February 20, 2007

Teaching & Learning Discussion: Using Blackboard

This is a new type of post here at Interact at the Center. We will provide a general topic related to teaching and learning and ask for contributions from our visitors. This is your opportunity to interact with other faculty members and graduate students.

Today's topic is Blackboard, and for those who do not use or are unfamiliar with Blackboard, it is a teaching tool that provides an online grade book, assignments posting, calendar, discussion boards, virtual classroom, digital drop box, and much more. This discussion is focused on the following questions...

• What innovative uses of Blackboard have you implemented into your teaching?

• What is your favorite feature that you would share with a new faculty member?

• How do students feel about using Blackboard as a learning assistance tool?

If you are interested in learning more about how to use Blackboard to facilitate teaching and learning, contact IDEAL at 2-6792 or ideal@bgsu.edu -- For technical questions, visit the ITS Blackboard Help web page or contact ITS at 2-0999.

February 19, 2007

BGSU Professor "Caught in the Network" of Academic Freedom

The February 9th Chronicle of Higher Education featured an article authored by Dr. Paul Cesarini from BGSU's College of Technology.

The issue centered on ITS's concern with Paul using Tor, or The Onion Router, which masks online activity from others (including ITS). Being that it is one of ITS's charges to be aware of activity on the university network, they obviously felt the need to look into Paul's usage and express their concerns. Here are some snippets from the article (reprinted with permission):
"My reason for downloading and installing the Tor plug-in was actually simple: I'd read about it for some time, was planning to discuss it in two courses I teach, and figured I should have some experience using it before I described it to my students. The courses in question both deal with controlling technology, diffusing it throughout society, and freedom and censorship online.

...Their (ITS) job is to protect the network that allows me to do my job: to teach classes that are mostly or entirely online, and to conduct research. If they weren't here as the first or even only line of defense against the unscrupulous elements of our technological society, my university would cease to function. It's as simple as that.

...A moment later, I heard another knock on my door. One of the detectives had come back to ask if I would reconsider my position. I told him that while I would think about giving up Tor, I honestly felt that this was a clear case of academic freedom, and I could not bow to external pressure. I reminded him that Tor is a perfectly legal, open-source program that serves a wide variety of legitimate needs around the world."

• As a faculty member, have you had to defend your academic freedom? If so, how?

• Where does one balance the institutional needs (rules) with student needs and professional ethics?

February 9, 2007

Assessment: University Learning Outcomes Rubrics

Are you familiar with the BGSU University Learning Outcomes rubrics? The six rubrics provide a guide for faculty in these areas: Inquiry, Creative Problem Solving, Decision Making, Write, Present, and Participate and Lead. According to SAAC (Student Achievement Assessment Committee):

"When distributed together with an assignment, rubrics help students to clarify the standards that will be used when their work is evaluated. If rubrics based on these prototypes become widely used, students will experience a greater consistency of expectation about faculty goals for their learning within majors and across the curriculum."

Faculty are encouraged to adapt the rubrics as needed to suit the student outcomes.

How do you use these rubrics in your courses? What other types of rubrics do you use and for what type of learning outcome?

For more information on rubrics, explore these additional resources:
San Jose State University's Developing and Applying Rubrics includes understanding, including, and creating rubrics. Examples of holistic and analytical rubrics are also provided.

A free, handy, online resource for creating and modifying rubrics is Rubistar.

Authentic Assessment Toolbox - Rubrics - A website by Jonathan Mueller.

Scoring Rubrics: What, When and How? - An article by Barbara M. Moskal

Schuh, John H. “Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback and Promote Student Learning.” Journal of College Student Development, v. 47 issue 3, 2006, p. 352-355.

February 7, 2007

Google Tool of the Month: Docs and Spreadsheets

If you have been reading our newsletter, you are familiar with Web 2.0 tools, which allow for applications to run within your web browser without ever having to download a program. Google has recently provided many Web 2.0 applications as well as other helpful tools. Today's focus is on Google Docs & Spreadsheets (formerly known as Writely and iRows). They have numerous capabilities that could supplement or even replace Microsoft Word and Excel.

You can:
-Use the Online Editor to format documents, spell-check and more
-Upload Word documents, OpenOffice, RTF, HTML, or text
-Download documents to your desktop as Word, PDF and more
-View your document's revision history and roll back to any version
Plus since its online you can:
-Invite others to share your documents via e-mail
-Edit documents online with whomever you choose
-Publish documents online to the world, or to just who you choose
-Post your documents to your blog

If you are interested in Google Docs and Spreadsheets visit

Or if you want to check out any of the other Google applications skim through those available at http://www.google.com/intl/en/options/

If you have any compatibility problems with your browser we recommend using Firefox . It is compatible with all Google applications and is available free for Mac and Windows. Downloads can be found at http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/

Share your opinion and experiences by leaving a comment below:
How could Google Docs and Spreadsheets be useful in a teaching or learning setting? Have you used either tool before? If so, for what?