Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August 25, 2010

Good Afternoon Instructors!

For this week's blog post I'd like to discuss a fun and interactive tool that you may want to consider implementing into your courses in some fashion. Particularly with the second half of the quarter ahead of us, you may be finding that you'd like to add in some variety or new tools to your discussion board topics to continue to motivate and engage your students. A fun and creative resource that can really help to spur critical thinking and engagement in this area is something called an Animoto.

You are probably asking, what is an Animoto. Well, Animoto is a Web 2.0 tool that allows us to make amazing videos to the beat of music. It does all the work of timing and "popping" the pictures to the tune for us and is an excellent way to illustrate through pictures, text, and sound, what a term or concept means to us. Students have a lot of fun and engage in critical thinking when creating Animotos.

If there is a particularly abstract concept you are trying to get students to think about in a new way, this is a great option. For example, how might concepts of a marketing strategy be that much more clear through pictures? Or how might a visual discussion of economic changes help students think about the course concepts in a new way? Or if you are teaching a Natural Science course, how might visuals help to solidify student understanding?

Our online intercultural communications course has implemented student developed Animotos very successfully for a few quarters. If you
click here you will see a sample Animoto on the concept of culture. Students are given this sample as well as some training resources and then asked to create their own Animoto depicting what they view as a visual definition of cultural values. In addition to the Animoto, students are required to submit a reflection on how their definition and understanding of cultural values changed or were enhanced as a result of creating this Animoto.

To explore this resource further or to start your own Animoto presentation, the following will take you to the site directly as well as guide you through the process: Animoto and Jing Training on Animoto.

I encourage you to give this tool a try and let me know what you think. Have fun with Animoto and have a great rest of the week! (And as always, please let me know if you have any questions.)


Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 18, 2010

Good afternoon instructors!

With the second half of the quarter before us, now is a time where students may be writing more papers or looking for more assistance with course concepts in preparation for final projects and final exams. A great resource available to all online students - free of charge - is our online tutoring center called This resource is housed within Blackboard so students don't need to log-in to a separate location, they simply access it through the Tools tab within any GEN online course.

The following is a link to a screencast tutorial walking through how to use This is for your reference as well as something I encourage you to share with your students.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Have a great rest of Week 5!

Heather Thomton-Stockman

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 11, 2010

Good afternoon instructors!

As you are finishing up the grading of Unit 3 material and preparing for the reporting of mid-quarter grades by Sunday at midnight, I thought I would dedicate this week's blog posting to a quick and easy way to utilize features in the Blackboard grade center to calculate a running total of assignments/assessments as well as demonstrate how to display letter grades for your reporting purposes.

Click here to view how these features let Blackboard do the calculations for you!

If you have any questions please let me know.

Have a great rest of the week!

Heather Thomton-Stockman

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August 4, 2010

Happy Wednesday! This week's blog is dedicated to offering some tips and tricks on streamlining your grading process. I sent this Jing screencast to instructors last fall, but it was suggested by an instructor I share it again as it really changed - for the better - the way that instructor approached her grading each week. This process works really well for me too. So in case you missed it last fall or are new to GEN online entirely, I hope you find these strategies helpful.

Click here to access a Jing Screencast demonstration on how to grade multiple assignments as well as enter scores and feedback to multiple students in an efficient and easy manner within Blackboard's grade center.

Jing Screencasts only allow 5 minute recordings and I had a lot to get in within 5 minutes so it does end a bit abruptly but it ends with me showing you what the student will see, which is the last aspect of the demonstration, so it does cover everything. If you have any questions on any of it, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Happy grading :)

Heather Thomton-Stockman