Viewing by month: January 2011

Jan 31 2011

Online Faculty Luncheon Recap

What’s new and what’s exciting in the JHSPH online courses?

Faculty who teach during 3rd term discussed this at the Online Faculty Luncheon on Thursday, Jan 13, 2011. The CTLT instructional design team hosted the event, wrapping it around a smorgasbord of sandwiches, salads, drinks, and cookies.

Here is a recap:

  • Visit—or better yet subscribe to—the CTLT Blog, and get the latest info from the Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology about course tools (like Gradebook and the BBS), CoursePlus, OpenCourseWare, Web events, University closings, I.S. maintenance schedules that impact the online courses, and much more.
  • Access the Teaching Resources site for ideas and info on teaching and learning at JHSPH, including how to write learning objectives, planning your syllabus, encouraging class participation, developing lectures, grading and assessing, etc.
  • The Audio Note tool in the Online Library is great for recording short audio blurbs, like lecture inserts or document annotations, to share with your students.
  • Look at student profiles on the Roster page for details about student interests, hobbies, professions, photos, and more.
  • The BBS (bulletin board system) in the online courses and CoursePlus has lots of changes coming up to help you find messages and info easier, browse faster, encourage student interaction, glean content quickly, view pics, and more.
  • Alternatives to lectures: Faculty shared details about ways in which they deliver, or would like to explore delivering, content to students above and beyond the standard online lecture presentation. Some techniques discussed:
    • Use “flip” videos from cell phones.
    • Conduct virtual field trips.
    • Prepare wiki pages.
    • Ask students to deliver presentations.
    • Invite students to record snippets of events.
    • Record “on location” video for lecture introductions.
    • Use Youtube videos.
    • Use recorded conference sessions from professional development events.
    • Explore Facebook interaction.
  • Strategies for conducting successful LiveTalk events (synchronous online sessions with faculty and students), that have more interaction, engagement and learning value:
    • Use pre-recorded video presentations.
    • Ask students to send questions in advance to faculty.
    • Organize questions in categories.
    • Invite special speakers.
    • Plan ahead to use the polling tool.
    • Invite a group of on-campus students to attend the LiveTalk session in person (in a special room perhaps).
    • Integrate LiveTalk events into hybrid courses (a learning environment both online and face-to-face).
    • Have a clear, set purpose for each LiveTalk event.
    • Refine the technology for greater ease of students speaking.
    • Encourage more interaction in order to determine who is listening and participating.
    • Have more concerted efforts to collect feedback on the sessions.
    • Give points to students for submitting feedback.
    • Send a direct link to the students the next day.
    • Put a feedback link on the course schedule.
    • Use two teaching assistants for support during the sessions and divide the labor: one types answers in the chat area while the other tracks unanswered questions.
    • Put unanswered questions in the note board section.
    • Make sure student presenters have a back-up.
    • Have student presenters participate in one of the regular Wednesday LiveTalk troubleshooting session.

Online faculty luncheons are held regularly, discussions are lively and informative, and the food is great. ;-) Please join your colleagues and CTLT for a future get-together to share your ideas and interests.

Posted by Linda Bruce at 10:44 PM - Categories:

Jan 21 2011

A Few Changes in the Online Course Tools for the Third Term

The Web development team in the Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology works throughout the year to continually improve the tools available in online courses (and CoursePlus). A number of small, but important or useful changes have been made to a variety of tools in online courses in the past couple of months. Some of those changes include:

  • Drop Box:
    • Submit a file to a Drop Box on behalf of a student. Faculty and TAs sometimes find themselves the recipient of a file from a student who may have had problems submitting a file via a course Drop Box. As a result, faculty and TAs would have to keep that file separate from all the files in the Drop Box. Now faculty and TAs can submit a file on behalf of a student, allowing the file to be managed like any other in the Drop Box.
    • The Assignment Description field from the class schedule is now displayed on the "View Student Submissions" page for a Drop Box. This is useful for differentiating between Drop Boxes when all Drop Boxes have the same name in the class schedule (ie; "Assignment" or "Homework").
    • A numeric identifier value has been added to each student file renamed by the Drop Box. This is important for courses where all Drop Boxes have the same name in the class schedule (ie; "Assignment" or "Homework") because file names will be the same for each Drop Box. Faculty have overwritten files on their local desktops in these scenarios, causing them to think that students submitted the wrong file for the Drop Box.
  • Gradebook:
    • A new, streamlined version of the indivdiual student Gradebook page is now being used.
    • When entering grades for individual students, the grading method and maximum possible points are now displayed.
    • Page load time on Gradebook items linked to the Quiz Generator is significantly faster.
    • Uploading large ZIP files with more than 100 student submissions is now handled better by the Gradebook.
    • Asterisks indicating that there is feedback waiting to be sent for a given item in the Gradebook work properly now.
    • You can no longer alter the automatically calculated percentage value on the "Prepare Final Grade" page. Previously, you could change this value but it would not be saved when the "Save All Grades" button was clicked, confusing some faculty.
  • Surveys:
    • Results of surveys from previous offerings of the course are now viewable.
    • Due to issues with very long responses to essay questions, the responses to essay questions have been limited to 1400 characters. Students see a "Characters Remaining" indicator when typing responses to essay questions.
    • Problems copying and pasting from Word documents that contain Word Smart Quotes have been fixed.
    • Reports with lots of data (ie; all survey results to PDF) load appreciably faster.
  • Wikis:
    • When you delete a file via the file management window, all references to that file are automatically deleted off the current page.
    • You no longer have to provide a description for a file that you upload into the file management window. If no description is provided, the file name is used as the link text when you insert the file into a page.
    • Office 2010 files are now supported for uploading into the file management window.
  • Online Library
    • When you replace one file with another, the "Posted" date is automatically updated with the current date.
    • The "Critical" (or "Required") importance level is now displayed in red text.
  • Course Groups: A "Delete all course groups" tool was added.
  • Other: You can no longer access online courses using Firefox 3.0. Support for Firefox 3.0 ended in 2009.


Posted by Brian Klaas at 1:38 PM - Categories: Online Courses

Jan 4 2011

Remaking the BBS: Options and Subscriptions

In this installment in the "Remaking the BBS" series, we're going to look at some of the additional display options that are available to everyone in the BBS, and take a look at the revamped BBS email subscription services.

To begin, here's a mockup of the new BBS Options window:

BBS Options Window

The BBS options primarily revolve around the way messages will be displayed in the new BBS. You will have the option to:

  • Start on the "My BBS" page instead of the default view of the BBS when you click on the BBS link in the Communication Center.
  • Have the listing of all topics in all categories fully expanded by default, instead of you opening and closing categories to see the topics in those categories.
  • Always display all messages in the topic view, instead of having the messages you've already read hidden by default.
Additionally, the BBS Options screen allows you to subscribe and unsubscribe from whole categories, so that you get an email copy of every new message posted to any topic within the categories to which you subscribe. You can also unsubscribe from individual topics from this screen — a long-requested feature that wasn't possible in the old version of the BBS. This page lists all of your category and topic subscriptions in one place, which is a lot more convenient than jumping around from category to topic to topic to see your subscriptions.


Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:40 AM - Categories: Online Courses | Course Tools

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