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May 1, 2017 / Laura

ZTC: Feedback from students

Good news!  I got the feedback from my students about the ZTC materials website I have created for the summer.  The feedback was specific, thoughtful, and overwhelmingly positive.  The one area that was mentioned a couple of times as something they disliked was the aesthetics of the site.  This is interesting to me because I really only thought of the site as a place to hold the links to readings and other materials.  With this feedback in mind, I chose a new theme for the site.  I may consider other aesthetic changes before summer, but I am not sure that I have enough time to dedicate to it before summer begins!  Here is the new color scheme and theme for the CHLD240 ZTC Materials site:

Snip of the home page of the ZTC Materials site

For comparison, you can see my previous color scheme and theme in my post from February 2nd.

April 20, 2017 / Laura

ZTC: Surveying my students

Because the project upon which I am working is really about a zero-cost textbook replacement, and not specifically open educational resources, I am going to start to label these posts with “ZTC” and add “ZTC” as a tag to this post and all previous posts about this work.

I have a pretty solid final draft of the materials ready for one of my classes: Children with special learning needs (CHLD240).   I decided to do a little test-run with the students in my current CHLD240 class.  As an extra credit, I asked them to peruse the course material site I created and provide me with some feedback.  I explained how it would be used this summer as a replacement for the textbook.  Here are the questions I asked them:

1. Identify how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statement:

“The materials on this website would be a good replacement for a textbook in CHLD240.”

a. Strongly Agree
b. Agree
c. Neither Agree nor Disagree
d. Disagree
e. Strongly Disagree

2. In your opinion, how easy was it to use this website and access the materials?

a. Extremely easy
b. Somewhat easy
c. Neutral: not easy and not difficult
d. Somewhat difficult
e. Extremely difficult

3. Which section of the course material website was the most interesting to you? What made it the most interesting?

4. Which section of the website did you like the least? Why was this section your least favorite?

5. Please write down any specific feedback you have about the site. Anything you want to say about it would be helpful. Thank you!

The anonymous student responses are due on April 30!  I cannot wait to see what they say.


February 7, 2017 / Laura

ZTC/OER: Details about making an e-reader with corresponding presentations and assessment items

What I am doing right now is collecting the course materials I find into a Google Site.  You can see some areas have materials and some do not because I am transferring things from a mish-mosh of resources I put together in a Google Doc into the site.

Here’s the site:

It’s basically an electronic course reader, kind of like a textbook, organized using the course outline.  I did break down one of the subtopics of the course outline a little more, but it’s mostly just the course outline.

Okay, so that’s the actual place where I am collecting the readings/materials.  I will treat it like a textbook and assign sections or parts of sections each week.

After the Google Site is finished, I will be making generic slide presentations (PPT or Google Slides) that go with the e-reader.  These are going to be kind of like publisher PowerPoints.  I will also create assessments/test banks.

Now, when I actually teach my class, I will just do my thing as an individual instructor that I already do.  I will assign readings from the e-reader (Google Site), individualize/customize the generic PPTs to make them my own (I do a lot of adding my own voice and screencasts), and pull what I want to use from the assessment materials (create low-stakes quizzes, which I call learning activities, and the such).

I have a video that shows more of just my overall approach to creating course modules in Blackboard.  I will probably do something similar when I am using Canvas, just because it seems to work for my students.  However, that’s the part that I think every instructor can individualize.  Once you have the materials, PPTs, and assessment items, you can just use them to make the course your own.  There will be a lot that is not there (e.g., each instructor may want to have their own homework-type assignments, discussion topics, etc…) that instructors will still need to create.

This is what I am envisioning for me.  I think that course leads will be doing the materials collection, PPTs, and assessment items. They are just the resources another instructor would need if they were teaching the class (like a publisher’s course package).

So, here’s that other video about how I sort of set things up, in general, in Blackboard.  It varies a bit from class to class and even week to week, but I am generally pretty consistent and follow this general pattern.

Also, I do like collecting things in a Google Doc first before creating the e-reader.  I have a lot of items that I find and put in there and then strike out or make comments on due to finding other things that are more updated or something.  It’s honestly a horrible mess to an outsider, but it makes sense for me and helps me keep everything I am finding in one place without having to commit to it as being a part of the e-reader yet.  I think that each instructor might be different in how they want to organize their resource collection and searches before putting the final product together, so this is just one idea.

February 2, 2017 / Laura

ZTC/OER: Full site snapshot

The Google Site’s menu is now pretty updated.  As you can see, it has the full course outline there.  I also added four areas under “Types of Disabilities.”  This section had to be broken down more.  I usually spend the equivalent of a week on each area when I teach the class.  I used the textbook to help me determine which areas I would like to highlight.

Snapshot of a Google site. Left menu is yellow with an outline listed. The main page has readings listed under "Communication."


February 2, 2017 / Laura

ZTC/OER: Searching for government resources

With the courses I am teaching, finding a full textbook online is not likely.  A lot of government sites offer materials in the public domain.  To help find items from government sites, I do a special search in my search engine (e.g., Google).

Instead of just typing something like “history of education,” I follow up the search terms with a colon and “.gov” so that it will primarily yield sites that end in .gov or have “gov” in the site address.  For example, that previous search would look like this:

history of education: .gov

January 26, 2017 / Laura

ZTC/OER: How I am creating an “e-book” or “e-reader” with Google Sites

I have pretty much completed compiling the resources I need for one of the classes I am converting to use OER.  To organize these resources as sort of an “e-book,” I decided to use Google Sites.  I am making the pages of the Google Site to reflect the topics and subtopics of the course outline used by the college.  The thing I like about this is that it will make it into almost an “e-book” of sorts.  I am calling each main topic a “unit” and labeling the subheadings with “A,” “B,” “C,” and the such.  I can easily link to one of the subheadings in my syllabus each week and students will have direct access to the OER.  This is almost like an electronic “reader,” like the paper ones I used to purchase for classes when I was in college.

If you would like to see the Google Site in progress, it available for you.

Here is how my menu looks.


Screenshot of the left menu of my Google Site being used to organize OER into an electronic “book” or “reader.”

January 19, 2017 / Laura

ZTC/OER: My Diigo list of OER resources (and check out who I follow on Twitter related to OER)

If you are looking for OER (Open Educational Resources) repositories and other ideas and training related to OER, you may want to check out my Diigo outliner list about OER and see who I follow on Twitter related to OER!  I will update these as I find more OER resources.