The VCCS Blackboard learning management system was upgraded to the latest release (April 2014) on Saturday, September 13, 2014. The April 2014 release for Blackboard Learn 9.1 has over 20 new improvements to its core capabilities, resulting in a product that is touted to be more “intuitive, engaging, and focused on end-users.”
I would like to highlight two features in this blog: SafeAssign Integration and Student Preview.
Following a recent conversation I began wondering about how to differentiate between instruction, as in teaching, and instructions, as in a set of directions regarding the completion of a task. Do we consider a course where an instructor provides a series steps for a student to follow (read chapter 12, complete quiz 12, move on to week 13) equal to a course where an instructor engages the student in the learning process? The seed of conversation developed in my mind while assembling a set of Ikea bookshelves. As I thumbed through the directions, a series of pictures displaying each step from start to finish, I wondered if directions on how to accomplish an everyday task is identical to academic instruction. Clearly, there are some disciplines which require step-by-step directions, as in solving a mathematical problem or assembling a computer circuit board. But to what extent do such courses require conceptual understanding and evidence of logic and reasoning about the operation?
At a convocation breakout session, Sarah DiCalogero, Chair of the Online Learning Committee, and I presented on the topic of Performance Standards for Online Teaching. The goals of the session were to first examine the current online observation form located in Appendix E3 in the TCC Faculty Professional Development and Evaluation Plan for those being observed in 2014. We examined the questions on the form and invited discussion on how each criterion might be evidenced by deans. We also suggested providing deans a path to follow for the evidence. Such a breadcrumb trail may enhance the evaluation process.
Second, we shared numerous online course evaluation tools that other universities are using to address performance standards for online teaching. This phenomenon of examining online courses is happening at more institutions than TCC.
Wouldn’t you agree that as professionals there is nothing more exciting and rewarding than “making a difference?” As an instructional designer, I am rewarded daily with opportunities to impact others. Quite often I am asked what an instructional designer does…. and when I’m afforded the opportunity to explain exactly what it is I do, I am frequently met with, “Wow, can you help me with my course?” or, “I didn’t know TCC had instructional designers, that’s so great to know!”
I thought I’d spend this time talking about the underpinnings to instructional design. Instructional design is the systematic process of building instructional programs and courses addressing:
What’s New in Blackboard Learn: Bb 9.1 April 2014
On the evening of September 13, 2014, the VCCS Blackboard learning management system will be upgraded to the latest release. There are some new and improved features that will enhance your experience with Blackboard. Click here for more details.
Manage Users Tool
In response to faculty requests that they be able to make a course unavailable to students who are deleted from the course the Manage Users tool is once again available in Blackboard. After a redesign of the Manage Users Tool, the VCCS has restored this right for instructors. To make a student’s enrollment unavailable in your Blackboard course, go to the Control Panel and select the Manage Users Tool.
As Faculty Liaison responsible for conducting Quality Matters Peer reviews at the college there are times I forget that top 50 universities, such as Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Georgetown University, and Virginia institutions including University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth and Virginia Tech have joined the ranks of subscribers to the program. Those, and over 500 other institutions, have recognized that Quality Matters offers creditable tools for assessing the quality of online courses and providing insight into quality enhancement.
I am currently offering workshops across the college to help colleagues understand the process of peer reviews at the college.
I decided my blog this week would address a comment on my first post from Professor Jim Roberts, economics instructor at the Virginia Beach Campus. Jim wrote, “Online faculty at most institutions use a package of textbook & online interactive learning sites that is different from their classroom-based colleagues in recognition of the need to retain online learners with more interaction. TCC does not do this because we have had no enlightened leadership to organize faculty who are teaching primarily online. How do you feel about this issue?”
Jim, thanks for your comment and invitation to dialogue. I agree that publishers are creating presentations, quizzes, and simulations that can enhance student learning. Interaction with the content and other students is important whether online or face-to-face. But first and foremost, the design of instruction must begin with the end in mind. Then we can consider what activities or interventions will best address the results desired. Here is a list of questions to consider.
The Online Course Development (OCD) Program is a comprehensive process designed to successfully train and certify TCC faculty for teaching online. The OCD Program at TCC offers faculty members the unique opportunity to teach online through their personal design, using faculty driven instructional design strategies, media, and facilitation practices. The process focuses on how to design quality online courses and develop skills and behaviors that promote effective online teaching and successful student learning. For any information on this process, please contact Dr. Marsha Jurewicz, Coordinator for eLearning Design and Development at the Center for eLearning, email@example.com or 757-822-1511.
Building on the TOP ELITE and Quality Matters coursework that prepares faculty to teach online, the OCD Program also includes a formal faculty peer mentoring relationship that provides one-on-one support for course development.
Blackboard Collaborate is an online collaboration platform providing web conferencing, mobile collaboration, instant messaging, and voice authoring. Employing Blackboard Collaborate features into your course can open up all-new facets of real time, or anytime, learning to engage more students and improve outcomes.
If you are a first-time Blackboard Collaborate user, this information will help you get started. A vast array of product documentation and training is also available in the Blackboard On-Demand Learning Center.
Quality Matters at TCC: An Update
Important! Deans and instructors, please keep in mind that all new courses taught for the first time must go through informal peer review. The deadline to have your course informally reviewed for Fall 2014 is Monday, August 4, 2014. Contact Lynn Rainard at firstname.lastname@example.org
Quality Matters (QM) maintains significant respect across the nation and the globe in no small part due to its continuous effort evaluating and improving the Quality Matters higher education rubric. Bell Wheeland, President of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges served as one of the keynote panelists at the 5th annual QM conference. Dr. Wheelan is a proponent of the QM review process.