Category: Tips & Tricks
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.”
Digication, BU’s ePortfolio software, now allows Google app documents, including Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, Google Forms and more, to be embedded within an ePortfolio module. Students can create, share, and collaboratively edit a document in Google Docs and have the result be pushed to the portfolio, with the original revision history still available in Google Docs. You can find this function in Digication by pressing Add A Module, selecting the Google option, pressing Add This Module and following the instructions.
There has been a lot of buzz recently about an approach to presenting video content known as “in-video quizzing.” In-video quizzing involves inserting questions into pre-existing videos to periodically check the viewer’s understanding of what is being presented and/or as a more formal approach to assessment using video as the medium. Moreover, integrating quiz questions into videos is a way of creating more interaction between the typically passive viewer and the material, making for a more engaging experience. There are more and more tools appearing on the market that allow this functionality.
One tool that allows free use of their software with only a few features locked for premium subscription users is Zaption. With a free account, you can:
- Watch as many video lessons as you like
- Create your own video lessons using 6 interactive elements with a single video
- Share lessons with your students and colleagues
- Track viewer progress and responses with built-in analytics
- Copy and edit ready-to-use video lessons from the Zaption Gallery
As implied, there are other features available if you become a paying customer including LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) integration into Blackboard, but the free tools allow you to experiment quite a bit. Zaption’s Web-based service requires no installation and their interface is friendly and easy to use. A handful of BU faculty have begun to use Zaption in their online courses, but it is clear that it can be used in any course where students will be asked to watch video content outside of class. In-video quizzing can be a great way to capture students’ feedback or level of understanding of material presented in video form.
Students (and other users) can now make their Digication ePortfolios available to users outside of Boston University without worrying about privacy, by adding password protection. For example, if they wish to have different portfolios tailored to different kinds of employers, they can set up multiple portfolios, and provide each employer with the password for a different one. To use password protection: go to the Portfolio Tools/Settings page; set the portfolio’s Permissions to Public and check the box underneath it labelled Require password for access; enter a password, scroll to the bottom and press Save.
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
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.
If you’re curious about ePortfolios and would like to learn more about the uses they can have in your classrooms, or you’d just like to get some hands-on tips about how to put them together, then check out our brand-new resource: the portfolio about portfolios. This site is an ePortfolio just like the ones you can create, but full of helpful information about why ePortfolios can help your classes and how you can put portfolios together. It also includes detailed help on the Digication system’s newer and more advanced features, like the Organizer and Courses. Have a look!