Where's Wally (or Waldo) ? Why Structure is Important in Blackboard Sites.
Presentation at the 10th April, 2013 Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference. For more information contact Rob.Howe@northampton.ac.uk
11:00 – 11:45The results of the National Student Survey (NSS) and internal surveys are indicating increasing student confusion in the way that some Blackboard sites have been structured - leading to problems finding content. Following a period of consultation, The University of Northampton introduced a common structure in 2012 and will use this session to reflect on the process of agreeing the template and then subsequent site audits which checked for the existence of minimum content. Discussions are now underway to look at higher levels of quality within Blackboard sites. Students are now reflecting on the value of the structures and staff are making requests for changes to the structure for the 2013/14 cohort.
MauritsCornelis Escher (pron.: /ˈɛʃər/, Dutch: [ˈmʌurɪtskɔrˈneːlɪs ˈɛʃər] ( listen); 17 June 1898 – 27 March 1972), usually referred to as M. C. Escher, was a Dutch graphic artist. He is known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. These feature impossible constructions, explorations of infinity, architecture, and tessellations.
Where is wally
Wheres Wally (or Waldo) ?Why Structure is Important inBlackboard SitesName: Rob HoweDate: 10th April, 2013 http://www.flickr.com/photos/sinsiwinsi /2055036353/
What is a Wally ?• wally• Pronunciation: /wali/• Definition of wally• noun (plural wallies)• British informala silly or inept person: I must have looked a total Wally but I didn’t care• Origin:• 1960s: perhaps a shortened form of the given name Walter. There are many theories of the origin: one story tells of a Wally who became separated from companions at a 1960s pop festival; the name, announced many times over a loudspeaker, was taken up as a chant by the crowd• http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/wally A Character in a chain of books who hides among the pages... (in America see: Waldo) http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=wally http://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/5846115985/ 2
Wally‟s Top Ten guide to creatingBlackboard sitesKey principles:•Students have it too easy•They like a challenge•Don‟t make it too easy to find Wally 3
#10 - The Escher SiteKey principles:Students are sent round and roundwithout actually getting anywhereWally is never found ! http://www.flickr.com/photos/williamcromar/5230835657/ 4
#9 – The one click siteKey principles:Everything on one pagePoor labelling of contentWally will be the 300th item on the last page http://www.flickr.com/photos/verbatim/295643968/ 5
#8 – The camouflage siteKey principles:Poor colour combinationsWally is well hidden in the content http://www.flickr.com/photos/razvanradu/3960121586/ Wally Tip: Use red / green combinations for maximum effect with colour blindness. 6
#7 – The Russian doll siteKey principles:Content within contentWally will be found in the 15th embeddedfolder 7
#6 – The minimalistic siteKey principles:No content (or at least none of any value)Wally is not going to be found anywhere 8
#5 – The overloaded siteKey principles:Lots of irrelevant contentReading List with 100s of itemsWally could be in somewhere in the mess 9
#4 – The Las Vegas siteKey principles:Gaudy graphics (exploring course themes ?)Poorly resized graphicsStudents are distracted whilst looking forWally 10
#3 – The Spaghetti Junction siteKey principles:Many routes – badly signpostedNot all routes will lead to Wally Wally Tip: Ensure that you show links even if there is no content 11
#2 – The Outer Mongolian siteKey principles:Obscure file typesYou won‟t have the right program toaccess Wally Wally Tip: Raise stress levels by testing students on the content 12
#1 – The Crazy Mirror siteKey principles:There are reflections of documents thatare all slightly different versionsWhich Wally is the right one ? 13
The Northampton approach....2011 – Consulted on standard items to include in a Blackboard site2012 – First implementation of new site template for modules and courses2013 – Audit, review and redesign of template 14
Results of the audit10% of sites were audited. Key points for action noted:• Organisation • Idiosyncratic • Empty content areas • Variation caused student confusion• Assessments • Details may be spread over several buttons / guides• Reading List • May be found in a Word guide or linked from the site• Updating • Some sites with little / no content • Some with old content• Format of materials • Inconsistency in versions of files (particularly with many tutors) • Font colours not always accessible• Contact details • Some details had been entered for the core teams only 15
Benefits of a consistent templateTutors have clear guidance on what to includeTutors have contextual helpBetter use of institutional tools (e.g. TalisAspire) “An effort has been made to present transparent readableStudents will know how to find content material/s and attractive layouts.”Less time spent searching – more time beingefficiently usedLess confusion over contentAccessibility benefits “easy to navigate and search for the information needed for myStudents notice the difference….. assignment..” “The new NILE is very stream lined and a massive improvement from earlier "models". Very user friendly and has all the info needed- 16 including grades-on this single page. Brilliant!”
Beyond the foundation template.... In development.....Level Focus Key featuresFoundation Delivery • Absolute minimum expected • Course information • Learning materialsIntermediate Participation In addition to „Delivery‟: • Online participation designed into the course. • Tasks provide meaningful formative scaffold. • Online participation encouraged and moderated, but not essential for achievement of learning outcomes.Advanced Collaboration In addition to „Delivery‟: • Regular learner input designed into course & essential throughout. • Participative tasks provide meaningful scaffold to formative and summative assessment. • Collaborative knowledge construction central to a productive learning environment. 17
Wally‟s Top 5 Tips 1) Work through your sites as a student would 2) Align the site with standard designs 3) Layout your site with a logical structure 4) List only the items which students really need 5) You have control – don‟t waste the opportunity Don‟t be a Wally (unless your name is Walter) Rob „Wally‟ Howe Rob.email@example.com 18