Apr 22 2014

"Recent Items from the Online Library" Box on the Course Home Page

When the online course and CoursePlus systems merge at the end of the academic year, we'll be introducing a new element to course home pages: a "Recent Items from the Online Library" box on each course home page. This box includes the five most recently uploaded (or replaced) files or links in the course Online Library.

Aside from making the course home page more useful, the other purpose of this addition is to help replace some of the functionality on the “What’s New” page in CoursePlus. In case you don't know, when students sign into CoursePluse, there is a “What’s New” link next to each course in which they are enrolled. This page lists recently added quizzes, surveys, Drop Boxes and Online Library files for a specific course. Unfortunately, this feature won't make it into to the merged CoursePlus right away because it’s not a very scalable tool (it takes 5-7 seconds to gather all the data for just one course). It also helps to divert students from actually going into a CoursePlus site and engaging in the full scope of activities therein. It’s certainly convenient, and our hope is that — while no replacement for a custom, per-person, per-course “What’s New” page — the "Updates to the Online Library Box” will help replace some of this convenience.

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:24 AM - Categories: Course Tools | CoursePlus | Online Courses

Apr 17 2014

Variable Credit Courses Will Not Be Listed in the Merged CoursePlus

When the online course and CoursePlus systems merge at the end of the academic year, there will be a change to the courses listed on the "Course List" view in CoursePlus.

Currently, if you go to the CoursePlus home page and click on “Course List,” you will see variable credit courses listed. These are generally .840 courses, though there are a handful of others which have variable credit. We cannot create CoursePlus sites for those course numbers as a) there’s no faculty assigned to these courses, and b), more importantly, there’s no single course for all students who may have signed up for that variable credit SSR. Everyone is doing something different. If faculty need a CoursePlus site for special courses that have students register as SSRs, faculty can request a non-catalog CoursePlus site and the CTL team will gladly set one up.

These courses generally have no information (description, learning objectives, methods of assessment, etc.) in the SPH course catalog. These courses also cause confusion on the part of students who register for variable-credit courses and don't see them listed when they sign into CoursePlus. Faculty who teach a group of students as an SSR are also often confused as to why a .840 course isn't available to them to set up, when, in fact, they simply need to request a non-catalog CoursePlus site for that group.

After discussion of the above with a number of teams and with the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, we have decided that variable-credit courses will not be listed in the merged system. If you questions about this, please contact the Center for Teaching and Learning.

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 4:24 PM - Categories: CoursePlus | Online Courses

Apr 17 2014

The Flipped Classroom

You may have heard of flipping the classroom as a model for active learning that works well in graduate level courses. It is not new, and some instructors are already practicing it here at JHSPH, but I often get questions about how to more effectively add these techniques into a course. Instructors want to know how much time it takes and if it is worth the effort. 

The flipped classroom is really just a way of making the most of face-to-face class time. Particularly with an eight week term, efficacy in short amounts of time is really important. When students leave your classroom, what is it that you want them to be able to do? Recite a few key points that they picked up from the readings and lectures? Or do you want them to have a deeper level of understanding and the confidence that comes from having applied their learning and worked through complicated problems? Flipping the classroom can help achieve this second outcome. Usually it works like this: there is some homework assigned, maybe even before the first day of class. It can be reading, watching a lecture, or listening to a podcast, something passive where students are getting the background information they need to be able to be an active participant in class. This prepares students to engage in class, and also gives them some confidence that they have some basis for participating when the time comes. Once in class, there are various activities that range from discussion, to group work, to case studies and problem solving, or even letting students teach a section, all of these help students to get a more memorable experience out of the course.

A key to success in the flipped classroom is setting student expectations up front. Letting students know what is expected of them and why you are doing what you are doing. This allows students to take a more active role in their education, and ultimately, get more out of the course. 

My colleagues and I are happy to talk in more detail about your specific courses and questions about implementing a similar model in your classroom. Drop by E5620, Wednesdays from 10-12 or Thursdays from 1:30-3:30, or come by any time and pick up a handout from our office door. 

We look forward to seeing you soon!


Findlay-Thompson, S., & Mombourquette, P. (2013). EVALUATION OF A FLIPPED CLASSROOM IN AN UNDERGRADUATE BUSINESS COURSE. Global Conference On Business & Finance Proceedings8(2), 138-145.

Bergmann, J., Overmyer, J., Wilie, B. (Aprils, 2012). The flipped class: What it is and what it is not. Retrieved from http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/the-flipped-class-conversation-689.php


For even more information on the topic:

Additional Flipped Classroom Resources Including an Infographic

May 8th Inside Higher Ed The Flipped Classroom Webinar

0 comments - Posted by Amy Kitchens at 3:12 PM - Categories: Teaching Tips

Apr 15 2014

CoursePlus 101: Signing In and Setting Up a Site in the New CoursePlus

While the look of the new CoursePlus is definitely different, the process of signing in to CoursePlus and setting up a CoursePlus site is very similar to how that process worked in the past. This video walks you through the process, and points out some of the subtle changes along the way:

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:37 AM - Categories: CoursePlus 101

Apr 10 2014

The Innovative Instructor: Peer Learning, Formative Assessment and Poster Projects

For those who haven't yet subscribed to The Innovative Instructor, a blog by our colleagues in the Johns Hopkins Center for Educational Resources, you should! Aside from the very recent posts on our SPH symposium on Peer Learning and Assessment, and ideas on the social media keynote by Howard Rheingold, here are a a couple other recent posts you should definitely check out:

The Characteristics of High Quality Formative Assessments
Formative assessment still tends to lag behind summative assessment in terms of adoption in the classroom. This post provides background, research, loads of references, and will help get things started for incoroporating more. Not sure about the differences between formative and summative assessment? Here's a refresher from Carnegie Mellon.

Creative Student Assignments:  Poster Projects
"For STEM career-path students, poster sessions are certain to be a part of their futures. Increasingly, those in Humanities and Social Sciences are finding that poster sessions are being seen in their professional/academic conferences. Posters and similar presentation approaches are becoming part of business (including non-profit) practice as well."

On some floors of the School of Public Health you can see poster presentations on the walls. Were these created by faculty or by students? Whoever does the work, does the learning.

0 comments - Posted by Clark Shah-Nelson at 8:47 AM - Categories: General | Innovation & Inspiration | Teaching Tips

Apr 8 2014

What Are the Differences Between Online and On-Campus Courses in the New CoursePlus?

The merged CoursePlus houses both online and on-campus courses in a single system. The tools in CoursePlus are the same for online and on-campus courses, with the following exceptions:

  • On-campus courses have a class sessions tool that can be edited by faculty, TAs, and editors on the course.
  • Online courses have a schedule tool that is currently only editable by the instructional designer assigned to the course.
  • On-campus courses have one-click tool that makes the course site available or unavailable to students.
  • Online courses become available to students on the day the course begins. There is no option to make an online course site unavailable to students.
  • On-campus courses have a tool that displays a link to the eReserves site for that course. Online courses usually post this information on course lecture pages by default.
  • Online courses have a "Welcome" page for visitors not enrolled in the course. On-campus courses do not have this page.
  • Online courses have a "Faculty" page in the "Syllabus" section of the course site which displays custom biographical information about course faculty, guest speakers, and TAs. On-campus courses do not have this page.
  • There is no LiveTalk page in on-campus course sites.

That's it for the differences between what you see in online versus on-campus course sites. If you have any questions, please let us know!


0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:22 AM - Categories: CoursePlus | Online Courses

Apr 1 2014

The New "My Courses" Page

When the online course and CoursePlus systems merge at the end of May, 2014, there will be numerous changes — some of which we've already detailed in other posts. In this post, we'll take a look at the all new post-sign in, "My Courses" page.

The My Courses page is what you see immediately after signing into CoursePlus as either a student or editor (using your eLearning account) or primary faculty on a course (using your my.jhsph account). Unlike the current version of CoursePlus, if you sign in as faculty, you see all of your courses displayed, whether it's an online or on-campus course, and regardless of your role in the course (faculty, guest faculty, editor, guest, student, etc.). All your courses in one place — a big improvement over the current setup!

Here's what the My Courses page looks like:

On the left, you'll see all of the course sites to which you have access listed by academic year, then academic term, in reverse chronological order (just as it is now in CoursePlus and the online course system). You'll see your role in each course (student, faculty, guest faculty, editor, etc.) on this page, rather than having to click through a series of tabs, as you must in the current CoursePlus. You'll also see a column with other key information about each course:

  • The start date of the course (online courses only)
  • If there are recent announcements in that site (indicated by a red star)
  • If the site is not available to students
  • If the course has been cancelled
  • If you can set up the site for that course (only if you're primary faculty on the course)

Academic coordinators who sign in to CoursePlus using their my.jhsph account will be able to see all CoursePlus sites in their department in this list.

On the right, there are a number of useful tools. First up is the My Calendar box, which should be familiar to anyone who's taken or taught an online course. The My Calendar box shows upcoming items on the class schedule for both online and on-campus courses. In order for on-campus class information to make it into this box, faculty or course editors need to use the class sessions tool to add class session information to their CoursePlus sites.

Below the My Calendar box is a listing of the most recent blog posts on the CTL Blog. We hope this provides everyone with an easier way of getting news and updates about changes to CoursePlus, course tools, and best practices in education in general.

We think the new My Courses box is a significant improvement over the current course involvement listings in both the online course and CoursePlus systems. We hope you do too!

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:50 AM - Categories: CoursePlus | Online Courses

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