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eLearning Frenzy

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

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‘Twas the Week Before Blackboard World’

‘Twas the week before Blackboard World,
not much longer will we wait.

Thinking about multi-booked sessions

for which we’ll be late.

 

Meeting with vendors, colleagues and more,

Technology experts and topics to explore.

Pre-conference workshops to jumpstart our brains

learning best practices on which we will train.

 

I’m interested in training, f2f and online,

so many sessions, so little time!

T-Bug, best practice, pedagogy first,

networking with colleagues, you work up a thirst!

 

Vendor exhibits, giveaways galore,

Or maybe a door prize of which we will score!

We will listen, we will talk, we will soak up the knowledge,

and share our experiences with private sector, k-12, or college.

 

We look to return come Friday next week,

loaded with the knowledge we strove to seek.

So I say to you all, let’s learn without fear,

for if we want more, we wait ‘till next year!

Course Banners are NOT just for Course Landing Pages

Since the early days of Blackboard and other Learning Management Systems in the field, Course Banners have been a great way to personalize the online or web-enhanced learning environment. Instructors could differentiate any course by starting it out with a graphic or photo of their own choice/making. Course Banners have been used far and wide since then to add flare and personalize the online and blended environment.

Course with Banner ScreenshotFor years, instructors who used Blackboard have been operating under the assumption that a Course Banner could only be used on the landing page of a Blackboard course.  Well guess what?  Course Banners can be placed almost anywhere in an online/web-enhanced course. Check out this before and after photo of a Blackboard content area, in this case Lesson 1:

Before and After - Adding BannersWith just the addition of a few graphics, a theme change and a Banner image, we can add continuity to the course as well as make it more engaging.

How do you do it?

Show Text OnlyFirst, you will want to give yourself more real estate in the Content Area where you will be placing the Course Banner.  You do this by changing your page options to show text only.

  • Ensure your Edit Mode is on.
  • Click the contextual menu next to your page title and select Page Options.
  • Click Show Text Only.

This gives you more space for your graphic to live in the content area where you place it, by removing the icon that shows up next to your content title.

Note: It is also a good idea to make your Course Banners in the subsequent course content areas a little bit smaller. This cuts down on load time as well as screen resolution issues.

Add ImageNext, add/edit a Content Item on your page and add an image to the top.

  • Add/Edit a Content Item.
  • Click the Add Image button.
  • Browse and Attach your Banner.
  • Click Submit.

You will now have a content item with a banner graphic that is placed at the beginning of the content area, folder or module of your choice:

Adjusted Content Item ExampleThis practice will add a layer of continuity and engagement to your course. If your students feel like they are in a familiar place and are engaged while browsing, their satisfaction levels will increase. Consider adding more Course Banners to your online/web-enhanced courses today!

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!

 

 

Being Ready for Finals in an Online Course

ReadinessWith finals fast approaching, your students should be dutifully studying up on course materials, completing academic research and course activities that will help them be able to handle the questions and concepts they come across during end-of-semester assessments.   Your course materials have covered topics large and small that will help them make appropriate inferences, connect the dots and generally understand the subject matter they have been interacting with over the course of a semester.

Even when hitting all of your targets academically speaking, your students may have problems when it comes time for finals in an online environment.  We all know that technology failures operate under the “when, not if” principle, but there are strategies and practices that your students can put into place that will help them surmount any obstacle thrown their way.  The following practices will benefit your students when it comes to the end of year exams:

BEFORE STARTING THE EXAM

Power Up!
Plug your laptop into the power outlet unless you are absolutely certain that your laptop has enough battery power to last for the duration of the test.

Tether Up!
If you have the option, turn off your wireless connection and plug your laptop into the nearest available network port or use your desktop computer if available.  Wireless issue can cause your exam to disconnect and your instructor may not be fond of resetting your exam attempt for the umpteenth time.

Go Solo!
Close down any other programs that my distract you from the test or interfere with your network connection.  Having only one active program ensures your computer will be running at its best.

Idle Computers are the Devil’s Playground
Check your laptop idle time to make sure that it will not go into sleep mode prematurely and sabotage your assessment attempt midway through.

Be Up for Pop-Ups!
Disable all pop-up blockers. These blockers come installed in the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox, in third-party toolbars such as Google and Yahoo, and they can come with utility software such the Norton products from Symantec.

Get Patched Up!
Ensure that your laptop has the latest Operating System (e.g., Windows) patches. Automatic updates can disrupt your current browser session or make your laptop very slow.

Are You Compatible?
Use a web browser that is compatible with or certified to work with the current version of your Learning Management System.

Using Special Software?  Practice, Practice, Practice!
If you are using a lockdown browser or special proctoring software, be sure to download and install it BEFORE you take the exam. Your instructor may provide a practice assessment that will let you make sure you are familiar with the special software involved.

DURING THE EXAM

Don’t Get Click Happy!
When beginning the quiz/test, click the quiz link ONLY ONCE and wait at least a minute for the quiz/test to load.. Do not keep clicking on the quiz/test/test link. Clicking on the quiz/test link two or more times may trigger a message saying you already took the quiz/test. If, after clicking once and waiting the full minute nothing happens, contact your instructor or test proctor immediately.

Leave-off of Leaving
Once you have started the quiz, do not leave the quiz/test page for any reason. Using the browser’s back and forward buttons to move to and from the quiz/test will end the quiz prematurely and prevent you from further access until your instructor clears the attempt. If you are permitted to view other online resources during the quiz/test, open a new browser to view them.

Problem?  Reach out and Touch Someone
In case of computer problems during the test notify your instructor as soon as possible. He or she will reset your quiz/exam attempt or authorize a designee to do so. Your instructor may have policies on if they allow you to reattempt the quiz at all.

Sizing it up BEFORE You Begin!
Do not resize or refresh your screen after loading the quiz/test. Make sure the screen is the size you want before going into the quiz/test. Most browsers refresh the page when you resize the screen so the browser will try to reload the quiz/test if you resize/refresh.

Connect With Online Students – Make Feedback Personal

banner-people-connectedOne of the challenges for any online instructor is making students feel a sense of community or connectedness in their online course.  There are multiple strategies that can be put into place to meet this challenge head-on.  Today’s blog post will focus on the feedback the instructor gives in an online course and how it can connect the student more personally with the instructor.

The type of feedback an instructor provides can have a tremendous affect upon the student/instructor dynamic in an online course.  Students who feel like they know their instructor report higher satisfaction levels and tend to be more engaged with the courses they are taking. Conversely, students that don’t sense instructor presence in the course tend to feel less satisfaction and engagement, and that can be reflected in course evaluations.

The following are steps an instructor can take to connect with online students via course feedback:

1. Leave specific feedback.

Be purposeful about leaving feedback that deals specifically with aspects of a student’s submitted work. A side-effect of a good best practice to save time for online instructors is that sometimes generic feedback can be used to a fault. The online instructor can counteract this by leaving specific feedback about the students’ attempt every few assignments.

2.  Use student names when leaving feedback.

Starting assignment feedback with a student’s name immediately personalizes the interaction.  Placing emphasis on the personal before leaving the feedback of the assignment, points to interest on the part of the instructor in the student’s individual attempt. The idea that an instructor cares about student success is vitally important in any course, online or otherwise.

3. Use multimedia to personalize the interaction.

To a student sitting at their workstation/laptop/tablet, a grade or text-based feedback in an online course can seem almost sterile and devoid of the human touch that comes from the professor handing back grades in a face-to-face course.  Luckily, most LMS’s these days come with tools that can make the feedback interaction more personal.  Just the sound of the instructor’s voice will add a personal dimension to the feedback experience.  The addition of video to assignment feedback kicks it up a notch!

Audio Feedback with Blackboard Collaborate Voice AuthoringAt SHSU, Blackboard is the Learning Management System for online, hybrid and web-enhanced course offerings, and it comes equipped with tools that can enhance the feedback experience.  It also interacts well with third party tools and other types of files that can fulfill the same type of need for students.  For example faculty can use the Blackboard Collaborate Voice Authoring Mashup to leave audio feedback directly in the feedback of the assignment.

As a bonus a student is not just limited to hearing the disembodied voice of the online instructor for feedback.  Faculty members can also use the Video Everywhere tool to drop a recorded video into the feedback shown to the student.  The Video Everywhere tool utilizes YouTube to either link to a video uploaded to the instructors YouTube account or record a video at the point of feedback and place it directly.

Using Video Everywhere for FeedbackIf the instructor does not have ready access to a webcam or microphone on their computer, he or she can record a video with their smartphone and upload it to YouTube as an unlisted video, then link to the video with the Video Everywhere tool.  Instructors can also use voice recording apps to attach audio files to feedback for online students.

Personalizing feedback for an online course is an important best practice for any instructor. However, personalizing every feedback entry for every student would take too much time away from grading and other important interactions.  As with all things, moderation is key.  Try provide a few personal interactions for each student, each semester, letting them know that the instructor is committed to their success and is willing to connect with students on a more personal level.

BbWorld14 Session Blog: Building Community with Faculty Using Blackboard Learn

Murano 3301
Benjamin Tixier | Instructional Design Specialist | Arizona State University | W.P. Carey School of Business

Glimpse of instructional design team behind W.P Carey’s top-rated online MBA and how they build relationships with faculty.  They will demonstrate how they use Bb Learn in our process for bringing on the ground courses online and how they keep existing online courses up-to-date.

Pedagogy & Androgogy assistance with online learning.  (About 1000 courses a semester)

Instructional Design Group (8 people)

  • Each ID is paired with a number of different faculty
  • Each ID (Instructional Designer) is also paired with another one in the group, backup is copied on everything (is also a mentoring relationship)
  • pairing takes into account IDs and faculty and traits.
  • A faculty has a Lead ID that does not change regardless of program, platform or course
  • A faculty knows there is always someone to help them

What this means

  • ability to build long term relationships with faculty
  • the backup system also serves as mentor/apprentice system

How do we get your courses designed?

  • Each lead is expected to email their faculty 10 weeks out from course launch to set up kick-off meeting
  • The Kickoff meeting is expected to be 8 weeks out from the course launch date
  • Each time a course is developed they add 1 new thing.  (a new video is recorded or a reading is changed into a video)
  • Faculty are expected to give us all the materials for the course 4-6 weeks from course launch date
  • We start putting the course together in Bb learn
  • We are expected to have the course fully built and developed 2 weeks before course launch
  • At this pint the course goes through a QA process from backup and one other, then ask faculty for approval (in writing)

Faculty Buy-in

  • Faculty Certification
  • Follow Up Certifications
  • Badges, Badges, Badges
  • Get an iPad when they go through the training****
  • One of the most successful ways we have had gains in faculty buy-in is through faculty to faculty interactions. (peer to peer)

 

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

Assumptions

  • 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 Keynote Blog – Corporate Keynote

Jay Bhatt CEO

Learning how Blackboard is reimagining the education experience.

*disclaimer – all stuff mentioned here is in development and may or may not be what we see eventually.

Education 2020 – some trends

Education system is not responding fast enough to engaging students and driving appropriate outcomes. 1/4 students are motivated because they like their school experience.  School is not an engaging environment for 3/4 students.

75% of kids own/use a mobile device – far to little content is being delivered in this medium.

1/3 college students feel that education is preparing them for life..while 2/3 dont.

11 million people employed but 4 million jobs remain unfilled in the U.S. – people who can fill them are not being produced by higher ed system.

Raison D’etre  of schools – manage student learning and develop appropriate outcomes.

100 million learners will be coming into our learning systems in the near future.

Blackboard sees a different future for education – learner-centric.  Creating a better education system for learners of all kinds.

Key to reimagining education is putting the learner first.

Redesign, Redefine – How

Redesign –

  • The Approach
  • The Portfolio
  • Innovation & Education

New vision, reorganized our customer facing teams, single points of contact, increased support of international customers. New Data Centers (Germany, Brazil etc..)  5000 consulting projects to 1,500 clients.  Joined Internet2, new integrated product team and roadmap.

Launched over 25 product updates to meet country requirements, Blackboard Store, Mobile App, Bb labs and Polls, Invested in Moodle Rooms, launched 40 schools running MOOcs, founding members of badge alliance, aquired MyEDU

MyEdu – (Based in Austin, Texas) Speaks to skills gap by helping student collect competencies and connect to workforce.

Redesign – Solutions, Support & Services, Industry Citizenship

Solutions – Changing the way we bring products to us.  Making it easier to buy and deploy products together as one unit.  Want to share course content with folks outside of org they should be able to.  Student should see same workflow.  Bb is combining learn, collaborate and mobile.

Learn, Content, XPLOR, Community, Mobile – Combined into Learning Core (Now Blackboard’s base product)

Real-time Collaboration – Learning Essentials

Data – Learning Insight

Retention Services – Learning Insights + Retention

k-12 solutions include common core, innovative classroom, parent engagement (focused on blended learning)

Common core – learn, content mobile and xplor

Collaboration – innovated classroom

Parental Engagement is third solution – K12 Central parents can interact with schools via mobile device

Redesign – Support & Services

Customer Support – Consolidated and improved, private cloud offering improved, now 7 managed hosting facilities. (adding germany, singapore, brazil)

Institutional Focus – Technology Implementation, Faculty Adoption, Grow Online Programs
Student Centric – Attracting & Enrolling students, supporting student pathways, measuring outcomes

Blackboard acquired Perceptus by adding contact centers in South Carolina, Arizona, Kentucky and Texas.

Redesign – Industry Citizenship

partnership with ACE – American council of education – new models of learning (competency based learning – emerging area)
Founding members of Badge Alliance – Support Research and Studies to inform industry dialogue – Project Tomorrow
Speaking and writing and publishing
Spotlighting Bb Customers – SouthWest College in Northern Ireland – eLearning project in Zambia, Africa
T!PTXT – anti-bullying messaging platform – free platform for k-12

Redefine – Utility and purpose of technology in the support of education.

User Experience – new
Mobile First
Expanded Cloud Strategy – SAS public cloud offering (public – new)
Big Data – pull rich data from across learning experience

User Experience – dramtic switching focus to learner

  • Blackboard Store – Connecting learner to everything they need (material wise for the course)
  • MyEdu – allow students to communicate accomplishments in academic context
  • Entirely new user experience and workflow (streamline navigation, integrate capabilities)
  • Responsive Design UI
  • Completely different look and feel.
  • Easy of access and use for students.  Very simple, very streamlined
  • Linking content and activities to conversations – learning from other learners.  A completely integrated UI
  • New online meeting tool!  Video capable and awesome!!
  • Blackboard Collaborate Mobile – very simple!
  • Bb Grader – Mobile app super simple way to do grading (audio, video, written feedback as well as rubrics are available in the tool)
  • BB K-12 Central –
  • Blackboard Job Genie – Connect dots, career paths etc,
  • Blackboard Mobile Learn – Completely Redesigned – speed, efficiency and engagement.

Deployment Strategies –

  • Self-hosted, private cloud, Learn in the Public Cloud
    Learn in public cloud – elastic, resilient, current (Canvas-esque)

    Learn in the Cloud – Available this Summer
    Open Education platform for MOOC’s FREE

Redefine Big Data – Platform Analytics

  • Academic Platform data flows (across learn, collaborate, connect, others using IMS Caliper Standard
  • Learner should also consume report data.  Recent Activity comes with tip telling them where they are falling short, how they are doing compared to their peers.  Wow!!
  • Instructor view graphs of student performance and compare to other students.

Blackboard is more than just an LMS.

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.

Agenda:

  • 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

 

 

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