Good Sources, Academia, Fake News

Good Sources, Academia, and Fake News

Fake news is a hot topic, these days, for reasons that are too complicated to get into here. But just the other day I was in a meeting in which the legitimacy of student sources came up, and I was reminded of two things: Teaching students how to tell the difference between good and bad sources is a recurring challenge in education…

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January 5, 2017 |

Writing Great Assignment Instructions

Writing Great Assignment Instructions: Tips for Success

The development of creative, authentic assignments that align with course objectives is always an exciting process. However, guiding students with clearly written assignment instructions can be challenging. We owe it to our busy online students to provide clear, concise instructions that prepare them for success. This week’s blog will provide some tips to help you to do just that. Start with…

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December 8, 2016 |

Different Hats of Course Development

The Different Hats of Course Development: SMEs and IDs

Many factors result in new curriculum development processes in educational institutions. To name a few: Stricter regulations and legislation require institutions to exercise and document the effectiveness of the education they offer in different ways than in the past. The rise in online education and data analytics trends require that student learning outcomes are more concrete and measurable. Many institutions…

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December 1, 2016 |

Relating Course Concepts

Relating Course Concepts to Current Events

While I can get behind this quote – not in terms of judging what people discuss but rather in terms of what one may aspire to do ultimately, which is discuss ideas – I also think that it should be less of a tiered approach that may smack of elitism, and more of a pyramid of aspects. It’s going from ideas…

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November 10, 2016 |

How to Override a Grade

Video: How to Override a Grade

This video will show you how to override a grade in Blackboard and what the student sees on their side.

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November 3, 2016 |

Blackboard Features

Blackboard Usage Study: Results Released

Blackboard Learn. North America. Spring 2016. 927 Institutions 70,000 Courses. 3,374,462 unique learners. The most recent Blackboard usage study casts a much wider net than has been their scope in the past. Titled “Patterns in Course Design,” the learning management system heavyweight released an interpretation on the current environment of course design. By crunching the aggregate data across their broad sample,…

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October 31, 2016 |

Student Perspective

The Student Perspective

When we design or teach an online course, we spend time thinking about how to reach our students. We consider their prior learning and such things as the cognitive load of the class. These are essential considerations, but perhaps we can do more. We can turn the tables and look at the class from the student perspective. However, it is…

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October 20, 2016 |

Resource Articles

Report from ACTEM

Today, the Instructional Design team is at ACTEM. Several of us are presenting, in fact. So, for our Vision post this week, we thought we’d post the synopses of our presentations here, and if you would like to you can follow up with the designers responsible for them. Please feel free to email them if you would like to hear more, or if you…

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October 13, 2016 |

macbook pro laptop

How to stop your computer from ruining your sleep

As phones and computers become more integrated into our daily lives, we’re spending more time staring into the harsh light of our screens. A while back, my colleague Corey Butler wrote for this blog about computer vision syndrome, a kind of eye strain that often accompanies frequent computer use. Well, it turns out that there’s another eye-related problem with routine…

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September 30, 2016 |

Webinar Series

Webinar: Writing Effective Learning Outcomes

As the first installation of an effective course design series of webinars, here is our presentation on writing effective learning outcomes. Sue Farris, our Assessment Specialist, and Olga LaPlante, the ID for MSW-O, led this webinar. Writing Effective Learning Outcomes We invite you to take this quiz (anonymous, but graded, and with feedback) – you can take it before and after…

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September 23, 2016 |

Scholar Practitioners

The Scholar-Practitioner: Bridging the Gap between Research and Profession

Teaching teachers to teach is about as meta as it comes. But how do we best prepare professional educators to teach students who will likely work in jobs that haven’t yet been created? One answer to that question may very well lie in research. Research has long been a cornerstone of graduate education, but the rapidly changing 21st-century job market…

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September 15, 2016 |

Web Annotation

Web Annotation Tools

I’ve called attention to web annotation tools in the past, the reason being that I am among those internet weirdos who thinks there are conversations to be had across domains that, right now, are difficult to maintain because commenting functionality is largely restricted to the domain in which any particular resource is published. Aggregators like Reddit and Imzy show the need for…

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September 8, 2016 |

Webinar Series

The first week of your course - Webinar

We know that courses start for the instructor days before they start for the students and that those few days both before and after the beginning of a term can be spent wisely to make the next eight or sixteen weeks as efficient and enjoyable as possible. So, we put together this webinar detailing steps to take in the first…

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August 29, 2016 |

Beeline Reader

Easier Reading with Beeline Reader

One of the most exciting aspects of online education is how the environment, with its quickly evolving technologies, is making content easier to consume. Some of these developments are more exciting than others, and many are more well-intentioned than they are actually helpful, but I thought I would take the opportunity to show you one that I’ve heard a little bit…

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August 19, 2016 |

Term Start

As Term Start Approaches

I found myself mildly freaking out about what to write this week for the blog post. We are nearing term start and most of us are focused on finishing up our courses. The building is filled with stress. My favorite way to deal with stress is cake. Who doesn’t become excited and giddy, like a small child, when cake is…

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August 11, 2016 |

orange key

Online Access for Students with Disabilities

Sixteen years ago, I met a blind professor who was an early adopter of what we now call the flipped classroom; students completed assignments online and class-time was reserved for collaborative projects and discussions. Early on in one of his flipped courses, he began receiving multiple emails from a student asking questions about everything from course content to his experiences…

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August 4, 2016 |

Course Narrative

Tips for Strengthening Your Course Narrative

A good story generally contains the following elements: Protagonist: The hero (or anti-hero) of the narrative. Central premise: The argument or thesis of the story. Backstory: The context of the story. Conflict: The challenges faced by the protagonist. Narrative arc: The chronological movement of the story. Should any of these be missing, readers will find the story lacking, though they…

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July 28, 2016 |

A Distracted Mind

Harnessing the Distracted Mind

We use the web for so many different things. We shop, read the news, watch movies, listen to music, talk with friends — often all at the same time. Some people call this multi-tasking. Others don’t call it anything — it’s just second nature that when we sit down with our computers or pull out our phones, we automatically become…

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July 21, 2016 |

Webinar Series

Webinar - The Blackboard Grade Center

We’ve received several requests to dive more purposefully into the nitty gritty of using Blackboard, and so today we conducted the first in a series of webinars on it, focusing on the Grade Center. As we found ourselves jumping rather quickly from tool to tool, we think the video may be less valuable as a recording than a textual breakdown,…

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July 14, 2016 |

Group Projects

Group Projects: Insights with Mentor Commons

Group projects – online especially – have been an interest of mine for a long time. In a way, group projects are spaces for students to learn from each other, collaborate, and form relationships. If you have never heard about Sugata Mitra and his Hole-in-the-Wall project – old news, I know! – he takes it even further saying that kids…

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July 7, 2016 |

Course Announcements

Using Course Announcements to Maximize Instructor Presence

Research shows that online students appreciate a strong instructor presence. Online instructors who leave regular digital footprints in their classes show that they are actively engaged and committed to supporting student success. In addition to discussion boards and assignment feedback, course announcements provide an excellent opportunity for instructors to maximize their online presence while also sharing important course information. Personalize…

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June 30, 2016 |

Education Levels Across America

Curriculum Mapping - Giving Direction to Learning

One of my favorite features on my iPhone is the Maps App. I lost my beloved DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer several moves (and states) ago. I don’t have a GPS in my car. I’ve often found myself lost in many an unfamiliar part of a town when traveling for work or even pleasure. There is something very comforting in saying,…

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June 23, 2016 |

Scaffolding for Learning

Scaffolding for Learning

Back in March, my colleague Olga wrote about authentic assessment. In her post, she noted “you scaffold the assignments (activities) and put together course materials necessary to help students do their best in achieving the desired result.” In this Vision post, we’ll take a look at how scaffolding and formative assessment can foster student success throughout your courses. Together, scaffolding and…

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June 16, 2016 |

Blackboard Edit Mode

The Many Faces of An Online Course: Edit Mode

Regardless of the Learning Management System your institution uses, many of the recognizable names in this crowded field have various modes for authoring and viewing that can be turned on or off by a faculty or staff role to see, and edit, the course in different ways. The ability to put on a different set of eyes and view your course…

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June 10, 2016 |