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March 24, 2008

E-Coaching Core Message #3 Spring 2008 (Tip #57)

The Performance Dashboard for Quick Student Learning Snapshots and Faculty Uses of Blogs and Audio with Powerpoint: A Pedagogy and Tools Potpourri

All new tools take time to learn, but the good news is that the Performance Dashboard tool within BB has a great time/benefit ratio! This tool can be quickly explored in only five to 10 minutes of your time! What is this tool good for? It gives you a quick snapshot of where one or all of your students are on their learning journeys through your course.

Whether you are a full time faculty teaching many online courses, or an adjunct balancing one course with your day job, getting a quick look at how your students are progressing online gives you needed information quickly. The Performance Dashboard tool within BB provides a quick birds-eye view about student access and participation. It also has options that give you a student-centric view of one student's postings. In short, the tool makes it easy to answer questions, such as the following, quickly and with little time or mental effort!

  • Have all my students started accessing the course site regularly? (Particularly useful to know in Weeks 1 and 2 of a course.)
  • Has Student Jason begun accessing the course regularly? How many days has it been since his last course access? Has he been able to address his access and work schedule issues?
  • How is Student Denise doing with the required discussion postings? Do her postings reflect increased sophistication and understanding over time? (This can be done by a request for a collective view of an individual student's postings over time.)
  • Is the class as a whole progressing on schedule for the course assignments and check tests?
  • Does the overall data picture for the course suggest the need for change in plans action going forward?

With all this information on student progress and participation so readily available, are you ready to explore and see how your students are doing? The Performance Dashboard is only two (2) clicks from your course Control Panel. After clicking on Course Panel, the Performance Dashboard link is in the Assessment section under the Gradebook Link and the Gradebook Views Link.

When you click on the Performance Dashboard a roster of your students appears with info on the last date of access, the number of days since last access, and other columns of info such as a direct link to the student's postings on the discussion boards and the student's grades in your gradebook. Try it and see how it can save you time in "being on top of your whole course, literally!

More resources on this tool are in the references and resources section below. The tool is so easy you won't need these resources for using the tool, but you might find them useful for maximizing your use of it.

Teams of Tools -- Faculty Uses of Blogs and Discussion Boards Together!

Do you use discussion boards? Of course! These are essential tools for discussing core course topics, for building community, and getting a pulse for what students know, are learning and want to learn. They are great for getting a sense of your student's "zones of proximal development" as Vygotsky recommends.

What about blogs? Are you currently using these? Blogs are tools that support learner authoring and reflection. They make it easy to combine text, audio, video and pictures. Blogs also are designed to support commenting by faculty and other learners.

In a previous tip (No. 47, from Summer 2007) we compared and contrasted the features and uses of journals, wikis and blogs. What we didn't do at that time was to consider how faculty might be using discussions and blogs in the same course as complementary tools for different stages or processes of learning.

In a recent conversation, Ruth Newberry, the Director of Educational Technology at Duquesne, shared a couple of stories about how faculty are using discussions and blogs together.

Ruth observed that in a writing course the blog tool is "ideal for all the pre-writing work phases." Blogs share many features with private journals, only with the latest postings first. In the writing course, students are using the blog tool as a place to gather resources, think aloud about possible themes, messages, and writing goals, and record a likely set of resources and references. It is a good place for the student to draft a proposal or abstract, propose a direction for their writing and then invite comment and review from the faculty member or from fellow students.

The discussion board in the writing class then becomes the place where the whole class can "come together" to discuss proposed topics, the writing processes and the role of text and other media collectively. Some of the learning power comes from moving back and forth between the collective group meetings and the individual authoring and autonomy needed for writing. In a recent article, Hayles, a professor of literature and digital media at UCLA, noted that research suggests learners are most stimulated by learning when it is "associated with feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness" (Hayles, 2007). Moving back and forth between blogs and discussions incorporates these very actions and feelings, creating a serendipitous meeting of learning and tools!

Another example where blogs and discussions are being used in the same course is in a nursing course. In this course, the discussions are used for discussing the more formal completed work assignments and for asking questions and the blogs are used for informal planning and thinking.

If you are ready to explore using blogs, the blog tool for your course can be "turned on" for you after you complete a short online or face-to-face tutorial. This may be something you want to do so that when you prepare for your next course, you can plan for its use. Check out the News and Events link at http://www.edtech.duq.edu/news_events/?DivID= or the link to faculty resources at http://www.edtech.duq.edu/bbfaculty/index.cfm When you are ready for the blog tutorial, send an email to ltc@duq.edu and ask to be enrolled in an online, self-guided, and monitored Bb Blog Certification Tutorial.

Quick Hint on Doing Audio Powerpoints

Have you wanted to prepare an audio file to accompany a short PowerPoint review or core concept? Here is a suggestion from Ruth. Hint: The finished resource is a folder with three pieces:

  • Prepare your PowerPoint and upload it to your course site, creating a special folder for this resource, the audio file and the student instructions.
  • Open the podcasting tool in your course and record your comments. (Don't worry about making this too perfect.) Pretend you are meeting with a student in your office, on the phone and just walk through your PowerPoint or other resource, recording your comments.) Also don't worry overly much about what you sound like. The student really wants to hear your voice and benefit from your focus and your expertise. Then upload this audio file into the same folder.
  • Prepare a short word document with instructions to open the PowerPoint file first and then to launch the audio file. Ditto on loading this file into the same folder.

Closing Thoughts

Enjoy testing and experimenting with some of these tools and invite your students to learn with you together.

References and Resources

Blackboard Resource for Performance Dashboard.

Gray, David. Student Procrastination Detection. (Part of a full series of a Blackboard Feature of the Week from Palomar College. Accessed March 24, 2008 http://www.palomar.edu/atrc/FeaturesIndexes/BbFeaturesIndex.htm

Hayles, Katherine N. (2007). Hyper and Deep Attention: The Generational Divide in Cognitive Modes. Profession, pp. 187-199. (Note: A large percentage of this is available at http://media08.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/my-article-on-hyper-and-deep-attention. Accessed March 24, 2008.

Knauff, Barbara. Blackboard Support at Dartmouth - Performance Dashboard. (Quick screen shots and a video demo from April 23, 2007.) Accessed March 24, 2008 at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~blackboard/bb7/performance-dashboard.html

Software Guides at Sam Houston State University - Performance Dashboard. (A pdf with screen shots of the performance dashboard tool.) Accessed March 24, 2008 at http://www.shsu.edu/administrative/training/guides/pdfs/bbperformdashboard.pdf.

Reminder -- the Library of ecoaching tips is available now at http://www.designingforlearning.info/services/writing/ecoach/inventory.htm

Note: These E-coaching tips are for faculty who are teaching online in the School of Leadership & Professional Advancement at Duquesne University. These tips are from e-coaches who are available to answer questions, review your courses, and generally provide another resource to help provide the best teaching and learning experience possible for Duquesne faculty and students. Contact Rita-Marie Conrad and Judith Boettcher at eCoach@designingforlearning.info.

The Performance Dashboard for Quick Student Learning Snapshots and Faculty Uses of Blogs and Audio with Powerpoint: A Pedagogy and Tools Potpourri



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Revised May 20 2013
Copyright Judith V. Boettcher, 1997-2013