Guest Post: How to Deepen Online Dialog (Rebecca Zambrano, Faculty Focus)

Many faculty members express concern that discussion in their online courses is shallow or sparse. What is it that makes meaningful dialogue so elusive in online courses? Some practices in online course design and discussion facilitation can actually encourage superficial dialogue. Faculty grading and feedback that require too much formality of language can scare students into virtual silence, sticking to exactly what the text says or saying what they think the professor wants to hear. Focusing on lower-level writing issues, such as grammar, APA style, or academic language, takes students away from content issues toward format issues. Although faculty might expect students to use formal academic language in their essays and research papers, it is not ideal for discussion. (Summary from UPCEA blog).

Read the full post here. 

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ApprenNet. Incorporate interactive video posts into your class.

If you are looking for an alternative to text-based discussion boards, for a way to build community in an online course, or want to improve student’s presentation skills, ApprenNet may be for you!

Questions? Contact DEIT at 610-282-1100 x2290 or deit@desales.edu. Or check out the resources in the DEIT Faculty Community in Blackboard.

To view a recording of an online training session on ApprenNet led by DEIT Director and ApprenNet user Eric Hagan, click on the graphic below or this link

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One Button Studio Demo, 2/21 4 to 5 pm and 2/24 10 am

Join DEIT at Trexler Library for a demonstration of the One Button Studio!

The One Button Studio is a self-service, high-quality video recording studio located on the upper level of the Trexler Library. The studio can be used to by instructors to create video content for use in courses, or by students to record presentations as an assignment. It’s a good way to record lecture material for instructors that prefer to stand up when they speak, as opposed to sitting at their desk. The audio and video quality in the One Button Studio is better than you will get using a webcam in a classroom.

The One Button Studio has green screen and PowerPoint projection capabilities. It is very user-friendly for those that like to keep it simple, but there is also a lot for a creative person to work with. DEIT can help with some light video editing, by hosting your final product on a streaming media server for easy viewing, and by helping you put your video into Blackboard.

The One Button Studio demos will be taking place on Wednesday, 2/21 at 4 pm and Saturday, 2/24 at 10 am. To sign up click here!

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Improving your course’s look and feel

Part of the design of Blackboard courses should include a consideration of the visual nature of the material. There are several things that can be done to improve the way a course looks.

Picture formatting

When putting images into Blackboard, not only should an image description be added for accessibility purposes, but an image’s placement and appearance can be controlled.

On the Appearance tab, a sample thumbnail shows how your choices will appear.Appearance menu

  • Setting the Alignment helps control the location of the picture. The most common options are Left and Right.
  • Selecting the check box for Constrain Proportions and changing the dimensions, the image is resized without horizontal or vertical distortion.
  • Adding a value for Vertical Space moves the picture up or down in relation to the text. Adding vertical space can help center a picture on the screen.
  • Adding a value for Horizontal Space moves the picture left or right.

If you want your image to appear right or left of a block of text, type your text in the editor first. Then, move your cursor to the beginning of the text and insert your image there. After you add your image in the General tab, move to the Appearance tab to choose your alignment, dimensions, and space around the image.

Using tables to control text

Either in relation to pictures or on its own, the use of tables can add clarity to the text in a course. To begin, use the Insert/Edit table button to add a table.

Table screenshot

 

Each row, and cell can be controlled. For example, using the Table Row Properties button  will allow a background color to be added and the text color changed to one or more rows. The Table Cell Properties button  will do the same for any cell currently selected within a table.

Hint: using a table is also a good way to offset text. Add a table with two columns and one row. Placing all the text in one column while adding a few spaces into the other column can add white space to an item in Blackboard. Ex:

Example of whitespace

 

Add space to list items

Content of ordered and unordered lists can be modified by:

  1. Selecting the text in the list
  2. Clicking in the CSS button in the toolbar
  3. Switching to the Box menu
  4. Deselect the “Same for All” checkbox on the right-side list, and entering a value in the Bottom A value of 4-6 pixels work best.
  5. Deselect the checkbox for “Insert span at selection”
  6. Click on the Update button

Adding space can have a subtle but powerful effect on the ability to read the text.

Bullet spacing

 

 

 

Printable version of this guide

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Collaborate with the Ultra experience February 2018 Update

Starting Sunday, February 4th, 2018, Collaborate Ultra is receiving some improvements focused on digital collaboration. There are four main changes:

  • Phone only dial-in
  • Edit recording names
  • Single menu for settings, feedback and status
  • Application sharing bandwidth improvements

Phone only dial-in

With phone only dial-in, students will once again have the ability to dial into a session without first connecting to a session using a web browser or the Collaborate app. Session dial-in numbers will be available as soon as a session is created so students can be notified via email, course announcement, or calendar entry details.

Screen shot of session creation form with dial-in number & PIN

The dial-in number and PIN also appear on the session list after a session is selected.

Note: dial-in information will not be available to students until a session is active. Faculty can locate the dial-in number and PIN by looking at a session’s settings:

Screenshot of session options screen

This new dial-in option is anonymous. When you use Anonymous dial-in, your phone is not paired with your account or session avatar. You appear in the session as an anonymous caller to other attendees.

Edit recording names

Give your recordings a new name. Access Recordings from your scheduler. Find the recording you want to edit. Open the Recording options and select Edit name.

The recording name always begins with the session name. Edits to the name change the text after the backslash (/) only.

Single menu for your settings, feedback, and status

See what your network connection is at-a-glance. If your connection is poor or broken, you see an alert associated with your profile picture. You see one bar for a poor connection, three for good, and four for excellent.

Application sharing bandwidth improvements

Previously, when the browser reported a drop in available bandwidth, Collaborate would continue to prioritize the audio stream and send a lower quality application sharing stream, resulting in a blurry screen for the viewer. This usually lasted a few seconds, until the browser reported more available bandwidth. This was happening more frequently than true network capacity indicated. Now, we use additional measurements for a more accurate picture of network conditions, which greatly reduces the frequency of the blurry moments.

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New Workshop! Improving Your Course’s Look and Feel- Monday, 2/5

Visual aids have long been a staple of instruction. This workshop will cover how a course’s visual look and feel can be improved to enhance student interest, engagement, and learning. Topics include the use and formatting of pictures, using tables to move text, and even a bit of CSS code knowledge.

This workshop will take place on Monday, 2/5 at 7 pm (online). To register click here!

Questions? Contact DEIT at deit@desales.edu or 610-282-1100 x2290

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Bb Grade Center Workshops January 24 – Choose 3 pm in Dooling 40 or 7 pm online

“Should I use weighted categories or points?” “Should I weight columns ‘equally’ or ‘proportionally’?” “How can I add an extra credit item?” “How can I automatically bring grades from publisher online sites and other third-parties into Blackboard?” “How can I add new grading categories?”

These questions and more will be answered at DEIT’s upcoming training workshops on the Blackboard Grade Center on Wednesday, January 24.

Two options are available (registration appreciated at www.desales.edu/workshops):

If you have questions or topics you’d like to be addressed at the session, contact DEIT at 610-282-1100, ext. 2290 or deit@desales.edu.

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Harness the Power of Emotions to Help Your Students Learn (Guest Post, Flower Darby, Faculty Focus)

In a post for Faculty Focus, instructional designer Flower Darby from Northern Arizona University describes the power of emotions in learning. An excerpt:

We connect, understand, and remember things much more deeply when our emotions are involved. Just think about the impact of seeing a photo of a wounded refugee child, as opposed to reading a fact-filled analysis of the crisis itself.

So, if emotions have this much ability to affect our understanding, why try to keep them out of our classrooms? It just doesn’t make sense.

Read the full post, including a reference to a book-length treatment of the subject at https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/harness-power-emotions-help-students-learn/.

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Synchronous Online Classes: 10 Tips for Engaging Students (Guest Post by Marie Norman, Faculty Focus)

If your online course holds synchronous (live) sessions, here’s how to increase engagement, participation, and accountability. And the video the article links to at the beginning is hilarious!

See the full post here.

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January 2018 Workshops

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