Posts

Desk with Coffee and Laptop

Snow Day? Stay Connected.

, , , , , ,

Spring is finally around the corner along with its promise of blue skies and jacket-free days, but the threats of icy conditions still loom well into March (remember when white was the new green on St. Patrick’s Day 2014?). Below are a few tips that will help you keep your students engaged when the weather is too critical to hold classes at the university.

Communicate

Send emails and use the Announcements feature in Blackboard to keep your students updated on class activities.

Record your class

Panopto allows you to pre-record a lecture that you can upload to Blackboard for easy access by your students.

Meet virtually

Use Blackboard Collaborate to meet in real-time with your students (available in Blackboard under Tools). Collaborate will let you upload a PowerPoint or OpenOffice presentation and even record your webinars.

Start a Discussion

Post questions in Blackboard’s Discussion Board over a variety of topics that students can respond to. Make sure your students know how to comment on a discussion board, and remind them of “netiquette” principles.

The American University Be Prepared site offers more preparatory advice on keeping classes going while campus is closed.

What strategies do you use to keep class going when campus is closed? Comment with your ideas!

Blackboard Collaborate

Mobile Tool Review: Blackboard Collaborate

, , , ,

This Mobile Tool Review was written by John David Clark, Learning Technologies Trainer and Consultant.

Blackboard Collaborate Mobile App

Blackboard Collaborate is an AU-supported tool that facilitates online participation and coursework.

Cost

Free

Platform

The iOS/iPhone and Android apps are mobile counterparts to the full desktop version.

What does it do?

Collaborate users can participate in 
online web-conferences, complete with the ability to talk, listen,
 chat, see a virtual whiteboard, “raise a hand,” participate in polls, and
 more. Unlike the desktop version, however, there is no ability for users to share video from a webcam, PowerPoints, or other outside programs.

Which class can you use it in?

Any AU Blackboard class.

Advantages

The Collaborate mobile app can launch any Collaborate 
link. It provides mobile functionality for iOS and Android users since it does 
not need Java or Flash.

Disadvantages

Users cannot share or present, and there is no webcam functionality.

Overall Grade

B

Additional Information

Piazza logo

Mobile Tool Review: Piazza

, ,

This Mobile Tool Review was written by Courtney Greenley, CTRL Trainer and Consultant.

Piazza

Piazza is more engaging, consistent, and provides more options to facilitate learning (both inside and outside the classroom) than the default Blackboard discussion board.

Cost

Free

Platform

Compatible with all modern Internet browsers as well as free iPhone and Android apps.

What does it do?

Piazza engages students through a wiki-style Q&A with anonymity options. It eliminates redundant student e-mails and is accessible through AU’s Blackboard course pages.

Which class can you use it in?

Piazza encourages questions, discussion and student collaboration in large courses through easy-to-navigate comment threads. Anonymity options may make students more confortable sharing personal thoughts or asking questions.

Advantages

  • Handouts and homework can be posted to Course Page
  • Participation statistics give instructors the ability to track student participation
  • Mathematical and scientific equations/formulas can be posted correctly through LaTeX editor
  • Diagrams, images, videos, and other multimedia can be directly embedded within forums (as opposed to linking out to another site)
  • Instructors can allow students to post anonymously to their peers. (Instructors can view identities even when peer anonymization is selected)

Disadvantages

Piazza does not have direct access to AU Library Course Reserves.

Overall Grade

A

Additional Information

Mobile Tool Review: Blackboard App

, ,

Blackboard’s mobile app allows access to content from the Blackboard System on a mobile platform.

Cost and Platform

American University has no university-wide mobile license at this time. The app costs $1.99 a year or $5.99 for life. Available in Apple iTunes, App store, and Google Play store. There appears to be no discernible differences between features on the iPhone versus the Android.

Advantages

The advantage of this app is that faculty and students can access the Blackboard site on the go. The user interface is aesthetically pleasing; in some cases even better than the online version. It can do the basics – view Word documents or PDFs watch videos, and track discussions.

Disadvantages

Students can access most all features with the mobile device. Faculty, however do not have access to the “Control Panel” which greatly limits their options. Thus, creating a new thread, posting a new document, or adding a new user is not possible. Collaborate (BB’s synchronous tool) requires a different app.

Overall

The best feature is the ease with which you can download and view documents on BB. But limiting access to only passive activities such as viewing materials reduces the usefulness and utility.

Grade: B+ for students, B for faculty

Other Resources

Learning Technology Blog

Blackboard Guru Blog

Google Play Review (2.5 out of 5 stars)

Iona College

Mobile Tool Review: Piazza Mobile App

, ,

Piazza’s mobile app links to a wiki-style discussion board forum that has been established for a specific class by an AU faculty member. With Piazza embedded in Blackboard, students, instructors, and TAs enrolled in the class can stay updated with real-time posts and announcements on this mobile platform.

Cost and Platform

Free.  Available in Apple iTunes, App store, and Google Play store.  There appears to be no discernible differences between features on the iPhone versus the Android.

Advantages

The advantage of this app is that faculty and students can access Piazza on the go. The user interface is aesthetically pleasing. Faculty can do the following:

  • respond to student’s questions and edit student’s responses
  • endorse student’s answers
  • enable/disable anonymity settings for student posts
  • utilize the LaTeX editor for formulas and equations
  • designate “tags” for easy search capabilities

Disadvantages

Both students and faculty need to register with a .edu e-mail. Videos do not appear to be embedded on the mobile app as they are on the desktop version, but the hyperlink of a posted video will appear. The polling option is not available through the app. Finally, the app requires that you log in to Piazza separately from Blackboard even though it is integrated into Blackboard.

Overall

The best feature is the ease and look/feel of the app.

Grade:   B+ for students, B for faculty

Other Resources