I recently attended two days of the Blackboard World conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Below are notes for sessions I attended, my session presentation, and random thoughts.
Session: Seven Best Face to Face Practices for Blended learning, Dan Lim and Jinyuan Tao, Florida College of Health Sciences
The presenters outlined their support for classroom practices in a blended learning environment:
- Integrate laptops into classroom.
- Design interactive games to mitigate challenging content learning. Use gaming theory to teach the most difficult content.
- Administer short quizzes to ensure reading prior to live lectures. Quizzes conducted electronically through personal laptop computers
- Conduct additional face to face lectures to review challenging content.
- Implement clicker technology to check for understanding.
- Divide students into groups to work on case studies and scenarios to reinforce content learning.
- Archive key classroom lectures to put into mobile learning environments.
Bb Product Keynote. Michael Chasen & Ray Henderson
The presentation looked at the state of the product, a report card on promises and a look at improvements in the mobile platform. In the state of product, features that were reported to be in or coming to the product, such a copy and paste from MS Word, which should have been in the product ages ago. I am not sure the self-report card was accurate. (Companies and people tend to rate themselves higher than actual performance.) I am not sure one judges success on closed help tickets, but that’s how it’s measured at Bb. My experience with level 1 and sometimes level 2 tech support is that I know more about the product than they do. During the time between ticket submissions and my contact from technical support, I have the issue resolved. The prospects of the mobile app look promising in that schools can use mobile learn to construct their own mobile apps by dragging and dropping icons, then adding their own urls, ports, passwords, etc. No custom programming or scripting.
Chinese 1 Online, Arlington, Virginia Schools
In this session, presenters explained how they developed online for 55 students spread across multiple middle schools and high schools. The course was completely instructor developed with audio, video, and internet resources. Students developed videos to demonstrate understanding of language and its application. This was also combined with instructor visits to classroom. Instructor made very good use of many modalities of learning.
Improving Graduation Rate, Memphis, Tennessee Schools
The school district is employing Florida Virtual School content to help improve graduation rates. School district is now requiring an online course for graduation. It also uses online for credit recovery. Graduation rates are improving overall. No correlation offered as to online’s contribution to this success. Questions revealed completion rate and success rate of online students is around 60%.
Breaking down the barriers of Course development, Jefferson County Public Schools
Jeffco’s presentation was about expanding professional development courses using Bb. In 2007, 3 p.d. courses offered online. In 2011, 90 courses will be online. District has developed process for approving professional development courses and developing them to implementation. District has established a uniform course shell and uniform features of courses. P.D. instructors just have to fill in template.
Online Learning ROI
This session announced a framework (The New Math for Justifying Online Learning: Leveraging ROI and VOI Analysis for Ed Tech Investments) for online programs as well as general educational technology initiatives. The frame is built around who, what, when, where, why. Case studies of several school districts are included in the report, although none indicates any financial savings. The studies were VOI and mostly process – Here’s what we did with little evaluation of the results. It’s a nice planning model; it certainly needs an evaluation component that drives toward the ROI aspects of the theme of the booklet.
BbWorld Keynote by Sir Ken Robinson
Sir Ken’s presentation was a series of personal stories weaved around difficult issues of sustainability, the rigidity of current public organizations, and creativity. This was a delightful, but humbling, presentation. He did it with only a few slides and no silly YouTube videos. He is a master story teller.
MyMead: Providing online support for a K-12 Public School System
This report was about how the school district is using Bb for internal communication as well as external communication. The district is using Bb as an intranet, public web site for schools, and course site for students. As in many cases, the issues are political not technical.
As with any conference, there’s great opportunity to speak with vendors, meet new colleagues, and ask many questions about form and substance.
My Presentation: What are we learning about learning online.