Listed below is the text of an email I sent out on Monday, 12/6. . .
Whew! We’ve made it (almost) through another semester. Congratulations to us all.
This email contains some updates and goings on in the world of distance learning. Since increasingly Blackboard and online learning pertains to us all, I’m sending this message out on the firstname.lastname@example.org distribution list. Just prior to this email going out, I sent an email to the members of the email@example.com list with the word *membership* in the subject heading; if you didn’t get that email and want on that list, please send your name and email address to Bill Davis.
Distance Learning Blog
I am using a blog, BCTC Distance Learning, to share information about goings on in the world of online learning. I encourage you to subscribe. For those who don’t subscribe, I will periodically make reminders about the blog on the bl_onlineinstructors distribution list. I think this makes a good way for me to share information without unnecessarily cluttering inboxes. I’m also using the blog, which is fully searchable, to archive important information such as this email.
Instructor Presence in Bb Classes
With all the improvements to Blackboard and the low price of webcams, there’s a lot that instructors can do to make themselves seen and heard at a distance. Read this post about how you can easily add audio and video to your Blackboard class. The Distance Learning Office has recently purchased high definition cameras to help instructors who want to put better looking videos online. Contact us if you’re interested in using this. Remember that adding audio and video to Blackboard classes holds potential for face-to-face instructors as well. Why not make a lecture that your students listen to prior to class and then use your class time to discuss it?
I encourage you to provide students with an overview to your Blackboard course shells. Whether the shell is used to support a face-to-face or an online class, students benefit from having instructions on what content has been placed inside Blackboard and how to use it. Read here about how you can create short videos that capture what’s happening on your computer screen while recording your voice. This is a great way to make an overview to your class.
Distance Learning Advisory Committee
The DLAC is charged with representing faculty concerns about the direction of online learning. The committee has representation from each division. If you have concerns about anything pertaining to distance learning, share them with your DLAC rep. Of course, you can always direct those concerns to me.
On-Line Support Group
Let me take a moment to congratulate Cindy Baker and Cindy Tucker for their continued leadership of the On-Line Support Group. They meet monthly with online faculty members to discuss and troubleshoot any and everything related to online instruction. They also have an excellent Bb eCommunity. Send Cindy an email if you would like access to their eCommunity.
I want to highlight our eMentor program. The college eMentors provide assistance to new online instructors—and anyone else in the BCTC community who has questions about best practices in online learning. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Save Bb Gradebooks
If you are keeping your gradebook on Blackboard, I strongly recommend that you download a copy of it after turning in your grades. This is easy to do. From the control panel, click Grade Center/Full Grade Center. Then Work Offline/Download. Click Submit then Download. Then Save. <shhhh! Did anyone say Bb gets a bit clicky at times?>
Get Your Online Course Ready for Spring 2011
KYVC. If you are teaching classes in a BW mode (meaning your class is available to all students across KCTCS), be sure to update KYVC with your course information. Click here for directions on how to do this. *Tip* this is a great way to inform potential students about your textbook requirements, use of proctored exams and any special software needs.
PeopleSoft. Double check that your Spring 2011 classes appear on in PeopleSoft in the Faculty “My Schedule” area; if not, check with your AD or Office Manager.
Bb Availability. When you are ready to make your class available to your students, remember to change the Blackboard settings. From the Bb Control Panel, click customization/properties. Under “Set Availability” have “Make Course Available” read “yes”.
New syllabi checklists call for language about weather closings. Since online classes don’t close during weather events, it it might not be a bad idea to state this explicitly on your syllabus.
An adjunct instructor survey is ongoing through the end of the semester. Online adjunct faculty—please complete this. I am particularly interested in seeing your feedback. Please use the link sent to you. If you have lost that link email me or ask your program/area coordinator.
Thank you for time. I wish each of you a safe and relaxing holiday and prosperous new year. And if you’re on the move, safe travels.