A group of BU faculty and staff met with students in early May to hear their recommendations on uses of social media in the classroom. The students were all seniors, from COM and Sargent College (previously from CGS). We are summarizing their recommendations here for the wider BU community.
These students recommended not to force particular uses of social media in the class: let students use a closed course Facebook group as they see fit to build community, not grading them on it (or at most grading their participation pass-fail). They also recommended that faculty acknowledge and integrate ongoing current events into their classes, as a way of moving the focus off grades and into applied learning, and that Facebook and Twitter are appropriate platforms for this. For more informal discussions, they preferred closed course Facebook groups to Blackboard discussion forums.
There will likely be another meeting before the summer is out. If you’re interested in attending and have not already been invited to this group, please contact Amod Lele (he can be found via the BU Directory).
Do you currently use the discussion board tool in Blackboard? If so, you may be looking for ways to increase student engagement and participation inside your discussion forums. A common complaint about discussion boards is that unless they are graded or required by the instructor, students do not want to participate. The conversations between students are full of flattery and follow the leader, and often lack the depth that is found in the face-to-face classroom environment.
One possible solution is through the use of YouTube video postings to the discussion board in place of the traditional text responses. To set this up, students will need to create their own YouTube channel using a Google Account. Luckily, anyone can create a Gmail account or for added features, BU students and faculty are also able to set up Google Apps for Education accounts through BU: (http://www.bu.edu/tech/support/google/).
Once a YouTube channel is created, students can upload their video from either a smartphone or computer to their YouTube channel and copy the video’s Share URL into the Blackboard discussion board thread by clicking on the “Insert/Edit Embedded Media” button. Students who are concerned about posting personal information on YouTube have the option of saving videos as “unlisted.”
Group work can be more successful when students are involved in developing the assessment process. Self and Peer Assessment is a way for students to answer questions provided by the instructor, and then have others in the class (peers) and/or themselves evaluate their answers, guided by a variety of grading criteria (rubrics) also provided by the instructor, and each worth a specified number of points. The Self and Peer Assessment building block is included in Blackboard Learn. By default, it is turned on and available for use immediately. Through this advanced assessment tool, the instructor is able to:
・increase student responsibility, involvement, and encourage students a deeper approach to learning
・encourage students to reflect on their role and contribution to the process of the group work.
・lift the role and status of the student from passive learner to active leaner and assessor
・develop in students a better understanding of their own subjectivity and judgement.
Digication, BU’s ePortfolio system, now offers an integration with Blackboard. You can work with Digication portfolios from within a Blackboard course. This allows Digication to collect the students in your course together without having to enroll them separately. It also greatly simplifies the process of creating assignments and of having students create their own portfolios, especially from templates.
As part of the Learning Management System (LMS) investigation, the LMS Steering Committee will be conducting several live demonstrations from vendors, including our current LMS, Blackboard. All faculty and academic staff are invited to attend these sessions, but we ask that you register in advance so we can plan accordingly.
Canvas by Instructure Demonstration
Following the Blackboard demonstration on Monday, May 4 we will be hosting our fourth annual Blackboard Boot Camp. This annual event gives faculty an opportunity to hear from their colleagues and to learn more about what our current Learning Management System has to offer. Seating is limited, so please be sure to register in advance.
We look forward to seeing you! Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Educational Technology, Training and Outreach has a website available outlining our current investigation into options for a learning management system (currently Blackboard). The site will also have details about our related investigation into an ePortfolio system (currently Digication). This site should not be taken to mean that BU is dissatisfied with either Blackboard or Digication, only that we are undertaking a periodic review to confirm whether or not our current systems remain the best ones.
BU wants to hear faculty opinions about Blackboard and competing learning management systems. We are conducting a review project to determine whether we will stick with Blackboard in the years to come, or adopt an alternate system. We want your opinions as faculty members, and we have set up focus groups on March 18th and 19th so that we can hear them. Light refreshments will be served.
If you’d like to attend a focus group, please register online. Please pass this link along to any faculty member(s) who may be interested in participating. We welcome input from any faculty at all levels.
Turnitin, BU’s supported software for academic integrity and faster grading, has recently introduced a “Cloud Submit” feature that allows students to submit assignments directly from Google Drive or Dropbox, convenient for students who are working on collaborative assignments in Google Drive or who do not wish to pay for Microsoft Word.
We recommend accessing Turnitin through its Blackboard integration. To create an assignment that will work in Turnitin: in any of your Blackboard course’s content areas (“Assignments”) or the like, go to the Assessments menu and select Turnitin Assignment, and follow the instructions. You’ll then be able to see the assignment’s results by going to Course Tools in the lower left corner of the course and selecting Turnitin Assignments. If Turnitin Assignments doesn’t appear under Course Tools, you can turn it on by going to Customization.
Note that while students may use Dropbox to submit assignments to Turnitin, faculty should never return student grades or comments through Dropbox. Because BU has no service agreement with Dropbox, Dropbox does not count as a school official for purposes of FERPA, and sharing student records with
Many new tutorials on educational technology tools are now being offered through the training calendar within TechWeb. In July and August there are sessions available on Blackboard Learn, WordPress, Qualtrics survey design, NVivo, Digication ePortfolio and BUworks (SAP). Sign up for hands-on sessions to learn how to use any of these tools.
At his Teaching Tech Talk today, Turnitin representative Shawn Lowney demonstrated some features of the Turnitin software that many users may be unaware of. Most faculty know Turnitin for its OriginalityCheck plagiarism detection function, and Lowney briefly addressed how it can perform this function well. But he also addressed other sides of Turnitin that may be less familiar.
Turnitin’s GradeMark portion contains many functions to make grading easier. Its QuickMark system allows you to save time on grading papers by dragging and dropping your most frequently used comments directly onto the paper. You can also add audio comments to convey the tone of your comments. Turnitin is integrated with Blackboard, so grades can be passed easily between the two systems.
BU offers Turnitin via the Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching; these features are available to all BU faculty now. We do not yet have a structure in place for offering technical support to faculty, but hope to have one established soon.