Synchronous Communication

Week 6 – Collaboration in Blackboard – 2/16/15

In a traditional classroom collaboration is natural, it doesn’t need to be planned or forced. In an online environment, it is quite different, since on the way to submitting an assignment it is, shall we say, highly unlikely, that one student will run into another and they will get into a deep conversation regarding the week’s topic. Hard to believe I know.

With that being said, as educators, we know that students learn best through interaction, so how can we provide this interaction in an online class. Let’s look as some options. This week we will be looking at synchronous tools, and next week we will look at asynchronous tools. There are of course many more tools than I will be able to mention here, so if there is a particular synchronous tool that you use, please feel free to add it in the comments at the bottom of the article this week. If there is an asynchronous tool you love, please add it next week. Any of these options can be done either with the entire class, or with the class divided into smaller groups, depending on what is more manageable for a chosen activity.

Synchronous Tools

Synchronous tools are tools that require everyone to be online at the same time. If synchronous tools are to be used, it is advised that students be made aware of this at the very beginning of the semester, if not earlier, as many students chose to take online courses because they cannot meet at a certain time due to other classes or life circumstances. It is also advised that if assigned after the semester begins, students should be given a few choices for times that work in their schedules.

Chat - Participants have an online discussion by typing short, text-based messages in Blackboard. Sort of like a real-time discussion board.  A great option for online office hours because they can be recorded and viewed later.

Virtual Classroom – A more robust version of the Chat, as it includes the test box for chatting, but also includes a Virtual Whiteboard to display course materials, websites and for drawing.

Saba Meeting – A tool provided by for faculty by ECU that takes the Virtual Classroom to the next level. With Saba Meeting, communication can be done either by chat or by microphone, and can also take advantage of live video streams. In addition to the “old fashion” whiteboard and presentations, a presenter can also share his desktop to demonstrate a program or browse the web. During a meeting, surveys can be given and breakout rooms can be set. Meetings can be recorded, but will be deleted unless requested each semester to be kept. Saba meeting is a great solution, but it can be rather technical, and sometimes students can have a hard time getting in, as typically Java needs to be updated/installed. Following the User Guide will usually help with the install process.

Second Life – If you are ready to take your students to a whole new way of learning, then Second Life is the way to go. I will warn you that there is a learning curve. In Second Life, you have an avatar and you can literally have the students sit in class, go on field trips, visit your office, the possibilities are endless. ECU even has a campus and its own Pirate Ship there. The more creative you are, the more you can make of it. In the past, I have seen a faculty member teaching Shakespeare require her students come to “class” dressed in Elizabethan garb and the students loved it. There are a lot of interesting, educational things that have been built that could possibly serve as great field trips: a Holocaust Museum, The Mayo Clinic, a Renaissance Gallery, New York City, Paris, even the RMS Titanic just to name a few.

So those are some synchronous ways you can encourage collaboration in your online class. A couple work directly in Blackboard and a couple can be linked in Blackboard and then taken outside. Are there others perhaps that you use synchronously? Use the comment area below to contribute what you use.

Next week we will talk about Asynchronous Tools that you can use in your classes to help encourage collaboration. Remember that any of these tools/activities can certainly be used in your seated classes as well to enhance collaboration amongst your students.

Throughout the semester, the OAA-Instructional Technology Team will be offering Professional Development opportunities. For more information on these opportunities, please visit the COE Professional Development website. To register for any professional development sessions, please use Cornerstone.

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Many of the ECU students and faculty attending the NC CEC conference in Pinehurst, North Carolina on January 29th and 30th 2015.

SPED Students Attend NC Council for Exceptional Children Conference

On January 29th and 30th 2015, members of ECU’s Student chapter of the North Carolina Council for Exceptional Children (NCCEC) attended the annual state conference in Pinehurst, North Carolina. In addition to attending presentations by experts in the field of special education from across the state, students volunteered to help make the conference possible by: introducing and assisting conference session presenters, helping out with the student scholarship raffle, working at registration booth and lending support to other integral parts of the conference.

In particular, Chelsea Skurow provided substantial assistance to Dr. Stacy Weiss, the state student coordinator, in advance of the conference and organized the student group’s visit to Pinehurst. Jordan McNeil, a graduate student in Special Education, presented at the student poster session on her research on technology assisted language instruction for students with autism. Grace Ferrell, a graduate student in Occupational Therapy, presented a poster with Dr. Chris Rivera on learning science vocabulary through multimedia shared stories. Dr. Melissa Hudson presented her work on differentiating instruction for students with disabilities.

ECU students attending the conference included Ayla Allen, Paige Anderson, Allison Bickford, Madison Bourn, Alecia Casetellano, Caroline Cummins, Kayla Dasch, Grace Ferrell, Katie Foley, Mackinsay Howe, Allison Keen, Victoria Locklear, Jeremiah McCoy, Jordan McNeil, Michelle Nendza, Callie Parker, Chelsea Skurow, Jenna Watral, and Catherine Wooten.

Ms. Ayla Allen (center) received a scholarship from NC Council for Exceptional Children. She is pictured here with NCCEC president Dr. Rose Matuszny (left) and president- elect Dr. Jessica Wery (right), at the state NCCEC Conference on Thursday, January 29, 2015.

NC Council for Exceptional Children Award Scholarship to ECU Student

Ayla Allen, a sophomore pursuing a bachelor’s degree in special education, adapted curriculum, recently was awarded a scholarship from the North Carolina Council for Exceptional Children (NCCEC).

Allen received this award for her dedicated service to students with disabilities through her work with the Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) here at East Carolina University. She has served as Social Chair of the SCEC and helped to organize a variety of fundraising and social events. Through SCEC, she has volunteered in area schools with students with disabilities and been an active member of several community organizations.

Allen supports current and future educators through her work as an Apple Ambassador for ECU where she speaks to and recruits high school students for careers in education and as Vice President for the Student North Carolina Association of Educators.

Photo Caption: Ms. Ayla Allen (center) received a scholarship from NC Council for Exceptional Children. She is pictured here with NCCEC president Dr. Rose Matuszny (left) and president- elect Dr. Jessica Wery (right), at the state NCCEC Conference on Thursday, January 29, 2015.

Crystal Chambers

Dr. Chambers Awarded the FSP Spring 2015 Arronette White Tuition Scholarship

Nat_Center_Faculty_Dev_Div_LogoThis Spring, Dr. Crystal Chambers, of the Educational Leadership Department, will participate in the 2015 Faculty Success Program (FSP) sponsored by the National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development (NCFDD).

The purpose of the program is to support faculty towards increasing overall productivity while attaining a healthy work/life balance. Dr. Chambers is attending courtesy of the Faculty Success Program Spring 2015 Arronette White Tuition Scholarship.

Dr. William Sugar
Associate Professor of Mathematics, Science,
and Instructional Technology Education
College of Education

Dr. Sugar Selected for COE 2015 Scholar-Teacher Award

Dr. Bill Sugar of the Department of Mathematics, Science and Instructional Technology Education (MSITE) has been selected to represent the College of Education for the 2015 Scholar-Teacher Award.

The ECU Scholar-Teacher Award recognizes outstanding faculty members who integrate scholarship and teaching. Each year the colleges in Academic Affairs and colleges and schools in Health Sciences recognize one or more scholar-teacher(s), based on the number of faculty in the unit.

During the symposium, each scholar-teacher provides a succinct presentation (approximately 15 minutes) concerning his/her integration of scholarship in teaching. Each recipient also develops a poster presentation or display for viewing during the symposium. This year the symposium will be held during the Annual Research & Creative Achievement Week: March 23 – 27, 2015.

Dr. Sugar will be presenting in on March 26th in Mendenhall 244 at 2:50 p.m. on the topic of “Studies of Instructional Design Practices: Recent Research and Takeways.” Faculty, staff, students, and community friends are encouraged to attend all or parts of the afternoon symposium and to enjoy another wonderful celebration of scholarship and teaching at ECU!

MLS Faculty Celebratory Luncheon Feb 2015

ECU’s Master of Library Science Program Earns ALA Accreditation

It is with great pleasure that the East Carolina University Master of Library Science degree program is able to announce that their degree program is now accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).

ALA accredited sealALA accreditation provides students, and alumni who qualify, the ability to apply for library positions in any library setting. ALA accreditation is seen as essential to MLS graduates seeking employment in academic and public libraries. It is a required standard by the Association of College and Research Libraries. Graduating from an ALA-accredited program provides greater flexibility in the types of libraries that students and alumni can apply for and enhances career mobility. Most employers, except school libraries, require an ALA-accredited master’s for most professional level positions.

ALA accreditation indicates that the program has undergone a self-evaluation process, been reviewed by peers, and meets the Standards established by the American Library Association and Committee on Accreditation. Students currently in the program will receive an accredited degree upon graduation.

Alumni who graduated in 2013 and 2014 now have an accredited degree as well. However, for alumni who have graduated prior to 2013, the program cannot offer a path to altering their degree to become an accredited one, for example, taking an additional set of courses now that the program is accredited.

Captain Arrrgh Headshot

From the TRC: Ronnie Barnes African-American Resource Collection

It’s Thursday, and another edition of From the TRC is published to highlight another service or resource the Teaching Resources Center in Joyner Library has to support the College of Education’s faculty and students. This week, it’s the Ronnie Barnes African-American Resource Collection.

Granted, it is Black History Month and that may be one reason why the Ronnie Barnes African-American Resource Collection is the subject of this week’s post. But, honestly, the main reason is to call attention to this valuable, yet underused resource in the Teaching Resources Center.

Allow me to back that statement up with numbers. So far this school year the Ronnie Barnes Collection has accounted for less than one (1) percent of the books circulated in the TRC. If that doesn’t sound small enough I’ll dig a little deeper into the statistics. Since July 2014, the TRC has accounted for 47%, on average, of Joyner Library’s monthly total circulation of books. What does that mean? Well, out of the 20,460 books that have been checked out from the TRC since July only 161 (0.7%) have come from the Ronnie Barnes Collection. Here’s why the collection is worth checking out any time of year:

Ronnie Barnes

Ronnie Barnes, ECU Class of ’75

Ronnie Barnes, an eastern North Carolina native, was the first graduate of ECU’s Sports Medicine program in 1975 and is the Senior Vice President of Medical Services and Head Athletic Trainer for the New York Giants of the National Football League. In 2002, he endowed a fund to develop and maintain a collection of materials written or illustrated by African-Americans, or about the African-American experience.

The children’s collection includes:

  • Coretta Scott King Award books
  • Caldecott Award books about African-Americans or by African-American authors or illustrators.
  • Newbery Award books about African-Americans or by African-American authors or illustrators.
  • Biographies of African-Americans for K12 students

Additionally, the adult collection contains all genres, from scholarly books  to general fiction. The adult collection is highlighted on an annual rotating basis. At the end of each year, these materials rotate out of the Ronnie Barnes Collection into Joyner Library’s general stacks.  The call numbers in the Ronnie Barnes Collection begin with “Barnes.”

For more resources to use in the classroom for Black History month click on these TRC and Joyner Library resources:

Not sure how to put these resources to use? Here are some lesson plan ideas for Black History Month from the National Education Association, Education World, Scholastic, Smithsonian Education, National Endowment for the Humanities, AfricanAmericanHistoryMonth.gov, African-American History Through the Arts, and PBS.

Until next time. – Dan Z. in the TRC

COE_Graduation_for_Screens_May15

College of Education Graduate Recognition Ceremony – May 9, 2015

The College of Education Graduate Recognition Ceremony is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, 2015 in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The faculty and staff of the College of Education are pleased to present a special Graduate Recognition Ceremony (GRC) for our graduates. The ceremony will feature individual recognition of College of Education students receiving degrees. Friends and families of the graduates are cordially invited to attend. It is not necessary for graduates or guests to RSVP for this event. Tickets are not required to attend the ceremony.

For University Commencement Ceremony details and information about the ECU Commencement Weekend, please visit http://www.ecu.edu/commencement.

clipboard

Week 5 – Tips for Tests in Blackboard – 2/9/15

Giving your tests using Blackboard is a great option whether you have a seated, hybrid or online class. Tests given in Blackboard allow for many question types that are self-grading, which can make your life much easier and save a lot of time. Plus you can get statistics on the questions and the results. This can help you to identify a possible bad question. As great as tests are in Blackboard, there are a couple of tips you want to keep in mind when setting up your test.

  1. Always time your tests – You do not want to allow students to work on a test for more than a reasonable amount of time. The amount of time will vary depending on the question types. In Blackboard, once the time expires, the test does not stop and will record the amount of time given versus the amount of time taken.
  2. Don’t make your tests too long – Having a test that is over an hour long is really unrealistic – even an hour long exam is stretching it. If you have a lot of material to cover, why not break it down into multiple exams? Maybe a 2 hour exam broken into 30 minute chunks. This will give the students an opportunity to take a break every so often without being penalized.
  3. Turn Force Completion off – This option is often misunderstood. Instead of using Force Completion, set up a time limit. The way the time limit works is that once a student begins the test, their time starts. If the student exits the test for any reason – voluntary or otherwise – the time continues. So if a student works on a test for 15 minutes, then leaves and goes to work for 8 hours and then returns and completes the test in 45 minutes, the timer will show that it took 9 hours for the student to take the test. It is a misconception that the time stops on the test when the student comes out of the test. The benefit of using this feature though is the student could be kicked out of a test involuntarily, but can then go right back in and continue where he left off. With the test submission issues in Blackboard, this is something to definitely take advantage of.
  4. Randomize your questions and answers – If you use a set of questions, make sure you check to randomize the questions, so that everyone does not receive the questions in the same order. Even if you are randomly pulling questions from a large pool, there is a good chance that students will run into the same questions. If you at least randomize the answers, the order for multiple choice questions will at least be different (if you do though, remember the “none of the above” answer will need to be modified to something like “none of the other answers are correct.” Also, if you have several questions referring to a single image, make sure the image is included in each relevant question.
  5. Narrow Test Availability – When you are determining your start and end dates for a test, narrow the amount of time you give for the test to be taken, if at all possible, try to include at least one weekend day since many students work and/or have other classes. No more than 2-3 days should be adequate for all. You could even reduce it to one day or a certain time frame, but be sure to announce that on the first day of the semester, so arrangements can be made as necessary by the students.
  6. Do Not Reveal Answers – Set up the test so when a student completes an attempt, the score is the only thing shown. Once your classes, or all classes using the test, have completed the test, go back in and reveal whatever else you’d like to show them (correct answers, their answers, feedback, etc.).
  7. Use Exceptions – If you have students who require extra time, make it easy on yourself and set that up in the test options before you start a test. If you end up with a student who needs to take the test a second time, or on a date other than the dates you’ve specified, you can use these Availability Exceptions to allow it for a particular student or students without having to set up another version of the test that will confuse your gradebook and the rest of your class.
  8. Update Tests Regularly – Do not use the same tests each semester. There is no reason to believe students from one semester won’t share a test from another semester. Remove the effect this could have by regularly updating tests. Even if you don’t completely overhaul all of your questions, at least integrate some new questions and rework some of the old ones.
  9. Help Students Be Successful – There are several things you can do to help your students be successful when taking tests online. Following are some tips:
    • Encourage your students not to use Internet Explorer
    • Encourage your students to use a Wired Internet Connection
    • Tell your students not to double click and be patient
    • Tell your students not to use the Browser Refresh or Back buttons while taking a test
    • Tell your students not to use the Return/Enter key while taking the test except when typing an answer to an essay question
    • If giving essay questions, have the student type directly into the text box within the test rather than going into Word and copying and pasting into the test. Word brings in a lot of extra code that can cause problems within the test.
    • Advise your students to keep the window with the test active and not go to or open other windows.
    • Advise students to let the page load completely before starting to answer questions.
    • Advise students not to leave the exam until they have completed it. Even if Force Completion is turned off, time set for the exam will continue even if the exam is closed out.
    • Advise students when they finish an exam to click Submit only once.
  10. Grade by Question, not by Student – When the time comes to grade essay questions, take advantage of the option in the Grade Center at the top of the test column to Grade by Question.