embed code.</div>
<figcaption>Write video caption here</figcaption>

Once you have inserted this code, your template will look like:

Image of the inserted code. Visually there is extra space in between the sentence "Highlight this text only and replace by inserting video embed code"

You will note that there is extra spacing. Ignore this. When you highlight the sentence “Highlight this text only…”  and then insert the  embed code for the video from YouTube, the extra space will disappear.

Here is an example:

An image of a video embedded using the code to add title and caption. The title states "Cyclical Unemployement" and the caption reads the source and publish date.



These are five great hacks to the PCC Stylesheet that pretty much allow you to copy/paste without having to decipher a lot of painful code. The purpose of these embed code templates is to let you, as the instructor, express your materials in more creative ways.  I hope you enjoy!

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Embedding YouTube “Clips” https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/02/embedding-youtube-clips/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/02/embedding-youtube-clips/#comments Mon, 05 Feb 2018 15:43:28 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=8786 Hello All!

I am going to piggy back on Greg’s Kaminski’s post on Video resources and customizing the start/end time. Being able to choose start and end times for YouTube videos is extremely useful. I personally found this out when converting my EC 201 course to OER materials.

It starts with an idea

Back in 2013 when I recorded the lectures for my EC 201 course, I did them straight through. They ranged from 25 minutes to and hour.  While I did provide an active note-taking component for students, they were still long.

Image showing a partial list of Rondi's Lecture videos on youtube with times ranging from 28 minutes to 48 minutes circled.

Last summer, I decided to switch things up and go with an OER textbook.  I found one that mirrored the publisher text I used fairly closely. Well, as close as was possible. I felt really fortunate!  Then I got an idea…

How do people engage in written content these days. I started thinking of all the articles I read from various news sites, Facebook, etc.  There was a common thread. The written text was not only broken up with images, but video as well.

So, I thought…why don’t  I do that too? It’s worth a shot, right?

What that entailed was converting the OER textbook sections into HTML pages in Brightspace. This process is a blog for another day!  Since this blog is about embedding video clips, let’s get to it!

Inserting video clips

To embed a “clip” from a video on YouTube, you need to use the following embed code template:

<iframe src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/video id #?start=000&amp;end=000&amp;” allowfullscreen=”” width=”560″ height=”315″ frameborder=”0″>

In bold, I have highlighted the key elements that you need to change with your own information:

  • video id #: this is the unique id that YouTube gives each video. You can find it the address bar.   So, if your video id # is Gvh8w8UDIjI  (i.e., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gvh8w8UDIjI), replace the phrase video id # with Gvh8w8UDIjI
  • Start=000: This the start time in seconds. For instance, if you want the video to start at 3 minutes 23 seconds,  that would be [(60 × 3) + 23] = 203 seconds for a Start=203.  If you want it to start at the beginning, just type start=0.
  • End=000: This also must be in seconds. If you want the video to play through the end, you can remove the section “end=000&amp;” entirely.

Let’s take my very first lecture video.  I want to pull out just the portion on budget lines. The final product (embed code) might look something like this:

<iframe src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/Gvh8w8UDIjI?start=362&amp;end=762&amp;” allowfullscreen=”” width=”560″ height=”315″ frameborder=”0″>

In the HTML page that you want to add the video clip:

  1. Click on Insert Stuff from the tool bar
  2. Select Embed Code
  3. Paste your embed code into the box
  4. Click Next
  5. Click Insert

The finished product looks like any other embedded YouTube video, but when you click play, the video starts and ends where you have chosen!

Image of an HTML page with an embedded video that has been "clipped."

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Video resources and customizing the start/end time https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/01/video-resources-and-setting-the-start-end-time/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/01/video-resources-and-setting-the-start-end-time/#comments Mon, 22 Jan 2018 16:45:03 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=8683 What is your preferred method of presenting instructional content to students? Textbook? Text lectures with images? Publisher resources? Website resources including text, podcasts, video? Self-created audio or video lectures? Research shows that it is a good practice to offer a variety of instructional materials to students, which will allow students with various learning styles to interact with the content in different ways. Indeed, this is also specified in Quality Matters Standard 4.5: A variety of instructional materials is used in the course.

In my role of guiding instructors in course design at PCC, I have the opportunity to look at numerous courses every term, and it’s interesting to see the varying approaches to making content available to students. I’m seeing an increasing number of courses that offer instructional materials in a variety of forms, including online video resources. If you find that your course is rather text heavy, I encourage you to explore other resources that are already created that can be used to engage students with your content.

One relatively simple yet effective way to embellish the variety of instructional materials is to make use of free educational videos already available. This is a simple first step instead of immersing yourself in the time consuming effort of creating your own. In order to narrow your search, here are 10 video repositories that are worth looking at. (Oh, and if you know all of this, don’t miss the crucial tip at the end of this list.)

  1. YouTube – University Channel
    YouTube is massive, so start your search at the YouTube University channel. This one is further subdivided by specialties such as social sciences, math, science, history, business, arts, law, medicine, and education.
  2. NPR channel organized by playlists
  3. National Geographic channel
  4. BBC News
  5. Wireless Philosophy (Collection of videos about knowledge, ethics, skepticism…)
  6. TED
  7. TED-Ed (TED talks with an educational focus, some including lessons and materials)
  8. Top Documentary Films (over 3,000 films categorized and rated)
  9. Khan Academy (excellent collection of instructional videos)
  10. Vimeo (another large repository, searches can be filtered by category)
Crucial tip!

This tip is what makes many of these videos usable, the icing on the cake…

The problem

I found this excellent video to use with my class, but it’s 55 minutes long! There’s a 7-minute segment I’d like to use, which is still pushing the limit since the attention span for viewing maxes out about that point. It’s cumbersome telling students where to start and where to stop. Isn’t there an easier way?

One solution

Yes, here’s something you can do that works on YouTube videos. Here are the simple steps, and there’s a short video demonstration below.

  1. Open youtubestartend.com
  2. Paste in the YouTube link at the top center, and click on Preview Video.
  3. Enter your exact start and end time information, minutes/seconds.
  4. Click on Submit.
  5. Click on Copy Link, and paste it in into the desired location in your course in D2L Brightspace.

Note: This does not crop the video. It simply sets the starting point, and cuts it off at the end point. Students can still move the video time slider to any point in the video to watch more.

Here’s my quick video demonstration of the above steps.

A final point… this is the simplest method, and it’s only used for linking to the video. The same can be done by manually modifying the URL. The video could be embedded as well, but that’s another lesson. If you have an immediate need for help with that, feel free to contact me. Any of the ITS could help with that as well.

For more details on finding educational videos, check out my source article from Online Classroom, “Best Sources for Free Educational Videos” by John Orlando, December 2017. Access to all Online Classroom articles is super easy, right through D2L.

  1. Log into D2L
  2. Find the “Instructor Resources” menu at the top, and select “Access Magna Publications.”
  3. Click on “Online Classroom Archives.”
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Using the final grade as a course count-down timer https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/01/using-the-final-grade-as-a-course-count-down-timer/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/01/using-the-final-grade-as-a-course-count-down-timer/#comments Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:52:26 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=8659 stopwatch counting timeIt’s the beginning of term. Why think now about final grades?

Because you can configure your final grade in D2L so that it functions as a kind of count-down timer for students! In other words, you can release the final grade at beginning of term and allow students to see how their final grade “counts up” as the term goes along.

Before I explain this particular wonder, I’d like to make a few related – and relevant – points.

First of all, I am continually surprised by the number of online instructors I work with who don’t realize that the final grade in D2L is NEVER released to students unless you, the instructor, release it to them. That’s because the online course template is currently set to withhold the final grade from students. You can check to see what your students are seeing by clicking on your name (upper-right corner) and selecting “View as Student.” Then click on Grades. If you see nothing but a list of the grade-items in the course, then your final grade is set to be released MANUALLY, by you. Your students will never see a final grade in D2L until you release it to them!

If you’ve been teaching online for a while and you’ve never released the final grade in D2L and your students have never complained, their silence could have something to do with the fact that students still get their final grades via BanWeb, which you enter manually in MyPCC. I’m often asked, “When is D2L going to be linked to Banner so that I don’t need to enter final grades manually?” Unfortunately the answer is never – at least that’s what I was told by tech gurus in my dep’t.  While it is technically possible to configure D2L and Banner so that Banner could “grab” final grades from all D2L courses at the end of term, there are apparently several compelling reasons – both technical and logistical – that will keep it from happening. Still, you can think of the final-grade entry in BanWeb as a kind of safety check: since it’s a manual process, you never have to worry about an incorrect calculation in D2L sullying the records in Banner – which are much harder to change, if you’ve ever had to do that. (Of course I recognize the irony of a technology advocate praising a manual process! Call me well-rounded!)

Okay, back to using your final grade as a count-down timer:

There’s a new (or fairly new) setting in D2L that allows you to display the final grade throughout the course:Options for releasing the final grade

  • Click on Grades and then click on Settings (next to the “gear” icon in the upper-right corner);
  • Click the Calculation Options tab;
  • Scroll down the page til you reach the section called Final Grades Released;
  • Make sure to check the box next to “Automatically release final grade.”

Note that you have two other options, in the Grade Calculations area, that affect how the final grade will appear to students.

The “Automatically keep final grades updated” setting will make sure that the final grade is automatically updated, even if you do something to change the calculation. So it’s a good idea to keep that box checked.

The choice to “drop ungraded items” or “treat ungraded items as 0” (zero) is trickier.

If you drop ungraded items from the grade calculation, you can give students the impression they are doing better than they actually are, because the denominator in the final grade will include points from only the activities that have been graded. Example: You have ten assignments worth ten points each for a total of 100 in the course but you’ve graded only three of them: final grades will be the total earned over 30, which kind of defeats the purpose of the count-down timer.

I prefer to select “Treat ungraded items as 0” (zero), but then I often need to train my students to recognize that the grade of “zero” for every item in Grades does NOT mean they got a zero for the activity! It’s easier for you as the instructor because you’ll see an asterisk next to the zero in the instructor’s view of Grades, which is your reminder that you’ve not yet graded the item. But students won’t get that reminder.

Calculated final grade or adjusted final grade?

Of course this count-down idea works best if you release the CALCULATED final grade (or “final calculated grade,” as D2L also calls it). If you are used to adjusting your final grades close to the end of term, or adding grade-items for extra credit, then this practice might not work as well for you. It works best when you have a fairly set and linear road map of grades for students to follow, as they watch their grades add to their final point-total throughout the term.

If you choose to use this practice, you might consider displaying your grades in chronological order, so that students can see their grades pop into the list in order and not have to jump around on the list – even though the point total will be reflected in final grade itself. In this way, the list of grades itself serves as a kind of road map.

One more consideration: To round or not to round?

A few years ago I had the good fortune to work with a math instructor. When I showed her how she could adjust the final grade (by using the Adjusted Final Grade), she replied, “I would never use that feature because I never round my grades up. I tell my students, ‘Math is math! If you earned an 89.999, that’s not a 90 and therefore it’s not an A.'” I can see the wisdom in this decision: it could avoid some uncomfortable conversations with students at the end of term. Still, you’d want to be fairly confident that nothing in your grading scheme would change before implementing a no-rounding policy, lest students accuse you later of a bait-and-switch policy.

More resources

My colleague Andrei Temkin penned an excellent blog post in 2016 on a similar topic from a slightly different angle.

The faculty resources page will take you to D2L’s documentation on final grades.



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D2L CD 10.7.9 update for January 2018 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/01/d2l-cd-10-7-9-update-for-january-2018/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2018/01/d2l-cd-10-7-9-update-for-january-2018/#respond Mon, 08 Jan 2018 21:31:20 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=8646 icon continuous deliveryThe January release (10.7.9) is a bit of a snoozer for us since most of the features are tailored for the K-12 users. The one item that will probalby make Google Docs/Drive users happy is that if you try to share/add a private document to your course, the interface will automatically notify you that it is private and let you change the settings to make it available to everyone with a link. This is a nice workflow update for you Google Docs users.

Google will change your sharing settigns when you link to a file from D2L.

D2L has also added a link to the Intelligent Agent tool from the Class Progress tool.

An update for students!

There are fewer steps to confirm starting of and submitting the quiz, which has always been annoying with the additional extra needed clicks.

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

There are a few feature updates, but the December and January updates included a number of issue fixes, including improvements for screen readers, WebRTC connections on secure networks, etc. Here’s the other notable update:

  • Uploaded PDF and PPT documents are now converted in a way that maintains their accessibility (not just converted to an image).
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