With all of its advanced features, Blackboard lacks the dynamic elements that encourage users to click, read, and watch each time they visit a page. This is something that social media does very well, through advertising, community posts, comments, and slideshows. Blackboard 9 now has the "mashup" feature, which allows you to add the following:
Add embed code to Blackboard:
My most recent exploration of this process was to add an RSS feed of my Google+ Community. It worked for a while using this workaround, but now the feed is blank. If anyone else has solved this problem, please let me know! How about you? What social media tools have you integrated into Blackboard?
How can you make something that is structured, rigid and tradition, more dynamic and fun? That is the challenge that I've been given when Blackboard is my CMS, and game-based learning is my pedagogical strategy. In this series of posts, I will share some of the critical tools and changes I made to the default Blackboard structure. What was most critical to the entire design? Adaptive Release.
A little bit about my CI 202 course. There are about 100 students each semester from different secondary certification areas required to take this instructional technology course. I had challenges getting the course to relate to this diverse group, and I implemented a game-based learning method in spring of 2013. Student feedback was good, and comments clearly showed what was working and what wasn't. The students enjoyed the online portion in Blackboard, but it took some serious changes to make it work for my needs. The first modification I will share with you is Adaptive Release.
This function allows you, the instructor, to determine how and when items are shown to students. When you create an item, you can right click to show the menu and your options for this feature. The basic version (simply "Adaptive Release) will release the items when a criteria is met. For this, you can pick ONE of FOUR choices:
I use this simple version for adaptive feedback after students take quizzes. Here's how it works: Each week in my course is organized within a Blackboard module. Student follow through the modules pages, including a take-home, randomized, multiple attempt quiz.
By the way, students really like the quizzes. It gives them an opportunity to "fail", knowing they can improve their grades. Cheating is possible, but would be highly unlikely, as the questions are pulled from a question bank, randomized, and the answers are randomized as well.
Based on the scores of the quiz, students will either get praise (e.g. Well done!), or encouraging feedback (e.g. Go to xyz website to learn more.). By creating two text items, I am able to set the adaptive release on one to be 80% or above quiz score, or 79% or below on the other item. Only one shows up at a time.
Advanced Adaptive Release
This function allows you to combine more than one of the four choices above. I use this for the badges that students earn in class. Not only does the student have to get an 85% or better on the quiz, but also attend class that week, participate in the discussion board, and earn credit for the week's lab. Do all those things, and you can earn a badge.
Creating the advanced "rules", as they are called, took quite a bit of time. No copying and pasting for this function. On a positive note, as long as I don't change the criteria, they will transfer from class to class.
Adaptive release is the perfect way to individualize the student's experience online. With unlimited time and energy, I can imagine a course where every action produced appropriate and personalized reactions with course content. Now, if only I could get a few years off to make that happen :)
With my oldest child in Kindergarten this year, I obviously wanted to help bring technology into the elementary classroom. Her wonderful teacher invited me to help with station rotations once per week. I brought 5 iPads and planned on using one to two apps per 10 minute rotation. Some apps look great from a grown-up perspective, but I quickly found out which ones were duds in the 6 year old world. Here are some of their favorite:
Today, I printed my first 3D object. The DNA model didn't go exactly as planned, but I'm very impressed.
Iowa State recently funded the purchase of a 3D printer as one of the technology experiences for my undergraduate course in instructional technology. The Solidoodle printer is ridiculously cheap, and I predict that every school will have one in 10 years. It did take a while to get it (they make them to order), and we did have to order an additional cleaning kit (it gunked up after the first test). The software is cumbersome and took the CTLT some time to set up on a PC laptop. Between rendering the image and printing, the entire process took about two hours. Otherwise, very cool stuff.
I don't have time in my life to make a 3D model of DNA, so I downloaded one from Thingverse. They have an excellent repository of 3D models under the creative commons license. Right now I'm focused on play, and then I'll think about application to the content areas. What's next? Printing myself a cheese doorstop!
I may be a few year off with this review, but this 2009 documentary will now be a highlight of my college-level educational technology courses. The discussion of fair use and copyright is a difficult topic to teach. I know much more than the teachers and future-teachers I guide, but I am a far cry from an expert on the topic.
This movie does an excellent job presenting the opinions of highly regarded musicians who created original music, and those who "sample" that music. Well produced, thought-provoking, and highly educational. The online resources and curriculum at PBS are extensive. To top it off, the video is now available in the NetFlix Instant Queue.
My expertise in educational technology has always been with older students. My teaching experience is in middle school and my certification is 6-12. Having young children has opened my eyes to a whole new world of technological innovations, but it has also increased my concerns. What skills do I want them to have? How much TV/computer/LeapTag is "ok"? Will they be too dependent on technology? Will their teachers make the right choices? I want to protect them, but also prepare them at the same time. Below, I highlight some of the choices I have made with the best of my knowledge in EdTech.
The YouTube video above is of my youngest daughter. She is 2 1/2 and representative of a whole new generation of learners. She isn't able to use the computer yet, but the iPad is perfect for little fingers. I limit her use to about 10 minutes, a couple times a week. Her TV watching is also limited to a couple of shows a week (PBS or Sprout only).
My older daughter will be entering Kindergarden next year. She has become more interested in the computer in the past few months, and today, I just set up her own account on my Mac. The account settings are are strict: only allowing the calculator, TextEdit, dictionary, and the internet. The internet only allows the following websites: StarFall, Bembo's Zoo, Sesame Street, PBS Kids, Discovery Kids, BBC Kids, Crayola Digi-Color, Sheppard Software (paid version), and BoohBah. No software yet.
I hope this information helps other parents make smart choices, and I'd love to hear about your choices as well. What are your limitations for your young learners?
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