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The Dr. Is In will be open between 10:30-3:30 from Monday, May 6th through Friday May 10th. Visit us at Bailey/Howe, Room 303 for help with Blackboard or other academic technologies. Read more about the Dr. Is In here.
As we head down the last stretch of the semester, it’s a good time to recheck our Blackboard course grade centers and make sure everything’s working as it should be. Here are a couple of tips:
- First, make backups! This is always recommended but of special importance now when we may be making more changes to the grade center and there is potentially more data to lose. Instructions for backing up the grade center are here.
One of the trickiest aspects of the grade center is that the columns that the instructor sees (or does not see because they’re hidden) do NOT automatically correspond with what columns the students may see or not see. To hide a grade column from the students’ view, you need to click at the top of the column and select “Show/Hide to Users.” Once a column is hidden from them, a slash icon appears in the title bar of that column. However, if instead you simply chose “Hide Column,” then you’ve selected to hide the column from your Grade Center view. The column will still be seen by students unless you first choose “Show/Hide to Users.”
The tricky part is that you can only do that if you can see the column. Therefore, you must first restore the column to your instructor view, and then choose “Show/Hide to Users.” To restore a hidden column to your instructor’s view, click the “Manage” button (while in Full Grade Center view) and choose “Column Organization.” Select (with a checkmark) any columns that appear as hidden and click the Show/Hide button, below. Then click, Submit. Once you have restored a column to your view, you can then take the step described above to hide the column from students.
Or… come visit the Dr. Is In for help! See our hours at http://www.uvm.edu/ctl/doctor
We’ve recently had fun expanding our Media Resources page. There are new links to image collections, organized by Agriculture and Natural Resources, Art, History, Science, and General Collections. There are more video links, too. Read about copyright and fair use, and then go forth… as a kid in a candy store: www.uvm.edu/ctl/mediaresources.
We just read about this networking event for early career faculty next week, on Wednesday, Feb. 20th, and wanted to pass on the word.
If your list of courses is long and overwhelming, there are solutions! You can either:
- re-sort the list so that your current course spaces show at the top, or
- hide older courses from the list (and restore them again, if desired)
To learn how, see the CTL How-to page for course list management.
(Note that after a few semesters, courses are deleted from the system so they will no longer appear on your list, anyway.)
For many instructors, the Blackboard (Bb) Assignment Tool is a helpful time saver. A few of the advantages are:
- there are no papers to haul around—they live in Bb
- feedback and grades can be distributed within Bb
- the rubric tool makes grading easier and more consistent (especially helpful for TAs)
The recency and primacy effects—long documented phenomena related to the importance of sequence on information recall—evidence that, in short, “Following a single exposure to learning, recall is better for items at the beginning (primacy) and end (recency) [...] than for middle items.” 
This is relevant to teaching and learning because it’s in that middle period, when many faculty have come to the heart of their lesson, that students may be least likely to be actively learning.
In the book, Student Engagement Techniques,  Elizabeth F. Barkley poses the suggestion that lectures could be shaped around this retention curve by segmenting a class into three parts:
1) Begin the class by diving directly into teaching important content.
2) After 20 minutes or so, have students take a brief break, stand up and stretch, and then conduct the administrative business, i.e., attendance, collection of homework, distribution of graded homework, etc.
3) Finally, transition back into important content for the last part of class. Consider incorporating a “JiTT” activity (Just in Time Teaching Techniques, October 10, 2012) and close the class with a recap of the most important points.
- Primacy Versus Recency in a Quantitative Model: Activity Is the Critical Distinction Anthony J. Greene, Colin Prepscius, and William B. Levy
- A CTL favorite book: Student Engagement Techniques (p.103)
In short, one of the principles of Universal Design for Learning is that if you offer students multiple options for exploring content and expressing what they’ve learned, their experience is richer and more meaningful—and this gives their learning “sticking power.”
Google Earth is a free, easy to learn tool and absorbingly fun! It’s an exciting option for immersive learning because students can delve into a topic and show their knowledge (and comprehension and analysis) through writing and/or other means while simultaneously building geospatial and technical fluency.
What can students do in Google Earth? They can explore a 3D model of the earth, turn numerous data layers on and off, and zoom in close—in many places to an on-the-street, photographic, 360° view of a place. Most importantly, they can create their own map views in which they placemark physical locations and into each placemark they can:
- add their own written work
- include excerpts from texts
- embed imagery, video, and audio from a website
- include links to sources
If desired, the placemarks can be gathered into an animated tour. Finally, they can save their maps and upload them to Blackboard for assessment or to share with the class.
The project possibilities are nearly limitless, but here are just a few ideas:
- In English or foreign language classes, students can explore a literary work, an author’s life or journey, or create a place-based, illustrated, poetry anthology. Example assignments might be to map 10 places from John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, or trace Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway’s walk through London, include analysis or reflection of text excerpts and historical photos in each placemark. Include web-sourced audio files where possible, such as the sound of a passing train or Big Ben chiming in London.
- In history classes, students can map events or parts of events, such as wars, diasporas, revolutions, or a single person’s lifetime. An example would be to map one Civil War regiment’s movements and battles. Embed both historic and contemporary photos of the battlegrounds and include excerpts of accounts from properly cited sources.
- In fine art classes, students can search for compelling views of the planet on which to base works of art. They can capture and print their chosen sources from Google Earth and then submit these with the finished project. Examples might be to create a study of abandoned cities or densely populated areas, or the dynamism of a river, e.g., meanders or alluvial fans, or environmental contrasts or perils.
Interested in learning more?
Attend the CTL workshop on September 25th co-taught by Walter Poleman (RSENR) and Inés Berrizbeitia (CTL).
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about how the CTL may be able to help you develop an assignment, teach Google Earth to your students, and work with you to develop a rubric for assessing the assignment.
For a variety of resources and a link to download Google Earth, see this page in the CTL Website’s “Teaching Resources” area.