Category Archives: Celebrations of Learning

Online Faculty Fellows Showcase – January 2016

Congratulations to the Fall 2015 Online Faculty Fellows participants!  See our program web page and a list of participants here:

During January Celebration of Learning, participants shared before and after glimpses of their Online Fellows projects from fall 2015.  Here are a few tips taken from those presentations.

  1. Provide general technical resources for students in your Blackboard sites.  Link students to for guides for email, Blackboard, and academic support.
  2. Plan for a week of getting started and oriented activities.  Focus the first week’s activities on getting to know how the course works, and assessing students’ readiness for successfully completing your class.
  3. Carefully assess your content.  Do you have enough rigor to support the credit hours earned in the class?  Use the latest version of ICC’s Quality Online Course Initiative rubric (QOCI) to measure your weekly activity content.  See pages 3 and 4 of this document.
  4. Provide students with descriptions of units and explicit instructions on how to complete a unit, not just the content within the unit.
  5. Consider how you would teach this class in-person, then attempt to match the rigor and level of engagement through online delivery.  For example, if you teach a T/Th class, you’d interact in-person two times a week with students.  In an online class, you might simulate this by updating content and communication two times a week as well.
  6. Set dates so announcements that are no longer needed disappear from the main Announcements page, to avoid distractions and clutter (but keep the message on your Announcements page if needed).
  7. Use Announcements to preview upcoming events and weeks in the class.
  8. Have someone else take a tour through your site and provide feedback on the ease of navigation.  Make changes as needed.
  9. When possible replace text heavy content with more appealing and effective images.
  10. Aim to make your online class site “browsable”, like a good website.

Celebration of Learning: Online Showcase-Evaluation of Student Achievement

Presenters: Jennifer Flaig, Communication; Christine Dunkel, Art

Jennifer’s Tips
Use Journals with open criteria to assess student engagement and progress, get to know students;
Use Journal prompts asking for examples from the text, application of a concept to real life;
Connect with students individually and privately through journal comments;
Ask students to blog, sharing with their classmates;
Use Discussion Board forums to have students share and comment on each other’s work;
Use YouTube videos as a subject resource, asking students to find a video which illustrates a concept from a chapter in the text – discuss the videos in class;
Use Google Voice to establish an instructor telephone number separate from an office, home or cellular phone – setup Google Voice notifications for messages and use the voicemail transcription feature;
Experiment with different tools in Blackboard;
Find, share and collaborate with others who teach online – LinkedIn has online teaching groups;
Provide students with detailed rubrics on how discussion and journal contributions will be graded; see Jennifer’s examples here: example 1 (PDF); example 2 (XLS)

Christine’s Tips
Take on the challenge to teach online when large-sized/high-quality media is required, such as teaching Art History online!
Find or develop resources where students may study and create flash card tools online with the images;
Provide students with how-to information they will need to be successful navigating the course tools, such as how to locate images and create image flashcards;
Plan for online evaluation to be “open”; open-book, open resource, etc. but design the evaluation/test so students would not be able to simply transmit right answers from resources to the test;
Students who go through the process of preparing test-taking materials, such as flashcards, will have learned simply from the process of preparing the materials;
Require students to demonstrate achievement on tests not from one source but from many synthesized sources;
Require students to demonstrate achievement by applying information they have learned;
When using tools like or SafeAssign to systematically check student paper submissions, notify students in course information/policies of how the process works and what the consequences for plagiarism are.
For more information about the ART150 image gallery, contact Christine, or Brandy Thatcher,, 694-5306.

Celebration of Learning: Online Showcase-Hybrid Teaching and Learning

Presenters: Doug Peterson, Computer Science; Pam Dewey, Business; David Thompson, History

Doug’s Tips
Define for students what you mean by ‘hybrid’, how your course works – Doug’s class meets in-person from 6 to 7:50 PM, students are required to “make up” the other half of the class by engaging online;
Plan for how class time is used – for lecture? lab? a mix? projects? discussion? individual consultation?
Explicitly state how the course works and how class time and online time is used in your course information/syllabus;
Also state anticipated “homework” time PLUS time in class and online; for example, 2 hours of lecture+2 hours of lab+2 hours of homework for every lecture or lab hour=12 hours per week allocated to this class;
Doug prepares and uses the same content for courses taught regardless of mode – in-person, online or hybrid;
Use recorded video uploaded to YouTube for class how-to’s as well as class content;
Record a video introduction of yourself – and don’t worry if it’s not perfect, you wouldn’t stop and rewind if you sneeze in class!
Provide an opportunity for students to connect with you via “online office hours” (use online conferencing tools, virtual classrooms, instant messaging, phoning, etc. — contact the TLC, or 694-8908, for assistance!)

Dave’s Tips
Dave has had mixed experiences with teaching hybrid classes, challenged most by how to use the reduced class time;
Dave structures the online component of his hybrid classes in a manner similar to the structure of his fully-online classes;
Boiling down full-length lectures to shorter durations was not successful, too frantic;
Students enrolled did not understand the structure of a hybrid class, thought it was just class in shorter amount of class time or had to enroll because the class was needed and enrolling in the hybrid section was the only option;
Students enrolled in hybrid classes meeting one time a week often had gaps in their schedules when they didn’t have a class to enroll in “opposite” the hybrid class meeting in the regular pattern of T/Th classes;
Students did not read or prepare prior to in-person class meetings;
In the future, Dave would require a pre-class reading quiz;
Dave presents as many options as possible in his web-enhanced courses (traditional in-person classes offering a Blackboard component); see Dave’s sample exam and grading criteria.

Pam’s Tips
Pam had 4 tips for the session…see her session handout for a sample assignment checklist and more on journals.
Establish a discussion board forum for Questions for the Instructor and set the forum for subscriptions so you are notified via email when a new post is made;
Provide students with a checklist for assignments so they can work through and keep track (see page 2, Forum Settings > Subscribe for more information:;
If a student drops the class, set the student’s status to Unavailable in Blackboard then hide that student in the Grade Center – do NOT remove the student from the site, all of his/her records will be removed as well; a student whose status is set to Unavailable will remain in the site but the student would not be able to access the site or see the course name in My Courses in Blackboard (see page 2, Changing Roles in the Course for more information:;
Use Journals for student reflections on learning and provide students with an explicit rubric for grading (see Blogs & Journals:

Online Content Webliography Link (from Online Content, Celebration of Learning)

This passage is copied from a longer post from the Online Content session during August Celebration of Learning.

Finding and Using Online Content
ICC TLC’s delicious page for online content, learning objects (a ‘webliography’ of online content links organized by tag/keyword):

Look for links to these great resources within the webliography: MERLOT, The Scout Report, ATE Central, AMSER (MERLOT will provide content in all disciplines; The Scout Report is a newsletter highlighting new content; ATE and AMSER provide mainly technology, math and science resources.)

Celebration of Learning: Online Showcase-Online Content

Presenters: Megan Bomer, Math; Christin Gustafson, Chemistry; Brandy Thatcher, Instructional Media; Patrice Hess, Online Learning

Megan’s Showcase and Tips
Megan described a structured assignment progression she uses for students interacting with text material, online videos and online ‘applets’ (interactive game-type exercises) to work and solve math problems.  Megan noted she sometimes uses this assignment structure to have students work through material not covered in class.
Start with basic test reading assignments first;
Develop worksheet-type structured assignments with embedded links; Megan uses videos from Khan Academy to demonstrate how to work problems;
Present a similar problem to students, changing variables from the problem they saw demonstrated;
Link students to online activities to practice problems (applets available for math);
Take students back to the text to bring the learning experience full-circle.

Christin’s Showcase and Tips
Christin also uses the Khan Academy videos but for Chemistry;
Students in Chemistry are required to purchase a $230 text; Christin’s investigation of online content is motivated by finding enough high-quality resources to exclude a required course text – she believes this is possible but still has more work to do.
Collect and add resources every semester, expanding the links provided in each chapter;
Use applets for practice problems – they generally have an endless number of possibilities and can be reused by students;
Students tend to prefer online activities over assigned text exercises, such as the questions at the end of the chapter;
Look for videos on YouTube and TeacherTube (a YouTube-like resource with academic content) demonstrating or explaining course concepts or problems – link them into your content and assignments;
Applets and other online content can often be downloaded by students to mobile devices and used offline.
A sampling of the links and applets Christin uses:

Finding and Using Online Content
ICC TLC’s delicious page for online content, learning objects (a ‘webliography’ of online content links organized by tag/keyword):
Look for links to these great resources within the webliography: MERLOT, The Scout Report, ATE Central, AMSER (MERLOT will provide content in all disciplines; The Scout Report is a newsletter highlighting new content; ATE and AMSER provide mainly technology, math and science resources.)

Brandy’s How-To’s
Embed content in a Blackboard site: I will work on creating a quick video that shows how to find the embed code, copy it and paste it into Blackboard, I will add it to the TLC YouTube page:
SPLICD:; allows you to isolate an interesting tidbit from a YouTube video and provides you with a link or embed code; How to use it:
MashUp function in Blackboard:
Embed Twitter feed in a Blackboard Site:
VocabAhead:; see the Teachers button:; create a free account, create a customized list of words and then create a widget and copy the embed code to an item in Blackboard.
SoftChalk Connect:; see the Getting Started page:
How to use SoftChalk to develop content:; currently several brief how to videos and examples, Quick Reference guide published there soon.
How to contact Brandy Thatcher for more assistance: or 694-5306, ICC Media Developer

ICC Library, Online Content
ICC has a subscription to Films on Demand;
Films on Demand video can be embedded into Blackboard;
Widgets and gadgets for library databases and other online content are available;
For more information or assistance, contact Brittany Osika,, 694-5463 or Michelle Nielsen-Ott,, 694-5617.

*Remember* :: Online content is on the web, linked or embedded into your site (unless you’ve gone through the extra steps of downloading  and storing the content locally); check your links frequently!

Celebration of Learning: Online Showcase-Providing Students With A Successful Start to an Online Class

Presenters: Jen Richrath, English; Lisa Arnett, Radiography; Nick Toledo, History

Jen’s Tips
Balance flexibility and structure;
Use Units, 4 weeks in duration, to provide flexibility and latitude in timing for students work on and completing assignments;
Post frequent announcements during the unit to keep students engaged;
Use announcements to provide a site welcome, site setup explanation, notices new discussions have been posted, what is coming up in next unit;
Begin discussions with personal responses (introductions, what are your favorite films) then move to content;
Provide other discussion forums for non-assigned discussions; Ask a question forum, Movie talk forum;
Be clear and consistent with site setup.

Lisa’s Tips
Starting the semester off right helps the rest of the semester go smoothly;
Funnel students through one point of entry for content but also provide information in stand-alone areas – one point of entry for ease of access to all information, repeated stand-alone linkages for ease of access to specific information;
“Upload your face” – provide students with your picture so they can put a face with your name;
Use strategies to orient students to how the course works: Pre-course quiz over the course information, general questions about the course which can be answered by reviewing the course information (ie. who is your instructor multiple choice question), questions about course policies and instructor expectations;
Assign a personal introduction/biography in the first week discussion, provide an instructor bio as well.

Nick’s Tips
Provide students with explicit information on communicating with the instructor; what tools to use when, when to expect responses, time frames for contact the instructor, etc.  Nick uses Skype for online calls, sets his Skype availability and students are able to contact him via Skype when he is online. Nick uses discussion forums for questions about the course and email for private student matters.  Being explicit about these channels and types of communications, he provides feedback to students who may not use the channels properly, such as someone who posts a question about a grade in the discussion forum – Nick responses and says he’d be glad to answer the question when sent to him via email.
Provide a comprehensive syllabus; help students understand that online classes are not active 24/7 but they are also not online “correspondence classes”, they have structures and deadlines; also be explicit about assignment submission and “attendance” policies (federal aid requires instructors to record last substantive contribution to the class, posting a discussion, submitting an assignment, taking a test, NOT last login, as the last day of “attendance” for an online class);
Require students to purchase Online Education for Dummies, even if they are experienced online students, to learn more about success strategies for learning online;
Provide students with opportunities to practice all of the skills they need to be successful in the course, such as emailing the instructor, posting to a discussion, taking a quiz (over course information), using a new software tool (Nick uses Voice Thread for digital stories);
Email students who have not been engaged in the class 5 days or more;
Create and post podcasts with tips on taking your online class (podcasting software: MAC-GarageBand, PC-Audacity);
If your class requires special software or hardware (speakers, headphones, microphone), provide details in the course information;
Learning is about the process! Digital assignments allow students to go deeper than reading from a text.

Session Discussion
Suggestions for moderating discussions: post examples of responses and replies as models for students; assign half of the students to be respondents and half of the students to reply – switch respondents and repliers the next week, structuring dialogue among students; prohibit ‘reply dumping’, process by which students make all required postings at the last minute; use students as discussion monitors, 2-3 students per forum, to assist with engaging students and keeping the discussion moving; split discussion deadlines, first deadline is a response, second deadline is a reply to a response;
Support for web cams, microphones and headsets for using online tools is available – contact Patrice, <<>> for more information;
How do online and F2F sections of the same class compare? Students are not necessarily better or worse; students sometimes enroll in online classes because they believe they will be easier – future work of the online learning task force will explore student readiness and assessing students for online learning skills;
Students with disabilities can be accommodated while taking online classes – seek out assistance with audio transcripts, video transcripts, voiced text, etc. if needed – contact Patrice, <<>> for more information.

Link to the ICC Virtual Campus, Online Learning August Celebration of Learning 2011 Handout