As a continuation of my previous post on “Ignorance” (You Gotta Be Ignorant to Learn), my new ignorance comes from Iain Davidson in the TeLS office. Not that he announced my ignorance, but rather gave me a new awareness.
Each week on various days / time, we have an Adjunct Faculty “Alternative” Small Group Meeting in the GIFT Center on the Prescott Campus (will expand to other campuses next semester). We have anywhere from 2-6 people who attend and have great discussions with campus staff, administrators, and faculty about various subjects that pertain to teaching and student learning.
Last week, Iain Davidson, Instructional Support Specialist, came to talk about Blackboard – some tips and maybe how to better utilize it in all types of our teaching – online, F2F, and Hybrid. We talked a lot about how online classes are set up; how many buttons are too many; or if should the class be by week or by module. We also talked about really using the gradebook to keep students involved in their classes, creating tests and surveys, and why a Blog or Wiki may be good for a study guide.
But…the BEST information that Iain shared was for all of us to be in a “state of ignorance” when setting up our courses. That is, be a first-time online student. A neophyte in an online class who knows nothing about navigation, discussions, or online assignments. Iain challenged us to really think consider the following:
- The overall look of the initial page – what should it be? A bunch of instructions, or something to welcome students?
– Oh, and the announcements from last semester really should come off.
- Navigation Buttons – How many do you really need?
– If you can’t keep up, you can bet your students can’t either.
- Can they find your assignments?
– How many clicks in each button must the student make to get to the assignments? Really?
– Does it seem like it’s a secret to find it? If it’s too frustrating, guess who won’t do it.
– Does your grade book have duplicate (and triplicate) assignments that you’ve copied?
- Have you ever considered asking students what works and doesn’t?
– Iain had some great advice for us – keep a running conversation (Discussion Board, Wiki, Blog) of questions students have had and have been answered. You might see a pattern there.
So, maybe after a couple of semesters teaching the same class, it pays to be more “ignorant “and look at your class with the fresh eyes of the student. Thanks, Iain!