Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Improvement and assessment: Growing your courses

It is that reflective time of year again for most educators when we review what worked and what did not over the course of the recent semester. It is also a time to embrace changes for improvement in course offerings and options. Are your courses adapting to your students' shifting needs? Do you seek to improve class activities, texts, and online space? It can be difficult to find the energy to tackle even small change in courses we are regularly instructing, but it can be incredibly rejuvenating for you and for your students.
This semester my institution is upgrading from the online course management system, Blackboard's, earlier version to the newer version 9. Many institutions have already made this change and any advice is greatly welcome! The newer version appears to embrace technology as more than a post/reply medium and allows new ways for students to engage and (hopefully) learn including wiki pages, a blog, better video embedding options, search tools, and more visualized learning features in the course controls area. I am excited to work with the new version and embrace the possibilities behind the upgrade but it is also a time to really assess what has been working well in my online course. New tools and technology in the classroom are only beneficial if they are employed purposefully and with pedagogical intent. This coming semester will be one to watch and see what works, what does not, and what new technological elements to explore in more depth before employing them in the course. There are many detailed webinars and help options on the BlackBoard page at http://www.blackboard.com.
During this break from the campus, I am using my time to enter data, analyze data on another project, and hopefully edit an article. But I am most looking forward to examining the new version of Blackboard and preparing my courses so the students can benefit from the new and exciting learning tools available to them.

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