Reserve Your Spot Today! Part II Teaching Unprepared Students: Strategies for Promoting Success and Retention in Higher Education

Interweaving Assessment and Teaching

Friday, April 24, 2009, from 12:30-2:00pm

Dr. Kathleen F. Gabriel, author of highly acclaimed book, Teaching Unprepared Students: Strategies for Promoting Success and Retention in Higher Education invites you to attend part two of this series.

This special TILT Workshop is co-sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), Technology and Learning Program (TLP) at CSU Chico. Reservations are required and must be made by Friday, April 17. (Part one attendance is not a requirement for this session.)

Please email Laura Sederberg, lsederberg[at] for information as to how to sign-up .

The second 90-minute session (April 24th) will deal specifically with strategies that relate to determining whether or not the majority of students are actually learning the material before the midterms (or finals) are given. Interweaving informal and formative assessments throughout lectures and class discussions can not only kindle students’ enthusiasm, but can also promote student learning. Several different types of assessment techniques (with feedback) will be presented which can be easily integrated into any class.

This special TILT Workshop is co-sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), Technology and Learning Program (TLP) at CSU Chico. Reservations are required. Please email Laura Sederberg, lsederberg[at] for information as to how to sign-up.

Time Saving Tips for Teaching Online using Bb Vista

This document was originally written by Kay Shelton for the Sloan Consortium.  What I have attempted to do is to amend the article with a correlation to where in Vista you might accomplish the task.

1. Carefully Develop Online Course Materials – This takes time but is worth it because it saves you from answering many questions during the teaching of the course. Before the class begins, you should move through the course as a student, checking to see if you have all resources necessary for success…such as clear directions for assignment submission, discussion board posting requirements, and articulate quiz/exam directions.

Vista Tip – Ask for a preparation area in Vista to experiment and explore your ideas. If the ideas pan out, then fine! You can copy that content into your other Vista courses without disrupting the current content of a live section. It is easy to get a prep area. Simply email Vista[at] and ask for it.

2. Course Schedule – Create a course schedule with all pertinent information such as when a module opens, the topics covered, reading assignments, other related assignments and when all submissions are due. Encourage your students to print this out and keep it with them at all times so that they are responsible for knowing when their assignments are due.

Vista Tip – Activate and use the calendar. Most areas in Vista, like assessments for example, have a check box that automatically lists the activity on the calendar. The listed item will also become an active link to take students straight to the activity.

3. Write a Welcome Note – Writing a note to the students the first week should cover anything special about your course that you want them to specifically understand. It may be something in the syllabus but this would be a good place for clarification and additional information. At the end of the note, direct students to email you to let you know they read the note.

Vista Tip – Use the announcement tool. Create a timed message to appear as a pop up the first time students enter the class and welcome them.

4. Syllabus Quiz/Activity – Create an activity that encourages students to carefully read the syllabus such as a quiz for bonus points or a scavenger hunt.

Vista Tip – Create a practice quiz using the assessment tool. Set the parameters so students can take the quiz multiple times and use their best result as the final point score.

5. FAQ Discussion – Create a threaded discussion forum for frequently asked questions and post a synopsis of other FAQs from previous semesters – keep course information as surface level as possible. Remind students to post their general course questions in this forum so that others can see your response. Copy and paste replies to these questions from the course syllabus when applicable.

Vista Tip – Create a category in the discussion area that is for non-content related information. Encourage the students to enter responses to provide peer support, tips and encouragement.

6. Print Out Student Introductions – The first week, students usually introduce themselves in a threaded discussion. Expand all of their introductions and print this out and keep it by your computer. When you are responding to a student the first few weeks, glance through their introduction and ask a question specific to their posting, such as…how is your son that is playing college baseball? This is a quick way to create community and demonstrate to the student that you care about your students.

Vista Tip – Skip the printing entirely, go green and use the roster tool. Require that students post an image of themselves that reflects their personality, shows something about their hobbies, family, or out of school like. Use the visual prompts to make comments more personal.

7. Check Email Newest to Oldest – When checking your inbox for student email, go to the newest email instead of the one that came in earliest. Often times, students have sent you a question but a few hours later, they have found their answer and are telling you nevermind!

Vista Tip – Use the mail tool to communicate ONLY if you want student communication to stay within the Vista course and not mix with your profession university account. Be sure to tell your students how long they should expect to wait for a response.

8. Use Grading Rubrics – While it takes time to develop your grading rubric, but when used, it becomes instant and customized feedback for the student.

Vista Tip – Use the grading form to inform students of performance and grading expectation.

9. Keep a Response Template – Often times, we give some of the same feedback on assignments. Keep these standard responses in a document handy on your computer so that you can quickly copy and paste in a response and then you can add additional feedback. This is a huge timesaver!

Vista Tip – Use the grader feedback dialog box on the assessment tool to comment to students about their performance.

10. Allow Students to Facilitate Discussions – Allowing students to sometimes facilitate discussions can free up time for grading—especially when it is a week that you have a lot to grade. However, you still want to show some type of presence in the discussion at least once or twice.

Vista Tip – Use the peer review feature to have students assess each others’ comments. Use in combination with a performance rubric, this form of review can be valuable to students seeking the opinion of their group or class.

11. Back Up Your Gradebook – Back up your gradebook at least once a month or more if you can. This only takes a few moments and can save you hours and hours if for some reason you lose the original—this can even happen in a courseware management system sometimes…for example, if you accidentally delete the exam topic, it may delete the grades in the gradebook.

Vista Tip – Use the Export to Excel button to send your grades to a secondary source. I doubt I need to say any more about the value of a backup.

If you have any other tips or ideas to add to this list I would love to see your comments.

15 Mind Mapping Resources

One of the tools the TLP & DLT staff enjoys using during brainstorming sessions is a mind map. Generally we use it to diagram our ideas to visually represent how things like tasks or other items are linked to (and arranged around) a central key word or phrase. These maps are saved for later reference and sometimes presented during other meetings to refresh our memory about what we previously discussed.

For your convenience I have listed a few mind mapping tools currently available on the Internet along with the promo bits one can find on each site.

1. – This flash-based mind mapping tools allows you to chart out your thoughts in a colorful format, share them with friends or embed them in blogs, websites and emails.
2. Free Mind – Mind mapping is easy and free with this Java tool. You’ll be able to manage your notes, lay out a paper and more completely online.
3. Wise Mapping – You can access your mind maps from anywhere with this online tool. You can lay out words, pictures, ideas and more easily with WiseMapping.
4. Mindomo – Premium versions of this mind mapping tool come at a cost, but you can get access to the basic version for free. It allows you to add links, pictures and text to mind maps and share them over the net.
5. DeepaMehta – This mind mapping tool is built around the idea of knowledge management and cognitive psychology. The open source tool allows sharing, emailing and even contains an embedded calendar.
6. Mind Meister – Collaborate with your classmates on mind maps with this great online tool. The basic version is free and comes complete with the ability to create, share, import and export maps.
7. Mind42 – The name of this tool represents “for two”, and is indicative of the collaborative nature of this mapping tool. It can make it easy to keep track of your ideas, share them with friends and teachers and take them with you no matter where you are.
8. Recall Plus – Students can organize their notes, create flashcards, make use of 3D tools and more in this great mind mapping tool.
9. Mapul – This mind mapping program has basic and premium levels and allows users to map not only text but images and hyperlinks as well.
10. Debate Mapper – If you’re struggling to understand a debate for your classes try creating a visualrepresentation with this great mapping tool.
11. CMap Tools – CMapTools is free for students to use and allows them to create and share all kinds of knowledge maps.
12. Thinkature – This site allows real-time collaboration on flow charts, diagrams and mind maps withfeatures that include color organization and freehand drawing.

13.  Gliffy – With Gliffy online diagram software, you can easily create professional-looking flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, & technical drawings. This online diagram editor makes it easier than ever to create great looking drawings.

14. Spinscape – With Spinscape  you can create interactive maps that allow you to organize information and data. A Premium account will allow others to brainstorm with you, edit the map and even chat during creation!

15. Mywebspiration – Whether working individually or collaboratively, Webspiration is a new online visual thinking tool that integrates diagram and outline views you can think visually, structure your work effectively and express your idea. Currently in beta and has closedinvitations.

The PDF-to-Word Converter

According to the promo on the PDF-to-Word site, “… it’s not possible to replicate the exact formatting and appearance of the original file used in creating a PDF,” they believe their free converter produces “more accurate results than any other tool out there, including the most expensive desktop products.”

If you are in a pinch and simply cannot find your original document, you might want to give this online utility a try. PDF-to-Word will create editable DOC/RTF files to reuse in applications like Microsoft Word, Excel, OpenOffice, and WordPerfect.

In budget crunching times it is hard to turn down free, hence my listing on the blog. If you try it and have some results for me, please comment here and let us in TLP know.

Game Accessibility

Although I certainly do not consider Second Life to be a game, the interface it uses happens to be one that relies on graphics similar to those used by computer games.  Recent developments in the gaming world have expanded use to those who need accommodations to “play” and because of those advancements, many of these innovations can/may carry over to the virtual world environment.

In searching for accessible uses of Second Life I came across this resource that is worthy of noting here on my CSU Chico TLP blog.  Although it appears the last few bits were last added in 2007, the multi-media clips are worth a look to see how some end users can interact in today’s virtual worlds and games.

NPR News Considers Clickers

NPR logoNPR’s All Things Considered radio program this week aired an excellent segment about the use of student response systems (Clickers) in the classroom, even mentioning the supported clicker used here at Chico State. There’s ongoing discussion here and certainly at other universities about whether these devices provide an educational advantage to the students and faculty using them, and if the more than $50 cost of a clicker is justified by these results in the current economic climate. One conclusion that is emphasized in the reporting and reinforced in many of the comments on the NPR web site is that effective use of the clickers requires that the instructor invest time into integrating the clicker with the curriculum to achieve a desired outcome, such as greater engagement or realtime feedback.

Read or listen to the 8 minute NPR podcast and think about how you could use, or make better use, of the clicker technology in your own classroom. 

The NPR story comments are also insightful, including one from Derek Bruff who writes an excellent blog about teaching with clickers; it appears he also has a book on the subject that was came out last month. Book-in-common for clicker-users?

Live Blogging from the Apple “Teaching with Technology” Event

Apple starts their presentation by appealing to your sense of nostalgia with a slide of an Apple IIe. Somehow, I’m not just the only person in the room who had one, but I’m certainly the only person here who still has one that works. Soon, though, we’re going well beyond the Oregon Trail’s impact on education and we’re talking about Apple’s modern ecosystem – laptop to iPhone; as Jarrod talks I’m actually blogging this on my iPhone so much of what he’s talking about certainly rings true for me. But then I’m not really the target audience: I’m an early adopter.

Continue reading

How Do I Prevent Plagiarism Using Turnitin?

Plagiarism is a main concern among faculty who require writing assignments of their students. Often it is hard to pin point sources from which suspected “lifted” passages may have originated. Turnitin, a plagiarism software that integrates into Blackboard Vista, is one method CSU Chico faculty can use to assist them in detecting unoriginal writing.
This presentation will instruct faculty about how Turnitin works and how to add it to a Vista section.

Date: Wednesday, March 11
Time: 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Place: Basement of Meriam Library, MLIB 002

TILT – Engaging Students Online: Tips from the Top Hitters in Blackboard Vista & How They Do It

Student engagement how and why? Ever wonder what other professors are doing
to engage students online? Here is an opportunity to learn from faculty that
have some of the highest student activity in their Vista course environment.
Please join us to see how some instructors are using Vista to engage
students with their course curriculum. You will also see examples of
activities instructors are using to increase student participation and how
they implemented effective strategies to meet their learning objectives.

Thursday, March 26
12:30 – 1:30 pm
Tony Waters, Lee Altier, Brian Brazeal, and Cindy Ratekin.

To View Tony Waters presentation please click here