Category Archives: Instancy LCMS

Tips and Tricks of Successful Online Instructors

In a recent article ‘Teaching Strategies of Award-Winning Online Instructors’ by Michael Ralph, the author cited exciting facts gleaned from a research study. The researchers – Swapna Kumar, Florence Martin, Albert Ritzhaupt, and Kiran Budhrani, published their findings in the open-access journal Online Learning.

The study examined the common techniques used by top-rated instructors who devote most of their time teaching online. The researchers interviewed university-level instructors. The main goal was to examine these instructors’ approaches.  

Authentic and relevant course material 

There is so much online content and references. You can link to them and still provide a robust learning experience. However, try to include real examples.

If you are teaching a science course, for example, you might want to add a real-time study on a popular science topic. When you ask students to analyze the data of real-time research, they must use critical thinking and be engaged with their responses. 

In the study, the teachers gave the following examples: 

1. Recording from a radio show where instructors tell students to discuss in an online discussion or forum.

2. Videos, preferably from a real-life setting, add value because they can watch and listen while taking notes

3. Provide recorded podcasts from subject matter experts on the topic. Podcasts are different from audio lectures. Podcasts are more like radio shows.

Variety of Multimedia Resources 

Provide media in a variety of formats. Flexible media choices give the student a wide array of content that keeps them engaged. The instructors gave examples such as: 

1. Newspaper clips, interactive maps, radio broadcasts (especially if your university has a radio station)
2. Instruct students to write a paper on the topic. Include a format such as a debate where they communicate their opinion.
3. Student creation of content
4. Student reflection on learning
5. Explanation of purpose.

Use content from your students 

When you first begin teaching online, you may not have much student content to use online. Although you may have content contributed by your students from a traditional classroom setting, it takes time for you to convert it into an online format. 

If you incorporate individual and group collaboration, you will be amazed at how much great content you can glean from your students.

There are several ways to give assignments that also generate reusable content as part of the class:

1. Instructors who responded to the questions for the research overwhelmingly like to assign projects where students create PowerPoint presentations about their chosen (or assigned) topic.

2. Other instructors preferred reading assignments where the student has to produce a short podcast and record it.

3. There may not be a more collaborative exercise than debates and critical discussions. With social learning or discussion groups, instructors frequently find new content or new ideas.

Student Reflection 

Perhaps a less used but essential exercise is to ensure the student has time to think and reflect on the subject. Give assignments that make students think about the topic in different ways.

For example, does the topic have any social implications? If so, perhaps the student can write about any synergies with their lives.

Another example is to have them discuss pros and cons of a topic, making them think and reflect on why they can or cannot support a thought or belief. 

The successful online instructors provided multiple quizzes, posts, podcasts, and papers with prompts with a goal towards student reflection. 

Students must believe there is a purpose in their work 

We’ve all been there. We are struggling to complete a task while thinking that you are wasting your time. Students often feel the same frustration. While the student may have a bad attitude, most often, it is the fault of the instructor. 

Students get motivated and excited when they see a purpose in their work assignments. If they feel they are wasting their time, they exert less quality effort and report a neutral or unfavorable opinion of the course or even the instructor.

Ensuring students believe a class is worthy of their time can be daunting at times; however, a great instructor must do that in both classroom, virtual classroom, and online delivery. 

Conclusion 

The main takeaway – you can’t just take the material you’ve provided in class and put it online. 

We must take a creative approach. We must adapt the content for an online format. Choose your content carefully. Choose the material in which you can offer interactive learning activities. The student ultimately learns on their own, but the content provided determines student satisfaction. 

Instancy’s Learning Content Management System is the glue that allows instructors and instructional designers to craft the best course content possible.

Incorporating mainstream use cases but adding educational technology to its product offerings makes Instancy stand out among its peers.

Harvey Singh, the founder of Instancy, got his start at Stanford and conducting educational technology research for Apple. He built the Instancy Learning Content Management System (iLCMS) from the ground up – with each component carefully designed for the best use of technology for training professionals.

Few platforms have authoring tools that automatically convert content from Microsoft Word and PowerPoint into online course content. Few platforms have data analytics, which is the best way to see how your students react to the content.

Few have the sophistication of progressive web apps and native mobile apps. Instancy’s eCommerce functionality and ease of third-party integration are not available in competitive products. 

Don’t take our word for it. Schedule a time to chat and brainstorm – we learn so much by our prospects and customers. If you would like to see the Instancy system, from a learner, administrator, or instructor/designer perspective, sign up for a 30-day free trial

We look forward to meeting you! 

Progressive Web Apps and Learning Management Systems

Educational websites that invite learners to take online courses must leverage on the benefits that new innovation in web technology offers. One of such innovation is the introduction of Progress Web Apps (PWA).

What is a Progress Web App?

PWA is the next big thing in mobile web; it leverages on latest technologies to combine the best of web and mobile apps leading to improved functionalites. It also offers a user mobile experience similar to what is obtainable in a native app. In other words, PWA takes advantage of the characteristics of mobile apps resulting in improved user retention, and performance with no complex complications.

In today’s world, learning platforms can easily take advantage of PWA to connect with learners since most of them use mobile devices when compared to desktop computers. The learning website can be downloaded on a mobile device as an app icon on the home screen.

PWA’s are quite effective for learning platforms; this is because they offer push notification which makes it easy to achieve up to three times more retention than mobile apps without push notificaation.

 Although, your content may be videos, PDF files or eLearning courses but, the eLearning courses must be mobile responsive webpages that can be viewed through the PWA.

In addition, a well designed mobile app consumes fewer data and is much faster, which makes PWA’s perfect for students.

Features and Benefits of PWA’s

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are websites that act like Native Mobile Apps.  Native apps, such as mobile apps, are known to be very efficient. They are ‘always on’, and ever-present when a user wishes to use them. Some of the features and benefits are: 

1.Known to be reliable 

2.Work regardless of network connection 

3.Launch as a standalone experience 

4.Read and write files from the local file system 

5.Can access hardware such as USB devices or Bluetooth 

6.Interact with contacts and calendar 

7.Take photographs 

8.Manage media playlists such as music 

Progressive web apps do almost everything that native apps do but add:

  • Ease of installation 
  • High reachability 
  • Can reach anyone, anywhere, on any device (no need to code for different mobile operating systems) 

Capable, Reliable, and Installable 

Those are the three most important aspects to consider for Progressive Web apps.  

When looking at the capabilities of PWAs, most of the capabilities center around the developers and the tools currently available to mimic a native app. However, this is outside the scope of this article. 

We measure reliability by factors such as: 

1.Dependability 

2.Speed 

3.Performance 

4.Smooth scrolling and animation 

The installable requirement of Progressive Web Apps goes beyond just being able to easily install it. Other factors include: 

1.PWAs run in a standalone window and not in a web browser 

2.App launches from a variety of locations, including user’s home screen, dock, taskbar, or shelf 

3.Keyboard shortcuts 

4.Manages can accept content from other applications  

According to Sam Richard and Pete LePage in their article on PWAs, consider these statistics: 

1. Twitter saw a 65% increase in pages per session, 75% more Tweets, and a 20% decrease in bounce rate, all while reducing the size of their app by over 97. 

2.Nikkei saw 2.3 times more organic traffic, 58% more subscriptions, and 49% more daily active users. 

3.Hulu saw a 27% increase in return visits. 

Progressive Web Apps can be installed by anyone, anywhere, on any device 

 Progressive Web Apps have some distinct advantages. 

1.Add to Home Screen Prompt 

The add to home screen prompt makes it easy for users to install PWAs on their devices. On their desktop, the user receives a prompt to ‘add to home screen’. Once accepted, the browser-based web app looks like a native app, even on their desktop. The progressive web app has the same visibility and accessibility as if the user were using a native app.  

Customize your PWA technology. Define splash screens. Design a home screen icon. Manage theme colors.

2.PWA in Offline Mode  

When using a native app and you disconnect from the Internet, you can still browse that page until a connection is reestablished. The same is true for a progressive web app. Progressive web apps are built around the concept of offline first. This means that because of PWA’s robust caching system, it handles offline requests and completes them once a connection is available. 

3.Web Push Notifications 

Push notifications are great communication tools. Although they look like text messages, they are different and usually only found on mobile devices. With progressive web app technology, users see push notifications on their desktop as well. Businesses can use push notifications to communicate with their site visitors. The technology is quite effective in eCommerce sites. If you want to be able to communicate with your learners in this manner or request them to go to a course catalog and purchase or reserve a course, you definitely want to consider using push notifications. 

4.No App Stores 

Since progressive apps appear as a native app, there is no need to use native apps you download from the app store. As long as the user is connected to the Internet, users get the most up-to-date content. For example, if your user is on the learning site and new content gets published, their screen refreshes. The user experience is not impacted.