How many students take courses at UNE Online?

A portion of a map that highlight countries in which students are taking online courses at UNE Online

As more students enroll in online programs than ever before, UNE Online’s student population and alumni network are growing by leaps and bounds. Our learners now log in all over the world, lending their diverse perspectives to every class and every discussion. Now, as you consider or undertake your educational journey, you can see just how many students are achieving their goals through UNE Online and where they’re coming from. Be sure to interact with the maps to see how you can connect with our community through projects like #myUNEOnlineClassroom! UNE Online students are found in Maine Let’s start where we started: With two campuses and a strong network right in our backyard, many UNE Online students live, learn, and work here in Maine. This central base is ideal for the occasional in-person student or faculty meet-up, and we delight in holding a physical commencement ceremony for our online grads on the Portland campus every year.   “UNE creates a… Read More >

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What do online graduate students want from instructors? Just ask them.

Online Graduate Students

Instructional strategies for online learning are a frequent topic of these posts, for good reason. A well designed online course relies on an intentional approach to learning supported by evidence and learning theory. Formative feedback, authentic learning, and instructor presence are examples of instructional strategies that are well-supported and effective for online learning. Using the right instructional strategies to facilitate learning is not only important to instructors and instructional designers, it is also important to students. So what do graduate students want? In a recently published study, online graduate students were asked what they wanted from instructors to facilitate learning. The most frequent responses were: “. . . 1) be available and responsive to students, 2) engage/interact with students, 3) provide prompt feedback, 4) foster interaction/communication among students and instructor, 5) provide expectations, 6) provide learning guidance, 7) organize course, 8) provide meaningful coursework, 9) provide synchronous sessions, and 10) use various instructional methods” (Watson, Bishop, & Ferdinand-James, 2017, pp…. Read More >

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Domain of One's Own

UNE Online Graduate Courses available globally

A short post today, because we are doing some work on the site and I only have a small window in which to get this up. Luckily, I have been studying something recently which I think deserves a bit of recognition, or at the very least some conversation. That something is the Domain of One’s Own movement, that started up at the University of Mary Washington and has spread to other universities. Predicated on the belief that learners benefit from intentional ownership over their online presence, which they can be encouraged to use as a platform for engaging with, and contributing to, the various fields in which they are involved, universities are giving students their own websites as an integral aspect of their student package. Students can then manage their using standard web technologies, like WordPress (or, if they really wanted the complexity and the headache, Drupal), which could be deployed as a portfolio, a professional blog, a space for collecting… Read More >

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The Student Perspective

Student Perspective

When we design or teach an online course, we spend time thinking about how to reach our students. We consider their prior learning and such things as the cognitive load of the class. These are essential considerations, but perhaps we can do more. We can turn the tables and look at the class from the student perspective. However, it is sometimes hard to put ourselves in our students’ place because we are so familiar with our own course and its subject matter. How can we overcome that barrier in order to see the class through the eyes of a student? Put some distance between yourself and the material. Take a break from it for as long as possible. Before you log back into the class, imagine yourself as a student in the class. What is the first thing you want to find when you log in for the first time? The second? Look at your class and think about the… Read More >

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Think pen and paper are obsolete? Think again.

mac and paper

  In distance education, many students type lecture notes on their computers, rather than writing on paper. After all, students use laptops to watch lectures, answer assessment questions, and participate in class discussions. It’s only natural to use the same device for taking notes, too, right? Not so fast. Last year, Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer, researchers from Princeton University and the University of California, studied how the two note-taking methods affect student assessment performance. The results? In short, they found that taking notes on a laptop can “negatively affect performance on educational assessments.” If you’re reading this, perhaps you’re already nodding your head in agreement: Of course, computers can harm learning—think of all those tempting and distracting online games and Facebook memes! But what’s really fascinating about Mueller and Oppenheimer’s experiments is that they relied on computers that were disconnected from the Internet. Without even a working web browser, students were free to focus on the lecture content. Nevertheless, those who… Read More >

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Google Docs Add-Ons

Google Docs Add Ons

We’ve touted the benefits of using Google Drive in the past. This time, we’re going to talk about a new(ish) dimension of capabilities within Google Docs (and Google Sheets, though we’re not getting into that today), that empowers users to integrate functionality from a multitude of different services directly, contextually, within Google Docs. Google introduced add-ons to Google Docs and Sheets about a year ago, but the ecosystem of add-ons was pretty immature back then. Now, with a year gone by for services to develop add-ons, the choices are richer and more useful. First, in order to get/manage/activate/deactivate add-ons, you should open up a Google Doc. Look at the toolbar across the top of your sheet–there should be a tab that says “Add-ons.” Click it, and then click “Get add-ons.” There you go. Now it is important to remember that add-ons won’t automatically activate after you’ve added their functionality to your doc. You have to activate them. Click “Manage add-ons” to… Read More >

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Audio Recordings

Audio

Over the last year, with the smoother integration of YouTube videos into the Blackboard system (such as Vide Everywhere, aka Record from Webcam), we have used the video features extensively and in an increasing number of courses. There are admittedly lots of advantages to taking courses online, but cultivating a robust community remains a challenge in distance education. So, using videos makes a small dent in this area, and YouTube has proven to be a fairly friendly working solution. We haven’t done much – in part due to the current configuration of Blackboard which is not too friendly to audio files – much (or anything) with audio recordings. There are at least a couple of courses though which use some sort of interviewing and would benefit from not a video but an audio recording. So, let’s look at possible solutions that are available either for free or at a low cost, and which are versatile, have low barriers to adoption and… Read More >

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Interactive Stories

canoe line drawing

We have already talked about writing. In online courses, writing is often the predominant activity. It’s not just styles, grammar, and perfect APA citations that matter, of course. There are lots of skills that students must demonstrate when writing academic papers. What we don’t include as much is this dimension of interacting with writing (stories). Stories can lead you down different paths based on decisions (choices) made at certain crucial points in the narrative. Digital interactive stories have been around for a long time, as different technologies to support this sort of writing and user interface have been used – from a web of wikis to simple code to complex productions (like alternate endings in full-feature movies). Another tool came across, Inklewriter. It may be considered as a more or less low learning curve tool, which allows you to create your own scenarios or have students (in groups or individually) do the same as a project (sample story). In fact,… Read More >

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Why Use Word Clouds?

word cloud

Word Cloud You may be quite familiar with word clouds (by Wordle or Tagxedo, although lots more options also exist: thing 1 and thing 2). A whole bunch of text is popped into a word cloud engine and then – boom! – you only get a handful of words (you control the number) which are usually the most frequently used and/or the most important words of a larger text. Why use it? On the one hand, you can analyze the text for focus or bias. On the other hand, you can fish out the most important words before you read the text (and then upon actively reading it, ascertain that your initial assumptions were correct or have them refuted). Additionally, because it may lead to active reading, the large amounts of text may seem much more digestible and less intimidating and overwhelming. Well, and it looks pretty neat, too. Additionally, the word cloud may be used a discussion prompt. Not only… Read More >

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Organizing Your Tasks

today's to-do list

We, the online folks, often have a running list of things to do, and our environment is such that we may be working in cafes, at home, at libraries, in hotels, you name it! Plus, the constant potential disruptions in the form of incoming Skype calls, emails, actual phone calls, meetings we need to attend, virtually or otherwise, and sudden issues that pop up or scheduled events, like grading a set of papers, and then there is this blog to read, which fortunately comes out at the most convenient time and has wonderful tips on how to keep your online sanity! Since we have been pushing Chrome as one of the better browsers for Blackboard, here is how you can leverage Chrome extensions to create your own task lists. Every time you open a new tab in Chrome, you will see this (your own version of this, that is!): When you mouse over an item, you can trash it or… Read More >

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Other Options for Presentations (and Some Tips on Doing Research)

How to Override a Grade

At a request of a faculty member, I have been researching some video presentation options beyond the standard Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. I began my research in Google Docs (Google Drive). If you have never done it, you should at least give it a shot. You will like it. In fact, you may like the Research Tool enough to share with your students to use when they are working on their research papers. So, here are two tools I have looked up. WeVideo Online video editing, free for personal accounts with limits of 15 min movies exported in 480p (small, low res movies). Better options, including sharing media to edit, and creating shared projects for a fee. Download WeVideo Moovly Animated presentations, with interesting effects, and fairly friendly to use. For a free account, you can publish to YouTube and Facebook and Moovly will keep its watermark on the video. How to Use Moovly on Youtube 5 Tips for Creating a Successful… Read More >

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