#miBUG – Can I have your Attention Please? Increasing Student Interaction and Engagement

Developing engaging and interactive courses can help to keep students engaged with the content, their peers, and their instructors. In this session you will see how Michigan Virtual uses instructional strategies and free or low cost tools, such as FlipGrid, H5P, and Powtoon, to increase student-to-content engagement.

Powtoon – dynamic cartoon videos

  • Samples: http://bit.ly/2I24Fix
  • Use to introduce a lesson -instead of just text
  • Tell a story
  • Incorporate and/or review objectives
  • TIP: Write a script and record audio track before jumping into Powtoon to edit

H5P – create interactive content and summative assessments

  • Samples: http://bit.ly/2WHBvtp
  • Can embed into Blackboard
  • Free, easy to create, share and use
  • learning object practice
  • Whose course implementation
  • TIP: Write a script first before jumping into H5P

FlipGrid – video discussion tool

See also: “Using PowToon to Explain Challenging Concepts to Students


#miBUG – Engaging At-Risk Students

Jessica Hale, Washtenaw Community College

This session will feature tips to help you engage your at-risk students in your online classrooms. Using data from online sections, you will learning about how to structure assignments for success, tips for communicating with your students, grading practices that encourage persistence, as well as outreach and intervention techniques.

At-risk – Students who have a higher probability of failing or dropping out of college due to a variety of potential issues.

Teaching online? Do you know who and how many students are considered “at-risk” in your courses?

Keys to Engaging At-Risk Students Online

  1. Supportive Faculty & Staff – Outreach and intervention techniques: needs assessment, success coaching, Blackboard Retention Center tracking. Tips for communicating with students: immediacy makes a difference, demonstrate care, attend to positive performance
  2. Access to Technology – Addressing access issues: identify technology issues early, provide free access to required software, prepare students to troubleshoot
  3. Individualized Instruction – Grading practices that encourage persistence: create auto-graded, untimed assessments with multiple attempts, provide frequent and detailed feedback through the Blackboard gradebook, permit resubmissions
  4. Instruction that Promotes Mastery – Structuring assignments for success: focus on formative assessment, employ low risk assignments, require cooperative work, provide opportunities for reflection

Learn more about the Blackboard Retention Center

#miBUG – Keynote: It All Begins (and ends) with Quality

miBUG 2019, held at Washtenaw Community College, brings together institutions across Michigan who use Blackboard in teaching and learning. The conference has 3 breakout sessions and a keynote.

Keynote Address

We are excited to announce that Dr. Darcy Hardy, Associate Vice President and Client Success Director from Blackboard, Inc. will be delivering the keynote address, “It All Begins (and ends) with Quality“.

Online program directors have spent over two decades trying to define and implement quality, with the primary focus being course development processes and faculty preparation. But when we think about how quality can impact enrollment and retention, we can’t stop there. What about student support services, or the organizational structure? How do policies impact quality? This session will address quality across the entire program and look at additional questions such as these: Do we know if the instructional design of our courses impacts enrollments and retention? Can you link a drop in enrollments to faculty preparedness/online teaching skills? Who controls for quality student support services? Ultimately, enrollment and retention are influenced by many factors – this session will help you ensure your online program is on the positive side.

  • Retention and enrollment is connected to Quality
  • Why are our students here? What are they expecting? What attitudes are they thinking?

  • Issues in higher ed, costs, traditional and specific tracks for course work, student expectations, student drop-out, don’t complete their degree, etc.
  • Why do students drop out of online courses? Struggle with technology, assumptions of online is easier, lack of time management, can’t balance multiple roles, life circumstances, don’t feel like they are getting enough out of it, struggle to stay focused and engagement, financial, lack of social engagement, courses are boring, limited engagement with faculty, lack of discipline. <<< How much of this “blame” is placed on the students vs “us”?
  • Enter student readiness tests. “Is online learning for me?” How many of us have this for our “traditional” students. Is what we are saying if you don’t complete as a student – it’s YOUR problem? Isn’t this the responsibility of the institution, of us as educators?

  • How much do we tell students – that it’s YOUR problem, vs what is it that WE can do for students to help them be successful.
  • The institution needs to take responsibility in presenting ourselves to encourage online learning, removing barriers, establishing pathways, providing 24×7 support.
  • Issues with social presence, don’t place on students > educate the faculty.
  • Let’s move beyond “course repositories” of content and toward highly interactive and engaging courses – beyond checking boxes, rather, focusing on quality courses.
  • Quality = a standard, excellence, perception (degree to which something meets another’s expectations) – quality has no specific meaning unless it’s related to a specific functions and/or object.
  • Quality courses effects perceptions and the learner experience. If the learners experience is rewarding and successful and students feel they received a quality education, they will tell others.
  • What is quality ONLINE teaching and learning?
  • Are your online faculty MIA when they are teaching their course?
  • There is plenty out there on quality… but are we getting the message?
  • Quality impacts retention – but how? How do we measure online and traditional courses?

Blackboard’s Quality Learning Matrix

Richard Clark – Technology is the delivery truck. Use still need quality “groceries”.

Clark states that “media are mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition. Basically, the choice of vehicle might influence the cost or extent of distributing instruction, but only the content of the vehicle can influence achievement.”Where learner gains have been found, Clark presents compelling rival hypotheses.

Retention Responsibility

  • Organization and Strategy – Vision and mission needs to support online programs. And how many have a specific vision/mission for online? (Drive enrollment, how big, who are you serving?) What is your niche? Who are you and why is what you are doing is unique? If you want quality, you need faculty support with instructional designers, and technologists. Crappy courses start with the organization’s support structure with the right people and staffing in place. What is your strategic plan for your online program, not just the institution? What is your reason for online and what is your process? Does your organization support your online learning programs? Stakeholders: president, cio, provost, student services, student affairs, online learning director, enrollment management, admissions, registrar, financial aid, department chairs, deans, faculty, students, libraries, ADA officers, etc.

  • Governance and Policy – Need to have decision-making oversight, monitoring, making decisions, which programs to launch. Do you do feasibility studies when you launch new programs and courses? What about marketing? What are your policies for online? Faculty responsibilities and preparedness eg. engagement, technology processes, course quality, standards, etc. Putting a program online, this is an institutional decision, not just faculty/department/college/school. Need a distance education office or center with authority. Need a centralized process, course design, review, consistent navigation, ensure accessibility, adhere to quality standards, etc.
  • Course Design, Faculty Development, Student Support Services – If you can’t provide support, you shouldn’t be offering online courses and programs.

It’s up to us.

#ELI2019 – Improving Student Success Analytics with Multiple Data Sources

Improving Student Success Analytics with Multiple Data Sources – Conference Session Link

Session Description:

Increasingly, institutions are building learner record stores to more fully describe student interaction with educational technologies. However, little research has assessed how much these increases in data actually move the needle in predicting student achievement. To find out, Blackboard, VitalSource, and UMBC partnered on a research project to explore both vendors’ Caliper and LTI-enabled tools to mine UMBC students’ use of an LMS and e-textbooks. Among other things, we found the combined model was very accurate in predicting C or better final grades by week 4 of the semester. We will also discuss how these findings support other ongoing research.


    • Combine UMBC learner data from Blackboard and VitalSource to predict student outcomes with greater accuracy, earlier in the semester
    • Identify behavioral and demographic factors most predictive of student success
    • How does faculty adoption/integration of EdTech or overall course design, affect those relationships?
    • Understand the effectiveness of IMS Caliper as data protocol to answer student success research questions

“If your data isn’t actionable, what’s the point?” – John Fritz

  • Combine Blackboard, VitalSource, and SIS Data with IMS Caliper.
  • At week 4, evaluate relationships between activity and course grade.
  • Data: 986 total students in 5 subjects/7 sections, Fall 2017 term
  • On using data… getting the right message to the right students at the right time. – John Fritz
  • Students who didn’t take the syllabus quiz were 4 times more likely to earn DFW.
    • Encourage faculty to require and use adaptive release for a syllabus quiz.
  • Students who register late (under 40 days) are much more likely not to persist.
  • Students that use math tutoring reduce their changes of failing between 10 and 20%.
  • Presentation: umbc.box.com/eli19

#ELI2019 – Presentation Pair: Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning

Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning – Conference Session Listing

University of Cincinnati – Engaging Faculty in the Creation of Accessible Course Content

  • Blackboard Ally was introduced to create awareness and make course content more accessible.
  • OCR agreement resulted in creating the Accessibility Network at the University of Cincinnati.
  • Blackboard Ally provides checking of content uploaded into courses and displays an accessibility indicator to faculty. Ally provides on screen guidance also to faculty. An institutional dashboard enables views across the entire campus.
  • Training is provided to faculty in using Ally and in creating more accessible files.
  • Challenges include time, skills, and resources (and faculty attitude) in ensuring content is accessible in courses.
  • Faculty can feel overwhelmed if most of their course is inaccessible.
  • “Making progress not perfection” has been helpful. Start small, one file at a time.
  • Goal is to create documents from-the-start that are accessible. For example, using headings in Word, alt text, table headings… etc.
  • MS Word documents have been found to be more accessible than PDFs.
  • UC is working on centralized remediation of files using student assistants.

North Carolina State University

  • Beyond Captions – Making Online Learning Truly Accessible to Deaf Students
  • Captions are helpful, but we can do more…
  • ASL is the first language for deaf learners. Average captions are at a 9th grade level.
  • English literacy is a challenge for ASL learners because it’s a spoken language.

  • Level 1: LMSProvided by vendors primarily. Web accessibility guidelines come into play.
  • Level 2: Course Materials – Provided by instructors. Videos with captions, transcripts, creating accessible documents, etc. Typography is also important. Don’t use ALL CAPS. Readability is important. User control and navigation.
  • Level 3: Communication and Language – Accessing information include assignment directions, emails to students, announcements, orientation to course. Background, context, pointing things out in text to draw attention. Pay attention to reading level and vocabulary, especially for ASL learners. Graphic organizers can be helpful for ASL and all students (UDL).

#ELI2019 – Use Them or Lose Them: Digital Devices for Student Engagement

Use Them or Lose Them: Digital Devices for Student Engagement – Conference Session Link