Monday, April 30, 2012

Tips to think about when developing online resources to ensure that they are accessible

Keep it simple. Say what you want to say and be done with it. Include well defined headings and separate your content into readable chunks. Bling and flashy extras can create frustration for screen reader users.

Good color contrast. Foreground colors should be easy to read over the background colors. Think about using: AccessColor - it is a good color contrast analyzer.

Captioning or transcripts. Videos should be captioned – Period. If you are not able to caption, please include a transcript. YouTube offers a captioning option.

Labels. All images and tables that display useful content should have a description with the basic point the image or table is trying to portray. Screen readers such as JAWS rely on these descriptions.

Text size adjustment. Most modern browsers allow for text size adjustments through the “ctrl ++” or “ctrl -” commands. Use text wraps to prevent the text from crowding when enlarged.

Keyboard navigation. Provide keyboard access points to allow screen reader users and other non-mouse users to navigate the page. Include a skip content option so that the keyboard commands don’t have to slog through unwanted information


Source: Integrating accessibility features into technical content:


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The BIG Question Syllabus

As faculty and campus academic leaders search for ways to ensure learning success and outcomes, the notion of big questions, deep learning, and high impact courses is all the buzz on college campuses. BIG questions are not new, Socrates asked big questions and the Socratic Method has been a successful pedagogical approach used by many across nearly all disciplines. Barbie Honeycutt recently conveyed an approach whereby faculty may stimulate students to read and engage with the syllabus. The Honeycutt (2012) strategy claims to stimulate discussion, create curiosity, and assess students' knowledge on the first day of class. Honeycutt proposes that faculty construct big picture questions around each of the learning outcomes contained in the syllabus and chunk related ideas.

Perhaps you might be teaching a course on Media and Politics and one of your course learning outcomes is for students to be able to discuss current issues in political science that are informed by popular media and scholarly sources. As you review your syllabus, Honeycutt would ask professors to construct BIG questions to facilitate learning. In the example above, one might consider asking students to address the question: “What are the differences (include strengths and weaknesses) between sources of popular media and sources of scholarly evidence?" After you write the first BIG question, go ahead and write additional questions for each of the learning outcomes.

The second step to this approach would involve reviewing the syllabus and expected outcomes, looking for areas that are related where one might embed a discussion. For example, in a Media and Politics course, one might find a relationship between an assignment on writing a scholarly paper and the distinctions between sources of popular media and sources of scholarly evidence. How might the professor draw-out correlations and discussion to hone thinking? The idea is to chunk together areas of relatedness and develop questions that will demand that students wrestle with vague ideas and make sense on their own with the guidance of the professor. The key is to get students to think, work through problems and make sense of the larger questions. Good Luck as you enhance your next syllabus with BIG questions.


Dr. Barbi Honeycutt is the Founder of Flip It Consulting, which is designed to help presenters, teachers, and managers reverse the design of "traditional" presentations, classes, and meetings. She also serves as an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Leadership, Policy, Adult and Higher Education and the Director of Graduate Teaching Programs at NC State University.

Source: Faculty Focus (April 16, 2012) A Syllabus Tip: Embed Big Questions.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How to Export a Course From Blackboard

It is the time of year to discuss how to backup by way of export your Blackboard course. Each faculty member is allowed 150 MB of space on the Blackboard platform to support each of their courses. While UDC does backup all courses, faculty should also keep a copy of their Blackboard site as a file for easy access and importation. Moreover, the Center for Academic Technology (CAT) needs to archive and remove courses from the production site to maintain contractual agreements. When you export your courses, the export file contains all of the content of your Blackboard site and can be used to copy the course for a new semester. This is very helpful as you build a new course. So how do we go about exporting our courses?

Access the Archive Course Link


NOTE: Use the IMPORT PACKAGE option to upload (import) your archived course back into a new course shell.

Select Export


Choose to Copy the Course


I recommend copying all content. You can always choose NOT to import items, so it's better to save everything. Once you hit SUBMIT, the system will take a few minutes (you will receive an email when done) to package the file. Please check your email inbox @udc.

Save the File


Save the file to your computer.

If you need further help, please call the 24 hour Blackboard helpline at 202-274-5665  or toll free: 877-736-2585

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Learn the Periodic Table of Elements

Learning the periodic table of elements has never been easier!  The Google Play App called Socratica has over 30 facts about each element to make learning the elements easier. The APP also includes audio clips to help with pronunciation, tests to quiz how well the learning is going, and prompts to assist in finding the elements by table, search or index. The App is free, was recently updated (August 2011), has been downloaded and rated by over 5000 users, and requires an Android 2.1 devise and up. The App rates 4.4 out of 5 stars!

Socratica          Socratica 1