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Archive for July, 2010

BAJ Update — “Preview Sessions”

The first of two “Preview” sessions for the “Beginning the Academic Journey Online” project took place this afternoon. Two modules were presented, one on “Game Design,” a project that was hatched out of a discussion between an engineer and a creative writer about the importance of literature for the aspiring game designer, and another on time management. The second preview session will take place on Monday, July 26 at 8:30 a.m. in the FH auditorium (FH2100). If you are interested in the project or if you are teaching first-year students, please attend.

We received a number of helpful comments and questions that will shape the project as we move ahead. Two questions in particular merit attention. The first concerned the possibility of academic dishonesty if a module is “reused” in more than one course. One characteristic of a module is that it is in principle “share-able.” A module focusing on a problem or on data from important research might be used in a variety of courses in many disciplines. If so, a student might complete a project for one course and then be asked to complete the same or a similar project in another. Clearly a module takes different shapes and characteristics depending on its relation to the course, other modules, and intentions to which it becomes linked. Later, our senior designer, Peter You, pointed out to me that one of the key features in Blackboard 9.1’s assignment tool is a database called “SafeAssign” that compares student submissions to other submissions–on campus and off–to see if they are copied or plagiarized. Since one of the things compared is an institutional database of assignments, it will not be easy for a student to turn the same work in to two modules (and this is true for courses as well).

Secondly, an individual instructor may well decide to allow or even encourage the use of previous work in a new setting if doing so serves to help students learn. Clearly students should not receive credit for the same work twice. However, students can build new understanding based on their previous work. A writing assignment completed in 2012 might be the foundation for critical reflection in 2014. In any case, as in a face-to-face traditional course, we need to hold students to high standards of honesty and ask them to tell us whether work has already been used for another purpose. If you’ve had a student say, “I read that book in another class,” you might see that recycling old work can have pedagogical value if handled appropriately.

The other question concerned training and instruction: will we provide the instruction that faculty need to make the most of online modules? We offer three avenues to getting the help and instruction you need. First, we have posted our training schedule for the fall semester and sessions are already underway. Our “Building Blocks,” “Hone In,” and “Brush Up” sessions are designed to appeal to users with varying degrees of need and familiarity, so pick the session that appeals to you and sign up. (Be sure to attend if you sign up, though!). We also have a number of tutorials and training documents available online at our “faculty resources” site. In addition to regular training and tutorials, we are planning a series of “road-shows” and introductory presentations about key technologies and their use, tailored for your college or program. We will be offering those beginning early in the fall, some scheduled in the FH and others scheduled near you. Finally, we always welcome you for consultation and one-on-one instruction. Come up to Learning Ventures (Field House, 3rd Floor) between 8:30 and 5 and someone will be glad to work with you.

As always, please contact Learning Ventures if you have any questions or concerns.

Teachers Institutes in the Humanities

Scholars in the humanities may have seen the call [below] for proposals from the OHC. Learning Ventures is prepared to support your application. If your application incorporates technology in an innovative way, or if you would like to work with us on developing instructional technologies to enhance learning, LV can provide evidence that the University is prepared to support your goals. Also, if you would like to collaborate with our instructional designers with extensive experience in innovative approaches to teaching and learning, we will gladly join you at any point in the process. For more information on how technology can enhance teaching and learning in the humanities, visit our space on the third floor of the field house or visit some of the links on our ‘blogroll’ to the right, especially “HASTAC”.


Teachers Institutes in the Humanities, Summer 2011
Grant award: $20,000 maximum
Preliminary Draft Deadline: September 15, 2010
Final Draft Deadline: October 15, 2010

The Ohio Humanities Council invites proposals for its Summer 2011 Teachers Institutes in the Humanities. College and university departments–either solely or in conjunction with their education or continuing studies departments–may submit a proposal for a one-week seminar designed to enrich teachers’ understanding and appreciation of the humanities subjects they teach. Because of a special initiative from the National Endowment for the Humanities, OHC encourages institutes which explore significant topics in American or Ohio history, but proposals for any humanities themes are welcome.


• Strong Humanities Curriculum. The Council is especially interested in teachers institutes which are multicultural and interdisciplinary. For example, a recent OHC-supported humanities institute examined the experience of Somali immigrants in Ohio and elsewhere in the world in various expressive forms, including poetry, music, and personal narratives about family immigration experiences and living in the United States. The curriculum included presentations by Somali educators, documentary films, and instruction by a professor of folklore who served as a peace corps worker in Somalia and has also done extensive fieldwork in that country.

• Graduate Credit Option Required for Participants. OHC grant funds can be used to underwrite a portion of the costs of graduate credit or to provide scholarships for teachers and administrators of underserved student populations. OHC encourages universities to offer tuition discounts as part of the required cost-share for a humanities institute. Cash stipends for attending teachers can be part of the institute budget.

• Institutes are designed for Ohio teachers. Institutes should be open to K-12 teachers and administrators currently working in Ohio. An institute should further plan schedules that allow time for teachers and faculty to interact with one another during meals and at evening events. Ideal size for a summer institute is 20-25 teacher participants. OHC encourages proposals which involve K-12 teachers or school administrators in the planning stages for an institute. The proposal should include a recruitment plan for contacting teachers throughout the state by appropriate grades and subject area.

• Follow-up Programming. Proposals should outline a plan for follow-up programs to determine the success of the summer institute, strengthen communication between universities and local school districts, and identify ongoing questions and concerns from teachers and administrators. Examples of follow-up programs include assessment meetings, classroom visits by institute faculty, mentoring sessions, etc.


A proposal will be judged on the strength of its humanities content; the option of graduate credit hours for attendees; potential for recruiting participants, especially from underserved school districts; credentials of the institute faculty; commitment of the host institution; and reasonableness of the proposed budget. Because of the special requirements for a summer institute, applicants should submit a preliminary draft of their proposal by September 15.

To begin the application process, contact OHC Program Officer Jack Shortlidge:
by phone: 614/461-7802, or 1-800-293-9774 (in-state toll-free); by email: jacks@ohiohumanities.org

He will be happy to answer questions, discuss ideas for institutes, share a sample summer institute proposal with potential applicants, and guide host institutions through the application process.

“Can WebCT Backups be Uploaded to BB 9.1?”

A colleague writes:

I backed up my courses in the Fall 2009. If we were using Web CT then will there be any compatibility to upload them to Blackboard?

Though the basic tools are similar and your files will appear much as they did in WebCT when you move to BB9.1, the structure of BB9.1 is not identical to WebCT. So if you try to upload a backup from WebCT to BB9.1, you’ll be putting a square peg in a round hole.

So, if you have a WebCT backup file that you would like restored in BB9.1, here is what to do:

  1. Contact Learning Ventures’ instructional designers by sending an email to utlv@utoledo.edu. Let them know the course number, section, and semester you would like to restore. (If you already have a backup file, you can simply send it to them at that address or give them the link to any filesharing service you use).
  2. The Designer will then arrange to have a backup of the course files extracted from our servers. The Designer will send that file to you with instructions on how to upload the file to BB9.1. A video tutorial describing this process will soon be available online at http://www.utoledo.edu/dl/faculty/index.html.
  3. We are, of course, willing to help you with this task if necessary, and can use a variety of technologies to help you (“Teamviewer” is a particularly helpful tool that allows you to share your screen with a designer).
  4. Once the file is uploaded, you will need to scour your site for broken links and changed settings. We recommend logging in as a “student” (username.s) and trying out your links.

We stand ready to help you at any stage of this transition. Our staff of student workers, instructional developers, and instructional designers are all committed to student learning, and excellent online experiences can make a difference.

If you have all your files organized on your own computer or in storage, you might wish to simply re-build your course in the new system. Video tutorials on our web site, a lively online community, and our own designers can all facilitate the development of an engaging, interactive online experience in the new, Web 2.0-savvy Blackboard system.

Transition to Blackboard 9.1

This summer we begin UT’s transition to Blackboard 9.1 as our standard “learning management system” for online and web assisted courses. It will eventually replace WebCT. Our Academic Support team in collaboration with LV’s Instructional Designers have developed a strategy that will make the transition as seamless as it can be for both the faculty and students who use Blackboard. The first phase of the transition involves a group of “early adopters,” faculty members who decided to use Blackboard 9.1 this summer while it is still in development. The second phase will involve a larger group of faculty who would like to move fall courses. The third and final phase will involve all online and web-assisted courses at UT.

The first phase is underway and successful. The second phase begins now, and we need your input. If you would like your course to run in BB9.1 in the fall of 2010, please send an e-mail message to Lansing Stoll with a brief message saying: “YES, I would like to begin using BB9.1 in the fall.” All courses will automatically be hosted in WebCT unless you indicate otherwise.

Our target date for bringing the BB9.1 server online is Friday, July 16. Updates will be available via the LV blog.

Also, please indicate whether you are interested in attending workshops to learn more about BB9.1. The schedule for workshops is available on our site.

Thank you, and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions.


1. There are many similarities between BB9.1 and WebCT, so adoption may not be a significant change for many instructors. If you are comfortable with online instruction, computers, etc., we recommend early adoption.
2. Instruction will be available in BB9.1 beginning this summer. We are no longer offering group instruction in WebCT. To sign up for an instructional session, visit our website.
3. If you continue to use WebCT, instructional modules will remain available online. LV’s instructional designers will also be available for consultation and assistance with WebCT.

NEH “Teaching Development Fellowship”

The NEH announced a fellowship for the improvement of undergraduate teaching in the humanities. If you are interested in applying and if your approach to improvement involves the incorporation of educational technology, digital media, or the development of instructional modules that strengthen the link between research and teaching, LV’s staff of instructional designers and technologists is ready to help. Please contact Ben Pryor (ben.pryor(AT)utoledo.edu), Assistant Vice Provost of Learning Ventures, if you would like LV to support your proposal or if you would like some help thinking it through.


Teaching Development Fellowships (TDF) support college and university teachers pursuing research aimed specifically at improving their undergraduate teaching. The program has three broad goals: 1) to improve the quality of humanities education in the United States; 2) to strengthen the link between research and teaching in the humanities; and 3) to foster excellence in undergraduate instruction. Projects must improve an existing undergraduate course that has been taught in at least THREE different terms prior to the application deadline and will continue to be taught by the applicant. Proposals for new courses or for mere course preparation will NOT be considered. The research project must be closely related to the applicant’s core interests as an interpreter of the humanities. The research undertaken as a part of the project may involve engaging with fundamental texts or sources, exploring related subjects or academic disciplines, or cultivating neglected areas of learning. Projects may in part entail the development of a language skill or the acquisition of digital skills in order to carry out the proposed research. (For more information, see the answers to questions 12 and 13 in the first section of the Frequently Asked Questions.) The project must be directed primarily towards course improvement, not scholarly publication. Research in any area of the humanities is welcome. Fellowships may not be used for development of new courses or basic course preparation; improvement of multiple courses; payment of guest speakers; team-taught courses; curricular or pedagogical methods or theories; graduate-level teaching preparation; textbook research or revision; projects that seek to promote a particular political, philosophical, religious, or ideological point of view; projects that advocate a particular program of social action; works in the creative and performing arts (e.g., painting, writing fiction or poetry, dance performance, etc.); or doctoral dissertations, theses, or any other research pertaining to a degree program.

Link to Full Announcement