Audacity, Humanity, Efficiency, Mobility (part 1)

The single piece of open source software that I use more than any other isAudacity.  Created for recording and editing sound, Audacity has many features, and I’ve used almost none of them.

I use Audacity to do one thing: record audio feedback for students.  I export the files as MP3s and email them or post them in an LMS.

As a Composition instructor, I spend most of my time doing formative assessment of students’ written work.  Doing this assessment verbally is much faster than writing or typing (even when I use cheats likeAutohotkey).  It also pushes carpal tunnel that much farther down the line.

I encourage students to follow along in their drafts as they listen.  I try to be specific and keep the comments to five minutes or less.  If the comments get too long, the usefulness will disappear in proportion to their length (longer=less useful).  In other words, instead of being guilty of creating a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read), I’ll create TL;DL (too long; didn’t listen).  Read More→

photo by: kev_hickey_uk

Your Online Learning Platform Should Be Central Park, Not Gramercy

Gramercy park is beautiful, but it’s private–one of only two private parks in New York City where “only people residing around the park who pay an annual fee have a key, and the public is not generally allowed in – although the sidewalks of the streets around the park are a popular jogging, strolling and dog-walking route” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Park). Central Park on the other hand—people sprawled out reading, talking. Interaction. If you’re new to online teaching, you’ve seen the Learning Management Systems (LMS)/Online Learning Platforms used by your school (Desire2Learn, Moodle, BlackBoard). Lots of shiny bells and pretty whistles. Wrought iron gates and ivy covered walls. But once you get it, you realize that it’s just you and your students, separated from the outside world. Your students don’t live in these gated parks, however.

If the public can’t get in, neither can new technologies.

 Twitter, Facebook, Instagram–all social media apps which, at the check of a box, allow users to share contents and comments. Typical LMS systems don’t allow this. Or, at least, you need permission. Someone has to give you the okay. Mimeograph a form in triplicate and then send to the Central Registry. And by then? By then the moment has passed.

You need control over your LMS.

…so you can let in visiting colleagues, experts in other fields, past students who want to chime in on the work of a current student or simply want to lend a fleeting, helping hand.

And here’s another reason: Read More→

photo by: Bosc d'Anjou

Author Dominic Saucedo