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Simple Thoughts for Simpler Times: ‘Think like a Student’

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By in Blackboard Learn, Content Development, Course Redesign, Distance Education, Getting Started, IMPACT, Morning Musings, Student Behavior on .

We all strive to create effective online learning content and experiences for students. Yet, when we are teaching content to students and designing our online course, it’s so easy to overwhelm students with lists and folders of materials, cross-links and multiple links, and giving them everything we ever wanted to them to know about our subject. I know I’ve been guilty of over-supplying the information and options in the past.  We just have so much we know about the subject and after all isn’t our role to teach and share what we know when we are doing instruction?

Interestingly, one of the consistent complaints we hear from students when we survey them in regard to the learning management systems, be it Blackboard or Canvas are: problems with navigation and knowing where to go first in the course, where to find something, or which links to use.

Actual student feedback comments from past surveys:

  • “Things are to scattered. Easy to loose track of where something was. Some things are everywhere you look and others are hidden.”
  • “It was hard to figure out how to submit assignments… so I would suggest making it easier and in one place. I just found it difficult the way either my teacher set it up as, or how the website was set up.”
  • “Collaborative group work was hard to manage. Not everyone knew where to look for our shared documents we were using.”

Now, various learning management tools take different approaches, some are better or cleaner than others; but we always have a certain amount of customization we can use to tailor the course how we see fit. How do we do that best?

One approach is to look at online courses you like or that are set up as “best practice” examples and borrow some ideas on course set-up. Taking part in workshops and sharing about online course design is certainly another approach.  Many of you have likely used both.

Let me offer another approach, slip on a different pair of shoes and think like a student.   You do it now without realizing it when you participant in our IMPACT course redesign program through the Blackboard content, complete an online MOOC or participant in any other online course for professional development.  I have had amusing comments from my IMPACT faculty, who sheepishly admitted they were short on time to complete their weekly online readings and activities.  One of them said he felt like one of his students must, by quickly scanning down the page to see just what he “had” to get done for the session today. So, if we are looking for shortcuts at times; what of course are the students doing? If we aren’t sure what to do first and poke around when we are in an online course for the first time; what are students doing?  The same, I would imagine. I don’t think we can write it off as students are being lazy when we are all challenged with time constraints and try to maximize our time on tasks.

While we like to give many options and much information, it’s best to help learners maximize their time on tasks too. So as you set up your entire course or a partial amount of your course online, think like a student.

Look at the course like you are viewing it for the first time.  Using the ‘student view’ options provided are useful for this as well.  Consider, is it glaringly clear where the student should start first? Is it without a doubt, clear what is required weekly and where items are found in the menu or content arrangement? Have you pared down content to focus on what the student ‘must know’ and moved additional ‘nice to know’ information into a reference area; so, they are not bogged down completing weekly tasks? How will they communicate with you and with other students? Ask a student to test drive your course and provide feedback.

To get started with assembling and arranging your content, here is a link from our ITaP Course Design Web page: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/cdm/index.html#faculty  or email our team at tlt-cdd@purdue.edu. Happy thinking!

Using Mobile Device Logic and Tracking in Qualtrics Surveys

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By in Distance Education, Mobile, Software, Tools, Training, Uncategorized on .

Qualtrics online survey software, provided to faculty, staff and students at Purdue, is providing more options for mobile device display choices and tracking. We often want to know these days whether someone is accessing our survey from a mobile device or perhaps ask questions that are specific to a particular device being used to complete the survey.  Qualtrics allows you do both of these actions.

If you have a survey that contains questions pertaining to specific access, either desktop or mobile; use Display Logic for those questions and select Device Type conditions.

How ? image

  • Select the question that you want to add a display condition to and use the drop-down box to select Display Logic
Display Logic Choice on a Question

Display Logic Choice on a Question

  • In the Display Logic dialog box, select the first condition to be Device Type.
  • Select your Device Type from the drop-down choices.
Device Type condition box

Device Type condition box

  • The logic confirmation box will appear on the top of the question with your selections.
Display Logic Confirmation box

Display Logic Confirmation box

  • This logic for Device Type display may be used in the Survey Flow structure as well.

Additionally, you may want to track what type of device is being used to complete the your survey. Qualtrics allows this tracking by providing a hidden Meta Info question that you may create and insert anywhere in your survey. That question will provide data back to you regarding the browser and operating system used to complete the survey. Since the user never sees this question, you may insert it near the beginning of the survey.

The following fields are available for tracking/reporting as a table in your report or in the downloaded data set: Browser, Version, Operating System, Screen Resolution, JavaScript Support, and User Agent. (User Agent contains the data string for the question. If you forget to add the hidden Meta Info question before you launch your survey, you may add it later using an embedded data field to the Survey Flow area; which is called “UserAgent“.)

How ? image

  •  Add the Meta Info question, by selecting Create a New Item and then Meta Info Question
Meta Info Question Type Selection

Meta Info Question Type Selection

  •  The following image shows the question as it displays within your survey in Qualtrics.
Meta Info Question Box

Meta Info Question Box

Checking Your Qualtrics Survey Display on a Mobile Device

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By in Distance Education, Mobile, Software, Tools, Training, Uncategorized on .

Since mobile devices are often the access point for email, it’s logical to assume that someone might view your survey link on a mobile device. Checking to see if your questions will display properly is an easy thing to do.

First you should know that Qualtrics surveys are built to be “adaptive” to a device’s screen size and type. The devices that are recommended as compatible, include Android, iOS, and Windows Phone systems. Secondly, while all surveys are set up to be adaptive, be aware that some questions may not display well because they are too wide in their format. So, it’s useful to check your survey questions with the Mobile Compatibility Advisor in Qualtrics.

To use the Mobile Compatibility Advisor, from the edit mode on your survey:

How ? image

  • Click on Advanced Options and then select Mobile Compatibility Advisor. The Advanced Options tab is in the upper right of your screen.
Mobile_Compatibility_Advisor button

Advanced Options tab showing Mobile Compatibility Advisor

  • In the survey, small mobile icons appear to the left of any question box that might have a display concern. You can click on the icon and read the display issue message. An orange icon means the question might wrap or display poorly due to the length of the answer choices.  A red icon means that question format will not display consistently on mobile devices or may not display at all on a mobile device. In either case, you may adjust your question format and run the advisor again to recheck the survey before sending it out or posting the link.
Example of a Red Mobile Icon Image

Example of a Red Mobile Icon

Discussion Board, Blog, or Wiki… How do I choose?

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By in Blackboard Learn, Distance Education, Tools on .

A frequent question that comes up is what the difference is and how to decide which tool to use for activities in a course – discussion boards, blogs, wikis, or journals.  The tools are similar in some ways, allowing students to post text and other materials, but do operate in ways that make them more useful for some course activities than others. The following is a brief description of each and some examples of when to use each in a course.

Discussion Board

Discussion Boards

  • a communication tool that that allows individuals to collaborate with others through posting or answering questions
  • topic centered
  • frequently used as a supplement to in-class activities
  • Examples:

o  class discussion

o  class debate

o  peer review

 For more information see: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/tools/blackboard/learn_res/fac_res/boards.html

Blog

Blogs

  • a web site that shares an individual’s or group’s log of events, insights or opinions; from the words web log
  • author centered
  • frequently used as a place to reflect
  • Examples:

o  course learning reflection

o  resource review

o  record of research activities

 For more information see: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/tools/blackboard/learn_res/fac_res/blogs.html

Wiki

Wikis

  • a web page that allows a group of users to create and modify pages easily and quickly; from the Hawaiian words Wiki wiki meaning quick
  • content/document centered
  • frequently used as a collaborative space
  • Examples:

o  group projects

o  group writing assignments

o  planning events and activities

For more information see: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/tools/blackboard/learn_res/fac_res/wikis.html

 

Debbie Runshe, Educational Technologist

Diagrams have been adapted and made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike Creative Commons License from Worsham, D. (2007, June 27). Blogs and discussion boards – What’s the difference? Wisconsin Union Blend. [Weblog post].