Page 1


Feedback Collaboration Tests



Web Email

Blog RSS




Video Technology





Virtual Discussion Quizzes


Glossary Wiki



Blackboard Turnitin Groups




IdEA: identification of e-learning activities by Traci Hudson & Neal Hughes

contents Foreword…



‘clickers’ - (classroom voting systems)…


Course statistics - (Blackboard)…


Discussion boards - (Blackboard)…


e-portfolio’s - (Blackboard)…


Expo - (Blackboard)…


Glossary - (Blackboard)…


Grade Centre - (Blackboard)…


Groups - (Blackboard)…


Plagiarism detection - (Turnitin)…


Podcasting - (Group Pages)…


Quick Mark - (Turnitin)…


RSS feeds - (Blackboard)…


Send email - (Blackboard)…


Tasks - (Blackboard)…


Test Manager - (Blackboard)…


Wiki’s - (Blackboard)…




Blogs - (Blackboard)…

Wimba Classroom - (Blackboard)…

Web resources - (some resources you may find useful)…

how easy is it to use?

N ot




1 Ve E ry as ,V y er 2 y Ea sy 3


The icons describe how easy the technology is to use, the level experienced being indicated by the green progress bar.


Ⓓ denotes any tool that can be used to support students that may warrant extra consideration (due to disability, ethnicity, gender, sexuality etc.)


foreword ‘“Alright,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question …” “Yes …!” “Of Life, the Universe, and Everything …” said Deep Thought. “Yes …!” “Is …” said Deep Thought, and paused. “Yes …!” “Is…” “Yes …!!! …?” “Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.’ (Adams, D. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy)

The fundamental problem to the meaning of life was that no-one actually knew what the question was. Technology enhanced learning can be sometimes accused of the same thing: the use of technology without considering why it is needed. Woodall (2004) argues that learning is increasingly replaced by ‘glitzy, highly interactive, very expensive multimedia courseware that too often dazzled the eye without ever informing the mind’ (p3). There is certainly a growing scepticism about the value of E-learning (U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, 2009; Long and Jennings, 2005), specifically related to the expense, time and value of technological interventions. As with traditional educational methods, the academic must ensure that there is value to whatever tool is used. Recently, Njenga and Fourie (2010) proposed that there are two distinct categories that academics belong to: technopositivists and technosceptics, arguing that the former group use technology indiscriminately with little regard for the efficacy and value of its use. Njenga and Fourie can be criticized for not considering a third group: the technopragmatist. This group uses technology judiciously, balancing cost, pedagogy, ability and available time whilst considering the needs of the student.

This booklet is not a help guide, it certainly won’t tell you how to do anything – further support and information can be found in the ‘Help’ section on Blackboard (as most of the tools can be found in Blackboard). It aims to provide some ideas on E-activities with examples of how they can be applied. From a technopragmatic perspective, it identifies the value of any activity, with a focus on how that activity saves time, promotes learning and meets the diversity agenda. As technoscepticism is often associated with technophobia (Russell, 2009) [my words], each activity is coded to identify how easy the tool is to use. It has to be emphasized however, that the vast majority of the tools are incredibly easy to use and can save time. To facilitate the needs of the diverse student population, any tool that can be used to support students that may warrant extra consideration (due to disability, ethnicity, gender, sexuality etc.) is also highlighted Ⓓ, these predominately relate to organization problems, difficulties with reading and isolation (Gerrard, 2007). With thanks to Alice Bird, Jim Turner, Alex Spiers, Ian McPartland, Cheryl Conner and Bethan Hughes who continue to be a source of inspiration and support. We hope you find this booklet useful and would welcome any comments or feedback.



Blackboard what are they? Short for ‘Web-log’: it is an online, chronological, socially constructed tool. This means that the log is recorded chronologically and can be used for collaborative work.

have you considered using it for? n elective

placements - students can provide a brief account on what they have learnt on a day to day basis

n work

related skills - students can use a blog to reflect and record their development

n interprofessional

learning - other students can annotate comments to different professional reflective logs

n analysis

of web content - a RSS feed can be set up, students can provide a day to day analysis, for example students studying politics could evaluate election campaigns whilst it is happening

where is it found?

n professional

development - a student can identify a key professional skill that they want to demonstrate competence. The blog can capture their initial views and beliefs (novice), how they have begun to understand the skill and the resources they have used (via hyper links) through to when they demonstrate their proficiency (expert)

Blackboard g Select module g Course Tools g Blog Tool

how easy is it to use?

JJJ how does it save time? The Blog is instantly accessible which makes assessment and feedback quicker.

n student

representatives - a blog can be used as a feedback tool to the student body detailing any actions or issues raised on behalf of the student body

inclusivity – Blogs tend to encourage more introverted individuals to participate n Ⓓ



classroom voting systems what are they? They are electronic systems that can quickly gather responses from large groups (similar to ‘Ask the Audience’ in ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’)

have you considered using it for? n Attitude

assessment – if a subject is likely to provoke strong (uninformed) feelings, it is a good way of ascertaining how specific aspects should be broached. For example, teenage pregnancy is often subject to mythology and stereotyping – this allows the academic to understand areas which needs to be explored further

n Student

views – The student responses can be recorded for posterity. For example, the views of students during a Staff/ Student forum can be captured for further exploration at the Programme Board of Study Large groups – It can be difficult to provide large groups with an interactive lecture – clickers can provide a novel way to include all students (including the quieter ones)

n Ⓓ

n Revision

sessions – exemplar exam questions can be used which will provide the students with an idea of what areas they will need to focus on

n Curriculum

development – the data saved can inform the programme team on any changes needed to the curriculum

how easy is it to use?

JJJ how does it save time? The collected responses provides the academic with instant recorded data.


course statistics Blackboard What is it? A tool that allows academic staff to identify what students have used the module site, what part of the site has been viewed, when it was viewed and trends in usage.

Have you considered using it for?

Where is it found?

n Evidence

for quality – for example, if a programme is being validated, academic staff can use the statistics to demonstrate that they use e-learning tools effectively.

Blackboard g Select module g Control Panel g Course statistics

How easy is it to use?


n Identifying

student use – for example, if a student reports that they haven’t been supported very well with resources, academic staff can identify whether the student has accessed Blackboard.

How does it save time? It allows the academic to identify what resources are being used and what are not, so that they can tailor their Blackboard provision accordingly.


discussion boards Blackboard

What are they? They are online areas that allow many individuals to discuss, communicate and share opinions and information over time.

Have you considered using them for?

n Self

preservation – certain ‘dry’ subjects can be made more interesting by asking students to bring them to life. For example, midwifery students could be asked to précis key Government reports and the students then (at a given time) are asked to discuss the reports online. This is advantageous as it applies Government policy to reality and the students have a record of their discussion.

n Self

preservation – tell the students that you will answer any queries via the discussion board. Once a week post all the questions and your answers, so that the whole cohort can see what you have said. Similarly, you can provide your response to a module evaluation which may encourage dialogue with the students.

Professional practice – if students are out of University for long periods of time, encourage students to regularly feedback any issues that have emerged. This is particularly useful for a work-related module (for example teaching) whereby students can collaborate with other students and identify ways to overcome issues.

n Ⓓ

Where is it found? Blackboard g Select module g Communication Tools g Discussion Board

How easy is it to use?


n New

students – provide a forum for existing students to introduce themselves to the newer ones. This is particularly useful for student mentorship schemes.

What about setting it up? Set up is reasonably quick and easy, the main thing to remember is to provide ‘posts’ to get the discussion going.

n Interprofessional

learning (IPL) – students can be asked to discuss an IPL issue online; the online conversation could be used as part of a portfolio.

How does it save time? At first glance, there does not appear to be any direct savings, however it should be recognised that a considerable amount of time is spent by lecturers either in class (reflecting on practice) or dealing with homesick or lonely students (social support). Also, in relation to IPL, the use of an online discussion board negates the need to book rooms and facilitate taught sessions.

Support – use the discussion board to enable students to organise group work, nights out, resources etc. Once the students use a discussion board regularly, it is easier to use it for academic purposes.

n Ⓓ


e-portfolio’s Blackboard

What are they? The e-portfolio tool allows students to easily compile web-based portfolios that can include documents, video files, images, staff feedback and much more

Have you considered using it for? n Personal Development Planning –

students can store evidence, feedback and reflections in order to demonstrate their graduate skills.

Where are they found? Blackboard g e-portfolio tab (found at the top of the Blackboard page)

How easy are they to use?

n Professional

portfolio – CV’s, professional reflections, details of conferences attended, examples of work can be stored.


What about setting it up? There are two components to the e-portfolio function: ‘My Content’ and ‘e-portfolio’. The ‘My Content’ area is where resources can be uploaded ready to be copied to an e-portfolio. The e-portfolio area is where an actual portfolio can be compiled using documents from the ‘My Content’ area or the templates available

n Summative

assessments – there is a variety of options available for using e-portfolio’s. For example, social work students could develop a portfolio based on a case-study seen in practice; the portfolio could be populated with complementary pages based on legislation, social policy, ethical issues etc.

How does it save time? This is difficult to quantify – it is debateable whether it does save time, however used well – e-portfolio’s do have the potential to potentiete learning.

Group work – portfolio’s can be shared, enabling different members of the group to have individual responsibilities based upon a collective assignment.

n Ⓓ

n Exemplars

– if the assignment requires a number of different elements, then they can be compiled together and shared as an electronic resource (negating the need to print out, whilst still being suitable for updating).



Blackboard What is it? Expo is a personal space within blackboard for both students and staff. Within this space it is possible to create, wikis, blogs and podcasts. The individual can then choose to share with anybody else or with any group within blackboard, and beyond. The sharing will also allow collaboration within the space, so that students can work on a group wiki together.

Have you considered using it for?

How easy is it to use?


n Field

trips – students working together can provide a chronological blog of activities

What about setting it up?

n Critical

thinking – students can post reflective journals which can be peer-reviewed on line. For example, journalist students can demonstrate the process and end-result of researching a topic which can then be debated by the other students.

Reasonably easy – does not need an academic to set it up.

How does it save time?

It provides an easy way to use the functionality of both Wiki’s and Blogs. The RSS feeds can alert the academic to any changes with group work.

Where is it found?

Blackboard g My Apps tab (found at the top of the Blackboard page) g Expo


glossary Blackboard What is it? An alphabetical dictionary of terms

Where is it found?

Have you considered using it for?

that use a lot of jargon or Blackboard g Select module g Course Tools g Glossary acronymns, particularly in the first year of study. For example, when introducing How easy is it to use? research for the first time, simple research terms such as ‘validity’, ‘reliability’, ‘sampling’ etc. can be included to help students become familiar with the main aspects of research.

n Subjects


What about setting it up?

n Including key

words within the assessment brief so they fully understand the Very simple and quick to do requirements (e.g. ‘Discuss’, ‘Debate’, How does it save time? ‘Analyse’, ‘Evaluate’) This is more of a resource to help students, but n Providing a brief model on how it may reduce the amount of basic queries or to reference common sources requests for help. (e.g. Under B – Books: AUTHOR, I (date) Title of Book Publisher. Place of Publication)


grade centre Blackboard What is it? It is a tool that can record data, monitor student progress and communicate information to students.

Have you considered using it for? n Unratified

results and feedback – unratified marks can be released directly to the students without any risks of breaching confidentiality.

n Diagnostic/formative

assessments – provide quick feedback to allow students

to develop. n Statistics

– Grade Centre can be used to calculate descriptive statistics for module reports.

n Early

warning systems – Grade Centre can be set up to automatically generate an email to students should a criteria be met. For example, a rule can be set to send email to any student who scores below a 60 on an exam. The score entered into the Grade Center, whether automatically or manually, spawns the message.

Where is it found? Blackboard g Select module g Control Panel g Grade Center

How easy is it to use?

JJJ What about setting it up? Very quick and easy to do

How does it save time? It can generate descriptive statistics very quickly and allows students to access results online.


groups Blackboard What is it? A tool that allows academic staff to split cohorts into smaller groups.

Have you considered using it for?

Where is it found?

n Large

cohorts – if a large cohort has Blackboard g Select module g a number of group leaders, split the cohort Communication Tools g Group page into designated groups. The group can then send emails only to their group, swap How easy is it to use? documents amongst themselves and use the discussion board securely so that only their group can read the posts.


n Turnitin

– once again, if the cohort is How does it save time? large, by splitting into smaller groups, the academic only needs to read the originality If an activity requires group work, it reduces reports for their own group. the need for the academic to trawl through large cohorts to identify group members to n Group activities – provide each group send emails to, provide resources for or check with a project to work on. They can Turnitin reports. swap resources, email and participate in a discussion board to achieve the final results.


plagiarism detection


What is it? It allows individual student assignments to be uploaded and automatically matched, for similarity with: content on the web, certain journals and all the other assignments uploaded by the other institutions using the service.

Have you considered using it for?


n Study

skills – ask the students to submit part (or all) of the essay and allow them to see their own ‘originality’ reports, so they can understand what constitutes academic impropriety. Similarly, show the students how much of their work used quotes, so they can see that they are not demonstrating their own knowledge.

How easy is it to use?

International students – there is increasing evidence that some international students have a different understanding of how much work can be quoted. The originality reports can demonstrate how much of the work has been quoted.

n Ⓓ

What about setting it up? It takes less than 5 minutes for basic Turnitin – approximately 20 minutes for some of the advanced options (e.g. ‘Revision papers’).

How can it save time? n Less

time spent on manual searching if academic impropriety is suspected

n Can

provide academics with a direct route to some of the evidence used, so markers can evaluate their quality.

n Can

provide an easy way to demonstrate over use of quotations or what constitutes academic impropriety, thus saving time teaching or even marking second attempts.

Where is it found? Blackboard g Select module g Control Panel g TurnitinUK Assignments


podcasting Group Pages What is it? Podcasting is a generic term for the process of creating electronic audio/video recordings and distributing them online

Have you considered using them for? Disabled students – the podcasts can be beneficial for students whom may find written literature difficult such as those with visual impairments or dyslexia

n Ⓓ

n Subjects

that require skills with listening – language students can hear spoken literature or nursing students can start to identify heart murmurs.

n Archiving

– record any lectures performed by visiting ‘experts’

n Marketing

tools – provide a sample podcast to potential students

n Feedback

– instead of providing students with written feedback, record verbal feedback and send it directly to the student.

How easy are they to use?


How about setting them up? Podcasts do require resources: a recording device and recording software. The audio material is simply recorded (either directly to the software) or into the recording device and saved as an audio file.

How do they save time? Podcasts do not necessarily save time across the board, although the provision of audio, assignment feedback can be a lot quicker than traditional written feedback.


Quick Mark Turnitin

What is it? A tool that allows academic staff to provide quick, online feedback using a palette of symbols. There is also the option to set up a criteria box (rubric) which can calculate the mark.

Have you considered using it for? n Distance

students – this is an easier way of receiving online submissions than using conventional emails as it does not take up storage space and keeps the cohort scripts together in one place

n Study

skills – ask the students to submit smaller parts of the final essay as ‘revision papers’. Detailed feedback can be easily be provided and there is an option of providing a mark through the ‘rubric’ criteria.

n Large

cohorts – the advantage of this tool is the way that the palette can be designed to meet the individual requirements of the module. For example, if marking an essay online for a large group of architecture students, who regularly omit reference to building regulations – a comment can be designed to annotate the online version.

What about setting it up? This depends, if the basic pallet of feedback options are used, then it only takes 10 minutes. It can take up to a couple of hours to customise the feedback options and develop an individual rubric.

How does it save time? n The

use of ‘drag and place’ means that markers do not need to keep rewriting the same feedback over and over again.

Where is it found? Blackboard g Select module g Control Panel g Turnitin UK Assignments

n The

feedback is available to students at a click of a button (rather than writing feedback sheets for collection or emailing students the feedback).

How easy is it to use?


n Customised

feedback means that common misunderstandings specific to a module can be detailed explicitly once and added to the pallet of feedback.


RSS feeds Blackboard What is it? RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, the key word here being ‘Syndication’ or distributing information easily. It basically connects web resources together (e.g. if subscribed to a news service, updates can be sent directly)

Have you considered using it for?

How easy is it to use?

n Supplementary

reading – ongoing RSS feeds can be used to complement what is being taught in lectures. For example, business students can be provided with updates from a reputable business news source, which helps keep a contemporary edge to the subject.

What about setting it up? Once subscribed to a RSS feed, it is a simple matter of copying and pasting the URL into the RSS tool on Blackboard.

How does it save time?

n Subject


development – scientific advances can be delivered straight to the students. For example, genetics students can be provided with updates from the human genome project.

It provides the student with ongoing contemporary information with very little work


send email Blackboard what is it? A facility that allows members to send emails to any other member registered on that module

have you considered using it for?

n Changes

to the Blackboard site – if an announcement is placed, the academic staff member can choose to automatically generate an email to the members (see ‘Announcements’)

n Large

cohorts – if a large cohort has been split into smaller groups (see ‘Group Pages’), an email can be sent to specifically to members of the smaller group.

Voice mail – Wimba voicemail can be used to send an audio email to a group or select users. This can be particularly useful for providing quick feedback to a large group or communicating with students who may find a voice email more beneficial than a written one (for example, a student with dyslexia).

n Ⓓ

Common names – an email can be sent to a member of the module, without the sender trying to identify the correct one in the Outlook list (this can be particularly useful with international cohorts).

n Ⓓ

where is it found? Blackboard g Select module g Communication Tools g Send email

how easy is it to use?




Blackboard What is it? A tool allowing academic staff to detail tasks/targets to students and the due date. This information is then explicit on the home page on Blackboard. Students can update the task page, so that they can organise their time effectively. Staff can identify which students have completed their task.

Have you considered using it for?

Where is it found?

n Level

1 modules – setting specific milestones help students new to the University understand the amount of work required for a degree.

Blackboard g Select module g Course Tools g Tasks

How easy is it to use?

n Portfolio’s

– if the assessment requires a number of smaller pieces of work, the task function can help keep the student on track.


What about setting it up? Very, very easy and quick to set up.

n Pre-session

reading – seminal literature which complements a teaching session can be highlighted at the start of the module

How does it save time? It reduces the need for sending email reminders to students.

Dyslexic students – some students with dyslexia struggle with organisation, the task manager can provide a prompt to remind them about assignment dates

n Ⓓ


Test manager Blackboard What is it? It allows staff to write a test for completion online. It has a variety of option including: mathematical calculations, multi-choice, open-ended questions, matching, fill in the blanks. It can be designed to self-mark and provide instantaneous feedback.

Have you considered using it for? n Workbooks

- the test can be organised to have a range of questions. This function is particularly beneficial for large cohorts as it can significantly reduce the amount of marking the academic has to do. The test can be designed for example, to have half the questions marked automatically requiring the academic to concentrate on a few open-ended questions.

n Pre-session

revision – ask the students to complete a short multi-choice test prior to building on a subject started earlier in the session. For example, students could use it as a diagnostic tool on their knowledge of child protection before attending a lecture building on child protection legislation.

skills – this can be useful for assessing numerical reasoning. For example, nursing students could be set drug calculations.

Where is it found? Blackboard g Control Panel g Test Manager

How easy is it to use?


n Graduate

Making up time – if a student has missed a session and is required to complete a specific amount of theoretical hours, the student could undertake a test to demonstrate that he/she has read around that particular subject. (NB This is particularly useful for professional/vocational courses whereby public safety is an issue or if a student misses some of the course due to medical reasons).

n Ⓓ

What about setting it up? This depends on the knowledge of the subject being tested, the amount of questions being posted and familiarity of the tools (it can take a little longer to get used to the type of question, i.e. multiple choice, fill in the blanks etc.)

How does it save time? The main benefit of this tool lies in removing the need for marking for most of the questions. Once the questions have been devised, they can be reused throughout the module’s life.


wiki’s Blackboard

What are they? They are web page construction tools, because the resulting product from using a wiki is usually a set of interlinking (hyperlinked) pages that are created and exist online. They are designed to construct content very quickly and therefore use very basic, cut down approach to webpage construction. Wikki’s can be set up to allow other students to access them, therefore allowing collaborative use.

Have you considered using them for? Group projects – for example, students could be asked to work together on an interprofessional learning project, with different professional groups writing their own pages. n Projects that require peer review – for example, design students could display their designs in a virtual gallery so their peers can comment on specific aspects of their work. n Collaborative problem based learning projects – for example, the scenario can be outlined at the start and each student can analyse a specific problem from the scenario. The other students can provide feedback at specific points, providing a collaborative focus. Similarly, this level of collaboration could span different year groups, for example, senior chemical engineering students could collect data, junior students could analyse the data and then the senior students could develop the analysis further and apply it to a specified task. n Research informed teaching – for example, the students could be asked to identify a research article relating to a specific topic and critically evaluate it. Other students can learn from each others critical evaluation. Another way is to divide a bibliography up amongst the student group and ask them to provide hyperlinked annotations.

n Critical

thinking – Students could be provided with a text to deconstruct – each student has to create links from individual sections, phrases or words in that text and provide explanation or further information on new wiki pages

n Ⓓ

n Work

related learning – Wiki’s have a history tool which allow staff to see who have contributed to the construction of the Wiki, as such a Wiki could help staff provide feedback on team-working.

Where is it found? Blackboard g Select module g Course Tools g Wiki Tool

How easy is it to use?

JJJ What about setting it up? Reasonably quick (dependent on other tools used within the blog, such as RSS feeds etc.)

How does it save time? A common criticism of group work relates to division of labour, the Wikki provides the academic with the opportunity to monitor work-load easily.


Wimba Classroom Blackboard What is it? It allows staff to deliver and record any live session to students. It combines Powerpoint, audio and/or video and an online chat area. It is most typically used to deliver an online lecture and discussion.

Have you considered using it for?

Where is it found? Blackboard g Select module g Communication Tools g Wimba Classroom

n Blended

learning programmes – this is the most common use for this tool. The online chat area provides an area for students to ask questions (as in class). It can also register attendance.

How easy is it to use?


n Lectures

within block work experience or ½ day sessions.

What about setting it up?

Assessments – students can undertake presentations via Wimba to their colleagues (this can be particularly useful if a student is finding accessing University difficult).

n Ⓓ

This can take a little time and concentration (there is support available however). Facilitating a Wimba session does take some getting used to, as such academics new to Wimba are recommended to obtain support for the first few sessions.

n ‘Disaster

planning’ – given the ever-increasing demands on academic staff, it may be prudent to archive sessions to provide students with extra resources if a session may be difficult to facilitate.

How does it save time? Wimba provides a virtual classroom so that student’s do not have to travel into University, as such the benefits are more for the student than the academic. There are other benefits, for example each Wimba session can be archived providing a useful resource for the students (which may help their learning).

n Role

play – the students can observe other students role-playing whilst making observations via the message function. The session can be archived and reviewed at a later date.


web resources

some resources you may find useful The following table provides a snapshot of tools available on the web: n Audacity

n Rubistar Podcasting tools This site provides free software to facilitate podcasting. Create rubrics for project based learning. n Slideshare Presentation tools A wealth of powerpoint slides can be found here (relating to numerous subject areas).

n Social bookmarking tools Good for sharing resources with students.

n Twitter n Evernote Micro-blogging site Good for developing subject specific networks. Increasing use in conferences. Note taking tool It is designed to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform which is most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere.

n VoiceThread Presentation tools VoiceThread makes it possible to record “live annotations” while recording a presentation. Posted presentations can also receive annotated audio comments from other people.

n Jing Screen capture and screencasting tools Captures (with or without narration) what is happening on the computer screen.

n Wordle Document and spreadsheet tools Input some text, then get a highly visual “word cloud” illustrating which words are most frequently used.

n Puzzle

maker Word games Provides tools to customise crosswords or wordsearches.

n You

Tube Video hosting and sharing tools Although there are a plethora of non-academic resources, there are also plenty of free videos that can enhance learning.

n Quest

Garden Tool to create WebQuests that engage learners in applying higher level thinking to problems. Search other subject related WebQuests for ideas.



Idenitification of e-learning activities

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you