Page 43 - Campus Technology, March/April 2020
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wrong direction, quickly draw a circle around the wayward gesture and record a brief message saying, “Here is where you’ve gone wrong. Try this instead....” Or the instructor in a photography class could add an arrow pointing to a spot on the submission and type a quick note: “Your composition hits the mark, but I’d lighten the image here.”
Online classes are more challenging for people with visual or hearing disabilities. Either they can’t see what’s going on or they can’t hear it. Often, that’s not the fault of the technology; it’s just that those who aren’t affected don’t know how difficult they’re making their online interactions. Gentle nudges can make all the difference, suggested Popetz. For example, when students upload images, they can be reminded by the software to add a caption. When
a video is uploaded, students can be told to include a transcript — or even easier, to use the auto-captioning their institution has already adopted for just such purposes. If
a URL has been dropped into a forum post, the right kind
of discussion forum functionality can read the preview behind the URL (whatever that little thumbnail is displaying) rather than the actual link text, which can often be a gobbledygook of letters, numbers and symbols.
Plenty of LMSs provide analytics to let the instructor know whether or not students are participating in the discussion forums. But what often happens is that a deadline will be set for the post, and come one hour before the deadline students get in and post like mad. That’s
not true interaction or engagement. What might be more helpful is a function that would let faculty set milestones and have students automatically alerted as the milestones crop up: “It’s 10 days before the topic is closed: Add your post.” It’s eight days before the comment closes; add your comments.” The idea, said Popetz, is to acknowledge that college students “know what they’re supposed to be doing. Let’s give them just enough information as a reminder
to do it.” Likewise useful is a dashboard that lets the instructor pinpoint what students haven’t read anything or posted anything for quick outreach.
As an IMS Contributing Member,
42 Lines has built Harmonize as
a plug-in that works with learning platforms adhering to the IMS Global Learning Consortium Learning Tools interoperability (LTI) standard. Harmonize replaces the built-in discussion forum so that students have just one place to click for making and reading posts.

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