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Friday, May 31, 2019

We're Moving!

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Our Blog is Moving!

The ESU Learning Technologies blog is moving! You can now find weekly updates at https://esulearningtech.blogspot.com

Why are we moving? Several great new features are now available. Our blog is now integrated into Mailchimp which means you can subscribe to updates AND receive a weekly digest of blog updates in your Outlook inbox. You can also read the Newszine/blog online. To subscribe, point your browser to our newsletter.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Make a PDF Image File Searchable and Selectable

Have you ever encountered a scanned (non-searchable) PDF document and wondered how to make it both searchable and text-selectable? Well, you can actually do that right from inside Acrobat DC. Here's how.

First, we start with a scanned/photocopied PDF, like this example below. Note that this document is essentially an image:

From inside Acrobat DC, select the Tools tab > browse and locate Enhance Scans to add this utility to your Tools menu. Once added, click the Enhance Scans Tool to start the OCR process.
Acrobat Pro Enhanced Scan Tool Selector

Next, click the Recognize Text tab that appears across the top > In This File sub-option.

Next, click the Recognize Text button that appears below the tabs.
Adobe Acrobat Recognize Text Menu Button

After completing the scan, the document will be in a searchable and text-selectable format that is ready for accessibility tagging!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Which Video Tool Should I Use?

Emporia State supports three instructional video resources for faculty and staff: Kaltura, Zoom, and Panopto. What's the difference between these tools and why are there so many options? 

To answer that question we need to provide a brief product history to understand how we got here. Roughly ten years ago, the Counselor Education on campus program needed a solution to replace an aging VHS recording system. Panopto, a new lecture capture product developed at Carnegie Mellon, provided the perfect solution. It integrated into the campus LMS, supported two camera recording capabilities, could be used in multiple rooms at the same time, and was completely digital. Since then it has been used to record and upload thousands of videos. 

About the same time, the campus migrated its webconferencing system from Wimba (later acquired by Blackboard) to Adobe Connect. Webconferencing software had a very narrow niche in the mid 2000s - there was virtually no overlap between a lecture capture product and a webconferencing product.

Fast forward a few years, the campus has since replaced Connect with Zoom and acquired Kaltura. Like Connect and Wimba before it, Zoom is branded as a webconferencing/meeting product. Kaltura, in contrast, is branded/marketed as a video hosting, streaming, and curation product. Again, little or no overlap among products a few years ago, but that's changing.

Each of these products, which are still very viable and highly ranked in Gartner's Magic Quadrant, are now vying to expand their reach and become a one-stop solution for lecture capture, desktop recording, curation, and more. However, shifting a campus that is deeply entrenched in each product to a single solution is easier said than done. Hence, we're likely going to continue licensing these products indefinitely. Let's break these down and see which product is best to use for your purposes:

The primary application of Zoom is live meetings. The campus supports approximately 600 Zoom meetings every month during the semester. However, Zoom can be used for much more:
  • Live meetings - Best Use
    • Support for 100 simultaneous participants
  • Live webcasting
    • Support for up to 1000 simultaneous participants
    • Two-way communication limited to chat
  • Screen capture/recording
  • Lecture capture
  • External video upload
  • Cameras
    • Single
    • Dual
  • Desktop and mobile app
  • Accessibility
    • Automatic captions ✘ (forthcoming)
    • Automatic transcripts
  • Cross product integration
    • Panopto (Possible, but not currently supported at ESU)
    • Kaltura
    • Canvas (Limited) ✓ 

The primary application of Panopto is lecture capture. The campus supports approximately 200 lecture captures every month during the semester. Like Zoom, Panopto can be used for much more:
  • Live meetings
  • Live webcasting
    • Support for up to 10,000 simultaneous participants
    • Two-way communication limited to viewer Notes and Comments
  • Screen capture/recording
  • Lecture capture - Best Use
  • External video upload
  • Cameras
    • Single
    • Dual
  • Desktop and mobile app
  • Accessibility
    • Automatic captions
    • Automatic transcripts
  • Cross product integration
    • Zoom (Possible, but not currently supported at ESU)
    • Kaltura
    • Canvas (Deep)

The primary application of Kaltura is video hosting, curation, and streaming playback. The campus supports approximately 600 monthly hours of video playback/viewing during the semester. Like Zoom and Panopto, Kaltura can be used for much more:
  • Live meetings
  • Live webcasting
  • Screen capture/recording
    •  Using Kaltura Capture desktop app
  • Lecture capture
  • External video upload - Best Use
  • Cameras
    • Single
    • Dual
  • Desktop and mobile app
  • Accessibility
    • Automatic captions
    • Automatic transcripts
  • Cross product integration
    • Zoom
    • Panopto
    • Canvas (Deep)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Suggestions for Effective Discussions


Recently on LinkedIn I posted a scenario. It read, in part: "I had a really down-to-earth conversation with a faculty member today regarding online teaching. He expressed a number of his concerns. Actually, those concerns were valid. I wanted to bounce one or two of his thoughts past everyone for consideration. With respect to online discussions, his complaint was that the tried and true method of posting and then reading or listening to "great post, Sally..." over and over and over was not only ineffective, but mundane and boring. Yet, that's what many people do, right? When we say respond to two others, that's often the response. When we say "respond with thought and consideration", then they spice it up with one or two adverbs: "that was a very very good post, Sally". He was being a little sarcastic, but it rings true. What are your suggestions for reducing this minutia and improving the quality of discussions?"

That single post led to over 7,500 views, 57 comments, and 25 Likes. A personal high for anything I've ever posted to LinkedIn. More importantly, it led to some really great suggestions. So, I decided to collect those suggestions and share them more broadly (with attribution). In the interest of space, I've distilled (edited) some of them: 

Sarah Korpi
I include a model and a rubric so students can see an example of what I expect in a discussion post and response. When the facilitator is active on the discussion board with posts as well that helps to model the behavior we want from the students. I don't see a problem with saying "'Great post Sally' is not an acceptable response and will not receive any points." I think students want to do well, and will try to meet our expectations, as long as we take the care to develop and explain them. 

Serena Henderson
This is why we cannot look at online learning as simply moving the f2f classroom to the internet. There is pedagogy for effective online teaching and learning available and a growing repository of research in this field. Simply being an expert in a subject does not make that person an expert in delivering content online. There are many considerations when designing and delivering courses at a distance that cannot be ignored. It’s important for discussions forums to be viewed as a means for formative assessment, community building, and critical thinking. By posting a well-designed question with these things in mind, students can draw from what they learned, what they found along the way, and how they interpret the material, to generate a robust discussion with their peers. Also, this type of interaction provides an opportunity for less vocal students who may have not participated in a traditional f2f setting, to think, assess, and respond to these discussions. 

Georgette Nicholaides (eCornell)
I'm curious about why we continue to try to replicate this aspect of the F2F classroom? I've yet to see it work well (the intention of increasing learning). I'd like to see some research on whether online discussions are truly effective! 

Bonnie Budd (Responding to Georgette)
Good question, Georgette. In my experience, online discussions can be a very effective tool if they are thoughtfully designed, and a waste of time for all if they are not. This is basically true of classroom discussions as well. The tools are only as good as the skill with which they are implemented.

Charles Hodges (Georgia Southern)
I too have grown tired for "post and make 2 replies" discussions. Over the past few years I have changed my approach with discussions. By the way, I only teach graduate students. I ditched weekly discussions long ago. I create modules that are usually 2 weeks of a 16-week semester. I don't do a discussion in each module, because they started to seem like busy work. When I do them, I usually recommend one week to read and otherwise create your post, then one week to reply and discuss. I specify the format of the post. One week it might be a concept map, another a narrated presentation, infographic, or..  you get the idea. Then the "reply" instructions are related to summarizing or comparing, or something how your work compares or contrasts with your classmates. The different types of posts seem to keep the students from getting bored of text-based only posts, and they seem eager to look at what others are constructing, which results in some "better" discussion. There's still some "That's great!" types of posts, but the overall feel of things seems better to me.

Holly Owens (Touro College)
By limiting the amount of discussions used. It becomes cumbersome when instructors use discussion boards every week. I like to use them in my classes with intent. I found that giving students something to analyze and critically think about makes a discussion board that much more interactive. When I train faculty how to teach online, I say don't use discussion boards for the sake of using discussion boards, give them purpose! I am currently looking into Yellowdig to see how we can make these types of LMS features more appealing and engaging. 

Daniel Ibarrondo
In fairness to students, I distribute a document detailing what a poor, intermediate and best post is, with an example of each. This also provides some quality assurance and transparency in grading discussion posts. 

Angie Fedon (Concordia University)
I have found that eliminating a word count requirement actually increases the quality of posts. Also, we have a rubric with criteria for content and critical thinking. 

Daphne Halkias (International School of Management - Paris)
I find when the Professor takes the time to actively participate in the online discussion students get into engaging dialogue with each other. Lots of online instructors with this complaint just let the student chat among themselves. Anyone who has taught or been a student on ground knows that a prof doesn't just sit at their desk silent and expect an educational miracle to happen. Don't blame online education or the students. Faculty competence makes all the difference in online discussions . 

Sharon Jumper
Get rid of canned discussions altogether. It’s just busy work. Instead, have small group projects that require collaboration to produce a deliverable. 

Rachael Afolabi (Carlow University)
If we think about the concept of discussions in our day-to-day interactions and work, it is always toward a common goal of achieving something or getting new information. Discussion boards in online learning never really worked, because a question is posed and everyone responds saying the same thing. Discussions can be facilitated to be more meaningful. and collaborative. Small groups work better and the method the question is asked by the instructor also helps...a lot! 

Estella Chavous
I think it’s really important to have group interaction and because courses are taught online discussion boards serve to do this ( provide group interaction, diversity of thought, and critical thinking). As far as responses to post, it is not so much the “great post comment” but what comes afterwards. It is always nice to thank students and acknowledge with honesty a good post but the real value is what comes next. Did the professor provide supplemental content to support the learning, examples of it, compare and contrast etc. In my opinion it’s not the “great post” comment but the learning that follows.  

Thomas Tobin (University of Wisconsin)
Look up Tori Svoboda from U of Wisconsin Lacrosse: she's an expert in re-designing discussions away from the post-once response-twice snooze fest. She's presenting on this exact topic at the #UWdtl conference this year, too, as an invited speaker. https://dtlconference.wisc.edu/ 

Cynthia Huntoon
While thoughtful peer-to-peer communication is the obvious goal, instructor facilitation can also play an integral role in the success of a discussion board. Instructor interjection of open-ended questions and ‘devil’s advocate’ responses, will not only foster critical thinking in the student, but also help to keep the discussion interestingly moving along. The student may often respond to the discussion with personal opinion. While that may be a starting point, it should be required that said opinion is backed by fact/data. Lastly, attaching a percentage of the student final grade to the meeting of the discussion board requirements can help to incentivize quality participation. 

Paul Giammalvo
Here is an example of the weekly blog postings we expect all our student/clients to produce- https://pieroanticona-projectcontrol.blogspot.com/2019/02/w17pieroanticonaare-new-technologies.html Very much in line with what Bonnie Budd seems to be doing in her courses? We have found the key to running "successful" online or blended learning courses is to adopt the 7 attributes of Project Based Learning https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl/gold-standard-project-design and then measure RESULTS our graduates produce using the 4 Level Kirkpatrick Assessment- https://www.kirkpatrickpartners.com/Our-Philosophy/The-New-World-Kirkpatrick-Model We also have found that from a marketing perspective, we have found that designing our courses around what employers are actually seeking in the people they hire has proven very effective- https://www.naceweb.org/about-us/press/2017/the-key-attributes-employers-seek-on-students-resumes/. 

Mark Fabbri
What I found it is often how the conversation is framed, or more precisely how the discussion assignment is designed. If it is more like a written assignment but in discussion format (i.e. multiple parts, and most of it is factual information) then not only is it uninteresting to the student but boring to the instructor as well. It is very difficult to answer with basically the same response for each student, let alone students who need to respond to the same information that they actually wrote. The key is to design a discussion to be open ended that challenges a student to respond not just with opinions, but informed opinions based on what they learned. An example was a course I taught on the psychology of mass media. The most interesting conversation was on news and mass media. It was interesting because the student had to remove themselves out of the mindset of the consumer to someone that critically analyzed what they were viewing. The fun part was having students (who watched news) watch something different than they normally would watch. It is all about utilizing perceptions to foster a discussion that promotes learning. As you can tell, this is a very interesting topic 

Lorraine Towfik
I tell students they need to to write original responses , they get a higher grade if they introduce new material in the discussion that is relevant, if they talk about latest published research on the topic , on novel ways to solve or think about whatever topic is being discussed. I also “model” a typical response that would get an A grade , what constitutes a B grade , a C grade etc. then they know what they need to go to get a great grade. 

Anna Ioannidou (AG Financial Services)
As an online student I would like to know that there is somebody at the other end of the line who cares enough to participate in the discussion. Personal motivation for online studying is one thing, but creating the community, providing the space for learning and bringing everything and everyone together under a constructive discussion is another.
Ken GĂ«rhart
I’m a PhD student in an online program and also did my masters online. One helpful strategy for me is to tell a story from my life experience that illustrates the topic, then lay in the academic references to give gravitas to the discussion. Graphics help paint a word picture as well.

Tonya Witherspoon (Wichita State)
In an online discussion forum my directions are to post one original response to the prompt and then to reply to at least 2 other responses with a connection to the material we're covering, a connection to a real-life application, or a question.

Sher Downing
I find one size doesn't fit all. It depends on the level of students (UG, GR) and how they react in their initial introductory post. Once I see the types of students are involved I adjust the ways we communicate (live, written, group) and create opportunities for discussion. It's a little more work but I find more students follow and participate and evals show this is usually a highlight of the course.  

Heather Weller
Discussion questions should stay away from definitions. For example, define target marketing. Instead, I would say, go online and identify a key target market and explain how you would market X product to them. Make the DQ activity-based, not passive. 

Cynthia Huntoon
Does anyone utilize information/rubrics from Quality Matters? If so, what are your thoughts on its use?

Mike Calendine
If you want to facilitate critical thought, give them the goalposts. For example, use criticalthinking.org and pull out two of the elements of reasoning from the Paul and Elder critical thinking model and have students focus on those two words in their response. For example, "This week I want you to discuss the inferences and implications to the post you are responding to." Granted, he may have to define these terms, but that will immediately get them into critical thought. I have even blatantly said "I want to see those two words (inferences and implications) with the examples in the response." Also, be transparent with them. They need to understand why this is being done and the goal. 

Jennifer Newman
Another [Critical Thinking] approach is to force students, in the response posts, to take a contrary position from themselves or their classmates, regardless of the topic. Force [them] to look at both sides of the coin, whether they personally agree with one side or another. 

Sharon Witt (Hastings High School)
We require students to respond substantively by including support for their response to the initial post with information from class readings, additional academic resources, and personal experiences. 

Jennifer Englund
A couple of the ways I have changed up the format is to use video posts/discussion and then to break the students into small groups to mix up the dynamic of who would typically respond to whom. Granted, neither are original ideas but both approaches were effective for the course/s and students at the time. 

Melissa Olt
We need to define and show what "substantive" means, which has unfortunately been defined in  some discussion rubrics as a number of sentences that must be written. I wrote a blog post on online discussion posts, which I link to in the first week of my courses. It has helped. 

Gerald Austin
I think the detail of responses and their effectiveness is directly related to the level of interest in the subject matter for those that read the post and how much they are willing to share their opinions about not only the subject matter but the post itself. When the "Forum Response" is a requirement for a grade and maybe even "completion required" activity, then its possible to just "get the grade". I participate in a few forums related to welding. The quality of responses to people questions and even the responses to responses shows that quality online discussions are possible and even likely with the right group. Using discussions as a resource for using knowledge gained and challenging each other to learn more is key in my opinion. If the person facilitating the learning is not encouraging discussion, application, and peer review then they may not every develop the same thing in a digital format. My experience is based upon very limited experience teaching so I welcome other opinions and observations about my view. One of the best "things' that could happen to me is to become a peer of my students. They would never hesitate to come ask me a question or for help.  

Grant Beevers
I think we see these as ineffective because they are typically used as a siloed activity from other learning experiences occurring in the course. Where I have seen posts more effective, and used well, is when a comment or post is attached to others, such as the ability to partake in a discussion as an adjunct to an assignment, within the assignment space, or in the case of a video or recorded lecture, as a response directly within the video experience for example. 

JR Dingwell
I've seen a lot of the same issues with courses that employ the traditional 'post once, reply twice' format. If instructors are set on that format, then generally we try to provide some guidance on how to move the conversation forward (e.g. connecting to related course materials, or work experience - as in the case of continuing ed).  If they are open to other discussion formats then we tend to explore Stephen Brookefield's 'discussion as a way of teaching' resources (http://www.stephenbrookfield.com/workshop). We don't necessarily replicate these formats for online, but use them to inspire new ways to run discussions. Finally, what's been popular in more and more courses, is to use discussions to support other work in the course through peer feedback. Have a project or term paper in your course? Perfect, let's use discussions to read and provide feedback to your classmates and you'll get feedback as well. Structure is really important and requires practice to make it work, but the results are quite positive.

Nancy Wood
I always make a specific reference to something in the post. Point out something very relevant that they said or something that needs a little more detail.

Do you have any suggestions to share? Let's keep the conversation going!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Interactive Transcripts

Emporia State recently enabled an advanced transcripts function in our Kaltura Reach product. Reach - also known as Ceilo 24 - rolled out its 2.0 product that provides better machine captioning, better editing, and new interactive transcripts. These transcripts work using a widget that runs just under the video. 

What's on the Widget Toolbar? 

1) A search utility that allows the user to search the entire video by keyword. The video automatically advances to the location where the words appear. Moreover, the words are highlighted in each instance. 

2) A download option that allows the transcript to be downloaded in a .txt format

3) A print option that allows the transcript to be printed

The widget can be collapsed or expanded by the user using the Show/Hide option.

Kaltura Transcript Widget Toolbar

 How to Enable the Widget

It's already enabled! Nothing more to do. Once the video is captioned - either using machine/automatic captioning, or an .srt file upload - the widget will appear automatically.

Make sure your Kaltura video is captioned. To add automatic captions, open the video and locate the Actions button > Order Captions. This can be done from inside Canvas or from the video portal.

Steps 2
Edit the captions as desired. Note that you cannot edit the captions from Canvas. Instead, they must be edited from the video portal. Locate and click the Actions button > Caption Requests > Edit

Note that machine captions normally have very low fidelity, so editing will almost certainly be necessary. You can re-edit as many times as necessary.

Kaltura Transcript Tool in Action 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

New Zoom Features

In late January, Zoom has launched a completely refreshed interface for its popular webconferencing product. Many of these are welcome changes for what was becoming a somewhat tired user experience. Moreover, many of the features could be a bit confusing to access and operate, including the Meetings panel which used a highlight box rollover. Below are a few of the changes provided in this update.

New Horizontal Experience
Zoom now offers the user the choice of the classic portrait mode, or the new horizontal mode which includes a customizable landing graphic. Menu options have been streamlined and freshened for a clean, modern user experience.


Improved Meetings Panel
The former interface was always difficult to navigate - especially for people unfamiliar with the product. The new Meetings panel provides a significantly improved experience. The selected meeting is highlighted in blue. Also, the Copy Invite is super easy to locate and use.

Improved Chat
The chat client has also been updated to offer a much more user friendly experience. There is also a link to a new Zoom Apps Marketplace, providing options for developers to extend the product capability.

Improved Recordings Link
Access to the cloud recordings has been improved as well. Zoom now provides a super easy Recordings panel for accessing and downloading both audio and video cloud recordings.

Improved Settings Panel
The Settings Panel has also been updated with colors and interface improvements.

Accessibility and Artificial Intelligence

Several new and exciting artificial intelligence products are emerging in the accessible technology space. This technology is transformative. It promises to support the disabled community in ways never seen before by empowering them to take great control over their lives. Below are just a few exciting, emergent technologies powered by artificial intelligence.

Two new AI accessibility applications are now available through Google: Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier.

Live Transcribe is a new Android App from Google that automatically translates language into synthesized text. In testing, the transcription is amazingly accurate...and fast. It begins speech recognition almost immediately. Moreover, the app supports 72 languages. To use Live Transcribe, simply activate the app in a live meeting or a webinar. The app listens to the conversation and converts the conversation to text automatically. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Google Translate App

Google Translate App

The second application is also available for hearing impaired people. Sound Amplifier, as the name suggests, increases the volume of important sounds in our vicinity (eg speech), reducing noise from the street or other types of environmental noises. After installing the software, enable in the Accessibility Settings and connect any headset. The sound amplifier is only available on devices with Android 9. Unlike Live Transcribe, the Sound Amplifier does not require an Internet connection.

Microsoft has also introduced new suite of Artificial Intelligence products, including Seeing AI - a free app that narrates the world around the user. Seeing AI is available to iOS and Android customers in the United States, Canada, India, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore. Designed for the blind and low vision community, this ongoing research project harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects.

Seeing AI

Presentation Translator breaks down the language barrier by allowing users to offer live, subtitled presentations straight from PowerPoint. As you speak, the add-in powered by the Microsoft Translator live feature, allows you to display subtitles directly on your PowerPoint presentation in any one of more than 60 supported text languages. This feature can also be used for audiences who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Additionally, up to 100 audience members in the room can follow along with the presentation in their own language, including the speaker’s language, on their phone, tablet or computer. Translate is available for PowerPoint, Edge, and Outlook.

Microsoft Translate

Alexa is a another artificial intelligence product that is transforming support for the disabled community. Many users with physical disabilities are using Alexa through their Amazon Echo or Dot devices from their beds. This functionality to wherever the user has access to their phone or tablet with the tecla-e companion app by linking their Alexa account to the app. tecla-e is for anyone who cannot easily use a smart device such as smartphones, tablets, computers or have difficulty using home appliances. This includes those with quadriplegia and other mobility impairments resulting from spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, ALS, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, brain injuries or stroke.