Teaching with Blackboard Review, Examining Plans

November 5, 2010

Over the last month at Palomar I’ve offered the first series of four workshops (a total of 24 hours in-class) using the new version of Blackboard (version 9.1, for those who care about the numbers) which goes live with our Spring 2011 courses.  The first of those workshops was titled “Getting Ready for Day One” and consisted of a comparatively shallow look at many different components in a Blackboard course; a “survey of” type of workshop rather than a more in-depth study of limited numbers of Blackboard course tools as the later three workshops were.

“Getting Ready for Day One” ended with a component I titled “Plan of Attack”, in which I posed a series of questions to the attending faculty in the form of essay questions in a Blackboard test.  The idea behind this was to give faculty a chance to form and articulate some response to issues; to have a plan which could then be adjusted as needed during the development cycle.  (Personally I find it far more reliable to have a plan and modify it as necessary rather than constantly “wing it” without a plan at all.)

I’ll be sending the attendees back their own responses as a reminder soon, but I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the aggregate language of the responses.  One of the best ways I’ve found of doing this is to dump all the data into a Wordle and see what the resulting cloud of words looks like.  (Click the image to see a larger view.)

A Wordle created from the responses from a faculty training workshop.

For those interested, the actual text of the questions is listed below:

  1. Will you use Announcements?  If so, how often do you expect students to check for updated announcements in your course?
  2. Will you be using the Send Email tool within Blackboard?  If so, how long should your students expect it may take before getting a response from you to their messages?  How long do you expect it will take before students respond to your messages?
  3. Will you be using Tests in Blackboard, either for actual testing or for tutorial functions?  If so, do you plan to use any essay questions, or other question types that require manual grading?  If so, how long should students expect before seeing those questions graded?
  4. Do you plan to use the Wimba Voice Authoring tool to record messages for your students?  If so, what sort of messages do you plan to leave for your students to play back?
  5. Do you plan to have your students submit files to you using the Assignment tool?  If so, what sort of file types will you accept from your students?  (i.e. Word documents, PDF documents, Plain Text files, Rich Text Format files)
  6. Do you plan to distribute files to your students from within Blackboard?  If so, what sort of file formats do you plan to distribute?  (i.e. Word documents, PDF documents, Plain Text files, Rich Text Format files)
  7. Will you be using the Grade Center to post student grades?  If not, why?  If so, do you plan to only post grades from manually graded assignments, or do you plan to use some of the grade-enabled tools in Blackboard such as Tests, Discussion Boards and the Assignment tool?
  8. Will you be using the Discussion Board tool in your class?  If so, what purposes do you hope to achieve using this tool?  Do you expect to ever use the Anonymous post option, and if so, what sorts of topics do you think it appropriate for?  Do you expect to ever use the Grade function and assign points based on Discussion Board posts?
  9. Will you post information about the class up in a single syllabus, or broken into different pieces?  Why?
  10. When you post your contact information, which methods of contact will you include?  (i.e. Email address, college phone extension, cell phone number, office location and hours, Instant Messenger details, Twitter username)  Which forms of contact do you find most effective?  Which forms of contact do you prefer to use?
  11. Do you plan to post the Student Learning Outcomes designated for your class in your course site?  Why, or why not?
  12. What sort of organizational structure do you plan to use in your Blackboard course?  (i.e. By chapter, by week, by topic)  Why do you plan to use this structure, and how do you plan to explain this structure to your students?  Do you plan to reflect this structure primarily inside of a single content area, or by using multiple entries on the Course Menu?
  13. If a student doesn’t know what to do in your class, how would they go about getting their questions answered?  How are you informing students of this?  (i.e. written in syllabus, talked about in class)