The latest edition of the Magna Publications newsletter Distance Education Report discusses the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida. It’s a public resource for faculty looking for online teaching strategies - content in TOPR is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Check it out at http://topr.online.ucf.edu/index.php/Main_Page!
SLATE ’11 – photos, videos, notes, handouts, and reflections shared by participants at 2011 SLATE Conference, October 13-14, 2011
Last week a few IIT faculty and staff attended the SLATE (Supporting Learning And Technology in Education – Midwest Blackboard User’s Group) Conference held in downtown Chicago, at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center. The conference provided forums for all participants – faculty and staff from several neighboring institutions -to connect and learn from each other, by discussing best practices and implementation strategies for not only the Blackboard LMS, but for online learning in general.Â As an institution moving toward the next generation of Blackboard within the next year, IIT Faculty and staff took the opportuntiy to learnÂ more about what to expect and what to plan for, and how to make the transition a successful transitionÂ forÂ everyone involved. Check out this year’sÂ notes, conference run-down, and commentsÂ from the link above.
SLATE not only discusses issues and concerns related to Blackboard, but also fosters discussion of broader issues in areas like online learning and pedagogy, program integrity, and faculty development. Meetings are hosted regularly throughout the year by member institutions. For more information about SLATE, visit SLATE at http://slategroup.uchicago.edu/.
Bboogle? With so many things going on at the start of semester, the last thingÂ faculty need is a new word… So, what is Bboogle? Blackboard (Bb) + Google.
Our colleagues on the north side,Â at Northwestern University, have beenÂ developing a free building block for Blackboard integration with Google apps. Here at IIT, we may want to take a closer lookÂ - 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 andÂ technologies inÂ 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)Â the best for the new semester!
7 Things You Should Know is a monthly series on emerging learning technologies published by EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI).
The latest brief discusses Android, the Linux-based open-source operating system for mobile devices andÂ competitorÂ to Apple’s iOS. Learn how Android isÂ bringing mobile technology even more into the learning experience.
Check out 7 Things page in the ELI ResourcesÂ section by EDUCAUSE to see all ofÂ the monthly topics in this long-running series from its most recent on Android (Dec 2010) to one of its first,Â Clickers (May 2005).
LoyolaÂ University Chicago has done a really nice job putting togetherÂ their “Teaching with Technology Guide.”
As with any resourceÂ 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.
As a faculty member using Blackboard, you use can add new or revise existing grading scales for your course(s).
Log into your course: at IIT you login to Banner, click the Blackboard icon , and select a course.
- Select the Control Panel (left side navigation).
- On the Control Panel page under Assessment (middle right), click Grade Center.
This grading schema should now be available to associate with Blackboard content (assignments, tests, etc…) in your course and to display in the Grade Book.
If you are a IIT Blackboard user, when you when you log in and land on the My Institution page, you may find an overwhelming list of courses without enough informationÂ thereÂ to figure out exactly what you are looking at or to get where you want to go.
Presented alphabetically by course name with no indication of term or session, these include not only the courses you are currently teaching, but also all of those archived items you can still access in the LMS.
Thankfully, this can be customized based on your personal preference. Â How to do thisÂ isn’tÂ that obvious at first glance but the actual process is pretty easy.
To get started , click the small pencil icon in the My Courses area of the page.
On the next page, you will see a list of the courses grouped by your role (e.g., Courses You Are Building, Courses You Are Teaching, etc…).
The current IITÂ defaultÂ setting is Display the Course Name and Display Announcments.
You can change how Blackboard displays your courses, or hide a course entirely Â (for example, archived sessions).
The options are:
- Display Course Name
- Display Course ID
- Display Instructors
- Display Announcements
- Display Tasks
- Display Calendar Events
For example, if the current setting was to Display Course Name, you might seeÂ Adv Web Site App Development. If you wanted to display the course ID and term as well, you could click Display Course ID, and you would now see ITM-564-01-02.10S: Adv Web Site App Development, which includes the course number and the term. You could hide the title by unchecking the Display Course Name box and then you would see ITM-564-01-02.10S.
A little extra work customizing your My Institution landing page should increase the ease of use here and decrease the guesswork and blind clicking.
The focus here is on journalism (and communicating to a lay audience), but has clear application beyond that for the academic/educational context. Also some solid basic lessons about communicating information that are of value for creating simple slide decks like PowerPoint.
A few of the resources mentioned later in the video are:
Swivel (company blog)
Reading two seemingly unrelated blog posts and comments in the Chronicleâ€™s online ProfHacker series got me thinking about distance learning â€“ 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/). Â Â
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 â€œa pile of sticks and a matchâ€ creates a far better meal than a lousy chef who has the â€œfanciest commercial stove on the market.â€
So what do curb cuts, chefs, universal design, and technology in the classroom have to do with distance learning? Everything. Â 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? Iâ€™ve since come to find out, that this is not the novel idea I first thought it was â€“ turns out the concept of universal design for learning (UDL) has been around for a while. Â 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/). Â
The idea is to make courses more â€œuseful,â€ or more â€œaccessible,â€ 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, letâ€™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. Â 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 â€“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. Â Hereâ€™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 â€œcoolnessâ€ 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 â€“ every course at IIT has a Blackboard (Bb) shell, whether or not it is designated an internet course. Â 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. Â Interestingly, this is keeping with what that Dwell article identifies as a principle of universal design, making â€œinformation â€¦ available through several senses at once.â€ After all, arenâ€™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 studentsâ€™ mastery of course objectives?Â So how do you use technology to make your courses â€œaccessibleâ€ for all of your students, both those sitting in class and at a distance?Â
Read more about it: