As of March 1st, ETTO has completed its evaluation of a course assessment vendor that was used for the Fall 2015 semester. A full review of the service and input from the end users has been gathered and analyzed. The pilot involved the College of Arts and Sciences (BU’s largest college), the School of Education, School of Social Work, and the School of Law.
Unfortunately, there were many issues in the proliferation of data and the GUI interface with this particular vendor. The layout and menus were not easy to use, and much of the end user feedback complained of difficulties in setting up courses, question sets, and other relevant data to be evaluated. The process of setting up custom questions for specific courses was difficult to the point in which many in the pilot abandoned this aspect of the system. From an administrative perspective, users found the back-end of the system difficult to use as well, and the options and functionalities considered to be vital were not useful or functional.
While the pilot in Fall 2015 was well supported by the vendor, the decision has been made to use a different vendor for the Spring 2016 Online Course evaluation pilot. Implementation is ongoing and data is currently being gathered to populate the application. First impressions look promising, as the GUI seems to be laid out in a more user-friendly format and there are more administrative options that we have been looking for in an evaluation suite.
The study of primary texts serves as a cornerstone of humanities scholarship and coursework. In the field of humanities computing, the ability to mark up and annotate e-texts has provided insights into such texts and their interpretation by an individual or a community, whether in a research cohort or an introductory course in the arts and sciences curriculum.
In the Geddes Language Center, we have been experimenting with a social reading tool called eComma . The added value for humanities and other courses is that eComma permits multiple users to insert comments, view other people’s comments, and create a shared database of tags that provide added layers of interpretive information for all readers without changing or altering the original text. eComma was created by Professor Sam Baker and a team of graduate students from the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin with support from an NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant.
Below is a screen shot of a chapter from a novel by contemporary German writer Olga Grjasnowa showing how students and the instructor added tags to grammatically similar lexica. Another view of the comments feature is at the end of this post.
Starting in the Spring 2016 semester, the Learning Management Systems team in IS&T have provided BU Blackboard Learn users with an integration for eComma.
Last week, BU faculty and staff should have received an announcement from IS&T highlighting upcoming instructor-led training opportunities, as well as links to supplemental training resources. We also want to remind you about customized group training and consulting that is available for most services. Important items to note from last week’s email include training on Basic Video Editing, which is now being offered on the Medical Campus, as well as Skype for Business/Lync training, which can come in handy if you want to communicate with your students during the winter months (stay tuned for an update on this). As mentioned in my last post, Microsoft Excel 2013 training is available, along with one session of introductory PowerPoint 2013 training. In other exciting news, we are now offering intermediate/advanced Level 2 WordPress training in addition to Level 1 training. Also, please be sure to check out the TechWeb page announcing Instructional Video Consulting Services for faculty! Happy learning!