University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Lanny Arvan discovered Educate/Innovate just recently via the latest WebCT Newsletter. Lanny wrote up his thoughts about Educate/Innovate on his own blog, Lanny on Learning Technology. He’s got some good things to say about Educate/Innovate, some questions, and some critiques. In fact, his post got forwarded around to a number of Blackboard staff and execs over the weekend. I thought it would be worthwhile to address some of his questions here, since I’m guessing a bunch of our readers have similar questions on their minds.
I was fortunate enough recently to sit in on a webinar “Using Support and Tutorial Resources for Blackboard to Enhance eLearning” on Blackboard Connections hosted by the Michigan Blackboard Users Group (MiBbUG). This brown bag lunch was organized by Linda Wareck from Lawrence Technical University, and led by Jeremy Bond from Central Michigan University. I thought it was great for a couple of reasons.
I’ve recently noticed quite a few articles appearing on the use of Tablet PCs by students. T.H. E. Journal has a feature article this month, indicating that K-12 schools are taking interest in them to foster one-to-one computing.
A story from The Collegiate Times indicates that incoming engineering freshman at Virgnia Tech will be required to purchase Tablet PCs. While some of the students quoted in the story are skeptical about this move, mainly based on the cost of them, the associate dean of distance learning seems to think it makes a whole lot of sense. “When you look at the instructional aspect of the technology in the classroom, this allows us to do more in class … annotation, note-taking, peer-grading, 3D sketch … that it allows us greater flexibility," (Glenda) Scales said.
A number of benefits seem obvious – such as the ability to do math problems, to sketch, create diagrams, draw arrows to certain things, etc. I’m also curious about how writing things out vs. typing impacts the learning process. Whenever I have to remember something I write it down. The physical act of actually writing it out really helps me to remember it, much more so than typing. I have stacks and stacks of journals and notebooks where I have written things down – would the tablet be a new solution for this?
It was late afternoon on what was a perfect Spring day in Washington, DC – sunny, warm (but not too warm), and no humidity. Inside the office most of us were heads down cranking through work trying not to think of the weather we were missing (and the fact that the patio at Mackey’s Bar next door was probably filling up fast).
Without warning the power went out, strangely, not all of the power. The lights were still on, our phones still worked. Just our computers seemed to be affected. Developers emerged from their offices and conferred with one another trying to assess the situation. With the fine weather beckoning, folks began wondering if there is a rule about how long they have to wait for the power to come back on before they can leave. I thought, is this like the rumored rule about waiting for your professor to show up for a lecture in college?
Just then one developer shouted out, “Sorry everyone it was me. The pizza I was grilling on my George Forman Grill in my office overloaded the circuit.”
Over the past month I’ve been meeting lots of new colleagues as they visit with us in the DC office and at conferences we’re attending together. I have especially enjoyed talking with Estelita not just because she is lots of fun, but also because she has interesting insights into how Blackboard and WebCT software are used by faculty. Estelita has used both WebCT and Blackboard software to teach classes. She presently teaches completely online credit courses in Spanish for the Tennessee Board of Regents RODP program.