Here’s the question … has anyone designed a Blackboard course purely from the perspective of working from the Mobile Learn App?
In my very unscientific approach I have seen differences between content I have loaded to a Blackboard (Bb) course and how it is displayed in the browser and in the App, but I’ve not seen what a Bb course looks like if it’s been designed purely for access and interactions through the App. Here’s why i’m asking:
I suspect that no one has built one yet.
I suspect that the course, designed for mobile, would not work well for anyone else.
I suspect that elements like tables and other “customization” approaches (as Bb refers to them) will not work pedagogically when we follow the Bb guide and the “suggest adding these content types as a PDF file”.
Can you create a good ‘design’ that allows for good pedagogy in the restrictions imposed by the App (images, files, layout, screen real-estate, etc.)?
I see plenty of resources that mimic the Bb help pages and resources, but none that actually explain and/or showcase good ‘design’. If you have examples, or links, or screenshots, or reports, or journal articles you can share with the rest of us then please leave them in comments below.
Online discussion boards, and associated activities that use them, can get a bit of a bad name sometimes either through inacitivty or lack of quality posts to abusive or bullying. I admit these are extremes of activity, but none the less still valid concerns for academics who want to try something new or different.
I’ve always tried to advocate the approach of ‘design an activity and then see which tools fits’ rather than ‘an activity written around a discussion board’. The latter implies it’s the tool driving the activity, the former implies the activity or learning outcome is matched to the most appropriate tool.
When setting discussion boards up I’ve always favoured posts being attributed to and identifiable to the person posting it – this helps to build personal relationships based on content and opinions, it also helps to encourage ownership and a responsible online etiquette (netiquette). But what about the option of allowing posts to be anonymous? Does this stop the discussion taking shape or progressing?
The paper, by Roberts and Rajah-Kanagasabai (2013) looks at the anonymity of posts and the ‘comfort’ of students to participate in anonymous discussions over those where they are identified. Continue reading →
I will hold my hands up and say I want an experience of ‘good’ mobile learning.
I know there are (or rather should be, we’ve been talking about it for long enough now) examples out there, but I haven’t ‘seen’ them. I have tried using mobile devices and a browser, I’ve tried Institutional VLEs and downloadable ‘courses’ through iTunes and iTunesU. I’ve tried different Apps (some linked to VLEs and some not) yet none were particularly any good and certainly not good enough to stop me going back to a desktop or laptop PC. I look forward to seeing how FutureLearn works as it is supposed to be developed with the mobile learning at the fore, but do not necessarily want to limit myself to MOOCs, or indeed MOOCs from one provider.
Day two of the Durham Blackboard Users’ Conference started with this extremely useful insight into the roadmap Blackboard is taking with the ‘Learn’ product, as well as Blackboard’s own opinion on the conference theme: “Make Do or Spend?”.
Greg Ritter (@gritter), Director of Product Management with Blackboard Learn, showed Blackboards perspective on ‘the challenges ahead’ and on the conference theme, ‘Make Do or Spend?’. Greg showed us, and discussed:
Blackboard Analytics [product]: extract student data, from both Blackboard and Institution student-records systems, for use in reporting to different stakeholders.
After several years of trying to get the UK Blackboard Users Conference it seems 2013 (and the 13th conference – it’s a teenager!) is my lucky year. The theme for the 13th Annual Durham Blackboard Users’ Conference is ‘Make Do or Spend’ with presentations looking at how colleges and universities are responding to pressure:
Increasing consumerist attitudes amongst students, and
Severe fiscal constraints.
What I hope to get from the 2 day conference, apart from the networking, product/Blackboard development, Bb mobile progress, conference dinner, travel, etc., is insight into how individuals and Institutions are dealing with, and adapting, to the changing conditions within the UK FE/HE market. How are these changes are affecting approaches to learning management systems (Blackboard) and can these changes be sustained or modified if the conditions ‘worsen’? Continue reading →
If you’re involved in any way with Learning Technology or Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) then you ought to spend some time looking through this report – at 149 pages it’s a lot to take in, it does have a very useful summary if you want the best bits.
UCISA (Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association) have produced this report regularly since 2008 to look at:
“the use of technology enhanced learning in the higher education sector. In addition to reviewing the technology in use, the survey looks at the drivers behind the adoption of technology enhanced learning in institutions.”
The report identifies and defines TEL as:
“Any online facility or system that directly supports learning and teaching. This may include a formal VLE, an institutional intranet that has a learning and teaching component, a system that has been developed in house or a particular suite of specific individual tools.”
I would also think, in my mind, that the survey and report will expand to include systems that support teaching and learning ‘indirectly’? The use of Social Networks like Facebook and Twitter is increasing, and how they are being used are developing as both learning portals and areas for administrative contact (which I doubt will replace Institutional systems, but are useful first-contact portals to feed the student request/need to).
What are your pet-peeves about how your VLE is used – are you the culprit or is this what you see others do? Is it the technology at fault or how we / you / ‘they’ use it?
Come on, let’s have your examples of the things you’ve seen in your VLE that leave you in despair. Please leave your examples as comments below … we’ll see what we get.
Here’s a couple of examples I’ve seen over the past 5 years or so …
Learning resources and files loaded as simply ‘click here’ or ‘week one’ without any explanation. Try introducing the file with an appropriate name (‘Week one resources: [topic title]‘) as well as some brief text about what the file is and what it contains, how the student should use it (read, discuss, activity, wider research, etc.), and what the learning outcome is – put the resource in the context of the learning and / or subject and / or timetable.
Well structured and detailed navigation … but empty folders. Even if you are using ‘adaptive release’ and the materials are loaded but not available yet, you could at least put a ‘holding’ message to say the materials will be available on or after specific dates – if it’s empty the student thinks you’ve either not done anything or it’s something they’ve done wrong.
Announcements on the home page / welcome screen … but there haven’t been any, either use it or don’t display it, an empty area can only cause confusion for students (see above).
I plan to collate the responses and comments into a fuller list (that’ll be part 2) which I’ll blog about in a month or two or when there’s a good range of comments. If you’d rather remain anonymous then please email me (‘david’ at ‘this website address’) and I’ll publish it minus your name.
Here Stephen writes with his daughter Juliette Heppell, herself a teacher at Lampton Academy in London, and this short page outlines the main events on using Facebook with students, and the do/ don’t mentality we all ought to consider. Examples include:
Do … build a separate teacher page for your “teacher” presence.
Do … keep your teacher and personal page very separate
Do … post pictures of school/lessons/trips – even diagrams you put on the board (snap them with your phone and post them) – it reminds students that you are there, generates a pride in the school and reminds them that this is not a vaccuous space!
Don’t … ‘friend’ students yourself – not even as your “teacher” presence.
Don’t … accept complete ignorance of Facebook as an excuse for dangerous school policies like blanket bans – instead offer to be an action researcher, and try it out for a year.
The full list covers much more than this, and has a ‘healthy’ caveat of “don’t ever think you can refine and evolve these simple notes without talking to your students – they will know of problems and dangers you are unaware of, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t model safe behavior for them.” A great resource and one you should be mindful of.
While this article is a good summary of art and design use of ‘studio space’ and how Facebook is a better medium than most traditional VLEs, it highlights the basic conflict of internal (owned) vs. external (unregulated) tools while offering a brief insight into how other disciplines ‘could’ use the social network (not for networking purposes). The study found that “the interviewees in this investigation perceive educational benefits based on the communicative potential of Facebook. The diversity in the form and pattern of use posses less of a challenge for not all Facebook activities promote communication and it would be possible to focus on those that do.”
It continues by saying that “in addition, it may not be possible to convince all students who perceive Facebook only as a social space, that there are educational benefits in exploring what this SNS [Social Networking Site] offers in terms of interests groups and other useful information” and that a dedicated student induction (oh, another one?) would help address concerns over how it should be used on a granular level.
Official citation for this article is:
Souleles, N. 2012. Perceptions of undergraduate Graphic Design students on the educational potential of Facebook. Research in Learning Technology20: 17490. http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v20i0.17490
This article is published in the AJET (Australasian Journal of Educational Technology) and has a good amount of data to support the assumption that students would use Facebook as part of their learning:
93% of surveyed students had an active Facebook account.
78% anticipated that a Facebook page would facilitate their learning by increased interaction with students and instructors.
81% engaged with the Facebook page at some stage during their studies.
76% would recommend Facebook for future cohorts courses while only 51% thought that it was effective (effective at what though?).
The question I have is how are the learning materials structured to students who did not have a Facebook account (those who did not want one for various personal reasons) were not unduly restricted in their learning?
The article states that Facebook as a “learning aid suggests that it has the potential to promote collaborative and cooperative learning” but further study is required to investigate how it can enhance the learning outcome.
Official citation for this article is:
Irwin, C., Ball, L., Desbrow, B. & Leveritt, M. (2012). Students’ perceptions of using Facebook as an interactive learning resource at university. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(7), 1221-1232. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet28/irwin.html
Another good academic journal article on a study into the “effects of teacher self-disclosure via Facebook on anticipated college student motivation, affective learning, and classroom climate”. The study concludes that “certain forms of face-to-face self-disclosure can have disastrous effects on teacher credibility” (i.e. personal details, photos, etc) and that “teachers can strategically reveal pictures, quotes, and personal information that present them as competent and trustworthy instructors who have the students’ best interests in mind”.
Of course, this isn’t news to most of us – apart from keeping the student-teacher relationship purely professional in a classroom and teaching/learning environment we must replicate this in any online environment, social network, email exchange, IM chat, etc). In saying that some forms of self-disclosure by the teacher could help foster a closer professional relationship it must be argued that some forms of disclosure (the paper does not give examples here but I assume to mean some personal details that students to not need to know as opposed to overtly personal details, bordering on the kind of things that constitutes an employer disciplinary hearing) could harm the relationship: “students reported that teachers should self-disclose appropriate information.”
Official citation for this article is:
Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds (2007): I’ll See You On “Facebook”: The Effects of Computer-Mediated Teacher Self-Disclosure on Student Motivation, Affective Learning, and Classroom Climate, Communication Education, 56:1, 1-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03634520601009710
This post is summed up nicely in this quote (but please read the whole post as there is much more here):
“In the main, the Facebook page, which is run by and for the students without tutor involvement, is centred on support for learning and skills development and in every case I saw, answers to problems that emerged from discussions were factually correct. In addition, the students offer one another impressive levels of support and encouragement. From the evidence of their own Facebook group, then, students are not unwilling to work and learn collaboratively.”
But what of the etiquette and/or training the student were given to using these systems? Are they instructed or left to their own devices? Are they given an outline of how it should be used, and when and for what purpose? This then raises the question, for me anyway, should we use Facebook at all, but if we do how at do we go to prescribe what & ow I is used.
“I am left wondering therefore if there is an unspoken etiquette at play here – a set of norms which, in attempting to use social networks for tutor:cohort interaction, we as educators are somehow transgressing?”
This paper is an “attempt to use a Facebook group as a course website, serving as a platform for delivering content and maintaining interactions among the students and between the students and the lecturer.” The paper deals quite strongly in the student experience and student satisfaction of the use of Facebook, but this does not mean that it is an academic success, it just means they liked it. You can’t even look at results from class tests or end of course assessment to see if it’s a success either, there are too many variables to be included to know whether it was a good cohort or the technology applied that made the difference.
The Facebook Groups was “designed in a way that encourages participation and interaction on every single post uploaded to the group” but this in itself does not mean learning has been achieved, does it? The paper does conclude that the learning “environment itself is not solely responsible for the creation of learning dynamics”.