In Blackboard, the title of an assignment submission is black and it looks like an ordinary heading. When you mouse over it, the underline appears and it looks like a link. But if you just look at it, it’s not obvious that it is a link! In response to feedback, I’ve now changed the colour of my assignments to dark blue. (See example).
Colour assignment title so It Looks More Like a Link
I’ve also added a textual note below the link to make it extra clear and I’ve provide a web link to the Blackboard help page on Assignment Submissions for students.
The blue in my link is a bit too light when compared to the attachments on the item, so if anyone knows what the CSS colour code for a link should be, I’d be grateful if you could add it to the comments.
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I attended a Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series webinar on Monday which discussed how Blackboard Learn can be used to support Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education . This was a very nice presentation from Ronald Scott Wennerdahl and Crystal Sheu of the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And there are some good ideas that I will need to think about in relation to my own teaching coming up next semester. The video has just been published on YouTube.
 Chickering, Arthur W. and Gamson, Zelda F, “Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education” American Association of Higher Education Bulletin vol.39 no.7 pp.3-7 1987. URL: http://www.aahea.org/aahea/articles/sevenprinciples1987.htm
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Having dealt with the reading list, my next consideration was the course description. This has been published in the course catalogue so I have to stick to the sense if not the letter of the published description.
Here’s what the catalogue entry currently says.
EG-247 Signals and Systems
To develop further methods of representing and analysing dynamic systems, to extend these concepts to sampled-data systems, to introduce concepts in signal processing and to use computer-aided methods for modelling and analysis.
- Review of signal representations and transform concepts.
- Harmonic responses, parametric plots, logarithmic measures for linear systems.
- Laplace domain representations and corresponding time responses.
- Fundamentals of Fourier series, DFT from FT.
- Fundamentals of Sampled data signals, digital systems, z-transforms, responses and FIR digital filters.
- Implementations of IIR and FIR pulse transfer functions.
Lectures, Matlab practicals and examples classes.
Intended Learning Outcomes
After completing this module you should be able to: • Construct harmonic response diagrams in standard form
- Construct pole-zero diagrams and derive associated responses
- Determine system responses for given standard inputs
- Discuss the nature of analogue and digital signals and systems
- Describe the different forms of Fourier representations
- Derive the Fourier representations of simple signals
- Apply the DFT to simple sequences
- Determine the response of digital systems to standard inputs
- Design FIR digital filters and describe their implementation
On successful completion of the module, students should be able to show experience and enhancement of the following key skills:
- Independent learning
- Problem solving and design skills based on mathematical modelling and analytical approaches
- Examination (80%)
- Continuous Assessment (20%)
As I am taking over the course, this has to be my starting point. If I was developing a new course, I’d have gone through a process of development and module approval within my Board of Studies and Committee and College Learning and Teaching committee, and the programme description would still be my starting point.
This information is automatically added to the Blackboard site for my module by my institution. It is extracted from the course catalogue and automatically populates the Module Information page. Therefore, if I need to make changes, I have to do it on the Course Catalogue.
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The course reading list in iFind Reading
My second step in setting up my new module was to update the reading list.
There are a large number of books on Signals and Systems and some, like the ones recommended by my colleagues last year, are considered seminal. However, they are also very expensive and available in the library in small numbers and only on short-term loan. They also take a somewhat mathematical approach to the subject.
One of my aims for the course is to attempt to make it more accessible to my students by taking an applied approach to the material. I also want to make use of Matlab and Simulink both for illustration in class but also for homework exercises and as a project. On searching the library, I was surprised to find that there are two good e-book offerings, one of which takes exactly the approach that I want to explore. These books have replaced the original texts in the reading list as Essential and Recommended reading. The original texts have been relegated to Background reading. The eBooks are free for Swansea students to use and have no limitations of the number of students who can access them at a time. They do have the disadvantage that they have to be used via web browser but that’s a small price to pay for the cost.
(The actual value of the eBooks and the restrictions on their access imposed by their licensing will be something I may need to come back to.)
I’ve also added a couple of open educational resources to the reading list. One of these was the on-line text book from connexions.org used by my colleague last year. The other is a wikibook on signals and systems that is also free.
The one none-free book that I’ve added to my Recommended reading list is a Schaum’s Ouline Series book on Signals and Systems. These books are full of worked examples and I’ve been a fan since I was a student myself. At £11.99 RRP (cheaper on-line) for the Signals and Systems book it’s a small price to pay for such a great revision aid.
To help me to refer to the books in the reading lists, I have tagged them with the course code and course title, the keyword Matlab if appropriate and the author & date.
In our institutional set-up, all this information is added automatically to our Blackboard sites as a Reading List menu item. It is also used by the Librarians to ensure that we have books in stock, etc. Local colleagues wanting to find out more about how the iFind Reading Lists work, should visit the iFind Reading pages on Blackboard.
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This year I am taking over a module EG-247 Signals and Systems from a colleague who has moved to another institution. This is the first of a series of Blog posts with which I intend to document and reflect on the process for my own benefit but in the hope that it will be useful to others.
My first step this year was to buy a hard-backed notebook. There are some nice ones with Swansea University livery in the Campus bookshop for £4.95. I’ve added a label for the course title. I’ll use it to write down my own notes as I go through the reading and jot down my ideas for the module structure and lesson plans.
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Heads by Chris Jobling
I’ve got a new module to deliver this session. I wonder if documenting the process of putting together the course site on Blackboard would be of interest to anyone?
Feedback in the comments please.
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Einstein Agrees with Brian, mashup by Andrea Arbogast “interlect” on Flickr. Image licensed under Creative Commons share alike with attribution. Some rights reserved.
In recent times, the Blackboard company has been reaching out to its community of institutional users via a series of weekly webinars in what it calls the Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series
(BITS). It hosts and records these webinars on Blackboard Collaborate and then releases the recordings on the BITS Channel on YouTube
Today, I watched episode 27 entitled Blackboard and the Online Collaborative Experience. On show was a three-week on-line course created for staff professional development by the Instructional Designers David Flora, Ericka Hollis, and Xavier Scott of Morehead State University. They demonstrated the use of Blackboard Learn’s collaborative features to get instructors to actively engage with Blackboard’s collaborative features (blog, discussion board, wiki, Blackboard Collaborate) in order to experience what it might be like for students to experience active learning through collaboration. The resulting course has also been awarded one of Blackboard’s exemplary course programme awards and you can self-enrol as a student and view the course site at ecpgallery.coursesites.com (direct link).
As my institution is still climbing the early majority part of the adoption curve, with most of my colleagues using the VLE (which is Blackboard Learn) as a complex Content Management System (CMS), running such a course here might be well worth considering.
The rest of the recorded BITS series is well worth a look and you can sign up for the upcoming live webinars as well: there’s a few good ones coming up in November including Accessibility (14th November), Assessment and Feedback (18th November) and the Flipped Classroom (9 December). They take place at either 11:00 am or 1:00 pm EST (currently 3:00 and 5:00 pm UK time). Perhaps I’ll see you there!
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just upgraded to the new 3.6 release of
WordPress and switched
to the new default Twenty
theme. What do you think? P.S. It’s an HTML5 theme (good for case
studies if you’re teaching web applications) and it works great on
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It’s summer. And of course the world believes that academics do nothing over the summer. Well, apart from the summer resit examinations that have to be set and marked, course preparation and undergraduate project allocation that has to be done, I’d agree there isn’t much to be done. But it is a period of the year for which there can be time which can be set aside for personal self-development projects.
On my list this year, I have
- Learn to touch type
- Become proficient in VIM
- Find a way to use mark-down on Blackboard
For the first of these, this web site looks useful. There are a couple of books and loads of video resources for the second. Suggestions welcomed for the third.
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Just some notes on my first impressions. I’ve used iAnnotate a lot since I first wrote these notes, but reading back, my first impressions were pretty accurate.
- It can open documents from Dropbox (registered on iPad as a send target) and iAnnotate converts them to PDFs automatically.
- Fidelity of PDF conversion is not great (there’s an on-line service for this now). I’ve found that it’s best to save documents as PDF from desktop first.
- Good set of annotation tools (including voice). Uses more gestures than I’m used to. I Found the text annotation most useful (with a proper keyboard!)
- Syncs readily to iTunes Document Sharing, the provided free desktop client and Dropbox. After some usage, I found Dropbox to be the most convenient.
- Needs Adobe Acrobat Reader to access all annotation types. On Mac, built-in Preview shows notes, highlighting and scribbles but not audio. On windows, you’d be using Adobe Acrobat Reader anyway.
- Annotated PDFs can be uploaded to VLE (Blackboard at my institution) as attachments to feedback in grade centre.
- You still need to record marks on paper or perhaps in a spreadsheet (with documents to go offline) or with Google docs if you’re on line.
- There is a way to upload/download spreadsheets to Blackboard Gradecentre but it requires some preparation before hand (another article?).
- It’s more difficult to do marking with Blackboard rubric tool unless you had an off-line version of the rubric to use on the tablet. I suppose you could flip between iAnnotate and Safari.
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