#TTT: 3D Printing Basics

As one of the main features of the DIGILab, our 3D printer is a tool enabling us to create real physical forms of designs and ideas. While 3D printing has become more popular over the years, many people still are unsure of how it actually works.

In basic terms, 3D printers have two main components: the extruder and the build plate. The extruder is where the filament is fed through, and it places the material on the build plate.

The extruder heats the filament at a very high temperature (can be upwards of 260 degrees celsius), melting it into a softer, more malleable state. This allows the printer to essentially place layers of filament along the build plate, which is heated as well (often between 60-90 degrees celsius). The layers of filament are laid on top of one another in the shape of the desired object.

PLA filament is layered to create objects with width, depth, and height.

The materials of the filaments can be anything from plastic to metal. The DIGILab uses PLA and ABS, both of which are plastics.

Users can create designs themselves or find existing ones on websites such as Thingiverse, and download the .stl file of the design. If they prefer to start from scratch, or modify an existing design, they can use websites such as Tinkercad, which like Thingiverse, is free to use. After the user is satisfied with their design, they can load the .stl file into a printing software. The DIGILab uses Cura, a free program that connects with your 3D printer. After importing the file to Cura and adjusting the print settings, you can begin printing.

However, before you begin, you should keep a few things in mind. First is the type of material you are using. Even similar materials such as PLA and ABS have different settings that should be used. ABS requires higher temperatures than PLA. One way to keep the temperature high is by placing your printer in a glass box, to contain the heat.

There are other adjustments you can make before printing, such as setting the height of each layer, and the speed of the extruder. Another involves the build plate – some people choose to cover their plate with masking tape or specifically made printer bed covers, while others print directly onto the plate. Outside materials, such as hairspray, can also be used to help objects stick to the bed during printing.

The most important thing to remember with 3D printing is to keep trying. Your first few builds may not turn out how you hoped, but with time you’ll get exactly what you want. Keep printing, make adjustments, and find what materials, settings, and styles work best for you. And if you need any help, drop by the DIGILab or contact us at dec@longwood.edu or 434-395-4332.

Webinar Basics

Webinar. You’ve probably heard the term, but do you truly know what a webinar is? Do you know how webinars can benefit instructors and students?

A webinar is a meeting that takes place online where participants from various locations come together and interact as if they were face-to-face. Students are able connect with each other or meet with faculty during office hours or for content instruction. Webinar tools provide communication through audio and video, as well as through screen-sharing.

Webinars include a host (the faculty member) who organizes the online meeting and invites attendees. Attendees can include only one or two students or can include fifty or more students. Attendees can be located all over a college campus, in various cities and towns across the state or in various parts of the world. Webinar participants can join the meeting from any location with Internet access.

Webinar Tools All webinar programs are slightly different, however, they all have the same basic tools to help you meet your meeting goals and objectives. These include:

  • audio and video communication
  • screen sharing
  • virtual whiteboard
  • text chat
  • session recording

A webinar is an excellent way to engage with students and support interactive learning. However, as with any technology, webinar use has both benefits and limitations in the teaching and learning process.

Benefits of Webinar Use

  • introduce new content
  • review content
  • assessment feedback
  • 1:1 or small group support
  • Q&A sessions
  • live presentations (by faculty and students)
  • guest speakers
  • office hours
  • session recording for later viewing

Limitations of Webinar Use

  • setting a common meeting time
  • technical issues (by faculty and students)
    • Internet connection/speed
    • required equipment (headset/speakers)
    • technical support
  • preparation time (for faculty)
  • learning curve (both faculty and students)

Webinar Programs Longwood University offers our community two webinar solutions: Canvas Conferences and WebEx. Contact the DEC to learn more about these tools and get started with your online meeting today!

#TTT: Honorlock – New Cheating Deterrent

The newest technology that the DEC will be supporting is Honorlock, a cheating deterrent software. As a cheating deterrent, like its predecessor Respondus Lockdown Browser, Honorlock is not a guarantee to prevent cheating. However, it does make cheating very difficult, and allows instructors to review footage of their students’ entire testing session for inconsistencies.

There are several features of Honorlock that the DEC feels will be an improvement on our current cheating deterrent systems, such as:

  • It works as an extension within Google Chrome; as the preferred browser for Canvas, it integrates ideally with Canvas quizzes
  • As an extension, it is much simpler to install and use than previous software that functioned as it’s own separate program
  • Detects cheating on secondary devices
  • Instructors have immediate access to a log of all mouse-clicks made by each test-taker, as well as a recording of the entire testing session
  • All users have direct access to a 24/7/365 web chat and toll-free phone number for support; instructors are also provided with Honorlock support via email

 

The DEC will continue to support Respondus Lockdown Browser along with Honorlock, until July 1. After that date, only Honorlock will be supported by the DEC. For those wishing to integrate Honorlock into their spring classes, contact us at dec@longwood.edu or 434-395-4332, or drop by Ruffner 136.

For anyone interested in learning more about Honorlock and utilizing it, professional development sessions will be offered on the following dates/times:

  • Wednesday, April 17, 12:00 – 12:45
  • Thursday, April 25, 3:30 – 4:15
  • Wednesday, May 1, 10:00 – 10:45
  • Thursday, May 9, 1:30 – 2:15
  • Tuesday, May 14, 11:00 – 11:45
  • Wednesday, May 22, 10:00 – 2:00, Open hours

Please register for the session that you are interested in attending here: https://goo.gl/forms/bZ1Jt2S6T5YyS0OX2

#TechTipThursday: Using Discussions In Canvas

With Spring Break nearly upon us, students and instructors are looking forward to time off from classes and work. However, with the occasional snow day and sick day in January and February, some courses may have a bit of work to make up during the break.

A simple and straightforward tool for instructors to use is the ‘Discussions’ feature in Canvas. Discussions are what they sound like: a board allowing a course’s instructors and students to interact with one another on a given topic.

There are two types of Discussions: Focused and Threaded. Focused Discussions begin with the instructor making a introductory message, with individual responses made by the students below. Focused Discussions are useful for single-post discussions, answering a single question or prompt, collecting results, or sharing resources among students.

An example of a Focused Discussion (image courtesy of the Canvas Guides).

Threaded Discussions are started like Focused ones, but from there, they allow an unlimited amount of responses to the original prompt (as well as other responses). They are useful for long and nuanced dialogues, or for multiple questions/prompts. It also is better for allowing students to converse topics amongst themselves, rather than simply responding to the instructor’s post.

An example of a Threaded Discussion (image courtesy of the Canvas Guides).

If you have any questions on Discussions, or other features in Canvas, contact the DEC at dec@longwood.edu or 434-395-4332.

#TechTipThursday: Monitoring Online Behavior

Online interaction has grown exponentially over the past two decades, and it will continue to grow as technology becomes more ingrained in our lives. Though as anyone who has spent time on the internet can attest, online communication can be aggressive and hostile.

As part of our senior research project, Christian Reifsteck and I examined the causes of negative communication on the web among college age (18-26 years old) users. Specifically, we wanted to find if there was a correlation between negative communication and how anonymous users appear.

We looked at five social media platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit – and surveyed respondents how frequently they observed or produced negative comments, along with cyberbullying (repeated and directed hostility toward a specific user).

Distributing our survey across Facebook, Twitter, and Discord, data from 154 respondents was used. We separated the five social media platforms by their level of anonymity based on how much personal information was available in a user’s profile. The questions asked participants their frequency of seeing and producing negative comments, and their frequency of seeing, committing, and being the victim of cyberbullying on the five sites. The questions were Likert-scales, ranging from 1-5, with 1 being “very frequently”, to 5 being “never”.

Our results found that there was a significant relationship between anonymity and how frequently hostile comments are produced on the respective social media sites. In simpler terms, people behaved more aggressively the more anonymous they were online.

The rate of how frequently respondents made negative comments on each site, shown by the mean. The lower the mean, the more frequently the users made hostile/aggressive comments. (From left to right – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit)

For the cyberbullying portion of our research, we found a significant between anonymity and both the frequency of observing cyberbullying as well as the frequency of being a victim of cyberbullying. Again in simpler terms, anonymity led to greater amounts of cyberbullying, both witnessed and experienced by our respondents.

How frequently respondents observed cyberbullying committed toward other users on social media, shown by the mean. The lower the mean, the more often they saw cyberbullying committed by others.

How frequently respondents were victims of cyberbullying themselves across social media sites, shown by the mean. The lower the mean, the more frequently they were victimized.

Of the social media platforms selected, Twitter had the highest amount of negative comments produced by the survey takers. It also was the platform that had the most cyberbullying committed against the respondents, as well as cyberbullying observed on other users. While being less anonymous than Reddit (the most anonymous of the five), the large number of Twitter users means that hostility and aggression are more frequent there.

What both students and faculty can take away from this research is that interacting on social media with other open and identifiable users is more likely to create a pleasant and respectful experience for all involved.

#TechTipThursday: Rubrics and Assignment Feedback

Canvas has many helpful features when it comes to providing student feedback on assignments, along with the use of rubrics built in to an assignment’s page. This guides both the students in developing their assignment submissions, as well as the instructors in grading those submissions.

Rubrics in Canvas

To see rubrics in Canvas, either the student or the instructor simply has to click on an assignment’s title from whatever page it is accessible from; this can include the ‘modules’ tab, ‘assignments’ tab, or ‘grades’ tab within a Canvas course. Once you are viewing an assignment’s page, if a rubric has been included it will be directly below the assignment description.

This is the end of the student’s ability to interact with rubrics on Canvas. If the instructor has not created a rubric for an assignment in Canvas, none will appear.

For instructors, to create or edit a rubric on a Canvas assignment he simply has to go to the assignment’s page (not the ‘edit assignment’ page). Under the assignment title and description will be the rubric if one exists, which can be edited using the pencil in the upper right hand corner of the rubric table. Otherwise, he can select the ‘+ Rubric’ button to create a canvas rubric for the assignment.

When creating/editing a Canvas rubric, there are many options available, including adding and editing the title of criteria, adding descriptions for ratings, and altering the point value of criteria. There are also numerous checkboxes below the rubric table itself allowing the instructor to select the preferences to write freeform comments, use the rubric for assignment grading, hide the assessment score results, and more.

Assignment Feedback in Canvas

When students submit assignments in formats such as word documents in Canvas, instructors have the ability to annotate and comment on these submissions which leaves feedback students are able to see when grades are made available to them. When a student is notified that an assignment submission has been graded, he can click on the assignment from either the ‘assignments’ tab or ‘grades’ tab and then select ‘view feedback’.

Selecting this will open a preview of the document and show instructor feedback on the right side of the document.

For instructors, when in the assignment page one can select ‘SpeedGrader’ to open the submissions viewer and leave feedback and annotations on student submissions. Below is a visual example of what the SpeedGrader screen will appear like and the options available on it.

*This post was drafted by Kayla, an Instructional Technology Collaborator*

#TechTipThursday: Enabling closed captions in Panopto

Accessibility in education gives all students the ability to obtain educational content. This includes accessibility to recordings that may be added to online portions of a course. This is often done by adding captions. Panopto lecture capture makes it possible for faculty to quickly and easily add closed captions to Panopto recorded videos. There are two options for the type of closed captions available within Panopto. The first option is free and is the option for machine generated closed captions, which are demonstrated in this post. The second option is professional human generated closed captions, which are not free, with cost depending on the length of the video.

We at the DEC recommend using machine generated captions only for short videos, as these captions are not 100% accurate.

After recording a Panopto video, you will need to edit the video.

Once in the edit window, you will want to select the “Captions” option on the left.

From here, select the “Import captions” dropdown option, then “Import automatic captions”.

Selecting “Import automatic captions” will machine generate closed captions for the video. These captions may not be completely accurate. However, it is possible to go through and edit these captions to be correct.

In the video we used, you can see the machine generated captions above. As long as you speak clearly and the video is short, the captions should be fairly accurate.  

When wanting to correct captions, click on the captions needing edits, and type the correction.

After you are done editing, be sure to click the “Publish” button to save your captions.

Now when viewing the video the captions button will be presented.

*This post was drafted by Wesley, an Instructional Technology Collaborator*

Using Technology to Help Foster Classroom Connections

Building new connections and fostering valuable connections can be intimidating for both instructors and students, particularly those new to a university. Numerous studies have shown, when students have strong connections with instructors they reap positive benefits including better engagement in the classroom and higher self-confidence. As more faculty integrate technology, particularly Canvas, into all classroom environments, the opportunities to foster these relationships grows.

Canvas offers instructors a variety of tools to interact and connect with students. Canvas discussions allow participants to contribute ideas and feedback to specific questions or topics. Many faculty also create “Q&A” discussions as an open area for students to ask questions on course topics outside of the face-to-face setting. This can lead to enhanced student understanding of topics or areas where more focused instruction needs to take place. Faculty also create “After the Lecture” discussions where they add additional lecture resources or information and students can provide feedback and input on the topic discussed in class.

Canvas Conferences allow instructors and students to meet in an online meeting room for a more dynamic and direct connection. Conferences offer audio and video connection, which many students enjoy as a way to get to know their online instructors. Conferences allow for live-demo sessions, immediate Q&A sessions, or simple course reflection. Faculty often offer online office hours as a convenient opportunity to meet with off-campus students or for those students who cannot meet during regular office times. Other faculty offer “Last Minute Question Sessions” where students can pop-in and ask questions while studying for a big-test or exam and get immediate, clear feedback.

Building student and instructor connections provides students opportunities to gain experience developing and fostering professional relationships. These connections allow students to feel more engaged with their courses, as well as the university as a whole. To learn more about how you can use Canvas tools to connect with your students, contact the DEC today by calling x4332 or e-mail dec@longwood.edu.

#TechTipThursday: DIGILab goes mobile

As the spring semester brings changes, the offices of the Digital Education Collaborative have a new addition as well. The DIGILab has moved from Greenwood Library to Ruffner, with a focus on acting as a mobile makerspace for students, staff, and faculty.

Despite the change in location, the DIGILab still features the same tools and resources to provide kinesthetic and hands-on products for both learners and instructors.

The DIGILab’s supply of learning tools includes Spheros, robotic orbs that are programmed and controlled through an app. Controlling the Spheros teaches programming to users through the creation of tasks and routines carried out by the round robots.

For more artistically inclined Lancers, the DIGILab boasts a sewing machine and Silhouette. The Silhouette is a machine brings user’s designs to life, by cutting along materials such as paper, vinyl, and fabric before printing them. Meanwhile the sewing machine provides the opportunity to use a traditional household appliance to foster creative learning.

And last but not least, the DIGILab also houses a 3D printer, giving users a tangible form of their ideas and designs. Whether for a course, a club, or for personal use, the 3D printer gives Lancers the chance to bring their ideas to life. The printed objects can be a great way to do something as intricate as creating a model for your class, or as simple as showing off your fandom.

The 3D printer can create items ranging from functional…

…to fanatical

If you have any further questions, the DIGILab is open throughout the semester, from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and from 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM on Tuesday/Thursday. Appointments, questions, and comments can be sent to dec@longwood.edu.

Final Vlog for Fall 2018