Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Use journalism techniques to jazz up your course

Just passing along what I think is a good idea for some online courses in the quest for making content more engaging. An article published in The eLearning Coach suggests using some tried and true journalism techniques when writing your course material. They probably would work for some face-to-face PowerPoint presentations, too.

Here they are in a nutshell.
  1. Use catchy headlines instead of course titles 
  2. Create teasers 
  3. Write a compelling lead 
  4. Quote from engaging sources 
  5. Close with a kicker 
Now, if you want the details with suggestions about how to do these things, check out the full article at

Friday, July 5, 2013

Easy Text for Accessibility

The Problem: Conscientious professors everywhere encounter what can seem like a major obstacle when building an online class: transcribing a text copy of media materials for students who face accessibility challenges. We’ve all heard that it’s wise to plan ahead for those with visual accessibility challenges, but with the average professorial workload, finding time to do this can be difficult. 

A Possible Solution: You may already have a solution in your pocket! Have  you ever thought of using your smartphone to transcribe an audio version of an image/chart/video/etc? If you have a recent device, this is easier and quicker than you think!
  • Android virtual keyboard image.On most Android devices, there is a small microphone button on the keyboard. If you tap this button when writing an e-mail, you can read the information from your media, and it will be transcribed into text for you. Send the e-mail to yourself, and copy it into a Word Document, a page in your online course, etc.! 

  • 2013-07-05 16.20.36On Samsung’s Android devices, you have “S-Voice”, which will do much the same thing. Create a new e-mail message, and in the body of the message, quickly press the “Home” button on your device twice. This will launch S-Voice. Once S-Voice has loaded, you can tap the large button to pause or re-start your transcription at any time.

  • If you have an iPhone, try composing an e-mail with Siri. For the body of the message, read the information from your media, and then e-mail the message to yourself. You can then copy the text Siri has created into a Word Document, a page in your online course, etc.!