LearningStudio Threaded Discussions Enhancements

New features just launched in Pearson LearningStudio Threaded Discussions Preferences!

Enhancements and changes:

  • New features added to the Threaded Discussion Preferences found in Course Admin.
    Threaded Discussion Preferences

    • Hide topics from students for all Threaded Discussions
      • Settings can be enabled at both course-level as a default and also at topic level (override)
      • Course-level and topic-level settings will be duped if course copy tool is utilized.
    • Post first: The instructor has the ability to require students to respond to a given topic prompt prior to seeing the responses by their peers.
      • Settings can be enabled at both course-level as a default and also at topic level (override)
      • Course-level and topic-level settings will be duped if course copy tool is utilized.
    • Display number of responses for a topic: A message count for a topic is displayed for both instructors and students.
      • This feature can be enabled/disabled at the Course Admin level.

Threaded Discussion preferences (and other course admin settings) will be copied over when using the Course Copy tool

Instructor View from “Add Topic” screen from Author for Threaded Discussion

Instructor View from "Add Topic" screen from Author for Threaded Discussion

Course View of Threads (Instructor and Student)

Course View of Threads (Instructor and Student)

The Threaded Discussion Preferences page has been updated on our website to reflect these new enhancements.

LearningStudio Gradebook Enhancements (Instructor)

The Pearson LearningStudio Gradebook enhancements launched today!

The enhancements includes the following: (select links below for feature descriptions)

Gradebook how-to documents and videos have been updated on our website to reflect these new enhancements.

Watch a video recording of the December 11th webinar on the enhancements.

More webinars will be offered in January on these enhancements. View the full schedule on our website.

LearningStudio Gradebook Enhancement Announcement

An early enhancement to the Pearson LearningStudio Gradebook just launched!

Email & Expand/Collapse Comments from within the Gradebook

New Grade Detail View: allows instructors to send an email directly from the gradebook and expand/collapse the comments window. The Grade Detail view appears when you select a student name from an assignment in the gradebook or dropbox, or when you select a student score/grade.

Selecting the Email button will open a separate window to compose and send an email to the student directly from the gradebook.

Grade Details View: Email and Expand or Collapse Comments window

Selecting the new Comments button from within the Grade Details View will expand the comments box

Click the Comments button to expand the window to provide comments and feedback to the students.

Performance improvements:
Previously, when any data was changed, all of the data on the screen would refresh. Now, only the data that was changed is refreshed, reducing the data load on the servers.

Performance for courses with a large number of enrollments is improved, mitigating timeouts for programs offering large courses.

What enhancements are coming December 16th?

We anticipate the launch of the features below to be December 16, 2013.

  • Send email directly from an assignment view in the Gradebook
  • User Interface changes
  • Auto scoring
  • Assign Zero grade for work not submitted
  • Hide Item Summary
  • Rubrics: Build and Assess

We will continue to offer webinars December 11 and in January on these enhancements. View the full schedule on our website.

Documentation and detailed information about the gradebook enhancements will be sent next week.

Request Your Spring 2014 LearningStudio Course Shells

TCU faculty, it’s that time again!

Request A Shell
Faculty* will go to http://www.my.tcu.edu to make requests. A new, blank course shell will be created as a result of this request.

If you are team teaching, please have the lead faculty member request your course (and any additional sections) to prevent duplicate requests.

Use the HOW TO INSTRUCTIONS to walk you through the new process.

*Only faculty assigned to a course may make the request. Please use Class Search for class information and to confirm your assignment. If you find that you are not assigned to your course, please contact your department.

More information is available on the Koehler Center website.

Online Exams in Pearson LearningStudio

First, a secret: although this task goes by the moniker “exam,” you can use a exam content item to give much lower-stakes assessments like weekly quizzes or reading checks. (Hey, I didn’t promise you it would be a juicy secret, did I?)

I’m addressing online exams today as a result of reading a very informative post about online quizzes from the Academic Technology blog at the College of William and Mary. They are a Blackboard school, so the post discusses quizzes in Blackboard – but all of their wise words are equally true for Pearson LearningStudio users here at TCU.

In particular, they list five reasons to use online quizzes: 1) Flipping the classroom’s low-hanging fruit; 2) Easier than clickers; 3) Students do a lot for a few points; 4) Instant gratification; and 5) Self-scoring. I’d encourage you to go and read their supporting points for each reason.

I’d like to address points 1 & 5, however. Using class time efficiently and in a manner that honors each student’s current abilities is always challenging; this is doubly true for prep time. Online quizzes / exams / reading checks give you the opportunity to move the less interactive pieces of instruction out of the classroom, meaning that you can devote your time with the students to more robust and individualized active learning experiences. After all, waiting for that last handful of students to finish their quizzes means that the rest of the class is, well, waiting.

But if I move items online, will students cheat? They key is asking some questions that go beyond rehashing the reading. What would another scholar say about the reading? What piece of evidence did the authors use? What piece of evidence – had it been found – would have falsified or strongly supported the argument? Why did the authors say they did x, y, z? What will happen if a, b, c are not present? Perhaps, in conjunction with your question design, you decide to let students consult course materials in some instances. In this case, you might stress that, while the exam is open book / note, your questions really require students to have read and thought about the content in advance. Of course, no one wants students to treat an exam or quiz as a scavenger hunt through the text. Yet, if students are consulting the reading in order to engage with your well-written, high-quality question, that seems like a reasonable scholarly pursuit.

The LearningStudio exam set-up also has the ability to pull from a question pool (so not all students will see the same questions), to randomize questions (so not all students will see the questions in the same order), to display one question per page, to prevent students from navigating back to earlier questions, to prevent / allow re-takes, and to set a time limit on the exam.

You can, indeed, have LearningStudio auto-grade the exams and auto-post the scores in the gradebook (on that last topic, this is one of our most commonly asked questions regarding exams and the gradebook). Note that you can also have LearningStudio grade the multiple-choice, true / false, and matching questions on an exam and then you can go in and grade the short answer or essay questions. Thus, you might have a two-part question in which the first part requires an answer that can be auto-graded, and the second part asks students to explain why they selected that answer. Bam! Two question reading quiz: done! The larger point, though, is that online exams need not be a fully auto-pilot enterprise: there are options for students to explain their reasoning and for professors to score those elements individually.

Intrigued? Check out our how-to documentation on LearningStudio exams. We also have video guidance on all aspects of LearningStudio exam use. For example, here’s the video on creating exams:

Tutorials: Show us How it’s Done

Here’s hoping your first week has gone smoothly!

To keep things running well, I wanted to share a few tutorial options with you. Linking to or embedding a brief tutorial can be really helpful for introducing students to new technologies, procedures, tools, or other course-related items.

For example, suppose you are requiring students to use a LearningStudio feature with which they may be unfamiliar. Perhaps you’ve explained it in class – and even given a demonstration. But what happens when the deadline approaches and students go to post or submit items and things just aren’t jelling for them? Embedded LearningStudio video tutorials to the rescue!

“Great,” you say, “but my issue is with specialized software / lab equipment / physical actions. My students need to do these things just so.” Time to become a virtual expert and an on-call resource for your students. That is, you can create your own tutorial that students can call up as needed. We’ve reviewed Learnist and Instructables; we’ve also covered ShowMe and SnapGuide.

Better yet, why not have your students create tutorials to teach each other? Of course, there’s a case to be made for you, the instructor, creating tutorials in situations where safety or a lack of specialized knowledge would present a true barrier. But in situations where students could safely and reasonably figure out and then teach each other various aspects of the subject at hand, why not let them? There are a myriad of benefits to this active learning approach: the act of having to teach a concept can help students clarify their own thinking, students are likely to pay close attention to their peers, and successes or mis-steps in the tutorials provide both an authentic opportunity to gauge student learning and some great discussion fodder.

It’s true, students might produce tutorials with misinformation or misleading conclusions. Sharing control of the class can be messy sometimes. In cases where the tutorials aren’t of the quality you’d like, you can then help the students in question – and the rest of the class – discover what might work better. Tutorials don’t have to be right; they just have to be memorable. Doing things incorrectly, generating negative results, or demonstrating a failed reaction are all pretty memorable and, thus, valuable learning experiences. (We’ve written about learning from failure, too. You can think of those sub-standard tutorials as really efficient learning experiences.)

Sample tutorials might include: how to use statistical software to calculate various functions, greetings in a foreign language based on different ages / genders / group size, how to search specialized databases, different techniques for measuring a key course component, etc.

Let us know if you’re using tutorials or considering using them!

Request your summer 2013 LearningStudio course shells

Now accepting summer 2013 Pearson LearningStudio course shells requests!

The request process is directly linked to faculty assignments with the Registrar.

Step 1: Request Shell

Faculty* will go to http://www.my.tcu.edu to make requests. A new, blank course shell will be created as a result of this request.  Use the HOW TO INSTRUCTIONS to walk through the process.

Deadlines: Courses requested after May 6th are not guaranteed to be ready for the first day of class.

*Only faculty assigned to a course may make the request. Please use Class Search for class information and to confirm your assignment. If you find that you are not assigned to your course, please contact your department.

Step 2: Wait for Enrollment Email

Once requested, Koehler Center staff will process the request and enroll professors and teaching assistants.

Beginning summer 2013, faculty enrollments and student enrollments will process at the same time via an automated process. Once enrolled, an email will be sent to faculty members notifying them the enrollment has processed. TA enrollments are still a manual process, so there will be a slight delay for processing.

Step 3: Copy Content

You will be notified via email when your course shell(s) are ready. If you previously had a Pearson LearningStudio course shell, you can use the Faculty Copy Tool to copy all or part of any existing course content into your new course shell.