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/

 

COVID-related Modifications to Honors Contracts now in progress and a Reminder about End of Semester Honors Attribution

From the Honors College

Students with Honors Contracts in progress this semester may need to make changes to those plans when warranted by the transition to online classes and/or social distancing or travel restrictions and/or a change to S/U grading option.  The Honors College has been instructing students in this kind of situation to reach out to their faculty member first to start a conversation about the needed modifications and to reset expectations.  Students with needed modifications to their projects have been asked to email the Honors College at honors@wcu.edu with a summary of the agreed upon modifications and to copy (cc) that email to their faculty member.  Faculty members are asked to reach out to students who may be in this situation, if they haven’t yet heard from the student.  Early intervention in this case will help to stave off issues at the end of the semester.  For students who do not need any modifications to their Honors Contracts, no action is needed.

 

Success with an Honors Contract project will continue to be assigned Honors attribution by the faculty member at the time when Final Grades are submitted.  For students with approved Honors Contracts in progress, a special drop-down box appears next to the student’s final grade box for the course in the Final Grades window.  If a student has not been successful in earning Honors attribution, the faculty member can likewise select that option in the Final Grades window.  Faculty cannot assign a grade of Incomplete only to the Honors Contract.  If a faculty member needs to assign an Incomplete, that Incomplete is assigned to the course and then both the grade and honors attribution are assigned when complete.

The link below, to the Registrar’s website (click > Web Grading > Final Grades Reporting), shows the Final Grades screen with Honors Contract options.

https://www.wcu.edu/learn/academic-services/registrars-office/information-for-faculty-and-staff.aspx

The Honors College Office is functioning currently in a fully online mode.  Faculty with questions about Honors Contracts are encouraged to email us at honors@wcu.edu.

 

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.

 

Blackboard Logo

 

 

OLC Webinar – Keeping Student Engaged in a Transition to Online Learning

The Online Learning Consortium is offering a webinar on Friday that may be helpful.  Click on the date to register.

Webinar: Keeping Students Engaged in a Transition to Online Learning

March 20 | 1:00pm ET

As educators across the country and at all levels rush to shift their teaching to a virtual environment, their first focus is content and delivery—rightly so. Faculty also need to know how to identify online at-risk student behaviors that, if mitigated, can lead to better course outcomes and satisfaction for faculty and students, alike. This session will help you identify ways to proactively keep your students engaged in an online environment (course) and understand what data you can use to help mitigate attrition.

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.   

 

The PLEA for using just-in-time over in-real-time teaching modes!

It is easy to just assume that you will be able to have live class sessions online using Zoom or Collaborate at the same time and day they have been scheduled, but that will not produce a good learning experience for the students, nor will it be pleasant for you as the instructor.  We gathered a couple of really good posts that align with our approach to moving online quickly.

Do This, Not That

~Alison Wang, Online Teaching Do This Not That

Click on image to download the PDF. Creative Commons License Attribute No Derivative, No CommericalShared through Creative Commons, Attribute, No Derivative, No Commercial Purpose.

 

Do This, Not That Graphic

This has been flying around social media, but it’s one of the good ones. She refers to particular systems and programs but her advice is right on.

Please do a bad job of putting your courses online

What? Did I hear you correctly? YES!

As Rebecca Barrett-Fox says “You are NOT building an online class. You are NOT teaching students who can be expected to be ready to learn online. And, most importantly, your class is NOT the highest priority of their OR your life right now. Release yourself from high expectations right now, because that’s the best way to help your students learn.” ~https://anygoodthing.com/2020/03/12/please-do-a-bad-job-of-putting-your-courses-online/ 

And we like her list of 10 considerations:

  1. Your students know less about technology than you think. Many of them know less than you. Yes, even if they are digital natives and younger than you.
  2. They will be accessing the internet on their phones. They have limited data. They need to reserve it for things more important than online lectures.
  3. Students who did not sign up for an online course have no obligation to have a computer, high-speed wifi, a printer/scanner, or a camera. Do not even survey them to ask if they have it. Even if they do, they are not required to tell you this. And if they do now, that doesn’t mean that they will when something breaks and they can’t afford to fix it because they just lost their job at the ski resort or off-campus bookstore.
  4. Students will be sharing their technology with other household members. They may have LESS time to do their schoolwork, not more.
  5. Many will be working MORE, not fewer, hours. Nurses, prison guards, firefighters, and police officers have to go to work no matter what. As healthcare demand increases but healthcare workers get sick, there will be more and more stress on those who remain.
  6. Some of your students will get sick. Others will be caring for people who are ill.
  7. Many will be parenting.
  8. Social isolation contributes to mental health problems.
  9. Social isolation contributes to domestic violence.
  10. Students will be losing their jobs, especially those in tourism and hospitality.

Other recommendations she puts forward that we promote as well:

  • “Don’t do too much. Right now, your students don’t need it. They need time to do the other things they need to do.”
  • Make all assignments due at 11:59 pm on the same day of the week. Make them due on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. instead of Friday so that they use the evenings and week-end to get work done.
  • Allow students to take every exam or quiz twice so that if there is a technical problem (such as getting kicked out of Blackboard), they will have another opportunity to complete the exam.
  • Record lectures only if you need to.  But use the TED talk method: no longer than 18 minutes and focused on one concept, big question or idea.
  • Don’t fuss over videos.  Don’t worry about your ums and ers. It helps if you write a script (also provides a transcript for ADA purposes) and read through it a few times.  Then practice 5 times just the first few sentences or first few slides. That will get you into the recording without the jumpstarts we do at the start.
  • Do NOT require synchronous work!  Students’ life and schedules have been turned upside-down as well. A good use of Zoom or Bb Collaborate is to use it for office hours or tutoring sessions. But make it optional.
  • Do not use proctoring or ask students to record themselves when taking a test.  This is a violation of their privacy and they did not sign up for an online course.
  • Remind them of due dates. This is not hand-holding!!  They need contact from you and as we said before, their lives have been turned upside down.  Be kind to them and kind to yourself.  Be supportive and encouraging, Be a mentor and coach!
  • Respond to them when they ask for help.  These are anxious times and they will need encouragement.

We will continue to share quick tips and helpful resources over the next few weeks!