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!

Fall 2015 Leadership Workshops

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lego figures of scientist, graduate, and office workerThe Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, HR Center for Training & Professional Development, Operating Staff Council, and Supportive Professional Staff Council are excited to co-sponsor a Fall 2015 Leadership Workshop Series. The workshops are open to all NIU faculty, instructors, SPS and Operating Staff who are interested in developing their personal and professional leadership skills. Attendance at all four workshops is encouraged, but not mandatory. Please RSVP by September 4th for each workshop you plan to attend. More details will be sent via email to registered participants.

All workshops will be held from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. in the Holmes Student Center Regency Room. Participants may bring their lunch.

Tuesday, September 22
“Leadership: Everyone Should Do It! Developing Yourself as a Leader”
Presented by HR Center for Training & Professional Development

Tuesday, October 20
“Leading Without Authority: Using Influence to Lead Others”
Presented by the Faculty Development & Instructional Design Center

Tuesday, November 17
“Leading in Times of Change”
Presented by HR Center for Training & Professional Development

Wednesday, December 2
“Maintaining Your Leadership Brand”
Presented by the Faculty Development & Instructional Design Center

RSVP by September 4, 2015, to reserve your place in these workshops!

Participate in the ELI Fall Focus Session at NIU

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ELI Fall Focus Session

Every year, the Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) hosts Fall and Spring Focus Sessions, which are in-depth online workshops with presentations by leading institutions. The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is hosting a local viewing event this year, so that faculty or staff at NIU who are interested may attend.

This year, the Fall Focus session will be held on September 15 and 16, 2015, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., each day, and we will meet in the Holmes Student Center, Blackhawk Annex. You may attend either one or both days. The theme is Leadership for Teaching and Learning: More Choices, More Complexities, New Models. From their flyer: “Today, support for teaching and learning is no longer the province of a single campus organization. Instead, it involves a heterogeneous cohort of campus partners, which can include academic technology, centers for teaching and learning, libraries, and the dean’s and provost’s offices, as well as professional and continuing education.” The presentations will delve more deeply into topics such as:
ELI Fall Focus Session Badge

  • Organizational and governance models that support cohort-based leadership and institutional community building
  • Approaches to support teams in developing and sustaining innovative practices
  • The role of consortia and cross-institutional collaboration to support local initiatives
  • How institutional and cross-institutional data can support teaching and learning initiatives and promote student success

This year, if you participate in the ELI Fall Focus Session, you will be eligible to earn a digital badge! Your digital badge is a highly visible recognition of your contribution and community engagement. Learn more about ELI’s digital badge program.

For more information, including the agenda, or to register for either one day or both days, go to go.niu.edu/fallfocus15

New Blackboard Features Coming in May

Learn more about what's better in BlackboardThis year’s update to Blackboard is smaller than some years, but it still has a big impact on teaching and learning. The update (planned to occur over Memorial Day weekend, May 23-25, 2015) will move NIU to the April 2014 Release of Blackboard. Although there is a more recent release from October 2014, the April 2014 Release is considered to be more stable. Read on to learn about what changes you can expect.

Sample portfolio

Completely Redesigned Portfolio System

The biggest change coming is a completely redesigned and rebuilt portfolio system, although existing portfolios created with the current portfolio tool will continue to be editable and shareable. The new portfolios are easier to create, so students can focus on the most important aspect of portfolios: reflecting on their work. Students can create new artifacts by uploading or linking to files, or they can use artifacts that have been submitted and graded with the Assignment tool as part of their course work. For the latter artifact type, they can also include metadata about the artifact, including the Assignment details, the grade they received, and any feedback their instructor provided.

In addition to the new Portfolio system, the Assignment tool has been updated to include a Portfolio option. This requires that students create and submit a Portfolio to be graded, instead of uploading individual files.

Learn more about the new Portfolio System at http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/upgrade/features.shtml#portfolio

SafeAssignment Integrated with the Assignment Tool

SafeAssign options integrated with the Assignment toolIn the past, Assignment and SafeAssign were distinct and separate features. Now, SafeAssign is integrated with the Assignment feature, making it easy to check student submissions for plagiriarm by clicking a checkbox when creating an Assignment. This means that many of the features of Assignments, which were not available to SafeAssignments, can now be used with plagiarism detection. For example, Group submissions can now be checked for plagiarism, multiple submissions can be enabled, and the submissions can be graded with rubrics.

 

New Student Preview Mode

Student Preview iconPreviously in Blackboard Learn, the Edit Mode On/Off control was the only way to approximate a student view. NIU faculty could request a student ID to view their courses, but that was not a convenient process. The new Student Preview features provides faculty with the ability to easily see the course exactly how a student would see it, including content, Assignments, Tests, Grades, and the Discussion Board. While in Student Preview mode the faculty member can interact with the course as a student, including taking quizzes/tests, submitting assignments, posting to forums, posting to blogs, and more.

Enhanced Anonymous Grading, and New Delegated Grading

Screenshot of reconciling delegated grading
Anonymous Grading provides a more useful, robust option and best practice than has been implemented previously by the “Hide User Names” capability to enable anonymous grading. This functionality meets the needs for high-stakes assessments, when you want to ensure anonymous grading to avoid bias. For Anonymously Graded Attempts, the system information that could identify a student will be replaced with a unique and anonymous identifier that can be used by the graders and instructors to identify a particular attempt for further discussion without discovering the identity of the student. If an Assignment is set to be Anonymous, the student will be informed of this when submitting the assignment, when reviewing the grade with My Grades, and on the Review Submission History page.

Delegated Grading is a new mechanism that facilitates sharing the responsibility for grading among anyone with the Instructor, Teaching Assistant, or Grader role in a given course. It promotes reliability of grading by using two or more grades from separate individuals to determine the final grade. Those teaching large courses can also use the tool to easily assign grading responsibilities to multiple TAs, whether or not multiple graders are used per student.

Significant Figures in Calculated Formula Test Questions

The Calculated Formula question type in Tests creates quantitative problem-solving test questions using a formula and variables. Questions can be dynamically generated, calculated, and scored automatically. Now, Calculated Formula questions can include specific rules for how many significant figures should be in the answer. In addition, the existing support for scientific/exponential notation has improved.

Learn More

Learn more about upcoming features at www.niu.edu/blackboard/upgrade and look for preview and tune-up workshops about the new features starting in April, 2015.

New Blackboard Observer Role Supports Student Success

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student working with counselorThis Spring, the Division of IT introduced the Observer role in Blackboard. This role is designed to allow academic counselors and other support staff to monitor the progress and performance of the students they work with. Observers have the potential to view the grades of the students they are observing as well as content in the courses in which their students are enrolled.

Of course, Observer access to student grades and course materials is entirely controlled by individual faculty. By default, Observers are not allowed access to any aspect of a given course until that is enabled by the faculty teaching the course. An Observer is never able to interact within the course, like posting to a Discussion Board or submitting assignments. If a student is assigned an Observer, that relationship will be visible to faculty and teaching assistants by viewing the Users list in Blackboard. Learn how to enable Observer access or what Observers can access in a course.

There are many benefits to allowing Observer access to a course:

  • An Observer is easily able to monitor their assigned students’ current standing in any courses that use the Grade Center. Depending on how access is enabled, the Observer may be able to view an overall grade or individual assignment grades. With this ability, Observers can identify students who may be struggling and connect them with valuable resources on campus.
  • If enabled, Observers can view course content, like the syllabus or schedule, and assignment instructions. This helps the Observer work with students on understanding course requirements and prioritizing study schedules.
  • Faculty can update all Observers about upcoming projects or assignments through the Send Email tool. In addition, faculty can contact the Observer assigned to a single student via Blackboard if an issue arises that puts the student at risk in the course, like poor performance on an exam or too many absences, through the Grade Center or the Retention Center.

This semester, a pilot is underway with the counselors of the Deacon Davis CHANCE Program, so they can work more closely with their students to help them be successful during their first year at NIU. Other programs interested in similar access should contact the Faculty Development & Instructional Design Center to learn more.

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