microphone with Value of Voice: Using VoiceThread for Teaching and Learning

Spoken language has been around longer than written language. Humans have been using our voices for so long we are naturally sophisticated vocal communicators. Yet when we go online, our voices tend to disappear. This is especially evident in feedback on student work that is provided in a digital format as well as in discussions that occur outside of the face-to-face classroom and in online classes. Discussions are generally conducted using text-based discussion forums.

VoiceThread is a web tool that allows you to humanize interactions in an online environment. VoiceThread transforms stale, text-based discussions and feedback by infusing your content and conversations with human presence, just as if the instructor and students were all sitting in the classroom together, but without scheduling a specific time to meet. VoiceThread adds a more personal element to the experience when utilizing the features of commenting via voice. By hearing and seeing the instructor and classmates during a VoiceThread, a familiarity develops that feeds deeper participation. Utilizing VoiceThreads can give you and your students a voice.

A number of faculty joined us last fall for a Value of Voice: Using VoiceThread for Teaching and Learning workshop. If you missed the workshop, or if you'd like to review it, you're in luck, because we recorded the workshop with our Swivl robot. Click on this link or the image below to access the workshop slides, recording, and resources.

play button with Value of Voice: Using VoiceThread for Teaching and Learning

by Karen Nichols

Blackboard is sponsoring a series of webinars around the world to mark the 6th annual recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 18, 2017. Please follow this link to register for any of the 8 free sessions.  Remember that accessibility features, especially in online and hybrid courses, help all students!

Global Accessibility Awareness Day--Be Part of the Discussion
Global Accessibility Awareness Day--Be Part of the Discussion

 

In an EdTech Magazine article, Meg Conlan reported that nowadays students are expecting to use technology in college. She referenced a McGraw-Hill Education Workforce Readiness Survey which shows that 52 percent of students surveyed believe that their use of technology during college classes and study sessions will help them secure a job.

Check out the McGraw-Hill Education infographic below for more technology-focused highlights from the Workforce Readiness Survey.

infographic

You can read Meg’s Technology Use Boosts Students’ Confidence in Their Job Prospects article here.

classroom with empty chairs

As we approach the end of the semester there are a few things you can do in Blackboard to wrap up for the semester.

Download your gradebook

Student access to courses is removed two weeks after the end of a semester. During this process all grade book records are deleted. You should download your gradebook to your local computer after you submit your final grades.

Create a master copy of your course

Courses remain on the Blackboard system for three semesters before they are removed. You can request a Master Course Shell that you can use to develop and maintain your course materials. Master Course Shells will not be removed from the Blackboard system.

Hide old courses from view

When you login to Blackboard you will see your courses for previous semesters listed along with the courses you are currently teaching on the Xavier University and Courses tabs. If you do not want to see older courses in the list, you can hide them from view.

Follow these steps to do it.

Instructions are available in previous Bb tips for downloading your grade book, requesting master course shells, and hiding old courses from view.

Want more information?

Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Check out help for instructors at help.blackboard.com.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Photo Credit: Classroom/Lecture Hall | CC0

This semester Dr. Treva Lee, Xavier's Director for Institutional Compliance and Planning Initiatives, led a class of first-year students in a service-learning project to mentor local youths in the concept of Pi.

On Saturday, March 11, thirty Xavier students joined twenty other community volunteers and twenty local professionals serving as mentors to teach and mentor around 150 area school kids, as part of  STEM NOLA's STEM Saturday event celebrating Pi Day, at Gernon Brown Recreation Center. Two other Xavier faculty, Carroll Diaz (Math) and Floristina Payton-Stewart (Chem), participated as instructors as well, along with some of their students.

The kids were divided into two groups. The first group, kindergarteners through second-graders, learned the concept of Pi through math problems using skittles, construction paper cut-outs, checkers pieces, and building blocks. Skittles were used to graph Pi. Checkers were used for math demonstration of Pi. Construction paper cut-outs were used to make a chain to infinity, meaning each group of kids as they came to the station added their cut outs to the chain to illustrate how Pi never ends. The same concept was used with the building blocks.

The second group, third through eighth graders, led kids through three activities designed to demonstrate the concept of Pi. The first was measurement demonstrations, comparing the ratio of various-sized circles' circumferences to their diameter. The result of these measurements is always the same: it's always Pi. Next was a mathematical cryptography (word decoding) and mirroring (more word decoding) competition. Last was a kite building demonstration, designed to teach the concept of tetrahedral molecular geometry.
Despite some grumbling about having to meet at Xavier at 7:30 a.m., the students had a great time.
One interesting component of the project was the idea of "tiered mentorship." The area professionals served as mentors to the Xavier students, while the Xavier students served as mentors to the youths. As another component of the project, students also completed four hours of volunteering in the STEM NOLA office to learn about the administrative side of the non-profit. Some students were so successful in this capacity that they have been asked to return and may land spots on the payroll.
STEM NOLA is an organization founded by New Orleans native, and former Tulane University engineering professor, Dr. Calvin Mackie. Its purpose is to expose community members to opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and to inspire them to engage in these opportunities. STEM NOLA designs and delivers activities, programs, and events that bring inspiration, motivation, and training to all STEM stakeholders across the city, specifically focusing on underserved communities. Participants gain skills in communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. STEM NOLA realizes that any effective community-based STEM program must be broad enough to include everyone, yet focused enough to reach people where they are, on their level, and to take them to where they need to be in order to compete and succeed in life.

Treva A. Lee holds a Ph. D. in Counselor Education from the University of New Orleans. She received her B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Counseling from Xavier University of Louisiana. In her twenty-five-plus years at Xavier, she has served in numerous capacities, including as a teacher in the Freshman Seminar program, in which this service-learning project took place.

-Jeremy Tuman

encrypt

We have been taking steps to make the CAT+FD site more secure. Most recently, we started serving all our content over a secure connection. From this point on, anytime you're visiting our site (including this blog) you may see "https://" at the beginning of the web address in your browser's location field. You may even see a little padlock symbol.

This varies from browser to browser, but here's how it looks on Chrome:

Secure connection (Chrome)

This means that all the content that flows back and forth between your browser and our site is encrypted, encoded, making it harder for anyone else to snoop.

Of course (unless you're CAT+FD staff) you probably aren't exchanging any sensitive data with our site. Still, it's a good idea, with increasing concern in recent years over civil liberties in an age of ubiquitous surveillance.

It might also be the wave of the future. More and more sites are supporting encryption. Google already favors secure sites in its search results.

Some browsers make it easy for you to examine a site's digital certificate. Here's how that looks in Safari:

Certificate in Safari

This shows you that we are who we claim to be. DigiCert is a third party that verifies Xavier's identity.

Sounds pretty good, right? In fact, you may wonder why all your web transactions aren't secure. Well, it's the same reason why we don't all engage in good password behavior. We know it's good in theory, but in practice we defer and delay. Some sites you visit undoubtedly do support secure transactions — but only if you ask for it. You can encrypt as much as possible by using a browser extension like the Electronic Frontier Foundations's HTTPS Everywhere, available for Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Android.

Thanks to ITC for helping us to implement HTTPS.

Download Conversation #59


Leyte WinfieldA conversation with Leyte Winfield of Spelman College on mentoring students.

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dr. Leyte Winfield is a teacher, scholar, and mentor. She strives to expose everyone to the beauty and versatility of chemistry and to nurture the potential of women of color interested in pursuing degrees in the field. In 1997, she received a commission in the United States Army Reserve where she obtained the rank of captain and was assigned to the Army Medical Institute of Chemical Defense before resigning her commission in September of 2009. Academically, she pursued the study of chemistry with the hope of becoming a cosmetic scientist. Her aspirations led her to obtain a B.S. in Chemistry from Dillard University and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of New Orleans. She is a synthetic organic chemist with experience in academic, industrial, and military laboratories. From these combined experiences she has gained expertise in the various aspects of medicinal drug design, instrumental methods, and synthetic techniques. Her current research interest is to understand the relationship of the structure of a molecule, particularly benzimidazoles, to its activity as a chemotherapeutic for cancers that disproportionately impact the African American community. Her efforts have been recognized by the American Association of Cancer Research and the Council for Undergraduate Research and have been funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. She holds six patents covering more than 500 unique small molecules. Her emerging interest in chemical education and broadening participation has produced two textbooks, several publications, and funding from the national science foundation.

Links for this episode:

...continue reading "Conversation #59: Leyte Winfield on Mentoring"

extra credit

Instructors can setup the Grade Center to calculate extra credit points. Adding an extra credit column to the Grade Center works well if you use total points to calculate grades. The information to add an extra credit column in this Blackboard tip will NOT work if you weight grades.

Follow these steps to do it.

To create an extra credit column:

  1. In the Control Panel, click on [Grade Center] and then select [Full Grade Center].
  2. Click on [Create Column].
  3. On the Create Grade Column page, enter a name for the column (e.g., Extra Credit).
  4. Select [Score] from the Primary Display menu.
  5. Enter 0 for Points Possible.
  6. Select the [Yes] radio button for Include this Column in Grade Center Calculations.
  7. Click [Submit].

NOTE: The method described above does not work with weighted grades because weighted grades are based on a 100% total. Generally, if extra credit is available in class with a weighted grade total, the extra credit must be manually calculated.

Want more information?

Extra Credit Columns
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center
Try these Blackboard How-To documents
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Download Conversation #58


Marcia ChatelainA conversation with Marcia Chatelain of Georgetown University on connecting with students.

Dr. Marcia Chatelain, previously on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma's Joe C. and Carole Kerr McClendon Honors College, researches a wide array of issues in African-American history. Dr. Chatelain writes and teaches about African-American migration, women's and girls' history, and race and food. Dr. Chatelain has served on the boards of the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma and the University of Missouri's Student Affairs division. Dr. Chatelain is a member of the British Council's Transatlantic Network 2020, a 2000 Harry S. Truman Scholar, an alumna and honoree of the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life, and a 2011 German Marshall Fund of the U.S. Fellow. In 2012, Dr. Chatelain was awarded an American Association of University Women Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined) and a Ford Foundation Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her second book, which examines the relationship between communities of color and fast food, has received grants from the Duke University Libraries and the Frances E. Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama. In 2014, Dr. Chatelain created #fergusonsyllabus to encourage educators to discuss the national crisis in Ferguson, Missouri. Dr. Chatelain hosts Office Hours: A Podcast (available on I Tunes) in which she talks to students about the things most important to them.

Links for this episode:

...continue reading "Conversation #58: Marcia Chatelain on Connecting with Students"