college student watching videos on laptop.

Creating Accessible Video for the Online Classroom

Videos are being integrated more and more into the online classroom. However, they can create barriers for learners with hearing problems. If a student asks for an ADA accommodation for a video, you will be scrambling at the last minute to create a text supplement. That’s why it’s good practice to create a text supplement at the same time that you create a video.

Many faculty use separate transcripts to add text for hearing-impaired students. But this makes it challenging for a deaf or hard-of-hearing student to absorb the visual and auditory information simultaneously, as they need to shift back and forth between the images and text. The better way to create accessible video is with captions that appear within the video itself, allowing learners to read the text with the images. While captioning takes time, the steps are not difficult to master, and there are a variety of options for adding captions to online videos.

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Easy Content Creation with Whiteboards

A number of video types work well in an online environment, each with its own strengths that make it appropriate for teaching certain types of content. One of the most powerful types is whiteboard videos.

Whiteboards are basically blank canvases on the computer onto which you can write, draw, or place different sorts of content. The ability to draw is particularly helpful for instructors teaching quantitative courses, as instructors can write out equations freehand, rather than going through the laborious process of typing them onto a computer. But drawing can be used in other subjects as well. An art instructor can teach how to identify a particular painting style by placing images of different paintings on the whiteboard and circling their defining features while recording the lesson. Whiteboards also work for assessments. Students can demonstrate their understanding of a physics principle by recording themselves solving equations on a whiteboard while describing the steps. This allows the instructor to see whether an error in the student’s thinking has led them astray.

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Using Padlet to Encourage Student Collaboration

Online faculty generally default to their learning management system’s discussion form to facilitate student collaboration or sharing. But Padlet provides an alternate format that can be much better for many purposes. The LMS forum is designed for linear, text-based discussions around a pre-established theme. This is good if a faculty member wants to corral discussion and keep it on track, but it is not so good for facilitating a more free-form, creative discussion that branches out into many areas. Padlet also provides a much more visually appealing, and thus inviting, system for facilitating content sharing among students.

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Mind Mapping Can Improve Papers

I mainly teach undergraduate writing and research methods classes and wanted to share my experiences with mind mapping, also referred to as concept mapping. I’ve found that using it can significantly improve student papers. It’s an excellent innovation that requires student writers to visualize how they would like to approach a writing assignment before they start writing. It encourages them to identify their central idea and graphically illustrate how the main and supporting points advance the paper’s thesis or central idea. This approach comes in handy in laying out a structure for the paper before students start writing. When they plan their “route” first, they end up with papers that coherently make their way to a conclusion.

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