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

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When you Pack Your Bags for BbWorld18…

When we think of thought-leading eLearning conferences that we attend like Blackboard World, we often think of them in terms of things we will come back with. There is good reason for this, as there are so many takeaways that a conference like Blackboard World provides. For the purposes of this blog post however, we will be focusing on what we should bring with us to Blackboard World 2018.

So when you pack your bags for BbWorld….

…..Pack a way to share what you learn:

For every oSharing Gadgetsne of us who are fortunate enough to attend this tremendous eLearning event, there are many, many more of us who cannot be at BbWorld. Since we all know that “sharing is caring,” bring a way to share what you’ve learned with your coworkers back home and your colleagues across the world. Whether you are live tweeting by phone or mobile device, live-blogging from your tablet or laptop, or maybe just taking notes to present, blog, or post later, you will be helping your coworkers at home and your peers across academia benefit from what you are picking up from colleagues, professionals and thought leaders.  Remember the hashtag: #BbWorld18

…..Pack a charger (Mobile or otherwise):

Portable ChargerIf indeed you are sharing your experience, or just trying to stay in touch with events back at home, you will definitely need a charger. I would suggest bringing one of the mobile chargers that you can keep in your pocket/purse/backpack. During the hectic schedule, you may not get a chance to go back to your room, and you may not find an open plug where you can “juice-up”. *As an addendum to this packing tip, bringing a small power strip is also beneficial as you can share one plug with a number of your peers.

…..Pack a desire to meet people and make connections:

Make ConnectionsPossibly the biggest benefit to being at Blackboard World is the ability to meet your peers and form connections that you will maintain and use throughout your professional career. At your home institution you may be the only person who does what you do, but at Blackboard World you are a small fish in a big pond. There will literally be hundreds of people with your same type of job. What better way to pick up best practices and learn what is working and not working for your colleagues, so that you aren’t stumbling around on your own when it comes to your learning management system or eLearning in general.

…..Pack some tennis shoes or at least comfy dress shoes:

ShoesBbWorld has possibly the largest population of slacks/skirts and Nikes in the eLearning universe. For a conference this large, you may be walking a quarter of a mile just to get to your next session. You also have vendors to see and colleagues to touch base with, so comfortable footwear is a must. Some of you may even spend time at Hogwarts working on your patronus, so you will most assuredly  need shoes for your journey!

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

BbWorld16 Session Blog – Enhancing the Learning Environment Using Technology

Venetian H
July 13, 2016
1:30 – 2:20

*Everyone of college credit courses has a Blackboard component.  Every faculty member must go through rigorous online training on how to use Blackboard.

Overview

  • learning Feedback
  • tool integration
  • avatars
  • interactive learning activities
  • collaborate ultra

Featured Technologies

  • Storyline (Articulate)
  • Powtoon
  • Collaborate
  • elearning brothers

Student Feedback – breaks and used different teaching materials, enjoyed the games, fun experience, method of instruction was good, encourages attendance and learning, interactive activities, content was more like a conversation rather than a bunch of words. games you post are fun and help us to assimilate the reading assignments.

-Use Welcome to Course Storyline instead of just video
-jeopardy and other games for self-assessment competency checks

Collaborate Ultra

  • Personalized profiles
  • Whiteboard
  • Application Share
  • Polling – Brand New for July Update
  • Session Attendance Reports – Brand New for July Update

Packing your Bags for BbWorld16?

When we think of thought leading eLearning conferences that we attend like Blackboard World, we often think of them in terms of things we will come back with. There is good reason for this, as there are so many takeaways that a conference like Blackboard World provides. For the purposes of this blog post however, we will be focusing on what we should bring with us to Blackboard World 2016.

So when you pack your bags for BbWorld….

…..Pack a way to share what you learn:

For every oSharing Gadgetsne of us who are fortunate enough to attend this tremendous eLearning event, there are many, many more of us who cannot be at BbWorld. Since we all know that “sharing is caring,” bring a way to share what you’ve learned with your coworkers back home and your colleagues across the world. Whether you are live tweeting by phone or mobile device, live-blogging from your tablet or laptop, or maybe just taking notes to present, blog, or post later, you will be helping your coworkers at home and your peers across academia benefit from what you are picking up from colleagues, professionals and thought leaders.

…..Pack a charger (Mobile or otherwise):

Portable ChargerIf indeed you are sharing your experience, or just trying to stay in touch with events back at home, you will definitely need a charger. I would suggest bringing one of the mobile chargers that you can keep in your pocket/purse/backpack. During the hectic schedule, you may not get a chance to go back to your room, and you may not find an open plug where you can “juice-up”. *As an addendum to this packing tip, bringing a small power strip is also beneficial as you can share one plug with a number of your peers.

…..Pack a desire to meet people and make connections:

Make ConnectionsPossibly the biggest benefit to being at Blackboard World is the ability to meet your peers and form connections that you will maintain and use throughout your professional career. At your home institution you may be the only person who does what you do, but at Blackboard World you are a small fish in a big pond. There will literally be hundreds of people with your same type of job. What better way to pick up best practices and learn what is working and not working for your colleagues, so that you aren’t stumbling around on your own when it comes to your learning management system or eLearning in general.

…..Pack some tennis shoes or at least comfy dress shoes:

ShoesBbWorld has possibly the largest population of slacks/skirts and Nikes in the eLearning universe. For a conference this large, you may be walking a quarter of a mile just to get to your next session. You also have vendors to see and colleagues to touch base with, so comfortable footwear is a must. Some of you may spend the evening at Freemont. Let me speak from experience, walking the strip + the hotel can cause blisters in the wrong shoes!

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

When you Pack your Bags for Blackboard World 2015

bbworld15When we think of thought leading eLearning conferences that we attend like Blackboard World, we often think of them in terms of things we will come back with. There is good reason for this, as there are so many takeaways that a conference like Blackboard World provides. For the purposes of this blog post however, we will be focusing on what we should bring with us to Blackboard World 2015.

So when you pack your bags for BbWorld….

…..Pack a way to share what you learn:

For every oSharing Gadgetsne of us who are fortunate enough to attend this tremendous eLearning event, there are many, many more of us who cannot be at BbWorld. Since we all know that “sharing is caring,” bring a way to share what you’ve learned with your coworkers back home and your colleagues across the world. Whether you are live tweeting by phone or mobile device, live-blogging from your tablet or laptop, or maybe just taking notes to present, blog, or post later, you will be helping your coworkers at home and your peers across academia benefit from what you are picking up from colleagues, professionals and thought leaders.

…..Pack a charger (Mobile or otherwise):

Portable ChargerIf indeed you are sharing your experience, or just trying to stay in touch with events back at home, you will definitely need a charger. I would suggest bringing one of the mobile chargers that you can keep in your pocket/purse/backpack. During the hectic schedule, you may not get a chance to go back to your room, and you may not find an open plug where you can “juice-up”. *As an addendum to this packing tip, bringing a small power strip is also beneficial as you can share one plug with a number of your peers.

…..Pack a desire to meet people and make connections:

Make ConnectionsPossibly the biggest benefit to being at Blackboard World is the ability to meet your peers and form connections that you will maintain and use throughout your professional career. At your home institution you may be the only person who does what you do, but at Blackboard World you are a small fish in a big pond. There will literally be hundreds of people with your same type of job. What better way to pick up best practices and learn what is working and not working for your colleagues, so that you aren’t stumbling around on your own when it comes to your learning management system or eLearning in general.

…..Pack some tennis shoes or at least comfy dress shoes:

ShoesBbWorld has possibly the largest population of slacks/skirts and Nikes in the eLearning universe. For a conference this large, you may be walking a quarter of a mile just to get to your next session. You also have vendors to see and colleagues to touch base with, so comfortable footwear is a must. Some of you may spend the evening at the Washington Mall area. Let me speak from experience, walking the Mall in DC can cause blisters in the wrong shoes!

…..Pack a Presentation!

PresentationBe a Blackboard World Presenter! The Call for Proposals is open until April 15. Share your successes, obstacles and experiences on a multitude of topics. The backbone of BbWorld are presentations by those of us in the trenches who work with faculty, students, deans, directors and Blackboard to make eLearning possible. Take the plunge and submit your proposal to present today!

There are probably many other things you can think of packing, so don’t limit yourself to just this list (checked bag fees not-withstanding). I know I look forward to seeing what my colleagues are bringing to BbWorld15 this summer!

 

 

Fight Unit Fatigue – Chunk it Like a Boss

Chunk It Like a BossWe have all experienced a first glance at what looks like an insurmountable obstacle in our learning endeavors. Maybe is was the practicum for your Masters degree, maybe it was your dissertation, maybe it was all the grading you had to catch up on after you returned from vacation.

Undoubtedly, there are strategies that we as instructors can employ to make the amount of material seem less ominous. Whether we distribute our course across, weeks, units, topics or lessons, chunking our content makes it more digestible for our students.

In this day and age many of our students are viewing courses through the lens of multiple devices, many of those with the display real estate of a tablet or smart phone. Why not take the extra step and chunk our units as well?

I like to take the extra step to organize my units across a content item and 2 content folders (depending upon the amount of coursework). Each of my units contains three things:

1. Unit Objectives
2. Unit Content
3. Unit Assignments


Example of Chunking It Like A BossObjectives (Content Item)

The objectives are a great way-stone for my student in the course. They remind the student why they are learning what they are learning and what they should be getting out of each unit. The objectives are generally a content item that the students see immediately upon entering the unit, so they don’t have to dig any deeper to see what they will be learning about.

Unit Content (Content Container)

The Unit Content container contains all of the readings, videos, articles, links and lecture materials for the particular unit. Putting them in the same spot each time leaves no room for second guessing by my students as to where the content will reside. I also place a download link at the end of the container for students who don’t like to read content on a computer/device.

Unit Assignments (Content Container)

The Unit Assignments container contains all of the assignments for a particular unit. I do this to avoid having the assignments show up at the bottom of a long list inside a unit. It allows me the flexibility to order my assignments as I see fit and utilize more folders if the assignments include large projects that work through multiple submissions. By chunking the assignments, the students will see 2 or three assignments per unit rather than 3 assignments added to what may be up to 9 other content items from readings/lectures.

At the end of each of the Unit Content and Unit Assignment container, I provide a link back to the main unit page in case the students need it.

I know that multiple clicks can turn off some students, but have found via student feedback that they appreciate this layout and are secure in the fact that they always know where to look in my online courses for course materials.  Hopefully after reading this you may want to start Chunking it – Like a Boss!

What I’m hoping to get from Blackboard World 2014

What do I hope to get from #BbWorld14 this July? Well, aside from the endorsement deals, the hefty signing bonus and the fame and fortune that comes along with attending eLearning’s premier event, I hope to get the following:

1. The Ability to Share
2. The Ability to Learn
3. The Ability to Connect
The Ability to Share
shareThe first benefit from my attendance seems obvious, right? We are supposed to share when we attend #BbWorld14.  After all, even the Care Bears thought that “sharing is caring”.  This year i am very fortunate in that I get to share not only in conversations I have with colleagues across the country, or Twitter back-n-forths.  I get to present TWICE.  This is my first time to really present at Blackboard’s premiere event.  I’ve presented as part of a panel, but never on my own, so I feel privileged.  I have the good fortune of being able to stand in front of my peers and present information that i believe is important to the eLearning sphere.
I will be presenting as part of the Certified Trainer Summit during Bb’s pre-conference workshops (frankly this one scares me because I will be presenting in front of people who do exactly what I do at their institutions) and I am pumped for it.  I’m also presenting on the last day of the conference on how we managed to put our Faculty Certification Online with an assist from the good folks at Blackboard.  I am so jazzed that i will be able to share our successes and even our mistakes with the community!
The Ability to Learn
learnThis is possibly the main reason I come to Blackboard World each year since around 2000.  I learn so much!  Learning at the feet of luminaries that present at our keynotes as well as colleagues and thought leaders who present at all the sessions is a gift that I will never be able to fully repay.  Information that I can pass on to my constituencies about the direction Blackboard is going is also key to getting faculty excited about eLearning where I work.
I take copious notes at the sessions that I attend and bookmark the blogs and presentations of others I could not so that it can benefit my people back at home.  These nuggets of wisdom, methods of learning and best practices that I can absorb will be shared with my local community for the benefit of our students.
The Ability to Connect
connectHow often do you get the chance to talk to thought leaders in your field? Yea, sure you may be able to have a Twitter discussion on occasion where you get one or two sentences in, but that isn’t all you want, right?.  Imagine a five minute sit-down with one of them.  Blackboard World affords us that opportunity.  But, even more important that that, it allows us to sit down with our counterparts at other institutions.  We can find out what they are doing and share with them what we are doing.  How cool is that?
This professional learning community that meets once a year all together is possibly one of the worlds greatest versions of a “cognitive surplus” to quote one of your keynotes from last year.
I have made friends at this event that I will be able to stay in touch with beyond the scope of a once-a-year conference.  Connections forged at Blackboard world not only benefit us professionally, but personally as well!  I look forward to affirming those connections this year as well as making new ones.
I hope these few words start to shed some light on what I’ll be hoping to receive when I attend #BbWorld14!

#bestpracticemonday – Netiquette for the Online Course

NetiquettePart of setting your students up for success in any course is to create a culture of success.  We create a culture of success by ensuring students know what is expected of them and in some cases involving them in coming up with some of those expectations.  Online students come into a course with their own thoughts and musings how about the course should operate and how they should interact with others.

Being proactive in establishing a positive culture of communication can mean the difference between student satisfaction and student frustration.  A great way to encourage positive interactions in your course is to establish Netiquette or Internet Etiquette expectations for your online course.

This blog post will cover four different types of Netiquette for the online course.  It is not an exhaustive list, but a great starting point or template from which to work.  We will look at the following four areas:

  1. Netiquette – General Guidelines
  2. Netiquette for Discussion Forums
  3. Netiquette for E-mail
  4. Netiquette for Chats/Webinars

GuidelinesNetiquette – General Guidelines

  • Keep caps lock at a minimum for emphasis: IT MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE YOU ARE YELLING
  • Be careful when using humor or sarcasm as much can be lost in translation and give offense in the online environment
  • All communication should be at a college level and include correct spelling and grammar
  • Treat fellow students and instructor with respect in all types of online-communication (e-mail/chat/discussions/web meetings)
  • Use clear and concise language (e-mail does not easily reflect your implied meaning)
  • Avoid text speak and slang (sorry, no LOL, ROFL, LMBO or IMHO)
  • Use standard fonts and font size: Arial/Times New Roman, 11-12 pt font
  • Only use emoticons when appropriate ☺

Discussion Forums GraphicNetiquette for Discussion Forums

  • Review and edit post BEFORE posting
  • Spell-check, Spell-check, Spell-check
  • Stay on Topic
  • Cite any sources you reference in your post
  • No flaming or personal/insulting remarks
  • Provide well thought out replies to thread postings, “I agree” and “Great Post” are unacceptable
  • Be respectful of others’ opinions
  • Read previous messages in a thread BEFORE replying
  • Don’t regurgitate someone else’s post, make your own

E-mailNetiquette for E-mail

  • Include your name and return address in the e-mail signature
  • Be brief: Don’t try and write the sequel to War & Peace
  • Make your subject line descriptive
  • Limit the use of Reply All, does everyone need to see your response?
  • Be forewarned about “forward”:  Be sure the original author is okay with you passing his/her e-mail on

WebinarNetiquette for Chats/Webinars

  • Don’t play with the whiteboard tools unless directed to do so by your instructor
  • If you are sharing your desktop be sure only topic appropriate windows are open
  • Use a headset/microphone combo, online meeting attendees don’t want to hear themselves through your speakers
  • Do not talk over others
  • Wait your turn to speak/use web cam
  • Make sure everything works BEFORE the session begins don’t try and get technical support in the middle of a lecture
  • If using a webcam be sure you have appropriate lighting, appropriate attire and limit distractions (pets, spouses, roommates, children)

Embed Twitter Streams/Conversations in Your Blackboard Course

Embedding TwitterThis blog post covers putting your live Twitter feed in Blackboard.  Basically you can place your feed anywhere you can edit text in the Blackboard Learn System.  That means it can go in a discussion, a blog post, a wiki page, a content item, test instructions or anywhere the text editor exists in Blackboard Learn.

Embedding your Twitter feed or a Twitter conversation will drive student engagement by putting information you want students to be familiar with, where they spend the most time.  Students can actively extend class discussions, research topical information and affirm each others posts with Twitter and embedding the feed or #hashtag search can prompt them to do so.

Here are the steps:

Visit Twitter.com and click the Settings wheel at the upper right-hand side of the screen, then click the word Settings.

Twitter Settings

Once on the Twitter Settings page, click the Widgets area on the left-hand side, then click the Create New button.

Twitter Widgets

Under the User Timeline tab be sure your Twitter handle shows up in the Username field.  Select your display options and then click the Create Widget button.

User Timeline Widget

Copy the widget code from the box at the bottom of the Edit Widget page.

Copy embed Code

Next you can Paste the code in HTML view of any Blackboard Text editor.  Start by clicking the HTML button of your content editor in Blackboard (remember this can be within any discussion, blog post, item, folder etc..).

Html Button in Content Editor

Right-click and paste or, CTRL/CMND V and paste the widget code.

Paste into HTML Editor

Click the Update button on the HTML view window and then click Submit.

Update

Your Twitter Feed will now display in Blackboard where you put it:

Embedded Twitter Feed

When you create your widget you can also embed a conversation that your class is having our that is happening in the Twitter-sphere. Simply use the Search tab when creating the widget and search for the #hashtag that you are using in your twitter conversations.

Twitter Conversation - Hasthtag Stream

#bestpracticemonday: Teaching Online – “Running” into Problems

Running Technical GlitchSo I run 3 – 4 times each week.   This past week on my shorter run, I was studiously trying to avoid being run over by less-than-aware drivers when I stepped into a bad spot in the road.  Before I knew it, I rolled my ankle and scraped my hands on the pavement as I went down.   Because I was close to traffic I immediately got my bearings and took some deep breaths.  I was only about a quarter of the way into my run and I wanted to finish so I begin what I can only describe as a hop-limp running style as I continued on my way.  After about 30 yards I was approaching normal, but running carefully just to be sure.  Eventually I was back at my normal pace and finished my run somewhat later than normal and a little scraped up.

So now you know more than you ever wanted to know about my exercise habits.  The funny thing about my adventure is that it is analogous to how online instructors should handle technical problems when they arise. When you “run” into problems while teaching an online course, follow these steps:

Get Your Bearings

Get your BearingsWhether it was a technical glitch or one of your activities/assessments didn’t work as expected, it is important to get your bearings.  Whatever the problem take a deep breath and realize that it will be okay.  Reflect that same thought to your students by posting an announcement about the issue and/or communicating with them via e-mail or other method.  Reach out to your support network to find out what happened so that you can answer questions posed by your students.  If you don’t know, it’s okay to let your students know that you don’t know, but that you are in the process of finding out what happened.  Figure out where your students were when the event happened so that you can move onto the next step…

Keep on Moving (the limp-hop)

The Limp Hop - Walking wiht a bootIn most cases you are under a time constraint when teaching online just as you are in a face-to-face course. You have a set amount of work to do in a limited amount of time.  So even if you have a partial work stoppage due to a technology glitch or outage, it is important to keep moving forward.  How can you do this?  Try using another tool to finish the activity that the students were working on when everything hit the fan.  *Best Practice Alert:  If you are using a technology intensive tool for a course activity/assessment, it is always a good idea to have an alternate activity planned in case something goes wrong.  Think of it as like having printed slides of your presentation just in case the projector doesn’t work in your face-to-face course.  Find another way to continue the activity so that your students won’t miss out on the the learning experience.  For example, if you were using a blog, try switching to a discussion forum.

What really goes without saying here is that you keep the lines of communication flowing.  During downtimes and technical glitches of tools, the students just want to know that they won’t be penalized and that the world is still turning.  Even if the course seems to be inching along, a follow-up e-mail letting them know that you are still with them does much to lessen anxieties.   It may seem like a glacial pace compared to what you were doing when the problem occurred, but continuing to move forward at any pace will give your students a sense of comfort that you are still in control of the course and they are still in control of their learning.

Getting Back in the Groove

Get Back in the GrooveOnce the problem has passed it is important to ensure that you and your students are back in the normal rhythm of your course.  Communicate with your students and let them know that all systems are “go” and that they should return to normal course interaction practices.  If the tool that had the problem is to be used in an assignment let the students know that you will watching for any issues that may arise.  You will notice a familiar refrain when it comes to doing these things.  Each step in the disaster recovery process involves communicating with your students!  It may take some encouragement on your part, but your students should slip back into the familiar course interactions that they are used to.

As with most situations when you deal with technology, it is not a matter of if it will fail you, but when it will fail you.  Keep in mind, how you respond to these problems and glitches often has more of an effect on your students than the problems themselves.   Make sure to get your bearings, keep on moving, and get back in the groove and everything will be all right.  You may have a few scrapes and soreness, but you and your students will come through it and finish strong!

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