Grand Canyon University’s Doctoral Programs

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Grand Canyon University’s Doctoral Programs

The speaker from Grand Canyon University at NCCFA 2013 was very knowledgeable about their programs, and also about the pricing guidelines in comparison with local schools. There was a great deal of information handed out, although the amount of people in the program room was less than I would have liked to see.

My major disappointment here, was that the teacher lead off his big sales pitch for the college by saying: “When you’re looking for a doctoral degree, it doesn’t matter where you get one- it only matters that you get one.”

I felt this set his program up as a last-ditch effort, or a “never-heard-of-you-but-it-sounds-legit” kind of business. I’m still going to give them the benefit of the doubt and consider them while looking at doctoral programs.

I am considering doctoral programs, although cost and convenience of the program is certainly a concern of mine. Perhaps this summer I’ll make a better effort to look into the pros and cons of the situation.

Digital Publishing for Mobile Learning Initiatives

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Digital Publishing for Mobile Learning Initiatives

This presentation at the NCCFA 2013 was run by Apple, and outlined the uses and working of the iTunes U (iTunes University).

It was an interesting presentation, but I am unsure if it would work out very well for us. The books in many cases were a limited variety, not available with every publisher and most certainly not with a great deal of the books we’re currently using. Of a similar issue was the fact that iTunes University required every student to have iTunes installed as well as an active iTunes account. Online books were moderately expensive, and would only be available when students were connected to the internet.

In short, this system is expensive, computer-dependent, internet dependent, and requires accounts with systems students may not enjoy. Also, iTunes is constantly… and I mean CONSTANTLY demanding updates. I think our students might be getting themselves into a system requiring numerous updates and security issues.

Could not give me recommendation on this.

Five Easy Ways To Make Your Classes Accessible

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Five Easy Ways To Make Your Classes Accessible

Today’s NCCFA 2013 presentation on helping to make your blackboard classes accessible was a nice setup.

Accessibility refers to creating information, services, and environments that can be used by people with disabilities, including those with visual, hearing, cognitive, and neurological disabilities. There are many options when designing your blackboard course to apply the principles of universal design that will benefit all students.

Assistive technologies include a fairly diverse range of devices that can be used by students with disabilities. Creating an accessible Blackboard class carries with it the importance of material formats, such as audio, video, images, and documents, when posted. The principles of universal design can help guide your Blackboard site creation. These principles suggest conveying information in as many ways as possible in order to accommodate a full range of users.

  1. Include descriptive text for all non-textual elements. This text, also known as alt text, allows screen readers to provide students with visual impairments with a description of the visual features. Blackboard’s visual text box editor can be used to add these descriptions.
  2. Use descriptive names for files you upload so that screen readers can easily identify them.
  3. Maintain a high level of contrast between your text and the background color it appears on when designing the left navigation menu in your course site and when creating ANY content.
  4. Use san serif fonts (e.g., Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana) in your Blackboard class. Use a dark color font that is easy to read on a white background. Avoid using colored fonts to enhance meaning, especially if that is the ONLY method for enhancing meaning. Keep the format simple and avoid patterns in the background. Consider using BOLD with RED type if it is necessary to grab attention
  5. Be aware of Special Needs. If you use Blackboard to give timed exams, consider adjusting the auto-submit to a points-reduced-by-time system, since it is not possible to change test settings for one individual while others are taking the exam.

Customizing The Blackboard Grade Center: Advanced Features

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Customizing The Blackboard Grade Center: Advanced Features, presented by Linda Larson

Today’s presentation at the NCCFA 2013 involved some great materials about blackboard, especially customizing the blackboard grade center. The blackboard grade center is a heavily-utilized area of Wake Tech’s classes- whether they be seated, online, or hybrid classes. I’ve been using the grade center for calculations since 2006, but today’s session was a chance to see a bit more of the features available in the latest upgrades to blackboard.

Many of the features within blackboard I must admit that I already knew how to use. However, there was a great feature that Linda Larson pointed out, allowing blackboard grades fitting certain thresholds to be colored within the grade center. This allows grades for students who (in my case) get 60 or less to have their grade bar turn pink and for those receiving 50 or less on an assignment have their grade bar turn red.

While this seems like it might be a train wreck, what you are doing is setting up a visual record which will quickly and easily let you see who is dropping or failing in a classroom.

The latter half of the class was set up in a way to highlight the rubric functions of blackboard. While I knew a lot about using the rubric functions of blackboard for grading, there were several people who were unfamiliar with the process. Rubrics are great- if you feel like you cannot deliver bad news to students or you simply need things to reflect the objective nature of the grading platform, it allows you to assign gradepoint values or percentages to the pieces of an assignment along with commentary.

I had a chance to highlight some of my own grading rubrics in the presentation, and that made me smile. Its always nice to look professional or like I know what I’m doing.  🙂