Archive for April, 2010

Exporting Grades There are many occasions when you might want to Export Grades from your online classroom.  At the very least, you should export a copy from each of your courses at the end of the semester. This will provide an independent archive of your students’ grades. Some colleges and departments even require a hard copy for their records (which can be printed from the exported file).

If this is the only set of grades you are recording for your students, it might be a good idea to save the grades to a file periodically throughout the semester as well. While the system is stable, and courses are backed up on a daily basis, it never hurts to have a copy of the points you have awarded for the various activities.  On a few occasions, an instructor (or a GA) has accidentally deleted some of the grades.  It was helpful to have a copy of them to restore the lost data to the course.

For information on the “how to” of Exporting Grades, click here.  Locate the “End of Semester: Checklist”.  You will find step-by-step instructions on exporting grades starting on page 3 of this document.

Please note that names are not in alphabetical order (neither by first nor last names) when exported.

Regards,  Dr. Jill

Jonnie “Jill” Phipps, Ph.D.

Curriculum Designer

For those of you who teach face-to-face courses and/or blended courses, the Discussion tool can extend the limited time you have for in-class discussion. Conversation may be cut short because you simply cannot take time away from the lecture; you have to keep moving in order to cover all of the required materials. Or, you might run of time because the students are so involved in the topic, the class ends in the middle of the dialogue, with many not having had the opportunity to state their views. In either case, the student who might otherwise be engaged in sharing an opinion, academic inquiry, or debating, is sent away to quiet contemplation. Using the Discussion tool can extend the classroom time and give voice to all participants.

computersYou can plan for online discussion as a follow-up to information presented when you meet in person. This is done by posing thought-provoking questions at regular intervals (such as weekly). If participation is mandatory, I usually require an original post and at least two replies from each student. Even if you do not plan to “grade” the postings, or give credit for this type of participation, the Discussion tool is a great way to allow the conversation from the traditional classroom to continue.

The Discussion format is particularly suited for those who like to give careful thought before offering their opinions. It provides time to consider the materials and compose thoughtful comments. Many students who seldom contribute in the face-to-face environment will become “outspoken” in this online arena.

For information on the “how to” of creating Discussion Forums and Topics,  click here.

Regards,  Dr. Jill

Jonnie “Jill” Phipps, Ph.D.

Curriculum Designer

One summer, when teaching a cohort, a spontaneous conversation broke out in the online Discussion room about someone’s sister having a baby. Everyone was interested, and if memory serves correct, there were even pictures posted. This would have been fine, had I been savvy enough to have created a separate Discussion Topic specifically for this type of interaction. The problem was that this took place in the middle of a discussion assignment based on the students’ review of a journal article. The next week a similar interruption occurred when the “Big Ships” docked in the Cleveland harbor. Needless to say, the interjections were somewhat distracting from the intended academic focus.

I now include a social gathering place Discussion Forum where students can share this type of non-class related information. I usually call mine “Coffee Time” or “Student Lounge” but you get the idea.

Here is an example of a posting I have used:
Discussion Coffee Talk

Even if you do not use the Discussion tool for graded activities, I would suggest you create this area for social interaction in your online classrooms. It is essential to community building in a course that is delivered 100% online.  I have also seen it used extensively in blended delivery courses as well.

For information on the “how to” of creating Discussion Forums and Topics,  click here.

Regards,  Dr. Jill

Jonnie “Jill” Phipps, Ph.D.

Curriculum Designer

Even if you do not have formal “Discussions” that count towards the course grade, you should consider using this time-saving tool to communicate with your learners. I request that all questions not related to personal issues be posted in the Discussion Forum. When the question is answered, it is available for all others who may need clarification on the same issue. This saves a great deal of time responding to individual emails regarding the same or similar questions. Other students will often respond in a timelier manner than what I am able, and I encourage them to do this. This is especially true for the part-time faculty who may hold a full-time position as well, and are limited as to the time of day they can respond to their online students.

I monitor the answers for accuracy and appropriateness, acknowledging when correct information has been provided. Inaccurate responses can be adjusted to keep everyone on the right path, and I often provide additional insight via my comments to let them know I am always actively involved in the communications.

Here is an example of instructions you might post:

discussion save time

Specific Topic can then be created organized by week, unit, subject, or project. Be sure to provide clear instructions as to where the various questions should be posted.  Encourage participants to read these help areas if they need clarification on one of the topics; the answer may already be posted.

For information on the “how to” of creating Discussion Forums and Topics, click here.

Regards,  Dr. Jill

Jonnie “Jill” Phipps, Ph.D.

Curriculum Designer

Whenever you create a Discussion Forum or Topic, you should provide instructions as to what type of postings are to be made in that specific area of the tool. This is also an opportunity to model the type of communication you consider acceptable within your online classroom. Or, even spell out your expectations and netiquette guidelines if desired. I usually start with a general statement that explains the basics.
About Discussion

For information on the “how to” of creating Discussion Forums and Topics, click here.

Regards,  Dr. Jill

Jonnie “Jill” Phipps, Ph.D.

Curriculum Designer

Before students are overwhelmed with project deadlines and final exams, take a few minutes to ask for their input.  This is a great time in the semester to query your students with a survey regarding your online classroom.  Solicit feedback about the various aspects of the course and tools you have implemented:

  • How was the pace? (on a scale from too slow to too fast)
  • Were there adequate materials provided within the various modules?
  • Did the Discussions add to the learning process?
  • Suggestions for Improvement. (Essay)

The Survey tool shares the Question Library with the Quizzes tool, thus providing several options for types of questions that can be asked.  This includes the traditional True/False, Multiple Choice and Essays type questions.  However, you can also include Ordering, Multiple Select, and Likert questions as well. In fact, the Survey tool is the only place you can use the Likert question type.  It allows you to select the scale from the following options:

Likert scale

Results can be set so they are anonymous, and you can use the feedback when refining your online materials for the next semester.

For information on the “how to” of creating Likert questions and Surveys, click here.

For information on the “how to” of creating other types of questions, click here.

Good Luck and Happy Surveying,   Dr. Jill

Jonnie “Jill” Phipps, Ph.D.

Curriculum Designer