We’ve made it to the end of the semester! Before you take a deep breath in anticipation of the onslaught of student essays you will receive over the next few days, I’d like to share with you a few tips and tricks for streamlining the grading process. Earlier in the year, I described how you could use podcasts to communicate with your students. In this entry, I will show you how just a few keyboard shortcuts can save you time and give your students more useful feedback on their writing assignments.
Within the last two years I have required students to electronically submit their writing. I had traditionally graded and annotated student papers in ink. However, in trying to minimize printing, I began requiring students to submit (via Blackboard) their essays. In so doing, invention became the mother of necessity. Students now can upload their documents in a .doc or .docx format, and I can grade them directly in Microsoft Word using keyboard shortcuts, which allow me to perform tasks without having to use the mouse and navigate menus and submenus. (The instructor can also grade directly in Blackboard, providing even more convenience. If you’ve experimented with that technique, please share your insights below!)
First, create an official assignment on the course’s Blackboard page: click Assessments (in a content tab from the far left menu) followed by Assignment (see below).
Students can upload their writing assignments to that location, where you can download all of them at once and eventually upload your subsequent graded and annotated document too. After you’ve downloaded your students’ essays, change the name of the document (click File -> Save As) so that you acknowledge that this is the one that contains your comments and corrections; e.g., change “Pat Smith COMM 264 Research Essay.doc” to “Pat Smith COMM 264 Research Essay GRADED.doc.”
After you have downloaded the student’s file and renamed it, click Tools -> Track Changes -> Highlight Changes
and activate all four options; by clicking “Track Changes While Editing,” Microsoft Word will keep track of all the edits and comments you make for the student to see. Once you have activated Track Changes, you are ready to grade and annotate the student’s essay.
I primarily use three shortcuts: highlight, strikethrough, and new comment, through which I can emphasize student errors, cross out superfluous words or phrases, and comment directly, quickly, and legibly on what the student has written.
To create these keyboard shortcuts, which fortunately you do not have to recreate every time you open up Word, click on Tools -> Customize Keyboard. Once that window opens up, scroll all the way down in the Categories section and click All Commands. In the Commands section of this window, find the word Highlight and assign a keyboard shortcut to it.
You may want to use “Control” and “H” (for highlight), so that every time you want to highlight student’s text, you can use the cursor to select the passage in question and press Control and H simultaneously. Of course, you may wish to use a different combination of keys or even change the color of the highlighted text (my default color is yellow), which you can do by using the pull-down menu in the toolbar next to the italic and underline tools (see below).
You can then create more keyboard shortcuts, such as Strikethrough. Again click Tools -> Customize Keyboard, select Categories -> All Commands, locate the Strikethrough option, and assign Control + S for Strikethrough.
Do the same to Insert New Comment (I use Control + C), where you can write marginal comments for your students to read.
If you type faster than you write, this offers a great opportunity to provide useful feedback. Furthermore, this is a wonderful solution for those of us who have poor penmanship, so that students don’t waste time deciphering what we have scribbled on their pages.
Because you created an official assignment through Blackboard, you can avoid having to email each student his or her graded assignment. You simply click on Grade Center -> Full Grade Center -> Assignments and upload the “GRADED” file where you enter the student’s grade.
NOTE: Students probably cannot read your marginal comments in the Word document on their smartphones. You might wish to advise your students to download the graded document to a computer, where they can read what you have written.
Grading papers often feels like a challenging, neverending task. Keyboard shortcuts can help you to save time and offer more constructive criticism to your students. Do you grade essays electronically? If so, do you have any tips or tricks or shortcuts that you’d like to share? Have you used Blackboard’s new features that allow you to grade student essays directly in that program?
All too often, professors and administrators view educational technology as an expensive and specifically digital tool. I prefer a broader definition and so for this blog, I argue that reconsidering the use of whiteboards is indicative of the ways in which educational technology can be repurposed and redefined—the tools should serve users rather than dictate uses.
In the Macintosh Computer Lab (Basil 101), we have several whiteboards and I put in the request a couple of years ago to have a whiteboard placed under the screen. The request was questioned, and I made assurances that this was not a mistake. Typically, one projects on the screen and then writes around it, but I (and others) find it often helpful to write on the display. Projecting onto a whiteboard has often proved invaluable for discussing designs or student writing with the entire class. (Of course, Smart Boards have this feature and also can save the written content.)
Similarly, I’m now teaching a programming class and I often need to explain to individual students concepts best clarified visually. For the first few weeks, I walked to the board, which was a distraction for other students working on their own projects and created physical and cognitive distance from the student needing help. Other times, I would write in a student’s own notebook, which had the advantage of giving him or her a permanent record of our discussion, but didn’t allow the student to reproduce the drawing (which would help to solidify understanding) and led me to feel oddly intrusive—I was writing in the student’s notebook.
Finally, I purchased my own paper-sized white board—the kind you stick to an office door. Now, I have it with me during lab time and I can write all I want when working with a student one-to-one without wasting paper or using the student’s notebook pages. It’s easy, personal and green.
Technology can work for you. A technological affordance refers to a way in which particular technology can be used, and often a meaningful affordance differs from the officially described use.
Case in point: the college recently installed Vision Classroom Management Software in PC labs. The company’s website emphasizes its classroom management functions over pedagogical advantages. Consider its harsh and somewhat alarmist tone: “[m]ake classroom screens go blank in a click, locking students’ keyboards and mice. Capture attention and stop all activity the instant you need to,” or, “[v]iew an expandable thumbnail image of each student’s screen on your computer, so you can follow their activities from your desk in real time.” These “opportunities” are questionable. I’d rather walk among the students, observing first hand what they are doing; if I am standing at the teacher’s station, I’m not sure I want to be aware that one student is virtually sneaking off to a social media site. It would be hard to ignore, and yet I’d hate to disrupt my own lecture and the collaborative tone of the class to take time to penalize that single individual.
Some features of the system do function reasonably: sending my screen out to all student screens while demoing a new technique is appealing and limits distraction in a non-threatening manner. However, much of the promotional wording takes a “lock down” approach, which I found eerily close to philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s conception of the Panopticon (discussed almost two centuries later by Michel Foucault), whereby prisoners’ behavior is self-monitored through the fear of observation. While students self-policing may be effective, this prisoner metaphor creates a disconcerting mindset for a liberal arts classroom.
However, this particular problem can be resolved by imagining pedagogical uses. I haven’t been able to put any into practice yet: I’m teaching this fall in the Mac Lab (as mentioned above), which does not yet have the software. However, when I find myself in a PC lab, I will reconsider the Vision Classroom Management Software as a teaching tool which can facilitate more efficient design critiques and peer reviews of writing. Like my hand-held whiteboard, I prefer to think of Vision as flexible enough for creative uses (and in my humble opinion, the company should rewrite its website.)
Before dismissing a given technology, we should imagine everything it can do. Rather than place emphasis on official recommendations, we would do well to reconsider affordances that can address our pedagogical needs and teaching styles. A pencil can be used for writing. It also can demonstrate how to distribute weight evenly, be used to estimate distances or be used to poke someone. It’s our call.
As a follow-up post to The Power of Learning Analytics from last spring, guest blogger Jane M. Souza, Ph.D., Assistant Dean of Assessment in the Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College, shares the strategies used within the school to collect, analyze and continuously improve the Pharmacy program through the use of the computer-based exam management software, ExamSoft and the School of Pharmacy assessment process.
All courses have learning outcomes listed on the syllabi. All faculty members strive to teach learning outcomes in ways that encourage student achievement. These facts are nothing new and are common among any undergraduate or graduate level course, but the way faculty in the School of Pharmacy are looking at student progress on learning outcomes is new. Rather than relying solely on test grades to assess student progress, they are tracking density of coverage on each course outcome along with whole-class as well as individual student achievement within each of those areas. How are they managing that much data? They are testing in an electronic environment using ExamSoft. The implications for change management at the course level are outstanding and only exceeded by the ability to drive quality improvement at the program level and opportunities for self-monitoring at the student level.
So how does this work exactly? It all begins with pulling data out of existing exams maximizing the potential of embedded assessments. Test items, or questions, have been crafted and honed by faculty over years of teaching experience. The items include true/false, fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice and essay questions. Using ExamSoft, each item is electronically tagged or coded to identify the question on multiple levels including the following: learning outcome, program standard, accreditation standard, and level in Bloom’s Taxonomy (e.g. knowledge, application, synthesis). Questions can be tagged several times as needed. For example, one question may be addressing course learning outcomes 1, 3; program outcomes 1e, 2g. 3a; accreditation standards, 16.2, 32.1; and application level.
When students take their exams, data is collected for each test item. Faculty are provided a wealth of information previously unavailable to them. They know how much time, to the second, students spend on each question – both individually and as a class. This is great information for time management and test construction. They know how many questions they asked per exam and per semester on each learning outcome. Most importantly, they know the student achievement on each of these learning outcomes. Consider the two tables to the right and below. The table to the right shows the course-level information available prior to electronic testing. The table below shows the detail currently available and how faculty might use the data.
From the tables above, it is easy to see how faculty can make evidence-based changes to their classes. The same information can drive curricular reform. Consider the old-style curriculum map. It documents that the curriculum has been taught, but does not record what was learned.
Old Style Curriculum Map
Evidence-Based Curriculum Map with Density of Coverage and Student Performance (note the opportunity for improvement)
At the student level, individualized learning analytics help students consider their own strengths and opportunities for improvement. Whereas, in the past students were monitoring their progress through course grades, they are now able to reflect on their strengths and weakness at the learning outcomes level. Previously hidden deficiencies are now revealed and can be addressed promptly.
The student represented in the table to the right appears to be strong in each area, but are there hidden deficiencies?
The student may have a lack of understanding for a single learning outcome, but the deficiency is masked by high achievement in other areas. When students are able to see their performance at the learning outcome level, as shown below, they are able to work on remediation well before they encounter critical assessments such as exit or licensing exams.
The learning analytics made possible through electronic testing have been put to good use in the Wegmans School of Pharmacy. The faculty are employing the data to make course-level changes, the students are addressing their areas of weakness, and curriculum and assessment committees are analyzing the data for continuous improvement at the program level.
Feel free to visit us at Wegmans School of Pharmacy to see this process in action, or stop by and see me. I am always happy to talk assessment.
Jane M. Souza, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean of Assessment, Wegmans School of Pharmacy
Thanks to the upgrade to Blackboard around the Fourth of July holiday, there are now a few new tools and features available in your courses. As you begin to prepare for the fall semester, I thought it would be helpful to share a little more about each one.
When you log in to Blackboard you will now notice your name in the upper right corner, as well as small number indicating notifications available for your review. Notifications like these are available for faculty and students and include a list of all courses you are enrolled in, a view of discussion posts across all courses, general updates on course activity, as well as retention center notification (which we will discuss in greater detail below) and calendar items across all courses. The notifications area also provides a quick way to navigate from one course to another within the system. Another new feature available through the My Blackboard Notifications area is the ability to add a photo to your Blackboard profile. The profile picture next to your name in the upper right corner is nice, but the real benefit of this feature is that the photo will also be visible through interactions within a course. For example, when a student authors a blog post, discussion board message or a journal entry, you will not only see their name, but their profile photo will be visible as well next to their message. Especially for courses that spend a significant amount of time communicating within Blackboard, this provides a personal touch to the course that was not previously possible.
New Content Editor
The new content editor is an improvement over the previous content editor and will perform much better with the copy and pasting of text from outside sources, like Microsoft Word documents. You will see in the image below all of the same functionality is available in the new editor so hopefully this change won’t be too significant for most, but might relieve a few formatting headaches that we have had in the past.
As mentioned above, the calendar will appear as one of the options in the My Blackboard Notifications area. The new calendar view will now display calendar events across all courses and each item will be color-coded based on the course with which it is associated. This view of the calendar is extremely helpful for students who want a single place to view the deadlines in all of their courses at one time and any possible overlaps. The overall look of the calendar is now similar to the look and feel of other modern calendar tools and includes many common features that you are probably used to already, like viewing the calendar by day, week or month and the ability to drag and drop items from one day to another. Faculty and students can also add personal items to their Blackboard calendar that are not associated with any specific course, but private to the individual. It is also now possible to import the Blackboard calendar into other outside calendar tools like Gmail or Outlook if desired.
Improved Discussion Features
In general the discussions tool will look the same as previous versions, but a few new features really change the flow of conversations that are possible. The most significant improvement is that all posts within a discussion thread now appear on one single page. This makes it much easier to read a conversation without having to go back and forth between pages for each message that you are trying to read. As well, it is now even easier to reply to a message of another class member and the message can be written directly in-line with the conversation. Another new feature in the discussion area is the ability to restrict student access to discussion responses from their peers until they have already posted an original response of their own. This feature will cut down on the issue of students only replying to the comments of their classmates instead of posting their own responses to the question directly. The usability enhancements and new features in the discussion tool will make a real difference in courses that rely heavily on the discussion tool for course communication, especially online and hybrid courses where instructors and students spend a significant amount of time within this area of the course.
New Assignment In-line Grading
If you use Blackboard for the electronic submission and grading of student work in your courses, this is the feature where you will most likely notice the biggest difference. Blackboard has incorporated totally new functionality within the Assignment tool. The creation of a Blackboard Assignment is the same and is still done from within a content area of your course. However, once students begin to submit their work and you visit the Grade Center to review it, you will quickly notice the changes. All documents submitted by students will be immediately available for viewing from the View Attempt window directly in the browser without downloading the files to your own computer. Comments and annotations to the student’s work can also be done directly on this screen. This method of providing feedback to students on their written work is an alternative to using the track changes functionality available within Microsoft Word. However the track changes method is still available for those that prefer that process. Both the original student submission and the document including annotations can be downloaded to your own computer for archiving. This new functionality should make the process of grading and providing feedback on student papers faster since you will no longer need to download and upload documents for each student.
The new Retention Center features are an improvement to what was previously available in the early warning system within Blackboard and is available under Evaluation in the Control Panel of every course (shown to the right). The Retention Center is only available to instructors and allows for the identification and communication with students who may need further assistance in the course. A number of rules are added by default to identify at risk students, including students who have not accessed the course for at least five days, students whose overall course grade is at least 25% below the class average, students who have missed assignment deadlines and students who are at least 20% less active overall in the course than their peers. These rules are completely customizable and additional rules may also be added.
Click here for the BB_WhatsNew PDF, a short summary handout on all of the new features.
Please remember to visit the Educational Technology website for more information on Blackboard, including documentation and tutorials for faculty and students, as well as a list of upcoming events and workshops. Also, I am always available for 1-1 training sessions on any specific tool in Blackboard you would like to learn more about.
Best of luck with your fall semester classes!
- assemble content (PDFs, Word and Excel docs, etc.) for use in lessons, write and store lessons and syllabi
- quick access and easy retrieval of ideas: thoughts typed out, pictures taken with a mobile device, articles (full or snippets) seen on the web, musings recorded on smart phone – a great help in the car, EN can even transcribe your long voice note into text
- record audio from a student presentation with a smart phone, reference it for grading and send back to students for their review
- collect e-mails, papers, and other items to reference for annual performance review
- store scans or photos of returned papers, tests and quizzes for future reference, creating a simple to use, easily accessed e-portfolio
- using a mobile device, take pictures of the white board at the end of class and pay more attention to the lecture (with instructor permission?)
- type outlines for class notes and readings – review anywhere
- rehearse for a presentation by creating an audio note on a smart phone
- collect research materials for papers – Evernote automatically records the URL of all saved content
- keep pictures of a driver’s license, ID card, library card, medical insurance cards, important receipts, contents of a suitcase, closet, or other valuables in a residence hall or home
- storage for all instruction manuals (PDF, scanned, web) and warranties
- recipes clipped from the web, scanned from a recipe box or as pictures taken from a magazine with a mobile device
- lists containing long term goals and checklists of things to do and items to pack for different kinds of trips
- pictures of price tags for items when you’re comparison shopping – should I buy razors at Target, BJ’s or on Amazon?
- record audio notes and capture artwork from young children, automatically stored in the cloud and easily shared
By Todd M. Sodano
Some of today’s better-equipped college graduates exhibit the triple threat of being able to effectively write, speak, and present visually. If you’re struggling to find an assignment for your students to hone such skills, consider the video essay. If you’re studying film, television, or digital media, consider the video essay. (Here is a popular site that offers sophisticated analyses of films, TV shows, music, etc. – http://blogs.indiewire.com/pressplay/.)
Each semester in my intro to video production course, in which they learn how to tell original stories through shooting, directing, and editing digital video that they produce, my students also critically analyze films. This type of analysis advances the traditional critical essay students have written. After writing a brief essay that answers questions I have posed for them in advance of them viewing the film, students record podcasts in which they orally deliver their analyses.
They don’t stop there. The students then edit their audio to remove vocal fillers (“uhhs” and “umms”) and mistakes as well as to include any music or sound effects. Upon completion of the audio recording, they add video clips from the actual film or television program, which enhance the claims they have made. Students with a fundamental understanding of nonlinear editing (e.g., Final Cut Pro, Avid, Adobe Premiere, iMovie) can easily incorporate elements from the original text to produce their video essay, which enhances the basic, voice-only criticisms that Prof. Sarachan’s students have used.
Because the “amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole” is minimal and the students are not affecting the “potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work,” the Fair Use doctrine would apply to this assignment. Moreover, there would be no need to secure permission for using the original text. The challenge is to make sure the film or TV program is in an “editable” format (e.g., a .MOV file) that allows the student to manipulate it. For instance, since DVDs are encrypted, copy-protected works, consider (if you have a Mac) using such free programs as HandBrake or Mac the Ripper to descramble the work and MPEG Streamclip to export the ripped file to that editable format. According to the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress, this also is permissible. See § 201.40 – Exemption to prohibition against circumvention (page 19).
The video essay allow students to grow more versatile with digital media while upholding the traditional principles and techniques of good writing. And, at the very least, it allows us to save on printing costs.
In the digital world we live in today, we all know the endless amount of data that is collected throughout the many interactions that occur in our daily lives. You can see the evidence of this type of data in a variety of ways, including Amazon’s recommendation feature that suggests what products you might find interesting based on your previous purchases and what similar customers also purchased, as well as the Netflix movie recommendations that are created based on your ratings of previous movies you’ve watched. You probably won’t be surprised to know that even one of the large, local companies (where I know I spend too much time and money) uses this technology as well. Wegmans uses the data from Shoppers Club Cards for a variety of purposes, including sending out coupons and making sure the right products are stocked based on store locations. In at least one case, Wegmans even contacted shoppers who purchased a certain brand of soup to let them know about a recall on the product. We all create these kind of data points every day without even noticing it. Companies have found a way to utilize this type of data for marketing, advertising and to create better products and services based on what they have learned about their customers. This strategy of data mining for business purposes has been going on for many years.
With the increased use of technology and web-based tools in education, students have also left data footprints as they travel through their educational activities online. This data often goes untouched by many educators; however, there is a growing trend to make better use of this data to increase student learning. Many educational technology companies are beginning to focus on better utilization of this data and enhanced reporting to allow educators to use the data in more effective ways.
When we hear “Khan Academy”, most people immediately think of a short video with a black background, annotated colorful text and someone talking through a complex math theory. This is a large part of what Khan Academy offers, but a key component of their overall design is the tracking of student progress through a series of these short videos and accompanying activities over time. This data is collected while the student watches videos and completes short practice questions and concept quizzes during and after each skill checkpoint. The data collected includes not only the answer to the quiz questions, but data on how many times a student has viewed a certain video, how long they spent on it, what time of day it was viewed and more. Check out this Khan Academy data reports page for a full list of the reports they offer to educators to track the progress of students.
Knewton is another company innovating new ways to utilize the vast amount of data created by students throughout their learning experiences online to create tailored and more personalized learning environments for each student. Check out the below video from Knewton’s website.
Many publishers, including Pearson, Houghton Mifflin and Wiley, partner with Knewton in order to apply their adaptive learning technology to the large amount of content that publishers have created over the years. The combination of resources, on one side focused on the analytics and the other on high quality content, create innovative, data driven tools that can quickly be used by students and instructors in a variety of course and content areas.
Now that we have discussed the type of data that is tracked and how it has been used in a few examples to create personal learning environments for students and valuable reports for instructors, you might be wondering, “How can I apply this idea to my own courses?”
First of all, both examples listed above, Khan Academy and Knewton, provide content that utilize this type of data collection and reporting to instructors in many disciplines. Check to see what might be available for you. Also, check with your publishers if there are other resources that might give you this type of information. If you are using other technologies in your courses, check to see what type of statistics the tool is tracking already on student usage and if the reports of this data might be useful to you.
If you use Blackboard in any way, even just to post a syllabus document, there is already data available at your fingertips. You can quickly see the last time a student has logged into your course, as well as if they clicked on the file that you uploaded for them to read before the next class. The amount of data available for you to view in reports increases with your use of the variety of Blackboard tools. For example, you can view how many times a user has clicked on a specific content area, as well as other tools like activity in discussion forums and groups. These reports provide the specifics on each student, as well as the common days and times that content is most used in your course overall. Combine this data with the results of a short quiz activity and you would be able to acquire similar data that is made available to users of Khan Academy resources.
Blackboard also provides tools for early warning messages based on predetermined rules. If a student meets a certain criteria identified by the instructor as “at risk” on a certain assignment or overall in the course, the instructor is notified and is prompted to send a notification to the student directly. Blackboard also provides adaptive release tools that allow instructors to control the release of certain course material based on the successful completion of previous items.
A variety of other commonly used tools at Fisher provide similar types of data and reporting features to instructors. Echo360, for example provides instructors with a easy to view report that includes data on how many times a video recording has been viewed by unique viewers and overall, as well as a heat map of the video indicating points that have been viewed most frequently by all students. These points may indicate areas of confusion where content was viewed multiple times. These statistics can be very handy if you are teaching with the flipped classroom model, which we discussed in a previous post, in order to know who is viewing each recording prior to class and to identify areas that might need further clarification in the next face-to-face class session with the larger group. Below shows an example of the Echo360 statistics.
The data provided by a variety of educational tools can be used by instructors to paint a more accurate picture of where students are spending time, where they may be struggling with content and students who may not be fully engaged with the course. The ability to access and utilize this data can help all instructors make more informed decisions in communications with individual students, as well as for course development and planning overall.
With the beginning of the semester underway, I thought about web 2.0 tools that could be relevant to your teaching. Have you thought about using Glogster and having your and your students glog? Glog is hybrid term for graphics blog. Used as advertised through Glogster.com, it is a social network that has its community members create interactive posters. Users can incorporate text, images, photos, audio, videos, special effects and other elements. Glogster EDU can be used by educators and students. The way that you might use glogster in your courses is left solely to your imagination. Does your department have a new course they are piloting? Glog it. Are you trying to ramp up enrollment for your course? Glog it. How about building classroom community? Instead of the typical introductions that we often do the first day of class why not have students upload a glogster to blackboard and students can get to know everyone before class starts. Teaching online in the RN program or piloting an online course? What a perfect interactive way to have students get to know each other than through an uploaded video or asynchronous thread. Students and teachers can be provocative, creative, and use multiple genres (text, videos, audio, images) to represent themselves to the online classroom community. This visual, audio representation of you and your classmates can really enhance the online and face to face classroom community.
Beyond advertising your course and developing classroom community, there are content uses for glogster as well. In my literature course, students have created book trailers and embedded those videos into glogster to create a book poster to promote reading of the texts for their future K-12 students. Certainly it could be used in other subject areas in different ways. Students could create an interactive historical event glogster, a biography glogster, a scientific procedure glogster, etc. Students can also glog as a multi-genre writing project as well. The possibilities are endless and with your imagination and commitment, can be used in multiple ways. Get out and play—get to glogging! The sample glogsters provided in this blog are from my students in GRDG 670 which is a literature course. They had to do glogsters for the books in their literature circles.
I’m posting the web addresses as wordpress doesnt embed the glogs since these were created on glogster.com. If you use edu.glogster.com, it’s more user friendly and easier to embed.
Do you Doodle? No, I am not referring to those silly drawings that start to appear on your notepad during long meetings. Have you ever found yourself sending a meeting request to a large group for the availability of each person and working diligently to find an overlapping time that will work for all? We all know this task is almost impossible and even if you can find a time, your inbox is now cluttered with the messages associated with the conversation among the group. Doodle makes this process so much easier and efficient. Doodle allows you to send a specific kind of poll to a group for the intended purpose of finding a common meeting time. Each person responds to the poll by selecting the options that will work for them. Based on the responses, you identify the preferred meeting time for the group. And best of all it’s free to use this tool! This tool is great when you need to schedule sessions with students, especially a group of students at once. Watch the below clip to get an idea of how it works.
The academic uses of this tool are endless. I have seen faculty use the tool most commonly for the scheduling of events that happen outside of the normally scheduled class period when the availability of each student is unknown and for academic advising sessions that are often difficult to schedule. The great thing about the tool is that you can provide the group with a variety of options that they must choose from, so their choices are already limited to options that you know will work for you. Also, there are some settings that are really useful for academic purposes, like confidential polls where the name of each participant in the poll is kept private. The names can still be seen by the originator of the poll, but not by others. You also have the ability to limit the number of people that sign up for each time slot and to restrict participants to only choose one of the available options. These settings are really useful when trying to schedule 1-1 sessions with students. This tool is also great for students who need to schedule times to meet outside of class for a group project or to study for an exam. Share the link with them and they can set up a Doodle on their own. Next time you think you have a scheduling nightmare ahead of you, give it a try.
Polling with Qualtrics in Blackboard
Qualtrics is the online survey tool used frequently on campus for a variety of purposes by faculty, staff and students (if you would like to know more about Qualtrics, start here). In addition to the survey functionality, Qualtrics also offers polling functionality. These polls are really easy to create and distribute to a class through Blackboard. You can create a poll on any topic, but the question must be in multiple choice format. They are great for quick questions in which you would like to gather a response anonymously from a group. These polls can be created and then embedded into your Blackboard course to allow responses to be collected over a period of time or live during class.
Follow these three quick steps below:
1. Log in to Qualtrics and create a poll using the Poll tab.
3. Within a Blackboard content item paste this code into the Text Editor in HTML mode (<>) and click submit (if you have not used the HTML model in Blackboard before, I would be happy to walk you through this step).
Below is a screenshot of what the poll will look like in Blackboard with results. Student can respond directly within the Blackboard course and the results will be shown to all immediately. As more students respond, the results will continue to update. The results could then be used in the following class session as a great discussion starter.
Are there other tools that save you time during the semester or just make life a little easier? Please feel free to share your tools and ideas with others by adding a comment to this post.