Tag Archives: Softchalk

Introducing Softchalk Cloud

SoftChalk Cloud is now available for all San Jac faculty who want to add some learning activities to enhance their courses.  Interactive elements such as drag-n-drops, matching, multiple choice, hotspots, jigsaw puzzles and more are available.

The desktop version of SoftChalk has been available at SJC for some time now, through the Virtual College of Texas. The desktop version required several steps to “package executable lessons” and further steps were needed to incorporate the lessons into the Blackboard Learning Management System.

With the “cloud” version, everything is much simpler to use in many ways. Faculty can now log in to SoftChalk Cloud from any computer, anytime, anywhere.  Faculty can collaborate on creating lessons with a colleague, share content quickly and easily with the world, or to specific individuals or groups.  One SoftChalk Cloud lesson can link to multiple Blackboard courses.  For example, if a change is made to your SoftChalk Cloud lesson, it is automatically updated in all Blackboard courses that link to this lesson.  Instead of having to package a lesson and deal with zipped files, your lessons are simply published to your SoftChalk Cloud account.  All you need to do is give the hyperlink to your students!  You are also provided with the embed code if you wish to embed the lesson in a Blackboard content item. SoftChalk activities are quick and simple to create, and work especially well for interactive “self-check” questions that provide the student with feedback and opportunities to practice a concept.

If you want to use SoftChalk Cloud to create more formal quizzes or tests that you want to be recorded in the Blackboard grade book, you will simply post an “LTI” link provided by SoftChalk Cloud inside Blackboard and the scores will be transferred into the Blackboard gradebook.

If you are interested in giving SoftChalk Cloud a try, please contact an Instructional Designer in the EdTech Department to get an account set up.  Contact information for the Instructional Designers can be found on the EdTech website, at http://sjcblogs.sanjac.edu/edtech/about/people/

Inserting a SlideShow with Audio in SoftChalk

SoftChalk is a great tool to “chunk up” course content as well as adding engaging activities about your course material. SoftChalk has taken engagement to a new level by offering the ability to upload PowerPoint presentations with the addition of adding voice over audio to each slide. This additional tool is great for a distance learning course, as an instructor can lecture by recording audio snippets and then place the audio over individual slides via SoftChalk. SoftChalk gives you a similar ability to what other screencast products do, but all directly from within a SoftChalk module. By adding a voice over PowerPoint presentation to a SoftChalk unit, this can be very helpful for students, as SoftChalk keeps all the unit materials in one location. Therefore, students do not have to search in multiple places on a course site to receive the course material.

How does this work?

When saving a PowerPoint presentation, you have the ability to save the file in multiple formats. Save your PowerPoint presentation as individual JPEG files.  Using voice recording software like Audacity, record an audio segment for each slide, saving each audio piece as an MP3 file. Be sure to save the audio files with a similar name as the topic of the PowerPoint slide the audio is matched to.  Open up SoftChalk, and in the menu bar select Insert/Activity/Slideshow. Each PowerPoint slide you saved as a JPEG will be added as a new slide in SoftChalk. When uploading the JPEG file you will then have the ability to upload your MP3 audio file. Once you have uploaded all slides and audio clips, your slide show is now finished and can be easily watched within a SoftChalk module.

This concept can not only be done with PowerPoint presentations but as well with any type of file that can be saved as a JPEG file (e.g., pictures).

Watch the tutorial video below from SofthChalk’s website for more specific instructions on how to add voice over PowerPoint slides to a SoftChalk unit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZVaC81fpHU&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

Softchalk: Creating Electronic Flashcards

In my previous blog entry, the Bloom’s Taxonomy and its various orders of cognitive learning activities were briefly introduced.  After instructors engage students in higher orders of cognitive learning such as application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and creation, some students are still required to take objective testing in which they have to demonstrate their lower order of cognition such as recalling and comprehension in certain disciplines.  There are different ways to help students to self-check their memory and understanding.  For eight years, a number of my students reported that they liked the online flash cards for review purpose. 

In this blog entry, instructors can preview how to use Softchalk to create electronic flash cards so as to help students reinforce the lower orders of learning: spelling, recalling, defining, explaining, and describing. 

Instructors can create electronic flash cards in two formats: (1) accessible online in a Blackboard course site and (2) downloadable to students’ portable storage device (such as a USB thumb drive).  Using Softchalk to create flash cards does not require any programming knowledge.  It can be done in a few steps:

1. Open Softchalk, click the [Insert] drop-down menu, click [Activity], and click [Flash Card].

2. Click [New].

Softchalk_Click_New

3. Type in the term and its definition as well as add image or equation if necessary, click [OK], and repeat steps 2 and 3 to enter additional pairs of terms and definitions.

Softchalk_term_definition

4. When finished, click [OK].

5. Save your work. Then you can preview it in a web browser.

 While some textbook publishers may have created online flash cards for students, if they do not meet your students’ needs, you always have the option to create custom electronic flash cards using Softchalk.

If you are interested in learning more about Softchalk, please visit Avatar to search and register for an upcoming Softchalk training session.

Softchalk: Creating Crossword Puzzles

The Bloom’s Taxonomy lists a range of levels of learning activities, from low to high.  Although educators expect students to engage in higher levels of learning so that students can take what they have learned to the real world, lower levels of learning does provide students the early foundation to achieve those higher levels of learning later.  For example, one cannot write an analytical essay without knowing how to spell and construct grammatically correct sentences, and knowing the multiplication table comes handy when one does not have a calculator to solve a math problem.

In this blog entry, instructors can preview how to use Softchalk to create crossword puzzles so as to help students reinforce the lower levels of learning: spelling, recalling, defining, explaining, and describing.

Creating a crossword puzzles does not require any programming knowledge.  It can be done in a few steps:

1. Open Softchalk, click the [Insert] drop-down menu, click [Activity], and click [Crossword].

Softchalk_Insert_Activity

2. Type in the word and its clue, click [Add to List], repeat these steps to enter additional pairs of word and clue, select the Puzzle type to be [Static] or [Random], and click [OK] when finished.

Softchalk_Make List

3. Save your work.  Then you can preview it in a Web browser:

Softchalk_Crossword

When planning and designing learning resources, we need to appreciate that both lower and higher levels of learning are important as students should be equipped with the fundamentals (like this crossword puzzle) first before they can apply them in their future jobs.

If you are interested in learning more about Softchalk, please visit Avatar to search and register for an upcoming Softchalk training session.

Softchalk: An Overview

At one point in time, a blackboard and a piece white chalk were cutting-edge instructional technology inside the classroom.  As time goes by, these terms haven’t changed much, but now instructors are using Blackboard (an online learning management system) and Softchalk (a lesson authoring software) to extend learning outside of the classroom.

Regardless of whether you are teaching face-to-face, hybrid, or totally online, you will be thrilled to explore how easy it is to use Softchalk (a stand-alone software) to create professional-looking learning contents and interactive learning activities and put them on your Blackboard course sites, without any web or flash programming knowledge.

Where do I get Softchalk?
San Jac has purchased a site license of Softchalk. You may contact Tech Support and submit a request to have Softchalk installed on your office computer. Tech Support can be reached by phone at 281-998-6137, by email at techsupport@sjcd.edu, or online at http://www.sjcd.edu/san-jacinto-college/help-desk

Where do I get Softchalk training?
Softchalk training sessions are offered throughout the year. To check the current training schedule and register, please visit http://sanjacinto.avatarlms.com
You will need to log in with your San Jac netword username and password. In the search text box, enter “Softchalk” and you will see a list of training sessions to be offered at any one of the three campuses.

What about after-the-training service?
After you receive the Softchalk training, if you would like to further discuss how you may use Softchalk to enhance your students’ learning experiences, you may contact an instructional designer at your campus.

I have been using Blackboard; what extra perks does Softchalk have to offer?
Softchalk allows you to customize the sequence of prior knowledge check, content presentation, practice and review, and informal self-check or formal quiz. For example, a presentation of definitions of some key concepts can be immediately followed by risk-free matching question on the same page, of which Blackboard is not capable. In addition, there are 11 interactive learning activities you can create with Softchalk: crossword, drag and drop, flashcard, hot spot, labeling, ordering, photo album, seek a word, slide show, sorting, and timeline.

In the upcoming months, I will share with you some of these key features. Please stay tuned.