Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tech Tip Tuesday - How to Personalize Your Course

Most of you inherited a completed course in Blackboard when you started teaching here at Stevenson.  You don't always have much say in what content goes into that course, what textbooks are being used and what the assignments and assessments are.  Yet there are still a few ways to personalize and make your course your own.

  1. Announcements - Your weekly announcements are a way to humanize yourself to your students.  They show you are there, into the course, care and want the best for them.  Typical announcement posts include a quick view of the module week ahead, and updates or reminders of due dates.  Any other funny quips or personal add-ins are also always appreciated by your students.  Announcements don't have to be very long but they are a very important part of the online learning experience.

  2. Assignment Feedback - In any assignment/assessment that is graded there is an opportunity for instructor feedback.  While this isn't always necessary, giving a quick 'good point' or 'great job' doesn't take up much of your time and goes a long way with your students.  Again, it creates a real life teacher/student experience.  Timely, constructive criticism is also crucial as it allows your students to make the necessary adjustments in time for their next assignment and allows for greater growth throughout your course.

  3. Faculty Information - In the faculty information area that you set up prior to your course being turned on there is an opportunity to add a photo of yourself.  While many feel uncomfortable with this, this actually makes the students feel more comfortable since they are able to put a face with a name and know who they are communicating with.

  4. Course Theme - This is the fun one that not all are aware of!!!  This can best be shown in this video tutorial.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tech Tip Tuesday - How To Copy and Paste Into Blackboard

Oh copy and paste!  How you have saved the day on so many occasions.  Would you agree this is one of the best word processing tools ever invented?!?!

The problem with copying and pasting from other sources into Blackboard is that they don't always agree with each other.  Many times it adds a weird html code and then when you click submit it doesn't look how you intended.   To avoid this issue one simple, extra step is needed in Blackboard.  In the long run this will save you time down the road and make you the toast of your instructional designers world!

View document on how to Copy and Paste in Blackboard

View video tutorial to see it in action.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tech Tip Tuesday - How to Use The Email Function in Blackboard

After a very successful Blackboard Boot Camp on campus last week I was able to get a better feel for what faculty and staff are amazing at and still have trouble with.  Sometimes as Instructional Designers we think you know all the features that are offered within Blackboard but sometimes forget to point out some of the basic "make your life so much easier" ones.

This weeks Tech Tip Tuesday is dedicated to the simple task of emailing your students from within your Blackboard course.

When your courses are populated in Blackboard the students information, including email, are automatically added into your course.  There is no need to set up address books or groups within your own email.

There are two main ways to get to the email feature within Blackboard.  Both ways take you to the same landing page.

Option 1: (click image for a larger view)

Option 2: (click image for a larger view)

Either option will get you to the same landing page, which should look something like this.

As you can see from here you have many options to email:
  • All Users
  • All Groups
  • All Student Users
  • All Teaching Assistant Users
  • All Instructor Users
  • All Observer Users
  • Single/Select Users
  • Single/Select Groups
  • Single/Select Observer Users

Once you select the appropriate option for your situation you will see a familiar Blackboard screen with all the usual formatting options.  From here compose your email as you would any other email and send.  All of your recipients will receive your message in their Stevenson email account.  From here, any reply to that email will be sent through email, not Blackboard.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Interesting Article on the Top Ten Internet Sources Students Use

According to TurnItIn:

The top 10 Internet sources college students use for writing may depress you

Have you seen any of these cited in any of your papers?  Sad but true.  It is increasingly becoming easier for students to gather what they think is scholarly information on the internet for use in their courses.  While students are responsible for what they use and how they use it, what are we doing, as educators, to steer them in the right direction?  In education, and especially online education, we can't just assume they know how to find, where to find, how to use scholarly work.  We must guide them.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tech Tip Tuesday - How To Grade With A Rubric

A great resource in Blackboard is the ability to grade assessments with a rubric.  A well done rubric can be a lifesaver in your online course.  When you associate your rubric with your assignment you get the ability to not only give points according to your rubric but also add personal comments for your students to see.  This can also help eliminate a lot of the gray area when grading.  The interesting thing about rubrics though is that they are always a work in progress and it is usually not a one size fits all type of deal.

There are a lot of great online resources out there to help you develop your own rubric.
Stevenson also offers many wonderful EdTech Workshops that talk about assessment and rubrics.  If you have a rubric that you wish to associated with an assignment and use it for grading contact your instructional designer and they can help walk you though the setup process.

View this video to see an associated Blackboard rubric in action.  *Note this video was orginally made for the RNBS Nursing Faculty

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tech Tip Tuesday - How To Turn Your Course On In Blackboard

It's that time of year again!  Time to turn your course on in Blackboard.

When your course is set up in Blackboard it is defaulted to be unavailable to students, even though they are already registered and appearing in your course.  This allows the instructor to go in and make any changes without the students viewing.  The downside to this is that you must remember to turn your course on at the right time.

All of the 8 week courses have a Pre-Week.  This allows students to go into the course and get a glimpse of what to expect and there might be a few minor assignments to help them get acquainted with the course and the people involved.  For these courses the class should be turned on right before Pre-Week starts.

The 16 week online courses do not have a Pre-Week and should be turned on right before their course is scheduled to begin.

View this short video to remind you how to make your course available to your students.