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Archive for the ‘Curriculum’ Category

Supporting Bboogle: BbWorld 2011

August 17th, 2011 No comments

Bboogle? With so many things going on at the start of semester, the last thing faculty need is a new word… So, what is Bboogle? Blackboard (Bb) + Google.

Supporting Bboogle: BbWorld 2011.

Our colleagues on the north side, at Northwestern University, have been developing a free building block for Blackboard integration with Google apps. Here at IIT, we may want to take a closer look – especially in light of our transition this semester to Gmail for students and Google Apps for Education for everyone.

This past year IIT Online has taken an active role in becoming part of the larger Chicagoland education community around Blackboard and technologies in education, by participating in SLATE, http://slategroup.uchicago.edu/. Today’s meeting was hosted by Northwestern and gave IIT Online a chance to network with and learn from other institutions. One result was a discussion of Bboogle and its possibilities.

Take a look and let us know what you think!

Also too – Faculty, please be on the lookout for our IIT Online survey of faculty needs and best practices. As we’re looking to deliver innovative and excellent education to our students, we need to better understand the needs of our faculty. If you don’t have the link, please let me or Brad Katz know.

Wishing all of our faculty (and students) the best for the new semester!

Lauren

Loyola University Chicago | “Teaching with Technology Guide.”

November 8th, 2010 No comments

Loyola University Chicago has done a really nice job putting together their “Teaching with Technology Guide.”

As with any resource designed to serve a specific institution, external folks should be aware that certain policies may not be applicable and particular tools may not be supported.

In general, though, an impressive and fairly comprehensive resource.

Jaron Lanier Essay

September 21st, 2010 No comments

You could spend all day reading literature about educational technology without being reminded that this frontier of ignorance [i.e., how the brain works] lies before us.

Jaron Lanier, from his “Does the Digital Classroom Enfeeble the Mind?” — an interesting short piece from The New York Times Magazine education issue (09.19.10) on the persistent tension between knowledge and information.

Categories: Best Practices, Curriculum, General Tags:

Curb Cuts and iPads: Universal Design meets Technology in the Classroom

September 17th, 2010 No comments

Reading two seemingly unrelated blog posts and comments in the Chronicle’s online ProfHacker series got me thinking about distance learning – one was about the lack of universal design, accessibility accommodations in universities, particularly web sites (http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Academic-Resources-and/26497/). The other was about a professor who declared his summer English Lit classroom a technology free zone (http://chronicle.com/article/College-20-Teachers-Witho/123891/).   

The first blog discussed the notion that websites, especially those at universities, should build accessibility into their web design process by embracing the concept of universal design, design to make life a little easier for everyone. Like curb cuts, the author said, quoting Dwell magazine’s article “Introduction to Universal Design,” those dips in the curbs at intersections designed to accommodate wheel chairs. Those dips also make curbs easier for everyone to navigate, from parents with strollers to commuters with rolling briefcases.

The second post, as one might imagine, launched much debate about the general merits of technology in the classroom. One comment noted that it all depends on the user, much like a terrific chef using “a pile of sticks and a match” creates a far better meal than a lousy chef who has the “fanciest commercial stove on the market.”

So what do curb cuts, chefs, universal design, and technology in the classroom have to do with distance learning? Everything.  If universal design can make something more accessible for everyone, why not apply that same thinking to utilizing technology in the classroom or to designing courses in general? I’ve since come to find out, that this is not the novel idea I first thought it was – turns out the concept of universal design for learning (UDL) has been around for a while.  Its principles were developed around 1997 and the term, “universal design for learning, coined by CAST, the Center for Applied Special Technology (http://www.cast.org/).  

The idea is to make courses more “useful,” or more “accessible,” for all students. Much of the current research related to higher education and UDL focuses on accommodating disabled learners (http://www.ahead.org/resources/universal-design). However, since the term universal design applies to everyone, let’s take it step further to include whether or not students participate at a distance. Many of our courses at IIT are blended: students attending remotely learn right alongside (virtually, at least) students attending the live session.  What might be considered an accommodation of distance learner, might also assist the student attending the live session, or vice versa. The trick is in intentionally selecting tools to engage all students.

The first step, as with almost everything, is to define the issue –identify what needs to be accessible. With courses, I would argue, the answer is the course objectives. What do students need to master in the course? Faculty answer that question all the time. Once the objectives are established, look for the best tools and resources that will help all students.  Here’s where we can think outside the box, as it were. Again, intentionality is key. The best tool may or may not be a traditional course lecture. And it may or may not be the next cool thing in technology, like the iPad, or its newest rival. Technology must always support course and program outcomes, not “coolness” factors. More likely than not, there is no one right tool, but a combination of tools to engage multiple learning styles and environments. IIT has a wealth of resources for faculty in its Blackboard system – every course at IIT has a Blackboard (Bb) shell, whether or not it is designated an internet course.  Perhaps one Bb feature, discussion boards, graded or not, could be used to reinforce lecture points for both distance and non-distance learners, for all students.  Interestingly, this is keeping with what that Dwell article identifies as a principle of universal design, making “information … available through several senses at once.” After all, aren’t learning styles based on senses?

Debating the use of technology in the classroom has gone on and will go on for ages. In the meantime, answer this question, how can technology support all students’ mastery of course objectives?  So how do you use technology to make your courses “accessible” for all of your students, both those sitting in class and at a distance? 

Read more about it:

http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Academic-Resources-and/26497/

http://chronicle.com/article/College-20-Teachers-Witho/123891/

http://www.dwell.com/articles/an-introduction–to-universal-design.html

http://www.udlcenter.org/

http://www.udlcenter.org/sites/udlcenter.org/files/UDL2ndDecade_0.pdf

http://www.cast.org/

http://www.ahead.org/

Ideas for making your courses and content more effective.

August 20th, 2010 No comments

A pair of articles from Learning Solutions Magazine presenting some basic principles worth taking into account when designing & developing your course content.

Nuts and Bolts: Principles of Multimedia Learning
A few concepts that can help make multimedia production and presentations more effective.

Nuts and Bolts: Brain Bandwidth – Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design
How to structure  your curriculum for more successful learning.