Is there trouble brewing? Check it out. The title is a link to the full story.

New standards seek to measure what students actually know

A new set of standards, published by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, outlines what skills and knowledge students should possess after earning a college degree. The Degree Qualifications Profile was developed with funding from the Lumina Foundation, and its accuracy has been tested at 400 colleges and universities in 45 states over the past four years.

Saturday Morning Musings

Saturday Morning musings is a semi-infrequent post consisting of complaints, critiques, questions and concerns paired with tips, lessons learned and happy thoughts.  Really, the author has a few minutes and a few things to say and hopes that others will find it worth reading.

On Midterm grade posting

Question:  Why is there a lag when we enter in a letter grade from student to student?  Why must we pause for 2 seconds while the grade inputs before moving onto the next? Why can’t this be more like grade entry in excel of Bb?

Happy thought: It’s so nice being able to actually not turn in paper ADW’s and paper grades despite a few hiccups with the ADWs.


On Blackboard

A tip:  For the last few years, I’ve been frustrated by the fact that in the upper left hand drop down toggle menu (the one that toggles between your courses), my most recent courses were not my most recent.  In fact, it seemed like the Bb gods had chosen the most useless, arbitrary combination of courses to display thereby making my search for my current courses an adventure every time.  But I got an answer from Bb after waiting for nearly 2 years.  Here it is if this affects you.  It works.

Go into Settings (you can get there by clicking on your name).  Then click on Personalize my settings and enter a number of days for which you want to see courses.  I did 365 and that seemed to work.  Now you’ll only those the courses you’ve accessed in that period of time.


On copies

I’ll save this for another day.  Enjoy this lovely brisk fall Saturday.


To GradesFirst or not to GradesFirst…that is the question

Where do you stand on early alerts such as GradesFirst?  Do you buy into it or do you hold one of the following (albeit not mutually exclusion nor exhaustive positions)?

1. Faculty know their students best.  Classes are structured to provide students with mechanisms for support.  Syllabi, classroom discourse and office hours allow faculty to keep their finger on the pulse of their students.

2. This is college.  Students need to take responsibility.  If they are not succeeding, they need to seek help (assuming they know where they stand).

3.  It is our role as faculty to reach out to students in need, since many may not know that such support is available.

This post comes in response to the e-mail sent by Kojo this morning.  If you missed it, here’s the info about this GradesFirst campaign. Note that the language in the student e-mails has changed.   Also note that the term “progress report” is being thrown around.  This is the term used within GradesFirst, but doesn’t it feel like high school?  Perhaps it’s just my connotation of that word, to echo the previous post.

Please take some time before February 13th to click the link in this email and submit Progress Reports for students in your classes. This process is referred to as an early alert and is part of our 16 week case management advising strategy. We are using the student support system – GradesFirst – to further connect students, faculty, advisors, and tutors to facilitate student success.

I ask you to identify students who are in need of support to succeed in your class.

After you submit a progress report indicating that a student is “at risk”, two things will occur:

1. The student will receive an email, with the subject line: We are concerned about your progress in class. The email advises students to seek support.

2. The assigned college advisor will receive a notification that students in their caseload have been sent progress reports. The advising center will then follow up with those students via phone, email, or text within 48 hours.

You can log into GradesFirst at any point in the semester, after the campaign ends, to initiate your own individual progress reports. The campaign mode is designed to make it easy for faculty across the District to submit reports early in the term.

If you have any questions, please reach out to the Associate Dean of Student Services at your college for assistance.


Kojo Quartey

Feel free to comment anonymously.  In typing this post, I have not committed to one side or another (or another).  But I am curious about how others feel?  This isn’t the first conversation about GradesFirst. See here and here.

Are you experiencing this?

Since the lounge is somewhat inactive at the moment, I figured I’d take this opportunity to ask the Blackboard users on the lounge a question.  Perhaps this could become a weekly feature.  Tech Musings or something.  Anyhow, I’d consider myself a competent Bb user.  I’ve noticed an interesting quirk.  The new service pack added in the much needed quick course-to-course navigation. (To the right of the grey home/house button in the picture below.)

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 2.11.13 PM


However, check out this picture.

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 1.08.58 PM

Notice that the most recent courses are not my courses from this semester, nor are the first 4 other courses.  Is anyone else experiencing this?  I’m going to do my homework over the next few days and try logging in on other computers, but I figured I’d ask all of you as well.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Thanks.  Feel free to air other Bb related questions here.