More Student Distance Education Tips

Monthly Distance Education Tips and Tricks

Backup Your Data

Have you backed up your computer lately? If not, you might want to think about it. Imagine all the work you’ve done this year and last year and year before suddenly being inaccessible. Sure it’s not gone, but you can’t get to it; not to mention your pictures, movies, videos, or music. So, what does it mean to “back up your computer”? It means to make a copy of all the things on your current hard drive some place else. This could be an external hard drive or a cloud based system like Dropbox.com or Google Drive. The idea is that you have a separate space to keep a copy of your digital life and works. You can find external hard drives in stores and online for between $20 and a few hundred depending on size and style. If you decide to go with a cloud option, there are student plans that are free or cheap ($2 - $10 per month). To be really secure you may want to consider investing in both an external drive and a cloud drive. If you’re just interested in testing things out, consider installing the Google Drive Utility app on your machine. This will allow you to automatically sync Google Drive files on your computer with Google Drive files on the web. It may involve a little time and effort now, but it can save you from having to rewrite an entire paper in the future.

Laulima Tip: Where Are My Courses?

Did you know that there are ways to make all of your courses visible on your Laulima homepage? Some students have a hard time finding their current courses when they log into Laulima. This may be because your settings only allow you to see a certain amount of courses visible at the top. To make your courses more easily accessible, you can change your settings like this:

  1. Log into Laulima and click on “More Sites” at the top of the page.
  2. Is your course listed under “More Sites?” To make your courses more visible, click “Preferences.”
  3. Under “Preferences, you can customize the number of tabs displayed at the top of your page. If you have old courses listed, you can also move them to the “Hidden Sites” column so that they don’t appear at the top of the Laulima homepage at all.
  4. If you still cannot find your course, you may not be enrolled in the course and should contact your instructor directly.

A Little About Laulima: Not All Sites Are Created Equal

Did you know that every Laulima course site is customized by your instructor? If you’ve already used Laulima, you’ve probably already noticed that instructors use Laulima differently based on their preferences and needs for each course. For example, you may be required to discuss your ideas with other students in a discussion forum for one class, but not another. You might need to submit assignments in a Drop Box for one class while another instructor might want assignments submitted through email. There may even be some differences in naming tools. For example, one instructor might call a discussion “Discussions” while another might choose to label it as “Communication Space.”

The ability to customize Laulima course sites is great for instructors since it allows them to make tools available that are most beneficial to you, as a student. However, it can get a little confusing sometimes when you need to keep track of which tools are available for each course. Being aware that some tools will be pretty common among Laulima course sites can help to keep you ahead of the game as you progress through your coursework. The following are some of the most common tools that instructors use in their Laulima sites:

  1. Announcements: The instructor uses this to update you on important things to remember.
  2. Resources: You can find supplemental materials, course readings, and other materials here.
  3. Discussion: This is often set up like a forum where you can click on and respond to topics.
  4. Mailtool: Here, you can easily email your instructor and other classmates via the UH Gmail system.
  5. Gradebook: Your instructor will post grades here for you to view.

With Online Course, Early is Key!

Taking courses online this summer? Online summer courses are a great way to add courses towards your degree, and give students plenty of flexibility to complete assignments. However, staying motivated and keeping on track can be difficult when you catch the procrastination bug. Here’s a tip for using information from your Laulima syllabus to plan ahead and save you stress.

To stay on top of your online coursework, getting things done early is key. Access your syllabus on your Laulima course site and add your major assignment deadlines to your Google calendar (all UHWO students have access to Google tools such as this one). Bonus points if you add those deadlines in a few days early. When you push yourself to stay ahead of the game, you’ll have plenty of time to play and much less to worry about while doing it!

Communication Through Laulima

Laulima has several communication tools that may be available depending on what your instructor prefers to use. Here are two of the major tools that you may come across in your courses:

The Discussions tool acts as an open forum for your classmates and your instructor. It’s a great place to post questions that can be answered by anyone in the course. This can be very helpful as a study resource – if you have a question, others might have the same one! When you post under Discussions, keep in mind that these messages are contained within the Laulima system. This means that messages may be lost after the completion of the course.

We suggest using Mailtool for most of your communications through Laulima. Messages sent through Mailtool will be sent to your hawaii.edu email account. This is different from the Discussions tool, since it is linked to an email service outside of Laulima. This ensures that there will be a record of these messages in your email account after the completion of the course. Mailtool is a great way to send important information to all members of the course, or even just to contact your instructor directly!

Making the Most of Google Calendar

Google Calendar is a handy tool for making sure that you don’t miss any of your important events and meetings (for example, graduation day or your graduation vacation). UHWO students have access to a Google Calendar account in the same way that they have access to other Google applications such as Google Docs and Google Drive. You can access your Google Calendar through your hawaii.edu email account. Click the grid icon at the top right of the screen, and the drop down menu will include your Google Calendar.

The best part about Google Calendar is that it will act like an assistant that keeps track of your events and reminds you about when they are getting close. Just click on any day in the calendar to add in the information for your event time. Google Calendar has a default setting to remind you of your event 10 minutes before the event time. If you would like to change the time of the notification, click the gear icon at the top right corner of the page. Next, click Settings. There will be tabs at the top left of the screen. Click Calendars, and then you can click the link to edit notifications for your events.

All About Google Docs

Need a convenient place to store all of your course notes? Got a group project that you need to start up for class? Google Docs is a great way to keep all of your notes, papers, and collaborative projects in one place. Every UHWO student has access to Google Docs (among other Google tools) via their hawaii.edu email account. Clicking the grid shaped icon in the top right corner of the screen will open a drop-down menu that includes Google Docs.

The biggest benefits of Google Docs include the ability to store and download your documents through the internet (meaning that you can easily create backup documents), compatibility with Microsoft Word (when you download or upload, you can go between the two easily), and the ability to work on documents collaboratively and synchronously. This means that you can make changes as a group in real time. When someone else is working on a section, you can see what they are typing, add comments, and work on a separate section all within the same space. Overall, Google Docs allows UHWO students to easily collaborate on projects, store work and notes on the internet, and to easily upload and download to Microsoft Word.

The Deal with Blackboard Collaborate

Not all instructors use Blackboard Collaborate, but some use it as a way to improve interactions with students online. If you are currently taking a course that uses Blackboard Collaborate, you may already be aware that the tool acts like a conference room where students and instructors can interact in real time.

Before you log into the Blackboard Collaborate chat room, it’s good to know whether you have a microphone and/or camera built into your computer. Depending on the course, the instructor may have you chat using voice, video, or text. If you have a lower connection speed, it is probably better for you to stick with the text chat option located in the bottom left of the screen.

To chat using the microphone, click the “Talk” button in the top left corner of the screen. When you are done speaking, click the “Talk button again to stop transmitting. You can also include video with your voice by clicking the “Video” button. This will transmit your image to the rest of the class if you are equipped with a webcam. Sound and video are separate, so you will need to click both if you want to transmit both your image and your voice.

ITS Passthrough

Welcome back! Hopefully you found some fun and relaxation during the summer and are now ready to get into the study groove. This month’s tech tips will help you set up your tech space for the semester. Let’s begin with getting on the UHWO WiFi. If you are manually logging in every time you step foot on campus, you are doing it wrong. Consider setting up your ITS Passthrough. Visit: https://www.hawaii.edu/wireless/pt/

You’ll need your UH username and password to log in and the media access control address or MAC address for each device you want to add to your Passthrough account. The site includes information about how find the address for each device (Android phones, iOS phones, laptops, tablets, etc.). Once you have added the device to your account, it will be able to automatically connect every time you visit campus. Passthrough privileges will be valid for one year and then require a renewal, at which point you will receive an email with information for the process. Now that you’re on the WiFi, consider adding your UH mail account to your phone. It is important to check your UH email everyday for class information. Adding it to a mail app on your phone will make it easier to access important information about your classes. If you need help setting it up, you can contact Rian at the Office of Distance Learning at uhwode@hawaii.edu. Study hard! Have a great semester!

Citation Tools

Let’s talk about organization. It’s not always fun to do, but being organized can really pay off when it comes to writing research papers. Research papers usually include many different sources. If these sources are pdf articles, you may want to consider using a reference manager to help you organize your articles. Programs such as Mendeley (mendeley.com) and Zotero (zotero.org) are free programs that can help you take sort, cite, and even share notes from your sources. These programs will allow you to collect the information necessary for citations and then automatically paste APA or MLA formatted citations into your bibliography section. Each program has its own design and quirks, but they do have many features in common. For example, both citation managers will allow you to download a standalone program to organize your downloaded files. You can sync these libraries with your web account to gain access to your files from any computer. Both managers also have downloadable add-ons so you add the manager to your browser for easy collection as you search the web. One of the big differences between the two is that only Mendeley has an app for phones and tablets, making it more accessible across devices. If you in the middle of lit review or have a big project coming up, using one of these programs may help you organize your sources and your mind.

Blackboard Collaborate

Have you heard of Blackboard Collaborate? If you are taking online or hybrid classes, you may have already used the system for online class meetings or individual conferences with your instructor. Blackboard Collaborate is a web-conferencing platform that will allow your instructor to meet with you or your class without having to come to campus. Within the system your class can share presentations, engage in real time chats, real time videos and real time audio. As a student in a Blackboard Collaborate session you can ask questions directly through  chat or audio/video feeds and get answers directly. This platform will also allow your instructor to lend students moderator privileges so you can lead the discussion and present information. This virtual classroom space can help provide an extra level of connection to the distance learning experience. If you are interested in learning more about this system or encouraging your instructors to look into these options for your class, please visit the Office of Distance Learning’s website:
uhwo.hawaii.edu/distancelearning or by email your questions
to uhwode@hawaii.edu.

YouTube and Google@UH

This month’s tech tip is about YouTube. YouTube.com is a video hosting site. You can use this site as a way to locate film resources and upload your own videos. As a viewer, YouTube can be accessed without a membership. You can search for topics and view videos that might be relevant to your needs. Creating a membership to the site offers more benefits for example, you can subscribe to particular channels and be notified when those channels post new videos, you can access your own viewing history, you can provide feedback for videos that you have watched and you can also create your own channel and fill it with content. Some classes require you to make videos and having a YouTube account will allow you to store all your videos in the same space. As a student in the UH system, you have the option to activate the Consumer Apps for your Google@UH account. One of the consumer apps that is available is YouTube. Activating these accounts would allow you to have access to a YouTube account that is attached to your UH Google Account. You can read more about Consumer Apps here: https://www.hawaii.edu/askus/1649. If you have questions about using specific tools or would like to request a tutorial, please send an email to uhwode@hawaii.edu. Additionally, you can find resources for other things related to distance learning at our webpage: https://www.uhwo.hawaii.edu/distancelearning/student/.

 

What is Laulima?

Laulima is the learning management system used by the University of Hawaii system. Instructors use this tool to post lessons, resources and assignments to help teach their classes. While students use this tool to gather material for classes and to submit class contributions and completed assignments. Your Laulima Account will have access to a class site for each of your different classes. You can log into Laulima with your username and password at laulima.hawaii.edu. As with any technology, learning to use Laulima may take a few tries, but the Office of Distance Learning is here to help. We have created tutorials for some of the more popular questions relating to Laulima. You can find introduction videos to help you familiarize your self with the system as well as tutorials to walk you through fixing certain problems. Our YouTube page is located here: http://go.hawaii.edu/jGF. If you have questions about using specific Laulima tools or would like to request a tutorial, please send an email to uhwode@hawaii.edu.

Web Conferencing Tools

Web conferencing programs are software and browser based web tools that allow you to virtually meet with people. Google Hangouts can be considered to be a web conferencing tool. Hangouts allows users to meet with people and share audio, video, and chat features to communicate your thoughts. You can also share documents, which can be helpful for group projects. Another popular tool is Blackboard Collaborate. Online instructors can use the program to teach their classes in virtual classrooms. This system allows the same types of features but can handle more people at one time. In addition to communication and file sharing, one of the big benefits of using these systems is that you can share your screen with others. So you don’t have to figure out how to explain something you are seeing, you can actually share it. There are many different programs that allow users to access for free. If you are interested in using web conferencing tool to collaborate with class mates or connect online with friend, you may want to consider visiting one of these sites: join.me, zoom.us, meetingburner.com, zoho.com, workhuddle.com, or mikogo.com. If you have questions about using specific tools or would like to request a tutorial, please send an email to uhwode@hawaii.edu.

Meeting Scheduler Tools

Group projects are not always easy. Technology can ease some of the difficulties of collaboration. For example, web conferencing tools like Google Hangouts, zoom.us, and join.me can help you facilitate the conversation and share materials, but even scheduling a meeting time between three or more people can be challenging. However, there are also tools for that. Individually you can keep yourself organized with Google Calendar. This app is accessible through your UH Gmail account. You can even share your calendar with others to help explain your schedule. Another approach would be to use a scheduling tool. Doodle.com is an online scheduling tool that will allow you to pick available days and times and then send those options to your group members. Each member will select their available times and in the end your group will have workable options. Doodle is just one tool, there are meeting scheduler sites. If you are interested, check out: rally.co; assistant.to; calendy.com; or timebridge.com. If you have questions about using specific tools or would like to request a tutorial, please send an email to uhwode@hawaii.edu.

Studytools

This month’s tech tip will give you ideas about online study tools that you can use with your devices. GoConqr, www.goconqr.com, can help you create many different study aids including mind maps, flashcards, study planners, and even quizzes to help you with exams. This site also provides access to crowd sourced resources, which is kind of like finding millions of study buddies. Quizlet, quizlet.com, can help you create quizzes, flashcards, and interactive diagrams to help you study. If you have having trouble keeping due dates straight, you might want to check out Schooltraq, schooltraq.com. This site allows you to create an account and load it with information about each of your classes. You can add notes and due dates to help you stay on track. You can access the site online and through your phone. And finally, Evernote, evernote.com, is a tool for note taking that has been around for a while, but keeps innovating their design. After creating an account, you can access your notes from all your devices and even collaborate with other users. This feature can be very useful for group projects. You can access these tools from your devices and even download your resources so you can access them offline. This tool wasn’t specifically designed for student life, so it can easily be a tool you will use when transitioning into your career field. We hope this little blip of information can help you study hard and bring a success close to your Spring 2018 semester. If you have questions about using specific tools or would like to request a tutorial, please send an email to uhwode@hawaii.edu. Additionally, you can find resources for other things related to distance learning at our webpage: https://www.uhwo.hawaii.edu/distancelearning/student/.

Presentation Makers

This month’s tech tip is about presentation software. For many, when they know they will have to give a presentation to a class or co-workers, the first thought is PowerPoint. It’s great software, but it’s not the only option. If you’re looking for the same features from Microsoft Office, but don’t have the money to spend, consider Libre Office (libreoffice.org). This free and open source software includes a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a database program, a vector graphic program and a presentation maker called Impress. Using Impress is very similar to using PowerPoint, but it’s free. Another free option is Google Slides, but if you’re trying to build a presentation that is a little different, maybe consider Prezi, Powtoon, or Visme. At Prezi.com you can find information on using the zooming presentation maker. You can add your information and visuals to the program and the transitions zoom between information blocks. It can be dizzying when over used, but when it is done right, it is an interesting way to share your knowledge. Powtoon.com is a site that will allow you to create a presentation that includes cartoons. In the end you create a video that shares your information. Visme.co is a platform that can help you share your information in a more visual way. This site can be helpful for creating infographics and adding more visual elements to your presentation. If you have questions about using specific tools or would like to request a tutorial, please send an email to uhwode@hawaii.edu. Additionally, you can find resources for other things related to distance learning at our webpage: https://www.uhwo.hawaii.edu/distancelearning/student/.

 

Presentation Makers

This month’s tech tip is about presentation software. For many, when they know they will have to give a presentation to a class or co-workers, the first thought is PowerPoint. It’s great software, but it’s not the only option. If you’re looking for the same features from Microsoft Office, but don’t have the money to spend, consider Libre Office (libreoffice.org). This free and open source software includes a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a database program, a vector graphic program and a presentation maker called Impress. Using Impress is very similar to using PowerPoint, but it’s free. Another free option is Google Slides, but if you’re trying to build a presentation that is a little different, maybe consider Prezi, Powtoon, or Visme. At Prezi.com you can find information on using the zooming presentation maker. You can add your information and visuals to the program and the transitions zoom between information blocks. It can be dizzying when over used, but when it is done right, it is an interesting way to share your knowledge. Powtoon.com is a site that will allow you to create a presentation that includes cartoons. In the end you create a video that shares your information. Visme.co is a platform that can help you share your information in a more visual way. This site can be helpful for creating infographics and adding more visual elements to your presentation. If you have questions about using specific tools or would like to request a tutorial, please send an email to uhwode@hawaii.edu. Additionally, you can find resources for other things related to distance learning at our webpage: https://www.uhwo.hawaii.edu/distancelearning/student/.

 

Annotation Tools

Did you know that you can highlight and annotate websites just like you do textbooks? There are many free tools that you can download to allow you to keep track of all the things you read on the web. Diigo.com is a social bookmarking tool that requires you to create an account and add an extension to your browser. You can use Diigo to highlight, annotate, and save bookmarked pages in lists. Diigo also allows you to share these lists with other users, so if you are working on a group project, this could be helpful. Bounceapp.com is another annotation tool that captures screenshots of webpages and then allows you to add your comments. You can also save the page and comments and share it with others. This can be helpful for providing feedback or show someone a specific detail on a page. Scrible.com allows you to view and annotate PDFs. You can make notes about specific details of a PDF and then share it with your friends. The system will also allow your collaborators to make notes and share with you in real time. If you interested in finding ways to mark up and share digital copies of readings you may want to consider finding an annotation tool that works for you. If you have questions about using specific tools or would like to request a tutorial, please send an email to uhwode@hawaii.edu. Additionally, you can find resources for other things related to distance learning at our webpage: https://www.uhwo.hawaii.edu/distancelearning/student/.

 

Voice to Text Software

This month’s tech tip is about dictation technology. Some dictation apps only offer recording abilities, like Evernote (evernote.com). This app is great for taking class notes or organizing your own thoughts it even offers a recording feature, but there’s no way to convert your sound recordings into searchable text. If you are using Google Docs, you might want to try the Voice Typing feature. This feature can be accessed in your Google Doc by clicking on Tools and then Voice Typing. A microphone icon will appear and you can begin to dictate your thoughts. Another option is the Voice to Text extension for the Google Chrome browser. This extension will let you narrate your documents, emails, posts and tweets while using Chrome. This tool recognizes over 60 languages. Many operating systems also include speech to text software. To enable Enhanced Dictation on your Mac, access System Preferences, then Keyboard, and Dictation. The built-in dictation software for Windows machines is Windows Speech Recognition. You can find it by accessing Programs then Accessories then Ease of Access and then Windows Speech Recognition. If you have questions about using specific tools or would like to request a tutorial, please send an email to uhwode@hawaii.edu. Additionally, you can find resources for other things related to distance learning at our webpage: https://westoahu.hawaii.edu/distancelearning/student/.