Archive for the ‘Course Quality’ Category

What’s New in Blackboard?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

As you have been notified, Blackboard will be down on August 1 for an upgrade. Some miscellaneous issues have been resolved and a few important new features have been added.

View a list of new features in Blackboard (available after August 1).

Don’t forget to review your courses before they launch to ensure that they are ready for the new semester.  The Department of Distance Learning provides an interactive checklist to help you review your courses:

Course Readiness Checklist (pdf)

If you would like to receive DL news updates (generally just one or two each month), visit the there are two options:

Enjoy the remainder of your summer. We’ll see you in the fall!

Summer Courses: First week check-up

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

As the first week of classes is quickly approaching, I wanted to send a few reminders:

About the Technology

About the Pedagogy

  • The DL Course Development page offers resources to help you develop quality online courses.
  • Contact Liz Stover if you would like assistance developing your online courses or locating resources to help deliver rich, interactive content.

New Items and Fun Stuff

  • Create a Banner for Your Blackboard Course
    Learn how to easily create a banner for your course using a free web-based image editor, Pixlr.
  • Since CFCC now uses Gmail through the new portal, this also provides you with access to Google docs and YouTube (where you can post lectures and instructional multimedia), in addition to a number of other useful tools for your courses.  Access these through My.CFCC.edu and click the Email link, which takes you the CFCC gmail, documents, etc.

Are You Having Issues with Your Blackboard Course?

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

As we slowly approach the summer and fall semesters, please make note of some important resources available for building your online and Internet courses:

Have a great summer!

Spring Cleaning: Reminders and Updates

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Don’t let your students be the ones to notice problems in your online courses.  As you are making copies and revisions for summer and fall, here are some reminders and new items to consider:

  • Since CFCC is moving to the new portal (My.CFCC.edu) , remove references in your course to Campus Cruiser, including in the contingency plan.
  • Do NOT use update Internet Explorer to version 9 yet, since Blackboard does not support it; doing so could result in display and functionality issues. Use Firefox or IE 8 instead.
  • Review the “Preparing your summer and fall courses” post to help ensure that your courses are ready for the first day of class.
  • If copying and pasting from a Word document, use the Paste from Word tool to remove excessive code that results display problems in some browsers.
  • There are some lingering minor issues in Bb. For a list of these issues and work arounds or solutions, view the Blackboard Issues and Solutions document (pdf).

In addition to the items mentioned above, don’t forget about professional development opportunities from the Department of Distance Learning.  In addition to Blackboard training, we offer workshops on course quality and eLearning applications.

If you would like to schedule a meeting with the DL instructional technologist to assist with course development, please contact Liz Stover at lstover@cfcc.edu or x7722.

You might also check out training from the LRC, where you can learn about exciting tools for your traditional and online courses.

Preparing your summer and fall courses.

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Many of you are now building your summer and fall courses.  First, you must determine how will build or copy course content.  
Learn about your options for adding content to your course shell.

The following documents will help you determine if your courses are ready for the first day of class. Items include content, design, and support items. The first document, the Course Readiness Checklist, provides you with an interactive form to help you document the status of your course(s). The other documents support the Course Readiness Checklist.

  • Use the Course Readiness Checklist (pdf) to help ensure that your course is ready to launch.
  • Check the Grade Center to ensure that all activities were copied and are correct; that the correct grading schema is being used; and that items are correctly categorized. Refer to Grade Center Check document (pdf).
  • If you are revising your course, consult the CFCC course essentials checklist (doc).This document identifies 25 standards that should be addressed in online courses. You can use the rubric (doc) with these standards if you want to take notes as you review your course.

If you would like to sign up for distance learning training, please refer to our training schedule.

If you would like instructional design assistance for your hybrid or Internet course, please contact the DL Instructional Technologist, Liz Stover at lstover@cfcc.edu.

Online Courses and Copyright

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Can I post this video online? Can I scan chapters of the textbook so students can view them from Blackboard? These are some of the questions I receive related to copyright and fair use. Sometimes, the answers are not cut and dry when deciding if and how much of a work can legally be used in an online course. Some of the rules differ from a face-to-face class.

Here are a few resources at CFCC to help you determine how and when you can use certain works:

Briefly, here are six steps you can follow (move to the next step if the answer is “no”):

  1. Does your school own a license for the material?
  2. Is the material in public domain?
  3. Does the material hold a Creative Commons license?
  4. Is your use covered by TEACH Act?
  5. Will your use likely be covered under Fair Use?
  6. Can you obtain permission from the copyright holder?

Please note that the library does own a license for many resources, so this is a good place to start. The license will control how to use the materials.

If you would like a brief introduction to copyright basics, view this short Copyright Basics Video from the Copyright Clearance Center.

Are Your Courses Ready For Spring 2011?

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Instructors are likely in the process of building courses at this time, in preparation for the spring 2011 semester.  The following documents will help you determine if your courses are ready for the first day of class. Items include content, design, and support items. The first document, the Course Readiness Checklist, provides you with an interactive form to help you document the status of your course(s). The other documents support the Course Readiness Checklist.

  • Use the Course Readiness Checklist (pdf) to help ensure that your course is ready to launch.
  • Check the Grade Center to ensure that all activities were copied and are correct; that the correct grading schema is being used; and that items are correctly categorized. Refer to Grade Center Check document (pdf).
  • If you are revising your course, consult the CFCC course essentials checklist (doc).This document identifies 25 standards that should be addressed in online courses. You can use the rubric (doc) with these standards if you want to take notes as you review your course.

If you have any questions, please contact the DL Instructional Technologist, Liz Stover at lstover@cfcc.edu.

Have a great holiday season!

-Liz

Prepare Your Spring Course

Monday, November 1st, 2010

It’s that time of the semester when you should be preparing your Spring 2011 courses. Below are a few reminders and tips:

  • Use Course Copy to copy previous courses into your new course shell.
  • Please make sure you do not copy items more than once.
  • Make sure you include an Enrollment Verification discussion thread, which will be used to verify a student’s participation by the census date.
  • Take a look at the Course Essentials Checklist and rubric to ensure that your courses meet these standards. The Department of Distance Learning offers an online resource for this, Best Practices for Teaching Online, and Course Essentials workshops to help you apply these standards. See Module 4 in the Bb101 course in Blackboard for instructions on self-enrolling in the Best Practices course. Refer to the DL Training Schedule for upcoming workshops.
  • Remove all discussion posts by students from the previous semester.
  • Remove old announcements.
  • Check the Grade Center to ensure that all graded items are included.
  • Check links in the course to ensure that they work properly (includes internal and external links).
  • Review content for validity.
  • Build into your course reminders to students about the Blackboard Student Tutorial and Distance Learning Basics manual.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Department of Distance Learning if you have questions or need assistance.

Strategies for Decreasing Plagiarism and Cheating

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

The following passage about plagiarism and cheating was taken from DL’s course in development,  Best Practices for Online Courses:

Instructors are frequently concerned about cheating and plagiarism when developing course activities. This is another good reason to provide a variety of assessment types in your course. If your entire assessment relies on a series of multiple choice quizzes, expect that copies exist. There is no surefire way to prevent copying of a quiz so your best defense is to create assessments where cheating and plagiarism are difficult to carry out.

Papers can also be obtained through paper mills, former students, etc. This is especially true for general topics and for assignments that have been used many times. This is where we will start discussing specific ways to minimize cheating and plagiarism.

First, clearly state your college’s academic dishonesty policy in the syllabus. The CFCC Academic Dishonesty policy can be viewed in the Student Handbook section of the CFCC Course Catalog. Students should know what constitutes plagiarism and cheating and that they are taken seriously. You might include a question about this topic in your course’s icebreaker assignment. Also, sometimes students plagiarize because they do not know how to properly pararphrase or cite sources. Make sure you provide students with writing resources. For example, if you require that students submit essays with APA Style formatting, provide them with links to the current APA Style Manual or online tutorials.

In addition to stating your school’s policy and offering writing guidance, there are a number of things you can do when designing activities to decrease the possibility of cheating and plagiarism. Below are some suggestions to help you create such activities:

  • Recent references:
    Require that at least some references not be more than a year or two old or tie in the assignment to current events.
  • Specific references:
    Require that students use some references from specific sources, such as resources used in the course or articles from the school library.
  • Submit work in stages:
    When assigning large projects or papers, consider having students submit this in stages. For instance, you might have students first submit a summary or outline of their project, then a rough draft that will be revised before submitting a final product.
  • Personal:
    Make at least part of the assignment personal by including a component such as an interview, personal experience, etc. or use project-based assignments. Adding a personal component to assignments will also motivate students.
  • Presentations:
    Require that students present their paper or project and defend their position, design, etc. Presentations can be conducted by using presentation software (such as PowerPoint with or without audio) or other multimedia applications such as Camtasia or Screencast-O-Matic. Discussion about presentations can be conducted in the discussion forum of the course.

You can learn more about these strategies and others by reading Arthur Sterngold’s article, “Confronting Plagiarism: How Conventional Teaching Invites Cyber-Cheating”, available through NCLIVE.

Best Practices for Quizzes and Tests

Monday, January 25th, 2010

A number of instructors have expressed concern that students have had difficulty with quiz and test-taking in Blackboard. Of course, you should always provide a variety of assessments in your courses, but there are a few things you can do to decrease problems with Blackboard tests:

  • Limit the time for quizzes to no more than one hour. This will decrease the possibility of the system timing out and intermittent connectivity problems that result in the test getting locked.
  • If your test material requires more than one hour, divide it into sections (such as multiple choice and essay, part A and Part B, etc.).
  • Include detailed instructions with the quiz link so students can read them before actually starting the quiz. This will decrease stress and students will not have to spend quiz time reading instructions. They will also know what to expect before entering the test. You should include: how many questions, how many points possible, how much time is allowed for completion, and general instructions.
  • Unless there is a compelling reason to use the Test tool for essays (e.g. you want the assessment to be timed), it is best to set these items up with the assignment tool. This also allows you to download the file, do any markup, and upload with your assignment feedback.
  • Advise students of a few important guidelines:
    • Read the information on the Blackboard login page regarding browser issues.
    • Close all windows on the computer and then launch a new window to login to the learning management system.
    • Close other applications before taking the quiz/test (including chat programs).
    • If there is a specific start time for the test, login 10-15 minutes early to test the connection.
    • After opening the test, scroll to the bottom of the page to be sure the Save and Submit buttons are available.
    • Do NOT click “Submit” until you have completed the exam.
    • Do NOT use any of the browser navigation buttons (i.e. Back, Forward, Home, etc.) during the quiz/test.
    • Do NOT leave the assessment page without completing the assessment and clicking the “Submit” button at the end (if it is a forced completion test).
    • Do NOT click the Refresh or Reload buttons in your browser while taking the quiz/test.
    • Do NOT open other browser windows or applications while taking a CFCC quiz/test.
    • Do NOT click on buttons in the Blackboard navigation while taking a quiz/test. 
    • If you are only able to answer one question at a time (questions present themselves on separate pages), make sure you only single-click the “Next” button to move forward.
  • It is usually beneficial to students, especially those who have not taken an online test before, to provide them with a practice quiz  or low-stakes quiz to ensure that students are comfortable with the interface. This can be a simple survey or an icebreaker assignment at the beginning of the course that asks questions about the syllabus and course expectations. This will also let you know if students have read the syllabus and other course information.

If you would like feedback or advice to help you create course assessments or other course content, feel free to contact me at lstover@cfcc.edu or by phone at 910-362-7722 .

Liz Stover
Instructional Technologist

Course Essentials Checklist and Rubric

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Are you looking for guidance in developing your online course? Do you wonder what you should include and how you should organize it to create a high quality learning experience for your students?

The Department of Distance Learning has posted a list of 25 specific standards for developing a quality Internet or Hybrid course (see the Distance Learning Faculty Resource Webpage). After much discussion, the Distance Learning Committee and Distance Learning Department agreed up these items as being critical to creating a quality course.

Please visit with the DL department if you would like assistance implementing these 25 standards:

Larolyn Zylicz
Department Chair of Distance Learning
910.362.7245
lzylicz@cfcc.edu

Liz Stover
Instructional Technologist
910.362.7722
lstover@cfcc.edu

Learning to Teach Online Can Help Instructors Design and Administer Better Classroom-based Courses

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

From Inside Higher Ed, researchers at Purdue University at Calumet paired up experienced online course instructors with faculty who wanted to adapt classroom courses for online delivery and  found that when professors learned to develop and administer distance education courses properly, they also improved their classroom-based course design and delivery.

Read the entire article,  “Learning from Online”, from Inside Higher Ed.