Tips for Online Instructors Gleaned from Bb Conference

Nicole and KathiNicole and I recently attended the Blackboard World 2014 User Conference (yes, Vegas in July) and came back with a number of ideas that we’d like to share with you. Here are some of the usable best practices that could easily be implemented this semester:

  • In Blackboard’s discussion forums, use the setting “Participants must create a thread in order to view other threads in this forum”. This forces the student to create a post before any other post is visible.
  • In Blackboard’s discussion forums, allow students to rate each other’s posts. You find this in the “additional options” area.
  • Use Blackboard’s video anywhere feature to create short (3-5 minute) video introductions every week. These videos are uploaded to YouTube and can be posted from the Announcement page, a folder or learning module, even the discussion board, blog or wiki! You’ll find the little red video “Record from Webcam” on every text box editor, third row of icons, on the left. Jason Rhode, PhD, presented on this topic and made his slides available and provided some resource links.
  • At the close of every module, take a few minutes to prepare students for the next week’s material. In other words, your wrap-up should include a brief, where you are going next.
  • Make sure you have some low, medium as well as high stake assessments. The low and medium assessments (like challenges, puzzles and self-check activities) help students build confidence.
  • Include the student’s name whenever you write to him/her. For example, replying to a blog post write “John, I didn’t quite understand your point here….”
  • Remember, you are the “mother duck”– model the behavior you want your students to display!

Pretty simple ideas but they can really pay off in a big way. Give one or two of these a try and let us know if you notice a difference in your classes.

A few other interesting things we encourage you to follow-up or take a look at:

  1. The keynote speaker, Geoffrey Canada was amazing. You might want to check out some of his talks. Worth the time.
  2. Another keynote speaker, Joe Ito from MIT Creativity Lab had some pretty remarkable ideas. You might want to catch his Ted Talk on bottom-up innovation and see what he and others did after the 2011 Japan earthquake.
  3. Interesting website: the Internet in Real Time.