Day 97 Look! Another Webinar!

Webinar2

I got an e-mail from an eLearning company, Hawkes Learning, offering me enrollment in a 30 minute webinar and free T-shirt, “Keep Calm and Proofread” if I watched the webinar in it’s entirety.  I receive this type of e-mail solicitation on a weekly basis.  Information abounds in my Inbox.

This webinar will give you a sneak peek at Hawkes Learning’s new paper submission and review tool, SmartReview. This tool offers you an easy-to-navigate, customizable resource for creating, managing, and scoring writing assignments. Students receive an organized writing space where they can submit assignments for individualized feedback from both instructors and peer reviewers.You’ll learn the following:

  • How SmartReview streamlines the management of student papers
  • Why SmartReview makes peer review more meaningful
  • How this tool, along with supplementary materials from Hawkes, improves student writing

 

Day 96 I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

Helpdesk

Tonight I stayed at work late. I was happily accomplishing a myriad of tasks when I ran into a snag — a technical snafu.  My browser had blocked a pop-up that I needed to move onto the next item on my never ending list. After fiddling with the screen and clicking onto links that clearly were not working, I called our College of DuPage Information Technology Help Desk (or as I like to call them, computer rescuers!).  According to our website, the IT Help Desk mission is to be a key differentiator and enabler for College of DuPage by ensuring the highest quality, cost-effective technology solutions available with a focus on user experience and needs, reliability, security and availability. And yes, they are all that and a bag of chips.  They have diffused my frustration with error codes, disappearing files and a variety of other computer issues I have encountered along the way.

I described my computer problem to the patient and thoughtful staff member on the other end of the phone line and within minutes, he accessed my computer remotely.  It is strange at first to see two cursors gliding over the desktop screen, but he quickly resolved the issue by going into my advanced settings and allowing pop-ups associated with the site I was accessing.  He used a product called LogMeIn, a remote access service that immediately connected our computers, allowing him to quickly navigate and troubleshoot. I am so thankful for our Help Desk. Problem solved. Back to work!

 

LogMeIn

Day 95 SmarterMeasure

SmarterMeasure

SmarterMeasure is a learning readiness indicator we use at College of DuPage in our online course offerings.  It’s a great way for students to ask themselves, “Is online learning best  for me?”  Sometimes students come with misconceptions about online courses such as:

  • It’s easy.
  • I can log in and go at my own pace.
  • I already tried “XYZ course” in the classroom and did not succeed. The online course version will be much less work.
  • I can be independent and not have to “talk” with others.
  • Online will save me time.

According to their website, SmarterMeasure indicates the degree to which an individual student possesses the attributes, skills and knowledge that contribute to success including the following non-cognitive factors:

  • Self motivation
  • Time management skills
  • Self discipline
  • On-screen Reading Rate and Recall
  • Persistence
  • Availability of time
  • Ability to use a laptop, printer, software, and the Internet
  • Typing speed and accuracy

SmarterMeasure includes seven major assessment components which measure:

  • Individual Attributes – motivation, procrastination, willingness to ask for help, etc.
  • Life Factors – Availability of time, support from family and employers, finances, etc.
  • Learning styles – Based on the multiple intelligences model
  • Technical Competency – Skills using technology
  • Technical Knowledge – Knowledge of technology terms
  • On-screen Reading Rate and Recall
  • Typing Speed and Accuracy

Educational institutions invest heavily in attracting and recruiting students. However, there is little return on the investment when students quickly drop out of the program. SmarterMeasure not only helps schools to identify the students who are likely to drop out, it also provides resources for remediation so that at-risk students can improve.

As individuals, students also invest thousands of dollars in their education and may be hesitant to continue their education for fear that they might not do well. SmarterMeasure helps students to recognize their strengths and provides resources to strengthen their weaknesses. Students who are confident of their readiness are much more likely to enroll in a distance learning course.

 

 

Day 94 Printer Use

Print

This year College of DuPage adopted a new service called SmartPrint.  All new printers were installed throughout campus — in faculty office suites, computer labs, and division offices.  Instead of clicking “print” from our computer screen and retrieving the paper or papers waiting in the tray, the new procedure involved setting up our printer to recognize the SmartPrint software, clicking “print” and then using our faculty ID card to swipe the printer which would electronically read our card, record our number of pages and print  copies double-sided (unless we indicated otherwise).

Recently we were sent this e-mail about SmartPrint:

Firmware also referred to as System Software

Xerox offers upgraded firmware when they find issues with the original firmware. These updates help with problems you might have seen. Issues range from paper feeding from the wrong tray to some symbols not being recognized to machine freezing or rebooting. The issues vary by machine and may not be encountered by all users.

At this time Xerox completed firmware upgrades on all 5955, 7835 and 7225 models on Main Campus and Regional Centers at College of DuPage. It is important that users report device freezing or rebooting without being prompted to the Smart Print Service Desk on extension 3500. This will allow us to investigate the cause via the system-generated data, and identify a resolution to avoid future instances.

Xerox is in the process of testing upgraded software for MFP 3655 and is planning to begin upgrades in the near future.

More tips to come:

-Slow machines

-Service/Supplies/Paper

-Printing envelopes/labels

-Jobs disappearing

-Time out

Students also have access to printers on campus at College of DuPage.  One of the most popular spots to print is the library. On our website, students are offered detailed directions on how to print in the library:

Students
  • Visit https://smartprint.cod.edu and use your myACCESS login credentials to create an online account.
  • Once you’re logged in, click on the “Add Funds” link displayed next to your account balance. The minimum amount for an online transaction is $5.
  • At the print release stations, students use their myACCESS login credentials to view and release their documents.
Community Users
  • Create a guest account by going to https://smartprint.cod.edu
  • Once there, use the “I am a guest” link in the lower left-hand corner of the login page to create the account
  • Use your personal e-mail account to complete the registration process.
  • Log into the Smart Print system using the e-mail address and password used to create your account
Printing from Your Own Device

Smart Print enables everyone to print from laptops, phones, or tablets on the go. To submit a print job, COD students and Faculty/Staff members need to email their documents to printbw@dupage.edu or printcolor@dupage.edu from their COD accounts.

For community users, the recipients are the same. Community members just need to remember to send files from the personal e-mail address connected to your SmartPrint account. All users can use the cash kiosk in the Library Print Center to add money to accounts using paper money (coins not accepted). The kiosk will not provide change. The minimum amount of fund that can be added using the cash kiosk is $1.

Day 93 Online Tutoring

Tutoring

There are a myriad of online tutoring platforms available including GoBoard, Ellucian, SmartThinking, Tutor.com and ThinkingStorm. Each service has a variety of tools and can be delivered individually or within a group setting.  The tutoring products can provide student tracking and records used by many learning support service areas. The personalized attention and convenience of online tutoring is advantageous for students who are seeking additional assistance.

College of DuPage has peer tutoring available online or in person.  Tutoring information is on our College of DuPage website at http://www.cod.edu:

Who is eligible for Tutoring?

Students must be currently enrolled in the developmental or college-level credit course for which they are requesting a tutor. Services are provided during the academic term for which students are enrolled. They must download a Tutoring Services Request Form and send it to tutoring@cod.edu or submit it at the Tutoring Services Desk, located in the Learning Commons, SRC 2102. A drop box is available for submission after regular business hours.

Who are peer tutors?

Peer tutors are students who:

  • are enrolled at COD during the term they tutor.
  • have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 and above.
  • hold master proficiency in the subject they tutor.
  • successfully completed tutor training.

When is tutoring available?

Dates and times depend on student needs and tutor availability. Call (630) 942-3686 for more information.

Where will tutoring be held?

Tutoring is primarily conducted on campus in Glen Ellyn. Drop-in Math via Skype is available at off-campus locations.

How do tutors accommodate students with disabilities?

Every effort is made to secure free professional tutoring for students with disabilities who require specialized assistance and have documentation of the disability on file in Center for Access and Accommodations.

 

 

Day 92 Monday, Monday

Monday

It’s Monday.  It’s April.  The sun is shining.  It’s official.  I have spring fever and so do my students.  We need to make it to the end of the semester.  FOUR MORE WEEKS!  You got this.  Summertime is right around the corner.  We can make it to the finish line.

I generally schedule due dates on Mondays.  Most of my students have told me they appreciate this day of the week in submitting assignments because it gives them the entire weekend to get the job done.  Many of my students work at least one job outside of school and find assignment deadlines during the week challenging. Therefore, Monday has become our agreed upon due date day.  Each due date is posted for the entire semester on a Due Dates calendar available on the first day of class in the Blackboard course menu.  I also send due date reminders via all-class e-mails and Announcement Board posts. Dodging due dates is simply not possible, unless students are purposely not paying attention or something tragic has occurred, prohibiting them from keeping up with assignments.

At this point in the semester the serious students are here to stay.  The required withdrawal date has come and gone and we’re all in this together until the end.  And it’s my job to coach them and hopefully end on a high note.  As of today there are 10 students consistently submitting assignments in my English 0482 course, 18 students in one of my English 0492 sections and and 16 students in my other English 0492 online course.  I assign one Discussion Board assignment per week (requiring an initial post in response to a prompt and then following up with 2 posts to their classmates), one essay assignment and one reading response assignment, for a grand total of 220 assignments to grade each week (and that’s not counting the 8-week English 1102 course that ended a few weeks ago that had another 19 students).

Each assignment can take up to 30 minutes or longer to evaluate depending on the purpose and scope of the assignment, so that’s about 110 hours of work in grading alone.  I am not a machine, but I feel like sometimes I grade like one.  I read, comment and highlight every assignment before uploading the final grade in Blackboard.  I grade in the morning, afternoon and evening and do my best to grade within a short window of time so students can begin revising and reflecting and begin the next assignment.  I don’t usually think about grading in terms of number of hours, but when I stop to tally the numbers, it is an enormous chunk of time behind the computer screen.  Grading, grading, grading. I’d better log off now and get back at it.  My students are waiting.

Day 91 I’m just Browsing

Browser Blues

Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari — no, not the names of summer movie blockbusters, but the names of web browsers.  Basically all of these browsers accomplish the same task, allowing access to the Internet.  But some browsers work better than others when it comes to using our Learning Management System, Blackboard.  My students prefer to use Chrome, the free web browser developed by Google.  It seems to be the most popular because it is fast, has decent security and includes syncing capabilities that allow access to your customized browser from any computer.

When I am at home I use Safari most often because I work with an iMac computer.  Safari is intuitive and has fast loading times, but for some reason I am unable to attach documents to e-mails when using Safari, so I prefer Firefox.  When I am at work I exclusively use Firefox because Internet Explorer (IE) does not “play nice” with Blackboard and often the screen will freeze or I’ve even had my itemized class grades appear to cease existing, even though they are saved and stored in the Blackboard grade book.  Generally my students have their own preferences in using browsers, but I encourage them to use whatever browser works best.  I try to guide students to the information they need in the most effective and efficient way possible, regardless of their browser choice.