When it comes to developing materials and learning resources for your course, I think it’s important to know when to keep it simple.
We have all seen examples, or know of some, where every possible bell-and-whistle has been applied, in good intention, but the final result has made the course complicated and heavy.
Here are a few tips on how, and why, to keep it simple, which apply as much to online distance learning courses as well as campus courses:
- Signpost: provide little ‘signposts’ to learning resources, assignment details, marking criteria, timetables, etc. to help the student. The larger the course or course materials then the more complicated the course structure could be, and the more lost a students will find themselves in your course. Continue reading
From my previous post about designing Blackboard courses for a mobile-first delivery, and the discussion I’ve been having with Peter Reed and friends on his blog, this paper came at a good time to further the question “do we need this?” – AJET: “Student Perceptions of Blackboard Mobile Learn and iPads”
Well, do we? The paper concludes in saying that the students “did not demand mobile learning and were in fact mostly neutral about the experience” and that “they did not perceive a notable improvement to their learning” (Kinesh et al, 2012). While the students did not report an opposition to the inclusion of the mobile App, they also are not reported to have had any prior experience of it, a preference to mobile learning that was not limited to Blackboard Mobile Learn, nor they opinions (positive or negative) to mobile learning in general. Continue reading
Welcome to a final few thoughts on and about 2013: what did I do, what did I read, what did I achieve, what did I miss, what did I not do … you get the picture. Well …
- After thinking, planning, and talking about it for nearly two years I finally got round to planning, writing, and publishing my eBook on QR Codes in Education. (May 2013).
- Several years in the making I finally completed my CMALT portfolio and submitted it and gained my CMALT accreditation (November 2013).
- In October I re-read my QR Codes in Education eBook and realised it would read better with a different structure to the contents and I took the opportunity to make it available as a printed book too (November 2013). Working with the CreateSpace website I restructured the materials, redesigned the cover and worked on the 2nd edition of the book (also updating the eBook too to match).
- Worked closely with colleagues in Leicester on aspects of mobile learning, online marking and feedback, support, course reconfiguration, and roles & responsibilities.
- Presented a brown bag lunch seminar on “Improving the Student Experience Through Blackboard in the College of Social Science”
- I am proud to have helped launch the East Midlands Learning Technology SIG including Twitter, blog, LinkedIn group, Google+ group, etc.
Most popular posts (by month): Continue reading
Here’s the question … has anyone designed a Blackboard course purely from the perspective of working from the Mobile Learn App? Is it a mobile-friendly Bb course, or is it in fact a mobile-first approach to course design?
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 a desktop learner.
- I suspect that some 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” advice.
- 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
The Educause Centre for Applied Research (ECAR) has recently published their “ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2013” report.
The report summary has the following key points and recommendations:
- Students recognize the value of technology but still need guidance when it comes to better using it for academics.
- Students prefer blended learning environments while beginning to experiment with MOOCs.
- Students are ready to use their mobile devices more for academics, and they look to institutions and instructors for opportunities and encouragement to do so.
- Students value their privacy, and using technology to connect with them has its limits.
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.
I will not copy the whole post from Joshua Kim but strongly recommend you read his original article for the whole picture, not just my interpretation – ‘10 dubious claims about Technology and Learning‘.
Here are Joshua’s claims he wants to refute:
- The quality of courses has remained more or less constant over the past decade. Untrue.
- Campus investments on technology have been focused on equipment or software rather than teaching and learning. Misleading.
- People who work in academic technology are primarily technologists. Untrue.
- Tenured faculty are not innovative in integrating technology into their teaching. Untrue.
- Non-tenure track, part-time, adjunct and visiting faculty are less innovative in integrating technology into their teaching. Untrue.
- The demand for new methods of teaching, such as flipped classrooms and blended learning, is coming from the students. Untrue. Continue reading
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.
- Focus on fundamentals, 2010 to 2012:
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