Online Fellows

Laura hosted our first training on Friday &emdash; we’re an eclectic bunch. I wish I could snoop on everyone’s classes, great topics. 🙂 The most humorous moment was when I was asked, “Who is a Dark Ally?” “Someone who is friends with a person who wants electric sparks to fly out of computer keyboards to keep students in line.” A colleague’s (teasing) comment brought to mind the image of the Y2K bug. (Not only an interesting bunch of characters, but a range of pedagogies as well!) 🙂
Blackboard is much fancier than it used to be. (I didn’t ask, why does the University say we’re using WebCT but the software itself says Blackboard?) I made a start at designing (“building”) my course and learning about the range of options. I’m excited at the potential of being able to return to what students’ have written in order to examine our own (online) processes of interpersonal communication. Hopefully, by learning to recognize ourselves, students will develop the skills to recognize differences and then &emdash; instead of writing the differences off as “misunderstanding” &emdash; be able to strategize about repairs, accommodations, and other strategies for communicating, interpersonally, across a range of differences: cultural, socioeconomic class, gender/sexual orientation, etc.
In addition to personalized, technical support, the text, recommended by Associate Dean Dr. Robert Feldman, is useful. Much of it is elementary (crucial for first-timers!). For me, it is a refresher as well as a resource. I’ve gleaned some new ideas from the authors (Susan Ko and Steve Rossen), as well as a ton of intriguing links.
For instance, it’s about time I started playing with constructing my own webpages, perhaps through Composer. The ideas for audio might be dated (Labtec) &emdash; podcasting isn’t mentioned. I think Todd’s recommendation of Gcast beats the options in the text. There are streaming options (I already have QuickTime, but not Producer and RealSlideShow), I need to confirm for myself that these are what one needs to use to generate the video that one might upload to, for instance, youtube. I want to check out the animation tools also &emdash; another skill that would enhance the video presentations I do on sign language interpreting (so visual!) Not to mention online virtual labs and simulations. hehehe

2 thoughts on “Online Fellows”

  1. Your question about the WebCT/Blackboard branding is a good one – I’d meant to touch on it during the session.
    Blackboard bought WebCT in late 2005 and is currently in the process of rebranding the WebCT line of products. We use a WebCT product, so our staff tend to refer to it as WebCT. There are places in the program code where changing the company name is easy, and places where it is much less so. This leads to situations where different pages list different company names.
    In an effort to avoid this kind of confusion in the future, we are coming up with our own name for the online course system we use. The name will remain the same regardless of which system we use in the future, or which company buys what other company, etc.

  2. Hey Laura, thanks. That makes sense. So, the curriculum that we develop for our courses will be copyrighted under the new “global” name for all UMass online programs? Bet you can’t answer this…a variation of this question came up during the workshop, too.

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