Thanks to all who attended the Faculty Workshop on Getting the Most out of Blackboard: 4-21-11; UPDATEDPosted: April 21, 2011
[today’s attendees came from over 10 departments and 4 colleges, as well as the library]
[Prof. Holly Hutchins presenting]
[Prof. Lindsey Schwarz presenting]
[Dr. Simon Bott presenting]
In the Faculty Senate offices today, Dan Wells helped facilitate a faculty workshop on “Getting the Most Out of Blackboard.” Our presenters were Holly Hutchins (who is also a member of the CTE board), Martha Dunkelberger (a UH teaching award winner this year), Lindsey Schwarz, and Simon Bott (also a teaching award winner this year).
Here are some of the highlights of the discussion; readers are invited to submit additions, corrections, or additional comments or information to this summary.
- Holly Hutchins stressed the need for those teaching on Blackboard to remember that technology cuts two ways, amplifying the effects of either good or bad course design. She also urged instructors to learn the mechanics of any platform they intended to use, so that they could design the course with better knowledge of the platform’s strengths and weaknesses, and so that they would be able to update or resolve any problems that came up without too great delays.
- She showed certain modules, like a Welcome module, “Getting to know you” assignments, and a student-run “Graduate Cafe,” that were added for the sake of greater engagement.
- She argued for the importance of addressing any questions students had about the format as early as possible, preferably before the semester even began, to allay anxiety.
- She reminded the audience that the principles of adult learning (which was her course’s content, as well as its organizing principle) dictated that the adult students be given reasons for every stage of the assignment, so they could learn to follow directions and monitor their own performance.
- Finally, immediacy and responsiveness from the instructor, along with the lead time necessary for good thoughtful course design, were crucial for the success of a Distance Education (DE) or hybrid-style course.
The next speaker was Martha Dunkelberger, who talked about how she taught writing in the context of Communication Disorders. She stressed the use of asynchronous chats for their writing assignments, which gave her and her students additional opportunities to discuss assignments and whatever problems they were encountering.
The third speaker was Lindsey Schwarz, who presented her techniques of conducting classes using Wimba technology, which enables instructors to conduct classes using microphone headsets, a “whiteboard” that can be drawn on, private messaging, and pdfs and ppts with predesigned content.
The final speaker was Simon Bott, who talked about his experience teaching large Chemistry lectures using BB as a way to foster engagement. One of the biggest issues for Bott is the problem of the bank of test questions, which need to be generated much more frequently than he initially expected. Bott does not provide notes to his course, but he does conduct weekly review sessions that he makes available to students, while also selectively providing students with accommodations some support with additional teaching materials from his lectures. He also encourages his tutors to come onto his forums to help ask and answer questions online during the weekend.
The meeting broke up around 2:30, with the promise that CTE would host additional workshops on topics of interest to those teaching using technology in the coming year.
UPDATE: Mr. Bruce Martin, our very capable assistant at the CTE, has investigated one of the questions that came up, and reports as follows:
A question was asked about automatic forwarding of Blackboard mail to personalized mail. This can be done by the student through his “My Settings” once logged into BB.
My Settings > My Tool Options > Mail > Mail Forwarding
The e-mail address is maintained under the student’s profile, which is located within the Roster. This means, then, that the Roster must be enabled and visible to students to use.
From within the course > Build > Designer Tools > Manage Course > Tools > Roster
UPDATE #2: Lindsey Schwarz has provided the pdfs for Wimba, one for instructors, the other for the students: