Tools to Lighten the Chore of Lab Report (and Essay) Grading

By Linda Jeschofnig

Peter and I give numerous “best practices” presentation to online and soon-to-be online educators. One thing that recently became obvious is how few educators are aware of the “Track Changes” feature within their MS Word program and how this tool can make grading lab reports and other essay assignments a breeze to review and edit. One simply types in corrections, lines out errors, and inserts comments where needed. Like the traditional red pen, these corrections show up in a different color, making them easy for students to spot and follow. Student can use the same feature to expand upon the paper and return comments to the instructor; these too will show up in a different color. Here’s a two-minute tutorial to help get started: Click Here>>.

Another tool that makes grading easy is to have students submit their reports and essays via Google Docs. The process is very similar in that the instructor’s corrections, changes, and comments can display in a different color, plus every correction is time-stamped and easy to see by clicking “Revision History” via the File drop-down menu. Google Docs is also an excellent tool for group projects since each student’s contributions can be separately identified and it’s easy to see if any students are carrying the majority of the project burden.

Some of the more recent advanced editions of LMS systems have similar capabilities. However, many institutions don’t yet have these upgrades, and often in those that do, the instructors aren’t aware they exist.

5 Steps to Find the Right CMS Product

Choosing a new or different course management system (CMS) can be a difficult and daunting task. With so many CMS products out there and even more available features, how do you know which one to choose? WCET is a great distance education resource that provides independent CMS reviews and comparisons through EduTools. Included in EduTools is the Decision Engine (DE), “a rational decision-making process to assist in selecting a course management system.” We compared several CMS products through the DE to show you how easy it is to decide which CMS is right for your class or institution. Read more »

Prevent low test scores

By Laura Yaun

Studies have shown that anxiety and depression compete with the working memory in the brain. Expressive writing has been proven to help depressed and traumatized people overcome emotional worries that take up the working memory space of their brains. Students who are given the opportunity to write about their worries, test related or not, before an exam, achieve higher grades.

In addition to writing away your worries, below are…

15 simple, but often forgotten about, ways to help students test successfully

1.Review materials after each class when it is still fresh in your mind. Study throughout the course. Cramming the night before is not enough time for your brain to retain all of the information that you need. Studying for two hours at a time, completely concentrated is more conducive than studying for eight hours straight.
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Science Has Been a Top US Priority since Civil War

By Laura Yaun, Hands-on Labs, Inc.

Wishing HOL’s Scientist, Dr. Eric Punkay, a very rewarding future in teaching. You will be missed, but students need great teachers like you and we applaud your change of career decision.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln created the National Academy of Sciences by signing into law the Act of Incorporation. The Civil War proved a great need for innovations, bringing citizens and government together. Weapon-testing departments were established as the president saw the importance of science and technology, making it law to “investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art.” Read more »

7 Ways to Create an Engaging Online Science Course

Based on a presentation from the 2012 CoDLA conference by IEDSE, the Institute for Excellence in Distance Science Education, a non-profit organization focused on providing professional development opportunities for online science educators. This article provides 7 helpful tips for creating an effective online science course.

1.Introduce yourself and your course │ A creative and engaging way for your students to get to know you better is through an introduction video. Include background information about your experiences and interests along with a review of the syllabus. Syllabi are students’ first impression of a course and the instructor. In face-to-face classes instructors often add to the syllabus as they go along; this is not possible in online classes where it is considered the students’ bible. Important elements to include in a syllabus are: learning objectives and activities, course contents (texts, labs, discussion board), expectations of students and instructor, a detailed assignment calendar, FAQs and forms of assessment. Including a syllabus quiz is a good way to ensure students read all contents.

2.Let your students get to know one another │ Include icebreaker activities in the first week of your course. Icebreakers can engage students by helping them discover common ground and common interests:
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Have a Clear View of Distance Education

Guest post by Melissa Spears

Online education is one of today’s most controversial topics and whenever it is discussed you get to hear uncountable “ifs” and “buts.” This is due to the lack of knowledge that people possess about distance learning. Some people say that it makes students go off the track of life and some of them say it teaches a student how to work hard on their own. Well, let us have a discussion here to clear up the wrong conception that some people have with the basic truth of distance education.

Who registers for distance education?

Speculation says 60% of the students enrolling for distance education come from a humble background, where money turns into a big factor in their lives. However, with distance education they get to manage both their responsibilities and studies equally.Rest 40% come from different age groups with different reasons like distance, physical disabilities, unavailability of good educational institutes in locality, etc.There are some common characteristics among the applicants of distance learning, like:

  • Adult students believe that continuing education to the advanced level is a kind of investment for the future
  • They remain often committed toward multiple responsibilities
  • A degree turns into confidence for them

DoD provides distance learning

By Laura Yaun, Hands-on Labs, Inc.

In March of 2011, The Department of Defense put into effect DANTES Mission. The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support says it all in its name. It was designed “to support off-duty, voluntary education programs of the Department of Defense and to conduct special projects and development activities in support of education-related functions of the Department.”

DANTES provides free information and assistance in every way, making it easy for people in the Service, or their family members, wanting to obtain post-secondary education to achieve their goals.
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Distance Learning is Proven to be Efficient and Popular

By Laura Yaun

Obtaining a college degree is becoming more convenient and affordable through distance learning. Work and family schedules may not always permit a person seeking higher education to start or finish their college degree program. Distance learning allows the student to do their coursework online, on their own time, and help them reach their goals.
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