Friday, September 24, 2010

ANGEL-Blackboard Update

In May 2009, Blackboard purchased ANGEL Learning, our learning management system (LMS). Blackboard has committed to supporting ANGEL, as a separate product, through October 2014. We are in the second year of a three-year contract with ANGEL/Blackboard, so for the near future, we do not need to switch to another LMS. In the long term, Blackboard plans to integrate Blackboard, WebCT, and ANGEL into one LMS, called Blackboard NG, so we will need to switch to another LMS at some point.

During the last year, TLT has been discussing LMS options with faculty and school administrators, through our TL Tech Planning group and ANGEL Advisory group. Two major concerns have emerged in those discussions. Of course, our next LMS will need to have the technical capabilities our faculty currently use and need. Additionally, the longevity of our next LMS/company is an important consideration. It is simply too expensive, in terms of both money and time, to frequently migrate to a different LMS.

With that background, TLT has conducted a preliminary review of LMSs and has identified Blackboard and Moodle as potential future LMSs for KUMC. Both systems have the technical capabilities we need. In terms of longevity, Blackboard is the clear market-share leader, and Moodle, as a widely-adopted open-source platform, has some protection against corporate acquisitions and mergers.

This summer (July 2010), Blackboard also purchased Elluminate, our web conferencing system, as well as the Wimba web conferencing system/company. Like the ANGEL acquisition, Blackboard has indicated they will continue to support Elluminate as a separate product, but they will integrate Elluminate and Wimba into a single webconferencing product in the future, called Blackboard Collaborate. We will need to switch to another webconferencing system at some point in the future.

In summary, we will continue to use ANGEL and Elluminate. However, we will need to switch to different systems in the future. TLT is working with faculty and school administrators to select products that best meet our needs. If you have additional questions or comments, please contact me (Dave Antonacci at or 913-588-7144) or your school/department leadership.

Posted at 01:51PM Sep 24, 2010 by dantonacci

VoiceThread: A New Way to Discuss Online

Discussion forums are a necessary communication component in an online course, but many students and faculty indicate they don't have the same experience as an in-class discussion. While there may not be an online replacement for a face to face discussion, there's one online tool that does take discussing online a step in that direction.

VoiceThread is an online tool that is becoming very popular in education, as it presents an online discussion in a different format, utilizing video from a webcam, voice from a microphone, as well as keeping the text chatting.  You can also embed a VoiceThread into your ANGEL course. Here's an example of a VoiceThread, explaining what VoiceThread is all about.

View this VoiceThread directly.

Posted at 11:38AM Sep 24, 2010 by sgerald

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What is Educational Technology?

Like Dr. Pepper, our work as educational technologists is so misunderstood. Many people think we provide technical support for technologies which just happen to be used for teaching. Reacting to that over emphasis on information and communication technologies, other people describe our work as solely pedagogical, sometimes to the extent where you would think we didn’t do anything with technology at all.

Hap Aziz at Rasmussen College recently developed a useful definition of educational technology which includes both our pedagogical and technical roles:

“Educational technology is the considered implementation of appropriate tools, techniques, or processes that facilitate the application of senses, memory, and cognition to enhance teaching practices and improve learning outcomes.”

For more additional information about his definition, go to:

Posted at 12:05PM Sep 23, 2010 by dantonacci

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rubrics for Online Discussions

Rubrics are common tools for evaluating complex learning outcomes, such as student writing or discussion. Penny & Murphy (2009)* examined 50 rubrics used for evaluating online discussion, and they identified four core categories among these rubrics, which you may want to include in your online discussion grading as well:

Cognitive (44.0%): "Criteria and ratings in this category reflect a preoccupation that ensures learners are not only providing information, but also engaging in higher level thinking skills such as analysing, interpreting or critically reflecting on the information presented in the forum. The criteria also emphasise learner’s ability to show evidence of deep, rather than superficial, understanding and thinking." (p. 810) "Few ratings specifically rated the learner on evidence of debate, agreement or friction. However, we located a number of ratings that rate learners on their ability to present viewpoints, perspectives and possibilities, and to strategize, compare or contrast. Some of the ratings identified thinking skills related to problem solving, such as the ability to competently analyse problems, a necessary step towards resolution. We uncovered little evidence from an examination of the ratings that they evaluate learners on the co-construction of new knowledge." (pp. 811-812)

Mechanical (19.0%): "The core category ‘mechanical’ focuses on the assessment of language use, grammar and spelling, organisation, writing style, and the use of citations and references." (p. 813)

Procedural/Managerial (18.29%): "Procedural and managerial elements of the discussion are managed by criteria and ratings that focus on learners’ presence, contributions and conduct in the forum." (p. 814)

Interactive (17.17%): "Some rubrics encourage interaction and keep the discussion focused and interactive by using criteria and ratings that encourage learners to share their reflections, resources and thoughts about the discussion. Others look for statements that elicit or encourage responses from others; that contribute to the discussion; and that respond to others." (p. 815)

*Penny, L., & Murphy, E. (2009). Rubrics for designing and evaluating online asynchronous discussions. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(5), 804-820.

Posted at 08:15AM Sep 21, 2010 by dantonacci