Every once in a while, we have to tackle something outside of our comfort zone. Whether that something is running a marathon or teaching an online course after years of in-person instruction, everyone goes through moments of discomfort.
Katherine Dowdell, an instructor with over 20-years of in-person classroom experience, was thrown into an uncomfortable situation. Asked to teach an online-course at Des Moines Area Community College, Katherine was at first unsure if her students were “getting it,” or how she was coming across. After plenty of trial and error, and now with seven years of online teaching under her belt, Katherine is an expert. She even coaches colleagues on how to succeed in an online classroom! (Especially important since 58% of faculty said that the growth of online education made them more fearful than excited!)
Northern Illinois University has earned a reputation for seamless integration and upgrades of instructional technology tools. The secret is planning, says Jason Rhode, assistant director of the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. Here he offers a few suggestions for getting an upgrade right.
Allow plenty of time. NIU allowed about nine months for its Blackboard Learn upgrade, which allowed plenty of time to prepare the campus.
Don’t start from scratch. NIU tapped into SLATE (Supporting Learning And Technology in Education), the Midwest Blackboard users group, to find out what worked — and hadn’t worked — during other schools’ upgrades. “We asked what questions we should be asking and what gotchas we should be watching out for,” Rhode says.
Avoid surprises. Communicate upcoming changes early and often. Explain what’s happening many times and via multiple channels. NIU’s upgrade communication plan worked so well that other universities have borrowed it.
Get faculty input. Whenever possible, allow faculty to influence the schedule. It will increase buy-in and may help you circumvent problems. For example, NIU gave faculty a say about when the upgrade to Blackboard Collaborate 12 would take place, better ensuring it happened at a time least disruptive to faculty.
At Blackboard, we believe that System Administrators are the key to implementing new technologies at their institutions. They are always on the forefront of adopting tools to extend the Blackboard Learn platform to make the lives of instructors easier. But did you know? System Administrators can impact students learning beyond the classroom by giving them easier access to internships?
Give your students access to more internship opportunities this year
It’s no secret that students are concerned now more than ever to find a job after graduation. In a 2010 survey report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 73 percent of employers stated the desire for higher education to put more emphasis on “the ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings through internships and other hands-on experiences.” [The Chronicle, April 24, 2011] But, finding an internship that is the right fit for a student can be a struggle in itself. Blackboard System Administrators can help connect students to internships within their Blackboard Learn environment.
The following is a guest blog post with Terry Patterson. Terry is the Blackboard Learn system administrator at the University of Missouri. As a seasoned Blackboard Learn veteran of nine years, he started a blog called Blackboardguru.com where he provides valuable insight to other Blackboard Learn system administrators.
Whether you’re just getting started as a Blackboard System Administrator or are a veteran like myself, here are three pieces of information to take with you on your LMS journey:
- Learn by doing. When I started my work as a Blackboard admin, I never attended official training for the first year or so. While I highly recommend getting training, it’s the time and effort that you spend learning about Blackboard that will make you a lifesaver to a faculty member or student. It’s been almost 10 years since I first logged into Blackboard and everyday I’m still learning something new about it.
Playgrounds and roller coasters are just for fun. Social Learning is fun too, but it serves multiple educational purposes and has tangible benefits for both the students and the institutions involved. In today’s classrooms, the idea of social learning is taking hold in a variety of ways. Educators are seeing that social learning may include external elements that could be regarded as ‘just for fun,’ like Facebook, Twitter and blogging, but that really these are beneficial to the learning experience. Experiencing it firsthand demonstrates how the interconnected, interactive nature of social learning amplifies the rate at which content can be shared and digested.
Take a look and see how social learning plays a significant role in the serious endeavor of educating today’s students for Duke University professor, Cathy Davidson. Are her techniques just ‘fun’ or important enhancements to the educational experience?
We’re myth-busting. Click here to read on: Social Learning Is Just for Fun