University Continues Examity Agreement with Expanded Proctoring Options

The Office of Distance Learning is proud to announce the renewal of the institutional agreement with Examity. Examity is one of two online virtual proctoring services that University faculty members have access to use. This service is fully integrated in Moodle, the University’s learning management system.

Examity offers five different levels of FairExam® service depending on instructor needs. A new service level is being introduced called Level AA. Level AA stands for Auto-Authentication. Level AA is ideal for those instances when a quick, easy and inexpensive method is needed to authenticate a student before access is given to an assignment or quiz. Level AA enables students to snap pictures of their ID and face and to verify a unique code in order to access to the exam.

Proctoring services help the University achieve authentication standards across all online and hybrid courses. The passage of the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act in 2008 led regional accrediting agencies to place greater emphasis on preventing potential fraud in online programs.  Thus, these regional accrediting agencies began to mandate its member colleges and universities institute processes for authenticating that a person enrolled to take an online course is actually the person submitting work for that course. UL Lafayette’s accreditor, SACS-COC, requires that “at minimum, a secure login and pass code or proctored exam and, as they become available and widely accepted, new identification technologies and practices”  be used to identify each student’s identity. The integrity of academic programs at UL Lafayette depends on the institution’s ability to authenticate the identity of online students. Examity is also fully ADA-compliant, so all students may take advantage of the service.

To learn more about using Examity proctoring in your courses, visit our EduTools webpage.

Faculty Perspective: Journey to Lecture Capture

Like most of the faculty out there, I am always looking for ways to improve my efficiency.  As I worked through my training to teach and design courses online, I was introduced to so many tools to assist me that I was a bit overwhelmed.  Did I need a Prezi?  Could I use Screenr?  Could a Voki avatar get my point across?  Would GoAnimate bring my workplace scenarios to life?  There are hundreds of tools at my disposal, but how could I simply deliver a lecture to my students in a way that was simple for me, and effective for them?  The Office of Distance Learning offered a user-friendly answer: Panopto.

I know you might be thinking—What is Panopto?  I don’t have time to learn new software!  In the beginning, I had the same doubts.  Now here I am, encouraging you to take advantage of this wonderful resource.  In the interest of efficiency, here are some key points:

What is Panopto and how do I get it?  Panopto is a lecture capture software available to all faculty teaching hybrid and online courses at UL Lafayette.  If you are interested in trying the software, contact the Office of Distance Learning via email at distancelearning@louisiana.edu.  You will need a webcam if you plan to record video of yourself and a microphone if you want to record audio. These may already be built into your computer or you can add an inexpensive one that will be of good enough quality for lecture capture. An E-Learning Media Specialist in the Office of Distance Learning will provide instructions on how to download the software.

Will I have to go through training to use it?  Panopto does offer training videos, but you don’t even have to watch them to get started.  As the Panopto website claims, “Push the big red button, and go.”  Take a look at this screenshot:

As you can see on the left, you choose whether or not to record video, and then specify whether you’d like to capture a PowerPoint presentation, or your primary screen.  Now you are ready to click the big red button, and start your lecture.  It is so easy!

Panopto

Once I have finished recording, how to I share it with my students?  Will they need special software?

No, studentswon’t need any special software.  The output options are one of my favorite features of the Panopto software.  You can share a public link to your lecture with your students (which can be viewed in any web browser), download it as a video podcast, or download it as an audio podcast.  All of these options can be accomplished in about three mouse clicks.

How will my students benefit?

Students can play lectures back at their convenience, as many times as needed.  They can locate specific content in the lecture, and skip around to the sections that are most helpful.  My students have been very pleased with my Panopto lectures, and enjoy the ability to focus in on what they need the most.  They can also adjust the playback speed so that they can listen to the lecture in less time without noticeably changing the audio.

How do I know if my students are watching my videos?

Panopto provides statistics for each lecture.  You can see how many times your lecture was reviewed by date, and also by video time.  I found it very helpful to know that not only were my students watching the videos, but they were also watching them all the way through.

Am I going to need a lot of technical support?

Absolutely not!  I have been using this product for about a year, and have found it easy to record and share lectures.  My students have never had a problem viewing my lectures.

Can I only record lectures while I am on campus?

No.  Lectures can be recorded and viewed anywhere.  I have recorded lectures at home, on my tablet, in hotel rooms—just about anywhere – as long as you have the software installed and a camera/sound input device on the computer or tablet you plan to use to record.

What are other advantages of using Panopto for faculty?

I have used it mostly in my online classes to record my weekly PowerPoint lectures.  I also use it in one of my face-to-face technology courses.  On the day I introduce new software, I use the screen capture feature.  If a student gets a little lost during the lecture they can later view the recorded lecture and focus in on the point where they got confused.  They love it!  I also use it to record lectures when I am not able to attend a face-to-face class.  I have found the flexibility and convenience very helpful.

We have a great network of Panopto users here on campus.  If you do have questions, odds are someone else has already figured it out and is willing to share.  The Office of Distance Learning staff is very helpful and supportive as well.  If you need to record lectures in your course—I encourage you to give Panopto a try.

Learn more about Panopto by logging onto this link (click here).

About the Author: Mrs. Lisa Delhomme, MHA, RHIA, is a Senior Instructor of Health Information Management in the College of Nursing and Allied Health. She is a ULearn Certified Online Teacher and Course Designer. Senior Instructor Delhomme teaches online courses in Health Information and Health Services Administration.

Sizing Up Course Enrollment

A number of Deans and Department Heads have asked the question, “What is the ideal course size for a hybrid or online course section?”  The typical response given by Office of Distance and Electronic Learning staff is,  “Online and hybrid course sizes should be determined on a course by course, department by department, and/or college by college basis.”

The Office of Distance and Electronic Learning Policies and Procedures provides the following parameters for determining electronic course size:

Course Size
  • Each Department Head with the Dean’s approval will determine the appropriate class size for hybrid and online courses. University established course size minimums apply.
  • Course sizes may vary by discipline, course by course within a discipline, major by major within a department, and department by department within a college.
  • Variations are allowed to consider the vast differences in instructional delivery across and within disciplines while also allowing distance learning to achieve the appropriate economies of scale.
  • Course sizes must be published in the schedule of classes and demonstrate alignment with published best practices for delivering electronic courses.

While these parameters are helpful, at least one question remains. “How can each department practically determine course sizes? ”

This blog post discusses one College’s approach to electronic course size decisions and some principles for Deans and Department Heads to consider when making course size determinations.

First, faculty and academic administrators should consider the type of assessments and engagement activities in a particular course’s design when determining what that course’s maximum enrollment should be.  The term “engagement” used in the context of this blog post references the need and expectations of faculty time spent on grading and reviewing assessments and the amount of time and effort of students to complete the set of assignments designed for the course.  There are minimum engagement expectations for faculty to monitor the course, respond to questions, and complete the regular duties associated with teaching any course, regardless of delivery format.

One Model

In one UL Lafayette College, a significant number of hybrid and online courses sections are offered each semester.  The decision-making process about course sizes follows a method based on answering the following questions:

  1. What are our peers doing?
    • The Associate Dean of the College researches how many students in a particular course or set of courses are being taught in an electronic format by a predetermined set of competitors? This information is then used in the equation.
  2. What is the scope of the course? Is it a core course or common body of knowledge course needed for future success in other courses? Where is the course in the sequence?
    • Foundation courses and technical courses may sometimes have lower faculty to student ratios.
  3. What is the ability level of the faculty members teaching the course? Expertise with content and electronic instructional formats is weighed heavily in this UL Lafayette College when considering course size.
    • For example, a new faculty member may have a lower number of students than the person who has experience teaching online. The goal is to create an ideal environment for the faculty member and students with some expectation that the number of students that can be taught online increases to some maximum point as the faculty member gains experience in the online environment.
  4. Is the course size responding to quality and need for this semester? This College continually reviews course sizes on a semester by semester basis to decide if the size for that semester is responding to the  needs of students and re-assessing how the course size may or may not have affected student achievement of learning outcomes.  For example, course A may enroll 20 students in the fall semester based on the factors above, but may enroll 25 or 30 in the following spring semester based on a shift in one or more of the factors used to calculate the initial size. The reverse of this example is also true.

Complex Challenges Remain

There are complex challenges to answering the course size questions for these reasons:

  1. There is no formula for determining the proper class size or at least none exists in the research literature. The discussion on pages 98-100 of this journal article may interest this blog entry’s readers – http://www.ncolr.org/jiol/issues/PDF/4.2.3.pdf.
  2. Course size decisions must consider the quality of the experience for the student while at the same time weighing the cost (economy of scale) of the course to the College and University. What is the return on investment for a small class size, a larger class size, or varying class sizes among a set of courses?
  3. Determining the right course size may take some trial and error. In the short run, your Department might agree on a number, conduct your own studies of students’ and faculty members’ experiences, and present results. Then, make adjustments as needed based on data, not anecdotal evidence.
  4. More often, UL Lafayette faculty are showing an increased interest in developing and teaching a hybrid or  online course(s).  We must remember that good designs and more experienced faculty (in terms of content knowledge and practice with the electronic instructional format) can produce environments where more students can be taught to some limit.  My recommendation to faculty is to discuss the course sizes for each course under question or that may be under question in the next academic year with your Department Head, and possibly your Dean.  Be sure to explain the course demands and engagement requirements for faculty and students.
  5. At this time and based on recent study of course size research, it is not advisable to select a hard fast number for all courses in your department. This approach may not be appropriate as each course has different learning outcomes with varying instructional strategies employed to assess the achievement of those learning outcomes. The instructional and assessment strategies may require more or less effort across courses in a department because of the nature of the specific course content.
  6. Having broad ranges among course sizes within a set of sequenced courses is that your Department may unintentionally create bottlenecks where students cannot get X course because it only enrolls 15 students so they discontinue their enrollment in favor of another institution.

Until we have a formula or each department has its own research about the best course sizes by course type, level (freshmen, junior, senior or undergraduate or graduate), and/or courses within the sequence of a major, it is best to consider the elements suggested by the College in the example above. Also, determining course sizes should be an ongoing, not one time, event where careful consideration is made as the course is taught more often hybrid or online or in some other instructional format.

Copyright, Fair Use, and Distance/ Electronic Learning

The issue of copyright fair use and its application to distance and electronic learning courses has been a recent common query of faculty members interested in developing web-enhanced, hybrid, and online courses. Faculty members are searching for more complete information for how to abide by copyright laws as they transition some, a significant portion, or all of their instructional course materials into an electronic format.

In response to these questions and growing interest in this topic, this blog’s author has reviewed and assembled some helpful resources for faculty to better understand fair use in regards to distance and electronic courses.

Resource 1: Urban Copyright Legends by Brandon Butler

Mr. Butler, an attorney, concisely dispels a number of myths in his attempt to reduce the “proliferation of misinformation and misstatements about copyright” and fair use. Download his five-page article by clicking here.

Resource 2: Introduction to the TEACH Act

Penn State offers a great Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the TEACH Act (click here).

Resource 3: Measuring Fair Use

Stanford University’s Libraries provides a clear discussion on the factors federal judges use to decide if fair use is applicable in copyright infringement cases. The factors include:

  1. the purpose and character of your use
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market

The link to Standford’s concise, case-law focused discussion of fair use can be accessed here.

Resource 4: UL Lafayette’s Electronic Copyright Handbook

A final source worth considering is the University’s own copyright handbook, which is available electronically. Readers may get access to this electronic and interactive document by clicking here.

National Survey Results – Faculty Use of Social Media

Dear UL Lafayette Faculty member,

Does this profile fit you?  http://edudemic.com/2010/05/new-study-yes-professors-are-online-and-teaching-with-social-media/

If not, maybe it is time to explore the world of social media. The Office of Distance Learning can help you think of ideas to appropriately  integrate social media into your courses.

View the recently added video about the Social Media Revolution posted on this blog to view the impact on society.

Readiness for Distance Learning Video

Students’ positive experience in hybrid and online learning courses begins with having the correct expectations of what they will experience in a course. The Readiness for Distance Learning video, posted on this blog and courtesy of Grand Rapids Community College, is an excellent format to set proper expectations among interested students.  Most of the elements in this video will be found on the UL Lafayette Office of Distance Learning web site (in development).

Distance and Electronic Education . . . Not Different Education

Dr. Micheal Simonson concludes in an article, “And finally, it is distance education, not different education.”  Through discussions about the nuisances and differences of electronic teaching and learning environments, let us not forget that LEARNING is the goal. LEARNING is the goal regardless of the instructional practice or platform used to deliver instruction.

Planning for achievement of learning outcomes through the intentional design of electronically delivered courses based on nationally accepted standards can create part of the proper environment for learning. As with learning in a traditional classroom, the instructor and the student must make the required effort for learning to occur in a different instructional environment.

Regardless of what technology will shape the e-classroom, Dr. Simonson’s comments remain true. You are invited to read his brief thoughts at http://www.nova.edu/~simsmich/pdf/not_diff.pdf.