Teaching using a VLE #2 Filing cabinet in the sky

Now this is an interesting one and has been something that learning technologists have been fighting against since teaching using websites first started.

Replacement filing cabinet

When an academic is given a course space the very first thought is “Great I will put all my powerpoints online for my students”.  Because for most VLEs attaching a file is as simple as it is to attach a file to an email it doesnt take long to upload all their lecture powerpoints.

However (although an improvement on not giving students anything) just giving the students the powerpoints is not really good enough.  Below is a picture of one of the slides from a powerpoint presentation I gave a year or so ago

This additional component of Blackboard allows provision of tabs, for example the Blackboard Help and e-reserves tabs, which can be used to target information at particular user groups.<br />similarly modules (html squares) can be visible only to particular groups allowing us to give a very different view of the same tab to 2 different users<br />In addition "organisations" allow Blackboard functionality such as communication and other tools to be used in contexts not directly related to credit-bearing units, e.g. for faculty or programme information or student societies.

Now if you had been in the room and had been taking extensive notes you might be able to say what I was talking about here.  Similarly if you are really familiar with the Blackboard Community System it wouldn’t be to hard to work out.

For anyone else it might be a bit more difficult.  However if I also included my speaking notes either as text or audio then it becomes much easier.

So (particularly if you already have your speaking notes in digital form) you should try to upload speaking notes with any presentation.

The second big mistake is to just dump everything up in one long long page which grows and grows as you add things to it.  Its a very good idea to get pencil and paper and just spend 10 minutes sketching out a rough idea of the structure of your course – you can always change your mind later.  Also don’t have too many levels of folders, clicking “lectures, Maths, Algebra, Polynomials, homework” would be rather annoying for your students.

The last common mistake (although I am seeing this a lot less often these days) is to

  • Create your first item – called “Week 1” attach a powerpoint called pres1 (with speaking notes called notes1)
  • Second item – “Week 2”, pres2, notes2
  • Third – “Week 3”, pres3, notes3
  • etc

The big problem with this approach is that it doesnt tell the students anything about what was covered in that week.  At a minimum give it an appropriate title, ideally include a description so it would look something like this

“Global Warming”
This week we look at the effects of global warming on British weather, why does a warmer planet mean more rain for the UK
Global.ppt, Globalnotes.doc

So in Summary

  • Plan a sensible structure
  • Give things appropriate names and descriptions
  • Remember you are not there to explain things so if something doesn’t make sense on its own add supporting documents
  • If you use something with your students, put it on the VLE so they can find it later

One thought on “Teaching using a VLE #2 Filing cabinet in the sky

  1. Jane Maurer

    Nicely stated. Concise and to the point.
    ‘Outline, outline, outline’ is one of the things I push when orienting and training in Bb use.


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