Updates to the myLesley Inline Grading Tool

New Box View, the inline grading tool for myLesley, has released two new updates: the ability for faculty and students to download the annotated PDFs and the ability for faculty to annotate Excel files (.xls, .xlsx).

To download an annotated PDF, located the graded assignment in the Grade Center (faculty) or the My Grades area (students).

When viewing the graded assignment, go to the right-hand column and click on the chevron next to the submission file.

Screen Shot of submission download options

This will bring up two options. Select Download Original File to download a copy of the original submission (no markups) or select Download Annotated PDF to download a copy of the marked up paper.

Screen Shot of submission download options

Please note that you may need to open the PDF in a PDF reader, such as Acrobat Reader, in order to view the comments.

For more information on grading assignments in myLesley, see Grading myLesley Assignments.

Have questions? Want to set up a training? Email elis@lesley.edu.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Olivia Cheever

Dr. Olivia Cheever

Dr. Olivia Cheever teaches Anatomy and Kinesiology Through Somatic Learning in the Expressive Therapies program.

In 2012, Dr. Olivia Cheever decided to take the plunge and begin bringing some of her course materials online. Olivia teaches Anatomy and Kinesiology Through Somatic Empathy in a five-day intensive format. Realizing that she wanted more time in class for hands-on practice, she reached out to eLearning and Instructional Support for help in moving some of her content online.

Olivia started slowly, first posting her syllabus, creating a course introduction and some narrated presentations using VoiceThread, and introducing a class blog. Over time, she began adding additional elements to the course, including course materials (readings and videos), online discussions, an online journal, and assignments. When her typical 5-day intensive course was cut down to 4 days because of the July 4th holiday, she was able to bring more content and activities online to make up the missed class time. With the skills she has gained, she is now preparing to teach an independent study course with a student at a distance.

What was the driving force in wanting to bring some of your content online?

I teach Anatomy and Kinesiology through Somatic Empathy in a one-week intensive format. A lot of what we do in class is hands-on movement and touch. Part of why I wanted to explore moving content online is to give students pre-work, so they come to the course further along, already having experienced something experientially, as well as didactically.

So, giving them, for example, a recording of a movement lesson and having them practice the movement and writing in their journal. So, they first see what the movement will be like, then they practice the movement and sense what is going on with their skeletons and their muscles, then they reflect and write in their journals about what they felt in their body. This allows them to capture what they’re learning from the inside out and the outside in, which is what somatic learning is all about.

I find that giving my students this pre-work gives them a little bit of a taste before they come in class that we can build on during the week we’re together.

The other reason that I wanted to do it is that, as an adjunct, I wanted to take advantage of the tremendous resource that is free to us at Lesley University with the eLIS staff, who are so accommodating and welcoming.

What are some of the advantages for you and your students using this more blended format?

It provides the opportunity for students to be using different parts of their brain. With online learning, they can take a look at videos, read through articles, and enter a discussion board with each other. Then you don’t have to take up class time; you can cover the big points in class and they can follow up online in their own time.

I think that another advantage of online learning is that some students who are quiet in class are more articulate when they write online. It’s wonderful sometimes to have students come out and be more forthcoming through that medium, where they’re not as comfortable sharing in class.

It also helps to bring up some issues before we meet in class. For example, some students are not comfortable being touched. And part of what we do in class is based on touch. We explore anatomy with hands-on palpation of self and others. So knowing that in advance gives us some time to work through it and come up with some solutions.

Also, one of the ways that I address diversity in my class is showing films from other cultures and documentaries with other ethnicities and you can do that through this platform. It’s very nice that you can include video in the online course rather than trying to find a DVD and DVD player to show the video in class.

What kinds of challenges have you faced?

I find this very challenging because I’m used to teaching in front of a class. I go from being an old-fashioned professor where you’re doing a lot of written review, feedback, and written papers and doing a lot of in class discussion to stepping back and being more of the guide on the side. Which is something that I really enjoy but it’s an art.

For an example, you see an online discussion going and want to insert a comment like, “good for you, guys, that sounds great,” or, “what about this over here?” or something like that. I can’t do that yet. Not during that week we’re meeting. What I do instead, at the end of the course, is read their papers as well as the discussion boards and the ongoing journal and I try to bring them together with my overall feedback.

Do you have any advice for faculty who may be hesitant to include technology in their teaching?

There are those, I think, who would benefit from this but don’t know how to take the first step. But it’s important to take that first step. To reach out.

There are some faculty who may feel that they can’t do it because they’re not comfortable with the actual mechanical stuff, such as using the computer and navigating online. And that may be something where they would benefit from a one-on-one or a small group where they can go at their own speed and build up to it.

I’m able to do it now, but in some of the eLIS workshops and trainings things can move quickly. And that can be intimidating for those that don’t know what they’re doing. But knowing that they can set up a one-on-one to get started and move slowly, at their own pace, that’s helpful.

Do you want to learn more about adding online elements in your course? Do you have ideas for adding digital content into your course but don’t know where to begin? Email elis@lesley.edu to set up an appointment. We’re happy to meet in person, online, or on the phone.

Introducing Kaltura ASR Captions

Kaltura Media has the ability to automatically add captions to your video content using automatic speech recognition (ASR). When a video is uploaded, the ASR processes begins immediately. Captions are created based on the audio track and the content is assumed to be in English.

Why are captions important?
Accurate captioning of audio and video content ensures that people who are Deaf and hard of hearing can understand the content. Additionally, captions are very useful to non-native English speakers, viewers watching in a sound-sensitive environment such as a library, can help viewers with learning disabilities or attention deficits maintain concentration. and can help all learners improve comprehension.

The following video effectively explains the importance of captioning.

 

How are captions created?
All videos created after August 6, 2018 will be auto-captioned. This means that once you create your video or upload your video to Kaltura, ASR captions will be automatically ordered and applied to your video. The process may take several minutes to several hours, depending on the length of your video.

What about older videos?
You can request ASR captions for any videos created before August 6, 2018. Detailed instructions may be found here: Add Captions to Previously Uploaded Video Content.

How accurate are ASR captions?
ASR captions are only 80% accurate and accuracy may vary depending on the audio quality, clarity of speech, background noise, etc.

While 80% accuracy may seem pretty decent, please keep in mind that this means that, in general:

  • 1 in 5 words will be incorrect
  • An 8-word sentence will be about 17% accurate
  • A 10-word sentence will be about 11% accurate

How do I improve the accuracy of my captions?
While ASR captions are a step forward for accessibility, we recommend editing them for accuracy. You can edit your captions right in your web browser – no additional software is needed! For more information and detailed instructions, see Review and Edit Captions.

 

Make Your myLesley Content More Accessible

Faculty often ask if Blackboard is accessible. While most web-based tools can always be more accessible and easier to use, the basic answer is “Yes, Blackboard is accessible.” The real problem often comes when we upload files and documents to Blackboard that may not be as accessible as they should be. We may not even be aware that the files we uploaded aren’t accessible to students with impairments. Blackboard Ally wants to fix that.

When an instructor uploads a file to myLesley (Blackboard), using the exact same process they currently use, Ally compares the file to a Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Checklist. It then does three things.

For students, Ally automatically converts that file into alternative, accessible formats. Alternative formats include Tagged PDF, HTML, ePub, electronic braille and audio. If the instructor uploads a scanned chapter or article, Ally will convert it to an OCR PDF which can be read as text by a screen reader.
Ally alternative formats

This a proactive and automatic process that happens without the instructor or Disability Services doing anything. Students do not need to self-identify or request alternative versions. The downside is that the quality of these alternative versions can vary. The more complex the original document, the more difficult it is to create a converted document that is useful and easy to navigate by the students who need them.

Therefore Ally also provides guidance to faculty on how to improve the accessibility of the documents uploaded to Blackboard. Each uploaded document receives an accessibility score and red, orange or green icon. Clicking on the icon presents you with information on what accessibility issues are in the document, information on why it is an issue, and links to tutorials on how to make changes to the document.

Ally has let you, the instructor, know that your documents may not be accessible and how to improve their accessibility without the need to attend a training or to have Disability Services reach out to you. You can slowly educate yourself on accessibility and improve not just the documents that are currently in your course, but also all future documents you will create. Over time, you will simply create accessible documents from the beginning because now you know how and how easy it can be.

Lastly, Ally provides an Institutional Report telling the university which courses have inaccessible content and what kinds of content are problematic. This means that the university can target its outreach and training based on our specific issues. One program may have a lot of courses with images and no alternative descriptions. Another’s biggest issue may be that Word documents require headings and subheadings. Instead of offering generic training and support for everyone, we can now reach out to each program and offer training and assistance for the issues they actually are having. The report also allows us to demonstrate our improvement over time.
Ally institutional report main issues

Ally will be available to all myLesley courses beginning this Fall. Keep an eye out for those accessibility scores on your documents. Ally is also making continuous improvements so don’t be surprised when new features and guidance become available.

If you have questions about Ally or need assistance, email elis@lesley.edu.

Rethinking Online Discussions for Student Engagement

Faculty often complain that students do not engage deeply in online discussions. Students complain as well, feeling that online discussions too often represent hoops to jump through, with little apparent connection to the learning goals of the course. Online discussions are very different from face-to-face discussions and these differences require us to design and facilitate them differently. Attempts to use the same discussion prompts as you would in a face-to-face classroom are likely to fall flat. Instead, they require thoughtful design to engage students in deep exploration of content.

As a first step, you should be explicit with students about how discussions support the learning outcomes in your course. Successful online discussions serve one or more of these purposes:

  1. Knowledge or skill-building
  2. Application of knowledge or skills
  3. Perspective-sharing

Importance of the discussion prompt

Most discussions fail because the discussion prompt does not engage students in higher-level cognitive collaboration with peers. The prompt must not only provide a focus for student thinking; it must also encourage or require collaboration. While you can require or encourage collaboration via instructions or rubrics, it is ideal to structure discussion prompts that have collaboration embedded within them. This is most easily done by asking students to apply knowledge together through problem-solving via scenarios or case studies, by sharing “field work” (field observations, interviews), or through having learners post examples that require classmates to review or answer specific questions from classmates. It can be helpful to create prompts that require unique initial student posts and then to guide students in responding to those initial posts.  If you are using discussions to build or apply knowledge and skills, they should be challenging; otherwise, students will see no reason to collaborate on something they may feel they can achieve on their own.

Other design features

While the discussion prompt is the key to engaging discussions, there are several other considerations. In addition to clarifying the purpose of discussions in your course, you should communicate your expectations for student performance and collaboration as well as your role in discussions. A set of criteria or a rubric can help in clarifying expectations, but be sure to include collaborative behavior. While some instructions can be generic, others should be specific to each discussion. For example, you may have specific suggestions for how students should respond to initial posts that differ for different discussions.

Facilitation and Feedback

Whether you or your students take part in the facilitation of discussions, you’ll want to monitor quality and interaction. Feedback early on in a course should inform students of your judgement of how well the discussions are serving their intended purpose and how students’ behavior can shift to improve collaboration. Feedback to individuals within each discussion should be restrained, while whole-class or group feedback can be more expansive, as you’ve then allowed students the space to interact freely. Consider using audio or video feedback tools such as Kaltura or Kaltura CaptureSpace Lite, as such tools can increase instructor presence and save time typing long responses.

Design and Facilitation Guide

Creating engaging online discussions requires careful and creative thought, particularly regarding the prompt or question. It also requires a comprehensive set of supports that should be pre-built into the course. This two-page guide, “Engaging Online Discussions: Design and Facilitation”, is intended to be a concise and comprehensive resource to support the design and facilitation of your online discussions.

For more assistance with the design of online discussions, contact elis@lesley.edu. Our instructional designers would be happy to work with you to think through your use and design of online discussions.