Archives for July 2009

Back-to-School Blackboard Seminar Series

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Educational Technology will be hosting a series of Blackboard training sessions in August to help instructors get prepared in using Blackboard for Fall semester. All instructors are welcome to attend.

All sessions will be held in Centennial Hall 105 (Technology Classroom) from 9 – 11 a.m. on the dates indicated below:

Date: Monday, August 10
Session: Introduction to Blackboard
Topics: Logging in to Blackboard
            Uploading Content
            Creating Assignments
            Organizing Content
            Customizing Blackboard
            Combining Courses
            Basic Features (groups, discussion boards, email, etc.)

Date: Tuesday, August 11
Session: Grade Center
Topics: Adding Grade Columns
            Entering/Changing Grades
            Organizing Grade Center
            Manage Categories
            Provide Feedback
            Sharing Grades with Students
            Troubleshooting

Date: Friday, August 14
Session: Advanced Blackboard Features
Topics: Learning Objects (Blogs and Wikis)
            Wimba Live Classrooms
            Wimba Voice Tools
            Adaptive Release

If you have questions or comments, or would like to suggest additional topics, please contact Educational Technology via email (edtech.mst.edu). We look forward to helping you be successful with Blackboard in Fall Semester 2009.

More resources and information about Blackboard can be found at:

http://edtech.mst.edu/servicesupport/blackboard/

Blackboard Intersession Maintenance August 12-13, 2009

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Blackboard will be undergoing intersession maintenance Wednesday, August 12, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on August 13, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Blackboard will be unavailable during these maintenance windows.

Please call the Help Desk with questions about this or any other issue at 573-341-HELP (4357).

The future of individualized instruction

paradigm-shift.gif ShrinkWrapped blog had an interesting post the other day about Paradigm Shifts, particularly focusing on how new researchers have “synthesized a new science of learning that is already reshaping how we think about learning and creating opportunities to re-imagine the classroom for the 21st century.”

Currently, most schools in this country offer education in the form of “collectivized” learning where all students are expected to learn at the pace of the slowest student in the class. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but the politics between teachers, school administrators, and state governments have created a very challenging and difficult situation for students and teachers who want to push beyond the expected norms. Creativity in providing individualized instruction has often been punished, or at the very least, discouraged by school administrators.

What is really interesting about the article ShrinkWrapped links to is that it is scientific confirmation in what we here in EdTech have believed for some time–the more ways you can provide the information to students, the more chances they have for being successful students. As the article puts it, “if we can create the right environment for a child, magic happens.”

The science fiction story ShrinkWrapped refers to is Henry Kuttner’s “Mimsy were the Borogroves“, an allusion to Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” poem. The story tells how two young children are presented with some radical new toys that teach them to think and act in ways that are very different than their parents can even comprehend. In fact, the younger of the two children (the daughter), who can barely speak, unravels the mysteries of the toys much faster than the older child. The older child (the son) has to translate what the daughter is doing for his father’s sake, but this father is simply too old to wrap his mind around the radical new concepts. Eventually, the children learn enough about their new toys to construct a portal through time and space to the origin of the toys (the far distant future). The father is left in the here and now (actually 1942, the timeframe of the story). 

Shrink’s point is that childrens’ minds are far more plastic and malleable than we ever suspected. Modern research is starting to confirm that children, and even adolescents to a lesser extent, can learn far more than what we are currently teaching them in the classroom. It is very well established that younger minds are able to learn multiple languages at a very young age, especially if children are forced to be bilingual or trilingual through their circumstances. When I lived overseas, I knew a fair number of people who spoke three or four languages fluently.

In the future, it is not inconceivable that everyone, regardless of income or personal circumstances, can receive a highly individualized instruction suited to their own unique learning styles. However, there are still some societal and institutional paradigm shifts that need to be made before this can become a reality. I’ve personally seen how difficult it can be for someone to understand a new way of teaching. However, I’ve also seen the “A HA!” moment that happens when the lightbulb finally clicks on. Unfortunately, no one ever seems to have the authority to provide the funding needed to make the proposed changes in education and teaching a reality.

NOTE: ShrinkWrapped is a professional psychoanalyst and has a number of interesting posts on a wide variety of topics. Also look at the comments for the Paradigm Shifts post for some interesting discussion

Sample Technology Supported by EdTech

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I recently had the opportunity to demonstrate a variety of technologies that EdTech supports to several members of the faculty on campus. I put together a few presentations and gave them a brief overview of what we had to offer, based on a request from the department chair. EdTech would be more than happy to give other departments the same information through a technology demonstration or other forum.

Here is the sample technology that I demonstrated. Note that there are other technologies that we also support.

SynchronEyes — Allows instructor to control/observe/share machines in a computer lab with the students.

SynchronEyes-Overview.pdf

TurningPoint/Clickers — Personal response devices (clickers) give students and instructors immediate feedback during lecture.

Clickers-TurningPoint-Overview.pdf
TurningPoint-Clickers-Introduction.ppt

Respondus — Test creation software that interfaces with Word and Blackboard to facilitate getting tests and other assessment tools online inside a Blackboard course.

Respondus-Overview.pdf
Intro-Respondus.pptx

Blogs and Wikis — Students can continue to learn and collaborate in an asynchronous learning environment, moderated by the instructor. Blogs and wikis are available in Blackboard.

Blogs-Wikis-Overview.pdf
Intro-Blogs-Wikis-final.pptx

EdTech Remembers Ken Arvieux

Ken-sm.jpgKen Arvieux, database services assistant for Educational Technology and for Project Management within IT, died Tuesday, June 30, 2009. Ken started working for EdTech as a temporary employee in January 2008 and was hired on full-time in November 2008.

Ken was a dedicated employee and a very hard worker for EdTech. He helped Gandalf Sidio to support the classroom technology during our first year of existence as an organization on campus. He also helped collect and organize a lot of the information we needed about the equipment we support. Ken’s efforts on behalf of EdTech really helped us become successful in our first year.

On a personal level, Ken was a good man to work with. He was very positive and cheerful in every way. He was very friendly to everyone he met in the department and on campus. Ken was extremely proud of his wife and his family. His son went on a mission trip last year to Mongolia. Fortunately, he was able to keep in touch with his son through the miracle of modern technology and could give us updates on how his son was doing so far from home. I think one of his happiest days in recent memory was the day his son came home.

Ken Arvieux was a good man and he will be missed.