Lunch & Learn: Faculty Demonstrate Interesting Uses of Blackboard for Teaching and Learning with Keiko Kuriyama, Antonio Calvo, Ana Figueroa, Rena Lederman, Lee Mitchell, Lee Silver, and Laurel Goodell

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Many of you are well aware that the Blackboard Course Management System provides easy access to a syllabus, a facebook, a gradebook, a sectioning tool, e-mail lists, links to reserve reading, and other course documents. At OIT’s February 8 Lunch ‘n Learn, faculty members Keiko Kuriyama, Antonio Calvo, Ana Figueroa, Rena Lederman, Lee Mitchell and Lee Silver and Technical Staff member Laurel Goodell proved you can also use Blackboard to enhance the learning experience for students.
For example, you can now create reusable, automatically graded exams. With self-correcting questions, you can make sure that students keep up with the reading and lectures. And by using Blackboard’s discussion boards, you can extend the classroom discussion and sustain interest in key topics throughout the semester.


kuriyama.jpgLecturer in Japanese Keiko Kuriyama needed an online test to place undergraduates in appropriate language courses. The company that provides the University with the placement tests for French, German, Italian, and Spanish does not have such tests for Japanese, so Ms. Kuriyama designed her own within Blackboard. As you will see here, Blackboard also provides built in support for Japanese, among many foreign languages. Students can now take a timed test that evaluates their understanding of Japanese grammar and culture. Here are two of the sample questions designed within Blackboard. The Japanese reading test takes advantage of Blackboard’s built-in timer. Blackboard even provides a warning when there is one minute left.
Of special interest is the placement test module for listening. Students watch a short video within Blackboard and are then asked to respond to several questions that evaluate their comprehension. The test helps the faculty to assess students’ ability and to place students in higher level courses only when they meet specific requirements.
calvofigueroa.jpgImagine self-correcting quizzes and students able to review their vocabulary whenever they want. That’s what Antonio Calvo and Ana Figueroa, demonstrated using materials developed for Spanish 107 by Mr. Serafín Coronel-Molina (lecturer in the Spanish and Portuguese Department), Dr. Reem Iversen and Ms. Carmen Santa Cruz. Students can select the a vocabulary review from within the course’s Blackboard site. By selecting a word, students can review its part of speech, its English definition, and even listen to its pronunciation within a sentence.
This group also developed a Jeopardy-like vocabulary game with self-correcting exercises. Students get immediate feedback without taking up in-class time and can monitor their progress directly on the Blackboard site.
To help students keep up with lecture material and to test their understanding in a low-stakes environment, Technical Staff member and Geosciences Instructional Lab Manager Laurel Goodell demonstrated quizzes in Geo206, History of the Earth, and GEO210, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and other Hazards. These were developed by Professors Guust Nolet and Allan Rubin.
goodell.jpgShe found that, once set up, the quizzes were easy to grade, easy to re-use and modify, and secure. The quizzes were counted as only a small part of the grade. To encourage learning, Goodell permitted students to print out the quizzes, correct them, and then resubmit them for a small adjustment of the grade.
The GEO206 quizzes employ many different question types, including multiple choice, true-false, fill-in-the-blank, and placing items in hierarchical order. Students are encouraged to have their pens and calculators at the ready. At the conclusion of the quiz, they receive immediate results and feedback.
Goodell remarks that, as a result of the ongoing incentive to learn and stay current with the material, students are performing better on exams.
Professor Rena Lederman‘s ANT301 provides an introduction to “doing” anthropology through the study and practice of ethnographic field methods and research techniques.
lederman.jpgThis past year, with a record enrollment of 38 students, Prof. Lederman required use of Blackboard’s discussion board feature an effort to insure that course retained its seminar-style discussions. Some of the students were constantly on the board, and all were involved. She discovered that students became more involved in their face-to-face discussions and that the discussion board became the kind of collaborative environment that colleagues tend to create. A 12 minute long interview (Real format) with Dr. Lederman may be viewed here.
mitchell.jpgIn response to his provocative questions, English Professor Lee Mitchell‘s ENG363 (American Literature: 1930-Present) students used to submit comments on 3×5 cards that he would then read in class. He finds that use of the discussion board permits all of the students to see and benefit from each other’s comments. He reports that it also helps to keep the discussion going outside class hours. He observes that students tend to live in a diurnal pattern opposite to most faculty, but the entire group can benefit regardless of when thoughts are posted.
silver.jpgDr. Lee Silver showed off his web site for WWS320-MOL320 (Spring, 2006). He changed the names in the organizational tabs and he used simple HTML [Hypertext Markup Language] to place all of his course materials on the site. The interactive syllubus contains links to all of the papers that the students will read and in the order that Dr. Silver wants them to read them. He has also included access to all of his Powerpoint presentations and a few films. He developed a script that permits him to share the slides as a single scrolling image (and that he’s happy to share it with anyone who asks!). He noted that the course is secure; only the students have access. Students report that they are excited about going to a web site that contains everything they need for the course.

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