Fall Preparation: Blackboard Offers Webinar Training Sessions

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In preparation for the fall semester, the CFC is encouraging all instructors who are not familiar with Blackboard or who want to expand their use of it to take advantage of these online training sessions offered by Blackboard. 

Due to increased demand for our services and our limited capacity, the CFC will not be conducting any Blackboard training sessions.  We will be hosting a number of drop-in Q&A sessions but we are asking instructors to go through the training modules and/or attend the sessions provided by Blackboard before attending a drop-in session.

Blackboard is offering a full menu of webinar training sessions for all experience levels.

About the Webinar Series

Many of you had to quickly transition to remote teaching in response to growing concerns on the spread of the coronavirus. The journey to teaching remotely is a process, and we want to ensure you have the tools you need to be successful for both you and your students. Whether you are brand new to teaching online or looking to make some improvements to what you have started, we designed a set of webinars from basic topics to advanced. We added more topics to help you as you prepare for your next semester

The Blackboard website provides descriptions of each webinar, the dates being offered, and a link to REGISTER. 

Click on a topic below to learn more:

  1. Getting Started with Blackboard Learn Original Course Experience
  2. Getting Started with Blackboard Collaborate
  3. Getting Started with Bb Annotate: Inline Assignment Grading in Blackboard Learn
  4. OFFICE HOURS: Ask the Experts About Blackboard Learn and Collaborate
  5. Assessment & Assignments in Blackboard Learn (Original Course Experience)
  6. Guide to Building Mobile Content (Original & Ultra Course Experiences)
  7. Improving Student Engagement (Original Course Experience)
  8. Setting up the Gradebook (Original Course Experience)
  9. Grading Workflows for Discussions, Assessment & Assignments (Original Course Experience)

LMS Team Adds Accessibility Aid to Help Prepare for Fall 2020

If you have been in your Blackboard courses in June, you may have noticed that there are additional icons that appear in the instructor view and in the student view.  We’ve added a tool called “Ally” to Blackboard Learn.  This tool gives two different sorts of assistance: one for students; and one for instructors.  The instructors can also see and access the student tool.  These new tools help us to meet our legal and moral obligations to our students with learning differences.

If you create items natively in Blackboard (with the exceptions of some specialized HTML coding) all of the content is compatible with national and international standards for accessibility and universal design for learning and compliant with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.   If, however, you choose to add items like PowerPoint decks, Word documents, PDFs and videos, it is the responsibility of the instructor, in normal circumstances, to make the additional materials compliant.

We recognize that many of our courses have content that has evolved over time, and so this tool will give instructors the opportunity to review their course content with a new set of “eyes” and to review their current content by today’s accessibility standards.  It will also allow students to have a digital assistant that can attempt to correct a number of issues without instructor intervention and in so doing, keep more students on track.

Student View:
Blackboard Ally Alternative Format Image

Students do not see the instructor indicators and do not have access to an accessibility report.  They only get an indicator beside each item for which Ally can assist, that will give them access to a tool which may be able to help them move forward and have some level of access to the content.  If the instructor has also made the recommendations the tool recommends, the student’s options will be significant.  If the instructor hasn’t done anything, the tool may still be able to remediate the content to an accessible alternative.

Instructor View:
Instructor Visual Indicators

Ally gives instructors tools to audit all added content except audio and video and to see to what degree the documents, presentations, and images in your course are considered compatible by current accessibility standards.

As an instructor, you can work on your course content in two ways, by using the indicators in the course content, and by running your full accessibility report from “Course Tools.”

The indicators give you a fairly intuitive workflow with scoring that is based not on how “bad the problem is” or even how fixable the issue may be but on how a screen reader or other assistive device will encounter, and importantly, navigate, what you’ve given the students.

When you are in your course, you click the symbol and Ally will launch an assistant tool that will give you recommendations and remedies for making the file more accessible.  The CFC can help you walk through any confusion or difficulties you have with the tool or you can review our current help document on the tool, watch this short video introduction, or review this use guide.

If you are interested in seeing the status of your whole course you can go to the Course Tools and run an Instructor’s Accessibility Report.  You may even take some delight in running the report both before and after you do the work to make it more accessible for more learners.
Image of Accesibility Report in Menu

Three recommendations as a teaching colleague:  1) Don’t be too hard on yourself if you get the red gauge, in many cases it will be a case of a document that you haven’t “tagged” and the tool can assist you by doing the tagging directly from your Word or PowerPoint original;  2) Fix the easy things first; 3) Remember that this is an act of compassion and empathy in addition to helping us meet our legal requirements.

Together we can continue to work to design our Fall 2020 semester so that every learner can succeed in an environment that values equity and difference.

Let’s Get Ready for Summer! Moving Rapidly to Remote Instruction

We want to give a huge shout out to all instructors who made the shift to remote instruction with lightning speed so we could finish out the spring semester! As the parent of a graduating senior, I am so appreciative of everything you are doing so all of our students can complete this term.  Has it been easy?  No!  Has it been comfortable? No!  Are you making it work? Yes! If you’d had more time to make this move are there some things you would have done differently?  Absolutely!  

Guess what? We DO have more time to prepare our summer courses that were going to be offered in person, but now need to be moved to remote instruction. And we DO have the workshop to help you do just that!

Moving Rapidly to Remote Instruction (MRRI) will help you rapidly develop your face-to-face course for remote instruction for this summer’s semesters. If you are planning on teaching a summer course that needs to move online quickly, attend this three-week online workshop that will walk you through an intentional course design process and provide the expertise of the Coulter Faculty Commons and experienced WCU online faculty in designing and facilitating remote instruction.  This is not the full Online Course Design Institute, which is for online courses that will be taught next Spring.  Instead, we have more time to prepare for the summer courses and design them to be more enjoyable by you and your students.

Dates:  May 11 – May 31
When: There will be a combination of live Zoom sessions, recorded tutorials, content and assignments/deliverables.  You will have the opportunity to have 1:1 conversations with CFC staff and experience online faculty. Expect to commit 8 – 10 hours each of the three weeks to complete this process and be ready to teach.
Where:  Fully Online through Blackboard, Zoom, and Teams
Outcome: By the end of May, you will have your online course designed and developed, in Blackboard, with a teaching/facilitation plan in place.  You will also have the support of colleagues and the CFC throughout the summer.

The workshop is free and open to all instructors, including adjuncts.  Please register, to let us know you are joining us and to allow us to ensure that we have enough facilitators to make this workshop successful!

Prepping for Finals Workshops This Week

Image show an open notebook and books, pen and paper

We still have a few more workshops available this week!

The end of the semester is quickly approaching and to help you prepare your final assessments for the online environment, we are offering research-based best practices segmented into four workshops. WCU does not have an online proctoring solution and, because of technology challenges and privacy concerns for students, the LMS Governance Committee, whose members include experienced online faculty, have voted not to adopt any online proctoring solution, including not requiring students to use Zoom or Panopto to video themselves while taking an exam (1).  These workshops, which will be recorded, will be accessed from within the Blackboard Learn for Instructors course (2) in which all instructors are already enrolled. No need to sign up, just show up!

Additionally, the Educational Development Team is open for group or individual consultations to partner with you to complete this work.  Go to https://affiliate.wcu.edu/cfc/partners-in-pedagogy/ to schedule with us!

Writing Better Exam Questions

The key to reducing cheating in online exams is to write exam questions that require knowledge application rather than knowledge recall. In this workshop, we will go through the basic steps of taking your existing exam questions and writing better questions.

At the conclusion of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • Identify question stems
  • Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to write higher-order thinking questions
  • Write questions that require application of knowledge instead of recall

Session Schedule:

  • Monday, April 20, 10 am
  • Tuesday, April 21, 2 pm
  • Wednesday, April 23, 1:30 pm
  • Thursday, April 24, 10:00 am

Designing Alternative Assessments

Faculty looking for alternatives to deploying a final Blackboard test will benefit from this interactive workshop. We will explore strategies for connecting prior student work to a final assessment, including the use of reflection-based narratives, photography, infographics, and student presentations. We will examine various technological tools with an eye towards those that are expedient and efficient for faculty use, including considerations for grading and student feedback. Faculty will be asked to share their ideas for their final assessment with peers.

At the conclusion of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • determine an alternative assessment strategy for your final exam
  • select a tool which is expedient and efficient for grading
  • identify various methods for providing student feedback

Session Schedule:

  • Wednesday, April 22, 10 am
  • Thursday, April 23, 1 pm
  • Friday, April 24, 1 pm

 

Creating and Using Rubrics for Faster, More Consistent Grading

Multiple choice tests are popular assessment techniques because they are simple to develop, quick to deploy, and easy to grade. Using alternate assessment techniques are marginally more challenging to develop and deploy but place a considerably greater demand on an instructor’s time to grade. Well-constructed rubrics can save an instructor a significant amount of time and still provide the students with meaningful feedback.

At the end of this workshop you will be able to:

  • Develop rubrics that measure the student learning outcomes of an assessment
  • Associate rubrics to assessments in Blackboard
  • Use rubrics in the Blackboard Grade Center to grade assessments

Sessions:

Friday, April 24, 10 am

 


(1) – LMS Governance Committee decision regarding online proctoring – can be accessed from within the Blackboard Learn for Instructors course.

(2) – Go to wcu.edu > QuickLinks > Blackboard or go directly to https://wcu.blackboard.com/ to log in.

Image – https://collegeinfogeek.com/open-book-exam/

 

CFC Open Sessions for Online Design and Blackboard

Open Neon Sigh

Open Help Sessions for All Instructors

The CFC is hosting additional open sessions for all instructors to learn how to effectively facilitate online learning and engage students using Blackboard and its general suite of tools. We will be offering these sessions through the following video-conferencing link:

https://us.bbcollab.com/guest/da120265dc4b4471a96d1bbd8b388946

Dates and times are as follows:

Monday, March 23 – March 25
1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

 

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Communicating and Engaging With Your Students

Communicating and Engaging With Your Students

We encourage maximizing asynchronous communication for almost everything.  There are many great ways to use Blackboard Collaborate (or Zoom) for limited real-time communication.  Here are some standard best practices (tried and true from more than 20 years of online teaching) to get you started and hopefully help you manage your and your students’ stress! 

General best practices modified for this situation: 

  • Use announcements in BB to send a message to the entire class.  I suggest one per day with reminders and encouragement. Be sure to select the email option so each student will get an email with the announcement that will prompt them to access the course. 
  • Email your students from within Bb because they are already enrolled and you won’t miss anyone. 
  • To save yourself from feeling like you are chained to your laptop and answering a million emails, create a “Questions” discussion forum and encourage students to post and read/respond in that forum.  Tell them not to email you unless it is personal nature, but all course questions are to be posted in the forum.  Encourage them to answer other students’ questions to get the peer to peer collaboration going.  If the answer is wrong or not quite right, you can post an encouraging and tactful correction.  Check this Questions forum multiple times during the day. 
  • Also, set specific ‘office hours’.  If possible schedule these at the same time each day.  Post the days & times in an announcement. Use Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom for these real-time, synchronous sessions.
  • Use Blackboard Collaborate to hold real-time, one-on-one tutorial sessions with any student who aren’t able to ‘attend’ office hours.  Keep these short – 15 minutes max.  If you choose to use Zoom, be sure to post the link in your Bb course in the announcements or Questions discussion forum.