Today, we hear from Ben Seipel as part of our Faculty Share series. Dr. Seipel is an Assistant Professor at CSU Chico.
Please speak to the importance of the LMS in your teaching.
The LMS (Blackboard Learn) is vital to my instruction. All of the courses I teach depend almost exclusively on the LMS and its connection to/functionality with 3rd party vendors (e.g., YouTube, Respondus, Turnitin, etc.). Half of my courses are taught completely online. The rest are hybrid or blended in some way. The LMS allows me to be flexible in my instruction; it allows flexibility in how my students access content.
How do you use the LMS? What are the LMS features you use and find crucial?
I use the LMS for all functions of my courses (both live and online). I use the LMS: to communicate with students, to “teach”/record lectures, for forming groups (for homework and discussion), for peer-to-peer interaction/peer-reviews, to grade (Turnitin), to provide feedback, to collaborate (Blackboard Collaborate), to test/assess students with quizzes/exams, to post handouts/slides/assignments, to define terms (via the glossary function), to sync/schedule assignments and course work with the calendar, and to curate online content (websites,videos). I find all of these features vital to an interactive and engaging course that is accessible to students.
Do you use the LMS to teach all your courses, or a few?
I use the LMS for all my courses. I also use the LMS for committee work at various levels of the University and to collaborate with other faculty for professional development purposes (on campus and across the CSU).
Do you access the LMS using a mobile device? If so, for what purposes?
I do occasionally access the LMS via my smartphone, but the interface is clunky and not user friendly. In general, I access the LMS on my personal smartphone to ensure content is posted and available to my students. I know that my students use their smartphones to access the system as well, but they find it difficult to use as well.
To your knowledge, do your students access your LMS course(s) on a mobile device? Do you have a sense of how that is working for them?
As mentioned above, yes: I know that my students use their smartphones to access the system as well, but they find it difficult to use as well. I encourage students to bring their own devices to class to download and view notes, handouts, and websites that are posted in the course. The mobile log-in is slow (due to internet access security issues and design). Once inside the “portal” the courses in the LMS lose the mobile-look/feel. The LMS requires too much clicking/redirecting to be practical on a mobile device. Consequently, many of my students choose to bring a laptop or tablet to class, if they have one.
Have you tried using the gradebook in any way other than keeping grades? Are there other features for which you find new uses?
I have used the grade book for tracking participation, tracking course access, monitoring student progress/success, and administering surveys. I also use the gradebook email feature to easily contact students based on grades. I also use the functions within the gradebook to calculate item statistics (item difficulty, reliability, etc.) for traditional assessments like multiple-choice tests.
In addition to your LMS, what third party tools do you teach with?
As mentioned above, I use many 3rd party tools that are embedded in/linked to our LMS: YouTube, Turnitin, Respondus, Kaltura, etc.
Other tools I use to teach online (but are not specific to Blackboard Learn) include Camtasia, Twitter, PollEverywhere, Prezi, Remind, Plickers, Google Apps/products (Hangouts, Scholar, and Collaboration tools) and content curation sites (e.g., Edmodo, Blendspace, Scoop.it).