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.
Over the last few weeks the Boston University Libraries have been evaluating a tool, free to the BU community, for creating, writing, and editing data management plans called the DMPTool. As many of you might be aware data management plans are increasingly required from funding agencies and institutions. However, what is included in a data management plan often varies from funder to funder, which can make writing them a bit of a headache. The DMPTool is one solution to this problem.
Created by the California Digital Library the DMPTool allows you to:
- collaboratively write data management plans
- find templates from numerous funders
- find public data management plans for reviewing
- obtain assistance and get feedback on writing a data management plan
- find data management resources and tips
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.
Many of you will remember Eldon Strickland, who served at BU as an Associate Director in the Office of Distance Education, as well as an advisor for centers such as CADER, CFLP and other units. Eldon attended many of our Ed Tech Collective meetings while he worked at Boston University.
Today we can congratulate him to his successful defense of his dissertation, which he accomplished on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at BU’s School of Education. In his dissertation entitled “The Effect of Teacher Self-Disclosure on Student Motivation and Affect Toward Teacher in Online Education” he examines the effect of TSD and comes to some interesting conclusions.
Hopefully we will soon be able to point to a published article based on his work and invite him to our Ed Tech Collective to share his findings. Overall the importance of student-teacher engagement as one of the pillars for successfully motivating students is highlighted, as well as the need for us – as Educational Technologists – to support and educate our faculty in leveraging the technologies and tools we have at our disposal to achieve this beneficial level of engagement.
BU’s former Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching (CEIT) is back with a new name – the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) – and a new Director, Matthew Trevett-Smith. As well as a PhD in cultural anthropology and significant teaching experience, Dr. Trevett-Smith brings with him a long background in engaging students with technology. We hope you will join us in welcoming him to campus, and have a look at the newly revised CTL website.
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.
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!
Lucidchart, a free online software package for diagramming, is now available at BU in its enhanced educational version. Lucidchart is an easy way to draw flowcharts, mind maps and many other kinds of diagrams. It is comparable to Microsoft Visio, but unlike Visio it is cloud-based and cross-platform, and therefore an excellent solution for Mac users. The educational version allows advanced features not available to the general public, including Visio import/export and additional libraries of shapes. Lucidchart is integrated with BU’s Google Apps installation to make it easy to log into Lucidchart with your BU Google account and integrate with your BU Google Drive. TechWeb has a quick overview of Lucidchart and instructions on getting started.
IS&T has partnered with our preferred training vendor, New Horizons, to offer three levels of Microsoft Office 2013 Excel classes this semester (Windows only)! Classes are available to BU faculty and staff for a fee of $75 per person, per class; this fee is due to the high cost of training (typically, an individual would pay $688 to attend a New Horizons Excel class).
It is recommended that you visit TechWeb before registering to review important information, including syllabi, so you know which training is right for you: http://www.bu.edu/tech/about/training/online/documentation/excel-2013-training/. (New Horizons is also also offering an Introduction to PowerPoint 2013 training this semester; we may add a two-part Access training – updates will be posted here.)
Once you have reviewed the syllabi, cancellation policy, and payment information, please visit http://www.bu.edu/tech/about/training/ to sign up for training; sessions begin in late February and continue through May. Sessions may be added throughout the semester based on demand. Happy Excel’ing!