Posts Tagged ‘Learning Ventures’
After consulting with faculty and assessing our options last spring, Learning Ventures began the transition from WebCT to Blackboard (Bb) 9 in March of 2010. If you are still using WebCT for online or web-assisted teaching, the time to switch is now.
The GOOD news is Bb 9 has some great tools for engaging students online:
- The Blog (web log) tool is a great way to encourage the development of an online community.
- The Discussion Board is easier to grade and easier to track student posts and replies.
- The Journal tool offers a private way to communicate with your students while tracking their individual reflections.
- The Wiki tool allows a group of students to collaborate on a collective document.
- The SafeAssign tool helps students cite their writing properly.
- The Assignment drop box allows you to submit multiple documents at once.
- You can drag and drop files to the course.
Bb 9 is a very different experience for the faculty and the instructional designer; therefore, you will need time and assistance to create a maximally learning-centered experience for your students. Learning Ventures offers extensive, hands-on support for faculty who use Bb 9. In addition to our regularly scheduled workshops (schedule available here: https://utdl.edu/DL_training), we invite your department or program to schedule an instructional session at your convenience.
To get more information about Bb 9, or to make an important connection with an instructional designer, contact LV:
For more updates on the transition, follow us on Twitter (@UTLV) and check our blog (feed available on the “Teaching” pane in the UT Portal. Also: http://wordpress.utoledo.edu/learningventures).
From time to time, instructors may notice that there is an additional person listed as an instructor in their course. This occurs because Learning Ventures staff may need to enroll themselves into the course while responding to technical issues. Once the UTLV staff member completes the task they are working on inside the course, the staff member will remove him/herself from the course. If an instructor happens to notice that there is an individual listed in Blackboard as an instructor that is not an assigned instructor, the instructor can contact Learning Ventures about the issue, and UTLV will check to make sure that the proper individuals have access to the course and will verify the status of any tasks that are being completed in any course. To limit confusion for students and instructors enrolled in a particular course, UTLV staff will remove themselves from the course after they have completed their tasks.
All faculty will soon receive a notice via email about the “Student Observer Program.” This program is designed to give faculty valuable feedback about the learning environment from a trained student observer. This year, we are expanding the program in some important ways. First, we are offering at the instructors’ request video observation in which the student and faculty member will be able to discuss classroom management and presence. And second, we are involving students in the observation of online instruction (exclusively online and web-assisted), with observations reflecting different approaches to pedagogy and engagement required online. More will arrive soon, but here is the text of the description of the program that will be in your mailbox accompanied by a form for requesting observation. Finally, if you know a student who would make an ideal candidate for participation in our program, please forward the students’ name and a brief recommendation to Jeff Jablonski (jeffrey.jablonski(at)utoledo.edu), the SOP Coordinator.
How the Student Observer Program Works
- Instructors elect to participate by filling out a request form and returning it to Christine Keller, “Learning Ventures,” MS #129, FH 3005C.
- All faculty (tenure-track, part-time, visiting faculty, lecturers) are eligible to participate in the Student Observer Program. Observers can work with any undergraduate course regardless of the mode of delivery (face-to-face, blended, exclusively online). For part-time faculty, the request for observation must be submitted and approved by the chair of the department.
- A student observer is assigned according to the class schedule and the observer’s availability.
- The student observer is given the name, campus office, campus telephone number, and e-mail address of the instructor and arranges for an initial visit. The instructor is also given the name, telephone number, and e-mail address of the student observer.
- The instructor and student observer meet to get acquainted and clarify expectations. The instructor should provide a course syllabus and any login information for online resources. The observer should be enrolled in all course-related web services.
- The student observer visits the instructor’s class, gathers the requested information and prepares feedback for the instructor. A minimum of 3 classroom visits is recommended (or three hours of online contact). All information gathered by the student observer is confidential. No information is provided to anyone else unless the instructor specifically authorizes it. (Please note, however, that all reports are reviewed by the Student Observer Program Coordinator to ensure quality control.)
- The student observer meets with the instructor and discusses the observation. He/she also prepares a report of typically 2-3 pages for the professor. This report may be included in a dossier, but it is not required to be shared.
This is the first edition of our semi-monthly newsletter. Through this web-only publication, the staff of Learning Ventures will work with faculty and students to give information, stimulate ideas, and promote valuable discussions about teaching and learning at The University of Toledo. Learning Ventures is just two months old, but we already have plenty to do.
“Learning Ventures provides leadership, knowledge, and expertise for a learner-centered community of teachers and scholars at the University of Toledo. Through the development of new approaches to “hybrid” modes of instruction using technologies that expand boundaries associated with traditional course-based learning, Learning Ventures is dedicated to promoting and sustaining a learning environment that can best prepare students for complex challenges. Learning Ventures will cultivate the development of “active learning” strategies, ongoing self-assessment in teaching, new instructional approaches and technologies, and widespread employment of educational strategies that enhance retention and outcomes.”
In the next issue, we will host a discussion of “hybrid learning.” This discussion will be linked to our blog (http://wordpress.utoledo.edu/learningventures) and our Epsilen page (http://www.epsilen.com/grp/UTLearningVenturesGroup) so that we can engage across disciplines and across colleges, and so that we at Learning Ventures can learn from students, faculty, and our constituents.