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Arthur Shelley lectures in Knowledge Driven Performance as part of the MBA program in the College of Business. We caught up over a quick coffee at Pearson and Murphys’ cafe.

Do you use Blackboard?
I use is as a key repository for course info. I’ve always got set up week by week teaching materials as well as support materials including external links. It’s basically a repository, what else I do beyond that is up to the class.  For RMIT courses run through OUA (Open Universities Australia) I include a lot more online discussion. In the classroom I don’t include these activities because we are doing it face-to-face.

What other tools do you use?
I use Google Sites a lot, especially the Wiki function as I am creating a collaborative learning environment. Firstly each student develops a profile for relationship and networking. it’s used particularly so that people can find their groups and learn a little about each other and choose who they want to work with. As part of their their first assignment they each get a  different topic to research that needs to go into the wiki. Each topic needs to be linked to another student’s work. So what students are doing is research for their own page but also learning from all the other students work, so that gives a much richer and broader understanding of the topic. The wiki is perfect for that.  I tell students they have to link to at least half of them because they are all interdependent topics. Students can gain extra marks for insights and tips given to other students topics. they can’t do that within their own page, but in the wiki there is a comments section at the bottom. So I am rewarding collaborative support. And they do that. You see whole conversations going back and forward with links back and forward to each others’ pages. I prefer to do the work in Google Sites because as soon as you go to Blackboard you lose the collaboration.

I create a new wiki from a template for each new group each semester and I also leave prior Wiki’s available for viewing as samples. For assessment students have to copy their Wiki pages into Blackboard as a Turnitin assignment. That collaborative element is a big part of social learning. It really enriches the learning between the students. Sites elevate the overall standard of the work through students seeing the standards of others that they have to match. They pull their socks up and it makes everything transparent. Students can see each other’s work but can’t copy as it is about a separate topic.

Once it is inside Blackboard as a Turnitin assignment I use the full extent of Grademark. I do use the full functionality of Grademark for assessment with rubrics embedded. I give voice feedback.  I have specific quickmark sets for all of my assignments so I can give comprehensive feedback relatively quickly.

Do you use other tools?
I use response ware for in class real time polling. It’s interesting because you never quite know how students are going to answer. In my Knowledge Driven Performance course for example, one of the weeks is on reflective practice. We get to a stage where I ask them about how they are already applying what they’ve learnt in their workplaces. They log in on their mobile in the class and then I can show everyones collective responses on the screen and then we talk about that. This is good for understanding how they are applying what are learning in the class.
In some weeks I have Youtube videos and provide self made videos. Each week has an introduction to give them a 5 minute overview to get them prethinking. I try and mix each week up. Sometimes I link to a video prior to class and then when they come to class I show them a completely alternate view on the same topic and ask for their opinions. There are links to blogs or websites. Each week also has a set of powerpoint slides and prereadings. All of that stuff just sits in Blackboard.

I sometimes record audio of student discussions and then post recordings to the OUA page, which provides a richer resource than just recordings of the lecture. The feedback from OUA students is terrific such as, “sometimes I hear a student asking the question going through my mind”. And then they hear the answer, and not just discussed by me, because I will often throw questions back to the students.

On occasion I have used Google Analytics but not as extensively as I would like. Unfortunately the issue there is time. This semester I am running 4 masters programs and I have about 150 students and I’m a part time casual. I’m not going to do that stuff before I give feedback.  In previous times with OUA courses I have used some of the analytics in Blackboard checking for frequency of contribution by individual students. While I know a student has contributed I like to know that the numbers reinforce that. They do get graded on quality and frequency of contributing content. That puts a bit more robustness behind what you feel is going on.

You can watch the full interview with Arthur below.

You can see another example of response ware mentioned in the video as part of the whatonearth project here.