How to Make Smart Choices About Tech for Your Course

Sarah Korpi recently shared a comprehensive article on the ADEIL LinkedIn page: “How to Make Smart Choices About Tech for Your Course” by Michelle D. Miller. I’d recommend giving the article a few reads, as there’s a wealth of information including great technology considerations for your courses, discussions on course design, Universal Design for Learning, tools, links to learning materials, etc, etc.

If you haven’t yet joined the ADEIL LinkedIn page, you can find it here:

Speaking of great articles, is there something you’ve recently read that you’d like to share with the group? Let us know!

Open Education Resources tipping point article

The article below shares some exciting information about open educational resources (OER’s). These sources, which some teachers use instead of requiring students to purchase textbooks, are free for students and can be edited/adapted by instructors to meet the needs of their courses. The article uses Michigan’s Lansing Community College as an example; within a few years, what started as five faculty members incorporating OER’s turned into seventy-five faculty, saving students an estimated $1.6 million.

OER is at a tipping point. Here’s how to keep it moving in the right direction.

Two Independent Learning courses, German for Reading Knowledge and Legendary Performers use open educational resources (links are included below).

A Foundation Course in Reading German

Learn the Legends

Welcome to Legendary Performers

Open Educational Resources

Two Independent Learning Courses – German for Reading Knowledge and Legendary Performers – incorporate Open Educational Resources, or OERs (links are included below). OERs are “are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation.” (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).

As they’re free, they can save students a lot of money. As they can be freely shared and adapted, it also allows you to pick and choose which subjects or topics you’d like students to learn about in your courses; perhaps you’ll use one chapter from one source and another chapter from another source. An additional benefit: you don’t run into the issue of a publisher no longer printing a textbook you’ve been relying upon, or have students accidentally purchase the wrong edition.

There are a wide variety of sources available online to find OERs. Some act like a search engine, while others include lists of courses with attached OERs. A by-no-means-exhaustive list includes:

The Center for Open Education with the University of Minnesota includes a library of free, downloadable texts that you can search through and a community of people sharing their expertise in OERs. Perhaps one of sources could work as a textbook in your courses.
OER Commons allows you to search for textbooks, activities, and courses by subject matter and education level, and includes Open Author to create and share resources, lessons, and modules. You can also make an account to collaborate with others.
Connected with the California State University System, the MERLOT system offers curated online learning, support material, and content creation tools. It could especially useful for supplemental materials for a course.
OpenStax CNX of Rice University lists courses, each one linked to a digital, OER textbook.
MIT OpenCourseWare offers online texts for STEM courses.
The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges manages the Open Course Library; the listed courses link to a google drive, which contains materials for the course.

UW Independent Learning OER Examples:
A Foundation Course in Reading German

Learn the Legends

Resource: Internet Archive

During a course revision earlier this year, a member of the Extension Instructional Design Team made me aware of Internet Archive. It describes itself as “a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.”

It’s something of a resource of resources that’s user-friendly to navigate. There’s community-uploaded content alongside material from physical libraries and hosts of other sources. You can look through video, audio, patents and trademarks, journals, and even video game speed runs. Especially interesting is their Wayback Machine, their archive of websites as they have appeared throughout the years.

You can explore Internet Archive at:

Internet Archive also allows you search for media based on its distribution rights (for example, if it’s in public domain). To learn how, go to:

IL Instructor/Facilitator Orientation

This past summer, the Independent Learning Instructor/Facilitator Orientation migrated from d2l to Canvas.

If haven’t yet completed the orientation and need access in Canvas, please e-mail your Net ID to Sarah Korpi: – this is the ID you use to sign in to and access your earning statements.

If you have questions as you go through the material, please e-mail Rich Freese, who is helping facilitate the orientation:

As a reminder, all DCS IL instructors are required to complete this orientation course. In addition to the opportunity to navigate Canvas before teaching in that platform, we hope this learning resource helps generate some ideas in your own courses.

Online Research Activity: WebQuest

Our last post, “Online Research,” examined ways to find credible sources online. We’ll continue that idea with a WebQuest, designed by Joan Bell-Kaul and Sarah Korpi, to help students find online sources and consider their credibility.

The link below contains a pdf with several WebQuests for a course about Ernest Hemingway. Students find and evaluate sources first about Hemingway, and later about themes, literary devices, etc., in Hemingway’s work.

Hemingway WebQuest

This WebQuest can easily be adapted for other fields of study to both 1) introduce your students to a topic and 2) have your students think critically about where they get information. For example, in a recent revision of Appreciation & History of Music, students use general and scholarly sources to research a favorite composer. Beyond providing information about the composer, they evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the sources they used.

Have you used similar activities in your courses? Do you have additional ideas or examples on how to incorporate WebQuests? Let us know!

Resource for Creating Content

H5P offers a variety of tools that instructors can use to create instructional content: presentations, games, timelines, etc. We’ll highlight some of these tools with examples that could be used in an IL Course.

Have you created anything with H5P? Let us know – we’d love to see your own examples.

Tips for Successful Online Learning

DCS Independent Learning is publishing material for the broader online educational community. This effort began with the publication of A Foundation Course in Reading German by Howard Martin, revised and expanded as an open online textbook by Alan Ng. 

It continues with Tips for Successful Online Learning.

For newcomers to online education, the “Consider Your Options” tip reviews different online learning choices: free versus paid, continuing education credit versus college credit and competency assessment versus independent study versus cohort classes. And, to help prospective students critically assess online learning providers, it includes a primer on regional versus national accreditation.

To help prospective students focused on career advancement, the “Consider Your Career Goals” tip introduces students to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Statistics’ The Occupational Outlook Handback with information on 575 different occupations: the job itself, the work environment, job preparation,  occupational outlook and regional data.

For online students there are tips on appropriate communication, “Mind Your Ps and Qs,” writing resources, “Write Wisely: Use Your “OWL” Online Writing Lab” and time management, “Budget Time and Find Space.”

In all, Tips for Successful Online Learning offers twelve tips and reflects DCS Independent Learning’s commitment to helping students find the learning option that is best for them and fulfilling their educational goals. Forthcoming DCS Independent Learning  publications for the wider educational community include, for instructors, “How to Teach Successfully in D2L” and, for students, “Getting Ready for a Writing Intensive Course.”