Tidbits, Resources, and Discussion for ELI Faculty

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Buckle Up: Here Comes Blackboard 9!

So now that you are completely comfortable with Blackboard 8 (ahem), we just got the announcement of the official release of Blackboard 9. We do not yet know when it will be rolled out for the VCCS, but we do know that it is significantly different from past versions of Blackboard. There are already some basic pieces of information you can look at now if you're interested in looking ahead at what Blackboard 9 will be like. Visit this VCCS site to get some basic information and links to introductory videos and the like. I'd be interested in hearing what you think!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Distance Learning for Soldiers and Veterans

You may have heard in the news about the recent passage of a new GI Bill. You probably didn't hear about one specific detail that has been causing some controversy in higher education circles: while those covered under the GI Bill for educational expenses are generally eligible for a housing allowance, those taking distance courses will not receive that allowance. (As many have quipped: apparently, distance learning students are supposed to live in virtual houses.)

InsideHigherEd has an interesting piece today that discusses this decision in some depth and raises the argument that the low success rates in distance courses/programs justify this policy (which is likely to push students away from distance learning). This is just one more example of what I talked about in our faculty meeting last week regarding the importance of improving student success wherever we can. We are under scrutiny from many sides, and we need to showcase our good work and make our case to those who might not understand distance learning, as well as constantly working to do better in all the ways we support student learning and student success.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Teaching & the Inauguration

We had a historic day yesterday.

My students last semester (in a class on race...) were so hopeful about the future after Obama won. I'm glad they are hopeful, but also fearful that having an African American president will make it even easier for my students to ignore the continued significant racial inequality in our country. Getting students to see past their assumptions (that all those racial problems are fixed now) is my biggest challenge in teaching this class.

How are you using the Inauguration, the change in administration, etc. in your classes this semester? What are your students saying about it all?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Using Peer Review in your ELI Courses

Debbie Naquin shared with me a blog post about how to structure a peer review assignment using a course management system like Blackboard (including discussion of WHY you might want to use such an assignment in your instruction). Take a look--it might give you some interesting new ideas.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Looking for some new pedagogical tricks?

The latest issue of the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning just came out; it's a free, online journal and you can access the current issue here.

There are a number of research articles of interest to online teachers, including pieces on using gaming to promote learning, using educational technology to help students do peer reviews, training students to take a professional tone in their emails to faculty, and differences in student interaction and success in online, hybrid, and face-to-face classes.

Please post a comment if you have a chance to read any of the articles and find anything interesting you'd like to share!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Power Up Your Pedagogy Debrief

I saw many of you at Power Up Your Pedagogy over the last two days. Please comment here to share some of the cool information, tips, and resources you learned, so that we can all benefit!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Creating ePortfolios using Google Apps

Portfolios are an excellent, authentic way to assess student learning, but they can be hard to have students produce electronically. Kristin Robertson at CVCC has put together some instructions on creating ePortfolios using Google Apps. If you're interested in using ePortfolios, take a look at her resources!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Quick New Way to Access Online Library Databases

The VCCS has just announced that they've added a "Library Services" link to our myVCCS pages. (That is, when you click "My NOVA" to log into Blackboard and PeopleSoft, you will see at the bottom of this page a new option, "Library Services.") Here, you can access online journals/databases subscribed to by NOVA. I didn't find the interface all that user-friendly, but perhaps it would more so when I'm more used to it.

Since most of you have to log into Blackboard daily anyway, and many of you are not working at a campus computer, this library login through your myNOVA page may save you some time--if you use it, you could avoid logging in at the library webpage when you want to access a database.

(And--welcome to the Spring 2009 semester!)