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A conversation with Lisa Schulte-Gipson on service learning.

Dr. Schulte received her BS from Muhlenberg College (Allentown, PA). She attended SUNY Albany where she earned both her MA and PhD in Social/Personality Psychology.

Dr. Schulte has worked at Xavier University since 1993. Throughout her tenure at Xavier she has served both the University and Department in many capacities. Her current research focuses on both the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL) and positive psychology (specifically as related to enhancing well-being among students).


...continue reading "Conversation #74: Lisa Schulte-Gipson on Service Learning"

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 October 2018/10.8.6 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Assignments – Anonymized learner names

To avoid unconscious bias in the grading and feedback process, instructors can now configure assignments to use anonymous learner names. When the feature is turned on, instructors can only see an anonymized learner name on the assignment submission.

To ensure that assignments remain anonymous during the grading process instructors should ask the learners not to put their names or other identifying information on their assignment submissions. More information about anonymous markings is available.

Note: Anonymous markings are not available in Turnitin. When you access the submitted paper in Turnitin, the name of the learner who submitted the paper will be displayed in Turnitin Feedback Studio.

Example of Anonymous Marking checkbox
Anonymous Marking option when creating an assignment submission folder

Example of Anonymized Users
Anonymized users as shown when viewing submissions

2) Assignments - New assignment types

On paper submission and Observed in person assignment submission types are now available in Assignments. These new assignment submission types do not require users to make a file submission for them to be completed. This allows instructors to create assignments for a wide variety of activities, not just written work, and provide evaluation and feedback for these assignments.

On paper assignments are submitted directly to instructors in class, but allow evaluation and feedback to be completed in Brightspace. A presentation can also be observed in person and evaluated in Brightspace. Both new assignments can be marked as complete by learners, automatically marked as complete on their due date, or marked as complete upon evaluation by the instructor, depending on how the assignment is configured.

Example of On Paper Submission Option
On paper submission and Observed in person submission types

Example of marked as complete for observed in person option
Marked as completed options for Observed in person assignments

Example of marked as complete for on paper submission option
Marked as completed options for On paper submissions

3) Quizzes- Auto-save during quiz taking

Learners' quiz responses are now automatically saved during the quiz taking process. For forced response questions (such as Multiple Choice and True or False), learner responses are saved automatically when they select the radio button or checkbox. Text input questions autosave every 10 to 15 seconds, and html-enabled questions save when the mouse cursor is clicked outside the quiz response input area. Autosave sends save timestamps to the quizzing log, as the manual save function previously did. For quizzes with multiple pages, quiz responses automatically save upon navigating to a new quiz page.

The Save all Responses and Go to Submit Quiz buttons have been removed, and are no longer visible on the quiz page. The only button now visible on the quiz page is Submit Quiz. If internet connectivity is lost during the quiz-taking process, learners can answer questions but are unable to autosave questions or submit the quiz until the connection is restored.

Example of the quiz auto save function
The autosave function as it appears beside questions, and a simplified left navigation panel

4) Quizzes - Removal of Rubrics

Instructors can no longer attach a rubric to a quiz or grade rubrics already attached to a quiz. Any data stored in rubrics is retained.

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the October Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform October 2018/10.8. 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.

encrypt

Every time you visit a website, information is flowing between your device and a server out there somewhere. In the early days of the internet, most all that information was transmitted "in the clear," also known as "cleartext," meaning unencrypted. Cleartext, if intercepted, can be easily read. That means a third party could monitor the content you're accessing. That's kind of like someone knowing what books you've checked out of the library, and even what chapters you've specifically looked at. Creepy! Ain't nobody's business but your own. If that doesn't concern you, consider what happens when the data transmitted includes sensitive information like usernames and passwords.

That's why, in recent years, we've seen more and more sites serving content over a secure connection. The mechanics of these transactions are quite fascinating, but the important point is that the information flowing between you and the server is encrypted. If it's intercepted, it's going to be difficult for that mysterious third party to figure out exactly what content was being transmitted. In short, encrypted sites are much more secure.

Encryption is so easy and so valuable, in fact, that it's becoming the rule rather than the exception. Google (the most popular search engine) gives preference in its search results to sites that serve their content securely. Chrome (the most popular web browser) flags insecure sites. The web is in transition. Truly pervasive encryption is not here yet, but it looks like the way of the future.

CAT+FD got with the program last year. With some help from our friends in ITC, we started encrypting all content from cat.xula.edu. You probably never noticed, but that makes our site a little more secure than it was.

So how do you tell? How can the average user distinguish a site that's encrypted from one that isn't? ...continue reading "Just Encryption Part 1: Web Basics"

Individuals lined up to form the letters NDLW

November 5-9, 2018 is National Distance Learning Week (NDLW). In association with NDLW, the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) is offering free webinars on a variety of topics related to online teaching and learning. A few other organizations are offering free webinars during NDLW as well.

For more information on the activities and to register for the webinars visit NDLW 2018.

Download Conversation #73

A conversation with Cheryl Talley on what it means to be a Black scientist

Dr. Cheryl Talley is an associate professor in the department of Psychology at Virginia State University. She teaches Neuroscience in the Behavioral and Community Health graduate program and conducts research in student retention in STEM. Dr. Talley received her Bachelor's degree in Biopsychology from James Madison University and her Master's and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in Psychobiology. Having shifted her research interest from rats' brains to freshmen minds, Dr. Talley co-leads a team of graduate student and undergraduate researchers in examining affective factors associated with motivation in African American students with particular interest in science and math aversion.

Links for this episode:

...continue reading "Conversation #73: Cheryl Talley on Being a Black Scientist"

This year's theme is Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge. Xavier has events for faculty, staff and students all week. Please refer to the schedule for more information.  RSVP for Wednesday's Faculty Lecture:  knichola@xula.edu.

Open Access Week Schedule

This year Xavier rolls out a new core curriculum designed to give students more options to pursue their interests and to explore the breadth of a liberal arts education. While the overall core curriculum hours have been reduced, several new categories of core classes have given faculty an opportunity to create exciting new courses, several of which employ engaged pedagogy, civic-engagement outcomes, and service-learning.

At the 1000 level, two new categories, the Xavier Experience and the New Orleans Experience, offer students unique opportunities to explore themes of Xavier's historic mission within the context of New Orleans and the particular social and economic histories of the communities that make up the city. While the categories are distinct in that one focuses on concepts of social justice and the other on reading New Orleans as text, they also overlap in that both ask students to think critically about connections between their education, their professional goals, and their communities. Xavier and its purpose as a place of learning for many future doctors and scientists, many from historically underserved populations, are not separate from, but rather are a part of, New Orleans and its history of socioeconomic segregation and oppression.  It's impossible to think of the history and success of Xavier without the context of the bitter struggle to integrate New Orleans schools in the 1950s and '60s, and the lasting effects of redlining and selective economic neglect that mark the city's poorest neighborhoods today. While Xavier has been noted as an engine of socioeconomic mobility, as in this study from 2017, New Orleans as a whole remains a hub of multigenerational poverty, as revealed in this 2018 report on "income diversity" in which New Orleans ranked 51st out of 60 large cities.

These courses in and of themselves may do little to close this gap, as I've written in the past about the limits of service-learning. But while many of the students will go on to live and work in other communities, many others will live and work in New Orleans, and in this regard, these courses can absolutely make a difference. For some of the students, addressing the city's needs in health care, education, housing, and employment will become their life's work. And these students may look back on the connections drawn in these courses between their education and their community as a major step stone along their path, if not their starting block.

Below are titles and descriptions of some of these courses:

FREEDOM DREAMS: SOCIAL JUSTICE IN THE AFRICAN
AMERICAN IMAGINATION
Social justice in the African American imagination looks at the historical, ideological, and literary expressions of black liberation throughout their history in the US. We will seek to answer the question: How have people of African descent expressed their dreams for freedom, justice, and equality throughout their history in the US? We will answer this question by examining themes and movements, such as: African American acts of resistance, Black Christianity, African American emancipation, black anticolonialism and Negritude, black feminism, Black Power, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the historically black college and university.

COMMUNICATING SOCIAL JUSTICE
Communicating Social Justice examines selected social justice issues (theme to vary
each semester) in relation to communication activism. Using interdisciplinary
approaches, students will analyze the history, theory, and practice of communication activism. Students participate in a series of communication-based activities. Whenever possible, the course incorporates a service-learning project that directly engages students in a communication activism campaign.

PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION OF MARDI GRAS
Students will get hands-on and go behind the scenes to develop a deeper
understanding of diverse Mardi Gras practices and the corporations, cottage industries, professional and amateur artists, and clubs, krewes, gangs, and tribes that produce the Mardi Gras events that help New Orleanians celebrate traditions as well as drawing tourists from all over the world. In this context, students will conduct their own interview research to explore questions of Mardi Gras and parading culture participants' understanding of their roles as artists, producers, and consumers.

HOMELESSNESS IN NEW ORLEANS
New Orleans is one of many cities featuring a significant and visible homeless
population. Working from the premise that homelessness represents both a personal “trouble” and a public “issue”, this service- learning course will give students the opportunity to study the multi-faceted causes and consequences of homelessness in New Orleans. We will work to understand homelessness as not only a condition, but as a social concept and process, including its meaning in other U.S. and global contexts. Through service, reflection, discussion, selected readings, data analysis, and guest speakers, students will learn about and reflect upon a range of individual and collective choices and actions that might reduce homelessness. Students enrolled in this course should be prepared for trips off campus outside class time and be eager to serve and to engage in a respectful manner individuals at service learning sites.

keyboard with a search key

Have you ever met with a student and wanted to review that student’s grades with the student, but couldn’t because the Grade Book shows the grades of all the other students? This isn't a problem in Brightspace. You can use the Grade Book search to temporarily hide the grades of all the other students and only show the grades for a single student.

Follow these steps to do it.

To display one row in the Grade Book:

  1. On the NavBar, click Grades.
  2. On the Enter Grades page, enter the first and last name of the desired student in the Search For field and then click on search icon.
  3. When done, you should only see the selected student.

Note: If you have more than one student with the same name, you can enter the 900 # of the desired student in the Search For field. Ultimately, your search results should yield the row with the desired student's record.

Manage Grades tab with Search For field identified

To display all rows in the Grade Book:

  1. On the Enter Grades page, click on the Clear Search link.

Manage Grades tab with Clear Search link identified

Want more information?

Brightspace Tip #63: Grade Book
Grades Tool Training Recap
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.

1

grade book page

The Brightspace Grades Tool is useful for providing students with up-to-date information about their current standing in the course. For instructors, it’s useful for assigning and keeping track of student grades. Students can view grade entries and monitor their progress throughout the course.

As an instructor, you can determine how to set up your Grade Book to best reflect your approach to evaluation, including the grading system and grade scheme that is most appropriate for your course. You can select how grades display to learners, how they update in the Grade Book, and how you want to deal with ungraded items. You can create grade items for projects, assignments, discussions, quizzes, etc. to include in your Grade Book, and even associate them with other tools (e.g. Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions).

Follow these steps to do it.

Listed below are links to how-to documents to help you to use the Grades Tool:

Want more information?

Grades Tool Training Recap
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.

Photo Credit: Grade book by David Mulder | CC BY-SA 2.0

In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, I'm launching a series of posts on the subject of encryption in service of social justice.

Detail from "Encryption Made Easy" (Bart Everson, 2016)

 

I've long been fascinated with encryption. As a kid, I thought codes were cool. As an adult, I see the value encryption offers for keeping my personal data secure.

But what, if anything, does encryption have to do with social justice?

Plenty.

I got my first inkling in 2016, just after the election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land. Under the prior administration, the apparatus of the surveillance state was developed to levels previously unimaginable. Obama handed that system to Trump.

Of course, if you're not concerned about our own government spying on us, perhaps you're concerned about foreign powers. There's no denying that international cyberwarfare is real. There are also hackers and straight-up cyber criminals. Not to mention those big corporations.

Whoever's doing the snooping, the harm is felt disproportionately by marginalized communities — as is typically the case when power relations are manifestly unequal.

Rights must be understood and exercised in order to afford us any protection. That holds as true for privacy rights in the digital realm as it did in the analog era of the civil rights movement.

Furthermore, scholars have a special interest in freedom of inquiry, germaine to all those working in the field of education. Educating on these issues is aligned with Xavier's mission, and it's vitally important that our faculty and staff understand what's at stake.

As noted in a recent United Nations report, encryption is emerging as a keystone for human rights in the 21st century:

Encryption and anonymity, today's leading vehicles for online security, provide individuals with a means to protect their privacy, empowering them to browse, read, develop and share opinions and information without interference and enabling journalists, civil society organizations, members of ethnic or religious groups, those persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, activists, scholars, artists and others to exercise the rights to freedom of opinion and expression.

Encryption is simply the practice of putting your data into a secret code so other people can't read it. It's an important tool for maintaining privacy and security online. Before the 2016 election, writing for TechCrunch, Steven Renderos and Mark Tseng Putterman observed that "for activists and people of color, strong encryption is essential."

In the days and weeks ahead, I'll be publishing a series of simple tips to help you get started using encryption more frequently. I'm far from expert myself, so I'll be learning as I go. If you have any questions or suggestions, don't hesitate to let me know.

Next up: Using Signal for secure text messaging.