Blog Post

Less is More, except when it isn't?

Hi everyone.  I'm wondering about others' experiences using online teaching tools.  I'm teaching a class this term on US Colonial History.  In the past, I have used a course website - one that I created myself through my basic knowledge of HTML and programs like Dreamweaver.  The students give me great feedback on the website - they like that the syllabus, assignments, and readings (usually pdf documents) are easily accessible and all in one place.  I like the website too - it gives me total control over the course content, changing around some reading assignment here and there to respond to their interests, etc.

My concern is that this term I have been toying around with the Compass / Blackboard site for the course provided by the university.  It has some cool and useful features that I think would be nice additions to my usual course website - mainly a blog and other interactive posting boards.

My question is this - is it too confusing / not streamlined enough to expect students to use two separate websites for one class?

Thanks for any suggestons or insights!
Michelle

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3 comments

Hi, Michelle,  I really dislike the design of Blackboard but, yes, it has features that my Wordpress site doesn't so, sigh, my "This Is Your Brain on the Internet" ends up being 90% hosted on my attractive Wordpress site but then my students go to Blackboard for pdf's and we use it to contact students and for a few other functions.  Not great, but that's the way it is.  Good luck with your course!

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Hi Michelle,

I've only done this once, experimentally, but it seemed to work okay.  I created a course website with Wordpress/Scholarpress and loaded in my content.  I then created (in Blackboard) menu buttons which linked directly to my site.  So-- if a student clicked the "syllabus" button in blackboard, that page on my site popped up in the Blackboard frame.  This gave me much more control over design and content while being a largely seamless experience for students.  I'm going to be trying it again in a future term when I've had more time to play with it.

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Thanks for the ideas and experiences.  Just to follow up, I did end up using my blackboard site only for the blog feature, and my own website for the rest of the course.  I thought I could also use Blackboard for sending students their grades, but I haven't had success sending comments along with those grades, so I abandoned that feature.  Does anyone know a trick for this, btw?

After working out a little confusion at the beginning of the term, everyone seems fine with the two websites.  I'll elicit feedback from my students later in the term so I'll know better how/if it's working smoothly.

Thanks!

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