Category Archives: Faculty Resourcing

It’s a media, media media world.

If you’re doing academic research, you can now cite a Tweet.

From the MLA:


If you do project management, make it visual. In my workplace we’re seeing these “SCRUM boards” on every available wall. Some even include “buns in the oven” (the photo of the ultrasound is an example of media embedding):


If you want to make a point, use an Infographic (fancy name for a collage that’s informative, right?) :


Marketers always use media, your technology project might want to use it to help spin the change:



Notes on Penn State Learning Design Podcast #4: Throw out the LMS?

They title it “Baby and the Bathwater,” Jeff Swain and Brian Young.


Full podcast available from ITunes :EdTech episode #4_ Baby & the bath water

These snippets of their conversation stuck out to me.

“If we implement it as we did in the past, if we support it as we did in the past, we will end up with what we had in the past.”  (Brian’s voice I think)


The LMS’s of today pretty much all have the same functionality. In what way are they flawed? What is it about an LMS as a tool that still needs to change… is it

– the workflow required of an Instructor to accomplish a pedagogical goal?

– the fact that it’s a closed system which doesn’t allow for students to interact with other students studying the same same?

– flexibility to make some parts open and others closed to the students taking it that term (in that particular section, or all sections taught by same Instructor? Or all sections across several Instructors?)

They love blogs (sounds like for teaching, research, and reflection method).

How does an LMS related to the ground swell of Program Assessment? LMS repositories aren’t built for providing artifacts and data for assessing the program… But why not?

What about from the student point of view? Why don’t we map out their entire program so that over time they can see how each course supports the program’s goals, how far they’ve come? How far yet to go?


100% of the issues with any of the LMSs are due to lack of planning on the Instructor’s part.” (around 26 minutes) – Brian Young

babies_water 4

Is it a project or a relationship or a language?

My ‘seat’ at the table of higher ed is smack dab in the middle of the IT service organization. We build stuff and keep the lights on, and oh, also support the Academy.

Every month we start new projects. Every month we end projects. Most of our thought is project-based. On the walls around here are posters of our most recent project process revision, representing how to do projects better than the way we did them before. Although it’s great to have more definition of what it takes to get a new project out the door, I don’t like the chart so much. There are 6 steps with the last one being “Operationalize” with the comment that this is supposed to mean “Thoughtful transition to support.” To understand the chart requires you to enter our world of IT.

Despite the location of my seat at the table, or maybe because of it, I am passionate about strengthening my relationship with faculty impacted by ever-transitioning technology. That’s why I’d like a project process encapsulated in my faculty colleagues’ language.

That’s because if I’m going to serve them better, I invite them to sit at the table with me to help me understand and prioritize their needs. And I don’t want to dictate who they have to become or what language they have to speak to sit here.

I want to understand from their point of view the  technologies they are required to use  (ie final grade submission, email, course instructor feedback, calendaring), as well as technologies we make available for them to choose to use- technologies which could make their teaching management easier (ie online gradebooks, online quiz question banks, online syllabus distribution, online office hours); technologies which, meshed with their teaching styles, could engage students in learning to a greater degree (ie discussion boards; RSS feeds; podcasts; polling software; classroom back channels) .


To understand the Academy, which we know is not a unified entity, but which is made up of Engineering, Arts & Letters, Architecture, the Sciences, and others – all constantly transforming according to perceptions of strategic need, I do not need them to sit at my table.

I need to sit at each of their tables.

One of the outcomes of their talks about operational needs and strategic directions will be projects to build the tools that they want.

I will do the translation of their language into my language.

That’s a good first step. Now how do they get aggregated and prioritized by a single institutional service provider, assuming that what each of them decide is good for their College, school or department may not be good for the institution as a whole? If there were such a table where all of them could sit, listen to each other, and together prioritize their separate goals for the good of the institution, whose table would that be?

Bb Vista Assessments : Lost Answers Continue…

This is a follow-up to my posting of September 23rd . As information has continued to pour in on the webct-users and webct-admin listserves I follow, this software defect just gets weirder and weirder. The good news is that we’re pooling our observations and that Blackboard is being extremely attentive.

Recapping the ISSUE: Students are saving answers to tests. The fact that they’re doing so is being recorded in server application logs. But NOT in the database so that the answers are displayed AND graded by the application and displayed back to teachers and students.

The SCOPE: It’s being reported far and wide across institutions. From Saskatchewan to Warrnambool, from Sheffield to Boulder, with Tuscaloosa and Des Moines in between. We’re running Bb Vista 8.0.3 and Bb Vista 8.0.2. But, unlike I posted earlier, it’s now been seen in Assessments which do NOT contain paragraph-style answers. It’s been seen on various windows desktops (XP and Vista). I’ve heard of one case (New Mexico State) on Safari 4 (does this mean a Mac? because this may be the only case). It’s been reported with the PC browser Firefox (3.0.13; 3.0.14; 3.5.2; 3.5.3) and using various versions of Java (1.6.0_11; 1.6.0_15; 1.6.0_2). I’ve searched my archives …I  can’t find any IE instances … It definitely involves some client-side interaction between browser and other desktop installed items.

RULED OUT: Load balancers. Multi-casting. Respondus Lock-down browser. Student error. Resetting the Assessment.

CURRENT SUSPECTED CAUSE: webserver.logs are demonstrating in these cases there is a single POST saveAllResponse followed by one or more GET saveAllResponse entries. It is suspected that the Firefox browser, under certain conditions (yet unknown) is sending a GET request which Bb Vista software versions 8.02 and 8.03 are misinterpreting.

HOW OFTEN ARE THE ASSESSMENT RESULTS LOST LIKE THIS? From all the webserver logs submitted to Blackboard so far, which contain records of missing assessments AND records of assessment results recorded, they are calculating that the error is occurring 8 out of every 1000 tests taken, for a 99.2% reliability rate (and a nearly 1% error rate). It may seem trivial at first, but when 10,000 tests are taken and 80 students have blank scores… you can see the problem is HUGE.

For now I suppose, we advise students to use IE when taking exams. I should at least cut down on the incident rates if not eliminate them altogether.


I want to give Kevin Lowey of the University of Saskatchewan a huge huge thank you from all of us. He’s really helped define what this issue is and how it’s happening. Kevin is an occasional blogger here. If you too would like to be able to think like Kevin, perhaps reviewing his brain would be helpful. We love you, Kevin!

Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Keynote: Michael Wesch

Yes, it’s a 65 minute KeyNote, but worth every minute of it. Think about your class and your teaching style and this world, these students, he describes. If you’re not ready to invest 65 minutes, then start with one of his videos. Perhaps this one: Michael Wesch Web 2.0