Using Courses for Teachers: Instructor Help Page

by Anthony Carpi, Ph.D.

MyClassroom is a unique educational system designed specifically for use with Visionlearning's award-winning learning modules (follow this link for more information about our modules). The MyClassroom system allows instructors to automatically create and manage a course homepage and syllabus, incorporate any of the modules from the Visionlearning library in any order desired, add comments directly to our modules, store notes and lesson plans, communicate with students, print out materials, and more. This help page provides detailed guidance for teachers on how to utilize the MyClassroom system (if you are a student, please see our Using MyClassroom for Students page).

Starting out

To begin, first complete our free registration and then log into the MyClassroom area. At this point you will be ready to create your own MyClassroom. The "Instructor MyClassroom Start Page" requests basic information about your school and course, which we will need to properly catalog your classroom and approve you as a teacher. This page asks you to select display options for your classroom, such as the background color, and it will allow you to add optional resources. In the description field on this form, you can type in or copy and paste a description of your course that will be displayed on your MyClassroom home page (see Course Description on the right side of Figure 1 below). If you have already created a course home page, you can simply link to it here. All of these options can be changed at a later time if you prefer. Once you submit this page, you will see a link to enter your new MyClassroom Figure 1).

Figure 1: A newly created sample MyClassroom.

Organizing your MyClassroom

The left menu of your MyClassroom (in yellow in Figure 1) will provide you and your students a way to easily navigate your site. At the top of the left menu, a Course Info section includes a link to your home page and a syllabus page (we will describe the syllabus page later in this tutorial). The Announcements link in the Course Info section allows you to enter general or dated announcements for your students. Dated announcements will display on your home page one week prior to the due date (see the yellow bar in the right frame in Figure 1). The Students link provides information on the students that have subscribed to your classroom. You may choose to screen students that seek to register for your MyClassroom or you can allow open student registration. Finally, the Course Info link will allow you to modify any of your original registration information, including the classroom color, description, additional links, etc.

Organizing Modules in your MyClassroom

Once you have organized the Course Info section of your MyClassroom site, you can begin to add learning modules to the site. Clicking on the "Add one now" link under the Modules section (bottom left menu in Figure 1) will load a list of modules available from Visionlearning. You may add any of these to your classroom. Clicking on a module title allows you to preview the material. You may add this material to your MyClassroom by clicking the add button. As you add modules to your classroom, the right screen of your MyClassroom will display a list of options along with added modules (Figure 2). You may continue to add new modules to your MyClassroom, drop existing ones from your classroom, or change the order of them in your site by moving individual modules up or down in your list. You will notice that the list of modules on the left menu changes as you modify your MyClassroom.

Figure 2: A MyClassroom with a custom list of modules.

Adding Notes and Comments

When you have finished adding modules to your MyClassroom, you will notice several new features on your site. First, each module in the left menu has a Notes link associated with it (Figure 2). Clicking on the Notes link will open a pop-up window that allows you to type in or copy and paste notes for each module. Visionlearning Notes can be shared with all of your students, allowing you to add class lecture notes, homework assignments or other material to your site. Alternately, Notes can be hidden from students, allowing a teacher to add private lesson plans, class discussion ideas and more to allow you to keep your private material in your MyClassroom site. Your students will be able to view only the Notes that you have chosen to share with them; in addition, they can add notes of their own (viewable only by them).

In addition to Notes, MyClassroom instructors may also add comments directly to any of the Visionlearning teaching modules. Our unique embedded Teacher Comment system (yellow box, right screen in Figure 3) allows you to add comments, additional links, homework reminders and more directly to any of the modules in a MyClassroom site. Teacher Comments will be visible by both the MyClassroom teacher and his or her registered students. Teacher comment boxes appear at the top and at the bottom of every module in a MyClassroom, allowing extensive flexibility to customize your teaching materials. Comment boxes left empty will not be seen by students.

Figure 3: Teachers may add individual comments to any our modules.

The Syllabus Page

After organizing your modules, you can automatically create a syllabus for your course. Clicking on the Syllabus link in the Course Info section of your classroom (top left menu of Figure 4) loads a blank Syllabus page. You may either "Add events" individually, or select to "Autopopulate" the syllabus with modules from your personal MyClassroom list. Autopopulating a syllabus displays a list of modules in your MyClassroom site with a short description (Figure 4). Syllabus events can be edited to add a due date for coursework. Additional events, such as scheduled examinations or assignments, can be added.

Figure 4: A syllabus can be automatically created from a module list.

Additional Features

Interactive quizzes are provided with every learning module on Visionlearning (links to quizzes can be found in the bottom left "Resources" section of the modules). The "Quizzes" link available in the Course Info section of MyClassroom allows you to track your students’ performance on quizzes, allowing you to tailor instruction and provide further discussion where needed.

Getting Authorized

The final step in making your MyClassroom site available to your students is to have it authorized. In the Course Info section of your MyClassroom (top, left menu Figure 4) you will see a "Get Authorized" link if you are a new teacher to Visionlearning. MyClassroom is a free system available to teachers; submitting your MyClassroom site for authorization allows the staff at Visionlearning to verify that you are a teacher or teacher's assistant.

Getting the Most Out of Visionlearning

As described in our Module Information help page, Visionlearning teaching modules contain a host of interactive and multimedia resources. Our lessons are purposefully succinct to help focus students on the core principles while still giving you the opportunity to add additional readings such as your own notes, the news stories, research papers, scientific biographies and other resources available at Visionlearning. The combination of these many features in a single system provides a rich teaching and learning environment. To learn more about Visionlearning, the materials available on our Web site, or how to extend your teaching using these resources, please visit our Help area.