Making the Leap: 7 Tips for New Online Learners

28897238_s - Second Copy CroppedWill this semester be your first time taking an online course? While a syllabus should outline the technicalities and course navigation, the mental leap from traditional instruction to a virtual classroom can be daunting. Here are 7 suggestions to make the transition easier.

  1. Recognize that e-learning is different type of learning experience. Don’t compare it to a traditional course. Although it may seem strange, give the virtual learning methods a chance and explore a new pedagogical arena.
  1. Learn how you like. Enrich your learning experience by finding supplementary resources which you enjoy using. They could be familiar resources, like powerpoints and informative videos, or perhaps new tools like prezi or TED Talks.
  1. Share what you find with your classmates. If you liked it, chances are that they will too. You can create a larger and more united environment for your classmate community.
  1. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn. Don’t submit reading responses only in order to make the grade. Choose to make the most of the experience and continually appreciate learning new things.
  1. Team up with another first time e-learner. Whether or not you are taking the same course, it is a good idea to have a friend who can jointly relate to your position.
  1. Find a mentor who had a positive online learning experience. Look around – it is likely that a neighbor or a fellow student made this leap a little while ago. Ask for practical advice and do not scoff at comforting reassurance.
  1. Have fun! – Learning is great.

What helped you make the transition from a traditional student to an e-learner?

6 Ways to Use PDF Converter in Online Classes

PDF Converter for online education

PDF Converter for online education

The following is a guest post written by Cindy Pearson of PDFconverter.com. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

The Internet and its technologies have done much for making knowledge accessible to everyone for free. Thanks to the Internet and software developers, online teachers have at their disposal a wide variety of tools for spreading the knowledge to anyone, anywhere, in any time-zone. One useful tool that online educators can include in their toolbox is a PDF conversion suite. PDF converters come in various forms: as installable desktop software packages, completely web-based, or mobile applications.

Benefits of PDF tools in online education
PDF conversion tools can help both educators and students present and share their assignments, reports and projects in a universal format that can be viewed on any device without needing to install the native application used for creating the original documents.

Most Common Uses of PDF Conversion Tools in Education
Here are six ways online learners and teachers can use PDF converters in online education:

  1. Create and Share Documents Without Losing the Original Formatting
    If you’ve ever received a Microsoft Word document from another person, and opened it on your own device in MS Word, chances are that it looked a bit messy. It may look even messier when opened in LibreOffice or OpenOffice Writer. This mess is what often happens when documents are shared in editable formats such as .doc, .xls or .ppt. If you want your documents to look tidy and professional on any device, running on any operating system, convert them to PDF format prior to attaching them to an email or sharing them online.
  2. Make PDF Slideshows from PPT Slides
    Students use Powerpoint slides to showcase their work and assignments, and teachers use Powerpoint slides to present course material in a clear and visually appealing way. Turning Powerpoint slides into PDF slideshows will allow you to view the presentation across different devices, without needing to install Powerpoint on each device.
  3. Make PDF eTextBooks
    Online document sharing and online education have contributed to the rise of eBooks. With a PDF converter, you can quickly create textbooks for your students and share these books with them electronically.
  4. Convert Old PDF Presentations and Reversion them In PowerPoint
    Most professional teachers and educators use many presentations and slideshows in their work. Consequently, after a few years of teaching experience, educators may have a pretty good archive or electronic repository of valuable learning materials, often stored in PDF – the best format for archiving purposes. These goodies can often become useful for present classes or training sessions, if only updated or modified. Instead of retyping them, it is far more efficient to translate them to editable PowerPoint files and simply edit inaccurate information, remove unnecessary details or add additional content.
  5. Turn Archived Lessons into Editable .DOC and Update Them
    Archived lessons can be repurposed and reused just like presentations. A good, high-quality PDF-to-Doc converter can come in very handy if you want to brush-up or rework a number of your old lesson plans, grading sheets, exercises or quizzes.
  6. Edit Your Essays and Book Reports
    Have you ever created an essay or research paper for your class, saved it as a non-editable PDF to prohibit people from altering the contents, and then simply deleted its editable MS Word counterpart? If you have done this, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us! Sometimes our work doesn’t need any editing, but very often changes or improvements are needed, or feedback from teachers or colleagues could spark an idea that we’d like to implement. In such a case, the only way to edit the multi-page essay or book report without retyping it is to convert it from PDF to its original, editable format using a PDF conversion tool.

Luckily, there are many PDF converters out there today. If you are looking for one that would enable you to do all of the above and more, check out PDF Converter. It is a free web-based suite that enables you to create PDFs online from over 300 file formats and convert PDF to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Once you’ve tried it, come back here and share how you’ve used PDF converters in your online studies and teaching practices. Share your ideas with others and get inspired by the ideas of fellow teachers and students.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

7 Steps to Convert Powerpoints to E-learning Courses [INFOGRAPHIC]

7 Steps to Convert Powerpoint to E-learning Courses - thumbnail

It’s quite a challenge to convert a traditional classroom course to online format.

If you already have a set of PowerPoint slides prepared, how do you convert that into an e-learning course? You can’t just share the Powerpoint with your students and expect them to assimilate the information.

The following infographic from e-learning infographics lists 7 steps for converting powerpoint presentations into e-learning courses.

7-Steps-to-Convert-Powerpoint-to-E-learning-Courses-Infographic

Engage and Assess Students with the Nearpod App

Nearpod

Nearpod

Nearpod is an app that allows teachers to create interactive presentations that incorporate student input.

After downloading the Nearpod app, teachers can create presentations and add opportunities for interactivity. The slides of the presentation can include images, videos, live web pages, as well as assessment tools like quizzes, polls, drawings, and free-text responses. Responses from all assessments are sent back to teacher to analyze and can give feedback.

When used in the classroom, Nearpod allows the teacher to control the flow of the presentation: As the teacher moves from one slide to the next, the slides automatically advance on the students’ iPads, too. In addition, Nearpod’s “homework” feature allows students to progress through the slides at their own pace. All assessments completed in the homework slides are then submitted to the teacher.

Why use Nearpod?

  • Instead of presenting a large Powerpoint presentation on a faraway screen, every student can now view and interact with the teacher’s presentation close-up on their own iPad.
  • Students will be kept awake during class if they must answer questions throughout the lecture and stay involved.
  • Assessments can be incorporated directly within or at the end of the presentation.
  • Professors can see in real-time how well students understood the material, or hear students’ opinions through live polls.
  • Nearpod creates a collaborative learning environment, in which students feel highly engaged with their learning.

Nearpod is available on iOS, Android, and the Web.

Watch the videos below to better understand how the Nearpod app works:

Get engaged with Nearpod from Nearpod on Vimeo.

New lessons with Nearpod from Nearpod on Vimeo.

*Nearpod logo is the sole and exclusive property of Nearpod™

20 Tips for Improving Educational PowerPoint Presentations

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Take a look at these 20 tips for improving powerpoint presentations:

  1. Clarify for your students whether the PowerPoint is repeating the textbook material or supplementary to the textbook material.
  2. Create an initial slide with an overview of what students can expect to learn in the PowerPoint presentation.
  3. Use concise bullet points instead of long paragraphs of text.
  4. Break up bullet points into separate slides, with images on each slide to represent each point. After you have completed a series of points, include a slide that summarizes all of the points together on one slide.
  5. Incorporate examples to illustrate key concepts. In a classroom lecture, professors naturally incorporate examples to support their points, but in a stand-alone PowerPoint presentation, these examples must be spelled out within the presentation to enhance comprehension of the material.
  6. If you are adapting a PowerPoint from lecture format to online delivery, keep in mind that your presentation must be self-explanatory. Consider adding a voice-over narration or adding a video of yourself superimposed on the presentation.
  7. While key words may be enough for PowerPoints used in lectures, make sure to write only clear full sentences in PowerPoints intended for online delivery.
  8. Design your slides with sharp contrast between the text and the background so that the text is easily readable.
  9. Include relevant graphics to support key concepts. Studies have shown that adding relevant images can greatly enhance learning, but adding decorative graphics that are irrelevant can sometimes depress learning.
  10. Add videos and relevant hyperlinks to your slides.
  11. Incorporate animated text effects to add interest, but don’t go overboard lest it become a distraction.
  12. Use animations to demonstrate a sequence or clarify complex concepts. Keep in mind that animated effects should be purposeful, not just for decoration.
  13. Use pre-made PowerPoint templates to get a jumpstart on good design.
  14. Check out other professors’ educational PowerPoints to get ideas of effective layouts, styles, and content.
  15. Vary text sizes to indicate which pieces of information are most important, and to differentiate between headings, subheadings, and explanations.
  16. Don’t try to squeeze too much text onto one slide.
  17. Keep in mind that students might print out your slides, so make sure they are printer-friendly.
  18. Break up longer PowerPoints into several smaller PowerPoints.
  19. Use pptPlex to add Prezi-like functionality to your slides: zooming in and out of sections.
  20. Add an interactive quiz right inside your PowerPoint to help students process the information they have just learned.

For more information on adapting PowerPoint lectures for online delivery, see Adapting PowerPoint Lectures for Online Delivery on FacultyFocus.com.

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