Tips for Teaching Large Enrollment Courses using Blackboard

 

Before Your First Class

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During the Term

  • Use a Q&A Discussion Board Forum instead of e-mail to respond to student questions
  • Ask your students to maintain their Blackboard profiles with a good head shot photo
  • Peruse the Retention Center once a week to identify students with motivational issues
  • Use the Announcements page to send messages to your students
  • Provide your students with clear and explicitly measurable learning objectives on a weekly schedule, and support them with course materials.

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Before Each Lecture

  • If you have assigned readings and/or other materials that you want the students to review prior to the lecture, use brief online quizzes as formative assessments.  Textbook publishers often provide question banks that you can import into your courses.  The quizzes can be randomized and delivered online.  Methods to prevent or identify collusion include grade history download, test information access log, set timer/auto-submit, and restrict location.
  • Provide lecture notes or an outline.

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During the Lecture

  • Consider recording your lectures so students can rewind and review points that they may have missed in the live presentations, and before examinations.
  • Panopto is available and now integrated with Blackboard.  The better students will use these recordings to review and will thank you on their OMET evaluations.  You may save a lot of time meeting with students who miss your lectures due to illness, job interviews, family emergencies, etc.
  • Deliver lectures in manageable “chunks” interspersed with peer-to-peer sharing activities.  Consider using a student response system to foster engagement (“clickers”). Timely peer-to-peer sharing and assessment activities improve comprehension and knowledge retention.  Use live demonstrations and videos to reinforce learning.

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After the Lecture

  • Post lecture recordings.
  • Remind students of assignments and upcoming course events with Announcements
  • Consider using a “One Page Review” online, open journal to have your students reflect on the key points of the lecture each lecture.  This captures not only their physical attendance but their mental attendance, and gives them an opportunity to reflect.  Having it “open” gives them an opportunity to share with their peers.

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Assignment Management

  • Use the Assignment Tool to collect homework.  It will save you class time and you can use the inline grading features to provide timely feedback to your students.
  • Use the Rubric Tool to communicate performance expectations to your students and to objectively assess their work.
  • Use SafeAssign or Turnitin to check for plagiarism.
  • Use Groups to assign work to student teams.  New group management tools in Blackboard make it easy to identify, which groups students belong to and which students need to be assigned to groups.
  • Consider using textbook publisher tools to assign and grade problem solving homework assignments and quizzes.  Several of these tools deliver algorithm-based problems – each student has a similar problem to solve with individually different numbers.  Students can complete the work on their personal schedules with instant feedback and sometimes system-provided instruction.  We have installed Blackboard integration modules developed specifically for Cengage, McGraw-Hill, Wiley and Pearson offerings.  Others are coming.
  • Direct students to LibGuides developed by Pitt’s librarians.

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Test Management

  • Use a proctored facility, like the testing center in the basement of the Cathedral.  Use the “Restrict Location” feature to limit test access to specify IP addresses.
  • Use the Item Analysis feature to find the questions that everyone gets right or everyone gets wrong.  The questions that everyone gets right serve no purpose and the questions that everyone gets wrong indicate issues with the questions or subject matter comprehension.

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Grade Management

  • Use the Grade Center to communicate grade information to the students.
  • Use Calculated Columns to calculate grades.
  • Use SmartViews to manage groups in the Grade Center
  • Assess students’ work anonymously using the “Grade Anonymously” feature in the Grade Center.  Use Grading Rubrics to provide specific and objective feedback.
  • If you import grades from another source (for example, Scantron), use the VLOOKUP function in Excel to link the data to your student records in the Grade Center using PeopleSoft numbers.
  • Clean up your Grade Center after you import an earlier term’s course materials.  Delete (do not hide) the Totals and Weighted Totals columns that you do not want to use.

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