Online Course Showcase Recap

The Online Course Showcase event co-hosted by JIBC and VCC and sponsored by the Metro Vancouver Educational Developers Network took place on November 30th. The purpose of the event was to bring together post-secondary institutions in the Lower Mainland to showcase their “best” online courses. Organized by Tannis Morgan, JIBC and Karen Belfer, VCC  and Tracie Gavriel, JIBC,  the showcase presentations focused on  the following design themes or categories:
1. Accessibility
2. Mobile learning
3. Online courses in post-secondary and beyond
In total there were 80 attendees on location and 25 attendees who participated online. It was a great turnout with lots of enthusiasm in the room.

Mobile Learning

Mobile Moodle, Jason Shaw, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH)

VCH created a system called Moodle New Physician Orientation ( This course was developed to be accessible via a mobile device. This includes tabs that open up side blocks, online quizzes, and all of the Moodle activities/resources. The aspects of this can be easily implemented on other Moodle sites. None of the customizations will make the instance of Moodle upgradeable. The interface is based on an iPhone interface with custom icons based on traditional Moodle activities/resources. The interface also changes when the screen becomes compact, adapting to the ipad, iphone, or Blackberry. Video media can be inserted via a HTML5 manner, but a filter actually swaps out that code and determines the player based on devicmp4 video that plays on any device.

Anytime, Anywhere: Mobile Companion for Face-to-Face Course, Paul Hibbitts SFU

For the Fall term of CMPT-363 User Interface Design at SFU, user experience consultant and instructor Paul Hibbitts wanted to explore how to best provide his students mobile access to an extensive collection of learning resources that were tightly coupled with his face-to-face classes.
Paul pursued a “Mobile First” strategy, creating initial designs for viewing the website on mobile devices but with the same content base and tools that would be available when viewed on a desktop browser. He also evaluated a variety of Content Management Systems (CMS), choosing WordPress along with the Headway Framework to help streamline the design and development of the desktop presentation of the website. The WordPress Plugin WPtouch Pro, along with various customizations, were an essential component to enhance mobile viewing of the course website content. For further details, explore the Mobile Companion case study at

Tablets in the Fire Service
Jerome Rodriguez, JIBC and Don Jolley, Fire Chief, Pitt Meadows Fire Department

Tablets have been historically viewed as toys or fancy cell phones by first response agencies. Jerome Rodriguez and Don Jolley showed the audience how tablets and applications are being used in the fire service not only to teach and train, but also to save lives, enhance fire ground and inspection capabilities, track equipment and monitor supply levels, training records, incident reports, and team member availability.
In a recent course development project, JIBC course designers took key features out of the course, made them freely available /publicly downloadable outside of the LMS as stand-alone tools via a digital object repository. After their initial launch, it has assisted learners, practitioners and organizations on how the use and development of mobile tools can sustain learning, enhance professional development and support public service through operational usage.


Accessibility in Online Learning, Chad Leaman, Neil Squire Society

The Neil Squire Society utilizes a variety of e-Learning delivery models to provide computer skills, career development, and health and wellness courses online to a variety of Canadians with a variety of disabilities.  Accepting that there is no “one-size fits all” for the needs of all learners, nor for all disability use cases, we have found two major themes in accommodating a variety of learners: universal design and open source / open APIs.
In the showcase presented by Chad Leaman, a variety of free, open tools and simple programming techniques was shown in practice.  The focus was on simple things you can immediately do to make your learning environments more inclusive and accessible to all learners.

Moodle for the Visually Impaired, Karen Belfer and Car-On Lee, VCC

VCC has heard in a couple of occasions that the Visually impaired (VI) program was having some challenges with Moodle, but didn’t really understand what that could be all about.  By putting resources into studying these challenges, this project garnered changes to the system which increased usability for the visually impaired.  Improvements included: removing blocks that were unnecessary, consolidating information, changing links and labels so everything starts with a number to correspond to the week, removing formatting in the content to read more smoothly in a screen reader, and organizing content to view in pop-up windows so it is easier for visual impaired navigation.
A few take-aways from this presentation would be to keep everything simple and to take into account screen reading capability when designing text and content.
Currently the course is a good model and template for other accessible courses and future development. If institutions develop Moodle courses with these guidelines in mind, they will be accessible and won’t need a complete overhaul of the existing courses.
Contact to get access to the course

Student Panel

A panel of eight students shared their experiences with online courses. The audience was able to actively engage by asking questions on how to enhance the design of online courses for students.
One major need the panel identified is an online environment with easily accessible tools and resources for their courses and the ability to converse with peers and instructors electronically to help build relationships and alleviate feeling of isolation when studying on your own.
To gain a better understanding of online courses and how they are working for students, designers should consult with current/past students, as well as, professors to determine root causes of any difficulties and how they can be addressed.

Post Secondary and Beyond

Soilweb: An OER for the study of Soil Science in BC
Chris Crowley and Saeed Dyanatkar, UBC

Chris Crowley and Saeed Dynatkar talked about Soilweb, an open education resource (OER) consisting of a suite of online learning tools that demonstrate a broad range of soil science information. The resources are intended to (1) accommodate a variability of learning styles, (2) increase student’s motivation for learning about soil, and (3) engage learners by relating undergraduate course content to research carried out by soil scientists at University of British Columbia (UBC) and other research institutions in North America.
This was primarily designed for post-secondary education, but is also used by natural resource professionals and land managers. Over the past four years, these learning tools have been integrated into the teaching curriculum of the online and the lecture-based version of the UBC’s Introduction to Soil Science course and adopted by other UBC courses. Student response has been excellent.

Business Communications using ventriloquism and multimedia, Gary Green, JIBC

How do you reach out to young people in this technical saturated world to give quality online teaching?   Gary Green says its by using strong visual and auditory flows of information that work simultaneously to better retain information.  Gary tries to put in as much personality and interactivity as possible to facilitate learning with post secondary audiences and compliment the written material and textbook readings.
Gary presented on a cross section of a Business Communication Course where he utilize multimedia and interactivity to facilitate the delivery of the course.  He then presented scenario based situations utilizing ventriloquism and multimedia presentations.

Early Childhood Education, Barb Mathieson, Capilano University

Barb showcased two online courses in Early Childhood Education- Child Development I and Advanced Child Development. Capilano University is beginning to offer online courses in hopes of being able to include some of our regional campus students. One of the fears students have in taking an online course is that they will be doing it all alone and they feel they will miss being part of a learning community.
With this in mind they have used tools like Voice Thread, Google docs, Wikis, Audioboo, BigBlueButton, and more, to build a sense of community in the courses.  They have also added in some strategically placed inclusion activities that provide students the opportunity to get to know each other and it seems to go a long way to building a sense of togetherness.
Students have commented that they felt more like part of a community in their fully online class then they did in some of their face-to-face classes. Barb further discusses how Capilano translated what they do in our effective face-to-face classes to an online platform. Video welcomes, screencasts that walk students through documents, online ice-breakers, interactive lectures, discussion forums and collaborative activities to name a few.

Rouxbe, Carolyn Levy, Blank Design

Rouxbe is a private company that has implemented highly creative strategies for online learning.  When Rouxbe first started it was not considered mainstream by the “experts.” Rouxbe focused on teaching fundamental cooking skills (skeptics said cooking was all about recipes); Rouxbe produced professional quality videos (experts said that all content on the web would be user-generated); and Rouxbe bet on users defining their own learning pathways for a variety of target audiences (e.g. home cook, culinary students and professional chefs).

Medical Radiography,  Youdan Zhang and Ali Shabar, BCIT

Youdan Zhang and Ali Shabar shares a design feature they are using in several Anatomy courses in the Medical Radiography blended program. Due to the need for students to look and explore tremendous numbers of x-ray images and diagrams, they created an image viewer to display the image with accompanying text, as well as zoom functionality. Rather than having a ‘toilet paper’ page requiring tedious scrolling, learner interact with each image at their own pace.
They shared the rationale for the design of this tool and how it evolved to what it is today. For that purpose they showed the multiple iteration of the image viewer, and then the final one withing the context of one of the Anatomy courses.
Designing online content that is image rich and text poor can pose some challenges, especially when delivered to cohorts of 80 students!

Self Study Learning Object for Nursing
Maureen Mackey and Tim Paul, Douglas College

 This presentation by Maureen Mackey and Tim Paul provided an overview and demonstration of an online, self-study learning object that illustrates the Neuman Systems Model of Nursing (NSM) and the Department of Psychiatric Nursing Conceptual Framework.
The established case study method of instruction is implemented through a series of psychiatric nurse-client interactions that breathe life into the framework and make it meaningful for learners.
A self-study learning object was selected as the optimal design to meet the learning needs of various groups of learners, both face-to-face and online students of different levels within the programs as well as new faculty members requiring orientation. The self-study nature of the learning object adds to its flexibility and utility as both a fundamental learning tool for students and instructors who are new to the Model/Conceptual Framework and to those who would benefit from an independent refresher of this complex material. Students and faculty may re-visit the learning object at any time, which is useful because the Model/Conceptual Framework is embedded in all aspects of the psychiatric nursing curricula. Instructors have the option of using the tool in their classes.