Review of Classroom Response Systems Complete

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clickersFrom the end of March through mid-April 2016, faculty and staff from Northern Illinois University participated in a review of five classroom response (“clicker”) systems, facilitated by the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center (for an overview of the process, timeline, and the faculty needs assessment, please see this earlier article). The review was undertaken because of intermittent issues with the current officially recognized and supported clicker system, rapidly changing clicker technology, and the recent increase in adoption of multiple competing clicker systems across campus which potentially forces students to buy more than one device.

However, due to low participation in the review process, any change of systems would not represent perspectives of everyone who uses a clicker system across NIU. The faculty who participated in the review recommended not changing systems at this time, and the Faculty Development Advisory Committee (comprised of faculty across all colleges) concurred with the decision. For the 2016-2017 academic year, Turning Technologies will remain the officially-supported clicker system at NIU.

Whenever possible, faculty are encouraged to use the officially-supported clicker system, to reduce costs to students, increase the value of the purchase they make, and take advantage of student familiarity with a common system. However, there are many factors to consider when adopting technology, so faculty are not required to use the officially-supported system.

When choosing a clicker or student-response system, there are a number of alternatives you may consider to minimize cost to students. First, if your purpose is to increase student engagement as opposed to testing, a physical clicker device may be unnecessary. For Turning Technologies’ clickers, the ResponseWare license is cheaper than the clicker remote and students can participate using their mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. In that case, ask the Bookstore to add license cards to the list of recommended materials for your course. Second, if your class is not large, you may be able to use one of several free systems, such as Poll Everywhere (free up to 40 students) or Socrative (free and supports up to 50 students).

If any lingering issues or concerns regarding the use of clickers for instructional purposes arise, please don’t hesitate to contact the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center at facdev@niu.edu or 815-753-0595.

Summer/Fall 2016 Courses Ready to be Requested in Blackboard

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Student sitting at computerFaculty can now request their Blackboard courses for the Summer and Fall 2016 semesters. Please see the information below for instructions on the request process.

Note: course requests take approximately 24 hours to be processed. The processing server runs twice daily.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. After logging in to Blackboard, click Services
2. Click Blackboard Faculty Tools
3. Click My Courses to request a course
4. Select the Semester and click the Submit button
5. Select the course(s) you would like to request and click Request Single Section(s) (for master courses select Combine Sections)
6. Click the Submit button

 

Resources

For more information, check out our Getting Started Quick Guide, or full details on Requesting Courses. If you are teaching a cross-listed course, you may want to try combining multiple course sections into a Master Course.

Finally, you can watch this video tutorial that demonstrates the steps for requesting a course.

 

Trends in Blackboard Tool Usage at NIU

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Blackboard Learn, the primary course management system used by faculty, staff, teaching assistants, and students at NIU, continues to be an important platform for facilitating teaching and learning at NIU with over 96% of students and 92% of teaching faculty using the system during Fall 2015.  To gain even more insight into how NIU is using Blackboard, the Division of Information Technology has implemented custom reporting capabilities within Blackboard that extends the built-in statistics tracking features for recording individual tool usage by course. As a result, we have an even better understanding of overall Blackboard adoption and tool use at NIU, and have the ability to track usage trends over time.

Here are some notable trends in Blackboard tool usage at NIU (also available for download here):

niu-bb-stats-2015

 

A few noteworthy usage trends as of Fall 2015 include:

  • Overall Blackboard use stayed the same (96% of students using, 92% of faculty) between fall 2014 and fall 2015
  • Recently, Blackboard adoption by teaching faculty made a significant jump from 82% (2013) to 92% (2014) which was maintained in 2015
  • Blackboard tool use generally declined over the Summer and Fall 2015 semesters
  • Most course instructors make use of Blackboard for posting announcement and content items (e.g., PowerPoint Slides, PDFs, Images, etc.), as well as for posting grades
  • Assignments, tests, and Collaborate web conferencing continued their trend of increased use during the summer semester

Thank you to the Division of Information Technology for providing these usage statistics, as they have been useful in identifying what tools are being used most in Blackboard as well as recognizing trends usage over time.

For more information about Teaching with Blackboard at Northern Illinois University, visit http://www.niu.edu/blackboard.

NIU to Conduct Review of Classroom Response Systems

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clickersFive years ago, at the request of faculty and teaching staff, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center facilitated a search for classroom response (“clicker”) systems, in order to standardize their use at Northern Illinois University. At the time, some students had been required to buy and use multiple systems as part of their class materials, which faculty and instructors found untenable. At the end of that search, faculty chose Turning Technologies as the officially-recognized clicker system vendor at NIU.

Because of faculty and staff feedback, rapidly changing technology in this sector, as well as the recent adoption of competing clicker systems on campus once again, we surveyed faculty and instructors who have experience using clickers. Of those who responded, the majority (63%) have three of more years of experience with clickers. Check out the infographic below for interesting results that came out of that survey.

Some key findings:

  • Physical Devices: dedicated response devices – clickers – were once the primary tool used for classroom response systems. However, 71% of faculty reported that they currently allow students to use laptops or mobile devices instead of a physical clicker, and 100% reported that they would allow students to do so if it would decrease costs to students.
  • Blackboard Integration: Blackboard integration was considered very important. Currently, 53% of respondents report using the integration, and 74% indicated it is Critical or Important.
  • Multiple Polling Options: Respondents also indicated that they appreciate having multiple options for polling. 74% use polling embedded in PowerPoint, 58% use polling over other applications, and they were both among the top 5 critical features identified in the survey.

NIU clicker use stats 2016

The responses also indicated a strong desire among the faculty to conduct a fresh review of systems, to ensure that NIU uses the system that best suits their and students’ needs, and the Faculty Development Advisory Committee, comprised of faculty representatives from each college, agreed. During March and April, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center will be facilitating a new round of product demonstrations and reviews from multiple response system providers. Following the reviews, we will also facilitate group discussions among faculty to determine which product to adopt as the centrally-supported clicker system. The faculty who attend the demonstrations will make a formal recommendation to be presented to the Faculty Development Advisory Committee in April, and implementation would begin in fall 2016.

Product demonstrations will take place from March 22, through April 7. The following vendors will present their products from noon to 1pm on each of the following days. The process is open to faculty, instructors, teaching assistants, or staff members at NIU, and your feedback will be important for guiding the future direction of clicker usage and support at NIU moving forward.

March 22 – Poll Everywhere

March 30 – NIUResponse.com by Chuck Downing

March 31 – Turning Technologies

April 5 – Top Hat

April 7 – i>clicker

If you plan to attend, you may register for one or more of the sessions in our registration system, so that we will have an estimate of how many people will attend, and so that you will receive reminders about the upcoming sessions. However, walk-ins are welcome.

ICYMI: U ROCK

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I love NIUIn case you missed it (ICYMI): students love their classes and their faculty. U ROCK!

For Valentine’s Day, NIU Today asked students to share stories about an NIU faculty member of class that they love. They shared touching stories about faculty who cared, such as Madelyn Anderson from the Department of Communication, who cheered on her students in the marching band during the Sycamore Pumpkin Parade, or Lisa Finkelstein from the Department of Psychology, who stays late to help students during finals. ]

Some students value being challenged by their faculty, such as Joe Bonomo from the Department of English who opens his students minds to critical thinking or inspired, as Ted Hatmaker from the School of Music does.

Check out all of the stories in the full article or watch the video below for a few of the highlights.

A big thank you to everyone from the Division of Marketing and Communication who reached out to students for their stories, and to all of the faculty, instructors, and teaching assistants who make a difference in their students lives. Those of us in the Faculty Development & Instructional Design Center feel the same as the students: U ROCK!

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