Yes, Blackboard is broken, but with some mental reframing, spit, and bubblegum, anyone can smash it into a different direction. Also, who’s sick of calling this making-do business a “hack”? Let’s go back to jury-rigging or MacGuyvering. Also, your mileage on these so-called hacks may vary depending on your institution’s implementation of Blackboard. The easiest way to get Blackboard working is to give up on it. Stop trying to make it do what you want (like display a leaderboard), and instead embrace the simple principle that Blackboard is JUST A GRADEBOOK. Then, pretend Blackboard is just like an old spiral gradebook, take some sparkle glueRead More →

“While we may not talk about it, we know a syllabus reveals a lot about our colleagues,” writes Linda Nilson in The Graphic Syllabus. The book, published in 2007, talks about how bureaucratized syllabus developed in response to various political pressures in higher ed, the old-style syllabus (which was simple and teacher-centered), and the learner-centered syllabus (which is guide-on-the-side and visually oriented). But, let’s reconsider that quote in light of the cookie-cutter syllabi that higher ed mandates today. “While we many not talk about it, we know a syllabus reveals nothing about our colleagues except that we are expected to follow in line.” No childRead More →

Again. People are talking about the VARK again. Most research has discredited the VARK. Just Google it and you’ll see the debate pop up right away. But I still like it, the same way I like astrology, Tarot cards, and various other personality tests. The VARK is a framework that can over-determine or define people once we buy into it too much, and any framework or typography can lose its helpfulness if its overly rigid (hardening of the categories”). Lately, I have been rethinking my commitment to this schema, and why I like it, because POD folks trash it regularly. Their skepticism and rejection isRead More →

The Blackboard app sucks more than Blackboard itself. The mobile app is teacher unfriendly. In fact, it’s downright teacher-hostile. Remember, the medium is the message. Since Blackboard has yet to master mobile-responsive design, the mismatch between the website and mobile app causes users to get mixed messages. This is a huge headache for teachers and students alike. Additionally, instructors cannot access the grade center, or grade anything, which renders Blackboard Mobile pointless for teachers.  The app is just an added burden for instructors to address in course design, without much payoff. What the app is useful for 1. Uploading docs at the last minute. 2.Read More →

Blackboard continues to suck. I’m at a new institution, and I have learned that admin regulation of features accounts for only a small amount of Blackboard’s suckage. My current school has foregone some convenient features, but adopted other nifty ones. In the end this just illustrates that Blackboard’s suckitude and lack thereof amounts to installing car mats, electric windows, and an awesome stereo inside a poor-performing but market-dominating car. Blackboard is gobbling up the learning tech market, and now that it’s the big gorilla, it’s defining the industry with its suckage. Here is why Blackboard continues to suck: 1. Still cannot mass edit exam questions.Read More →

1. Everyone who cares about how teachers teach and learners learn (cf http://chronicle.com/article/TeachingLearning-About/146403/) 2. Every teacher, professor, PODster, colleague, and faculty professional development expert who taught me about teaching. 3. Every administrator who realized that pedagogy and faculty professional development should be funded and supported institutionally. 4. Every student who put up with my insensitivities, failures, and experiments as a teacher. ∞Read More →

Learning about learning, Part I The VARK I know my VARK and where I fall on the inventory of learning styles: Visual. Auditory. Read/Write. Kinesthetic. Someone recently asked me if I remembered Amy Grant’s song, “Every Heartbeat.” My reply: “Yeah, that’s the song where she’s wearing that cute polka dot dress and big sunglasses and there’s a dog. Like, she’s trying to be Taylor Dayne, but without sex.” Clearly, I am not an auditory learner even though I suffer from severe blabbativity and motor-mouthedness. I type super-duper fast, and I suffer from a rampant twitch-speedery that developed over years of living online as a digitalRead More →

Testing should be as much about learning as assessing.  Even though I believe this, I caved in and started giving multiple choice exams years ago. Blame it on Swiss cheese memory. Blame it on some fantastical conversion experience wherein I now believe memorization and identification are rigorous! That’s hogwash. To redeem my unpalatable decision, I give the students a chance to develop test taking skills with a nifty worksheet (stolen from the learning center at LSU). The worksheet helps students review their test results, figure out why they missed particular questions, and then group their incorrect answers into patterns. The students meet with me toRead More →

In Interpersonal Communication we have an assignment in which students describe what it’s like to unplug for a weekend. I decided to blog about the assignment because…well..you’ll see… Class Assignment Select a 48-hour period during which you will “unplug” from your computer-mediated communication (CMC) technology. This includes email, Facebook, interactive computer gaming (MMORPGs, etc.), texting, and chatting. You may use your cell phone for phone calls only. What was the experience like? How did your family, friends, and coworkers react? How long did you last before you became uncomfortable? What forms of communication or what activities did you replace your technology with? Write a fiveRead More →