eLearning Frenzy

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


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#bestpracticemonday – 4 Ways to Save Time When Teaching Online

clockOne of the concerns I hear from faculty who teach online is that there seems to be a fair amount more work that goes into teaching an online course. Most of the work comes on the front end. Putting into written/audio/video format all of the things you might say in class, and planning and developing your course does take extra time. However, there are things you can do to save time elsewhere that can help even this out.

Here are 4 ways you can save time when Teaching an Online Course:

  1. Work in Groups
  2. Have  a Virtual Office
  3. Select/Limit Assignments
  4. Connect Your Course


Group PuzzleGroup work in your online course is important for multiple reasons.  We’ve already touched on the importance of making your students take an active part in their learning experience and how course participation can be increased via group work.  Another benefit of course groups is that they can help you save time.

With a class full of 30 people you may find yourself grading 30 individual assignments multiple times.  Instead, try making some of those assignments group oriented and dividing your course into 5 groups.  You can reduce the amount of things you need to read as well as recruit your students to take part in the group assessment.


The name doesn’t matter, but a Virtual Office course Q&A forum services 4 purposes:

  1. Cuts down on the amount of e-mail in your inbox
  2. Gets your students in the habit of checking and using the LMS
  3. Keeps a record of questions and answers.
  4. Keeps you from having to answer a question more than once.

Let’s face it, we all “misplace” e-mail.  For some of us our inbox receives a hundred new messages or more each day.  Why not make life easier on you and your students by reserving course e-mails for those things of a personal or private nature.  You may have to use the first week of the course as a “training week” where you ensure you point your students to the Virtual Office for answers to course questions.  Make it a requirement in your syllabus, an expectation on your course expectations page and a question on your Syllabus quiz to ensure students know where to go.

When your students establish the habit of checking the course regularly, they will be more engaged and more successful.  When you answer questions via e-mail the only people that see that correspondence are you and the student.  Utilizing a discussion forum makes course Q&A visible to everyone in your course, saving you hours of time answering e-mails.


Select your Assignment GraphicRemember the first time you taught?  Many of us when we first teach want to take on the world and show the students all the great things that they can do in the course.  Mid-way through the semester did you find yourself thinking that you committed to do too much?  Working with your online course can provide the same kind of feeling.

My suggestion is to carefully select your assignments so you are not weighing yourself down with extra grading, proofing and other activities.  Your students will appreciate 5 -10 well thought out assignments as opposed the 20 “let’s do everything!” activities in their course.  By being particular in what assignments you add to your course you save yourself on grading time, cut down on questions and answers and give your students a more focused learning experience.


Connect PuzzleWhen you travel somewhere for the first time, doesn’t it seem to take a little bit longer to get there than it does to return home?  Whether it is unfamiliar surroundings, difficulty reading the map or the GPS isn’t up to date, it can be frustratingly slow to travel to new places.

Think of your online course as that new destination for your students.  How would they describe their navigation experience?  Would they say that once they travel into your course that it is difficult to find their way back?  Would they say that the course links were easy to find and use?  Would they be frustrated trying to make it to their “destination”?

Connecting your course by organizing and clearly naming your navigation elements will save your students and ultimately you time when putting together your online course.

Below are steps you can take to connect your course and save time for you and your students:

  • Use Dividers and Subheaders to visually organize your course’s navigation menu.
  • Append the text (Click to Open) on titles for content folders, learning modules, lesson plans, web and course links.
  • Put directions in the content description that direct students to “click” the title to access the content.
  • Make the content item Blue if you want your students to click it
  • Chunk your course content as you would teach it in your face-to-face course.  For example: Put all Chapter content in chapter folder with different sub-folders for each chapter.
  • Place a Course Link at the bottom of a unit a study so that the student can navigate back to where they were before easily.

BbWorld13 – Blackboard Learn’s New Social Learning Network

Live Blog for the BbWorld13 session: Blackboard Learn’s New Social Learning Network

Presenters: Melissa Stange, Francesca Goneconti Monaco, Terry Patterson

Session Description:

This presentation will cover the following:

  • Differences between existing social networks & Bb learn’s new global learning network
  • Benefits of using Bb’s Social Tools
  • How to implement
  • Lessons Learned
  • Answers to common concerns
  • Q&A

Session Begins at 2pm:

Overview of Social Learning Tools:

What is Social Learning – not one clear definition.  We all have different ways of describing it.  Introduced back in the 70’s.   Learning that takes place at a wider scale than individual or group learning, up to a societal scale, through social interrogation between peers.

“Learners learning from each other”

Why Now? – Because of the expectations and needs of today’s active learners.  For today’s students in our highly connected, information intensive world, learning is a 24/7 enterprise and the traditional school day is no more!

What students want in education mirrors what they experience outside of education.

Easily connect with educational community online.  (facebook not ideal) Educational network is different.

Educational Network – current and former classmates, professors, clubs, committees.  (not just friends).  In current social network it is hard to identify who is in your educational network.

Desire to keep networks separate! 60% of students say they want to keep academic and social lives separate.  Same amoutn think it is important to have an online forum to communicate with other students.  Cautious of mixing academic and social lives.

What are the tools?

Global Learning Network that connects users across/within institutions and countries.

How students see networks:

Facebook = Social
LinkedIn = Professional
Blackboard = Learning

Profiles – (photo/description) & Profile Wall.
People – Ability for users to discover learning network online.  Directory of entire institution, courses, global learning network
Spaces – Ad-Hoc group area.  Spaces can be created in less than a minute by anyone for anything.  (Study groups, research projects, interest groups, departments)
Messages – Asynchronously communicate 1 to 1 and with a group of people

Social profile tools go beyond basic and reach out to global connections.  Cloud gives identity, social lets you connect, collaborate and communicate.

Plan – Find early Adopters (Departments, programs, etc) Discover issues, questions and impact on faculty staff, students.

Policy – Find and fill gaps on current policies. Create new policies to fill in gaps.  Clear policy and where information is stored with affected parties on campus.

Procedures – Develop procedures to apply policy changes. Who implements/manages the procedures.

Implement – Pilot Group then full release.

Educate – Social Media vs. Social Learning

Usage, Intellectual Property, Harassment, social Accountability & Responsibility

FERPA directory information

Town Halls & Email Alerts

Bb Demos

Within 1st 1/2 hour 72 people adopted.  Made MyBb a tab.

Reporting on SysAdmin tab is on the Road Map. has great FAQs and a communication & Adoption toolkit as well as videos on Youtube.

There’s more to learn video – a day in the life of a student using social learning tools.

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