BU has made the core set of Google Apps available to faculty and students for classroom use. Among the apps with the most educational promise are: Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), which allows easy commenting on student papers and collaboration work among students; Google Forms, which provides a quick way to solicit and tabulate student feedback; and Appointment Slots, an easy way to schedule office hours with students. All BU students have their email accounts through Google, so they are all able to use any of these tools without having to sign up for any additional services.
Because BU has a service agreement with Google, comments and grades on student papers can be provided in BU Google Apps without violating FERPA policy. (Commenting on student work through unsupported third-party services, like Dropbox, is usually illegal under FERPA.) To make sure you stay within FERPA guidelines, we highly recommend that you create a BU Google account to use Google Apps for educational purposes (rather than a personal Google/Gmail account). To create one, go to our account creation page and follow the instructions. You can log into this account by entering your BU email address as a username and not entering a password; Google will redirect you to the regular BU Kerberos login screen.
When you’re logged into a Google Account, you can access Google Drive via the Drive button in the black toolbar at the top of the screen. From Google Drive, the “Create” button will allow you to create forms. To use Appointment Slots, follow the instructions here: go to Google Calendar in your BU account, click on an empty space and click on Appointment Slots.
CEIT has now posted its list of Teaching Talks and Teaching Tech Talks scheduled throughout the Spring 2013 semester. The talks are scheduled on various dates and times to make it possible for faculty to explore some talks whatever their schedule. Some scheduled talks with an emphasis on new technologies include:
Databases for non-majors (Jan. 10)
The top 5 things faculty need to know about Blackboard Learn (Jan. 10)
Read & Write Gold (Feb. 6)
Flipped classroom and Echo360 (Feb. 13)
Collaboration tools in Blackboard Learn (Feb. 20)
iPad applications in the classroom (Feb. 25)
Google Apps in your classroom (Feb. 25)
Increasing instructional interactivity with clickers (Mar. 19)
Virtual student exchanges (Apr. 3)
High-tech cheating (Apr. 3)
How to use ePortfolios (Apr. 5)
Making grading easier and more transparent with rubrics in Blackboard Learn (Apr. 11)
Dimensions of online courses and student perceptions (Apr. 17)
In continuation of CEIT’s and IS&T’s efforts to engage faculty in the LMS migration, CEIT hosted a presentation on Blackboard Learn that focused on how faculty can use it for their course. Participants from the Blackboard Learn pilot were present to share their ideas and experience with the new environment. Some topics included:
- Collaboration tools in Blackboard: With this new system comes new tools and features. In terms of student collaboration, the three that are most significant are blogs, journals and wikis. Blogs allow students to share their personal thoughts with their classmates and gives them their own voice in the class. Journals, on the other hand, are designed to be a private communication between an instructor and a student. Finally, wikis are collaborative documents that allow students to edit each other’s work.
- Assignments and Rubrics: Faculty now have the ability to attached rubrics to their assignments, making grading more transparent to the students and much simpler for the instructor. Additionally, assignments are the new and improved way of accepting documents from students.
For more information on the presentation, please feel free to reach out to CEIT (email@example.com) or the presenter, Kacie Cleary (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In his course on investments, management professor Zvi Bodie uses student-created blogs. Students are grouped into teams, with each team creating a blog of its own. The blogs allow students to report quickly on current events in the world of finance, which the course teaches them to analyze. Student teams have made their blogs publicly available and some of them can be viewed here and here.
Prof. Bodie’s students use Google’s free blogging software, Blogger (which provides URLs in the blogspot.com domain). Similar (BU-supported) student blog functions will be available in the new Blackboard Learn system (aka Blackboard 9.1), available now to faculty wishing to use it in Spring 2012 courses.
Professors in several departments at BU (including Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering) often use the free social discussion tool Piazza in their courses. Piazza is free, and allows threaded discussions to happen in a user-friendly way. Students in these courses are encouraged to post their course-related questions on Piazza, significantly reducing emails that are directed to the course staff. Questions posted on Piazza are then answered by the course staff, or, in many cases, by other students. Questions posed in these courses have ranged from logistical issues (“Which lab are we doing this week?”) to conceptual issues from students grappling with the material (“I tried solving problem 3 this way, but it didn’t work – can someone point me in the right direction?”) The latter are particularly good at drawing multiple students into the discussion.
Piazza can help you keep on top of what’s going on in your course, while at the same time reducing the amount of time you spend responding to students over email. Piazza posts can be read on the web site, whose features make it easy to see which posts need an instructor’s attention. They can also be viewed and responded to through the Piazza app on your favorite mobile device. You can also choose to get updates from Piazza via email. BU IS&T does not offer support for Piazza, but it is an interesting option for professors who feel comfortable exploring free online teaching tools.
Today’s issue of BU Today features an article highlighting Read & Write GOLD, literacy software that helps students with reading, writing, research, and organization. The software is available to the BU community for free download via TechWeb. It is especially helpful for students with learning disabilities but can be useful for anyone, especially in language-learning classes. See the article for more about how BU got Read & Write GOLD and what it can do for students.
At the top of the e-Portfolios page in Digication, you’ll find a row of boxes labelled “Featured e-Portfolios”. These are portfolios we have selected as strong and effective examples of what ePortfolios can do. As well as the portfolio about portfolios, they have so far included a professional portfolio from a Sargent College student, an interdisciplinary portfolio from a CGS student, and portfolios for teaching purposes from SED’s Colby Young and the School of Public Health’s James Wolff.
Today, we’re adding a newly featured portfolio from Winnie Hsieh, created for a CAS Writing Program course. Many courses in the Writing Program use ePortfolios to allow students to view their writing over the course of the semester and reflect on it. Hsieh’s course section involved writing three papers and scaffolding the working process of writing each paper. In her illustrated portfolio you can find her reflecting on the process of becoming a successful writer.
On Friday, March 8 CEIT will hold its fifth annual Instructional Innovation Conference.
Have you been innovating in your classes? Other faculty would like to hear what you’re doing! Please visit 2013 Submission Process to read about the innovation submission process. You may also visit 2012 Instructional Innovation Abstracts to find abstracts and presentations from last year’s Conference. Submissions are due by December 10, 2012. If you have any suggestions for the program, please contact Lauren Hess at email@example.com or 617-353-8718. We hope to see you there!
Also, it’s not too late to register for the remaining Teaching Talks and Teaching Tech Talks for the fall semester: http://www.bu.edu/ceit/faculty-development/teaching-talks/
The full schedule is available after the jump.
One of the greatest challenges facing educators is to document and assess the learning that takes place in and outside the classroom. For several years Professor James Wolff at the School of Public Health has found Digication e-portfolios to be an exciting and innovative way of reflecting on the learning experience, documenting the competencies and skills acquired during a course, making learning visible by creating a permanent record of classroom activities, and assessing the progress and competence of students.
Wolffy, as he is known by colleagues and students, teaches several courses for master’s students in the School of Public Health, all of which have successfully integrated e-portfolios. His first experience with e-portfolio was in IH 790, Leading Organizations to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In this course students reflected on the leadership skills they are acquiring and the e-portfolio was used for both formative and summative evaluations. More