TED Tips – Issue 6: What is “Learning Technology”?

Technology has become more and ubiquitous in higher education.  Technology allows students to conduct research and analysis, collaborate and communicate, and to create rich multimedia experiences.  Interacting with digital learning environments help develop deeper skills like problem solving and critical thinking.

Over the last few weeks, I have introduced myself and started to explore the themes of Technology, Education, and Design.  This week I want to describe the meaning of the phrase “learning technology” and some of the context of the work we do in The Learning Technology Center.

I work in the Learning Technology Center (TLC). The LTC is a unit in the Instructional, Communication, and Information Technology (ICIT) Department in the division of Academic Affairs.  ICIT focuses on using technology to meet “educational, research, learning, organization, administrative and public service” needs. As part of ICIT, the Learning Technology Center supports faculty and instructional staff.  The LTC looks
for ways to integrate pedagogy and technology to develop effective learning experiences.

procution studio

LTC Media Production Studio

What is “Learning Technology” and how does the LTC support it?

The Association for Learning Technology defines “Learning Technology as the broad range of communication, information and related technologies that support learning, teaching and assessment”.
Learning technologies support the process, design, and delivery of education.  In addition to learning, teaching, and assessment, tools can aid faculty in other ways such as analytics that provide insights into student progress and support data-driven decision-making and intervention.  Tools that support research can also be included.

What types of topics fall into the broad category of “learning
technology”?

Digital Learning Environment The University of Wisconsin System uses a “digital learning environment” to support teaching and learning in all modes.  As we have explored over the last few weeks on this blog, the UW-System is moving to Canvas Instructure as that main platform.  The LTC supports faculty by providing training and workshops on how to use Canvas, migrate content from D2L to Canvas, and explore specific tools within Canvas. This support extends beyond how to use Canvas and its tools, but promotes the best practices and advocates for sound pedagogical approaches to using those tools.

The digital learning environment extends beyond the Canvas platform.  It include other ways to design, develop, and deliver learning materials, interactive experiences, and assessments.   For example, multimedia video has been shown to increase student engagement; the LTC has a professional media production and recording studio to help create, manage, and distribute streaming video for classroom use.

Incorporating technology into learning spaces.   Higher education increasingly incorporates digital elements into the classroom.  Learning technology can support traditional face-to-face classrooms by incorporating digital content or active learning
models.  Technology also enables the facilitation of other course modalities, for example, online classrooms or hybrid and blended spaces that fall somewhere in between.  More recently, classroom interactions often support multiple devices including mobile smart phones and the use of student response systems.

Evaluating emerging technologies.  As new technology emerges, there are different possible applications for classroom use.  The LTC supports pilot projects to help
monitor and evaluate trends related to emerging technologies for potential use at the UW-Whitewater campus.  Additionally, the LTC supports technology adoptions that meet both instructional and non-instructional needs.  For example, the LTC is currently exploring adaptive learning with instructors.

While technology can be fun and shiny and new…we believe that technology should not be used for technology’s sake or because it is considered “fun and shiny and new”!  Instead, we believe in understanding the underlying issues and trends, exploring multiple options (including possible low or no tech solutions), implementing strategies, and evaluating their effectiveness.

I hope that this week’s TED Tip elaborates on what “learning technology” means and some of the ways the LTC supports using technology to enhance teaching and learning.   Next week I will explore in more detail some of the specific services, workshops, and training opportunities the LTC offers.  I invite you to participate!

– Ted Witt
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant

Resources:

https://www.uww.edu/icit/ltc

https://www.uww.edu/icit/about

https://www.alt.ac.uk/about-alt/what-learning-technology

TED Tips – Issue 5: Inspiration for Discussion

 I want to start this week with a thought exercise. 

Rank the importance of the following free internet services.  What is most important to you?  If asked to give up one of these services for a year…what service would you be able to do without?

  • E-Commerce
  • Email
  • GPS / Maps
  • Online Streaming
  • Search
  • Social Media

Even without having the full context and background behind the question – I was engaged in it.  What internet service is most important to me?  There is clearly no “right” answer.  People value services differently.   When I starting thinking more deeply about it, I realized that each category of internet services leads to additional analysis and further places of discovery.

Talking about this topic with other people prompted additional questions.  For example, what does “E-Commerce” mean?   My first thought was, no big deal, I could do without Amazon or buying products online…   However, a colleague realized that “E-Commerce” could also extend to a variety of other activities like online banking, direct deposit, automated bill baying, and every credit or debit card transaction!  That changed my own thinking on the topic.  Could I return to a world carrying cash and mailing checks?   Do I remember how to balance a checkbook?  

This type of questioning could lead me to think differently about my own behaviors and habits.  Many of these internet services have become ubiquitous, completely integrated in our personal and professional lives.  It is hard to imagine life without search.   Google search is merely 20 years old.   Smart phones and other technologies continue to evolve changing the environment.  YouTube (via online streaming) is the number one place where many learn new things!  Social Media continues to change how we receive, create, and distribute information.  A model where these internet services are free is NOT the only possible model.  It can be a valuable exercise to challenge our own basic assumptions and expectations…and to discuss those ideas with others.  

internet services

internet services

My goal this week was to explore some tips to create good discussion board prompts!  Discussion boards are a great way to improve student engagement, encourage interaction, and expand the learning objective in different areas by getting students to think about things differently.  They can be used in face-to face classes or online.  

One of the themes of TED Tips is examine our technological environment.  Approaching questions and topics in different ways can find inspiration from different places and find new ways to connect ideas from one field or application to another.

What was the source of inspiration that prompted the starting question this week?  I encountered a version of this question on a friend’s Facebook page.  The conversation enraptured me with a variety of healthy dialogue.   Posts that prompt good discussion often inspire other prompts!  After a bit of additional search, I discovered that the question originated from a real world problem.  An economist was faced with the challenge of being assigned to a project in China – and specifically, behind the “Great Firewall of China”.  The firewall regulates the Internet within China by limiting access to foreign information, restricting internet tools like Google search and social media, and disabling many mobile applications.  What can you do to plan to be successful from an environment that does not provide the same access to technological services?  How valuable are those services?  The “Indicator” economics podcast (3:38) hosted by Stacey Vanek Smith and Cardiff Garcia that presented this information is embedded here and helps show us how far online streaming has evolved.  Good engaging discussion board prompts can originate from anywhere!

In conclusion, here are a few quick TED tips for writing good discussion board prompts:

  • Relate prompts to a learning objective.
  • Provide opportunity for reflection, interpretation, analysis, and problem solving.
  • Encourage open-ended exchanges.
  • Seek inspiration from everywhere!
  • Draw connections between past and present course content.  Plant the seeds for future conversations.

Next week I want to explore the Learning Technology Center and discuss the LTC’s mission and vision.

– Ted Witt
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant
 

Resources:

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/08/618162974/would-you-give-up-some-widely-used-features-on-the-internet

Would You Give Up Some Widely Used Features On The Internet?
Economics podcast The Indicator, hosted by Stacey Vanek Smith and Cardiff Garcia.
June 8, 2018 Heard on Morning Edition 

TED Tips – Issue 4: From D2L to Canvas

The Canvas Migration process is well underway.  We looked last week at some of the details and training opportunities to help understand the migration process.  This week’s TED Tip examines some options to get a course from D2L into Canvas.

While UW-Whitewater strongly encourages freshman-facing courses to be offered in Canvas (specific departments and colleges may have other requirements), from Fall 2018 through Spring 2019, you can choose either D2L or Canvas for your courses.

If you want to offer your course in D2L for students, you will need to complete the normal D2L “Course Request Process”.  You may have used this process before.  In D2L, by default, courses are not created until requested.

Canvas, however, automatically creates courses for you; there will no longer be a separate course request process.   Be advised, while these courses are automatically created (and WINS enrollments and course integrations will take place), these are blank placeholder courses.  You still need to import or create content and set up the course normally.  Additionally, while these blank courses help get you started – they will remain inaccessible until you actually “Publish” them.  You can find the publish command in the “Course Status” area in upper right corner from the Home screen inside each course.  Even though the course creation process and enrollments will happen automatically, you still will have to choose to “Publish” that course to make it available.

How do I get my content into Canvas?

You can create content directly inside of Canvas.  A transition like this a great opportunity to review learning objectives, update learning activities, and evaluate assessment effectiveness.  The move from one platform to another is a great opportunity to start fresh to create the best possible student experience we can. Striving for continuous improvement increases quality.

It is also possible to import existing content from D2L to canvas.  As with all moves, a good tip is to clean up existing files and content before the move.  It is recommended to go into the “Edit Course” section inside of D2L and then purge unneeded materials through the “Manage Files” command.

Once we are ready to migrate, the Course Complexity Application is a great resource.   WINS courses from Winter 2016 through Winter 2018 that are associated with your D2L account will show up with a complexity rating.  This complexity rating provides an estimate of time needed to fix your course inside Canvas.  Not everything transfers easily.  For example, grade categories or weighted grade items do not transfer into Canvas; you will have to spend time setting up new categories or configuring your gradebook in Canvas.  Quizzes and pools of randomized quiz questions are other common items that will require your attention in Canvas.  Every course is different, but the estimates provide a good gauge of time.

How Do I Export and Import Content?

The Course Complexity Application provides an “Export course from desire to learn” command that will start the process.  Alternatively, you could work from inside of D2L directly and from the edit course option, select the “import/export/copy components” command.  This is the same place command you may have used to copy from one section of a course to another.

After you have started to create an export from either place, select the course materials.  This ultimately creates a zip package export of your course.  Save or rename this zip file appropriately.

Next, go to Canvas.  Select your specific course and then choose the “Import Course Content” command from the “Settings” button.  Select the content type select “D2L export .zip format”.   Then choose the zipped file package you created in the last step.  Select all content.  When ready, you can then click import to move content into your course.   The processes of importing from one format to the next may take some time.  A video walkthrough is linked from the resources section if you are looking for a more visual step by step guide to this process.

After import, Canvas will provide an Issue List.  Canvas flags content that did not import easily as an issue.  You may need to rebuild some content.  You may need to reconfigure some tests.  You may need to double check the gradebook.  Another tool to review is the “Validate Links” command from setting option in canvas.  Like Issues, this will generate a list of broken links inside your Canvas course that you can use to update and review.

Whether you have created the content in Canvas for the first time or imported it from D2L – it is a good practice to review and proofread your new course before your publish it.

What other help is available?

The Learning Technology Center (LTC) continues to provide workshops.  Look for “Canvas Hands-On Introduction” for beginners, “Canvas Construction Zones” for hands on step by step migration, and “Canvas Deep Dives” for more in depth looks at specific tools and concepts.  Canvas also has a 24 / 7 toll free technical support service line including phone, chat, and email options Canvas 24/7/365 Support.

Next week I want to welcome you a bit more to the LTC and introduce you to some of the services and people that can help you explore ways to enhance student learning.

– Ted Witt
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant

RESOURCES:

Video:  Moving a Course from D2L to Canvas

Canvas Migration Website:  http://www.uww.edu/icit/ltc/canvas-portal

Course Complexity App: http://dl.uwsa.edu

Link Validator reference: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-12770-4152476605

Detailed Course Content Migration documentation: UW System Course Content Migration Documentation

D2L course request site:   http://my.uww.edu/d2lrequest

TED Tips – Issue 3:  Canvas Migration Update at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater

Last week we started to explore the difference between an LMS (Learning Management System) and a DLE (Digital Learning Environment).  One of the key strategic observations is that the UW-System is in the process of migrating from Desire2Learn (D2L) to Canvas Instructure as the main tool “hub”.  The emphasis is on creating a seamless, consistent, and accessible student experience.   Having said that…what does that mean for the University of Wisconsin Whitewater?  What should you expect this fall and what do you need to know?   How do you get help and support to meet your instructional needs throughout this migration?  This week’s “TED Tip” hopes to answer some of those questions.

Image:  “Migration” by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Do we have to migrate to Canvas?

Yes.  All UW-System schools (except for Madison) are in the process of moving to the Canvas platform.  Madison has already been using Canvas.  This migration project is managed by the UW-System, with input from individuals on each of the campuses.  This does not diminish your academic freedoms; it provides a common platform for delivering content throughout the UW-System.

When does the migration affect us?

The migration process is already well underway.  Fall 2018 is the first semester that Canvas is available to use for your courses.  Spring 2019 is the last semester that Desire2Learn will be available.   Starting in Summer 2019, all courses will be required to use Canvas. Existing content stored in D2L will be accessible to instructors through Spring 2020 for migration.

For Fall 2018 and Spring 2019, you can choose what platform you want to deliver your courses.  Having said that, the choice of platform makes a lasting impact on students. As we examined last week, one of the goals of the UW-System supports a consistent Digital Learning Environment.  Because we are moving towards building this long lasting and supported environment for students, The University of Wisconsin Whitewater strongly encourages you to develop freshman-facing courses in Canvas.  This should make things easier for new students, by limiting their need to learn both Canvas and Desire2Learn.  It is possible that you will have courses in D2L and Canvas; it is possible that students will be taking courses in both D2L and Canvas.

Some courses, departments, and/or colleges may have other specific transition requirements.  If you are unsure, it is always helpful to double check.

What other help is available?

The Learning Technology Center (LTC) has been offering a variety of services to help prepare you to teach in the fall in Canvas.  Look for a series of in person, hands-on workshops.  Some are offered remotely via webinars.

If you are just getting started in Canvas, a “Canvas Hands-On Introduction” workshop is the place to start.  These introduction workshops cover the basic functions and core tools in Canvas.  These are great if you have never used Canvas.   They are interactive and provide the opportunity to ask questions along the way.

“Canvas Construction Zones” are hands-on, workshops in computer labs specifically focused on transitioning content from D2L to Canvas.  The construction zones use a course complexity application tool to help estimate the time of work you will need to put into setting up your course in Canvas.

“Canvas Deep Dives” are more in depth explorations of how to leverage specific tools or topics, often exploring various options to best meet the needs of your teaching.  These are more advanced workshops but cover fundamentals like grading in Canvas, leveraging the syllabus and calendar tool, providing feedback, and creating new content in canvas.

Colleges may also offer additional Canvas training opportunities.  For example, the College of Business and Economics, has its own Canvas Training program.  Check the University of Whitewater Event Sign up tool for additional training opportunities.  Finally, there are also a series of asynchronous recorded workshops that can help acclimate you to the environment and get address specific needs you may have.

You are not alone!

In addition to the workshops and trainings, the LTC has college-specific faculty peer mentors available to help provide assistance with the Canvas Transition.

The peer mentors are available to:

  • Help answer transition questions.
  • Provide training information and resources about the Canvas platform.
  • Work to understand different ways that Canvas can be leveraged for enriching teaching and learning.

Additional Services and Support

Canvas itself has a more robust technical support service line that includes 24 / 7 toll free hotline and live online chat interactions.  These can be reached from the Canvas 24/7/365 Support website for basic how-to questions.

This weeks TED tip covers a lot of territory regarding the status of the Canvas Migration project, the training and support opportunities available, and where to find assistance and support.  Next week we’ll focus more closely at one of these important tasks:  how exactly DO I convert my D2L course to Canvas.

– Ted Witt
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant

RESOURCES:

Canvas Migration Website:  http://www.uww.edu/icit/ltc/canvas-portal

Canvas Training Videos:  http://www.uww.edu/icit/ltc/canvas-portal/training

Course Complexity App: http://dl.uwsa.edu

Want to learn more about Canvas? Join the LTC at one of our online or face-to-face workshops this summer! Signup at: http://go.uww.edu/ltc-workshop-signup

University of Wisconsin Whitewater Event Sign-up tool: https://my.uww.edu/signup/Home

Peer Mentors:  http://www.uww.edu/icit/ltc/canvas-portal/peer-mentors

In Depth UW System support for the Course Content Migration: https://www.wisconsin.edu/dle/implementation/teams/uwsa-workstreams/course-content-migration/

TED Tips – Issue 2: What is the difference between a Learning Management System (LMS) and a Digital Learning Environment (DLE)?

Almost every university uses a learning management system (LMS).  Think of a learning management system as the software infrastructure or the online website that delivers the “stuff” of a particular course.  An LMS can be used to present content, provide information, and manage administrative duties.  It may be helpful at tracking enrollments, attendance and grades.  The approach of an LMS often emphasizes technology – it is a “management” system.  What a Learning Management System does not often emphasize is facilitating learning.

In contrast, there is another approach, a “Digital Learning Environment” (DLE).  This approach is also known as “The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment” (NGDLE).  The scope no longer contains a single application – but an ecosystem that supports higher education.  Multiple technologies and services meet a variety of learning needs with a greater emphasis on flexibility.  It should be less a “one size fits all” but a set of tools based on common standards.

The University of Wisconsin System is also moving away from an LMS and towards a DLE.  The approach should be against the implementation of a required technology solution, but more in favor of creating a flexible set of services and tools that support teaching and learning.

To quote the University of Wisconsin System DLE strategy:

Our DLE is not a learning management system (LMS).  Rather, our DLE is a federated, online environment that includes services and tools purposefully brought together to support the needs of teaching and learning in all modes (i.e., face-to-face, blended/hybrid, and fully online).  Our DLE challenges the traditional role of an LMS as “the” platform for managing course documents, quizzes, videos, and the like.  By shifting our perspective from an LMS-based content platform, to a “digital environment” that creates information we can act upon, UW System can then realize the many benefits of an interoperable suite of services and tools that allow us to maximize student access and success.  https://www.wisconsin.edu/dle/strategy/

This allows the UW system to integrate tools through a common platform while creating and easy point of entry, a secure sign-on leveraging our “federated” identity, and services that communicate to each other while ensuring appropriate security and privacy.  Instructors will have the freedom to apply these tools to their teaching to support their students learning.

next generation digital learning can take many forms.

Underlying this belief are five key characteristics that define the UW System Digital Learning Environment. I will explore these characteristics in more detail in the coming weeks as part of this blog.  For now, I want to introduce the characteristics as the drivers behind the project.

  • Accessibility and the principles of universal design are fundamental, so that all students, regardless of ability and learning preference, can succeed in all instructional modes.
  • Provides a platform to support learning and administrative analytics, readiness and learning assessment, progress mapping, advising, and “early alerts” to trigger interventions to ensure student success.
  • Collaboration is expected, encouraged, and supported among those within and outside the institution.
  • Components are interoperable; meaning they are standards-based and work together seamlessly, not stapled together to sit side-by-side.
  • The environment is student-centered, and allows for a personalized experience for the student with regard to both content and pathways.

Within this Digital Learning Environment, a platform presents content.  The University of Wisconsin System has chosen Canvas Instructure as that main platform.  Canvas is envisioned as the main tool “hub.”  The emphasis is on creating a seamless, consistent, and accessible student experience.   Canvas integrates additional tools and services.  Tools and services are currently being evaluated for inclusion and integration within this environment.

In summary, a Digital Learning Environment (DLE) emphasizes pedagogy that then allows for the adoption of technology that supports teaching and learning.   Instead of being a single monolithic technology, you can personalize instruction through the set of tools and services to meet your course needs.  A DLE supports face-to-face and online courses.  This approach imagines The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment as both an ecosystem and a mind-set.   The DLE supports accessibility, analytics, collaboration, interoperability, in a personalized experience.

– Ted Witt

Next Week:  What is the status of the Canvas migration project here at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater?

REFERENCES:

https://www.wisconsin.edu/dle/strategy/

https://library.educause.edu/resources/2015/4/the-next-generation-digital-learning-environment-a-report-on-research

https://news.continuingstudies.wisc.edu/are-you-ready-for-the-next-generation-digital-learning-environment/

https://library.educause.edu/~/media/files/library/2015/12/eli7127-pdf.pdf

https://library.educause.edu/resources/2015/12/7-things-you-should-know-about-ngdle

TED Tips – Issue 1: Introduction and Hello!

Hi all!  Welcome to TED Tips…a weekly blog brought to you by the Learning Technology Center.   I wanted to take brief second to introduce myself, welcome you to my blog “TED” Tips, and invite you to interact with the Learning Technology Center and me.

So Hi!  My name is Ted Witt.  My official job title at the Learning and Technology Center is “Teaching Learning and Technology Consultant”.   What exactly does that mean?  It means I am a champion for the effective use of technology.  I do not believe we should use technology because it is the latest cool toy or fad, but to explore possibilities and its strategic implementation and effective use.   I do this primarily through supporting instructors through the pedagogically sound use in your teaching.  I support faculty training programs and workshops.  For example, this summer I am working with the Active Learning Academy and supporting the Online Blended Institute through the LTC.  I also administer the Quality Matters standards.

I have been an information technology teacher and have taught both on ground and online courses.  I have a BA in History and Political Science with a minor in Philosophy; a Master of Science in Information Technology with a specialization in Business Intelligence and Knowledge Management; and a Master of Arts in Liberal Arts.

Why am I calling this blog TED Tips?  Yes, I am blatantly adapting the idea from TED talks but, no I am not related to them…despite the similarity with my name!

Here TED does not just stand for the author writing the blog but the main themes I hope to explore over the coming weeks:  Technology, Education, and Design.  What do I mean by each of those?

Technology – I strongly believe it is important to know our technological environment and how to use the tools we have available to us.  What options do we have?  How do we use them?  These are the types of topics the blog will explore.

Education – with a focus on pedagogy.  Once we know how to use the technology…how do use it well.  How do we use it to enhance our teaching and improve student success?  This aspect of the blog will look at different approaches and uses and how we can apply those tools in the classroom.

Design – Once we have explored technology, looked at sound approaches, how do we design the experiences and implement them thoughtfully?  This portion of the blog will focus on “How to” practical tips with an emphasis on putting those skills to use. My goal is to help you create rich meaningful learning experiences and the purpose of the blog will help provide you with tips to do that.

The final purpose is to celebrate the good work we are doing and encourage collaboration.  I will share success stories.  I want to highlight some of the work going on in the Learning Technology Center and on campus as it relates to those TED themes!

Last thoughts:

  • I also work for Major League Baseball in their statistics department and can often be found at Miller Park. My nickname is “doc clock”.
  • I am a certified weather spotter with the national weather service.
  • My humor is dry because I am only a Half-Witt.

I am looking forward to working with you in the future and encourage you to contact me through the Learning Technology Center.  I am available for one on one consultations.

The LTC has upcoming workshops: A Teaching with WebEx Teams Boot camp, Hands on Introductions to Canvas, and Canvas Construction Zones.

If you have any questions about these sessions, please reach out to the UW-W Learning Technology Center.

– Ted Witt

Next week:  What is a Learning Management System?