Tuesday, March 1, 2011

For my knittas

So while I am updating, something for my stitches:

I'm nearly done with the Koolhaas.

Which means it's time for me to get antsy, ignore weaving in ends on the shawl that I super need to be done weaving ends in and blocking before next Friday (not this one), and start staring at sweaters not on THE LIST.

So I'm exercising restraint and starting over an old UFO/swatch. (Ravelry Link to Project Page)

Blackboard 9, you so fine

Okay, so after messing with Blackboard 9 for my course, I think I would really enjoy actually creating a course in it.

Instead of splitting your Build, Teach, and Student View between three pages, it's all in one. Build and Teach tools are on side bars, and you switch between building and student view by clicking on the "edit mode" to toggle the editing on or off.

What I like besides the streamlining is the fact that you can totally manipulate the course menu (a sidebar with links to content and tools, which is available for you and the students). My favorite thing is the Content Areas - you can have a Content Area for each section of your course (each book, or each chapter of your textbook, or each concept) or you can have a Content Area for each type of content instead (Course Information, Web Links, Lesson Plans, Discussion Boards, etc.).

Another neat thing is the improvement to Group formation. You can still manually add people to groups, but there is also the option to create self-enrollment groups. Signups for topics could be really easy that way - you could do it all online, and let them sign-up. You have the option to allow them to see who is already in the group (or not), and to limit the sign-up numbers.

The Grade Center is also interesting, as it has a few ways to look at assessments. One is the Full Grade Center, with everything worth a grade, whether or not you've graded it. Needs grading is for ungraded submissions, and can be sorted to narrow the list. Or you can look at just Assignments or just Tests.

I will say that it has a "healthy-sized" learning curve. Some of the things I learned, I learned because I messed around with it for a long time. Some of the things I learned, I learned by watching video tutorials (which I couldn't pause). I'm sure I didn't figure out everything - after all, sometimes it's best when you have a real course to create, and you have students, or even a demo student, to try out the student side of things. I was able to figure out some things on Blackboard Vista by using the demo student (like, "how do I grade their discussion submission?").

I also realize that, like other learning systems, Blackboard Learn won't always work perfectly. But I am really excited about it anyway.