Thanks to Janice Florent for her annual post on instructional continuity and disaster preparedness. Since we'll be nearing the height of hurricane season in a couple of weeks, her post is quite timely. I would also ask that you keep in mind the practice of "transparency" and perhaps consider tweaking some of the instructions for assignments that you may have to post online in case of disaster, especially if you're currently teaching the course face-to-face.
Many Xavier faculty have already been introduced to "transparency" in CAT+ workshops, and several faculty already practice "transparency" as they build their assignments, but perhaps don't associate what they do with this current initiative. To learn more about TILT (Transparency in Learning and Teaching) please visit the website: https://www.unlv.edu/provost/teachingandlearning. For now, I would just like to share the following handout which asks instructors questions about their assignments and the accompanying instructions in order to help make it as clear as possible for the students. For purposes of transferring your course to an online environment in case of a disaster, this worksheet can help you better explain the assignments to students whose faces you can no longer see in a physical classroom, nor whose questions can be quickly answered for all to hear. Remember also that students will have additional stress during the disaster, so further clarification of assignments would be most helpful.
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 Blackboard to help you prepare should the need arise.
Additionally, you should consider developing an instructional continuity plan to help you to be ready to continue teaching with minimal interruption. More information about instructional continuity plans can be found on our Instructional Continuity web page. There you will find planning guides, resources, and a link to our September 2015 Instructional Continuity workshop presentation.
We invite you to join the Xavier Contemplative Inquiry Team for the 2017-2018 school year. We meet monthly over the course of the year and provide support for each member’s personal practice, contemplative pedagogy, and related research. This year, we'll be adopting an explicit focus on STEM disciplines to examine some of the exciting scientific research in this area. The team is open to all faculty, staff and students.
Note: For mobile grading functionality, instructors should use the Bb Grader iPad app.
The Bb Student app was renamed and is now the Blackboard app. The Blackboard app is used by students and is designed especially for students to view content and participate in courses. The Blackboard app is available on iOS, Android, and Windows mobile devices.
As you prepare for the start of the semester, it is a good time to get started setting up your Blackboard courses. Blackboard courses are automatically created using the course information in Banner a few weeks before the start of the semester. You can post your syllabus, course documents, and announcements to your Blackboard courses. You can also customize your course menu and/or add a course banner.
If you teach a course that is cross listed you will have a Blackboard course for each cross listing. You can combine the cross listed courses into one Blackboard course so that you can post course materials and grades to one combined Blackboard course. Combining courses may also work for you if you are teaching different sections of the same course and would like to have the different sections combined into one Blackboard course so that you can post course documents and grades in the one combined course. The beginning of the semester is the best time to combine your Blackboard courses before you add course material or grades to the courses.
NOTE: Currently, the section merge tool is no longer available. A system administrator will have to merge your courses. Send an email to Yamlak Tsega (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to merge courses. You should include the course ID (including CRN) for all the courses you want merged together. The course merge process requires that a brand new empty Blackboard course be created that will serve as the primary course for all the merged sections. If you have any course content that needs to be retained in one of the courses to be merged, it will have to be exported and then imported into the newly created combined course. Please include that information with your request to merge courses.
Dr. Payton-Stewart is an Associate Professor in Chemistry, and is very passionate about teaching, mentoring and advising students. She has served as Associate Director for Center of Undergraduate Research and is a member of the American Chemical Society and the National Organization for the Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. She is a 2017 Keystone Fellow and recipient of the HERS Institute Leadership Academy STEM scholarship.
She will work with our new faculty, planning and implementing support throughout their first year.
In addition to supporting CAT+FD activities and initiatives, the CAT+FD Faculty in Residence has primary responsibility for enhancing and leading programming for first year faculty. Duties include: assisting in the planning and implementation of new faculty orientation; facilitating new faculty mentoring; organizing and implementing the new faculty "brown bag" series; organizing and implementing a coherent set of workshop open to all faculty but focused on new faculty; assisting in grant writing for CAT+FD initiatives related to first year faculty development; and assisting in the assessment of CAT+FD's programs related to first year faculty development.
We are also glad to announce that Mr. Jeremy Tuman is renewing his role as Faculty in Residence for Service Learning for a two-year term.
Have you heard that Brightspace was selected to be our new Learning Management System (LMS)?
Brightspace (formerly called Desire2Learn or D2L) will replace Blackboard as our LMS starting spring 2018. Brightspace has an intuitive design that makes it easy to accomplish tasks quickly. There are a number of features that faculty and students will find useful, including drag-and-drop file management, a mobile friendly interface, virtual classrooms, student portfolio tool, and built-in analytics.
All faculty will get an opportunity to attend Brightspace training sessions that will be offered during the fall semester. Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement about the Brightspace training sessions. In the meantime, you can visit the D2L website for more information about Brightspace.
Providing students with meaningful feedback can greatly enhance learning and improve student achievement. In an Edutopia blog post, Marianne Stenger, provided five research-based tips for providing students with the kind of feedback that will increase their motivation, build on their existing knowledge, and help them reflect on what they've learned. Marianne’s tips are:
Be as specific as possible. Hearing that you did a great job is wonderful. However, the problem with “great job” or “this needs work” is that it is not specific. Provide students with information on what exactly they did well, and what may still need improvement.
The sooner the better. Feedback is most effective when it is given immediately, rather than a few days, weeks, or months down the line.
Address the learner's advancement toward a goal. When giving feedback, it should be clear to students how the information they are receiving will help them progress toward their final goal.
Present feedback carefully. The way feedback is presented can have an impact on how it is received, which means that sometimes even the most well-meaning feedback can come across the wrong way and reduce a student's motivation.
Involve learners in the process. When students have access to information about their performance, they develop an awareness of their learning, and are more easily able to recognize mistakes and eventually develop strategies for tackling weak points themselves.
We were honored and thrilled to read this account of our FaCTS summer seminar from Wiki Ed:
For the ninth year, faculty at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) have come together to experiment with new pedagogy in their classrooms. Their group, the Faculty Community of Teaching Scholars (FaCTS), is funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation and provides a stipend for participants to explore that year’s theme. The theme for academic year 2017–18 is “Making knowledge public using educational technology.” Dr. Megan Osterbur, who participates in Wiki Ed’s Classroom Program, helped organize this year’s group of selected applicants and saw a clear alignment with Wikipedia assignments. After all, Wikipedia serves as educational technology for student editors and is as public as knowledge gets in 2017.