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.