Engage Students with Online Variety

By Cristina Gamalie, MSE, eLearning Instructor, OED

All classes at UAMS, including face-to-face, have Blackboard course shells. Within this shell, you can make documents available and foster student collaboration in a secureaccess environment. The online course shells can also be used to increase active learning and collaboration among students, making courses more engaging and effective. Here are a few tips to add online interactivity:

Spice up course materials: Transform course materials using SoftChalk (software available for all UAMS faculty). Create short presentation modules that include text, images, and video to provide content, and questions to assess learning. Students can study and review course materials in their own time.

Beef up course communication: Blackboard provides several communication tools. Use the discussion forum to follow up in-class discussions, provide feedback on written assignments, or pose questions to challenge students and enhance their critical thinking skills. For example, post exam reviews in a discussion forum. Ask students to comment on the most difficult exam questions and reward the most efficient and effective answers to those questions. Other options include blogs, journals, and wikis.

Blend in teamwork: Using the Groups tool, assign group activities or long-term projects. The Groups tool in Blackboard allows for team discussions, chats, and
document sharing. You can also allow teams to meet privately in virtual rooms using Collaborate Ultra. For example, let students use Collaborate Ultra to record group presentations. Post the recordings in the course and let the other students in the class evaluate their peers.

New education trends show increasing numbers of blended classes (Fadde & Vu, 2014), which combine the benefits of eLearning and face-to-face education. UAMS offers faculty tools to use Blackboard to enhance face-to-face classes without teaching fully online. The Office of Educational Development offers training in how to use those tools; contact us for assistance.

Fadde, P. J., & Vu, P. (2014). Online Learning: Benefits, Challenges, and Misconceptions, 33-48.

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