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- The Blackboard Feature of the
"Click here for more information"
- Teaching with Technology:
"Helping online students get a good start"
Tech Talk Topic:
"Review of the Amazon Kindle, Part 2"
- For more, see
podcast notes page for Episode
Technology & Download News Briefs
- Academic Technology Workshops
- We have published our spring 2008 Academic
Technology training schedule.
Click here to read it. For TBA training
call (760) 744-1150 ext. 2341.
- On Monday, January 28, the following self-paced,
online training workshops will be made available:
- On Wednesday, January 30 from 2-4pm in room
LL-109 David Gray will host "Using
the Blackboard Gradebook."
- On Thursday, January 31, from 10-11am in room
LL-111 Terry Gray will host "Audio
recording your lectures and placing them in
Blackboard." Attendance is limited to 8.
- Elluminate is our new econferencing system.
There are many excellent training resources
available through the
Elluminate training center. Live,
instructor led training seminars--conducted through
the Elluminate interface--occur regularly and
may be scheduled through their web site.
Feature of the Week - David Gray.
Click here for more information.
One of the most commonly used functions in
Blackboard is to attach a file so students can view
it. It is a good idea to customize the link to the
file though, to make things easier on your students.
By default, if you attach a file to an item in
Blackboard, the link text is the filename. So
students would have to click a link that says
“Document1.doc” or the like. However, instructors
can control what text is linked, by entering the new
text in the “Name of Link to File” box, just below
the button used to attach the file to the item.
A link which specifies an action to take, such as
“Click here to view the document.” or “Save this
file and use it to complete the assignment.” may be
more effective than a mere file name. Also using a
lengthy sentence will give more room for students to
click on, as some folks may not be precision mouse
A simple step to improve the function and
appearance of your Blackboard content: customize the
file link text.
Teaching with Technology -
Dr. Haydn Davis
Helping Online Students (and Instructors) Get
A Good Start
It probably fair to say the first two weeks of a
new semester plays a large role in influencing a
student to be successful in the class. Getting off
to a good start in a class can motivate a student to
continue to do well throughout the class.
Last time I talked about the importance of
student feedback and I think that while this is
important throughout the course, it may be most
important in the early part of the course. This time
I’m going to underscore that point by mentioning a
couple of tools we’ve harped on before in these
podcasts but with me anyway it’s often helpful to be
reminded of something I already know. With that
adage in mind I want to remind online instructors to
consider using two powerful but underused Blackboard
tools: the Calendar and the Performance Dashboard.
The calendar tool while primitive can be very
useful in helping students stay on task and it has
the virtue of being very simple to use. I recommend
that the instructor place a number of reminders for
students and tell them that they too can add their
own events (of course whatever they add will appear
only in their view of the calendar). I like the fact
that the calendar items appear when the student
first logs onto the Blackboard system.
The process for adding calendar items couldn’t be
easier as I mentioned. The steps are:
- Control Panel
- Course Tools/Course Calendar
- Add Event
- Choose Date
The second tool I know we’ve also discussed more
than once but the Performance Dashboard provides a
lot of useful information that, particularly early
in the course can be used to identify students who
might be having difficulty in the class. A short
email or phone call will often get them back on
track. The screen capture below shows how the
instructor can monitor course access as well as
other progress. In the example shown, Adam has not
accessed the course yet and the first week is coming
to a close.
Finally, under the heading of getting started
well, I’ve included two URLs that instructors might
Tech-Talk-Topic - Chris
A Review of the Amazon Kindle, Part 2
a couple weeks of testing completed, I’m ready to
declare the Amazon Kindle… a partial success. The
electronic reading device, first and foremost, is
great at reading books. If at all possible, every
book that I purchase for myself to read from now on
will be in the Kindle format. The only disadvantage
is that I cannot loan, resell, or donate the books
once I am done with them. However, I feel that the
advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Being
able to search within a book or an entire collection
of books is great. I use the built-in dictionary
often, mostly when I come across an unfamiliar word
within a book that I am reading. The ability to
purchase books from anywhere in the U.S. wirelessly
is something that sets this device apart from all
others. While vacationing in Big Bear, I was able to
download an entire book from my rented cabin in
seconds without a computer or any other form of
internet access. Most of all, having all of my books
in one convenient location that I can easily carry
with me is reason enough to own one of these
When it comes to periodicals such as newspapers
and magazines, the only problem for me personally is
that many photos normally accompanying articles are
not present in the Kindle versions. However, I have
found that the lack of photos has not been as much
of an issue as I originally thought it would be. The
missing photos are easy for me to ignore.
Additionally, the selection of magazines and
newspapers is very limited at this time. My hope is
that more periodicals will become available as time
There are a couple of areas where Amazon made
some mistakes. One “feature” that I am really
unhappy with is the ability to subscribe to blogs.
The selection of blogs is very limited and there is
a monthly subscription fee in all cases. Personally,
there is not a single blog that I would pay for on a
monthly basis. I would much prefer to have the
freedom to subscribe to any feed that is freely
available online, just as is normally done on a
computer. This “feature” can certainly use some
Another “feature” is the ability to play mp3
files. The “player” controls are so limited that it
is not at all useful. After copying mp3 files onto
the device, the only options are to play files
randomly and stop play. It is not possible to skip
from track to track, nor is it possible to choose a
specific track to play. Since I do not normally
listen to music while I am reading, I simply do not
use this feature.
Despite the negatives, the device does excel at
its primary function – to provide an exceptional
reading experience. The great looking screen, small
size, light weight, and wireless access to content
all make reading easy and enjoyable. I highly
recommend the Amazon Kindle to anyone who reads
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