Service Pack 14 in Blackboard allows instructors to create multiple attempt assignments and determine which grade is recorded for that Assignments.
In the Option menu under Grading>Submission Details, an instructor can now allow Multiple Attempts at an assignment.
When Selected a Score Attempts Using drop-down menu will appear. The instructor can choose between Last Graded Attempt, Highest Grade, Lowest Grade, First Graded Attempt, and Average of Graded Attempts.
Service Pack 14 in Blackboard allows instructors to determine which grade is recorded for multiple attempt Test. A Score attempts using drop-down list has been added to the Test Options.
This is a workflow improvement to ensure that instructors know about and can easily find this setting for tools that support multiple attempts.
Blackboard Learn Service Pack 14 has several upgrades to the student My Grades. Students can now sort the order of grades several ways.
The Order by: drop-down list allows students to change order by last activity, due date (Latest First), or Due Date (Oldest First). The default order is Course Order, which displays items in the order the instructor has arranged them in Grade Center.
Students can now narrow the grade list by selecting All, Graded, Upcoming, and Submitted. Graded allows the students to view only the rows that have been graded by the instructor. Submitted show all items submitted, but not grades.
Feedback is included in-line, so students can view it on the page without additional mouse clicks.
As technical support for the online classroom, I am often asked by faculty members about how to preview their course as a student. For a while we used the edit mode, but everyone knows that is not a true student view. Then we moved to the Add A Test Student tool, which required the faculty member to log out and back in under a demo-student. Finally blackboard has added a Student View that does not require a log out.
The Enter Student Preview function appears in the top-right corner of your course pages, next to the Change Course Theme function.
With student preview, you can experience your course as your students do. You can do the following student activities:
- Submit assignments
- Take tests
- Create blog and discussion posts
- Create journal and wiki entries
- View student tools, such as My Grades
Student Preview is a great improvement over previous solutions. The next time a student tells you that they cannot see an assignment, take a look for yourself.
ADA Compliance of Streaming Media
When producing or using audio, images, or video in your online classroom you will need to pay attention to the Americans with Disabilities Act for accessibility concerns. At minimum ALT tags, transcripts, and Captions are required depending on the media. Several links are available to help you understand ADA Compliance:
- Website Accessibility Under Title II of the ADA – http://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap5toolkit.htm
- Creating an ADA-compliant website – http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/web-designer/creating-an-ada-compliant-website/
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Accessible Online Video Requirements – http://www.3playmedia.com/2013/06/13/the-americans-disability-act-ada-accessible-online-video-requirements/
- Section 508 Checklist – http://webaim.org/standards/508/checklist
Tools for Creating Closed Captions
- Tools For Youtube Closed Captions, Subtitles And Translations – http://www.reelseo.com/closed-captions-youtube/
- Camtasia – https://www.techsmith.com/products.html
- ScreenCast-o-matic (http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/
Copyright and Fair Use
I will not speak a lot about copyright and fair use laws because is not my expertise, but I do know you will need to consider this when using any work you did not create. I have listed a couple reliable sources your you to learn more about copyright and fair use.
- Stanford University Copyright Overview (NOLO) http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/
- Columbia University Fair Use Checklist – http://copyright.columbia.edu/copyright/fair-use/fair-use-checklist/
Remember ADA compliance and Copyright issues are not just the right things to do, they are the law.
This is not a comprehensive list of software to use to create streaming media, it is a list of some of my favorite. Depending on the type of computer you use such as a Mac or PC, different software will be available. As multimedia continue to advance many computers come with built in software to help with many of these task. Your computer may already contain software to record and edit audio and video files so the first place you need to look is on your computer. This list is basically a getting started list to help you see the art of video production is not as scary as you think it is, you have just got to get started.
To create audio files you will only need a microphone. To record the sound you can use the built-in microphone, if your system has one, or attach a microphone to your computer, or use a headset with a built-in mic. Many tools exist out there to edit the audio, my favorite is Audacity. You can download it for free at http://web.audacityteam.org/.
Depending on your content you may need to write a script prior to recording. Once recorded and edited you will need to save the file as a MP3. MP3 is a digital audio codec, a method of compressing and decompressing digitized sound. The digital information on a standard audio CD requires about 10 megabytes per minute of music.
To create video files you will need a video camera with a built-in microphone. Often people will use the cameras on their laptop, iPad, or phones to capture simple videos. These products usually come with software to do some minor editing. To do major editing you will need a product like Director, Adobe Premiere, or Camtasia, but these come with a high price tag. There are plenty of free stuff out there to get you started. You may want to check out the following:
- Digital Trends – http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/best-free-video-editing-software/
- PC Advisor – http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/test-centre/photo-video/3512375/14-best-free-video-editing-software-2015-uk/
- Web Seasoning – http://webseasoning.com/technology/best-free-video-editing-software-for-windows/1079/
You will need to convert your finally video to MP4 format. MP4 is a compressed video, meaning it has been altered to take up less space on your computer. It is difficult to give a file size for this video because many factors determine size such as time, dimensions, pixels, framerate, and clarity. This format is commonly used in streaming video and can be played by a variety of players.
PowerPoint are another easy to produce video types. You will start with a standard PowerPoint and use the tools within the software to add a voice-over. Basically all you will need to produce the video is a microphone or headset with a built-in microphone.
Creating the voice-over depends on the version of PowerPoint you are using. For Office 2013 it is a simple matter of going to the Slide Show tab and choosing Record Slide Show from the Set Up menu. Simply clicking through the slideshow will advance the slides and record your voice. Once you have completed the show save it and export to a video (Internet & DVD) file. When saving, make sure to save as MPEG-4.
Screen capture software allow you to capture events from your screen and preserve it in a video format. In addition to capturing the screen, many software packages allows you to do a voice-over of the action on the screen. A variety of software is available, my favorite is Camtasia, but again it can be expensive. Sean Aune from Mashable has created a list software to help you get started with screen captures, you can find at http://mashable.com/2008/02/21/screencasting-video-tutorials/.
Jing is one package I use frequently. It can be downloaded at https://www.techsmith.com/jing.html for free. Jing does have its limitation. It is limited to only small videos (Under 10 minutes) and cannot be edited by the software. To edit a screen capture from Jing you will need to use something like Camtasia. As for the time limit, in most cases for online training your content should be broken into small chunks anyway. More than 10 minutes on a video can cause students to lose interest and not comprehend the material.
The only thing you need to get started with screen capture is the software, a good microphone or headset and maybe a script of the final product. You will need to save the file in MP4 format.
Conferencing software is most often used in synchronous meeting, but often it allows you to record the meeting for later viewing. One of the drawbacks of using these recording is the real-time element, the video usually cannot be edited, therefore if the recording took an hour to record, it will play for an hour. Often times the software will give the audience an opportunity to fast forward, but being unfamiliar with the content sometimes it is hard to determine where to begin fast forward and where to stop.
There are some free software such as Google Hangouts (http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/) but each has their strengths and weakness. Check out PCMag’s list of recommendations for more information. This can be found at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2427703,00.asp.
To get started with conferencing video you will need a video camera with microphone.
Interactive instructions is one of the more difficult media to create. It involves software that requires a high level of expertise to master. It often involves a combination of several types of media such as images, videos, and sounds.
My favorite interact video software is Camtasia (https://www.techsmith.com/products.html). Camtasia allows you to combine videos and images, as well create interactive components to engage students. It will also allow you to create close caption for your video. Again the price can be a problem for some people as well as the level of expertise.
A good alternative would be ScreenCast-o-matic (http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/). It contains editing and script tools, webcam recording, and draw and zoom actions. This software runs $15 a year and has the added bonus of caption available.
There are many types of media to include in an online class. Everything from Audio, Video, PPT Voice Overs, Screen Captures, Conferencing videos, Interactive videos, and a combination of video types to name a few.
Audio files are fairly simple. They are usually in the form of MP3’s. It can be used to listen to reading, music clips, or any form of audio only files. It can be useful to help students in understanding language pronunciations or listen to music compositions. In the past few years podcast have become very popular. Text to speech software has also become popular, allowing instructors of easily convert text files into audio instruction. This conversion is not intended to replace the written word, but help the audio learner and busy student to learn on the go.
Used in conjunction with exercises and discussion question Video files can be used to enhance the learning process for many students. Various technology exist today to easily make video files available to students. Faculty can even create brief lectures with cell phones, ipads and other readily available products.
PowerPoint shows have become a classroom standard for classroom lecture presentation. By using tools available within the presentation software, a voice over can add clarity to the visual content. Having both the visual clues and the audio explanations can enhance the student learning experience.
Screen captures allow faculty members to capture events happening on their digital screen and preserve it in a video format. Depending on the method of capture, voice-overs may be included in the final video file. This is a good method of demonstrating steps to a process. Examples may include a demonstration of how to use a particular piece of software or how to log on to a specific website.
Conferencing software is most often used in synchronous meeting events, but some conferencing software allows you to record the meeting for later viewing. The advantage to this software is often it combines a number of elements to help convey a richer learning experience. Often the software records a video of the speaker as well as the speaker’s whiteboard or desktop. The major drawback to this software is the inability to edit the final product.
Interactive instructions is one of the more difficult media to create. It involves software that requires a high level of expertise to master. It often involves a combination of several types of media such as images, videos, and sounds. The final product requires students to interact with the information provide within the media.
There are other types of media available for the online classroom but these will be the main I focus on in this article.
Four basic rules to using media in the online class include:
- Be clear about your Instructional Goals
- Integrate your media with student activities
- The media should be easy to identify and locate
- Keep media clips short
Using streaming media successfully in an online course depends on its integration in the course and how it applies to student learning. As an instructor your first job is to be clear about your instructional goals and choose media that helps you meet those objectives. Adding media for the sake of media distracts from purpose of the class.
As instructor you will need to integrate your media with student activities. That means you cannot post a video and expect the students to know what they should receive from the media. You must prepare students for viewing the media clip by introducing the clip and explaining its purpose. You should explain what to watch or listen for in the clip. After they have completed the video have them do something with what they have learned in the video such as answer a question or participate in a discussion.
The media should also be easy to identify and locate. You do not want to explain the video and activities in one location and expect the students to hunt for the video elsewhere in the class. It should be an integrated part of the course materials that flows with the structure and sequence of the learning module.
Watching educational videos is not the same as watching a 2 hour blockbuster movie. It is should not be a mind numbing experience, therefore keep media clips short and to the point. Most research suggest that the media should be under 10 minutes in length. You can do this by dividing content into small sections and choosing only the most applicable portions of video/audio for viewing.
Streaming media helps puts learning in the hands of the student and gives the instructor options on types of material available. As for student learning, students:
- can re-wind and replay at their own speed
- will have the ability to repeat/pause the media
- can take in more information when presented visually
- receive information quickly compared to reading long text files
- can learn anywhere, anytime
Faculty can use streaming media to:
- provide an interactive teaching environment
- deliver dynamic presentations and content
- generate support for teaching and learning
- provide a mix of content for students
- address different learning styles
- compliment lectures and other course material
Just as there are reason to use streaming media in an online class, there are reasons to limits its use. Following are a few of the things one needs to consider before loading their course with tons of media.
- Bandwidth and Storage – Streaming media require sufficient bandwidth to play, especially at higher quality. It takes up a lot of space. Lack of proper bandwidth can result in slow playback, possible start/stop of video if connection is not good, and poor quality of video. In developing the media the instructor needs to be mindful of this and use it when pedagogically sound reasons exist.
- Online Only – Student can only watch the video when they are online. If the user’s Internet connection is cut during playback or they need to watch your content offline, they will be out of luck. As an instructor, make sure you provide the link to the students well in advance so they will have plenty of time to view the materials prior to any due dates.
- Cost – Media can be costly to produce. Depending on the projects it can include expensive camera equipment and high-end computers, as well as technical expertise. Check with the technical staff concerning the amount of assistance you can expect and the equipment available to you before starting any major project.
- Creation – Producing good video content isn’t always easy. You will need to write scripts, properly light your subject, record and edit it, all before you can Stream Media. There are some simple techniques that you can use, which we will discuss later, but for now know that creation can be costly and time consuming. It is better to start off with a small manageable project than to shoot for a Hollywood style media project that never gets produced.
- Copyright Issues – An alternative to creation of your own video is to use media that someone else has already produced. If you choose to not create your own media project then you must make sure you have settled any copyright issues with the creator of the video. Streaming copyright protected materials can land you and the education institution in legal battles.