About Janice Florent

Technology Coordinator in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development at Xavier University of Louisiana

feedback

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.

If this has piqued your interest, you can read more in this 5 Research-Based Tips for Providing Students with Meaningful Feedback blog post.

girl in front of a computer with her head in her hands

Many students enroll in online courses because they can take online classes at times that are convenient for them and from the comfort of their home. Some students mistakenly think that taking an online class is easier than taking its face-to-face counterpart and they underestimate the amount of time they must invest in taking the online class. When in fact, taking an online class requires students to be self-directed learners.

It is important for the instructor to set the tone for the online course to help students succeed. In a Faculty Focus article, Amy Hankins provided five suggestions to help students succeed in an online course. Those suggestions are,

Provide detailed instructions and anticipate questions – Don’t assume students will be able to read between the lines.

Post Announcements – Show students you are present in the course by providing reminders, clarifications, and overviews to help engage and motive students.

Provide examples and rubrics – This will help to minimize questions and confusion.

Utilize differentiated instructions – Provide students multiple opportunities and formats for learning, including videos, audio lectures, and project choices that help engage and encourage learning for all students and preferences.

Encourage peer support and engagement – Allow students to get to know one another by using an introductory assignment and encourage students to connect throughout the course.

For more information, read Five Ways to Help Students Succeed in the Online Classroom and check out our CAT+FD Online/Hybrid Instructor Resources.

Photo Credit: Girl | CC0

A backchannel communication, in an educational context, is a secondary electronic conversation that takes place at or near the same time as a lecture, instructor-led learning activity, or conference session.

keyboard

Instructors are finding that using a backchannel can increase student engagement because backchannels allow students to engage in a digital conversation alongside the activity. This is beneficial because a backchannel can provide introverted students with a place to ask questions or make comments without speaking up. Additionally, instructors can share supporting resources such as videos, links to websites and photos through a backchannel. Instructors can ask questions and watch the response of students to determine if they really understand the concepts being discussed. Students can search the backchannel for notes and resources without having to scribble personal notes on paper.

Instructors are using web 2.0 tools like Twitter, TodaysMeet, Socrative, and Padlet to facilitate backchannel communications.

If this blog post has piqued your interest, you can find additional information about backchannels at these links:

Photo Credit: Keyboard | CC0

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

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

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.

zen stones

The demands of teaching an online course doesn’t have to leave you feeling overwhelmed. In an eLearning Industry article, Dr. Liz Hardy suggested a few easy steps to help replace the feeling of constant pressure with a calmer, zen-like mindset that will make teaching online easier and more enjoyable. Dr. Hardy’s suggestions are:

Define “urgent”. As you look through your To Do list, determine which items need your immediate attention and which items can be taken care of further down on the list.

Explain your standard time frames. Set expectations for your students so they know what your communications and assignment turnaround policies are.

Come out of the tunnel. When you’ve spent a long time on a task, take a moment to step away from the task at hand. This can help to rejuvenate and recharge you.

Create a sense of achievement. Your morale gets a boost when you can check items off your To Do list. These time management strategies may be able to help.

Revisit your positive feedback. Revisit compliments and positive comments that you’ve received to help lift your spirits.

For more information, read Dr. Hardy’s article Zen and the Art of Teaching Online.

Photo Credit: Zen Stones | CC0

view of typewriter keys on a manual typewriter

Are you slow at typing? Try dictating using Google’s voice typing.

Voice typing is a feature that is available in Google Docs. Voice typing is available in more than 40 languages. Although the results of the voice dictation is not 100% accurate, it can be a quick and easy way to start a rough draft.

To get started with voice typing, you need Google Chrome web browser and a functioning microphone connected to your computer. Login to your Google account and open an existing Google Doc or start a new one. In the ‘Tools’ menu, select ‘Voice typing’. A small pop-up window will appear to the left of your document with a dark microphone icon inside it. Click on the microphone icon. Once the microphone icon turns red you can start speaking. When you are done dictating, click the microphone icon again to turn off the voice typing service.

Google Docs Voice Typing

If you would like to learn more about the commands you can use with voice typing, refer to this Type with your voice help document or simply say “Voice commands help” when you are voice typing.

Photo credit: Typewriter keys | CC0