Feedback helps you grow, and helps you keep learning. Without feedback, we don’t know to what degree we’ve hit the mark. #sblchat — Dave Mulder (@d_mulder) September 25, 2014
Great Rubrics can accomplish many pedagogical steps all at once. I’d like to give a top 3 with some explanations.
A great rubric:
Communicates expectations clearly and concisely
From lab reports to online discussions, rubrics should communicate to the learner what is expected from a learning activity, and can also designate levels of importance. For example, I used to require a formal lab report each week in physics labs. The labs were worth 20 points, but comprised of 7 sections (note: 20 doesn’t divide evenly by 7!). Needless to say, some parts were worth more than others. The procedure and theory part (2 points) was important to include, but not nearly as important as the data analysis and calculations part (6 points).
Improves teacher to student feedback
It is no secret that feedback is vital to learning. At the most basic level, learning doesn’t happen without feedback! Another non-secret is that from elementary to post-secondary, education is a business, and the more students a teacher can teach, the more efficient the business model. (This reminds me of an article I came across a while back about feedback: (http://goo.gl/chjyzV.) The problem is now obvious: learning requires feedback, but teachers are not always set up to provide it. So, here is where rubrics come into play. Whereas it is next to impossible to deliver unique feedback about numerous objectives to every student, a great rubric can be an efficient mechanism for delivering helpful (vital) feedback that completes the learning process. The key here is in the descriptors (as mentioned in John Mueller’s article. If a teacher will invest up front time to write good descriptors, then when grading time comes the descriptors function as individual feedback (that stuff that there isn’t time for!).
Connects learning activities and assessments with learning objectives
An excellent resource for teachers is the Carnegie Mellon Eberly Center, and a short article on their site really resonated with me concerning learning objectives (http://bit.ly/1q14jZE). In it there is a visual model that is about as simple and elegant as a model can be – a triangle that connects learning objectives, instructional activities, and assessments.
I’d like to take the model a step further, and suggest that a great rubric fills the inner area of the triangle. Learning Objectives are great (except that students care more about grades). Instructional Activities are valuable, but only if as tools to meet learning objectives. Assessments are necessary, but are useless without objectives to measure. However, from the student perspective, a great rubric fills the blue-green space. It enlivens the learning objectives and holds the student to them. It validates the instructional activities by providing reasons for the effort required. And it provides clarity and reliability for an assessment tool.
Great rubrics are blue-green!
I have a link to “Information” but I want it to say “Syllabus” not “Information.”
No problem! Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Which browser should you use?
When I came to OC in 2005 I was given a DELL 610 running Windows operating system, and I set about searching the web using IE (Internet Explorer). It was what I knew, and it was comfortable! Also in my comfort zone were Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel, Outlook, and Powerpoint.
Now my comfort zone is in a different place altogether. I can’t stand IE. I get annoyed when I have to open Word to view a document, and I don’t even have an email program on my computer (gmail’s web interface meets my needs). When I flip open my laptop, the first place I go is my internet browser. In my browser I check my email, manage my calendar, access and edit most of my files, and even send text messages. In fact, most of the work I do is in my browser, and it has basically become its own operating system.
So, which browser do I use? Well, the answer is complicated. I use Chrome for Google Apps like gmail, drive, calendar, and voice. Then I use Firefox for Blackboard and for accessing a few other educational sites (e.g. my eTextbook and homework system). And then sometimes I use Safari, but mainly just to check and see how my students might be seeing things if they are using it. What about IE? Well, speaking frankly, I don’t recommend IE to anyone, and I mainly use IE to diagnose problems that faculty are having with Blackboard and other sites.
The North Institute recently fielded several support tickets where instructors were not seeing all of their courses on Blackboard. Some course links were there, but not all, and it was baffling. For kicks and giggles, we suggested they try using Chrome or Firefox, and suddenly their courses appeared! Why is this the case? It turns out IE is no longer fully supported, and depending on your version of IE, it might not jive with Bb. Click here to see a list of supported browsers for our current version of Blackboard
The North Institute’s recommended browsers for accessing Blackboard are Firefox or Chrome. Both are fully supported, and freely available for Mac or Windows users. We recommend going so far as to include this as a requirement in your course policies, so that students are expected to access your course content using Firefox or Chrome. Click here for a sample browser requirement policy statement
If you want to go a step further, you can add the code below as an Announcement in Blackboard so that students are alerted if using an unsupported browser.
<div><iframe src="https://ed.oc.edu/ni/browser/bb/" width="100%" height="100" frameborder="0"></iframe></div>
Here is how it appears to students:
Global Web Browser and Operating System statistics: http://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php
Monthly Web Browser trends 2007 to present:
Browse wisely, friends!
Did you know that you can create group spaces in Blackboard so that students can email each other, share files, have discussions using their group pages? Here is how to set it up:
- Scroll down to the “Control Panel”;
- Click on “Users and Groups” and select “Groups”;
- If you want to just make one group, click “Create Single Group”, if you want to create multiple groups of the same kind, for instance several different groups all working on a the same group assignment, click “Create Group Set”
- Select the method in which you would like to enroll students in each group. “Self-Enroll” allows students to choose which group they join. “Manual Enroll” allows you to choose who goes in which group. “Random Enroll” (only available under “Create Group Set”) allows you to choose the number of groups and the number students in each group and then Blackboard will radomly assign students from the class to the groups.
- Fill in the information as needed. Under “Group Tool Availability”, make sure you check “Discussion Board” , “File Exchange”, and “Email”. Also check “Yes” for “Make Group Available”. If you are creating a group set, make sure you fill in how many of these groups you want.
- For Manual Enroll groups:
- Scroll down past the tool availability section (pictured above) to “Membership”
- There should be two boxes displayed. The left boxed, “Items to Select” will list all the students that have not yet been placed in a group. To select a student, click on his or her name. To select multiple students at one time, hold down the CTRL key on the Windows side, or the Command key on the Mac side, while you click on the students’ names.
- Click the arrow button pointing right to add the selected students to the group.
- To remove a student from the group, select the student’s name and click the arrow button pointing left.
- Click “submit” to finish.
- Repeat the steps above to create and manage all students.
- For Self enroll groups:
- Scroll down past the tool availability section (pictured above) to “Sign Up Options”
- Fill in the name of the sign up sheet. You can also add a description or instructions to the sign up sheet, designate a maximum number of members for the group and allow or prevent students from seeing the current group members before they sign up.
- Make sure “Allow Students to sign-up from the Groups listing page” is checked.
- Click “Submit”
- Now when the students go to their “Groups” page they will see the sign up sheet for this group.
While working with these groups, you will also notice that you can add students to or remove students from groups by simply clicking on the “modify” button beside the group name, and then add or remove members as you needed.
Here is how you can access these group pages:
- Go to “communications”
- Go to “group pages”
- Click on the name of the group you want to communicate with
- Use “group discussion board” to post your initial message, use “file exchange” to send file if needed and “send emails”to send emails to students in the group.
Similarly, here is how students access their group page.
- Ask them to go to “communications”
- Then go to “Group pages”
- Click on the name of the group you have assigned them to (usually only one group there);
- Then they will see “group discussion board”, “file exchange”, “send emails” as well as a list of other members in the group. Here is where they can have group discussions, file exchanges and group email exchanges.
As the instructor, you will be able to see all group discussions, and exchanged files. However, you will not see the emails students send to each other in the group. You can, however, send emails to everybody in the group
To go from our traditional paper test (a Word DOC) to and Blackboard online test the first step is to get our Word DOC in the proper format. And that is what we are going to go over here in this video. Enjoy because by the time we conclude this series of videos you will be able to give your tests online have them graded for you and placed in your Blackboard Grade Center automatically.
By the use of Respondus we can convert a Word DOC scantron test into a Blackboard Online Test, but to do this we must have our Word DOC in the proper format. As most scantron tests are T/F or Multiple Choice the following video will concentrate on these types of questions. As a side note we can also format Essay, Fill in the Blank and Short Answer question types.
Let’s take a look at the video. (if the video is not showing up please Reload the page.)
While sipping a Monday morning coffee I stumbled across one of the first ever TED talks – Simplicity sells – by technology columnist David Pogue. In it, Pogue identifies interface design flaws and hilariously exposes offenders! It was fun to watch 8 years later, as many of the softwares he identifies have evolved since then (some for the better, others not so much). I was impressed enough by his personality and insight to search for more of his talks, and found a really useful one – 10 top time-saving tech tips. Here’s the description:
Tech columnist David Pogue shares 10 simple, clever tips for computer, web, smartphone and camera users. And yes, you may know a few of these already — but there’s probably at least one you don’t.
Indeed there was at least one I didn’t know (I won’t say how many), and applying it will definitely save me some time! I wonder how much time we could save collectively over the course of a year if we all applied these…
Blackboard users can upload a photo of themselves into the Bb system. This photo displays on the “users” page of the instructor control panel (unfortunately it does not display in the grade center) as well as next to individuals’ posts in discussion forums. For instructions on uploading a photo to Bb, go here: http://ed.oc.edu/ni/bbtips/avatar/ (opens new tab/window).
The display on the users page in the control panel:
Display next to discussion board posts:
So, you want your students to take notes in your class so they will learn. Great! But what does note taking entail? Do your students know what “good” notes look like? How about you, teachers—do you know the functional complexities of note taking? Have you thought about what you might say that signals to students “make a note of this” and what signals “you don’t really need to know this”?
Linked here is an article that summarizes the research on this topic (the link opens a new tab/window). I hope you find it useful.
Françoise Boch, “Note Taking and Learning: A Summary of Research” (WAC Journal 16  101–13).