Friday, October 25, 2013

Promoting Academic Integrity Online

Illustration for Cheating Français : Illustrat...
It happens online and off! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The instructional designers in the College of eLearning & Extended Education can assist you in developing a wide variety of assessment methods that can minimize cheating, promote academic integrity, and increase the interactivity and engagement in your online courses. Here are just some of the methods to reduce cheating and to promote academic integrity:

Course Design

  • Include a simple academic honesty pledge “test” that says, “I understand my college’s academic honesty policy. All of the work I turn in is my own.” with a link to the college's policy. 
  • Include the academic policy in your syllabus quiz.
  • Discuss the importance of academic integrity to your discipline in a lecture.

Assessment Design

  • Give many short, low-stakes quizzes instead of a mid-term and a final.
  • Make assessments depend on the preceding course work.
  • Pose higher order, mastery questions requiring deeper knowledge and application of material (see Bloom’s Taxonomy).
  • Have students relate subject matter their personal, professional, or life experiences.
  • Have answers relate to current events in the news.
  • Display test questions one at a time.
  • Use a question bank and have the test randomly created for each student attempt.
  • Limit the times when the online test is available.
  • Create a set duration of time for students to complete the test.
  • Estimate how long responses should take to answer if someone knows the material well.

Alternative Assessment Methods

  • Use online quizzes as self-assessment only
  • Use online quizzes as pre-testing at the start of a course
  • Short essays
  • Group or individual projects
  • Discussion forums – whole class and small groups that report out to a main discussion
  • Portfolios
  • Debates
  • Simulations
  • Contributions to collective information pools like wikis or blogs
  • Online “poster sessions” or presentations
  • Create a video or audio presentation
  • Role-playing
  • Interviews
Essay Assignments
  • Use (We suggest that this is used as a teaching tool and not a policing tool.)
  • Have students relate subject matter to their personal/professional/life experiences
  • Have essay subjects relate to current events in the news

For more information please contact Geoff Cain, the Director of Academic Technology, via email at

If you have other suggestions, please include them in the comments below. 
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Biology eAcademy: Blackboard Collaborate and Our PLCs

Humboldt State University campus, Arcata, Cali...
The CSU is using Blackboard Collaborate for 19 campuses. The Professional Learning Communities that are coming out of the eAcademies will be meeting  every two weeks in Collaborate. The Biology eAcademy will be continuing using Collaborate.

Brett Christie opened up Collaborate and uploaded his PowerPoint presentation to the Collaborate whiteboard.

Collaborate is online meeting software. It includes video, audio, text chat, and a whiteboard. It has polling functions, the ability to share resources, give web tours, screen and application sharing, and many other useful features. You can use Collaborate to capture lectures and screencasts. It allows for breakout rooms, multimedia playback, and sharing files.

We use Collaborate at Humboldt State and any of our faculty can contact me, Morgan Barker, or Margaret Arroyo for support. It is also integrated with our installation of Moodle. Instructors have used Collaborate for optional weekly meetings, online office hours, mid-term and finals review sessions.

Information on using Blackboard Collaborate for screensharing:

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Biology eAcademy: Using TurnItIn

The CSU has a license for TurnItIn

This has become so much more than just plagiarism software. It allows instructors to do extensive mark-up and commenting on papers. It has a powerful rubric tool, it allows instructors to insert audio comments, and it will save your text comments - comments that you commonly use to help save instructors time. It is integrated with many LMSs including Moodle.

It allows for paper assignments, peer reviewed assignments, revision, and reflection assignments.

It will scan papers for plagiarism and give the student a report. It will also scan papers from grammar.  The grammar checker is available from the site but not through the LMS because the grammar checker is in beta.

The presenting instructor says that this tool saves her a significant amount of time in grading papers.

One instructor recounted a time when TurnItIn did not catch something really obvious. We discussed the importance of the instructor being engaged in the process vs. just relying on software.

"It saves trees!"
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Biology eAcademy: Course Accessibility and Universal Design

English: Braille laptop. Universal Learning De...
Presented by Brett Cristie - Lets talk about Universal Design for Learning because we are talking about course redesign.

Accessible Technology Initiative
From a Jan. 1, 2006:

"Information Technology Procurement and Accessibility for Individuals with Disabilities"

Instructional Materials Accessibility

Are My Course Materials Accessible?
Your syllabus is the gateway, it should serve as a map and compass
If not accessible, some students will be at a disadvantage

There are simple things that you can do to make things in your course more accessible (using styles, etc.).
Textbooks and course readers should be accessible
Video and audio resources need to be captioned or transcribed
Library electronic reserves and internet resources that are used in classes should be accessible
Learning management systems - the ones that that we use are all basically accessible.

We have a state-wide contract with AutoSync that brings down the captioning cost to $1.35 a minute.

We have resources at at the Chancellor's offce here: and on Universal Design for Learnin ghere:

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Biology eAcademy: Principles of Biology

Extracted from file:LA2-NSRW-1-0230.jpg Brown ...
Extracted from file:LA2-NSRW-1-0230.jpg Brown bear sketch from scaned textbook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Affordable Learning Solutions, Principles of Biology, Nature. This is a commercial online textbook that is low cost. Each part of the textbook is an online module that has images, video, learning objects, built in quizzes, and links to articles. They have expanded the test banks and have applied levels from Bloom's taxonomy. You need to go through the publisher to get access.

ALS Goals
Make it easy for faculty, staff, and students to find no/low cost course content that can substitute for more costly textbooks

The chancellor's office if funding efforts for low or no cost textbook solutions.

Many instructors do not know that college librarys may already have free etext copies of textbooks for students.

We also looked at MERLOT  - they have gone through a refresh. The site was updated this year.

Textbooks are getting more expensive - the Biology textbooks are basically huge reference books. The online textbook was actually created completely online - it is not a

Nature was founded in 1869 - Scientific American was founded in 1845. They have 70+ journals in the life, physical, and clinical sciences. Their package includes Scitable. the CSU piloted this with 17,000 users.

Affordability - 39.50
All in one solution
Student Success and Retention

The technology landscape is changing - this is accessible to computers, tablets, and phones. This textbook built from the ground up as a digital work. The partnered with faculty from the beginning as a teaching tool by CSU faculty members.
Digital textbook sales are increasing

An instructor in the room said that she used it and it was not ready.

A majority of the CSU students were not buying any textbook because the Campbell book was too expensive. The faculty would rather work around the quality issues than deal with the high price of textbooks.

It will link to Moodle with its assessments.

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Biology eAcademy: SmartScience Demonstration & Exploration

History of SmartScience -
English: Students completing a lab experiment ...
English: Students completing a lab experiment in Fisher Hall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What makes a great science lab experience? Edmund Hall wrote a book on science on teaching science - gave an ideal vision.  A good experience:
  • Proper background and context
  • Inquiry style learning
  • Data measurement and analysis "hands on"
  • After the lab, cement the learning
  • Accessible and effective
SmartScience as a choice, what it can do
  • It will not do everything you want it to do but it will do what it does well.
  • Students choose an experiment
  • Allows students to create a hypothesis
  • Analyze results and write a report
SmartScience and the CSU
  • Offering virtual labs for a number of possibilities - use them for what you need them for
  • An online lab keeps the sensibilities of real science
  • Customizes lab experience per professor
  • Some analytics
How It Works

SmartScience is is in Java and is now in an HTML 5 version that is mobile and tablet friendly.

Each module has a reading, warm-up questions (to prepare the student for the lab), the students watch a video, they then make a hypothesis (they can add hypothesis), they then watch a video that gives them the results of the experiment, students can click on the screen to make selections and gather data, the data is automatically plotted. The method asks the students to analyze the data to see if their hypotheses were supported. There is a final assessment - multiple choice questions about the data. The assessments are automatically corrected and will include feedback. The students write a lab report. The students writing and assessments are bundled up into a .pdf for the instructor.

Students can also decide to perform the experiments at home, upload their data, and a picture.

Instructors can pre-write hypotheses.

Built in vocabulary (glossary) tool.

Each lab includes a profile of a scientist.

One instructor asks the students to keep working on their lab reports until they get an A.

Let us know if you want to be in the pilot - there is one in the CSU
Supply them with name, campus, courses - they will then create a campus site for us.

The instructors create their own course pages. Faculty can look at the data from the experiment, the reports and assessments. Teachers then can add scores and comments.

Discussion - an instructor points out that the images need to not be orphaned. They need a legend and figure description. 

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Biology eAcademy: Further Discussions on Teaching with Simulations

Students in the incubation room at the Woodbin...
Students in the incubation room at the Woodbine Agricultural School, New Jersey (Photo credit: Center for Jewish History, NYC)
The group seems to have come to a consensus tha tthe online "labs" are really simulations and not labs. They can meet the same outcomes as labs though. Bob G. is not sure that the simulations in BiologyLabsOnline and should be for more advanced students. Paul said that it is an experiment. They have used this with non-majors for three years with some success. There was a paper written that shows the program used with Middle School students.

Nathan A. has used the fly lab since 1995. He found it useful and the students found it challenging. He used it in a junior level genetics course to map genes. The key to the success is the support materials. The "teaching commons" will be an important piece in getting the right curriculum to the right students. He also like the report feature. It is a good exercise in how to create a lab report. They suggest creating a stand alone program just for lab reports.

Some of the exercises presented are complex, but instructors should be able to scaffold the experiments to help the students through the work. The preparation of materials takes time because there is a self-guided aspect to some of the online learning.

The discussion really speaks to the fear that somehow online learning will eliminate instructors but what we have seen here is that the role of the instructor as a guide through the experiments is essential. The creation of materials, the design of accompanying assignments, focusing the assessmemts all require a high level of faculty engagement.

Michael C. suggested that we create modular tools that would allow us to create our own experiments.

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Biology eAcademy: How to Teach with Virtual Labs

We had a conversation this morning after reviewing an online lab about how calculus and chemistry is taught. Calculus has the students working through problem sets every evening. Biology teachers tend to not do that. Then when they are given a test, they freeze up and we wonder why.

The online tools are only as useful as the assignments - the lecture before its use and the template for the lab report is just as important as the online tool. The online tools are simple but the assignments are complex.

Simulations are particularly useful for teaching evolution.

Paul discussed the "flipped lab" model - the students meet in a lab with an assistant and go back to the classroom to discuss what happened in the lab. The flipped lab model allows students to go home, run different sets of data and then bring the data back to the class to compare in groups.

The instructional design piece is not in the online tools but in the assignment development and built-in support. The students will need extensive introductory materials for these simulations. Students need a solid template for a lab report and a detailed rubric to let them know what should be included in the report. All of this really underscores the importance of the guidance whether direct or indirect of the instructor.

Some concerns were raised about accessibility for various platforms. There is plenty of documentation in their Moodle site.

These tools would be useful in an active learning situation where we ask the students to make a hypothesis about what will happen as a group.

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Biology eAcademy: Introduction to Virtual Labs

Figure 3
Figure 3 (Photo credit: Libertas Academica)
Bob Deshamais and Paul Narguizian

Paul is from Cal State LA. He was hired as "Biology Educator" - he focuses on education. They are focusing on GE Biology - they have a plant and animal bio. They have also converted to the semester system. They are planning on combing plant and animal into a single course. The course is an experiment. They will have data by the end of the year.

GE Biology is faciltiy and labor intensive with a steady drop in their student success rates.

They are replacing wet labs with online simulations. Thoughtfully implement online labs:

  • Engaging students in scientific methodology
  • Reducing demand for lab facilities
  • Decreasing costs 
  • Addressing both facility and pedagogical bottlenecks
Project Plan
  • Redesign GE Biology courses - conversion to semesters
  • Two new modes of lab instruction vs. trad
  •  All labs offered online
  • Two tracks online and wet labs alternating every week
  • Both modes = :-) to :-) (Lecture and drop-in times) 
  • Labs are staffed with advanced students
  • Engaging inquiry based exercises vs. traditional "cook book" labs
  • Grading rubric for each online lab
Project Activities
BIOL 144" Animal Biology (future blend with plant)
Retain large lecture

  • Fall 2013 (two large lecture sections and 16 all onlkne lab sections with 24 students in each lag with 6 GAs @ 10 hrs a week)
  • Winter 2014 - One lecture secion and 8 traditional "wet" labs = 24 students /lab with instructor
  • Spring 2014 - Two large lecture sections and 16 hybrid lab sections = 24 students /lab simulation results are idealized; lack of reality
  • Five of the weekly labs offered online - others wet labs
  • Eight of the 16 sections will start with wet labs and then alternate
  • Three GAs will be hired at 10 hrs a week
Lab Handouts
  • Distributed via Moodle
  • Background information
  • Detailed assignment instructions
  • Assignment requires experiment and interpretation the results in a quiz
  • Students create a report and turn it in to Moodle
  • Reports are graded via a detailed rubric
Project Resources
They are using an online website both "Biology Labs On-Line" and "SmartScience Labs."

Projects Assessment
Ji Son, PhD is the project evaluator
Implementing survey tools
Several questions are being addressed including student satisfaction and performance.
  • Which delivery mode to students prefer?
  • Which model provides the best understanding of science?
  • What problems to students encounter most?
  • What could be improved?
  • Do online labs lead to better grades?

There was a discussion about training GAs (graduate assistants).

Potential for Reducing Bottlenecks

  • GE requirement 
  • Courses are limited by space and personnel costs
  • Each lab section has 20-25 students and requires an instructor
  • Offering labs for evening students is an additional challenge
  • Online labs allow increase in enrollments
  • Less need for lab facilities
  • Less personnel needed
  • Costs of personnel and facilites can be lowered by 44% by using virtual labs
Pedagogical Bottlenecks
  • These courses are challenges for non-majors who often view science as a static body of facts
  • Cookbook labs with no engagement
  • Online labs allow students to design their own experiments
  • Students enjoy the online labs
  • Results in better student engagement
Scalability and Sustainability
All projects available via STEM Labs and MERLOT

We participated in a demonstration of "Biology Labs Online"

We have used this model before with Health Information Management - we used online simulations to provide students with more opportunities to practice procedures. 

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Biology eAcademy: SmartSciece and Virtual Labs

Charles Darwin as a young man, probably subseq...
Charles Darwin as a young man, 
probably before the Galápagos visit 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
An Introduction to SmartScience and Virtual Labs Teaching Commons

Robert Deshamais has been working on online labs since the 90s. He started building PC software and then moving it onto the web. Cal State La is using virtual labs. They are teaching a non-majors with a virtual lab. They are experimenting - in the winter quarter they are doing traditional wet labs and they will compare it with the same sections with the virtual labs. They hired an independent assessor.

Virtual Labs are available online, interactive and hands on, and come in a variety of forms: simulations, interactive video, remote access to real time data, remote control experiments.

Why use virtual labs?
Improve pedagogy: add opportunities for inquiry-based learning, address difficult lab topics (e.g. evolution), allow students to learn from mistakes, better engage students.
Improves convenience
Address bottlenecks - increase section offerings, less demand for limited lab facilities, lower personnel and equipment costs. This can also lower course repeat rates.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Improve pedagogy: students can learn by designing and carrying out their own experiments
  • Reduce time and safety constraints
  • Immediate feedback; mistakes are OK


  • No hands on with equipment & methods
  • Simulation results are idealized
  • Lack of instructor to guide students
  • Relies on student self-motivation

Two Labs with Different Approaches
EnzymeLab  - website with a mini manual written around the site - a java applet. It is a simulation that allows students to gather data. It is used in Intro to Biology classes at the college level but also used in High Schools.  Advantages include that students can explore by designing their own experiments. Disadvantages include idealized and cartoonish, yet too much for non-majors.

SmartScience - also written in Java but a more modern program. Includes about a dozen labs. With every activity there is background, warm-up material, and some focusing questions. They play a video and ask the students to form a hypothesis. They can write one or they can supply a hypothesis. They call the video an observation video. They video-taped a wide-variety of experiments with different variables. The students can click on the experiment and gather the data from their own actions.

Virtual STEM Labs Teaching Commons
These are two different tools - the important thing is to choose the right ones for the job. We need help in learning how to choose the appropriate tools.

  • Faculty can share pedagogical innovations
  • Share resources
  • Connect with colleagues

Concerns and Discussion
Instructors concerned included the view that you can only learn science in a lab. But another instructor pointed out that much research takes place in computer simulations. Another view is that wet labs are often just "cook book" classes. Faculty are worried about students cheating. They discussed the accessibility issues.

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Biology eAcademy: What Inspired Me to Teach Online

English: students online
What Inspired Me to Teach Online - by Bob Giacosie

Evolution of a dynamic classroom.

1. Follow role models using the lecture method
2. Entertaining questions from students and then using the socratic method
       Students had to explain what the instructor was just talking about. He did this as a form of his own self-assessment as a teacher.
3. Short discussions in class
      These short discussion s were meant to facilitate critical thinking and teach problem-solving skills.
4. Adding research based written assignments
5. Began to use cooperative learning strategies/group learning-teaching/learning strategies.
      Students would chose topics and research for seven weeks and then do a presentation. When we are involved in our own self-learning we learn better. It became one of the most popular courses on campus.

The Path to Offering Online Courses
1. Research the fear of Math and Science
2. Teaching college faculty to be better teachers
3. We need to do more than put a warm body in the classroom - we need to improve teaching and learning of science.
4. His early thinking on online learning is that there was no way they could be competent.
The face-to-face expereince could not be reproduced. Then 10 years ago a friend had a daughter who went to an online high school.

He became a proctor for her exams and then began to tutor the student. He was very impressed with the content and rigor - it was equal to the work of his best teachers.

He also found that there was an academically rigorous chemistry class at Dominguez Hills.

He looked at commercial colleges and was not impressed. He found that online courses from RA accredited brick-and-mortar courses where very different and taught by well-qualified, experienced faculty. Non-accredited degree mills.

His frustration with Dominguez Hills was that despite that there were a lot of online courses, there were none in sciences. He began to look at other online programs from across the country: they were poorly taught, poorly constructed, and very expensive.

Real teachers, well-trained teachers, who know how to engage their students are better able to translate their class room experience to the online format.

At Dominguez Hills, inadequate workload allocations didn't allow frequent enough offerings for the students. The courses often conflicted with other courses the students would need for their major. The students needed a more flexible schedule. Online classes were an answer to this.

The Reaction?  Who teaches science online? He was allowed to teach two online courses. He found the student-student interaction to be very important. The courses had high enrollment - students like the course because it was convenient to their schedule. He brought all of the principles of engagement from his face-to-face class into his online courses.

Important Components to the Course
1. Flexibility for the students in all aspects of the course
2. Detailed class notes/worksheets keyed to a great text
3. Written assignments based on the latest scientific literature
4. Opportunities to engage in discussions and exchange ideas regarding research and literature.
5. Regular and extensive communication with students through email and phone on all aspects of content and process

He does not just use tests - he always uses discussion forums in online Biology courses. The students need to be able to communicate what they learn.

He says that you cannot teach an online course with high enrollments. He said that he would never teach an online course with 120 students.

His objective for going online was to serve his students in ways that he couldn't any longer.

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Biology eAcademy: Preliminary Meeting

Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) (Wikipedia)
This week, I am at the California State University's Biology eAcademy. We are meeting for three days. The eAcademys are basically mini-conferences getting facuty together from across the system to look at proven course redesign practices in subjects that are "bottle neck" courses - courses that have the highest failure rate. "Proven course redesign" are course designs that have proven to increase student success. I am here with Chris Callahan and Michael Camann, faculty from the Biology department at Humboldt State. I am here because in my role as Director of Academic Technology, I also work as an instructional designer and I am working with Chris Callahan to develop a Human Biology course for HSU. This meeting of other Biology professors who have successful online courses has come at a good time.

Kathy Fernandez opened the meeting today to talk about 21st century learners: she says that students are used to immediate feedback, media rich environments, and instant access to information and data. We can be skeptical about online learning, but as instuctors, we should be curious and willing to explore. We have new tools and approaches. Students are used to a high level of engagement. Our eAcademy is a way to create a learning community (this is phase 2 of the eAcademy). There are professional learning communities coming out of the eAcademys. We are here to explore, connect, and engage with one another. Common topics on Course Redesign includes: quality online teaching and learning aligning outcomes with assessment.

Gerry says that he does not want to have this be a top down project from the Chancellor's office. He wants this to arise from this faculty community. He wants us to be skeptical - we have to look at the evidence and real measures.

CSU wants to increase on achievement and graduation rates. We need to use course redesign but also analytics. Kathy Fernandez says that we gather over 200 mb of data in our ag research on cows but gather very little data on our students. The CSU wants to use live data sources for decision making. Learning analytics covers activity in a course LMS, gathering real-time data every 24 hours, to provide a quicker

"Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs." -  George Siemens.

Kathy then shared a case study on a team taught intro to religion course that was converted to a hybrid course. The course had over 370 students. There was a 10 percent increase in students getting higher than a C, but there was also an increase in students who got F's. They then used data from the LMS and then demographic data from PeopleSoft. The tools they used were Excel, Tableau, Stata, IBM spss, and R. Blackboard and Moodle (Martin Dougiamas) are working on other tools. They found that final grade and LMS use were significant factors. Things like "first in the family to go to college" was less significant than use of the LMS for the grade. "At risk" students was not a significant factor.

Micheal: Accessing an LMS is a learning activity, simply being something isn't.

But at-risk students had to work harder to get the same grade. It is harder to get a B as an under-represented minority and Pell elgible student.

The question for us is: How do we reach these students?

She talked about Blackboard learning analytics. The CSU has a STEM grant for student analytics. We need analytics tools for all of our LMSs. Analytics tools will show us how they are engaging in the course.

We had a discussion about whether students are ready for online learning and how to prepare them.

We then discussed how to communicate with at-risk students.

For Moodle - there is a program called "X-Ray Research" SRL. It creates a data dashboard.
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