The News quest addresses another key component in effective communication within the online classroom and explores methods of integrating News Items into the learning environment.
Altering the News Items and incorporating eye-catching graphics creates an engaging, student-centered learning environment, and instructors should strive to use the News Item tool often throughout the instructional week.
With News Items, instructors should aspire to create News Items that are inviting, include images and graphics, offer specific information for students, and include a start date and end date. Additionally, instructors should aspire to post a News Item each Monday that outlines the focus of study for the week and includes the link for the scheduled synchronous session.
Another cool aspect of the News Item tool relates to the integration of audio as well. With many LMS platforms, instructors may insert specific audio comments to students. The use of audio, in News Items, submission boxes, and discussions forums provides students with a “true voice,” helping to create the community and authenticity of the classroom.
As always, instructors must ensure that News Items are student-centered, adhere to the standards delineated by the online school, and are free of grammatical and mechanical errors. When creating these news items, one should be cognizant of the audience, taking into consideration tone and the rules of Netiquette.
Producing effective communication within the online classroom and exploring methods of integrating News Items into the learning environment.
Guidelines for New Items, similar to the Bulletin Board:
1. Maintain a simple text, refraining from flash. Additionally, with the text, instructors will want to consider colors and fonts.
2. Scaffold ideas if needed, using any of the following strategies to maintain a fluid News Item.
3. As with the Bulletin Board, check sentence structure to determine the concepts are clear and concise and re-read the written text, verifying the spelling, syntax, and proper punctuation.
Incorporating images and animations in the online classroom becomes a central part of an instructor’s classroom management. The continuous addition of vivid graphics and animations promotes student interest in the News Item, as well as the message being relayed in the actual textbox. However, the images integrated must be relevant to content presented in the News Item. Instructors should ask is this image necessary? Is the image integral to the content of the announcement?
Prior to integrating images and animations into a News Item, instructors must determine the correct copyright behind the use of graphics. In the article, Copyright Fair Use and How it Works for Online Images, Sara Hawkins discusses images and the incorporation of graphics within online platforms.
As introduced in the article, instructors must utilize licensed Creative Commons (CC), unless the school has actually paid for the image.
A number of sites offering images and graphics that are not licensed by Creative Commons will have an image stamped with a watermark to identifying the source . Notice, this does not look terribly pleasant in the image, and instructors should refrain from relying on these images.
Images licensed by Creative Commons will include a CC. However, the following link via the Creative Commons website, delineates more specifically the various types of licenses available: Creative Common License.
Instructors should explore and use search.creativecommons.org when looking for images that fall within the Creative Commons copyright license. Such a search will result in images that generally allow users to share and remix the original producer’s content providing users attribute the work in the manner specified by the author. For example, the image below (smiley faces via a refraction photographic technique) was produced by Flickr user lemsipmatt who generously made the photograph available for wider and unfettered use through a Creative Commons copyright license.
However, for those who remain hesitant regarding copyright. Check out the following resources below:
File formats also play an significant role in the selection of an images for News Items. Although numerous file types for images exist, the three listed below are the most common.
In the online environment, PNG and JPEG remain the best options for images, as they come across clearer and load easily. For instructors desiring to convert images, check out, the free converters online, such as Picture Resize.
Once the image has been selected, instructors must consider the size of the graphic within the News Item. The content of the announcement should not be dominated by the size of the image. To combat this issue, An online instructor needs to evaluate the aspect ratio, or the proportional relationship between the image’s width and height.
Notice the news announcements below. Both contain the same image; however, upon closer evaluation one image is larger, taking up more of the news announcement then the other. Which one is the better choice?
As is evidenced above, the aspect ratio of an image or animation is essential both in regard to aesthetics, but also the delivery of the actual News Content
Instructors uncertain regarding the appropriate size to integrate into a News Item should checkout the link that provides additional sets of aspect ratios: Image Size.
Additionally, to help decide on the size of the image, instructors can search for free image sizers, such as Shrink Pictures. With Shrink Pictures, instructors load the image and re-size it as necessary, before downloading it for use. Instructors can also be quite creative with images via ImageChef, which provides users a platform to mix and match images.
Once images are loaded into the LMS, it is a best practice to always preview the item to ensure the graphics are functioning properly.
Integrating videos into News Items offers students an interactive and progressive image that aids to the importance of the content. Videos may be original or secured via an external source, and these may be embedded (played in the news announcement) or linked externally (played in a new window).
The most commonly used formats for videos include swf, flv, mp3, and mp4. The swf and flv are flash based file formats and work solely with computers that have flash installed. This does not mean, however, that all devices will work with this format such as an iPad. Instructors should be aware of the format being utilized, as well as the availability of the format to the masses.
FreeMake Video Converter allows users to convert videos from all types of formats into other formats with great ease.
Before creating the videos or embedding them from other sources, consider the aspect ratio of the videos. The examples below indicate how the size can make a difference.
Notice the first video takes up more than the actual news announcement, while the second news announcement is sized correctly. The aspect ratio of the video has immense impact on viewing.
The image below indicates the correct aspect ratios for a video based upon the size of the video.
When formatting and creating videos for online use, the tool should allow the creator to set the size of the area to be recorded. The tools listed below include examples of various video creators, and many of the websites utilize animation in the video making process. Take a moment to explore the websites and consider methods of integrating these resources into the online classroom.
As an online instructor, how do you plan to incorporate news items and announcements? What resources would you reference to format news items? Create an example of a News Item and share the example in your blog. If the News Item includes a video or interactive, please share the link or, better yet, use an embed code.
After completing a blog post that meets the requirements of this quest, submit the link to your post in the Submission Form at the bottom of this page.
Next, as a courtesy to fellow TOOL participants, join the Communicate 3.1.2 News Forum and share the link to your post. Upon sharing the link with fellow TOOL participants, consider providing helpful feedback to others regarding this topic.
Enjoy, be creative, and have fun!
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