Sunday, January 9, 2011

Supplementing your Course With Blackboard -- Day 3

So you have completed the checklist and created a skeleton for your course and now you are ready to add content. Start with the static items - the ones that won't (or shouldn't) change during the semester.  

Before you start, check out the I-CARE model for displaying information online. The presentation [special thanks to the folks at San Diego State University College of Education] is a bit dated (1997), but I think that adds to its appeal. Good online design didn't START in 2009, the principles are essentially the same, the tools have just become more advanced (remember doing HTML code manually? Probably not:)
At a minimum, add the following items. You should be able to release the course to students upon completion.
  • Welcome statement -- I borrowed this from the folks at Quality Matters. It is nice to have a blurb introducing students to the course. Share a little about yourself and perhaps include a brief activity to get the students immediately involved with contribution to the site. The idea of "Personalized Learning" [see our Nov 29 blog post] resonates here...though suited for blended/hybrid/online courses, some of the tips are universal.
  • Syllabus -- A syllabus is a contract between the instructor and student. [UDC's 2008 ABET review has some guidance for creating a syllabus] Posting this to Blackboard, in addition to handing it out in class, ensures students have access to what is required for class. You can attach as a file, or use Blackboard's syllabus builder [see tutorial for both]
  • Add Contact information/communication statement -- let students know your expectations [see videos from University of Texas faculty on setting expectations online] for checking the site... weekly, everyday? I like to give a finite amount of time... 1-2 hours a week. [Tips for Efficient and Effective Communications Using Blackboard]. I also find it helpful to let students know the response time for emails (typically one business day in my courses)
  • Add folders from your outline/skeleton (i.e. a place for: documents, Powerpoints, discussion boards, assessments -- see video below)

The best piece of advice I can offer when adding content is to FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED. When working online, you will find things get easier as you go. Doing a finite set of tasks in one sitting is much better than starting and stopping and starting and stopping.  

Spend an extra few minutes completing your tasks versus coming back to finish later. I can guarantee, it will take longer to remember where you left off, than it would have taken to finish in one sitting. Perhaps try the Pomodoro Technique (where you work in 25 minute increments), as discussed in the Wall St Journal as one way to get tasks done without interruption.

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