Monday, January 26, 2009

Enter Active Learning: Adding Interactivity to Your Online Courses

Date/Time: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 from 12 noon - 1 pm

Location: 1023 Orr Major

Presenters: Dave Antonacci, Tennille Fincham, and Alex Olson
Description: A common criticism of many online courses is that there is limited interaction. This presentation will help you better understand the importance of interaction, and it will introduce you to several tools you can use to include interactivity in your online courses:

Quia and Raptivity for developing your own interactive learning activities
MERLOT, HEAL, and MedEdPortal for finding and using interactive learning activities developed and shared by others
Bring your lunch and learn with us. No RSVP is needed. (If you'd like to get an email reminder for this session, you can "register" at, but this is not required.)

Questions? Contact Dave Antonacci (x8-7144) in TLT.

Posted at 10:29AM Jan 26, 2009 by dantonacci

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Online Discussion Approach for Concept-Dense Courses

I ran across a study about the relationship between course exam grades and online discussion structure and participation (Young, 2008). “Discussions were structured to incorporate learning principles associated with storing information in long term memory through control processes of meaningful learning, elaboration, and rehearsal in the form of distributed practice. Results indicate that grades on discussions correlate with exam grades and students who fully engage in the discussion activities have higher test grades than students who do not fully engage in discussion activities.” (p. 217)

In addition to examining an important question, this study describes a useful approach for using online discussion, especially in concept-dense courses--that is, many concepts covered in a short time frame. “Each weekly discussion question consisted of a query about a concept or several concepts where students had to demonstrate understanding and elaborate on the concept by explaining the concept in their own words. Typically the second part of the question required the students to apply the concept to an experience in their lives and to their future professional careers, thus creating opportunity for meaningful learning and additional elaboration. Once students answered the question, they were permitted to read their classmates’ response to the question and then they were required to respond in a substantive manner to four of their classmates’ posts. The response to classmates required students to engage in distributed practice by reviewing others’ responses and to elaborate by expanding on what their classmates said. Discussions occurred weekly throughout the semester, therefore, encouraging students to engage in additional distributed practice before each exam.” (p. 219)

“For each discussion the instructor responded to each of the students’ initial posts with feedback regarding the accuracy of the content within the post. After the initial post was made, the instructor read the students’ responses to classmates but did not regularly participate in this part of the discussion. However, if students made inaccurate statements and classmates did not correct one another, the instructor did step in to clarify. The instructor also responded when students directly asked the instructor for information or a comment. Discussions were graded according to a ten-point grading rubric.” (p. 220)

If you think this approach to online discussion might be useful for your classes, please contact us ( or your TLT Liaison for assistance. Also, our ANGEL Learning system has the technical capability to require a student to post to a discussion forum before being able to read other student responses, which is an important requirement for this discussion technique.

Young, A. (2008). Structuring asynchronous discussions to incorporate learning principles in an online class: One professor's course analysis. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 4(2), 217-225. Available at

Posted at 09:22AM Jan 25, 2009 by dantonacci

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Important ANGEL Maintenance Information

Now that the semester is underway, we want to remind you of important maintenance events scheduled for our ANGEL system this semester, so you can schedule your class work around these dates and times.

  • Every morning from 3:30 am – 4:00 am, our ANGEL system is temporarily unavailable. The web services are restarted to improve system performance.
  • Every fourth Wednesday is the regularly scheduled maintenance window. ANGEL will be unavailable from 12:00 midnight until 1:00 am on that Wednesday morning. During this time, patches and updates are applied to the server.

In the event maintenance is performed outside of these times, an announcement is posted in ANGEL and in the IR Blog ( Also, if ANGEL is down due to an unexpected problem, we post an IR Blog entry, so you should check the IR Blog if you can't access ANGEL.

Posted at 11:51AM Jan 22, 2009 by dantonacci