Lessons Learned Trying to Increase Engagement in June Class

In designing EDTC 5113 Digital Media Production for the June summer session, I knew I wanted to model the use of many different digital tools, so it became a whole month of trying new things! Interestingly, I set out to try new tools but ended up trying new instructional strategies as well (I’ll talk about that in another post). First, though, here are some tools I tried and wanted to share: 

GroupMe http://groupme.com – This is the one tool I will definitely use again! It improved communication greatly in all forms (teacher-to-student(s), student(s)-to-student(s), and student(s)-to-teacher)! It is shared group text (including multimedia messages), but what I really appreciated was that it is very device-agnostic. If someone wanted to use an old Nokia candy bar phone, the latest smart phone, the browser on their desktop, etc., it worked just fine! It also masked actual phone numbers, so those weren’t actually shared across all participants (I don’t feel particularly comfortable asking students for their cell phone #’s, so this worked great for me). It was also a tool that class participants felt they could turn around and use in their jobs. Check it out! 

PowToons http://powtoons.com – Ed Harris told me about this presentation tool, so I tried it with a brief course introduction: http://youtu.be/qYDbO8_caGA. The thing I found interesting about this is that my habit is to build a presentation starting with visuals first, and this tool forced me to write a script first and then create visuals (30 seconds per slide). I think the result was less rambling from me, which is always good! 

VideoANT http://ant.umn.edu/ – This video annotation tool from University of Minnesota is one of my favorites due to its clean, simple interface. Basically, you paste the URL of a video you want students to watch, and then you can add discussion questions as annotations to pop up at certain points in the video and then students can respond in typical asynchronous discussion board format. Or, students can post questions/comments directly. 

Scrible http://www.scrible.com/ – This is a website annotation/bookmark tool. I had them read a specific web-based text and make annotations to share. I’m not sure this was the right activity for this tool, as we struggled with sharing to others. 

Pod-o-matic http://podomatic.com – Quickest, easiest way to create a podcast for students or for students to send audio. I had them read an article and post their analysis via podcast. 

Google+ http://plus.google.com – Because I wanted the knowledge and skills shared and developed in this course to “live” beyond the time frame, we used a Google+ community for all content and activities (grades were kept in D2L). Some positives and negatives to this, which I will expand on in the following post. On our face-to-face meeting days in the TECH Playground (great place to have class, BTW!), the class members who happened to be farther than 2 hours away joined us via Google Hangouts: 

Students in EDTC 5113 Digital Media Production doing group collaboration  with a mix of f2f and video conference.

Students in EDTC 5113 Digital Media Production doing group collaboration with a mix of f2f and video conference

Always fun to try something new in your teaching! What did you try new lately? 

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