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Archive for the 'SFU communications' Category

Grades: formative and final

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

As we near the end of the summer semester (even if it feels like summer hasn’t even started yet!), calculating final grades will soon be upon us.

We’ve got general resources on the WebCT gradebook that offer PDF downloads and instructions on the many functions of the gradebook. The gradebook is an efficient way of letting students know how they are doing in the course. Most instructors use it to deliver numeric or letter grades, but there are a few other options as well.

1. The calculated column: you can create a calculated column that will automatically add up the student grades to give them (or yourself) their final grade. Download the gradebook manual for more information on creating these calculated columns (note: the link is to a PDF which requires an SFU login).

2. Import/ Export: If you are comfortable with Excel and the calculating functions within, then you can still take advantage of the benefits of both Excel and WebCT. Use the Import and Export Gradebook buttons in the gradebook to keep an offline copy of your grades, and update the gradebook by periodically uploading an updated gradebook. I recommend that you export the gradebook first, so that you have a spreadsheet in a format that WebCT understands and can import. Remember also that anything you upload will over-write anything in the online gradebook, so if you or a TA have modified grades online, they’ll be over-written by an uploaded file. You can modify your spreadsheet to have a custom spreadsheet for each tutorial, or only uploading the current gradebook column on which you are working.

3. SIMS uploads: You can also use WebCT to create a file that is ready-made to upload into SIMS, which should make your end of semester housekeeping just a bit more streamlined. The link provided has instructions on how to set this WebCT -> SIMS communications. .

What are some of the other end of semester teaching tasks that take up time? Are you using the journal tool for formative feedback? Did you you deliver a mid-semester survey to track student perceptions of the learning environment? Do you use the assessment tool to deliver practice quizzes so students can prepare for their finals? Are students using the discussion or blog tool for peer discussion or evaluation on their final papers?

Please use the comments function below, and perhaps we can brainstorm ways of streamlining the end of the semester for your time management and for student learning.

Happy New Year

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Here in the educational system, I still consider September 1st to be the new year.

Classes start next week – I know that many have already requested Fall 2009 course containers in WebCT, and are updating syallbi, quizzes, and assignment descriptions.

Have you considered what you will tell your students about your use of WebCT? Will you explain to them why you have chosen to post items online, or how they can derive benefit from reviewing lecture outlines or re-reading assignment descriptions carefully? If you use the discussion forum for Frequently Asked Questions, have you told your students that this should be their first stop with questions? Have you set expectations by explaining when you will be online answer questions (once a day? every two days? twice a day?), and have you developed techniques for keeping questions suited for the online discussion forum out of your email inbox?

Good luck in the upcoming semester!

Student access and new Teaching Assistants

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

We get two questions a lot at this time of the semester, and there are quick answers to each:

1. My students can’t access my Summer ‘09 course: can you open for them for a bit longer?
The WebCT administrators at SFU have developed a nifty tool, so instructors can modify on their own when students can first access their WebCT course container, and when they’re denied access. It’s called Course Tools, and can also be used to add instructors to a course. To add and use Course Tools, follow the instructions here.

2. How do I add my TA to my Fall ‘09 course?
There are two ways of adding TAs to your WebCT course container. You can either add them through the Grade Book tools, or you can use the Course Tools. You’ll need your TAs Computing ID (their log-in to WebCT, MySFU, MyInfo, etc). More detailed instructions on both of these options are available by clicking here.

For more information or help you can email instructional_support@sfu.ca or you can download very detailed print guides on the Gradebook, Assignment tool, Assessment tool, Discussion tool and more on this page.

WebCT news for Summer 2009 semester

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

SFU Course Tools: add instructors, TAs or change access dates.
The WebCT administrators at Simon Fraser University recently added a new proxy tool called “SFU Course Tools”. Add this tool to your WebCT course container, and you can add and remove members (Primary Instructors, Instructors, Designers, Teaching Assistants and Auditors), and modify the start and end date restriction. By default, students are able to access your WebCT course container on the first day of the new semester until the day before the start of the next semester.

https://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/Start_here#Change_access_dates_and_add_instructors

Uploading and organizing content
Content doesn’t mean just your PowerPoint slides – you can choose to shelve the slides, and instead add lecture notes or outlines, images and graphs to illustrate key concepts, content from external websites using links or RSS feeds, and encourage students to upload their own diagrams, research or questions.

For more information on the tools available, browse some of the resources here: https://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/Load_and_display_content

Quizzes and Surveys
Create short quizzes to test student comprehension, encourage critical thinking, or self-assessment. Some of the benefits that quizzes can offer are automatic grades and mark release, ungraded self-tests, selective release of materials, and repeat quizzing for mastery learning.

For more information on creating, viewing and marking assessments, browse the resources available here: https://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/Quizzes%2C_self-tests_and_surveys

Request new WebCT course container
Use the course request form found at: http://webct.sfu.ca The course request form has options to add your Teaching Assistants, copy the course content from a previous WebCT course, and modify the dates that students will be able to access WebCT (by default, students have access from the first day of the semester to the last). It will take one to two working days for your course container to appear in WebCT.

Face to face workshops and consultations for Instructors

* Upcoming workshops, drop-ins and information sessions http://www.lidc.sfu.ca/whatsup/calendar/
* If you have any questions, or would like to schedule a one on one consultation, please sign up here.

Online and individual resources for Instructors and Students

* Troubleshooting hints for instructors and students: http://toolkit.sfu.ca/webct/browser/
* Student help: http://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/Student_FAQ
* Online tutorials, pdf downloads and quick answers for faculty, instructors and teaching assistants: http://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/

WebCT news: end of fall semester

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

As the end of classes approaches, enclosed are some quick links to information on moving grades to SIMS, adding co-instructors and advance preparation for the next semester.

 

Move Final Grades to SIMS

Save time in calculating final grades: if you have access to the TEACH tab in WebCT, you can use the Grade Book to create a file that is ready for uploading final grades to SIMS. Step by step instructions are available here: http://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/Student_grades#WebCT_grades_and_SIMS


Course Tools: modify access dates and add co-instructors

The WebCT administrators at Simon Fraser University have recently added a new tool called “Course Tools”. Once you add the tool to your WebCT course container, you are able to add and remove members (Primary Instructors, Instructors, Designers, Teaching Assistants and Auditors), and be able to modify the start and end date access of your course container. To add the “Course Tools”, please consult the following instructions.

Request new course container

Get ready for the new semester planning: beat the early semester rush and request your Spring 2009 WebCT course container now. Use the course request form found at: http://webct.sfu.ca

 

How did the fall semester go?

Take a moment to consider how the fall semester went. Is there anything you’d like to streamline? Use more frequently? Are there any in-class activities or learning or administrative materials that can be transferred to the online environment? Did you link to or upload sufficient content for the students?

 

Course planning: decide on your objectives

You may wish to try something new this semester. There are some instructional scenarios compiled online, or consider the following options:

Reflective practice: a “journal” topic (found in the discussion tool) may enable you to encourage weekly reflection.

Group Work: The “group manager” tool can create custom or automatic groups, and provide a private group forum in the discussion or chat area for group members.

Self-tests: The “assessments” tool can be used to create either quizzes or self-tests (ungraded, and for immediate feedback).

Surveys: Why wait until the end of the semester? The “assessments” tool can also be used to survey your students at the beginning of the semester to assess prior knowledge or expectations, or mid-semester to find out what they are thinking and how their learning is progressing.

 

WebCT resources

We continue to edit and update the WebCT wiki: http://wiki.sfu.ca/webct , where you can find extensive downloadable documentation on specific tools.  We have made some organizational changes to the wiki to highlight available materials, and the most popular wiki pages. The site also contains links on instructional scenarios  a page listing all the tutorials and documentation available, and a list of custom changes that the administrators at SFU have implemented.


New: Manage access to your WebCT container

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

The WebCT administrators at Simon Fraser University just added a new proxy tool called “Course Tools”.  Once added to your WebCT course container, you are able to add and remove members (Primary Instructors, Instructors, Designers, Teaching Assistants and Auditors), and be able to modify the start and end date restriction.  To add the “Course Tools”, please do the following :

  1. Log in to WebCT
  2. Go to the Course and go to the Build tab
  3. Within the ‘Home page’, click on the drop-down arrow for ‘Add Content Link’
  4. Click on ‘Course Tools’
  5. Select ‘Create Course Tools’
  6. Enter the tile of ‘Course Tools’ and hit ‘Save’
  7. Click on the drop-down arror for ‘Course Tools’ and click ‘Hide Item’.  Currently, the Course Tools only has options for Section Instructors and Designers.  Therefore, it’s best to hide the item from student to eliminate confusion.
  8. Go to the Teach tab
  9. Go to the ‘Coures Tools’
  10. Select ‘Course members’ or ‘Course dates’ option and follow the instructions

This new addition will give faculty and instructors greater control over when students can access the course. Instructors will still be able to add co-instructors, TAs and co-designers and change the start and end date that students can access the course in the Course Request Form, but this is a new chance to modify these restrictions after the course has been created. The default access dates for students will continue to be the first day of the new semester until the first day of the next semester.

WebCT news for Fall 2008

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Request new WebCT course container
Use the course request form found at: http://webct.sfu.ca The course request form has options to add your Teaching Assistants, copy the course content from a previous WebCT course, and modify the dates that students will be able to access WebCT (by default, students have access from the first day of the semester to the last). It will take one to two
working days for your course container to appear in WebCT.

Student access to WebCT

By default, your students will be able to access your requested WebCT course container on September 2nd, 12:01 AM. For more information on adds and drops, visit here:  http://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/Start_here#Student_access_and_enrollment

Add your Teaching Assistants to WebCT

Your Teaching Assistant can use WebCT to administer and deliver grades, review completed quizzes or surveys, or host an online questions and answers in the discussions tool. You will need your Teaching Assistants’ computing IDs (the login name they use to login to WebCT, for example) to add your teaching assistants or colleagues to the WebCT course container. For step by step instructions, and more information on the TA role in WebCT: https://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/Who%27s_who#Teaching_Assistant

Add lecture recordings

Create a seamless link between large class lectures and your WebCT course container to provide learning opportunities for students outside the classroom. If your lecture hall lectures are recorded, you can now place a quick link to them in your WebCT course. Check here for instructions on adding a weblink: http://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/External

Add an external RSS feed to your course

RSS feeds can add immediacy to your course, and are a platform for ongoing news items or blog updates.
If you are familiar with RSS feeds, and would like to add them to your WebCT course section, there are instructions on finding and adding feeds: http://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/External#adding_RSS_feeds

Add a Wiki

Wikis are simple and editable online pages that you and your students can use to collaborate on group projects or the development of course notes. If you would like to add a wiki to your course container, please email  instructional_support@sfu.ca  and we will be happy to set it up and discuss its implementation and management.

Hide older courses from your course list

You can hide any inactive courses on your MyWebCT page. For details, click here: http://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/Navigate_and_customize and select the header titled “Hide inactive courses on your My WebCT page.

Review new course container

Look at your course container with fresh eyes, or ask a colleague to look at it. Are the posted dates correct? Is the course homepage clearly organized – will students know where to access course notes and other resources?

Course planning: decide on tools
You may wish to try something new this semester:

  •  Reflective practice: a “journal” topic (found in the discussion tool) may enable you to encourage weekly reflection.
  •  Group Work: The “group manager” tool can create custom or automatic groups, and provide a private group forum in the discussion or chat area for group members.
  •  Self-tests: The “assessments” tool can be used to create either quizzes or self-tests (ungraded, and for immediate feedback).
  • Surveys: Why wait until the end of the semester? The “assessments” tool can also be used to survey your students at the beginning of the semester to assess their prior knowledge, or mid-semester to find out what they are thinking.

Online and individual Resources for Instructors and Students

Your course list: hiding, finding and removing inactive course containers

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Currently, all regularly scheduled courses that are over four semesters old (courses from Spring 2007 and Winter 2006) have been hidden. This will help your MyWebCT homepage load quicker.

You can modify the look of your MyWebCT page, and hide any inactive courses. For details, click here: http://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/Navigate_and_customize   You can backup an old course using the instructions found here: https://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/Request#Creating_and_using_Backups

To access courses that are hidden (Spring 2007 and earlier), please contact the SFU WebCT administrators at webct@sfu.ca

Pilot: when Wiki met WebCT

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Wikis are online, editable pages that you and your students can use to collaborate on group projects or the development of course notes.

We are currently piloting a means of adding wiki functionality to WebCT. If you would like to add a wiki to your course container, please email instructional_support@sfu.ca and we will be happy to set it up and discuss it’s implementation and management.

This would act as a “plug-in”, much like the integration of Elluminate Live! software and Turnitin software. SFU currently uses the MediaWiki platform, and this plug-in allows you to have a wiki in WebCT. Currently, you would not be able to access the wiki outside of WebCT (that will require further work), wiki pages would be editable to all persons registered in the WebCT course and you can only have one wiki (put multiple pages in that wiki) per course.

Summer 2008 news and updates

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Enclosed is some information for setting up your Summer 2008 WebCT container.

 
Add your Teaching Assistants (or other colleagues) to WebCT
Your Teaching Assistant can use WebCT to administer and deliver grades, review completed quizzes, surveys and assignments, or host an online questions and answer forum in the discussions tool.

You will need your Teaching Assistants’ computing IDs  (the login name they use to login to WebCT, for example) to add your teaching assistants or colleagues to your WebCT course container. Open the Teach Tab in your WebCT course, click on Grade Book under the header Instructor Tools. Once in the Grade Book, click on the button “Enroll Members” (found above the Grade Book spreadsheet). Enter in the computing ID for your TA, and check next to Teaching Assistant (this will give them access to the Teach Tab. To give them access to the Build Tab, select Section Designer as well). Click on the Enroll button, and remember to click Save before exiting this page.
 
Setup your Gradebook
The Grade Book can be used to store, distribute and calculate grades. Set it up now according to your syllabus for streamlined grade delivery later in the semester: https://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/Student_grades

Add a Wiki!
Wikis are online, editable pages that you and your students can use to collaborate on group projects or the development of course notes. 

We are currently piloting a means of adding wiki functionality to WebCT. If you would like to add a wiki to your course container, please email instructional_support@sfu.ca and we will be happy to set it up and discuss its implementation and management.

Review your new course container
Look at your course container with fresh eyes, or ask a colleague to look at it. Are the posted dates correct? Is the course homepage clearly organized – will students know where to access course notes and other resources?

Request new WebCT course container
Use the course request form found at: http://webct.sfu.ca The course request form has options to add your Teaching Assistants and copy the course content from a previous WebCT course. It will take one to two working days for your course container to appear in WebCT. Student enrollment in your WebCT course container is mapped to SIMS enrollment, so please ensure that you enter the correct section number (for example, D100). 
 
Online Resources for Instructors  and Students
Troubleshooting hints for instructors and students: http://toolkit.sfu.ca/webct/browser/
Student resources: http://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/index.php/Student_FAQ
Online tutorials, pdf downloads and quick answers for faculty, instructors and teaching assistants: http://wiki.sfu.ca/webct/  If you have any questions, please email instructional_support@sfu.ca