Monday, August 29, 2011

5th Annual OES was a Success!

Guest Blogger: Cynthia Johnson, MS, BS, CHES, Instructional Designer III - Dallas Campus

Now that TWU's Distance Education's 5th Annual Online Educator Symposium is over, I can honestly say I am rejuvenated and have found a "second wind" to tackle Fall 2011 semester!  So, you ask, what made this one so special?  Being on the Denton campus with one of the most diverse groups of online professionals - ranging from graduate teaching assistants, staff members, adjunct instructors, professors, higher education administrators, including Provost, Dr. Robert Neely and Vice-Provost of the Graduate School, Dr. Jennifer Martin - created synergy that promoted discussion and learning opportunities for the experienced and inexperienced online educator!  The engaging workshops and poster presentations offered on course design, instructional technology, and teaching and learning provided strategies and techniques empowered both new and tenured faculty. 

But the most rewarding aspect for me was conversing with workshop presenters and the audiences on their views on online learning.  Participants became transparent about their personal successes and failures of teaching online and left the sessions with learned lessons and solutions.  It was an honor to be in the midst of like-minded distance education professionals who teach and prepare TWU's "Next-Generation"online college students for the real world.  I look forward to next year's symposium!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Why In The World Should You Use Campus Pack?

This past summer semester, TWU upgraded Learning Objects’ Campus Pack in Blackboard 9.1.  According to Campus Pack, several improvements have been made, such as:

·        Mobile accessibility
·        Social networking for everyone
o   Connecting/ Friending
o   Internal messaging
·        Template enhancements
o   Ability to create personal templates
o   Easier to create and share templates
o   Maintain templates within the Personal Learning Space
o   Ability to develop hard coded templates
o   Using the Learning Objects Community, upload and access templates from other institutions, and others!

So you ask “Why in the world do I need to use Campus Pack in my online course”?  Well, their social media tools, including wikis, blogs, journals, blogs and podcasts, empower online instructors to build and implement assignments and activities that encourage collaborative work.  But what I like most is students are able to develop collaboration and peer evaluation abilities to prepare them for the workplace.  For additional instructions on Campus Pack tools and general Blackboard documentation, click on the following link: Blackboard 9.1 Documentation. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

5th Annual Online Educator Symposium  
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Join us at Denton Campus


  Presentation Tracks 

  • Research in Online Education - Planned or ongoing research on topics related to online education
  • Teaching and Learning - Successful online teaching techniques and/or activities
  • Creative Uses of Technology - Successful uses of technology tools
  • Student Success - Ideas related to services or projects that lead to increased success for students
  • Faculty Showcase - TWU Faculty Award for Distinction in Teaching, TWU Faculty Award for Distinction in Distance Education, and Non-TWU recognition related to Teaching and Online Course Design  
Register Today! – Registration Deadline: Tuesday, August 23; 5 p.m.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Pencil and Paper Prototyping: Time To Lay Out Your Course

Just when you are beginning to wrap up the summer semester, you realize that there is less than a month left to design your online course for the upcoming semester. Online student enrollment is growing, but you quietly cringe at the thought of all the time it is going to take you to have the course(s) ready by the first day of class!

One of the things you might find useful as you think about designing a course is to put it to paper. By that, sketch out major sections of the course to give yourself a sense of how the course will look to students. You already know the menu will be on the left side of the screen. Sketch out a rectangle and write in your menu items. Take another sheet of paper and plan out your module structure. Since most modules are a series of folders and items, sketch in small rectangles and label accordingly.

It is much easier to make revisions on your paper than within the Course Management System. Don’t worry about your artistic ability at all. This is just a quick planning guide that will help you visualize the flow of the menu and the modules.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Texas Blackboard Users Group (T-BUG) 2011 Conference

I am thrilled to announce the upcoming T-BUG 2011 Conference, hosted by University of Texas at Dallas to be held November 10-11, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency North Dallas in Dallas, Texas.  Although this year's conference theme "Transforming Education with Blackboard: From Caterpillars to Butterflies" will focus on the use of emerging technologies, several members of our instructional design specialist team will present on creative instructional design techniques and innovative experiential learning projects. 

However, this conference is not just for distance education staff.  We would love to see other TWU faculty members submit proposals and/or attend the conference this year, as well.  It is not too late!  Registration is still open!  For additional information, visit their website at