Sparking online joy: five ways to keep students engaged — from timeshighereducation.com by Andrés Ordorica, Marcello Crolla, and Lizzy Garner-Foy
Five guiding principles to use when designing and developing content for short online courses that will keep students engaged

Keeping students engaged is a big challenge and one that’s key to making a short online course successful. With a diverse audience, a variety of learning preferences and a multitude of distractions in the online space, how can you create a course that successfully retains students’ attention? Here, we explore five guiding principles for designing an online course that is engaging and enjoyable.

By offering bitesize learning, embracing variety and interactivity, infusing meaning into content, fostering a learning community and adhering to the “less is more” principle, you can create a course that captivates your audience and cultivates a lasting love for learning. 


Speaking of pedagogical-related items, also see:

 
 


From DSC:
I also wanted to highlight the item below, which Barsee also mentioned above, as it will likely hit the world of education and training as well:



Also relevant/see:


 
  1. The GPT-4 Browser That Will Change Your Search Game — from noise.beehiiv.com by Alex Banks
    Why Microsoft Has The ‘Edge’ On Google

Excerpts:

Microsoft has launched a GPT-4 enhanced Edge browser.

By integrating OpenAI’s GPT-4 technology with Microsoft Edge, you can now use ChatGPT as a copilot in your Bing browser. This delivers superior search results, generates content, and can even transform your copywriting skills (read on to find out how).

Benefits mentioned include: Better Search, Complete Answers, and Creative Spark.

The new interactive chat feature means you can get the complete answer you are looking for by refining your search by asking for more details, clarity, and ideas.

From DSC:
I have to say that since the late 90’s, I haven’t been a big fan of web browsers from Microsoft. (I don’t like how Microsoft unfairly buried Netscape Navigator and the folks who had out-innovated them during that time.) As such, I don’t use Edge so I can’t fully comment on the above article.

But I do have to say that this is the type of thing that may make me reevaluate my stance regarding Microsoft’s browsers. Integrating GPT-4 into their search/chat functionalities seems like it would be a very solid, strategic move — at least as of late April 2023.


Speaking of new items coming from Microsoft, also see:

Microsoft makes its AI-powered Designer tool available in preview — from techcrunch.com by Kyle Wiggers

Excerpts:

[On 4/27/23], Microsoft Designer, Microsoft’s AI-powered design tool, launched in public preview with an expanded set of features.

Announced in October, Designer is a Canva-like web app that can generate designs for presentations, posters, digital postcards, invitations, graphics and more to share on social media and other channels. It leverages user-created content and DALL-E 2, OpenAI’s text-to-image AI, to ideate designs, with drop-downs and text boxes for further customization and personalization.

Designer will remain free during the preview period, Microsoft says — it’s available via the Designer website and in Microsoft’s Edge browser through the sidebar. Once the Designer app is generally available, it’ll be included in Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions and have “some” functionality free to use for non-subscribers, though Microsoft didn’t elaborate.

 

How Easy Is It/Will It Be to Use AI to Design a Course? — from wallyboston.com by Wally Boston

Excerpt:

Last week I received a text message from a friend to check out a March 29th Campus Technology article about French AI startup, Nolej. Nolej (pronounced “Knowledge”) has developed an OpenAI-based instructional content generator for educators called NolejAI.

Access to NolejAI is through a browser. Users can upload video, audio, text documents, or a website url. NolejAI will generate an interactive micro-learning package which is a standalone digital lesson including content transcript, summaries, a glossary of terms, flashcards, and quizzes. All the lesson materials generated is based upon the uploaded materials.


From DSC:
I wonder if this will turn out to be the case:

I am sure it’s only a matter of time before NolejAI or another product becomes capable of generating a standard three credit hour college course. Whether that is six months or two years, it’s likely sooner than we think.


Also relevant/see:

The Ultimate 100 AI Tools

The Ultimate 100 AI Tools -- as of 4-12-23


 

From DSC:
I’m told by a reliable source (i.e., our oldest daughter, who is now a third-grade teacher) that Blooket is an effective, highly-engaging tool! She said students find these online-based games to be fun. She said it’s competitive, so you may want to make a note of that as well.

Level up classroom engagement with Blooket -- online-based games that are fun and engaging for younger students

 

Introducing Q-Chat, the world’s first AI tutor built with OpenAI’s ChatGPT — from quizlet.com by Lex Bayer

Excerpt:

Modeled on research demonstrating that the most effective form of learning is one-on-one tutoring1, Q-Chat offers students the experience of interacting with a personal AI tutor in an effective and conversational way. Whether they’re learning French vocabulary or Roman History, Q-Chat engages students with adaptive questions based on relevant study materials delivered through a fun chat experience. Pulling from Quizlet’s massive educational content library and using the question-based Socratic method to promote active learning, Q-Chat has the ability to test a student’s knowledge of educational content, ask in-depth questions to get at underlying concepts, test reading comprehension, help students learn a language and encourage students on healthy learning habits.

Quizlet's Q-Chat -- choose a study prompt to be quizzed on the material, to deepen your understanding or to learn through a story.

 

Meet MathGPT: a Chatbot Tutor Built Specific to a Math Textbook — from thejournal.com by Kristal Kuykendall

Excerpt:

Micro-tutoring platform PhotoStudy has unveiled a new chatbot built on OpenAI’s ChatGPT APIs that can teach a complete elementary algebra textbook with “extremely high accuracy,” the company said.

“Textbook publishers and teachers can now transform their textbooks and teaching with a ChatGPT-like assistant that can teach all the material in a textbook, assess student progress, provide personalized help in weaker areas, generate quizzes with support for text, images, audio, and ultimately a student customized avatar for video interaction,” PhotoStudy said in its news release.

Some sample questions the MathGPT tool can answer:

    • “I don’t know how to solve a linear equation…”
    • “I have no idea what’s going on in class but we are doing Chapter 2. Can we start at the top?”
    • “Can you help me understand how to solve this mixture of coins problem?”
    • “I need to practice for my midterm tomorrow, through Chapter 6. Help.”
 

What factors help active learning classrooms succeed? — from rtalbert.org Robert Talbert

Excerpt:

The idea that the space in which you do something, affects the thing you do is the basic premise behind active learning classrooms (ALCs).

The biggest message I get from this study is that in order to have success with active learning classrooms, you can’t just build them — they have to be introduced as part of an ecosystem that touches almost all parts of the daily function of a university: faculty teaching, faculty development and support, facilities, and the Registrar’s Office to name a few. Without that ecosystem before you build an ALC, it seems hard to have success with students after it’s built. You’re more likely to have an expensive showcase that looks good but ultimately does not fulfill its main purpose: Promoting and amplifying active learning, and moving the culture of a campus toward active engagement in the classroom.

From DSC:
Thank you Robert for your article/posting here! And thank you for being one of the few faculty members who:

  • Regularly share information out on LinkedIn, Twitter, and your blog (something that is all too rare for faculty members throughout higher education)
  • Took a sabbatical to go work at a company that designs and develops numerous options for implementing active learning setups throughout the worlds of higher education, K12 education, and the corporate world as well. You are taking your skills to help contribute to the corporate world, while learning things out in the corporate world, and then  taking these learnings back into the world of higher education.

This presupposes something controversial: That the institution will take a stand on the issue that there is a preferred way to teach, namely active learning, and that the institution will be moving toward making active learning the default pedagogy at the institution. Putting this stake in the ground, and then investing not only in facilities but in professional development and faculty incentives to make it happen, again calls for vigorous, sustained leadership — at the top, and especially by the teaching/learning center director.

Robert Talbert


 

Using Virtual Reality for Career Training — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Indiana have had success using virtual reality simulations to teach students about career opportunities.

a Woman with a virtual reality set on occupies one half of the screen. The other shows virtual tools that she is controlling.

Excerpts:

Virtual reality can help boost CTE programs and teach students about potential careers in fields they may know nothing about, says Lana Taylor from the Indiana Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

One of those other resources has been a partnership with Transfer VR to provide students access to headsets to participate in career simulations that can give them a tactile sense of what working in certain careers might be like.

“Not all kids are meant to go to college, not all kids want to do it,” Taylor says. “So it’s important to give them some exposure to different careers and workforce paths that maybe they hadn’t thought of before.” 


AI interviews in VR prepare students for real jobseeking — from inavateonthenet.net

 

How Long Should a Branching Scenario Be?— from christytuckerlearning.com by Christy Tucker
How long should a branching scenario be? Is 45 minutes too long? Is there an ideal length for a branching scenario?

Excerpt:

Most of the time, the branching scenarios and simulations I build are around 10 minutes long. Overall, I usually end up at 5-15 minutes for branching scenarios, with interactive video scenarios being at the longer end.

From DSC:
This makes sense to me, as (up to) 6 minutes turned out to be an ideal length for videos.

Excerpt from Optimal Video Length for Student Engagement — from blog.edx.org

The optimal video length is 6 minutes or shorter — students watched most of the way through these short videos. In fact, the average engagement time of any video maxes out at 6 minutes, regardless of its length. And engagement times decrease as videos lengthen: For instance, on average students spent around 3 minutes on videos that are longer than 12 minutes, which means that they engaged with less than a quarter of the content. Finally, certificate-earning students engaged more with videos, presumably because they had greater motivation to learn the material. (These findings appeared in a recent Wall Street Journal article, An Early Report Card on Massive Open Online Courses and its accompanying infographic.)

The take-home message for instructors is that, to maximize student engagement, they should work with instructional designers and video producers to break up their lectures into small, bite-sized pieces.

 

Why text-to-speech tools might have a place in your classroom with Dr. Kirsten Kohlmeyer – Easy TeTech Podcast 183 — from classtechtips.com by Monica Burns

Excerpt:

In this episode, Assistive Technology Director, Dr. Kirsten Kohlmeyer, joins to discuss the power of accessibility and text-to-speech tools in classroom environments. You’ll also hear plenty of digital resources to check out for text-to-speech options, audiobooks, and more!

Assistive tools can provide:

  • Text-to-speech
  • Definitions/vocabularies
  • Ability to level the Lexile level of a reading
  • Capability to declutter a website
  • More chances to read to learn something new
  • and more

Speaking of tools, also see:

 

8 Ways to Use QR Codes in Higher Education Classrooms — from er.educause.edu by Tolulope (Tolu) Noah

Excerpt:

QR codes open up a world of possibility in the higher education setting. They provide a quick and easy way for students to access instructional materials, and they complement the design of more interactive and engaging learning experiences.

From DSC:
QR codes can bridge the physical world with the digital world — which is something about to take an exponential leap as more AR and MR-based hardware and software solutions hit the marketplace in the near future.

 

Bring Real-Time 3D Into the Classroom, and Teach for the Future — from edsurge.com by Melissa Oldrin and Davis Hepnar

Excerpt:

Real-time 3D (RT3D) is redefining interactive content. No longer confined to the realm of video games, this technology now plays key roles in industries as wide-ranging as architecture, medicine, automotive, aerospace and film.

Demand is growing rapidly for developers, programmers and artists skilled in working with Unity—the leading platform for creating and operating real-time 3D content. As use cases expand, and the much-discussed metaverse takes shape, educators today have an opportunity to prepare their students for the technology careers of tomorrow.

Real-time 3D is a technology that creates three-dimensional models, environments and complete virtual worlds that can be rendered instantly. This content goes far beyond traditional formats like film, television and print because it isn’t static; it’s both immersive and interactive. And it offers incredibly lifelike graphics while giving users precise, immediate control over their experience. In doing so, RT3D creates endless possibilities for media production and engagement.

 

How to Use Edtech to Engage Introverted Learners — from edsurge.com by Stacey Roshan

Excerpts:

But we can leverage technology to create more equitable and empowering forums for discussion—to shift from a culture that praises the first person to raise their hand, to one where every individual has a platform to make their ideas seen and heard. I’m talking about using simple web apps.

As an introverted perfectionist who needed time to process and formulate a response before I was ready to share, I began to confuse faster with smarter. Because I saw my peers answering more questions than I was in class—and getting praised for it—I struggled to feel like I measured up.

And so, as a math teacher, it has become my mission to find ways to spotlight all of the unique voices and personalities in my classroom, and to celebrate the diverse approaches students choose to share, rather than valuing one.

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian