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Tip: You can send email to individual students, groups of students, or all course members within your Blackboard course. Blackboard does not keep copies of the email you send. However, a copy will be sent to your Xavier email address. Within your Xavier emailbox you will be able to save a copy of the email message.

Follow these steps to do it.
To send email, you should click on the [Communication] tool (located on the Course Menu) and then click on [Send Email]. In the Send Email window choose which users you would like to send the email to. Fill in the Email Information form and click Submit.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional Blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

Earlier this semester, after eleven years working in faculty development, I led my first session that didn't have anything to do with technology.

The subject? A moment of silence.

We began the session with a brief moment of silence, then I asked some questions to prompt a short discussion.

What mindset is most conducive to learning? What mental states might actually obstruct learning? What do we do as teachers that encourages the latter or the former?

We went around the table and talked about these things for a bit.

Then I took us back to the beginning and asked how the prefatory silence shaped the discussion. Did it foster a better mindset? The consensus seemed to be that it did. It provided a transition that allowed people to let go of their previous tasks and focus on the matter at hand.

Then I asked the faculty present to consider if such a technique could work in their classrooms. In fact one person (a Dominican brother) has been doing this for thirty years. Another person tried it for one semester a while ago with seemingly good results. Another has just started practicing a moment of silence this week, inspired by this very session.

After we talked about the potential challenges and pitfalls this technique presents, I distributed copies of the Tree of Contemplative Practices and noted that silence was but one practice of many. At this point I asked if anyone sitting around the table engaged in any sort of contemplative practice that they'd care to share with the group. Interestingly all three faculty who have used silence to open class also are regular practitioners. But the balance of attendees did not seem to engage in any regular practice. Or perhaps they just didn't want to share at this point.

I threw out the phrase "contemplative pedagogy" as a blanket term for using contemplative practices in teaching, which linked with integrative learning seems to be part of a emergent trend in the academy today. I mentioned the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education which I joined this summer. I also hyped the faculty book club which I'll be leading this semester. We're reading The Heart of Higher Education. I also referenced Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry, a book I just finished and am still digesting.

And then I talked about why I think all of this is potentially important to the University and its mission, and asked what the group thought. I also confessed myself remarkably unqualified to be promulgating this topic, since I know so little about it, but I just feel it's so important. And of course I had to mention that contemplation was not just a means to an end, but a worthwhile end to itself — if you can call something inherently transformative an "end."

I let the group know I was interested in collaborating if anyone wanted to study the effects of a moment of silence on classroom learning.

Finally we talked about possible future directions for the conversation which we'd begun. Indeed, the main purpose of this session, to my mind, was to gauge faculty interest in contemplative pedagogy and integrative learning. I hope this is the beginning of a sustained dialog on the topic. I take it as my responsibility to nurture that dialog and expand the circle.

In Bb tip #14, I discussed how to personalize your course by adding a banner. A course banner is an image that appears at the top of the Announcements page of your course. You can use PowerPoint to create a course banner.

Follow these steps to do it.
Using PowerPoint 2010 (Windows), you should open a new PowerPoint file. On the Home tab, select Title Only as the slide layout. On the Design tab, select Page Setup and then choose Banner as the slide size. The default width for a banner is a width of eight inches and height of one inch. Click OK to save the settings. You will be returned to the Design tab. Choose a background for your banner by either selecting a theme or choosing a background style. In the title box, type text for your banner and change the font if necessary. You can insert clip art, pictures, and/or other objects on your banner from the insert menu. Save the file as both a PowerPoint presentation and as a JPEG file. You will be able to edit the PowerPoint file if you need to make changes to your banner. Close PowerPoint and follow the instructions in Bb tip #14 to add the banner to your course.

Note: Step-by-step instructions for Mac users are available.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [Win-PDF] and [Mac-PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional Blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

The beginning of the semester is a good time to get started using Blackboard. Blackboard courses are automatically created using the course information in Banner approximately two weeks before the start of the semester. You can post your syllabus and course documents to your Blackboard courses. You can also customize your course menu and/or add a course banner.

Follow these steps to do it.
Instructions are available in previous Bb tips for customizing your course menu, adding a course banner, posting your syllabus, organizing course materials into folders, adding files, adding hyperlinks, and copying content into another course.

Want more information?
Stop by one of the drop-in sessions for one-on-one help.
Step-by-step instructions are available.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

Download Conversation #12

Alice Horning

A conversation with Dr. Alice S. Horning of Oakland University on teaching, learning, and reading.

We really need to help students with reading in every subject. It's not just for English teachers; it's not just writing teachers; it's not just in composition classes. It's in history and sociology and even in math. Students need to be better readers.

Links for this episode:

  • Reading Across the Curriculum by Alice S. Horning
  • To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence can be purchased or downloaded free from the NEA
  • Reading Between the Lines: What the ACT Reveals about College Readiness in Reading can be downloaded free from ACT

At the end of each semester you should export your grade book and archive your course.

Student access to courses is removed two weeks after the end of each semester. During this process all Grade Center (gradebook) records are deleted. You should download your gradebook to your local computer after you submit your final grades. While the course content you created will remain in your Blackboard courses for three semesters before it is removed, it is a good idea to archive your course at the end of the semester (refer to Bb tip #4).

Follow these steps to do it.
Instructions are available in previous Bb tips for exporting your grade book and exporting your course content.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

1

Experiment with Blackboard features and functions using your own Sandbox course.

A Blackboard Sandbox course is a blank course where you can experiment with Blackboard functions and features without affecting your actual courses. The Sandbox Course will be your very own, and can be used as a place to experiment without affecting any real students. Each Sandbox course will be created with one make-believe student so that you can login and see things from the student’s perspective.

Blackboard Sandbox courses are available by request. To request a Sandbox course send an email message with your name, department, extension, and Xavier email address to Janice Florent.

Want more information?
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional Blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

Blackboard’s Survey Manager allows you to create anonymous non-graded surveys. Surveys allow you to get feedback from your students on any topic. Survey questions are anonymous, so your students can feel free to respond honestly to the survey questions. You can get statistical analysis of the responses provided by your students as a whole but you cannot see how a student answered a particular question. Some examples of the types of uses for surveys are: seeking feedback on the effectiveness of active learning exercises, the need for clarification of course material, and/or seeking suggestions for course improvement.

Follow these steps to do it.
Making surveys available to your students is a two step process. You have to create the survey first and then deploy it.

Create Survey: To create a survey get into the [Control Panel] and select [Survey Manager] located under Assessment. Click on the [Add Survey] button on the toolbar. Enter a name for the survey in the name field. Enter a description and instructions for the survey and then click Submit. Once in the survey canvas, click on [Creation Settings] to select default settings to be available when creating the survey questions and then click submit. Choose the question type in the Add field and then click the GO button to enter a survey question. Follow the instructions for entering the survey question. Repeat this process to add each question to your survey. Click OK when you have entered all your survey questions. You will be returned to the Survey Manager. Click OK to be returned to the Control Panel.

Deploy Survey: To deploy a survey you will have to add the survey to a content area. Get into the [Control Panel]. Assuming the content area you want to post your survey to is shown in the content area, you should click on the link for that content area in the Control Panel. Next select [Survey] from the drop down menu that on the right side of the toolbar and then click the [Go] button. Select the survey to be added to the content area from the list. Click OK. Click the [Modify the Survey options] link. Select the [Yes] radio button to make the survey available. Choose the availability and presentation options for your survey. Click the Submit button and then click OK.

Note: If the content area you want to deploy your survey is not shown in the Control Panel content areas you will have to create it by modifying the course menu. Refer to Tip #7 for instructions on Customizing the Course Menu.

Analyze Survey Results: You can view/analyze the survey results by getting into the [Control Panel] of the course and click on the [Grade Center] link (located under Assessments). Click on the arrows on the right side of the survey’s column heading and select [Attempts Statistics] from the drop down menu.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional Blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

CAT recently hosted a panel discussion titled “Web Logs and Scholarship.” I recorded the audio live, so for those who couldn’t make it, here’s a slidecast of the entire discussion — just under an hour.
...continue reading "Web Logs and Scholarship"

A weighted grade column is a calculated column that displays the calculated result of component parts (columns and/or categories); each part is worth some percentage of the total. You can create a weighted grade based on any column and/or category in the Grade Center. For example, you can create a weighted grade column that calculates the final grade for the course. Categories such as Test, Discussion, and Assignment would be given a certain percentage of the final grade along with the percentage for other grade columns (e.g. Mid-term, Final Exam).

Follow these steps to do it.
You can add a weighted grade column by getting into the [Control Panel] of the course in which you want to add the weighted grade. Click on the [Grade Center] link (located under Assessments). Move the mouse over the [Add Calculated Column] button and select [Weighted] from the drop down menu. Enter a name that describes what the weighted grade column is in the Name field. Grade Center display name and description are optional. Select how you would like the results of the weighted grade to be shown by clicking on the pull down arrow and selecting primary display from the list. Secondary display is optional and will only be shown in the Grade Center. In the select columns section, choose which grade columns and/or categories will be used in the calculation of the weighted grade by clicking on the grade column or category and then clicking on the respective arrow to move the column/category over to the selected columns area. Enter the weight percentage to be applied to each column/category you selected. The total weight must equal 100%. When selecting a category you can choose to weigh columns equally or proportionally and whether to drop grades in the category or to use the highest or lowest grade in the category. Choose whether to calculate the weighted grade as a running total which would include only the columns that have been graded in the calculation. In the options section you should indicate whether you want to include this weighted grade column in grade center calculations, show the weighted grade column in My Grades, and show statistics for the weighted grade column in My Grades. My Grades is what is shown to your students when they go into your course. Click Submit when you are finished entering all your information and selecting the options. The weighted grade column will be added as the last column in the Grade Center.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional Blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418