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Getting started with Google Drive

Google Drive LogoThe rumors are true—Google Drive is the new adoptive parent of Google Docs.

Google Drive is a free online file storage service. You can upload and share any kind of file to your Google Drive, including documents, spreadsheets, drawings, presentations, photos and videos so that they are accessible from any laptop, tablet or smartphone. In addition, Google Drive is the new home for Google Docs. You have the ability to create and collaborate on text documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms, drawings and tables all within Google Drive. Continue reading »

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Designed for learning: Four reasons why Moodle is a better LMS

Did you know that Moodle will be Elon’s only Learning Management System (LMS) beginning this summer (2012)?

An old proverb states, “Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” Our switch from Blackboard to Moodle opens a door to customizing your course site.

Four reasons we think it makes a better LMS solution:

  • Designed for learning. Moodle approaches learning through sound learning theories focused on Constructivism and Connectivism. Knowledge is created and connected through consistent interaction and cooperation between and among teachers and students.
  • More ways to organize and pace content. Moodle breaks courses into topics and elements that form a structured pathway through course teaching materials. Professors select when students can see specific portions of the course and when materials are released for viewing and study. This is especially helpful in creating robust discussions, stimulating deep reflection privately or shared with peers and encouraging lively conversation through group or individual contributions.
  • More ways to share resources and connect with your students. You can distribute a course calendar, lecture slides with audio, videos, pictures, YouTube videos, links to reading materials, podcasts, RSS feeds, Twitter updates, as well as Adobe Connect course recordings.
  • Easier to use. Once the basics are learned (in about an hour), faculty have commented on how easy Moodle is to use with drop-down menus, modular blocks, clear choices, and a simple page layout.
  • During the spring 2012 term, Elon faculty members and Teaching and Learning Technologies staff persons Cheri, Ben, Roger and Dan will be sharing ideas and suggestions on how to use Moodle to enhance your courses. Do you have a feature you’d like to learn more about? Contact us at tlt@elon.edu or leave a comment at the bottom of the page.

    About the author

    Cheri Crabb, PhD, Academic Technology Consultant with TLT, has a career in academia focused on instructional design and development using integrated electronic media systems for blended learning.

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    Fixing poor performance habits quickly and tactfully

    theater spotlightIt’s difficult for theater students to become aware of their habits and quirks until they can clearly see them. Kirby Wahl, Assistant Professor of Performing Arts, uses Kodak Playtouch video cameras to take easy shots of his students that help them identify their strengths and weaknesses on stage.

    Wahl teaches an introductory voice and movement class to freshmen called The Dynamic Instrument, which aims to build physical awareness in order to release tensions that can impede vocal production and the use of the body. On the first day of class, Wahl videotapes students performing a two- to three-minute piece, then posts the videos on Blackboard so students can watch themselves perform.

    “It’s the first day of class, so all their usual tensions are raised,” Wahl says. “They say, ‘I saw I was doing this and I never realized this.’ Other times it affirms things they already knew.”

    Before technology was incorporated into his classroom, Wahl had his students observe a “secret friend.” Students would be randomly assigned to surreptitiously watch a classmate and, after some time, would have to impersonate them in front of the class. Often, the impersonations were immediately recognizable.

    “That’s fun, but it’s a little riskier too,” Wahl says. “It can hurt to see someone encapsulate your quirks and have the whole class be amused by it. Videos are more private.”

    Later on in students’ college careers, videos can serve as records of the progress they’ve made. Videos are also quicker than the “secret friend” assignment, which requires weeks of observation, and students need to identify their bodily tensions early on in order to make progress in the course and in their acting careers.

    “Any physical holding in the body is going to have an effect on how the body vibrates in the sound you’re making,” Wahl says. “It’s that vibration that becomes the resonation of your voice.”

    Additional Resources

    • To learn more about reserving or checking out a Kodak Playtouch camera, visit the Technology wiki or Media Services in Belk Library 101.
    • For more information about incorporating Kodak Playtouch cameras or other technology into your classroom, visit Teaching and Learning Technologies in Belk Library 115.
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    Sophie Adamson: Instilling Intrinsic Motivation

    Adamson's FRE222 students at Avalon in Greensboro

    Sophie Adamson, associate professor of French, believes her students work much harder when they want to learn. She instills intrinsic motivation in her students by placing them in situations that require them to speak French.

    “I try to make my assignments feel real,” Adamson says. “If you don’t learn your grammar, you won’t have anything to say.”

    Adamson took one class to Avalon African Refugee Center in Greensboro, a predominantly French-speaking center, and had her students speak and interact with the refugees solely in French. Before the trip, she gave students a questionnaire asking them to rank their confidence in their speaking, among other things. Several weeks after the visit, she gave out the same questionnaire, and found that more than three-quarters of the class felt more confident in their French-speaking abilities.

    Adamson’s secret to keeping students on their toes: “It’s definitely variety. And public interactive stuff, either in small groups, or with a guest, or with the whole class. I’m trying not to be teacher-centered.”

    Adamson regularly brings in French-speaking guests to her classroom, both in person and via Skype. Recent guests include a French rock star, Eric Vincent, who played his electric guitar in class and spoke about the history of French music, and Elon students who grew up speaking French at home.  This month, a French politician and author of Algerian descent, Azouz Begag, will be speaking to her French class about one of his novels that the students will have read.

    Adamson also makes sure to vary her lessons so her students keep up with their studying and learning. Students analyze poetry, present photo montages to the class, or participate in small-group discussions with their peers – upper-level students have even made and posted podcasts in French.

    “You can motivate students with grades,” Adamson says, “but the intrinsic motivation does so much more. It’s like, I have to speak to these people. I have to be confident and this can be meaningful interaction.”

    If you are interested in including these ideas into a course, CATL and TLT are available for consulting. Visit the Teaching website’s page on Consulting for more information. If you are interested in bringing guest speakers to your class, via Skype, visit our Conferencing Technologies page in the Technology Wiki for more information.


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