Journals, Blogs, Discussion, Wikis … What’s the difference? (And which to use when)

Blackboard’s suite of asynchronous social tools — Journals, Blogs, Discussion, and Wikis –

 

Journals

Journal posts are generally only visible to the student who made them (and to the course faculty).

journal

Journals are good for self-reflection exercises, stream of consciousness free-writing, and personal activity logs.

 

Blogs

Blog posts are generally made by one student (who may be the representative of a group, depending on the assignment), then read by the rest of the class. The readership may then comment on the blog post, but blogs are generally not designed for more back-and-forth interaction.

blog

In his Chronicle of Higher Education article A Better Blogging Assignment, Mark Sample proposes the following assignment:

Each student will contribute to the weekly class blog, posting an approximately 200-300 word response to the week’s readings. There are a number of ways to approach these open-ended posts: consider the reading in relation to its historical or theoretical context; write about an aspect of the day’s reading that you don’t understand, or something that jars you; formulate an insightful question or two about the reading and then attempt to answer your own questions; or respond to another student’s post, building upon it, disagreeing with it, or re-thinking it.

 

Discussion

Online discussion is the most interactive of these tools. In an online discussion, students post, then read and reply other students’ posts.

discussion

Discussion is a good place to get students interacting. While the name suggests discussion assignments mimic in-class discussion, discussion board posts are really more like mini-essays (how mini depending on the parameters you set) which other students then provide feedback to, and

 

Wikis

Students can use a Wiki to collaboratively create a document or set of pages. Change history is logged, so you can look back and see which students made what changes when.wiki

Wikis are an extremely versatile tool can be used at any time you want students to work together to develop a single document. A simple wiki assignment is the scavenger hunt (sometimes less thrillingly called a lit review): Students are tasked with collecting resources on a given topic — journal articles, books, web sites — then post their findings to a wiki. At the end of the project, the students will have collaboratively produced a single document with a wide array of helpful resources on your given topic.

Student groups may also use a wiki to collaboratively create learning modules modules for their peers.

Copy an Old Course into a New Course

If you’re re-using course materials from a previous term, the easiest way to get the content and activities from an old course into a new one is to copy the course. To copy a course, go into the old course (the one with the materials you want to copy), and click the PACKAGES & UTILITIES heading in the Control Panel menu.

Follow these steps to copy an old course into a new course: 

1. Under the Packages and Utilities heading, click Course Copy.

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2. Make sure Copy Course Materials into an Existing Course is selected.

3. Enter the Course ID into the Destination Course ID box.

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4. Select the course materials that you would like to migrate over to your new course.

5. Under the Course Files heading select the appropriate setting.

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6. Click Submit.

Note: Copying your course materials may take some time, so please be patient. However, if you do see the “SUCCESSFUL COPY” message at the top of your course site but still have some missing content, contact IDS directly for help at 313-578-0580 or ids@udmercy.edu.

Create and Edit Tests

Assessment helps faculty members evaluate student understanding of course material.  Tests in particular can provide a way of measuring student performance, and enhance the overall effectiveness of your course.  The Assessment section of your Blackboard course site in the Content area allows you to create three different types of student assessment: Test, Surveys, and Assignments.

This tutorial will focus on the basics of test creation.  While tests are held in a Test Manager portion of your course site, individual tests are deployed in a Content Area and managed there.  A column associated with the test displays automatically in the course Grade Center.  Because of this, it is beneficial to review all aspects of assessment in order to obtain a complete understanding of the value this feature can provide.

See the tutorial on Deploying Tests and Surveys for further information on test creation.

Note: View and grade submitted tests in the Grade Center.

Follow these steps to create a Test:

1. In the Control Panel Box, click on Course Tools. Then click the Tests, Surveys, and Pools link.

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2. Click Tests.

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3. Click Build Test.  

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4. Enter a name for your test, and add a description and instructions in the boxes provided on the page that follows.

  • If you have already created your test, please see the tutorial on “Deploying the Test” for more information.

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5. Click Submit. You are now ready to create questions for the test!

 

Follow these steps to create Questions for your test:

1. Navigate to the Test Canvas screen. You will automatically see this once you have clicked the Submit button after creating a test or you can navigate to it using the instructions in the section on Editing an Existing Test below.

2. Select a question type from the Create Question drop-down menu.

 

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3. Type your question text and add the answer selections (if needed) to create a question.

4. Select the appropriate question options and add question feedback if you would like to use that feature.

5. If you are planning on reusing the question in another test and want a way to reference it later you can add a category, topic, or keyword. You can also mark the level of difficulty. Click Add, type in the category, topic, level or keyword, and click Submit to do this.

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6. If you would like to create another question of a similar type click Submit and Create Another. When you are completely finished  with that type of question click Submit.

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7. On the Test Canvas screen, type in the point value for the question.

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8. Repeat steps 2 through 7 until you have finished adding questions.

 

How to Edit an Existing Test

1. In the Control Panel Box, Click on Course Tools. Then click on the Tests, Surveys, and Pools link.

2. Click on the Tests link.

3. Click the down arrow next to the test you’d like to modify. You need to hover over the name of the test for this down arrow to appear.

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4. Click Edit.

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NOTE: Do not attempt to make question changes to the test if it is already deployed.

Test Manager

Tests created in Blackboard are held in a section of the course called the Test Manager (accessed through the Course Tools section of the Control Panel).  When a Test or Survey is deleted from a Content Area, it is still available for future editing, deployment, export, or removal from the system within the Test Manager.

NOTE:  Blackboard recommends that an Assessment first be made Unavailable before considering deleting it from a Content Area.

For more information on creating and using tests, surveys, and pools, please see the corresponding tutorials for each topic.

Testing with Respondus LockDown Browser

What is it?

Respondus LockDown Browser provides a more secure environment for online testing. LockDown Browser itself is a separate web browser (like Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome) specifically geared toward taking online tests. When a student is ready to take an online test that uses LockDown Browser, they actually launch the LockDown Browser from their desktop instead of launching their usual browser of choice. LockDown Browser then fills the student’s screen (including any additional displays), open to Detroit Mercy’s Knowledge login page. While LockDown Browser is running, students are unable to use their computers for anything other than taking the test. They cannot surf other web sites, use chat services, screen capture / record, look at PDFs, PowerPoint decks, or Word files, etc.

How to use Respondus LockDown Browser

01. Have your students download and install the LockDown Browser

The Detroit Mercy LockDown Browser can be downloaded from the following URL:

http://www.respondus.com/lockdown/download.php?id=945835138

The LockDown Browser that students can get from this location is unique to the University of Detroit Mercy (when launched it only opens our Knowledge login page). Download and installation instructions can be found on that page.

02. Set up your Blackboard test and add it to a content area as you normally would

IDS still recommends you use question pools and random blocks to provide each student with a unique test. Remember, if you would rather not use Blackboard’s test creation tools, IDS can convert a Word (or RTF) file to an online test for you, provided you follow the appropriate formatting guidelines. If you need help adding your test to a content area, see this walkthrough.

NOTE: Do not set the following options when deploying your test:

  • Open Test in a New Window,
  • Require a password,
  • Password

These options will be set by Respondus LockDown Browser.

03. Turn on Respondus LockDown Browser for your test

3.1 Click RESPONDUS LOCKDOWN BROWSER under the Course Management / Course Tools heading to launch the LockDown Browser Dashboard.

RLDB-from menu 3.2 On the dashboard you’ll see a list of all the tests & surveys currently deployed to content areas of the course (whether they are available or not). To require LockDown Browser for an assessment, click the button that appears to the left of the assessment name.

dashboard

3.3 To use LockDown Browser for an exam, choose the “Require Respondus LockDown Browser for this exam” option. If you would like to set a password for a test, you may do so here.

basics

3.4 Specify the advanced settings you wish to use with the exam. For most courses, the default settings (nothing checked) will be usually be sufficient.

advanced-settings

Click SAVE AND CLOSE to finish the activation process.

Caveats

The equation editor is not available for providing responses while using Respondus Lockdown Browser.

Download Respondus Lockdown Browser

If you plan to use Respondus Lockdown Browser for testing in your Blackboard course site, students will need to download the Lockdown Browser prior to taking the test.

Respondus LockDown Browser uses a standard Windows or Mac installer that can be downloaded by faculty or students from the following link (note: this link is unique to Detroit Mercy):

http://www.respondus.com/lockdown/download.php?id=945835138

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