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A little while ago I posted about just how useful screencasting is for teaching students how to use tools and software on the computer/web. I also recently posted on a favorite image screen capture Chrome add-on that makes it super easy to grab screenshots from the web.
Here is another great tool I love for teaching providing students instructions on tasks they need to complete for assignments while incorporating visuals: the Lab Guide.
I opt for these over screencasts when the steps are clearly defined and need to be followed in a specific order.
I use Google Docs and Awesome Screenshot Google Chrome add-on to create these. Here’s why I like Lab Guides:
I used to give a lot of handouts with instructions. They were a waste of trees. And black-and-white text… boring!
I realized something: We want to create content that grabs attention, that is easy to digest, easy to follow, yet we don’t seem to do a great job of doing that with our students!
More and more, i find images and multimedia are great additions to or supplements for words. But color-printing is expensive. I also felt limited by MS Word and wanted to be able to provide a URL, not a file for students to access so students could click links on the handout to access videos, additional articles, etc., without being bogged down by the cumbersome process of loading a link via a Word document.
And so, I began creating Lab Guides which are Instructional Handout with Multimedia (IHMs)
IHMs are easy to access via a short URL (e.g., Bitly) from anywhere on the web.
They contain instructional material, embedded images, icons, links.
And, they are super easy to create!
Here is a lab guide that utilizes a variety of multimedia examples to help students. This lab guide shows students in the intro class, Comm and New Media, how to create and edit their podcast assignment.
Here is a long and involved Lab Guide I created that walks students through the complex process of coding XML files for data collection using the Open Data Kit (ODK). Students in the (Applied) Research Methods class will be collecting survey data using iPads and Android Tablets. Students will be creating their own surveys and programming them into XML to be hosted on FromHub.com. With the tablets, students can go out into the field and have people complete the survey on the tablet and the data is uploaded in real time to FormHub. Students can then download the data for analysis when complete with data collection.
I like handouts where all the info is organized and students can follow along. It takes time to create. But I feel it saves me a lot of time on the back end with emails, time wasted in class, etc. Most importantly, the students find it helpful and it helps us move more quickly through the “must do’s” so we can get to the real learning!
Follow these tips for making your Google Doc Lab Guide to share your students once you’ve created it
Log into Google Drive or create an account.
1) Create the docs and make sure they are set up so EVERYONE can edit them. Here’s how:
After creating the document, click “share” (upper right – it is a blue icon). Next, click “Change” next to the field asking who can do what with the document….: Choose “Anyone with the link” and in the Access section, keep it as View”
2) Sharing the Document with Students – The URL for Google Docs is annoyingly long, not good for sharing. So use your favorite URL shortener to create uniform links for the assignment. I like Bitly but any works.
For example, if there are 4 teams and I set up the documents, each will have a URL something like:
That way, each team just types in the short link into their browser. Just note that Bitly links are case-sensitive. Be sure to test your link!
What tips do you have for creating effective handouts for students?
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