OCD Vol. 8 – Discussions

I recently ran across a couple of great articles regarding discussions. The first, from Faculty Focus, concentrates on face-to-face courses but can easily be translated into the online course. It is “Five Reasons Getting Students to Talk is Worth the Effort“. The 5 reasons given are:

  1. Students learn content when they talk about it.
  2. Talking lets students learn from each other.
  3. Talking gives students the opportunity to practice using the language of the discipline.
  4. Talking connects student with the content.
  5. Talking connects students with each other.

I strongly recommend reading the entire article.

The other article, from Online Learning Insights, deals with a different issue in discussions, “How to get students to participate in Online Discussions…” It has some really great insight on how the course design plays into the student involvement.

ANGEL Tip – This tip probably comes a little late for those of you teaching this summer (sorry about that) but hopefully it is something that can help you in the future. In the Gradebook of ANGEL there is a setting which can change all assignments that have no grades to zeros. While this is typically not something you want to switch on for the entire semester (it tends to make the students nervous to be failing most of the semester) it does come in handy on that last day after everything has been graded so you don’t have to manually go through and zero assignments that weren’t turned in. To turn on this option, do the following:

  1. Go to the Manage tab
  2. Click the Gradebook link (first column, first link)
  3. Click the Preferences link (first column, middle)
  4. Check the first check box, which should read “Treat Ungraded Items as Zero”
  5. Click the Save button

Note: If you copy the course from semester to semester, after you copy it to the new semester, check to make sure this setting is turned back off.

Small Bytes Vol. 80 – Mozilla Thunderbird Address Book

Yesterday’s announcement about my new email address sparked a conversation about how to remove an old email address from Mozilla Thunderbird’s address book. By default, Thunderbird collects the addresses of anyone you send an email to and saves them so you can easily send an email to them again later. This is great until someone changes their email address or you don’t want them to show up in auto-fill suggestions anymore. To remove someone from the automatically collected addresses, try the following:

  1. Click  the Address Book button at the top of Thunderbird (next to the Write button)
  2. Click on Collected Addresses on the left side of the window
  3. In the Search box at the top right, type in the name of the person you want to remove
  4. Select the appropriate search result
  5. Click the Delete button
  6. Close the Address Book window

Did you know?… When in Thunderbird, you can press Ctrl+N or Ctrl+M to create a new email and Ctrl+Enter to send it.

That is all for this time, stay tuned for the next Small Bytes!

Technology Consumption from 1900

I thought I would add a short and fun post on technology.  See the graph below (I got it from the NY Times).   It’s pretty amazing if you think about how much our world has changed since our parents and their parents were born.  To help consider these changes, I added a few lines which show around when my grandparents were born along with my parents, me and my kids.  I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.  Click on the image to see a larger view.

Technology Adoption Rate