March/April Distance Education Newsletter

Here are just a few reminders to help you with online, hybrid or web-enhanced courses this term. I know it is long but read to the end to see what DE has to offer.


– I know March is in past, But I missed March newsletter

  1. This month’s full Moon (March 16, 1:08 P.M.) is called the Full Worm Moon. This is the time of year when the ground begins to soften and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robin. It is also called the Full Sap Moon because this is the annual time when the tapping of maple trees begins in northern regions.
  2. March’s birthstone, the aquamarine, was thought to cure heart, liver, and stomach diseases—all that you had to do was drink the water in which the gem had been soaking. Early sailors believed that aquamarine talismans, etched with the likeness of the sea god Neptune, protected them against ocean dangers.
  3. Did you know? Bread gets stale most rapidly at temperatures just above freezing. It doesn’t simply dry out, but suffers from a change in the locations and distribution of its water molecules. Bread will go stale even if hermetically sealed to prevent it from losing water!
  4. Some folks in the Northeast have learned to mark the end of winter when they hear the “doorbells of spring,” nature’s seasonal trumpeters—tiny male tree frogs whose swamp song warms the hearts of humans but is actually a suitor’s serenade to the females of the species.
  5. Using ordinary kitchen staples like baking soda in unconventional ways can help to save time and money around the house. Did you know that you can sprinkle baking soda on icy steps and walkways to provide traction and melt the ice? Unlike rock salt, kitty litter, or sand, it won’t damage outdoor or indoor surfaces or shoes.

Source: Old Farmer’s Almanac Monthly Magazine

April Fun Facts

  1. April’s Full Moon is known as the Full Pink Moon because it heralded the appearance of wild ground phlox or moss pink, one of the first spring flowers. It is also known by many other names that announce the arrival of spring, including the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Fish Moon.
  2. How the origins of April Fools’ Day are uncertain, but many agree that it may have started in 1582, when France switched to the Gregorian calendar and moved New Year’s Day from March 25 back to January 1. Prior to this change, the New Year’s celebration had begun on March 25 and ended on April 1. Those who were unaware of the change were called April fools.
  3. Rhubarb is a vegetable! It acquired its reputation as a medicinal plant because it supplied nutrients to people who were winter-starved for fresh vegetables. Fresh stalks contain about one-third as much Vitamin C as an orange and a fair amount of vitamin A. It is also a good source of potassium, calcium, and iron.
  4. April is national kite month, when more than 700 kite events are expected to take place around the world. Legend has it that the first kite was flown centuries ago by a Chinese farmer who tied a string to his hat to keep it from going aloft.
  5. Originally, dogs (usually Dalmatians) ran in front of horse-drawn steam engines, barking loudly to alert pedestrians and vehicles so that the fire wagon could pass unhindered. With the advent of gasoline-powered fire engines, the Dalmatians weren’t needed any longer, but they became a kid-friendly symbol of the honorable profession of firefighting.

Source: Old Farmer’s Almanac Monthly Magazine

Prep for End of Term

Send a Course Closing Letter: Send some final thoughts about the semester went and let students know that they can still access their grades and course content (as read-only). To view grades after the course is over, student must log into CANVAS, and then the VIEW ALL COURSES link at the bottom of their Courses menu. They can then find your course listed under the PAST ENROLLMENT heading.

Lock Your Content and Files: If you do not want your course content to be available as read only to your students after the term ends, make certain you’ve locked your files and navigation links. Check out the CANVAS How do I lock files & folders?

Export Your Gradebook: It’s a best practice for you to keep your own copy of grades from the CANVAS grade book at the end of each term. To learn how to do this, check out the How do I download scores from the Gradebook? link from the CANVAS guides. View a screencast on exporting your Gradebook here, or check out the End of Semester Checklist TIP Sheet (PDF)

Portfolium is Coming to PCC!!!

Portfolium Plugs into 2.1M California Community College Students

Portfolium has partnered with America’s largest educational system, the California Community College System (“CCC”), to help students connect learning with career opportunity. Over 2.1M students will have the opportunity to create free ePortfolios, and link together with millions of other students, faculty, and employers to further their learning and career success.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) January 19, 2016, the ePortfolio network that helps students connect learning with opportunity, has partnered with the California Community College (“CCC”) System to help its 2.1 million students at 113 campuses maximize their career and transfer success on the merits of their skills and competencies.

Portfolium – which captures multimedia proof of skills – will be used by the CCC internally for learning outcome assessment, and externally to provide evidence of its students learning and mastery to skills-hungry employers and to four-year transfer universities in ways that aren’t possible via traditional resumes or transcripts. Portfolium will be rolled out as an integrated complement to Instructure’s Canvas learning management system (LMS).

The CCC’s ambitious system-wide initiative will support two key goals:

First – to prepare students for the next leg of their journey, whether that be at another college, university, or employer. “Almost 51 percent of graduates of the California State University system and 29 percent of the University of California system transferred from a California Community College,” according to the Foundation for CCC. In 2015, Portfolium signed long-term partnership agreements with both the University of California (UC)and California State University (CSU) systems.

Second – to leverage Portfolium’s growing social network which provides for an open, connected approach to learning and career development by linking students digitally with faculty, mentors, peers, and employers. This “Internet of Skills” connects people on the basis of the skills they have, the skills they can teach, and the skills they are hiring for.

“Every student in the CSU, UC and CCC now has a chance to connect and view each other’s work. In addition, employers will be able to access this goldmine of talent, which has the potential to streamline California students’ school-to-work transition,” noted Deone Zell, Associate Vice President of Academic Technology at California State Northridge.

Portfolium will also enhance the CCC’s ability to track key data and insights. By sponsoring a rollout of free and portable ePortfolios, CCC faculty and administrators can better track students’ transfer and career success across each student’s lifelong learning journey.

“In reality, learning and career development are part of the same journey. As the world’s first network to truly help students connect learning with opportunity, we’re proud to help make this journey more cohesive and effective for CCC’s hard-working students. They deserve a chance to demonstrate and match their skills and interests with the best opportunities available in academia and in the workforce,” said Adam Markowitz, Portfolium’s founder & CEO.

About Portfolium

Portfolium partners with colleges & universities to help students connect learning with opportunity.
Our ePortfolio network helps 5M+ students from over 150 partner institutions manage their skills and launch their careers. Portfolium’s cloud-based platform empowers students with lifelong opportunities to capture, curate, and convert skills into job offers, while giving learning institutions and employers the tools they need to assess competencies and recruit talent.

About The California Community College System

The California Community Colleges system is the largest system of higher education in the nation, serving over 2.1 million students attending 113 colleges in 72 community college districts.

For the original version on PRWeb visit:

PCC Canvas Workshops & Training

The Distance Education department has some upcoming training sessions we would love for you to be a part of! The Course Design 101 Online Training course is perfect for instructors looking to learn the basics and best practices of designing an online course. Before you take that course you can get a jumpstart on using PCC’s Canvas Learning Management System by attending a Getting Started with Canvas training session.

More information and links to register for each session are below:

Course Design 101 Online Training

Interested in learning the basics of designing an online course? Want to know more about best practices & assessments for online instruction? Check out the Distance Education’s 4-week fully online Course Design 101 course where you will learn about the following topics:

  1. Active Learning
  2. Assessment
  3. Creating a course outline
  4. Creating a course plan (this will help if filing a Form D with C&I)

WHEN: Monday, April 18, 2016 at 1:00 PM – Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 4:00 PM (PDT)
WHERE: Online (in Canvas)

Getting Started With Canvas

In this workshop, faculty will learn the basics of PCC’s Canvas Learning Management System, and how you can use it to supplement instruction, help your students and save time in the process! Faculty will have an opportunity to gain hands-on experience using Canvas and receive assistance from the workshop facilitators.

We highly recommend this introduction to Canvas is you are planning to take the Course Design 101 Online Training!

Topics will include:

  • Logging in
  • Basic course navigation
  • Communication tools
  • Sharing files
  • Assignments
  • Grading
  • Organizing content with modules

WHEN: Wednesday, April 13, 1:00 – 2:30 PM – or – Thursday, April 14, 4:00-5:30 PM
WHERE: LL118 – Information Technology Services building
INSTRUCTOR: Jason Betrue
Wednesday, April 13, 1:00 – 2:30 PM:
Thursday, April 14, 4:00-5:30 PM:

Cookies, Coffee and Canvas: Check out the Canvas User Interface!

Stop by the Distance Education Office for a brief tour of the new Canvas interface (launching on May 14) – and enjoy some cookies and coffee while you’re at it!

Next Session: Thursday April 14, 12:00-1:00 PM.

Other Upcoming Sessions:

Weds. April 20, 6-7pm
Tue. April 26, 10-11am
Mon. May 2, 2-3pm
Weds. May 11, 10am-4pm
Thurs. May 12, 10am-4pm

WHERE: Distance Education – CA119 – Center for the Arts building

@ONE Courses

Enhancing Communication and Interaction
Wed, 4/13/2016 – 12:00pm Pacific
Presenter: Tracy Schaelen & Teresa Borden
Exemplary online courses provide an interactive environment that fosters online community. In this webinar, we’ll explore ways to enhance teacher-to-student communication, and student-to-student interaction using Canvas and CCC communication tools.

Levels of Assessment
Wed, 4/20/2016 – 12:00pm Pacific
Presenter: Lene Whitley-Putz
Assessment is more than just your mid-term and final. In this webinar, we’ll discuss ways to enhance student self-assessment, build in peer-to-peer assessment, leverage formative assessment, and even capture students’ assessments of your course!

Creating Accessible Online Courses
Wed, 4/27/2016 – 12:00pm Pacific
Presenter: The Peer Online Course Design ACE Review Team
Demystifying accessibility is important for every online course instructor. In this webinar, we’ll unpack Section D of the Online Course Design Rubric to help you build realistic strategies for ensuring your course is accessible to all.


Apply Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction to your Instruction (click here to review an interactive map of Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction.)

A circle chart made to look like a flower. The large center says Gagne's Events of Instruction. Smaller yellow circular pedals surround the center circle. The yellow circles each have a number, title and description. 1 is titled Gain Attention and says Convey information that rouses the learner's interest and Use various elements like multimedia, scenarios, and problem statements to attract attention. 2 is Inform Learners of Objectives and says Convey what the training teaches and List objectives at begining of training. 3 is Stimulate Recall of Prior Learning: Understand the current knowledge level of the target audience and Drive learners to relate newly learnt ideas with what they already know. 4 is Present the content: Convey information that elicits learning and Use variety of elements to present content, such as flowcharts, diagrams, multimedia, etc. 5 is Provide Guidance: Share tips that enable learners to apply the newly taught material and Include job aids, cheat sheets, tip boxes, additional references, role plays, etc. 6 is Elicit Performance: Allow learners to practice the theoretical knowledge they learned and Include scenario-based discussions. role plays, quizzes, etc. 7 is Provide Feedback: Let learners know how they fared during the training and Include de-briefing sessions, quiz feedbacks, etc. 8 is Assess Performance: Review learner performance to confirm whether training was effective and Conduct surveys and post training discussions with supervisions, have on-the-job performance evaluations. 9 is Enhance Retention and Transfer: Provide opportunities to allow learners to recall and apply what they learned during the training and Use social media, newsletters, mailers, blogs, etc.

Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction

Not sure how to go about designing your e-learning course? In his book Principles of Instructional Design, Robert Gagne and his co-authors lay out a set of guidelines to ensure your learners acquire the knowledge and skills they need. Let’s take a closer look at each of the 9 Events of Instruction and how you can incorporate them into your e-learning courses.
We in Distance Ed can help, you don’t have to do this on your own. We have the software and the expertise to assist you. Make an appointment, to discuss with you the possibilities.

1. Grab the Learner’s Attention
Research shows that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Your learners will decide in a matter of seconds whether your course is worth their time—so make sure to start with a bang! A little vague on how to do that? Try one of these techniques:

  • Show a short, fast-paced video that introduces your topic.
  • Ask a thought-provoking question about the subject matter.
  • Tell a story that they can relate to.
  • State a surprising fact to pique their interest.
  • Combine upbeat sound effects with great graphics and timely animations to create an enticing intro.

The key is to keep it short and sweet— give learners just enough to make them curious. Think of it like a movie trailer: You don’t want to reveal too much, or they won’t want to sit through the whole thing. Here are a couple great examples to inspire you:

2. Explain the Objective(s)
This may seem pretty straightforward, but it’s important to note that you should express the objectives in a way that resonates with the learner. There are many different ways to go about this; here are a few examples:

  • Present the objectives as statements in a bullet-point list. E.g., “At the end of this course you will be able to spot shoplifters and take the appropriate action to stop them before it’s too late.”
  • Turn the objectives into questions, inviting the learner to reflect. E.g., “How can you identify potential shoplifters? What would you do if you saw something suspicious?”
  • Frame the learning objectives as a challenge that the learners need to overcome in order to pass the course. E.g., “Your mission is to identify potential shoplifters and stop them before it’s too late!”

The key is to focus on what the learner is going to get out of the course, so they see what’s in it for them. Check out this article on how to define your learning objectives or this one on Bloom’s Learning Taxonomy for more help with this step.

3. Help Learners See the Relationship Between the Content and What They Already Know Showing learners how this new information or skill relates to their prior knowledge and experiences will help them assimilate it more quickly. You can do this by:

  • Asking open-ended questions about past experiences or concepts they have already learned to encourage reflection.
  • Quizzing them on prior knowledge and then building on it.
  • Presenting a scenario or a problem and asking them to resolve it. If they are unable to do so with their preexisting knowledge alone, present them with the new information they need.

By building on what they already know instead of starting from scratch, learners are able to more easily retain new information or skills.

4. Present the Content
This is the meat of your course. There are infinite ways to present your content, so be creative! Some popular methods include:

To keep your learners interested and engaged, it is important to vary the way you present content. Even gamified courses can become mundane if it’s all learners encounter.

5. Guide Learners Through the Course
While learners are technically “on their own” during an e-learning course, we certainly don’t want them to feel frustrated, lost, or abandoned. Keep in mind that you need to support your learners on two levels: by helping them understand the concepts and by providing them with clear instructions on how to complete activities and advance in the course. You can do this by:

  • Building in hints to help learners with difficult concepts or questions. For example, you can place a question mark next to the concept or question that, when hovered over, displays more information to help them understand or answer the question.
  • Providing examples to illustrate the content. Putting theoretical content into context will help learners to better understand and apply it.
  • Including on-screen instructions when the learner is presented with a new activity type or when they need to do something in order to move onto the next section of the course, such as “Drag the correct answer to the green box and then click on Submit.”

The best way to find out whether you’ve provided enough guidance in your course is to ask someone to test it and let you know if they find anything confusing or disorienting.

6. Give Learners the Opportunity to Practice
Once you’ve presented the content to your learners, you’ll want to give them the chance to apply it as soon as possible to make sure it sticks. Depending on the subject matter, this can mean any number of things. Some examples include:

  • Creating simulations. For example, in a software training course, the best way to let learners test their skills without leaving them completely out on their own is to create a simulation in “try mode.” That way you can still give them hints if they can’t figure out what to do next.
  • Designing decision-making scenarios. By asking learners to apply course content to a situation or problem they may actually encounter in real life, you give them the opportunity to test their comprehension.

The sooner learners apply their new knowledge, and the more realistic the scenario, the more likely they are to retain and apply it in real life.

7. Provide Learners with Feedback
There is no point in allowing your learners to practice if you’re not going to give them feedback on their performance. There are several ways you can do this, including:

  • Build in branching that changes the course of the activity based on their answers. They will understand where they went wrong based on the consequences.
  • Offer a second chance when they answer incorrectly.
  • Give a hint and let them try again.
  • Provide the correct answer so they’re not left guessing.
  • Explain what they should have done and give them the correct answer.

Depending on the subject matter, your target audience, and the way you’ve designed your course, you can determine which method is best.

8. Assess Learner Performance
Now it’s time to see if your content helped your learners achieve the learning objective(s). The evaluation or assessment should resemble the practice section, but this time learners will not receive hints along the way. Make sure you don’t include any new information or skills in this section. You should only test learners on what they have already learned.

9. Help Learners Retain Information and Transfer Skills to Their Job
Now that the learners have mastered this new information or skill, how can you make sure they retain it and use it on the job? While you can’t guarantee that learners will apply what you’ve taught them, there are a couple ways to increase the likelihood that they will, for example:

  • Provide a printable job aid, such as a checklist or quick-reference document, that outlines the key concepts so learners can easily refer back to them.
  • Give learners ways to practice their new knowledge or skill shortly after taking the course.
  • Create a few short review courses or quizzes that they can complete during the weeks following the initial course to reinforce the knowledge or skill.

If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to creating an impactful e-learning course. But don’t stop there—there are many other instructional design methods that can help you take your course to the next level. Check out the following articles for more instructional design goodness:

Source: E-Learning Heroes

Gagné, R. M., Briggs, L. J., & Wager, W. W. (1992). Principles of Instructional Design (4th ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.

Last Updated on: June 12, 2017 @ 4:36 pm

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