Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Advanced eSkills Workshop - Manipulating the Gradebook, Course Statistics and the Dashboard

Workshop Session PresentationThe Elevate Team ran its first workshop session as part of the Advanced eSkills for eLearning initiative for staff at UCS.  The session was titled "Manipulating the Gradebook, Course Statistics and the Dashboard to meet your needs", seven members of staff attended the workshop, which I didn't think was too bad considering the time of year with exams and marking being high on the agenda.

I took the opportunity at the start of the session to show the attendees how to deploy a survey, every UCS module contains the official module feedback form as a survey.  A discussion ensued about how well used the online surveys were, one lecturer confirmed that they used the online survey and were getting 100% response rate.  This may have been due to the "cunning" use of the Adaptive Release feature in Blackboard, students have to complete the survey before the essay submission point becomes available.

The rest of the session was to cover the following topics:

  • Enabling Statistics for items, folders etc.

  • Viewing Statistics

  • Running module/course reports

  • Early Warning System

  • Performance Dashboard

  • Grade Centre

    • Hide/Show Columns

    • Smart Views

We moved to a more hands on approach and had the attendees follow my lead, starting with enabling/disabling statistics for items, folders, survey etc. and then moving on to how you can view those statistics.  Depending on the module, course or community that is being used, the criteria may need to be modified.  For a normal module, you should be able to select length of the module with no issues, but for some course and community areas, the criteria may need to be narrowed down due to the number of users on that area.  Sometimes the statistics have been known to time out if there are a large number of users and the date criteria is also covering a wide range.

Next we looked at how to run module/course wide reports for a number of activities.  We spent some time going through each of the reports, again mentioning the possible issues with the criteria and why they may need to change that criteria.  Once a few of the attendees had run some reports, we moved to the Early Warning System.
The Early Warning System is a rule-driven communication tool that sends email messages to Students and their Observers when the criteria for the rule is triggered. Rules can be based upon a test score, a due date, or Course access. Each notification message is fully customizable. A notification log is created for each student who receives a Early Warning message.

The above is Blackboard description of the Early Warning System, we went through and created a rule to pull through students that hadn't accessed the module area with a set number of days.  We then looked at how the system can notifications to those picked out by the rule.  A quick discussion was had regarding the types of rules that could be created, and a quick look at the Performance Dashboard.

One area that is heavily used within Wolsey is the Grade Centre, most lecturers use this feature due to the number of online submissions being made at UCS.  Although this is currently being done, there is little knowledge of what can actually be done via the Grade Centre, rather than just adding grades or feedback.

First off we had a look at hiding columns to tidy up the view, especially if areas have a number of quizzes, assessments etc.  The Elevate Team has noticed a growing number of problems where lecturers are choosing to hide a column from their Grade Centre view rather than hiding the column from the students' My Grades view.  This has led to a number of issues so we spent 10 minutes discussion what should be made unavailable from the students' view whilst waiting for grades to be ratified.  We went through the complete process from initial creation of the submission area to releasing the grades.

After this we had a look at Smart Views, how they can be used and how to create them, this was the area that created the most buzz in the room.  Many of the lecturers mark work from other modules, usually they are given a group or selection of students rather than them all.  They could really see the benefit in creating a smart view of just the students that they need to mark, and how they could also just include the column of the assessment they were working with.  Saving them having to sometimes scroll through hundreds of students with many columns in the Grade Centre.

So, overall a good session, the attendees had quite a mix of skills and knowledge of Wolsey, we sometimes had to skip back to more basic elements, but it was a useful session for all involved.

This workshop will become part of the stand alone Elevate staff development programme.

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