I got in touch with Joe Doak from Real Estate and Planning about the DEVELOP Project some time ago. Not only was he on the ASSET Project, looking at video feedback and feed-forward, but I have previously looked at tools like Scholar and also classroom interactivity facilities with him.
Joe is planning for a blended learning module currently called ‘Sustainability and Natural Resources’, to run again in the Autumn term. He received some detailed feedback from his students last year and is looking to adjust the module accordingly.
Previously, the module has featured use of Blackboard’s Scholar bookmarking tool, which Joe used to encourage collection of resources and discussion (this last taking place in Blackboard’s Discussion Board tool). For next year, Joe has considered using a site called iJourney to encourage the gathering of materials out in the field (I mentioned the Tumblr might also prove useful in this respect).
Joe has, to date, asked students to load such resources into a Word document, treating the document effectively as an e-portfolio. So I took the time to show him what we have been doing with Blackboard’s e-portfolio tool. He said that all the widgets could be potentially useful: the e-Portfolio Templates widget could be useful for reinforcing the simple but set structure that Joe likes his students’ portfolios to have; the e-Portfolio Feedback widget allowing for section-specific commenting might also be beneficial for the module; and the e-Portfolio Export widget may address single point submission issues within the department though he said there would still potentially be administrative questions around this.
I also showed Joe the Tagging and Recommender widgets, the last of which he could see might be more beneficial than Scholar right away. The problem with Scholar, as Joe described it, is that it acts very much as a separate service, apart from Blackboard. It requires students to sign-up for an account and then to use what is a very different interface from the rest of Blackboard.
Joe could see himself potentially using the Tagging widget to structure his course more flexibly and then using the Recommender to allow students to attach additional resources to keywords he has already provided, thus keeping useful student resources alongside his own. Although the tagging is actually quite free-form, the style of bookmarking provided by the Recommender could provide a much more structured and integrated experience than Scholar.
I also showed Joe what we had for the Video widget on our Live Blackboard Service already. I left this information with him to consider as he thinks further about the design of his module and said I will get in touch after the upgrade in July.