Friday, March 28, 2014

Are you new to social media curation in online learning? [VIDEO]

When you think about the word "curation", what comes to mind?  Well for me, I think about museums right away.  I think about the museum curators that work in museums going through collections of resources and making decision about which artifacts to collect together and how to organize them to tell a story, to emphasize a concept, or to serve a learning outcome.  And it's just not about placing the chosen artifacts together in the museum and then walking away.  These museum curators describe the salient features of the artifacts and organize them in such a way that new visitors can glean the required information and discover for themselves the intended (or novel) themes and the stories.  It's an important job to be a museum curator because their bias about the artifacts invariably will make its way into the finish product on display.  I don't really think that's a bad thing, because museum curators are experts in their field and they can identify the most compelling themes and stories, and expertly organize artifacts in museums for people to interact with so they can learn.

So what does this have to do with online learning?  Well, re-read the entire paragraph above, but substitute the words "museum curator" for "teacher", and where you see "museums" put "online courses".  Go ahead re-read it.

Wonderful isn't it?  So if you are thinking of becoming an expert online teacher, take a moment to improve your skills in curation, especially social media curation.

This great video produced by Vanessa Dennen (Florida State University) for the Social Media for Active Learning MOOC (#SMOOC2014), will give you a quick overview of social media curation. It's a great topic that all online instructors will love exploring.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Engage! Top 6 Best Practices that Foster Learner Engagement with Online Instructional Video

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I've been watching Philip Guo at the University of Rochester closely since I stumbled across his great research on instructional video usage in MOOCs. This month, he is publishing a paper for the Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Learning at Scale that has very useful recommendation on ways to foster learner engagement with online instructional video. I love this paper and you should take the time to read it in detail because it contains more than 6 recommendations. However, for those in a rush, here's my interpretation of the Top 6 of his recommendations that resonated most with me:
  1. Video length can significantly affect engagement. Shorter videos are much more engaging to learners. Invest in pre-production lesson planning to segment videos into chunks that are no longer than 6-7 minutes in length, if possible. 
  2. Videos that intersperse an instructor’s talking head (where the instructor looks directly into the camera) with slides are more engaging than slides alone. Invest in post-production editing to display the instructor’s head at opportune times in the video. Avoid displaying the instructor’s head for the entire video unless there are no slides that accompany the presentation. 
  3. Videos produced with a more personal feel could be more engaging than studio recordings. In videos where there are few slides and more video of the instructor’s talking head, try filming in an informal setting related to the subject matter of the video (i.e. office, lab, in the field, etc.) instead of a formal production studio. 
  4. For step-by-step problem solving walkthroughs, Khan Academy-style tablet drawing tutorials are more engaging than slides alone. 
  5. Videos where instructors speak fairly fast and with high enthusiasm are more engaging (especially for instructors who's native language is the same as the language of the course). The pace can be accelerated compared to conventional face-to-face lectures. This also has the indirect positive effect of keeping video length shorter (see point 1 above). During post production, consider removing some speech pauses including “umms” and “ahhs” if they are present too frequently. 
  6. Learners engage differently with lecture-style conceptual videos compared to step-by-step walkthrough procedural tutorial videos. For lectures-style, focus more on the providing a good first-watch experience from beginning to end. For step-by-step walkthrough tutorials, make it easy to rewatch and/or skim the video. For example, clearly number the “step” in the process as the process develops so that students can easily orient themselves in the tutorial video when they re-watch relevant parts. 
What do you think of these 6 best practices?  Do you have experience with any of them?  Would you add any others to this list?