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


Celebrating our Veterans through Improved Access to Higher Education

By Linda Jeschofnig, Founder and CEO of Hands-On Labs 

This week, America honors the hundreds of thousands of Veterans who have so-well served our country and kept it safe from harm’s way. More than ever, since WWII, Veterans are seeking to improve their futures by going to college. The 2009 post- 9/11 GI Bill and numerous institutional initiatives are helping them do so.

The new GI Bill provides Veterans with excellent educational opportunities by covering the cost for in-state tuition and providing stipends to help with books and living expenses. These payments can be applied toward specialized training certificates, apprentice programs, college degrees, and even graduate programs. See:
Continue reading

Resources to Help Struggling Students

Key1.jpgHow can instructors help struggling students who need tutoring and more assistance than the course time allows? For students willing to put in the extra time and energy to genuinely grasp difficult concepts, there are many new websites that can effectively serve in a self-guided tutoring role. These sites provide students with visual and interactive aids that may drive their understanding better than traditional textual explanations.  They also provide instructors with easy access to a history of the students’ activities and progress.

Most people think of the Khan Academy as just a collection of videos on various educational topics. However, it and similar tutorial sites like instaGrok have expanded into much larger interactive platforms that provide students with active learning and assessment tools and instructors with evaluation and tracking tools. These sites span areas of interest from elementary to college levels and cover the majority of academic topics, including the sciences. Plus, they are free!
Continue reading

Tools to Lighten the Chore of Lab Report (and Essay) Grading

By Linda Jeschofnig

Peter and I give numerous “best practices” presentation to online and soon-to-be online educators. One thing that recently became obvious is how few educators are aware of the “Track Changes” feature within their MS Word program and how this tool can make grading lab reports and other essay assignments a breeze to review and edit. One simply types in corrections, lines out errors, and inserts comments where needed. Like the traditional red pen, these corrections show up in a different color, making them easy for students to spot and follow. Student can use the same feature to expand upon the paper and return comments to the instructor; these too will show up in a different color. Here’s a two-minute tutorial to help get started: Click Here>>

Another tool that makes grading easy is to have students submit their reports and essays via Google Docs. The process is very similar in that the instructor’s corrections, changes, and comments can display in a different color, plus every correction is time-stamped and easy to see by clicking “Revision History” via the File drop-down menu. Google Docs is also an excellent tool for group projects since each student’s contributions can be separately identified and it’s easy to see if any students are carrying the majority of the project burden.

Some of the more recent advanced editions of LMS systems have similar capabilities. However, many institutions don’t yet have these upgrades, and often in those that do, the instructors aren’t aware they exist.

%d bloggers like this: