January 2013

January 2013

ECU Faculty and Staff: Happy New Year! We hope that your semester is off to a great start. Check out this month’s learning technology news to learn more about Classroom Lecture Capture, Blackboard Assessment Best Practices, the upcoming 8th Think-In and more.

In this edition:

  • Technology for Thought
  • Lecture Capture Classrooms – Mediasite and Tegrity
  • Blackboard News: Assessment Best Practices
  • Think-In 2013: April 3rd
  • What is Second Life?
  • New Resource for Turning Technologies Clickers
  • Custom Multimedia for Instruction
  • Upcoming Training

Technology for Thought

Lecture Capture Classrooms – Mediasite and Tegrity

ECU supports two lecture capture systems that enable you to record and share your classroom lectures. Mediasite is the hardware solution available in over 40 classrooms on campus and Tegrity is the software solution available in 17 classrooms. Tegrity also offers a desktop recorder so you can record instructional content anywhere, anytime. It’s not too late to get started with either technology this semester! Here’s what one instructor had to say after using Tegrity: “Students reported to me that they changed the way they take notes in class (writing down time periods in lecture) so that when they reviewed the Tegrity lecture they could more easily review the specific content areas they wanted to review in more detail. The students love adding this resource! Thank you!!”

We invite you to take advantage of the lecture capture classrooms and get started recording your lectures, test reviews and other instructional content. Both solutions will provide your face-to-face students’ access to lectures which they can review as often as needed. You can also enable your distance education students to view the exact same lecture given to your face-to-face students either live or when it’s convenient to them. Students enjoy having access to recorded lectures and when surveyed, they ask for more classroom lecture capture usage campus wide.

More about Mediasite Classrooms: MediaSite captures high quality full motion video and content presented on the instructor’s station, such as a PowerPoint presentation or software demonstration. Mediasite can be viewed live from a student’s computer as if they were watching a live television broadcast. Mediasite is very user friendly, and you do not need any advanced training. You simply teach class as you normally would and Mediasite does the rest. To locate Mediasite classrooms on campus, search for hardware lecture capture in the Technology-Enhanced Classrooms Database.

How do you get started with Mediasite? Contact the Instructional Technology Consultant (ITC) for your Academic Unit. Your ITC can help get your class added to Mediasite and scheduled to automatically record each time your face-to-face class meets. Your ITC can also help show you how to use the microphones and equipment in the rooms and show you what content is captured by Mediasite. To find the ITC for your Academic Unit, or for more information about ITCs, please visit: http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/itc/.

More about Tegrity Classrooms: Tegrity is integrated with Blackboard which makes the upload and sharing process easy for you to manage. You simply walk into the classroom, activate the Tegrity Recorder, and upon completion of your class, upload the video to your students through Blackboard. If you’d like, we’ll even assist with your first few class recordings. Visit our Tegrity blog or search for software lecture capture in the Technology-Enhanced Classrooms Database to locate Tegrity classrooms.

In addition, Tegrity offers a recorder for your desktop. Now you can easily record content to “flip your classroom”, capture test reviews, explain assignment instructions, demonstrate software, record microlectures and more. Tegrity records your desktop activity, audio, and web-cam video, (which is optional if you’re camera shy). Click here to view an Introduction to Tegrity for Instructors. Follow this link to view some examples of how other instructors are using Tegrity: http://www.tegrity.com/showcase.

Here’s what one student had to say about Tegrity: “I really like being able to see/hear what the teacher had to say regarding our assignments as well as better clarification of examples. As a distance education student, this really allowed me to feel more connected to the classes”.

How do you get started with Tegrity? To ensure your success, we recommend that you attend a training session or view our new online training videos. To have the Tegrity Classes link enabled in your Blackboard course(s), please complete the Tegrity Course Request form at the IT Help Desk. If you have any questions, please contact us at Tegrity@ecu.edu.

Blackboard News

As you begin the semester and start planning, building, or fine tuning your assessments in Blackboard, we would like to share some Test Creation Information and Best Practices.

  • Assignment Tool (creates link for students) – download the PDF
  • Creating and Deploying Tests – download the PDF
  • Creating a Test From a Pool – download the PDF
  • Test-Taking Troubleshooting Tips for Instructors – download the PDF
  • Test-Taking Tips for Students – Share with Students – PDF
  • Rubrics with Assessments – download the PDF

Browser Info Reminder: Blackboard works best using Firefox as the browser (for Macs also); please remind your students. The gradebook is especially noticeable (slow, not working properly) if you are using Internet Explorer instead of Firefox. See Blackboard’s Supported Browsers.

Blackboard Test/Exam Failure Avoidance: Best Practices

The suggestions provided are directly from Blackboard technical support. Exams with a high rate of failure may have some of the following characteristics:

  • Avoid creating large exams involving many and/or complex questions and presented all at once.
    • 50 questions is a lot of questions. SOLUTION – break up larger exams into smaller exams taken in a sequence vs. one large exam.
    • Large exams also create much more server load when submitting the final exam, which can lead to failures due to application overload when groups of users submit at the same time. SOLUTION – Stagger exam submission times when possible.
    • Train users to save their attempt every 10-15 minutes (but avoid too-frequent saves, which may overload the application). SOLUTION – train student to use the “SAVE ALL” option during an exam every 5-7 minutes if they are in the middle of working on a problem.
    • *Avoid randomized display order for exams using question-by-question (one at a time) display. SOLUTION – None. Only use this feature if you believe it is needed for the test being given.
    • *When using random selection of questions from pools, keep the overall exam especially short. SOLUTION – None. Only use this feature if you believe it is needed for the exam being given.

*Regarding pools and randomizing questions: If you are using a Random Block of questions for a given exam be sure NOT to use the “Randomize Display” option. This is not helpful and definitely puts unwanted strain on the Blackboard assessment engine.

In summary, the above suggestions are a best-practices roadmap to making better and more reliable exams. All of these features have been used by hundreds of ECU faculty for many years. With confidence, we can say that the large majority of Blackboard exams are submitted/completed without incident. The suggestions provided will be most helpful for faculty having consistent issues with student test completion.

If your students ever experience any issues taking your Blackboard exams please report these issues as soon as possible to either Matt Long (longm@ecu.edu) or Cindy Bowers (bowersc@ecu.edu). When reporting these issues please include the following information: Course ID, Test location and name, Student email ID, and symptoms (behavior/details, browser, PC or Mac). If we cannot determine the exact reason of your exam failure we will report this issue to Blackboard for further investigation.

Keep in mind exam failures can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as wireless network, local computer problems, third party software running in the background, exam content (rare but does happen sometimes), and/or exam settings (see above for more information).

Think-In 2013: Teaching with Technology Showcase
April 3rd, Joyner Library

Please mark your calendar for the 8th Think-In. This year’s event will offer a new format and new location! In addition to the popular poster presentations, the Think-In will offer breakout rooms for formal presentations, panel presentations and a few “un-conference” gatherings. Watch your email for the upcoming call for proposals.

What is Second Life?

Second Life combines the richness of the “flat” Web with advanced simulation technology to create a seamless digital version of the real world – where you can create anything you can imagine and teach a class in an environment you design.

In Second Life, you can meet with distant colleagues and students “face-to-face” through digital avatars, collaborate on a project as if you were in the same location, or develop a model or project plan together in real time. Teach your students as if standing in front of them in a traditional class, discuss material in real-time, visit other universities, countries, or research areas to collaborate with instructors and students.

Who Uses Second Life?

Second Life is being used widely by both the public and the private sector, including over 400 universities from around the world. In Second Life business and industry are building prototypes for new products, they are training a global workforce, and marketing to consumers in new ways. The US Government is using Second Life or OpenSim for research projects and military training as well as establishing recruiting centers.

Our team provides training, support, and development services so you can fully explore how Second Life and virtual worlds can enhance your projects or classes. Contact Sharon Collins to establish your virtual world presence, collinss@ecu.edu.

Audience Response System – New Turning Technologies (Clicker) Resource

We are excited to announce that we have a Turning Technologies intern on campus to provide training and support for Turning Technologies clickers. Training sessions will be offered beginning in February and you can sign up on the ECU Training calendar (http://training.ecu.edu/). If you have questions or need assistance, please contact us at clickers@ecu.edu or 252- 737-1266.

Think-In 2013
Mark your calendars for April 3, 2013! This spring we will host the 8th Think-In in Joyner Library. Think-In 2013 will offer presenters and attendees a new format – concurrent breakout sessions and the ever popular poster presentations. Watch for the upcoming call for proposals!

Custom Multimedia for Instruction

You may not be aware that ITCS has more than technology tools and collaborative platforms available to ECU faculty. We’re proud of our University Multimedia Center (UMC), which is a resource that designs and develops multimedia projects for faculty.

An example of one of the UMC’s completed projects is “Politics of a Massacre: Discovering Wilmington 1898” a project for Karen Zipf (History). The purpose of this project is to share information about the Wilmington, North Carolina Race Riot of 1898. It includes maps, interactive timeline, information about key players and a 3d simulation of Wilmington following the path of the events. The site is used in teaching and in scholarly exploration of the events that offer archival resources for some of the most significant documents, images, and links related to the only known coup d’etat in the history of the United States. To visit the site: http://core.ecu.edu/umc/Wilmington/

How can we help you? To initiate a project, submit a proposal at: http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/umc/proposalform.cfm or contact Laurie Godwin (godwinl@ecu.edu).

Upcoming Training

The ECU Training calendar is full of learning technologies training from Blackboard to Classroom Technology to Tegrity – we’ve got something for everyone! http://training.ecu.edu

© 2013 ITCS at East Carolina University. ECU Learning Technologies Digest is published by Information Technology and Computing Services.

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