eLearning Frenzy

eLearning is like a sewer, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.



BbWorld14 Session Blog: Beyond the Discussion Board – Implementing Blackboard Tools to Increase Engagement

Murano 3301
Cheryl Boncuore | Academic Director, Kendall College
Ken Sadowski | SLATE

Session explores student and faculty experiences form a variety of institutions using traditional discussion boards in online, hybrid and campus-based classes.  It takes a deeper dive with an institution that implemented blogs, journals, wikis and video everywhere in order to increase engagement. Results and Reaction will be discussed.

  • What Engagement Means in Online Learning
  • Faculty Favorites
    -examination of faculty responses positive and negative
    -Status Quo Expected mandated
  • Beyond the Discussion Board
    -Other Tools
    -Tools beyond Bb


  • DB has been around for a long time
  • DB is static and students don’t like it
  • Faculty bear with it because they have to
  • Don’t know any other tools
  • Can’t use other tools
  • Forced Responses
  • No real social Interaction

What the Numbers told us?

  • Survey 400 people from 100 insitutions
  • Return rate of 20%
    -84% Faculty
    -12% admin
    -3% staff
    1% Instructional Designers

What LMS do you use?  74% Bb Learn

How do you Primarily Teach? 36% Online, 35% on Ground, 29% equally

Age Group – Nice Mix 25 – 65 and older
How long have you been teaching – 1 – over 20

What tools do your students prefer?

  • Discussion Board 52%
  • Other – 24%
  • Don’t know 15%
  • Blog 2%
  • Journal 1%
  • Facebook 6%

What has happened?

  • Surprised about positive comments for discussion board
  • perceived mediocre yet they use it
  • molded it to what they wanted it to do to fully engage students

Discussion Board got some “new” friends…

Defining Engagement –

  • Connecting all institutional constituents to the activities of teh learning, discovery and the academic topics of study
  • Great Engagement leads to Greater Retention
  • Every class must go beyond institution walls
  • Fits Mission of University

Tools of Engagement

DB – pre-developed online courses, traditional tool, what else is there?

BB Tools – Journals, blogs, wikis, surveys, video everywhere, rubrics

Web Tools – Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Skype, Big Marker(video conferencing tool – web based no java)

Don’t always look for right answer…look for group work, engagement and problem solving process.

What did we learn?

  • Tools that are available to us can be used in interesting ways
  • Faculty use tools that they are comfortable with
  • It’s not the tool, it’s the pedagogy!

What’s Next?



BbWorld Session Blog: Trends in Online Learning

Murano 3301
Jason Rhode Director of Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center – Northern Illinois University
Melissa Stange System Application Administrator Shenandoah University
Karen Yoshino, Principal Strategist, Blackboard Conuslting

Session explores how the use of collaboration tools, mobility, and more will be changed by shifts in student demands and the fight to attract and retain students.


  • Student Expectations
  • About Our Presenters
  • Review Trends in Online Learning Report
  • What’s Next
  • More Info

Context –

Definition of Student is changing.  Non-traditional students are about 85% o learners int the US.  Old student journey linear pathway with few choices.  New pathway is “swirling”  (1/3 of students transfer between students) average student has credits from 2.3 institutions.

Now they are Post-Traditional learners:  Attend multiple institutions, listen to peers, pursue skills and competencies, like to interact with services via apps and not websites.  Consumers of Data/Info, Goal is Job placement.

Trends – Report

  • Conducted in 2014 Feb, (survey)
  • 200 Participants
  • voluntary participants 100%

Where are you today in offering courses online? – 88% have courses online of those who do not already, half intend to have courses online.

How many Courses Currently use a blended learning model? – half the institutions surveyed are using a blended model for at least 25% of their courses.  22% offer more than half their courses in-class and online.

What Annual Growth in online programs do you forecast? Most responders expect growth in their online learning programs (59%)

What are the goals that drive investment in online programs? – 79% Ability to attract new/different students, 67% – Increase Revenue, 62% – Improve Retention, 60% – Better engaged students, 57% – Improve learning Outcomes, 17% – Other

What is holding you back from growing your online programs?  Growth of online programs will depend on improved online strategies and faculty support of putting courses online.  (35% said nothing is holding them back, but 33% stated lack of coherent strategy).  Faculty Resistance, lack of funds, lack of talent/resources, technology programs and chaos are other obstacles.

What Challenges are you facing regarding online learning? – Gauging impact on retention and engagement 52%, Faculty skepticism is a top challenge 51%, Ensuring level of academic Challenge 44%, Measuring faculty/student interaction 41%, Developing benchmarks for success 39%, Lack of Resources 39%, Assessing active and collaborative learning results %39, not viewed as budget priority 19%.

What Trends do you see in how your faculty is putting their content online? – Increased faculty content development is driving growth. Develop their own content – 84%, Use captured lectures -43%, use open content – 34%, license commercial content – 26%, contract with 3rd party vendor – 19%, other – 5%

How do you think Most of your faculty are using your organization’s LMS? – 94% – Posting course content, 74% Grading, 67% Engaging students, 60% Assessment, Reviewing course/student analytics 24%

What features in an LMS system are most sought or valued by users? – LMS functionalities with the highest value: ease of posting -80%, and grading workflow ease of use -67%, Having Mobile Access – 55%, Integration w/other Systems -55%, Analytic tools embedded in system – $1%, Social tools embedded in the system %29

What Collaboration and/or communication tools are you currently using in the classroom?  90% – email 81% – LMS 57% – Lecture Capture, 55% – Social Media 52% Video Conferencing 45% – Mobile Apps 40% – Web Conferencing $31% – texting

How do you foster a sense of connection an community across student population. 52% – Electronic Newsletters, 46% – Targeted Facebook pages, 39% – Webcasts,

How important are strong online programs to attracting and retaining students?  Critical – 34%, Very Important – 30%, Important – 14%, not very important – 12%, unimportant – 6%.

What would be the primary advantage to your college having more robust online offerings?  Attract more non-traditional online students – 71%, Expand geographical presence – 62%, improve student retention – 42%, academic quality improvement – 36%, reduce costs – 28%, greater communication across departments – 19%

Next steps? – Shenandoah University

  • More hybrid and blended courses to meet student needs
  • Continuation of articulation agreements
  • Develop & Deliver online courses in specific fields to meet national recommendations
  • Focus on online 7 Hybrid course quality
  • faculty training & support
  • Infrastructure improvements

Next Steps? Northern Illinois

  • New niche programs
  • attract new students, increase revenue, improve retention
  • Coherent online strategy
  • investment in central support infrastructure.
  • focus on student career success
  • articulation agreements
  • mix of online and blended/hybrid programs
  • Accelerated courses – 8 week
  • Faculty content development
  • Ongoing faculty training & support



BbWorld14 – Certified Trainer Summit

I had the good fortune to attend the Bb Certified Trainer summit pre-conference workshop as a Bb Certified Trainer.  I was invited to present by my mentor and 2013 CTP facilitator Craig Agneberg from Blackboard.

1st Presentation – Lessons Learned From the Trenches – Online Faculty Certification
Jacob Spradlin | Assistant Director of Training & Developemnt | SHSU Online

My presentation consisted of Lessons we learned in Implementing our Teaching Online with Bb Faculty Certification cohort. In the interest of brevity, I’ll skip all the introductions and get right to the lessons.

Lesson 1: Do Chunk it ‘Like A Boss
Packing almost everything you’ve wanted to know about Blackboard, but were afraid to ask” into 8 weeks, you need to find ways to make the material digestible. Our certification is chunked across 4 courses:

  1. Blackboard Learn – Course Building
  2. Blackboard Learn – Communication
  3. Blackboard Learn – Assessment
  4. Teaching Online – Strategies for Success

Each course is divided into no more than 7 and no less that 5 modules that covers topics. Each Module is divided into Objectives, Content (Learning Unit) & Assignments (Content Folder).

*One of the big lessons learned for us is to “chunk” the cohort by doing more than one section of each course if the enrollments get to high.

Lesson 2: Don’t Always use the Same Feedback
Engaged your participants in different ways by using different feedback methods:

  • Audio/Video (in Grade Center and throughout the course)
  • Weekly Announcements/E-mails summarizing what they went over and previewing what comes next.
  • Summary Discussion Posts
  • Chat Sessions
  • Peer Feedback
  • Text

Lesson 3: Don’t Assume They Won’t Enroll if it Isn’t Mandatory

How did we garner enrollments?

  • Peer Pressure (Beta Cohort with early adapters, and “Squeaky Wheels”) They went out and sold it for us
  • Certificates & Badges – Certificate for completing cohort and badges upon each course completion.
  • Partner With HR – We use Talent Management and faculty can record external training for PD.
  • Positive Attitude – Work on Relationship with Faculty/Departments/Deans get them excited about the prospect

Lesson 4: Don’t Assume Tech Fluency

Your faculty, just like your students, don’t come into Blackboard with the same technical skill sets. Find ways to make the process of navigating and using Bb tools “snag free” by providing:

  • Mechanical Instructions – How to use the Tool
  • Contextual Instructions – Place academic and mechanical instructions at the point of the assignment as well as in your syllabus
  • Demonstrate Success – Show the participants what success looks like upon assignment completion.

Lesson 5: Be Present in the Course

  • Have Virtual office Hours
  • Be more than text on a screen – Ensure your photo is in your courses, place yourself in audio an video in your courses and interact with your students (Its not correspondence!)
  • Give individual Feedback (Use Student Names)

Lesson 6: Develop a Routine

  • Use Expectations to let students know how often you will be in the course
  • Check your course before you wreck your course!
  • Check your Virtual Office
  • Limit your Availability (you need time for you)
  • Grade Turnarounds
  • Give individual feedback but not on everything
  • Leverage canned generic text where you can place student name

2nd Presentation – Faculty Training Evolution: An Institution Case Study
Kesha James | Instructional Technologist/Director of Distance Learning
Lawson State Community College

(Ice Breaker)
Handing out Pennies as an ice breaker – say something interesting that happened during the year on the penny.

Kesha described how her office/job formed and how the evolution of faculty training has grown from hey we probably need to do this, to creating a position/department that handles it.

To help bootstrap her way into the game Kesha earned a Certificate in Distance Learning – University of West Georgia, leaned on the resources of the Instructional Technology Council.

Where to Begin – Needs Assessment (Survey)
From the survey, they found the courses that they were lacking and placed them into a Summer Bb Insitute (2 month)

Planning – ADDIE Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate

Preparation – Training Material, Eventbrite (Scheduling Registration Software)

Go to Bb to update Materials. (Purchased training materials from Bb)

3rd Presentation – Is Your Course “Badge Worthy” – Rita Thomas, Frostburg State University



  • Understand Evolution of Teaching Online Training at FSU
  • Produce & Discuss creative motivators (group activity)
  • Understand need to develop cert. process
  • Review the rubric to evaluate a course at fSU

Background –

F.O.C – Faculty Online Certification
(stipend) after completing cert
Hotel California Feeling – You can enter but you can never leave

How to get faculty to keep improving their courses & to eventually develop courses according to Quality Matters rubric? Credentials?
What happens after Certification? What’s Next?

Faculty have to apply to attend Online Cert. Training
Badging for Tech Evaluations –

Put Badges on course banner, badges for competency, skill/ability/knowledge

4th Presentation – Tech Tools I (We) Cannot Live Without – Melinda Rhodes-DiSalvo, University of Cincinnati

Can’t live without iPad

  • 1to1 iPad requirement
  • Closed Operating system,
  • industry leading battery life,
  • app volume purchasing program,
  • revoke and reuse app redemption code
  • mobile device manager – give out apps at scale
  • Standardized suite of apps, (Apps organized by Bloom’s)
  • apple tvs everywhere – wirelessly project ipad change dynamic of classroom freedom from lectern
  • Content Delivery with iTunesU (optimize content for ipad)

redid content with iBooks – everything that was PowerPoint was redesigned in multi-touch ibook – SAMR MODEL technology driving toward

Every student has a virtual computer (remote access) – students purchase IPAD as part as program – Devices managed – air watch $100 in apps.

Can’t live without Technology kits for faculty (using faculty development dollars)
eLearning backpack – Apple TV, iPad Air, intelligent backpack, wacom tablet (Kahn academy videos), styles, wireless usb mic, wireless headset, camtasia studio (about $2000 in equipment) (20 hours of consultant who work with faculty)

I Can’t Live Without
Snagit, Camtasia – Scorm Created Objects, Webcam, Wireless headset/Mic (explain everything – Videos) $5 dollars, (Jott Stylus)

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