The Center for Online and Distance Learning is a new entity here at UTC. Our goal is to expand online and distance class offerings, as well as present entire programs online. In addition to Blackboard, UTC CODL is experimenting with a couple of different technologies to help faculty deliver courses online. One of the most promising is called Mediasite.
Mediasite is a lecture capture technology that records a presenter’s video with audio and the content that they are presenting, and combines them into one presentation. This content can be streamed live or can be recorded and stored so students can access the content on-demand. Mediasite also offers a level of interactivity where students can ask questions, answer polls, or visit links that the instructor has prepared beforehand. If faculty are concerned about intellectual property, the presentations can be protected behind a login so only those enrolled in the class or otherwise granted access can view the content.
Mediasite is ideal for other applications as well, such as live-streaming of events on campus, including Commencement. Some examples of how we have used it here at UTC can be found here. Appropriate for the political season that we are in, Mediasite was used recently by Marquette University to inform voters of the results of a voter attitude poll that was conducted on campus and has been used many times in the past to stream other political discussions and events.
In the near future, Mediasite will be releasing a desktop recorderversion that will enable faculty to record from their work computers, home computers, or while they are teaching a live class.
It is certain the lecture capture and video will be an increasing part of higher education in the years to come. Do you think lecture capture or video could be a part of your classroom? In what ways could it expand or reinforce your teaching? Not sure? Check out this upcoming webinar for some ideas.
The Center for Online and Distance Learning offered its first Blackboard Course Development: Teaching Online Boot Camp this October. The two-week workshop was designed as a crash course in teaching online at UTC and was presented in a hybrid format (workshop materials and interactions took place online and special topics were addressed in two face-to-face meetings).
Instructors from departments all over campus quickly filled up all available spots in the workshop; all hoping to explore the possibility of taking their course online. Five instructors completed the workshop. which focused on methods and best practices for teaching online. Participating instructors were students in this Blackboard workshop, giving them first-hand experience with being an online student and the use of Blackboard’s various learning and engagement tools.
Participant Survival Guide:
Set aside 2 hours every day (Monday-Friday) to participate in the workshop
If you are not familiar with Blackboards tools – accessing content, submitting assignments, participating discussions, and blogging – you may need more time to work through the tutorials in the course
Read all discussion board posts and respond to your colleagues 2-4 times throughout the week
Visit the faculty developers in the Walker Center for Teaching and Learning (401 Hunter Hall). Training and troubleshooting available Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Lessons Learned (workshop adjustments):
Possibly spread the workshop over a month?
Possibly schedule department specific sessions? Would allow for specific curriculum discussions.
Schedule open lab sessions in addition to face-to-face meetings to support Blackboard training needs and troubleshooting
We would love your feedback! Are two-weeks too short and/or too intense? Would a month with more flexibility in participation be better or is a month too long? What do you think of the hybrid format? What topics are of interest to you?
Interested in participating in the next Boot Camp? Sign-up for January’s session here.
So it’s that time of year again and all of your students have begun to ask you what their grades are in your course. Want to avoid the flood of emails coming through? Go ahead and check out what grade information your students can see…. from their point of view.
You are in control of what Grade Center data is released to your students. First make sure My Grades is not hidden to students, by clicking on the chevron button and selecting Show Link.
Next, enter your Grade Center and check to see if each of your grade columns permits students to view the grade. To do this, use the chevron button next to the grade column and click Edit Column Information. Scroll down to 3. Options and make sure Show this Column to Students is set to Yes.
Take it one step further and use your Test Student to view My Grades from a student’s perspective.
(Control Panel > Course Tools > Add a Test Student)
You can also update your Test Student password if you have forgotten the Test Student’s unique password.
*Note that the Test Student ID is the same as your UTC ID with “_s” added to the end.
This fall and winter the Center for Online/Distance Learning is offering two opportunities to explore teaching and learning online in an intensive 2 week hybrid* workshop. This workshop will prepare participants to supplement their face-to-face course with online interactions and activities or design an online course. Workshop participants will test their readiness for online instruction, explore best practices in online teaching, and unpack how to create content, interaction and assessments for delivery online.
*Workshop participants will meet in-person 2 times in addition to completing activities online. Course requires approximately 16 hours total (2 hours are face-to-face along with optional face-to-face lab time). The group will meet face-to-face during the second week. Specific dates and times for face-to-face meetings will be determined by participant availability.
It is a new semester and a new start for both you and your students. While designing your online class, it is easy to get distracted by creating your syllabus, posting lecture notes, and everything else that comes along with online learning, but don’t forget the basics of welcoming your students to the class! The welcome message is the first thing students will see upon entering the class. This message will not only welcome them, but it will also act as a helpful resource in navigating the course. For this reason, as well as to avoid having the message get lost in a sea of emails, it is more beneficial to have this message appear in the course, itself as an announcement or item. Whether it is a freshman with little online learning experience or a senior with a bit more experience, more than likely this particular class is new to them and the welcome message will be their first impression of the course…make it count.
The welcome message should be informal, warm, and friendly. This message will also act as a guide for what will be expected in the course. With this in mind, the language and tone of the message should also reflect the formality of the course. The content should include information about you (the instructor), what the course will be about, and what will be expected from both you and the students throughout the course. A suggested technique to incorporate in your welcome message is to ask an open-ended question to help urge students to start a discussion (Winograd, 2002). A course café discussion forum is an easy way for students to have an open dialogue throughout the semester.
Use a welcome message to welcome your students to the course.
It should reflect the formality and expectations of the course (it can also be used for help with navigation throughout the online environment course).
Try to keep it light and friendly
Use an open-ended question to help spark a dialogue with and/or between the students.
Winograd, D. (2002). Guidelines for moderating online educational computer conferences. TechTrends , 46 (5), 53-57.
Build Content >File is an easy way to add content to your course. Files may include Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, or PDF documents. A more detailed explanation of how to add these documents can be found here.
When using Build Content > File, there is an option to have the attached file open in a new window. Always use the option to Open in New Window.
If you choose to not open in a new window, an install plugin message will appear on the screen when the students try to open the file. This plugin is not currently available and the students will have a difficult time opening the file.
Choosing to open the files in a new window should help save you and your students’ time by avoiding unnecessary steps while trying to access the content of the course.
If you are interested in a more detailed tutorial of how to add a file in a content area, click here and choose from one of the various PDFs on building content.
Walker Teaching Resource Center
I am so excited to be able to welcome you to Fall 2012 at UTC. It’s a new year full of excitement, expectation, fresh faces (mine included), and a new twist on online and distance learning for UTC with the new Center for Online and Distance Learning. We are in full swing and ready to support you with your online and distance learning endeavors.
For faculty, the Center for Online and Distance Learning is your one-stop shop for all of your online and distance learning needs including the administration, training and support for lecture capture, videoconferencing, Blackboard and UTC Online. In addition to enhancing your technical skills associated with teaching at a distance, we can assist you with pedagogy and best practices for distance learning.
The Center for Online and Distance Learning is here and ready to assist you. Here’s how to find us:
We’ve arrived at the end of the semester. Let the mad dash to the semester finish line begin! Over the next few days many exams will be given and many final grades will be recorded. If you are considering giving your final exam in UTC Online (Blackboard) below are some practices and test settings to consider before exam day.
Creating a test:
Use Questions Sets and Blocks to randomize exam questions from student to student.
Create questions that require students to use higher order thinking skills (evaluation, analysis, application).
Deploy a test: (test settings and options)
Make the exam available and use Display After and Until to make the exam available to students
Use the Timer and Auto Submit to keep students honest. In exams with one attempt and Timer and Auto Submit turned on, students will have a set time to complete the test. The student can log-out or loose their connection and the timer will continue to count down. The student can log back in and start their exam from where they left off. Auto Submit will automatically submit the student’s attempt when the timer runs out.
Display questions All at Once. This setting will limit the possibility of students using their browser navigation tools, which can cause problems. However, keep exams short. Consider breaking longer exams into two shorter tests. Create a separate test for essays.
Avoid using Force Submit and Prohibit Backtracking settings.
Following the above recommendations will help faculty avoid the pitfalls of online testing. You can find additional information and recommendations on Ian’s Blackboard Blog.
Have you had success with online exams? What practices and policies have worked for you? Please share your experience in the comments below.
Senior Instructional Designer
Center for Online/Distance Learning
423.425.5677 | email
Starting Monday you may notice a security warning in UTC Online (Blackboard) when you attempt to access certain materials or tools. This warning is due to an expired Java certificate. Please follow the steps below to resolve the user issue.
When the security warning appears, check “Always trust content from this publisher” and then Run.
The UTC Online support team will apply patches to the Blackboard system later this month, which will renew the Java certificate system wide. In the mean time, following the steps above poses no security threat to your computer and will stop the security warning pop-ups.
Getting bored with the same look of your online class? Spice things up by adding a customized banner to your course!
How do I create the banner? Though there is no required size or shape for a banner, keep in mind that different sized monitors will display it differently. A banner that fills the whole screen on a large monitor, may not fully display on a smaller monitor. Generally, a good shape to make your banner is a long rectangle that will fill the space above your course’s landing page (the banner will only appear on the landing page). You can create your own photo, or you can use an image offline and add text to it by using Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, or a more advanced image-editing program.
Check out this video on how to upload a Blackboard banner into Blackboard.
How do I upload the banner? Once you have created and saved your image, click on the Customization in the Control Panel of your course. From the list of options that appear, select Style. This area allows you to customize the color, buttons, and entry point of your course as well as add a banner. Scroll down toward the bottom of the page where there is an option to select or add a banner, click Browse My Computer, locate your saved image, and click ok. If it has uploaded properly, the image should appear on the page. If you are satisfied with your banner, click Submit. Be sure to return to your landing page to make sure you are satisfied with your banners appearance. You always have the option of enlarging or shrinking your photo and re-uploading it.
Walker Teaching Resource Center