Course Continuity, Flexibility

16 Feb 2010

Because I travel, and because I live in the Maryland countryside, I’m always concerned about not being able to make it in even if campus is open. Therefore, in COSC010 I have an arrangement with my students that if something should prevent my attending class we would convene via Elluminate through Blackboard. However, when the campus was closed I chose an asynchronous solution that allowed course continuity while giving students some flexibility.

GU has a Sharestream server that is tied to Blackboard where faculty can post multimedia files. It is already paid for, backed up, enterprise-quality, and directly available to students via Blackboard. So, I created short podcasts of the materials I had intended to present, then published a quiz on the materials in Blackboard.

I think the students enjoy the multiple short podcasts over a 75 minute recording, as the podcasts can be broken down by specific sub-topics and the students can consume shorter bites at a time. I find the podcasts easier to record then a lengthy lecture since I can start and stop the recording, easily edit out mistakes, drop PowerPoint slides in and produce a fairly high quality product. Blackboard’s electronic quizzes are well-understood by the students and broadly accepted.

Of course, I also post my PowerPoint slides, lab materials, syllabus, schedule, assignments, course documents, and anything else I can think of to Blackboard.

I just checked the Blackboard gradebook, and it would appear that over half the students have already viewed the videos and taken the quiz with good grades.

I’m working on a library of these videos. I’m thinking about asking the students to contribute videos of their own.

Blackboard, Elluminate, and Sharestream are changing the way we teach, whether or not outside events impact our ability to meet. I’ve used Skype in the past when I had a student called overseas for a long period of time, and was pleased by how it worked. I’m glad to see faculty sharing their successes with each other.