Online Teaching & Technology Blog

Center for Online Learning, Research and Service @ Illinois Springfield

Author: John Freml

Writing learning outcomes and course objectives

Various scholars and researchers have summarized how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide to writing measurable and effective learning outcomes. This is important when designing an online class, because without a clear idea of what you want your students to have mastered at the end of the class, it is difficult to design assessments and activities that will help your students achieve the intended outcome.

Bloom's Taxonomy Wheel

Click to enlarge

From Arizona State University:

  1. Identify the noun, or thing you want students to learn.
    • Example: seven steps of the research process
  2. Identify the level of knowledge you want. In Bloom’s Taxonomy, there are six levels of learning. It’s important to choose the appropriate level of learning, because this directly influences the type of assessment you choose to measure your students’ learning.
    • Example: to know the seven steps of the research process (comprehension level)
  3. Select a verb that is observable to describe the behavior at the appropriate level of learning. A tool we use for choosing appropriate verbs corresponding to selected levels is the RadioJames Objectives Builder.
    • Example: Describe these steps
  4. Add additional criteria to indicate how or when the outcome will be observable to add context for the student.
    • Describe the seven steps of the research process when writing a paper.

From the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library:

You can use Bloom’s taxonomy to identify verbs to describe student learning. Examples of learning outcomes verbs for library instruction include:

  • Knowledge/Remembering: define, list, recognize
  • Comprehension/Understanding:characterize, describe, explain, identify, locate, recognize, sort
  • Application/Applying: choose, demonstrate, implement, perform
  • Analysis/Analyzing: analyze, categorize, compare, differentiate
  • Evaluation/Evaluating: assess, critique, evaluate, rank, rate
  • Synthesis/Creating: construct, design, formulate, organize, synthesize

There are some verbs to avoid when writing learning outcomes. These verbs are vague and often not observable or measurable. For example, how would you measure whether someone has “become familiar with” a particular tool? Use a more specific verb. If you want students to “understand” something, think more closely about what you want them to be able to do or produce as a result of their “understanding.”

Verbs to avoid:

  • Understand
  • Appreciate
  • Know about
  • Become familiar with
  • Learn about
  • Become aware of

From the University of Arkansas:

How Bloom’s works with course level and lesson level objectives:

  • Course level objectives are broad. You may only have 3-5 course level objectives. They would be difficult to measure directly because they overarch the topics of your entire course.
  • Lesson level objectives are what we use to demonstrate that a student has mastery of the course level objectives. We do this by building lesson level objectives that build toward the course level objective. For example, a student might need to demonstrate mastery of 8 lesson level objectives in order to demonstrate mastery of one course level objective.
  • Because the lesson level objectives directly support the course level objectives, they need to build up the Bloom’s taxonomy to help your students reach mastery of the course level objectives. Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to to make sure that the verbs you choose for your lesson level objectives build up to the level of the verb that is in the course level objective. The lesson level verbs can be below or equal to the course level verb, but they CANNOT be higher in level. For example, your course level verb might be an Applying level verb, “illustrate.” Your lesson level verbs can be from any Bloom’s level that is equal or below this level (applying, understanding, or remembering).

Steps towards writing effective learning objectives:

  1. Make sure there is one measurable verb in each objective.
  2. Each objective needs one verb. Either a student can master the objective, or they fail to master it. If an objective has two verbs (say, define and apply), what happens if a student can define, but not apply? Are they demonstrating mastery?
  3. Ensure that the verbs in the course level objective are at least at the highest Bloom’s Taxonomy as the highest lesson level objectives that support it. (Because we can’t verify they can evaluate, if our lessons only taught them (and assessed) to define.)
  4. Strive to keep all your learning objectives measurable, clear and concise.

Online Teaching Considerations

If you are getting ready to teach online for the first time, there are several critical items to consider:

  • What are my learning outcomes or intended course objectives?
    While there are several theories or models of online instruction that may be helpful as you begin to conceptualize and design your online course, many instructors find it helpful to begin with backward design, in which you first consider the learning goals of your course (i.e. what you want your students to have learned when they finish your course). Only after you have determined what your goals are, should you begin to think about assignments and activities that help students achieve those goals. Objectives and outcomes should be measurable and aligned to professional standards in your field.
  • Who are my students?
    Universities serve an increasingly diverse array of students from the traditional college aged, to adult learners who come back to school to advance in their professions by acquiring new skills and knowledge. As you consider your audience, think about how you might develop assignments and activities that encourage self-determined learning (i.e. a heutagogical approach).
  • How can I make sure my course materials are accessible to all students?
    Employing principles of universal accessibility and design means that your course content will be accessible to all student who might enroll in your course, including students with visual, auditory, or other impairments. Additionally, it means that you have taken the extra step to ensure that your content reaches students with a variety of different learning styles; this means using varying formats and methods to impart knowledge.

While this may seem like a challenge, COLRS staff is ready to assist. Please contact your individual liaison for individual consultation, or contact our main office for any further assistance you may need:

Office hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Phone: 217-206-7317
Email: colrs@uis.edu

Liaison to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Carrie Levin, 217-206-8499, levin.carrie@uis.edu

Liaison to the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Public Affairs and Administration: Emily Boles, 217-206-8311, boles.emily@uis.edu

Liaison to the College of Business and Management: Michele Gribbins, 217-206-8251, mgribbin@uis.edu

Explore Further

How the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil could change the way we use iPads

For a while now, we’ve seen tablet/stylus combinations that are clumsy and difficult to use, and whose usefulness in an education setting is not always immediately clear. Apple, however, is attempting to change that with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

The Apple Pencil uses much more advanced technology than a traditional stylus, that allows apps to go beyond basic stylus circling and selecting, and actually do precise document editing and advanced inking, drawing, shading, and calligraphy. Developers who integrate their apps with Apple Pencil, such as Autodesk, Abode, and Microsoft, have the ability to implement a vast array of possibilities that have, until now, been inaccessible to many educators.

For example, integration with the Microsoft Office suite for iPad allows for easier and more precise highlighting of text, adding side notes, and drawing rough polygons that snap into sharp shapes. Explain Everything has recently incorporated use of the Apple Pencil, as well, and is useful in creating visual, animated and voice-narrated presentations for demonstrations and explanations.

One particularly interesting app that may be of interest to architecture, design, and art students is Color Splash: The app basically strips out all the color from any photographs that you import into the app, and then, using the Apple Pencil, you can restore the color to particular objects or people in the photos for dramatic effect. The app even allows for easy correction with the Apple Pencil if you accidentally color outside the lines.

Biology, anatomy, and nursing students might be interested 3D4Medical, an app that allows users the ability to produce digital anatomical markups and cut flesh virtually, using the Apple Pencil.

Users of the Apple Pencil say that it feels “extremely natural, whether sketching or shading as a pencil held at an angle, laying down wet ink with a brush, or using a digital ruler to sketch a precisely measured straight line or to mask the ink of a wide marker. Even when used as an eraser, it changes its destruction size depending on how hard you’re pressing.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iicnVez5U7M]

The iPad Pro with Apple Pencil is one of the technologies used by some of our Faculty Fellows! For more information about this program, including the application procedure and applicable deadlines, please visit our homepage.

Box Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard Shortcuts Overview

  • Box Keyboard shortcuts are case-insensitive.
  • Modifiers such as shift are explicitly indicated for applicable shortcuts.
  • When a shortcut contains more than one key, we indicate the sequence as follows:
    • key then key — Issue the keys in sequence.
    • key and key — Hold down the first key when you enter the second key.

Box Web Application Shortcuts

Box provides keyboard alternatives to quickly navigate our web application. For actions related to an item, select the item before pressing the shortcut.

Keyboard    Shortcut

Description

Explicitly check the small white box on the right side of each item to use these shortcuts. Use x to select an item.
c Activate the Copy File pop-up for the selected file.
d Download the selected item.
m Activate the Move File pop-up for the selected file.
s Send a shared link for the item.
t Activate the Edit Tags pop-up for the selected file.
Use these shortcuts without selecting any item.
b Activate the New Bookmark pop-up.
j Move selection up.
k Move selection down.
n Activate the Create New Folder pop-up.
o Open the folder or file to preview.
x Select an item.
shift and ? View the shortcut menu.
shift and v Toggle the display to thumbnail view of list view.
* then a Select all items in the current folder.
* then n Do not select any item in the current folder.
g then a Go to the Box Application Services page.
then c Go to your Box Collaborators page.
then f Go to your Box All Files page.
g then p Go to your Box Profile page.
g then s Go to your Box Account Settings page.
then u Go to your Box Updates page.
] Go to the next page (obvious only when you have a folder with more than one page of items)
[ Go to the previous page (obvious only when you have a folder with more than one page of items)
/ Use the search field (cursor is placed in the Search field when you type this shortcut.

Box Preview Shortcuts

The following shortcuts are supported when previewing files:

Keyboard      Shortcut
Description
d Download the file being previewed.
u Upload new file version.
e Edit the file being previewed using Box Edit.
j Preview the previous file.
k Preview the next file.
s Get a shared link for the file being previewed.
p Print the file being previewed if it is a .pdf, .doc, .xls, .ppt, .docx, .xlsx, or .pptx document.
space Toggle play/pause for media files.
shift and + Zoom into the file being previewed.
shift and Zoom out of the file being previewed.
shift and enter Preview in full screen mode.
shift and ? View the shortcut menu.
] Next page.
[ Previous page.

Box Notes Shortcuts

To open a list of available keyboard shortcuts in Box Notes: 

On a Mac, press Command and ?
On a PC, press Control and ?

Accessibility when using Box

At present, the most accessible way to use Box is via the a.box.com website. This site contains many key Box features, and works well on mobile devices. It also contains a link to the standard Box site.

What are the available features for a.box.com?

a.Box.com supports the primary features of Box, and provides access to all features available in the m.Box.com website. Some of the primary features include preview and download access to files and folders, sharing and configuring links to files and folders, adding and managing collaborators, viewing and making comments, and managing files and folders.

a.Box addresses accessibility as a core requirement for each feature.

What are the supported browsers for Box applications? How does a.Box deal with browsers without JavaScript or CSS?  

Box recommends using the most current version of web browsers (see the list of officially supported browsers at Box). The a.Box.com site degrades depending on your browser’s support for JavaScript and CSS, but continues to display the basic information required to view files and folders.

Does a.Box support screen readers?

a.Box is intended to work with the leading screen reading technology providers, including VoiceOver. Screen readers attempt to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen and convey that information via text-to-speech to users who are visually impaired.

Does a.box.com provide keyboard access?

a.Box.com provides keyboard accessibility, which enables you to use your keyboard exclusively (with no mouse) for improved interactions with the Box UI.

a.Box.com helps enable keyboard accessibility through the following additional features:

  • Removal of all menu items that are enabled via mouse ‘hovering’.
  • Re-ordering of all menu structures to maintain a logical reading order.
  • Enabling of visible focus, which helps people with visual or other print-related disabilities have a clear indicator of where they are on a page.
  • Providing a short-cut that enables a user to immediately ‘skip to content’ they are trying to view, letting them bypass repeated menu elements.

Does a.Box provide low vision color contrast?

a.Box.com is designed with low vision and color-blind user needs in mind. a.Box.com allows for text resizing, with up to 200% magnification. The site has also been tested for color contrast, with contrast ratios set at a minimum of 4.5:1.

How can I get more information about accessibility at Box?

Contact Box User Services to receive additional information or to provide feedback.

Content provided by Box.

How to convert scanned PDFs and photos to text

Sometimes it can be difficult to avoid sharing a scanned PDF or photo with your students. For instance, you might want them to read an out-of-print manuscript that’s not available in any other format. The unfortunate down side, however, is that these types of files are not accessible to students who rely on screen readers or other technology to assist them when completing assigned readings.

Luckily, as UIS faculty, you have access to free tools that allow you to quickly and accurately convert PDFs and photo files to text, which is essential in making your course content accessible to all students. This can be accomplished through optical character recognition in Google Drive. (All UIS staff, faculty, and students have access to Google products with their existing UIS NetID and password through our educational license with Google; for more information, visit go.uis.edu/google.)

To get started, follow these steps:

  1. Go to drive.google.com.
  2. Sign in with your UIS NetID and password.
  3. Upload your PDF or image file. (instructions)
  4. Hover over the file in Google Drive, right-click, and select Open with > Google Docs.

The image file will then be converted to a Google Doc, and any text that was recognized in the image will appear below the original image within the Google Doc. (For multi-page PDFs, each page will appear as a separate image, with the text underneath.)

Once doing this, it is important to scan the new text for accuracy, and correct any errors that you find. Most of the time, formatting (bold, italics, etc.) will be retained.

Please also keep this in mind:

  • Only these file types are currently supported: JPEG, PNG, GIF, and PDF
  • Text should be right-side up. If your image or PDF is facing the wrong way, you must rotate it before uploading it to Google Drive.
  • The maximum file size supported by Google at this time for optical character recognition is 2MB. This means that larger, multi-page PDFs may need to be separated into several different files before starting.
  • Tables, columns, footnotes, etc. are not likely to be detected.
  • For the best accuracy:
    • Text should be at least 10 pixels in height.
    • Common fonts like Arial or Times New Roman work best.
    • Try to avoid uneven lighting or blurry photos.

Adding captions to videos hosted on YouTube

In a previous post, we explained two options supported by the university for hosting video content in your online courses: Kaltura and YouTube. Today, we will explain how to make sure your YouTube videos are fully accessible using YouTube’s built-in closed captioning feature.

To get started, you’ll need to upload a video using a computer, Android device, iPhone, or iPad. Next, select the option below that fits your situation:

Option 1: I already have a transcript.

By far the quickest and easiest way to make sure your videos are accessible is to prepare a script in advance before you record. In addition to assuring that you will not forget to cover any critical material, a script will also ensure that you stay on track and avoid tangents while recording. Once you’ve prepared your script and uploaded your video, follow these steps:

  1. Save your script as a plain text file (.txt). If you are using Microsoft Word, a settings pop-up will appear with file conversion options; be sure to select the option to “Allow character substitution.” You may leave all other settings at their default value. (If you do not select character substitution, YouTube may read common punctuation incorrectly, such as apostrophes or quotation marks.)Plain Text file
  2. When you are signed in to your YouTube account, navigate to your video and click the CC button directly underneath the video player.YouTube video options
  3. Click the blue button, Add new subtitles or CC, and select your language (usually English).
  4. Select the option to Upload a file.
  5. For file type, select transcript.
  6. Click Choose File, and find the plain text file that you created in step 1. Click Upload.
  7. Your transcript should then appear in the text box. You may watch your video once more and double-check your transcript for accuracy, or if you are confident with what you have uploaded, simply click the blue Set timings button.
  8. That’s it! YouTube will automatically scan your video and text, and create accurate, correctly-timed closed captions.

Option 2: I need to create a transcript for an existing recording.

Depending on the length and complexity of your video and the content, creating transcripts can be a time-consuming process. YouTube does have several powerful features to make it a bit easier, though:

  • YouTube auto-captions
    YouTube’s auto-captioning feature is surely not perfect, but it is getting more accurate as time goes on and Google is able to harvest more and more voice data. Auto-captions are created automatically after you upload a video, usually within several hours after uploading. (Sometimes, it may take up to one day before auto-captions will appear. Unfortunately, there is no way to speed this process up; all you can do is keep checking after you’ve uploaded a video to see if they are ready.)To check if auto-captions are ready for your video, go to your video’s closed-captioning settings using the directions in step 2 above. Once they have been created, they will appear like this:YouTube auto captionsClick on the captions, usually titled “English (Automatic)“, and then click the blue Edit button.Editing YouTube auto captionsYou can then play the video and jump from caption to caption to edit for accuracy. Once you are finished, simply click the blue Publish edits button.
  • Create a transcript from scratch
    This option is the most time and labor intensive option, but usually produces the best results (if you didn’t use a script).To use YouTube’s built-in transcription feature, simply follow steps 2 and 3 above (go to your video’s closed caption settings, and select the option to “Add new subtitles or CC.”) However, instead of uploading a file, you’ll select the option to Transcribe and auto-sync.On the following page, you may play your video and begin typing what is spoken into the text box. YouTube will pause the video while you are typing automatically, making it easier to type what you hear, as you hear it, without falling too far behind. When you have finished typing what is spoken in your video, click the blue Set timings button. After several minutes, YouTube will have automatically timed the text to the video, creating accurately timed closed captions.Transcribe and auto sync

This is overwhelming. HELP!

We get it – you are busy, and it takes time to make sure your content is accessible. The technology behind accessibility can also feel overwhelming at times. We’re here to help you, though!

Any of the professionals at COLRS are available for one-on-one tutorials or departmental workshops in which we can teach you, face to face, how to use this technology and ensure your content is accessible to all students. To set something up, or if you just need some help along the way as you try this yourself, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Creating accessible videos for online courses

UIS offers instructors two options for posting accessible videos with captioning in online courses: Kaltura and YouTube. In this post, we’ll explain the differences between both options, and when it’s better to use one over the other.

Kaltura

Kaltura is a premium video service supported by ITS that provides instructors with several advantages:

Kaltura also has several disadvantages:

  • Increasing storage costs for the university as video uploads increase

YouTube

All faculty, staff, and students at UIS have access to individual YouTube accounts through our Google Apps for Education license. This means that practically anyone affiliated with the university has access to most Google products, including YouTube, with their existing UIS NetID and password.

Many instructors are moving from Kaltura to YouTube to host accessible videos with captioning. Some advantages of YouTube include:

  • Unlimited individual video storage and video retention
  • Better mobile support
  • An increasingly-accurate auto-captioning service that automatically creates captions for any video that you upload, in dozens of different languages
  • A user-friendly integrated transcription feature
  • The ability to upload closed-captions (.srt files) and pre-existing plain-text transcripts
  • An auto-timing feature that easily converts transcriptions to closed-captions

Disadvantages of YouTube include:

  • Privacy concerns: While individuals have full control over whether their videos may appear in public searches, anyone with a link to a video that is not “private” will be able to watch it or embed it on other websites
  • Advertising: Because YouTube is an ad-supported service, students may be subjected to ads that you do not control, unless they pay for a premium YouTube subscription
  • More limited analytics that are restricted to video views

Accessibility for Videos

 

Regardless of the video platform you choose to use, you should ensure that your content is accessible, and that you have proper copyright permissions if you use anything that you did not produce yourself. Learn how to use YouTube to make closed-captions. Please feel free to contact COLRS anytime to further discuss Kaltura, YouTube, captioning, and accessibility.

Known issues and workarounds while using TurnItIn

TurnItIn is a great tool that can assist instructors in grading, leaving feedback, and detecting plagiarism, but unfortunately we are aware of several bugs affecting users of TurnItIn.

Please note that in many cases, most bugs within TurnItIn are caused due to errors that occur during the course copy process in Blackboard. For this reason, COLRS recommends that instructors recreate new TurnItIn assignments each semester.

Issue: Students receive error messages when attempting to submit assignments.

We have determined that this usually occurs when an instructor has created a student preview user and has subsequently accessed the assignment. To fix the error, delete the preview user by following these directions (option 2).

Issue: Instructor is unable to delete a column in the Grade Center that is linked to an old TurnItIn assignment.

This issue occurs when copying course content, including TurnItIn assignments, from an old course to a new course shell in Blackboard. As a workaround, you will need to complete three steps:

  1. Click the chevron button next to the column name, and navigate to Edit Column Information.
  2. Under Options, select Include this Column in Grade Center Calculations No and Show this Column to StudentsNo, and then click Submit.
  3. Click the chevron button next to the column name, and select Hide from Instructor View.

Issue: Grades are not syncing between TurnItIn and the Grade Center.

In most cases, numerical grades you enter in TurnItIn should sync to the Grade Center, and vice versa. If this does not occur, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to Course ToolsTurnItIn Assignments.
  2. Click Sync Grades next to the affected assignment.

Issue: Inline comments (using Crocodoc) made by the instructor are not saved.

This issue has affected a very small number of instructors who provide feedback to students using the inline grading feature that is integrated into TurnItIn. This is usually restricted to those using Firefox or Safari web browsers, who keep a document open longer than fifteen minutes. In most cases, switching browsers will fix the issue (we’ve recommend using Chrome if you are experiencing this issue).

How to create a Google Site for your online class, a presentation, an e-portfolio, and more

Because ITS subscribes to Google Apps, we have a plethora of free Google tools at our disposal that we can use to enhance online education and research. The best part is that everyone with a UIS NetID has access to all that Google has to offer, without having to register for a new account! One of these tools is Google Sites.

There are a variety of ways that you can use Google Sites right now in your online classes, or for professional development or research purposes: You can use Google Sites to create an e-portfolio, to showcase your CV, or even as a more accessible alternative to PowerPoint.

To get started, just sign in to Google Apps for Education:

Click Login.

  • Sign in with your regular NetID and password.
  • Next, click the Apps button at the top of your screen, to the left of your email address. Select Sites.

Click the Apps button, and then select Sites.

  • Click Create.

Click Create.

 

  • You will now be directed to a page where you will be able to choose different details about your site. First, you may choose a template for your site based on its purpose. To view more templates, choose “Browse the gallery for more,” which will give you the option to choose the best template for your site.
    Note: For faculty completing online professional development through COLRS, search for “Online Faculty Development ePortfolio.” Select this as your template.

    Or choose “Blank template” to start a site from scratch.
  • After selecting a template, you will name your site and complete the URL at which your site will be located.
  • There are also two optional menus that can be expanded: Click on “Select a theme” to choose a color scheme for your site, and click on “More options” to enter site categories and a short description of your site. Most people do not change anything here and leave them blank.
  • Once you are done choosing your template, naming your site, and typing a short URL, click Create at the top of the page.

Screenshot4

  •  You will now be at the homepage of your site!

What to do next

You are now ready to begin adding content, including additional pages, images, documents, videos, and more!

Google provides quite a bit of documentation on how to manage your site. Please explore the links below for the most up to date information on how to accomplish various tasks within Google Sites:

We are always available to assist you in brainstorming ideas on how you might implement Google Sites in your courses, or to help you set up a Google Site before a big presentation at a conference. We can also provide guidance with the Online Faculty Development ePortfolio template.

If you need additional tech support, contact ITS at 206-6000, or techsupport@uis.edu.