Teaching Science Totally Online: Hands-On Lab’s LabPaqs and SoftChalk’s Cloud – Perfect Together

By Dr. James W. Brown

When I was the Dean of Science, Engineering, Health Science, and Human Performance at Ocean County College I learned about the wonders of using Hands-On LabsLabPaqs to allow us to teach laboratory-based science courses totally online using “wet labs” that could be shipped almost anywhere in the world. Additionally, SoftChalk LLC, allowed us to produce online courses far beyond anything we had produced before by adding interactivity to nearly every page of content. This changed our boring “death by outline and PowerPoint” approach into one in which we provided highly interactive content pages that were a work of art filled with learning exercises and games. We needed to produce both nursing courses and science courses to fulfill a $458,000 grant from the venerable Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which allowed us to produce a One Day per Week Nursing Program (now called the One Site/One Line Nursing Program). This program allowed students to attend clinical training one day per week while the didactic portion was delivered online. This opened up nursing to a whole new group of students who were limited by time, family commitments, work, or distance. It was an instant success and students from a much wider geographical area began coming to OCC to get their associate degree RN. This online education model addressed the hospital RN shortage crisis and has become a national model.  Continue reading

Using Videos to Enrich Your Teaching of Online Science Courses

 By Peter Jeschofnig, PhD, Founder of IEDSE: Institute for Excellence in Distance Science Education and Co-Author of “Teaching Lab Science Courses Online”

ComputerMedia_webNo matter how carefully we design the content of a new online science course, once we start teaching and getting student feedback, we learn that students often need extra help and additional clarification with certain course concepts and assignments.  After teaching a course once, it becomes obvious where we need to incorporate supplemental materials to create a much improved subsequent offering.   Among the many improvements made should be instructional video clips snatched from the plethora of multi-media teaching tools available online.

Most instructors use short video clips in face-to-face classes to get a discussion started, explain an especially difficult concept, show a hazardous demonstration, or share a fun experience.  The idea of enriching a class with videos is even more essential in the online learning environment.

Online classes should start with a personal instructor and course introduction video.  This gives the students a unique connection and means to establish rapport with the instructor plus can help enhance and clarify the course content, structure, and expectations.  The instructor’s willingness to share his/her image and enthusiasm for the subject greatly enhances students excitement about what they will be learning and sets the stage for the robust class discussions that are at the heart of online learning. Continue reading

Worlds of Learning – Let’s Get Virtual!

By Dr. John Jamison

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One of the emerging technologies for learning we’ve enjoyed watching develop is the collection of online, 3D, virtual-environment platforms. Becoming more visible with the entry of Second Life around 2003, a search will present a list of more than 1000 approaches to virtual environments, each with their own unique twist. Many of us were already exploring the use of “virtual” learning tools, using less intuitive tools to create “virtual humans;” examples of artificial intelligence on our computers. One of the approaches to that early work was Peter Plantec’s Virtual Humans: A Build-It-Yourself Kit, still a

vailable on Amazon and still of value to those interested in the field. I spent many hours with that book and CD, trying to recreate Peter’s “Sylvie,” the personality that lived on his computer, kept his schedule, and served as a “buddy.” Continue reading

5 Steps to Find the Right CMS Product

Choosing a new or different course management system (CMS) can be a difficult and daunting task. With so many CMS products out there and even more available features, how do you know which one to choose? WCET is a great distance education resource that provides independent CMS reviews and comparisons through EduTools. Included in EduTools is the Decision Engine (DE), “a rational decision-making process to assist in selecting a course management system.” We compared several CMS products through the DE to show you how easy it is to decide which CMS is right for your class or institution.

Update: WCET informed us that the EduTools site is no longer being maintained. However, it is still up and can provide some useful information. 

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