Seeing is Believing: Let Students See How Online Tools Work

We have posted previously on the importance of showing students what success looks like in an eLearning environment like Blackboard.   Whether via a rubric or by the example of a previous student submission, letting students see how they can be successful with an assignment or activity in your course is generally a good idea.

This post will help you discover how to utilize a tool that your students will use in their activities by employing it to display course content or provide course communication. That’s right, you are getting two for the price of one!

WikisThe Wiki Tool

The wiki tool can be the most rewarding/frustrating tool in your arsenal of activities that you have in Blackboard. Providing students with instructions on how to use the tool is definitely important, but many times they don’t end up using it the way you intended. This may be because they didn’t have an example or the 1 page example didn’t really show how a completed wiki should look.

Example: Use a wiki to display course topic or content.

Let’s say one of your course modules deals with Jean Piaget and Cognitive Development/Learning. Create a Wiki to display the content across multiple wiki pages:

  • Page 1 – Wiki Home – Overall introduction of unit
  • Page 2 – About Piaget – Biographical/historical look complete with picture
  • Page 3 – Cognitive Development: Explainer on Piaget’s theory
  • Page 4 – Cognitive Learning Today: Embedded video and text

Leave one page with places for your student to add their own text to the wiki demonstrating how a wiki should work in practice.

BlogsThe Blog Tool

In today’s day and age it easy to make the assumption that all students know how to use a blog or are familiar with journaling due to social media. However, this is generally not the case as most social media posts are micro-blogs (very short 126 characters or less) and full of emojis, text-speak and hashtags.

Example: Use a Course Blog to summarize the week/topic/module, provide commentary on student performance and provide a look into the next week/unit/topic.

This example allows you to demonstrate how a blog works and allows you to communicate important news and information to your students.

Each week make a blog post that:

  • Summarizes what the students went over
  • Provides kudos for student performance
  • Provides encouragement for student struggles
  • Allows for commentary to point out important details about the course content.
  • Gives students a preview/intro into the next unit.
  • Be sure to use multimedia so that students see what the blog can do.

*Use other communication tools in your course (announcements, e-mails, calendar entries) to remind students to check the blog. Be sure to encourage students to comment on your blog posts (a few bonus points for your top 3 commenters across a semester).

Both of these activities will give your students a good idea about how they can use these tools to complete the activities/assignments that you have placed in your course.

This strategy works with multiple types of tools/activities in and outside of Blackboard. Things like VoiceThread, GoogleDocs, course hashtags and many others are easy to pair with the “Seeing is Believing” idea.

Hopefully, by employing these types of strategies in your Blackboard courses, you can reduce student anxiety and increase student success!

Faculty Development Opportunities – May 2017

faculty_develpment_banner

SHSU Online is pleased to offer a number of faculty development opportunities via different avenues for May 2017.

Online Cohort and Self-Paced

Webinar

Face-to Face

self-paced_header_graphic webinar_header_graphic face-to-face_header_graphic
  • Multimedia in Blackboard Courses
  • Building Online Communities
  • Organization the Bb Gradebook
  • Bb Collaborate Ultra
  • Copying Your BB Course Into Next Semester
  • Blackboard & More By Request

Faculty Development Schedule – Face-to-Face/Self-Paced/Webinar

Date Session Title Delivery Method Time/Location
Open Building Online Communities Blackboard Course Self-Paced – Online
Open Multimedia in Blackboard Courses Blackboard Course Self-Paced – Online
May 2 Organizing the Bb Gradebook Webinar 1pm – Online
May 4 Bb Collaborate Ultra Webinar 1pm – Online
May 15 Bb Collaborate Ultra Webinar 12pm – Online
May 16 Blackboard & More by Request Face-to-Face 5pm – TWC 210
May 18 Copying a Bb Course Into Next Semester Webinar 1pm – Online
May 23 Organizing the Bb Gradebook Webinar 1pm – Online
May 25 Bb Collaborate Ultra Webinar 1pm – Online

Enroll in one of our faculty development sessions today!

Faculty Development by Appointment

by_appointmentThese sessions can be 5 minutes to an hour and can take place in your office, ours, over the phone and online.  Use the same link to sign up for face-to-face or one-on-one sessions. Just select a topic or come up with one of your own and we’ll do it!

Visit the SHSU Online Faculty Development How-to Session page and schedule a one-on-one with a member of the Instructional Technology Support Services team.

“Coming Soon” to a Blackboard Near You!

If announcements for new Blackboard tools were like movie trailers, then you’d be on the edge of your seat for these tools “coming soon” to Blackboard and SHSU Online.

Trailer #1: Blackboard Ally

….In a world where it is hard to know whether your course materials are accessible or if your students can open or understand course files, a new tool will rise. Ally, making course content accessible!….

ally_logoBlackboard Ally

SHSU Online is acquiring ally to gain greater understanding of the accessibility of our growing repository of online content. The tool will be instrumental in…

  • Providing guidance to instructors about how to improve the quality of their content, and by
  • Providing students of all abilities with immediate access to content in formats that may be more suited to their specific needs.

Guidance to Faculty

The Ally software is designed to automatically check course materials for accessibility as they are uploaded to Blackboard. If a PDF file is uploaded, for instance, the tool will look for corresponding file tags that can be picked up by screen-readers. If tags are not associated with the PDF, the system will prompt the faculty to include them to improve the accessibility rating, and will guide them through the process via an easy-to-use interface.

Access to Alternative Formats

Part of the remarkable technological capabilities of Ally is that it can take a document, like a syllabus or a study guide, and render alternate versions of it that will play better with accessibility tools. For example, when an instructor uploads a syllabus to a Blackboard course, Ally will create alternate formats of that syllabus, including semantic HTML, tagged PDF, audio, and electronic braille. What’s more, Ally will create these alternate formats without additional input requirements from the professor.

Trailer #2: Voicethread For Blackboard

…..In a world where PDF or PowerPoint lectures are bringing you down and reading student submissions is making your eyes go dry, one tool can make the difference…..Voicethread for Blackboard.

voicethread_iconVoicethread

VoiceThread is a totally web-based application that allows you to place collections of media like images, videos, documents, and presentations at the center of an asynchronous conversation. A VoiceThread allows people to have conversations and to make comments using any mix of text, a microphone, a web cam, a telephone, or uploaded audio file.

With VoiceThread, instructors and/or students can create, share, and comment on images, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, videos, audio files, documents, and PDFs, using microphone, webcam, text, phone, and audio-file upload. For SHSU Online, VoiceThread will be an external tool that integrates into Blackboard.

Watch the following video to learn more about Voicethreading:

Both of these tools will be available soon.  Be on the lookout for more information from SHSU Online!

Blackboard Tip: Course-to-Course Navigation

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of working on a particular item in a Blackboard course only to realize that you should probably make the change on the same or similar item in another one of your courses?

At this point you may start grumbling about the fact that you need to exit this course, go back to the My Courses module on Blackboard’s main page, scroll to find the course you were thinking of and then access it.  Well, hold the grumbles, because there is a faster way to jump from one course to another in Blackboard.  We give you the Course-to-Course Navigation Menu!

COURSE-TO-COURSE NAVIGATION MENU

From one of your courses, you can conveniently access all of the other courses you’re enrolled in.

course_to_course_navigationSelect the Course-to-Course Navigation icon to access the menu and select another course title. If the same page you’re currently viewing in the course exists in the next course, that is where you’ll land. The most recently visited course is listed first.

For example, if you’re viewing the announcements page in one course and select another course in the menu, you’re taken to that course’s announcements page.

For more information on how to quickly jump from one course to another, watch the following video:

SHSU Online Faculty Development Opportunities – April 2017

faculty_develpment_banner

Here are the  faculty development opportunities for April 2017.

Online Cohort and Self-Paced

Webinar

Face-to Face

self-paced_header_graphic webinar_header_graphic face-to-face_header_graphic
  • Multimedia in Blackboard Courses
  • Building Online Communities
  • Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
  • Organizing the Bb Gradebook
  • Blackboard & More By Request

 

Faculty Development Schedule – Face-to-Face/Self-Paced/Webinar

Date Session Title Delivery Method Time/Location
Open Building Online Communities Blackboard Course Self-Paced – Online
Open Multimedia in Blackboard Courses Blackboard Course Self-Paced – Online
April 6 Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Webinar 1pm – Online
April 11 Organizing the Bb Gradebook Webinar 1pm – Online
April 18 Blackboard & More By Request Face-to-Face 5pm – TWC 210
April 24 Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Webinar 1pm – Online


Faculty Development by Appointment

by_appointmentThese sessions can be 5 minutes to an hour and can take place in your office, ours, over the phone and online.  Use the same link to sign up for face-to-face or one-on-one sessions. Just select a topic or come up with one of your own and we’ll do it!

Visit the SHSU Online Faculty Development How-to Session page and schedule a one-on-one with a member of the Instructional Technology Support Services team.

Grade Center Due Dates & Column Organization

One of the of the hallmarks of student satisfaction in any online or web-enhanced course is a good student-course relationship.  If the student has a good experience interacting with the course structure and materials, they are more likely to report a higher level of satisfaction.

One way to increase the odds of a good student-course relationship is to be sure that when students check their academic progress, it is easy for them discover how they are doing in the course.

Blackboard students and instructors have dramatically different views of course grades.  Instructors generally interact with student grades via the Grade Center, whereas students work with a custom My Grades tool that only shows them their own achievements.  Students do not get a spreadsheet view of their grades.  Instead, they see a list of graded items in whatever order the instructor happens to have them in Blackboard’s Grade Center.

When adding assignments and activities during any given semester it is easy to just set-and-forget the Grade Center and forget about how students see their grades.  The good news is that there are steps that any Blackboard instructor can take to ensure that the students’ view of their academic progress is easy to understand and in the correct order.

The following video capture by SHSU Online Instructional Designer Jay Wilson will walk Blackboard Instructors through the process of organizing the Grade Center using Grade Book Due Dates and Column Organization.