Interactive Blackboard Tools Case Studies – Wikis

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This case study is based on and includes extracts from the Student-led Planning of Tourism and Hospitality Education: The Use of Wikis to Enhance Student Learning book chapter written by Dr Mandy Talbot (Aberystwyth Business School) and published in the Routledge Handbook of Tourism and Hospitality Education.

What tool do you use and how? 

Dr Mandy Talbot used Blackboard wikis to facilitate a student led, collaborative learning project (…) on the second year, bachelor degree module: international tourism development. (…) The module course work required students to work in small groups to identify and evaluate the tourism development strategies that were being followed in given tourist destinations and to compare these with approaches being taken elsewhere. Due to the collaborative and interactive nature of the assignment the most suitable web tool was the wiki.’

Why did you choose this tool? 

Before implementation of wikis ‘students undertook the exercise by creating and delivering a group PowerPoint presentation of 15 minutes to the class, with a further 10 minutes for questions.’ Dr Mandy Talbot changed the format of this assessment in order to:

  1. ‘Improve the cohesiveness of student group work: The wiki format provides a collaborative work space for students to develop their work’
  • ‘Provide students with more opportunity to interact with the work of other groups: The wiki format enables students to visit each other’s’ presentations over an extended time period. Wiki pages also have comment boxes which enable students to pose questions and engage in discussion on the other sites.’
  • ‘Develop student IT skills: Students will learn how to create and structure web pages’.
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Interactive Blackboard Tools Case Studies – Tests

The second case study on using interactive Blackboard tools showcases effective use of tests for summative and formative assessment by Dr Ruth Wonfor from IBERS.

  • What tool do you use and how?

I use Blackboard tests for either formative or summative tests in most of my modules.

  • Why did you choose this tool?

I’ve chosen to use Blackboard tests for a variety of reasons. For summative tests, I have used these in a first year module on anatomy and physiology. This module provides a lot of foundation knowledge on basic biology that is used by students in future modules, therefore I wanted to design an assessment that would enable me to test a wide variety of topics across the module that meets quite a broad learning outcome. The use of multiple choice tests has worked really well for this and it fits really nicely with the work I do in this module to try to get students to use flashcards in their learning. Students can really see the benefit of the flashcards through this test.

For the formative assessments, I have chosen to use Blackboard tests for quite a range of reasons. I have previously tended to use them to allow students to test their knowledge at the end of a topic. However, whilst we have been teaching online I have started to use them to ask questions that I would have asked in the lecture to check understanding. This has been great to help me to structure the learning and ensure that students aren’t rushing onto new sections without fully understanding what they needed to in the previous section.

  • How did you design the activity using this tool?

How I design the Blackboard tests very much depends on what I am using them for. The summative tests are quite rigid with only multiple-choice questions. I tend to use standard question formats, such as choose the correct answer to a question, choose the correct statement or what structure is the arrow pointing to on an image. Whilst students have been able to take this test at home during Covid-19, I have also introduced some short answer questions into the multiple-choice test. These have worked really well to prevent students just looking up every multiple-choice answer and giving a good marks distribution.  

For the formative tests I use a wider range of options in the questions to fit what I want the students to learn.  For example, I’ve used the matching questions after going through terminology, so that student have to match the terms with the correct description. I also try to use the feedback in these formative tests to get the students to direct their learning. So instead of telling students that they have answered a question incorrectly and what the correct answer should have been, I instead use the feedback to direct the students to the slide or section of the lecture where they can find the answer, hopefully encouraging students to structure their learning and revision further.

Finally, whilst we have been teaching online I have found adaptive release combined with the BB tests really useful for structuring topics. I often start some lectures with a bit of revision of information that they should have covered in previous modules that is the basis of the topic we are covering in that session. Therefore, I’ve used BB tests to cover this revision. I use the feedback to direct the students to further information if they need to brush up their knowledge and then use adaptive release to only release the topic to them once they have attempted the revision quiz. The students get clear instructions that they need to have a go at the quiz and then they will get access to the lecture topic. This seemed to work well and so it is something that I hope to keep in place for future years so that I can remove the revision from the lectures, allowing more time for application of the knowledge gained in the lectures.

  • What do your students think of this tool?

I’ve had pretty good feedback from students about the use of the BB tests, a lot have said that they have found them really useful to help them revise and go over topics to understand where they need to put more effort into their further study. I’ve also helped to reduce student anxiety about the final summative test by using formative tests throughout the module. As the summative test I use is on a first-year module in semester 1, students are often quite anxious about what to expect at university level. I can therefore direct them towards the formative tests as examples of the level of questions that they will be expected to answer in the exam.

  • Do you have any tips for people who want to use this tool?

My main tip would be to allow yourself a fair bit of time to construct the tests. The initial start up to write good questions and feedback for the students takes a while. However, once you have spent that time, you have the tests ready to roll out each year. It is well worth the time spent to help the students and get an idea of their understanding and where you may need to clarify topics again. Also make sure that you take the tests yourself! I’ve noticed a few mistakes or questions that need further clarification when taking the test myself and it’s really useful to see how the student will see the final question formatting in their view.

We would like to thank Dr Ruth Wonfor for sharing her experiences of using Blackboard tests.

If you like to learn more about tests please take a look at the Blackboard Tests – Creating Online Assessment Activities for your Students post and the FAQs.

If you are planning to use Blackboard tests for online examination, please get in touch with us at elearning@aber.ac.uk.

Interactive Blackboard Tools Case Studies – Discussion Boards

We are pleased to present the first case study on using interactive Blackboard tools featuring the use of discussion boards by Dr Martine Garland from Aberystwyth Business School.

Discussion boards were thus a way of recreating the discussion we may have had in class, this led to over 900 posts during the semester.’

What tool do you use and how?

I use discussion boards on a core 1st year marketing module with 97 students. They are used in a very structured way to provide students with an opportunity to apply a theory, model or framework they have just learnt about. I found that with the blended approach adopted in response to Covid-19, students were studying recorded asynchronous content out of synch with the week in which it was intended they should study the topic. This meant that in live MS Teams sessions it was difficult to use that time to do topic specific exercises and create debate as many students had not yet covered the topic. Discussion boards were thus a way of recreating the discussion we may have had in class, this led to over 900 posts during the semester.

Why did you choose this tool?

I chose this tool as it was very straightforward to embed into the asynchronous learning structure and to signpost students to it at the relevant moment in their studies. Each recorded lecture had three ‘discussion points’ that were designed to meet learning outcomes related to application of learning. Having worked through online learning content on a topic, the discussion point asked them to share their experience or a relevant example, and to enter into deeper conversation about the real-world application of a theoretical construct.

How did you design the activity using this tool?

In the PowerPoint of the recorded lecture, I used a consistent icon to indicate discussion, then included directions that they should pause the video, make some notes, then when they have finished the lecture, go to the ‘discussion space’ and share their thinking.

I also used the discussion board functionality to set and receive ‘collaborative task’ activities. They could read the brief at the top of the thread, and they then posted their groups outputs in the thread. It was termed the ‘Collaboration site’ but was just using the discussion board tool.

What do your students think of this tool?

I think it was mixed, some students didn’t engage at all, although the majority did (bear in mind they were awarded marks for participation and engagement). Several students cited the discussion boards in their MEQ feedback:

“I absolutely loved this module. the teacher was exemplary, and she was very focused throughout the module. The discussion board was the best part of module as it gave us the space to apply the theories. overall, one of the best modules in my first year.”

“With everything going on, this module has been run very well this semester. Lots of online content to do and discussion forums for students to discuss the topics covered has made it a very engaging module.”

Do you have any tips for people who want to use this tool?

Make it very clear what you are asking them to do and where they can find it. Encourage students to upload an avatar so the discussion is not so faceless. Certainly for year 1 modules, consider awarding marks for participation an engagement in things like discussion boards, wikis etc. Blackboard reports provide you with a quick and easy way of seeing who is doing what, where and when.

A huge thank you to Dr Martine Garland for sharing this case study. If you like to learn more about discussion board please take a look at the Blackboard Tools for Group Work (Blogpost 4): Discussions post and the discussion boards FAQs.

Call for Case Studies – Blackboard Interactive Tools

We are looking for staff who would like to share their experiences of using Blackboard interactive features, e.g. blogs, journals, wikis, tests, discussion boards. We welcome case studies in any format, e.g. short text, a video, voice memo. These case studies would be included on our blog and used in future training sessions. Please sent your case studies to lteu@aber.ac.uk 

To learn more about different interactive Blackboard features:

Blogs & journals:

Interactive Blackboard Tools Series – Journals and Blogs (Part 1)

Blackboard Tools for Group Work (Blogpost 2): Blogs

Wikis:

Blackboard Tools for Group Work (Blogpost 3): Wikis

Tests:

Blackboard Tests – Creating Online Assessment Activities for your Students

Discussion boards:

Blackboard Tools for Group Work (Blogpost 4): Discussions

Mini-Fest: Assessment – 17th May – 21st May

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The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce its first mini-festival. The aim of the mini-fest is to bring together training sessions and workshops offered by LTEU around a particular topic with an external speaker. For this first mini-fest, we’ll be looking specifically at assessment. The mini fest will run from Monday 17th May until Friday 21st May and will be taking place online via Teams. Please book on the sessions that you wish to attend on our online booking system.

We are going to be joined by Professors Sally Brown and Kay Sambell to talk about assessment design post covid on Monday 17th May for a 2-hour workshop at 10.30am. Their paper Writing Better Assignments in the post Covid19 Era has been widely discussed across the sector since last summer:

Improving assessment and feedback processes post-pandemic: authentic approaches to improve student learning and engagement.

This workshop is designed to build on lessons learned during the complex transitions academics made last year when face-to-face on-campus assessment became impossible. A whole range of approaches were used by academics globally not only to cope with the contingency but also to streamline assessment and more fully align it with learning.

We now have an important opportunity to change assessment and feedback practices for good by boosting the authenticity of our designs to ensure they are future-fit.  Drawing on their work undertaken throughout 2020, https://sally-brown.net/kay-sambell-and-sally-brown-covid-19-assessment-collection/ the facilitators of this workshop Professor Kay Sambell and Professor Sally Brown will argue that we can’t ever go back to former ways of assessment and will propose practical, manageable approaches that fully integrate assessment and feedback with learning, leading to improved outcomes and longer-term learning for students.

Professor Kay Sambell is an Independent Consultant widely known internationally for her contributions to the Assessment for Learning (AfL) movement in higher education. A 2002 National Teaching Fellow (NTF) and Principal Fellow Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), she is President of the vibrant Assessment in Higher Education (AHE) conference series, ( https://ahenetwork.org/) and Visiting Professor of Assessment for Learning at the University of Sunderland and the University of Cumbria. Kay has held personal chairs in Learning and Teaching at Northumbria University, where she co-led one of the UK Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning which specialised in AfL, and, more recently, at Edinburgh Napier University.   

Kay.sambell@cumbria.ac.uk

Website: https://kaysambell.wordpress.com

Professor Sally Brown is an Independent Consultant in Learning, Teaching and Assessment and Emerita Professor at Leeds Beckett University where she was, until 2010, Pro-Vice-Chancellor. She is also Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University and formerly at the Universities of Plymouth, Robert Gordon, South Wales and Liverpool John Moores and at Australian universities James Cook Central Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. She is a PFHEA, a Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) Senior Fellow and an NTF. She is widely published on learning, teaching and particularly assessment and enjoys working with institutions and teams on improving the student learning experience. 

S.brown@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Website: https://sally-brown.net

In addition to Sally’s and Kay’s workshop, LTEU will be offering sessions and workshops over the course of the week:

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E-learning Enhanced: Interactive Blackboard Tools Training Sessions

Distance Learner BannerThe Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to be running our E-learning Enhanced training sessions again this semester.

We’ve got a session scheduled for each of Blackboard’s Interactive Tools: Discussion Boards, Wikis, Tests & Quizzes, and Journals & Blogs. In addition to this, we’ve got a number of Welsh Medium workshops on ‘What can I do in Blackboard?’ as well as some more CPD opportunities.

Blackboard Tools are incredibly versatile and can be adapted for a wide variety of different learning activities: from formative and summative assessment to peer and online learning community building, from reflective activities to the creation of resources. As with all technology enhanced learning, the key is the design of the activity and how that is linked to learning outcomes. Putting the teaching need first and choosing the most appropriate tool will result in meaningful engagements with the task.

These sessions have been designed in such a way to foreground the learning design of the activity as well as the technical creation. Participants will be given the opportunity in these sessions to design a learning activity using the relevant tool and will be provided with technical videos and tips for best embedding their tools in their teaching.

See below for dates and times:

DateSession
22.02.2021Designing and Using Blackboard Discussion Boards
26.02.2021Beth allaf ei wneud gyda Blackboard?
03.03.2021Designing and Using Wikis for Online Collaborative Activities
11.03.2021Creating Blackboard Tests and Quizzes
17.03.2021Using Blackboard Journals and Blogs for Learning Activities
22.03.2021Beth allaf ei wneud gyda Blackboard?

You can see our full list of CPD and book your place online: https://stafftraining.aber.ac.uk/sd/list_courses.php. All our sessions are designed to be run online via Teams. You will be sent a calendar invitation with a link to the session beforehand.

Content Organisation in Blackboard

Distance Learner BannerAs we are using more and more functionality in Blackboard modules, how they are organised has become increasingly important. We receive quite a number of queries from students struggling to locate various items or submission points in Blackboard.

To assist with navigation, we’ve pulled together our top tips on content organisation.

If you’ve got any questions about this or want to request a module MOT, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

Tips for Organising Blackboard Content

Before you start creating content on your Blackboard modules, think about how it can best be arranged so that students can easily access it and that learning resources and activities are in a logical place.  

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Interactive Blackboard Tools Series – Journals and Blogs (Part 1)

Teaching staff at Aberystwyth University make excellent use of basic functions of Blackboard keeping it consistent and easy to navigate, meeting the needs of their students. Some staff go beyond Blackboard Required Minimum Presence, using additional, interactive functions in many different creative ways. Considering the current emphasis on online learning and the use of asynchronous online activities we would like to introduce you to some of the more advanced (although still easy to use!) tools in Blackboard:

  • Journals and Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Tests

We have already written about discussion board – perhaps the most versatile of all the Blackboard tools. In this blog post we will focus on blogs and journals and the value these tools could bring to your teaching. 

Both journals and blogs, typically written in an informal way, are tools conducive to reflection and personal expression. The difference in their use is determined by whether or not they are aimed at being shared with others. Journals in Blackboard can be set up in two ways:

  • Private journals cannot be anonymous, are seen only by the lecturer and the student who wrote it, if enabled other students may view them but not comment or edit.
  • Group journals enable students to write individual entries into one group journal, group members can view and comment on all entries.

Watch a tutorial on creating journals

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