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Writing in the Journal of Service Learning in Higher Education in January of 2018, Dr. T. Andrew Carswell of Gannon University, a Catholic university in Erie, Pennsylvania, describes a research project undertaken to discover the capacity of service-learning courses to change student attitudes about poverty. His premise is that we know through other research that Americans are as likely to attribute poverty to lack of effort among the poor as to circumstances beyond their control. Attitudes of attribution also affect views of social programs to address poverty.

Meanwhile service-learning courses have been shown through research to improve student outcomes for citizenship, empathy, compassion, and understanding of social problems. Students are more likely to exhibit greater "efficacy to make the world a better place" (Carswell). Though this type of goal makes sense for a course at a Catholic university such as Gannon, or Xavier, and many liberal arts schools do include such goals in their missions, traditional-classroom courses often bypass such goals in favor of more academically assessable outcomes.

Students in Dr. Carswell's upper-level capstone psychology class engaged in 30 hours of community service working alongside underprivileged people, while studying poverty in the classroom. One of the outcomes of the course was that students would have a more positive view of people living in poverty, and Dr. Carswell set out to measure whether this was achieved.

Students in the course chose from four community groups to work with, including an after-school program, a food bank, a group that worked with immigrants and refugees, and a group that worked with recently released criminal offenders. The option let students decide what type of work they wanted to do, and many worked with more than one group. Classroom contact hours were reduced, (perhaps a luxury of a senior capstone course) and writing assignments asked students to draw connections between scholarly articles on poverty and experiences at the sites. Attitudes were gauged using pre and post-course completion of what's called the Undergraduate Perceptions of Poverty Tacking Survey.

Dr. Carswell found that student attitudes improved toward social welfare programs, and toward their own willingness to take action to help those in poverty. Student belief that people in poverty have limited access to valuable resources also increased. However, there was no real change in student attitudes toward perceived differences between the poor and non-poor. Nor was there an increase in belief in rights to basic necessities. Dr. Carswell discusses several possible reasons for the non-change in perceptions of in-group/out-group differences, including research that suggests this type of intergroup contact best affects intergroup attitudes when the groups are of equal status and the contact is cooperative in nature.

This last point relates to the ongoing movement within service-learning to effect meaningful change and to avoid perpetuating a classist, "service"-based hierarchy. This broad goal may prove service-learning's most elusive. (See my interview with Dr. Randy Stoecker on this problem http://cat.xula.edu/food/conversation-63/.) And we should also keep in mind that Dr. Carswell's sample was 18 students in one class. Yet, his results are encouraging when we consider the degree to which misperceptions about the poor permeate our society and drive public policy. Dr. Carswell's students and many others who complete courses like these will go on to shape policy and help shift perceptions as they move into professional society.

Though there is much work to be done, examples like these affirm the vital work of service-learning and higher education.

what is ePortfolio word cloud

An electronic portfolio (also known as an eportfolio) is a collection of electronic evidence (artifacts) assembled and managed by a user, usually on the Web. Such electronic evidence may include electronic files, images, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks. If the ePortfolio is online, users can maintain it dynamically over time.

The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) recently published a study on "Fulfilling the American Dream: Liberal Education and the Future of Work." In it, they report:

78% of executives and 81% of hiring managers find ePortfolios useful when evaluating recent graduates, versus 51% of executives and 48% of hiring managers who find college transcripts useful.

Students gain a number of benefits from incorporating portfolios in their learning. Here are a few benefits from an Educational Technology and Mobile Learning article:

  • Portfolios enable students to record their learning and document their growth over a period of time.
  • They provide students with a venue through which they can showcase their learning.
  • They can be used as a tool for self-assessment, self-reflection and personal development.
  • They help students focus on the process of learning rather than the end product.
  • They promote deeper learning as students actively engage in the learning process.
  • They develop students metacognitive skills (reflective practices) and help them take control of their learning.
  • They empower students' voice.
  • They are a ‘method of self-discovery and confidence building’.
  • They help students develop personal and academic identities.
  • They assist students in locating their strengths and weaknesses and plan for future improvement.
  • They invite teachers' feedback and input from peers.
  • They help students develop their writing skills.
  • A portfolio presents concrete evidence of the learner's work and achievements to prospective employers.

A good ePortfolio is both about being a product (a digital collection of artifacts) and a process (of reflecting on those artifacts and what they represent).

collection of ePortfolio artifacts

Our Brightspace system includes an ePortfolio tool that is available to all users. The Brightspace ePortfolio tool is typically used by learners to collect samples of their work ("artifacts"), write about experiences they have ("reflections") and then choose whether to share them with others (like peers, instructors, or even potential employers).

We’ve prepared this ePortfolio FAQ to provide you with answers to questions about the Brightspace ePortfolio tool.

Additionally, if you're interested in learning more about Brightspace's ePortfolio tool or if you want to learn more about ePortfolios in general, you should attend the upcoming CCE: Introducing ePortfolios workshop.

Want More Information?

ePortfolio Introduction video [3:28]
Document and share ideas and achievements
ePortfolio FAQ
ePortfolio how-to documents
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Download Conversation #71

[photo]

A conversation with Regan Gurung about the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Links for this episode:

...continue reading "Conversation #71: Regan Gurung and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning"

Last month, I wrote about setting up my classes in Brightspace before the semester had begun, in part because I was in the process of gamifying my advanced grammar class. I've had a few people ask me about that, so I thought I'd provide an update here with plans to provide more as the semester progresses. ...continue reading "Gamifying Grammar, Part I"

"Drip-feeding" is a term you will likely hear in association with online and hybrid learning. While the term "drip-feeding" is new to many people, most are familiar with the concept.

a drop of water

Drip-feeding is "scheduled lesson delivery." Essentially, instructors can determine when they want certain content in their courses to become available. Instructors can configure their course content and then set-up the sequential delivery of that content. Once set-up, the Learning Management System (LMS) will auto-drip the content to students without any more work by the instructor.

Utilizing date/time restrictions allow instructors to create content at a time that is convenient to them and make it visible to students at the appropriate time. This can be very handy because instructors can set-up their course content well in advance of when they want it to be available to their students. For example, create all the course content at the beginning of the semester, set the date/time restrictions, and then let Brightspace auto-drip the content.

The availability dates in Brightspace control when items are available to students. There are three types of availability dates, they are:

  • Start dates: These dates specify when a student can see the item. Students will see that the item exists, but they cannot open it beforehand.
  • Due dates: These dates specify when a student should complete an item. The dates will appear in the course calendar and students will be able to see and submit their work after the date has passed.
  • End dates: These dates restrict access to the item. They remove all access once the date has passed.

Some instructors may be hesitant to set date/time restrictions for the entire semester because assignment dates/times may need to be adjusted as the semester progresses. This means, the instructors would have to go into the content items to adjust the dates/times when necessary. The Manage Dates tool can simplify this process. The Manage Dates tool allows instructors to easily change due dates and availability dates at one time (all on one page). The Manage Dates tool will save instructors some time as they will not have to edit each individual item to adjust the dates/times.

Drip-feeding course content will not work for every situation. However, if you think it can work for you, give it a try.

Want More Information?

How to Add Dates and Release Conditions to a Modules and Topics
Manage Dates
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

image showing various disasters

Tropical Storm Gordon should be a reminder that course delivery is vulnerable to unplanned events. Potential interruptions to class activities include but are not limited to natural disasters, widespread illness, acts of violence, planned or unexpected construction-related closures, severe weather conditions, and medical emergencies.

Here are a few things you can do in Brightspace to help you prepare should the need arise.

For those who missed last week's "Preparing to Teach During an Interruption: Strategies for Maintaining Instructional Continuity" workshop and for those who want to learn more about instructional continuity, you will find a link to the workshop recording, PowerPoint slides, and resources discussed in the workshop here:

Want More Information?

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Did you know that New Orleans ranks #7 for the percentage of people who bike to work, amongst cities with over 250,000 residents?

And yet we could certainly do better by our bike riders, our transit riders, and our pedestrians. As I've argued elsewhere, bikeped safety is an issue of social justice and aligned with Xavier's mission.

I would like to invite the Xavier community to help with a special effort to "Connect the Crescent." I've been designated as the XULA Green faculty and staff volunteer coordinator for this effort.

(Get the PDF)

In September, Xavier volunteers will work to improve connections from Uptown to the Central Business District (CBD), the Lafitte Greenway to the French Quarter, and the Algiers Ferry terminal to the French Quarter or CBD.

Family-oriented biking and walking events will also be held with numerous opportunities for sharing feedback about the network from September through December.

Volunteers are crucial to making Connect the Crescent a success and there are many ways to get involved!

For more information, and to sign up for a volunteer slot, visit ConnectTheCrescent.com

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Download Conversation #70


A conversation with Laurie Ruettimann about the future of work.

Links for this episode:

...continue reading "Conversation #70: Laurie Ruettimann on the Future of Work"

update

D2L (the company that owns Brightspace) uses Continuous Delivery to update our Brightspace system. The Continuous Delivery model gives us regular monthly updates allowing for incremental and easily integrated changes with no downtime required for our Brightspace system.

Our Continuous Delivery update occurs on the 4th Thursday of each month. D2L provides release notes to help users stay up-to-date with the changes.

Here are a few updates in the August 2018/10.8.4 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Quizzes – Dynamic preview available in question pools

Question pools now include a dynamic preview. The preview displays questions randomly selected from the current question pool. A refresh button allows instructors to navigate through several selections to ensure the question pool is working as expected.

question pool - refresh preview
Dynamic Preview in Question Pool

2) Rubrics - Improvements to rubric feedback for learners

To provide learners with more detailed feedback on activities and apply a consistent look and feel to rubric feedback, this release includes the following improvements:

  • User Progress displays general feedback, score, and a graded rubric for Grades, Discussions and Assignments. Feedback displays to learners as soon as instructors save rubric and overall feedback assessment.
  • Content tool for Assignments displays general feedback, score, and a graded rubric. This replaces the previously displayed Instructor Feedback.

Rubric feedback for assignments progress
Rubric feedback for Assignments Progress in the User Progress tool

Rubric feedback for discussions progress
Rubric feedback for Discussions Progress in the User Progress tool

3) Turnitin - Improvements to Turnitin Integration

The following improvements have been made to the Turnitin (TII) integration:

  • Learners can view GradeMark feedback in User Progress under Grades and in Content.
  • Error and status messages are being improved upon.

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the August Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform August 2018/10.8.4 Release Notes.

Additonally, refer to the Brightspace Release Notes for Continuous Delivery Releases, for details about current, past, and to preview upcoming continuous delivery updates.

Want more information?

View current, past, and preview upcoming Continuous Delivery release notes
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Use due dates in Brightspace to help students stay on track. Students will see due dates when they look at entries in the course calendar.

Due dates and availability dates are generally entered when the instructor creates assignments, assessments, discussion topics and forums, etc. The dates automatically populate into the course calendar.

calendar with due date emphasized

Instructors can use the Manage Dates tool to view, edit in bulk, and bulk offset date availability from one central location. You can also set the calendar status of all content topics and modules, discussion topics and forums, assignment submissions folders, grades categories and items, announcement items, quizzes, checklists, and surveys in their course in the Manage Dates tool.

Course objects display in a grid that you can sort by any of the column headings. You can also use the Type column to sort the Manage Dates page based on the tool-specific order and use advanced filter options to work with smaller sets of objects. If you filter your course objects, any bulk changes you make apply only to the filtered results. This enables you to update multiple availability dates based on specific criteria.

In addition to managing dates, you can open each course object in a new window by clicking on its name. This launches the object's edit page where you can edit additional properties for that object without leaving the Manage Dates tool.

The Manage Dates tool can be very useful after a course copy. For example, if you copied content from one course into another course, you can use the Manage Dates tool to easily adjust dates after the course copy. Additionally, if you've entered dates on items in your course and later need to adjust dates in bulk, try using the Manage Dates tool.

Follow these steps to do it.

To edit dates in bulk:

  1. Get into the course you want to change the dates of course objects.
  2. On the NavBar (of the course you want to change dates in), click Course Admin.
  3. Click Manage Dates.
  4. Select the check box of the items for which you want to bulk edit dates.
  5. Click Bulk Edit Dates.
  6. In the Bulk Edit Dates dialog box, update the due dates and availability dates.
  7. Click Save.

Want More Information?

About Manage Dates
Bulk edit dates in Manage Dates
Offset dates in Manage Dates
Manage Dates - Offset Dates (video)
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.