Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Invisible Student

The student body on the TWU campus has always been different than most universities around. We are primary female, have an older than average student and are known as a commuter school. But, ever since we have incorporated online learning through our Distance Education department we have an invisible student body. I found it very interesting when we received the statistics of just who was attending our online courses.
This spring 2008 there were 276 unique classes offered; with a total 5,486 students enrolled at TWU. Of these online students 2,791 were totally online students never spending any time on our campuses. Who are these students? Out of 746 students who responded to an Online Learners Survey here are a few statistics:
• 92.49% were female
• 89% were between 25-54
• 72% taking graduate/professional courses
• 80.91 were employed full-time
• 45.15% were married with children
• 59.51% are taking 4-9 credit hours
• 19.51% have no previous online experience

So according to the survey we have a pretty consistent consensus of the on campus students except the high rate of online students having children.
So I hope that we can give the online student the same experience the on campus student gets from our unique campus and all that it offers.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Blackboard Scavenger Hunt

Make learning to use Blackboard more enjoyable by utilizing a simple Blackboard Scavenger Hunt.

Students familiarize themselves with Blackboard tools/areas, such as:

  • Announcements
  • Course Syllabus
  • Course Content areas
  • Discussion Boards
  • Faculty Information

Students demonstrate their mastery by completing a brief Blackboard assessment.

How to do it:

1. Place the “items” in the appropriate locations in your Blackboard course in various formats. Items can be text, images, or whatever you can come up with.

2. Create a short Blackboard quiz asking for the items they found and make it available.

3. Create a printable handout outlining the Scavenger Hunt items, hints, and a place to note answers.

4. Students will complete a short, graded, Blackboard quiz using the items they have found.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Presenting Sequential Materials In Blackboard

Here are four methods for presenting linear content in Blackboard.

Multiple Individually Linked Documents
The most common model used in current Blackboard courses is to upload a series of documents one at a time into the selected course area. While this method is perhaps the most straightforward, it is also the least usable for your students because it demands a lot of navigation from content to index and back, making your material appear disconnected. On a practical level, it takes more screen real-estate, though this can be mitigated by using folders.

Multiple Linked Documents
A more compact method is to load the first document, then modify that entry and continue adding further pages to it. However, this really only helps cosmetically—making the index of a folder of documents more compact and making it clear that a series of documents are linked together—but does little to improve the student experience.

Linked Module
An underused feature of Blackboard is the ability to import an entire "module" of linked documents at one time. If you are handy with constructing web pages or other documents that have their own internal navigation, you can put the whole series into a folder, compress them into a ZIP file, and then load them in as a single Blackboard unit. Blackboard will give you the option to choose which document the students should start with. This greatly improves the student experience by making the material more cohesive. However, you will have to create some kind of navigation within your documents themselves, which can be time consuming.

Blackboard Learning Unit
Blackboard has its own facility for creating a sequential series of instruction called a Learning Unit. By creating a learning unit and then adding a series of documents, links, and files, you can create a structured curriculum path without having to create the internal navigation yourself. In this model, you can control whether the student must access the material sequentially or if they can jump around using the Contents button available in the learning unit.