Facing Instructional Videos

How important is it for instructors to include their own faces when creating instructional videos? The answer might surprise you. Dann Hurlbert, Carleton College’s Media & Design Guru (and an actor, director, and inventor of the Little Prompter) leans on research and his own expertise to offer guidance.

Instructional Video Workshops Fill up Fast!

I’m already excited to be a part of the team hosting this Instructional Video Workshop at Carleton in late July!  Attendees will not only take-way a concrete and replicable process for creating process, but they’ll create [at least] 3 Instructional Videos they can start using right away.  The seats filled-up so fast, there is no doubt we’ll be doing more of these in the future!  More information on the workshop itself is available here.  And if you’d like to be notified when we host another one, please complete this short form. — dann

Business Video Benefits (in Education)

Dann Hurlbert, Carleton College’s Media and Design Guru provides an overview of Matt Bowman’s article in Forbes Magazine about video marketing in business. There is a reason businesses are using more video:  it’s working. It can work well in education, too. Take a moment to reflect on Matt’s article — and nibble on the possibilities video can provide educators by watching this:

Tips for Getting Started with Online Teaching

Even for schools that don’t see themselves as “online” institutions, there are ways to gradually get started teaching online courses. In this video, Dann Hurlbert of Carleton College’s Academic Technology walks viewers through some research on and tips for getting started.

Special Thanks to Yiwen Lou for her work on this video.

Civic Engagement, Spanish Classes, and Instructional Video

Dann Hurlbert and Palmar Alvarez-Blanco co-taught Spanish 206, a Carleton College course focused on fostering civic engagement–while giving back to the community. Students in this course worked with under-represented community organizations to help them spread their message by creating a participatory video with them. In addition to using video creation as coursework and as the assessment, Dann also uses Instructional Video to teach and guide the learning. This sample video includes short selections from the following films: Bacon and God’s Wrath by Sol Friedman and Sarah Clifford-Rashotte; Godka Circa by Antonio Tibaldi and Alex Lora; Damon at 86th Street by Emily Sheskin, and the Price of Certainty by Daniele Anastasion.

Tracking Student Progress to Assist Metacognition & Self-Regulated Learning

screenshot of Moodle interface to track student activity completion. shows rows of students and columns of activities

Many faculty are interested in both tracking student progress and also helping students learn to track their work themselves. Most learning management systems (LMS) have a feature that allows students and faculty to keep track of what activities are completed and which are not, in Moodle this feature is called Completion Tracking.

Completion Tracking aids faculty in being able to see at a glance which students have completed which activities across the entire course. The Activity Completion Report (available in the Administration Block > Reports > Activity Completion) shows all of this at a glance. Activities that are considered complete are checked off, while activities not yet complete are not. Students that achieved a passing grade (e.g. on a Quiz) will get a green checkmark while students who do not reach the passing grade receive a red mark.

Moodle 3.1 Activity Completion Report
Moodle 3.1 Activity Completion Report

Note: Completion Tracking is enabled at Carleton, though if you are at another institution it may need to be enabled by your Moodle administrator.

Another compelling reason to use Completion Tracking is the value to the students. When students complete an activity, they are shown a checkmark to the right of the activity right on the Moodle home page. Activities not yet completed have empty boxes enticing the student to complete the work. Teachers can also add the Course Completion Status block to the page so the student can see a quick view summary of how much of the course they have completed and how much more they have to go. This kind of aid is especially helpful to students who may still struggle with organizational skills or self-regulation techniques.

So, here’s your Moodle Recipe for Tracking Student Progress:

Moodle Recipe for Tracking Student Progress
Moodle Recipe for Tracking Student Progress

Moodle Help Links

Further Reading

There is a lot of material on the value of metacognition and self-regulated learning for students in higher education.  These are just a few of the things I’ve read lately. What reading would you recommend?

Moodle Recipes: Small Group Discussions

We’ve started a new series of posts called Moodle Recipes that will focus on pedagogically effective ways to make use of Moodle in a face-to-face classroom setting. All Moodle Recipes will be available under the Moodle Recipes header on Carly’s blog, and will also be highlighted here. Continue reading Moodle Recipes: Small Group Discussions

Skills are (part of) “The New Canon”?

horizontal sign with words "new skills training"

In the Chronicle of Higher Ed* article “If Skills Are The New Canon, Are Colleges Teaching Them,” Dan Barrett suggests that after 20ish years of wrestling with a move away from a core liberal education curriculum based on classical texts (a la Harvard Classics), “a new consensus has emerged: that colleges ought to develop in students a set of skills.”

The idea is not to abandon content or disciplines but to build curricula based on specific knowledge that instills skills.

Typically the skills mentioned include those that are quite recognizable at Carleton and some even baked into the curriculum: critical thinking, writing, analytical and quantitative reasoning.

But other skills and methods, perhaps those particularly associated with turning out students ready for the 21st century, are not necessarily part of any canon. This list includes but is not limited to visual and spatial reasoning, information literacy, interpretation of meaning, using and evaluating evidence, and verbally communicating thought.

Barrett’s article shares some examples of how some colleges teach a new canon. Some curricula are tweaked and some are radically reimagined or created afresh. This is certainly happening at Carleton and we’re also seeing an approach to addressing the skills/method gap that Barrett doesn’t mention—the micro-course.

Carleton Spanish Professor, Palmar Alvarez-Blanco, has created an experimental two-credit micro-course as a companion to one of her courses. She wanted to “empower students to understand narratives found in mainstream media, research and produce their own short documentaries, and strengthen their civic engagement experience, digital storytelling proficiency, and practical career skills” and realized that combining this dense packet of skills and methods into a single week of the existing course was not ideal. Palmar is working closely with Academic Technologist Dann Hurlbert on this experimental micro-course. Their process and findings could provide the framework for micro-courses at Carleton as well as inform the revision of existing courses and creation of new courses in order to deliver on a new canon.

We can all look forward to a report from Palmar and Dann and I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for more examples to share of thoughtfully designed courses which effectively teach 21st century skills and methods as well as the disciplinary knowledge at hand.

*The Carleton library subscribes to the Chronicle and provides institutional access.  If you’re on campus, you can simply go to chronicle.com, if you’re off-campus, you can use this link to log on with you Carleton username and password: http://www.chronicle.com.ezproxy.carleton.edu/

Instructional Design and Work Study Training Prep

Close-up of a green eye surrounded by sketches of ideas and concepts

business infographics, concept of looking into the future

When I am asked what Instructional Design is about, I usually respond with something like “instructional design is student focused and built backwards.”  A little prying will get me to go further:  “After identifying the learning objectives, an instructor must determine how student learning will be evaluated; then s/he must put in place the steps/instruction that will get the students to that objective successfully.  The best instruction builds on prior or establishes new baseline knowledge, involves some demonstration, and then engages the student through practical, hands-on, real-world application.”

Or something along those lines.

This philosophy is based both on my years of teaching and the research of countless of smart people.  Robin Smith suggests states that “Most effective learning environments . . . involve four distinct phases of learning:  Activation of prior knowledge, demonstration of skills, Application of skills, Integration of these skills into real world activities”  (Smith,  2008).  Similarly, David Merrill’s study reveals that learning is promoted most effectively when:  “learners are engaged in solving real-world problems…existing knowledge is activated as a foundation for new knowledge…new knowledge is demonstrated to the learner…new knowledge is applied by the learner…new knowledge is integrated into the learner’s world”  (Merrill, 2002).

Now, with 15 years of face-to-face instruction under my belt, and a couple years as the Media & Design Specialist for Academic Technology at Carleton College, I’m eager to see how instructional design plays out when I launch my online training course for our thirty work study students next fall.  The good news is that “3.9 million students … took online classes in 2007” and “more than 80% [of those] were undergraduate students,” (Johnson, 31).  Since then, the numbers of students that already have some online learning experience has continued to grow.  So, I’ve got high hopes that with some good instructional design, my undergraduate students will quickly master the requirements of serving the media and event support needs of Carleton faculty and staff.

I’ll report back next year with the results.

Dann Hurlbert

Media and Design Specialist for Academic Technology




Johnson, Kevin and Susan Manning. Online Education for Dummies. By Kevin Johnson. 1st ed. Hoboken: Wiley, 2010

Merrill, M. David. “First Principles.” ETR&D 50.37 (2002): n. pag.Mdavidmerrill.com. Mdavidmerrill, 7 Jan. 2010. Web. 5 May 2016.

Smith, Robin M. Conquering the Content: A Step-by-Step Guide to Online Course Design. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Web. 03 May 2016.