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Recently, I co-authored an article, BITS Program: Why 94% of Participants Share With Their Peers, with Leonardo Tissot, with E-Learn Magazine. It was fun to capture feedback from a couple of our BITS webinar frequent attendees.


Here are two of their quotes:


"All this boundary-free, Blackboard-specific information is really not readily available anywhere else."

John T. Thompson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor Emeritus

Buffalo State College


"I love how each webinar I’ve attended has a balance of technology and pedagogy. With each webinar, I not only become a better Blackboard user, I become a better teacher as well."

Graceful Beam

Assistant Dean, Advisor, and Instructor

Georgia Northwestern Technical College


I encourage you to read the rest of the article - I promise it's short, sweet, and to the point!


Enjoy :-)


Thank you Szymon Machajewski for providing us with answers to the two questions we couldn't get to at the end of last week's webinar!

Here they are...



How do you integrate or modify gaming when you have a student with a learning disability or IEP without sacrificing the experience for the other students?

Accommodations and compliance with accessibility requirements are an ongoing process for anyone who is teaching with technology.  Anyone who claims they have it already figured out hasn't yet realized the breadth and the depth of human disabilities.  Accessibility of web applications has a firm foundation in WECAG and such Blackboard products as Ally.  So, any of the features I discussed in Blackboard Learn, such as adaptive release or badges, would be covered by the vendor's efforts toward WECAG.  When instructors are engaged and facilitate immersive feedback, dealing with accommodations is easier, because the instructor is present and attentive.



What other non-grade rewards do you recommend?

Non-grade rewards support self-determination theory with autonomy, purpose, and mastery.  This has a potential to tap into intrinsic motivation. Rewards can be divided into announced ahead of time, and announced after the action is completed.  Rewards that students know about may change their behavior to optimize for the reward.  For example, giving XP for completion of a mission/challenge motivates to finish the activity, perhaps at the expense of other activities.  The example of Course Reports game would work best if after a week of an online course the instructor gives an award announcing the most active student according to the click report.  A repeated reward of the same type would not be given.  The "now that you did this, here is the reward, which you didn't know about" type is a great way to motivate the search for positive behaviors without specific rewards.


Some rewards can be social in nature and some can be more tangible.  A Blackboard achievement (or badge) can be tangible and exported to Mozilla Open Backpack.  Recognizing a student by name in front of the class during lecture may be a social reward.  If active learning is used in the class, than calling out the winners of a question by name may be sufficient and not related to a grade. 


Extra credit tends to be a "go-to" reward for many.  However, it is linked to grades and may undermine intrinsic motivation.  In my class I call extra credit "Peace of Mind Points".  I evaluate PofM to a value of a single question on the exams.  If you earn 1 PofM you can get a question on the exam wrong.  This helps to mitigate anxiety.  This way, the PofM are connected to student experience and not directly to a grade.  It may seem like a small difference, but it tells a completely different story.  Other rewards may be a pizza a student buys with XP for the class or LinkedIn recommendation by the instructor.  You should come up with your own rewards, that's the fun part that engages the instructor. The engagement of the instructor is reciprocated by the students.



Blackboard Catalyst Awards – Now accepting nominations!

Blackboard is focused on highlighting customer successes and raising awareness throughout the educational industry by celebrating achievements and milestones. Our community centers on educators and administrators who are passionate about using technology in education and collaborating on best practices.

The Blackboard Catalyst Awards are an opportunity to celebrate these accomplishments and help raise the standard for the entire industry. Please click on the link below to review the categories and submit your nomination by May 8, 2017.

We are excited to share your achievements!

I'm excited to have Brian Morgan with us on Thursday to share his tips on personalizing online learning for students!


Think for a moment about your higher education experiences as a student:

  • How did you best absorb material from your classes?
  • How did course materials and lectures help you get the most out of a course?
  • What resources provided by the instructors helped you study for exams?


I reviewed Brian's presentation today and he's got some great things to share with you!

I hope to see you there...


You have a unique point of view in your role at your institution. And we want to learn from you!

We're looking for real-world case studies, unique research, best practices, and creative perspectives that can inspire and guide attendees - your peers.

I would LOVE for us to have a great representation of our BITS Community giving presentations this year.

You may be asking, "What's in it for me?"

  • Receive discounted registration fee
  • Share your knowledge with other educators
  • Help shape teaching and learning worldwide


Download the submission guide for information on session types, program themes, how to submit, FAQs, and more!


And then submit your presentation proposal here>>

Good luck!



P.S. Don't wait - the deadline to submit is February 24, 2017

Here's a friendly reminder to register for the upcoming Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series (BITS) Lunch 'n Learn webinar titled:

Effective strategies to prevent cheating in distance learning courses

February 9 at 2:00 pm EST

Presented by Schoolcraft College (MI) instructional designers:


You'll come away with proven ways to prevent cheating from happening in your distance learning course!

Register here>>


Interested in strengthening and refining your online teaching and learning skills? Would you like to be Blackboard Learn certified? Now is the time!

Maximize your online teaching and learning skill set by signing up for our most popular certifications:


The courses are streamlined, and certification is available in as little as six weeks.

Some of the benefits you can expect from certification are: 

  • Boost student engagement
  • Improve course quality
  • Increase your comfort with Blackboard technology


You can purchase your seat with a credit card or purchase order. If you are using a PO, please contact your Blackboard Account Representative before registering or contact for assistance. 



Want to discover more about the Ultra experience? We've recently created some quick 2 minute videos for our clients to view regarding Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Collaborate with the Ultra experience. You'll definitely want to watch these! So, grab a cup of coffee and take a 10 minute break



Thank you so much to Eric Chiang from FAU, Shakira Johnson from UT San Antonio, Manju Bhat from Winston Salem University and DeAnna Kirchen from Santiago Canyon College for your time in presenting content in our week-long BITS sessions. If you missed the sessions, you can view them here.


Also, please take our survey to let us know what you would like to see going forward. You could win a $5 Starbucks e-card.


Integrating media into Blackboard

Eric Chiang


Increase engagement and improve student outcomes

Shakira Johnson


Connecting Blackboard to online resources

Manju Bhat


How to eat an apple? One bite at a time.

DeAnna Kirchen

Thank you, again, to Kevin Lowey and Corrie Bergeron for your discussion today in the BITS session "Why can they print? An online discussion". If you missed the session, you can download the slides or view the recording now. View the Blackboard Collaborate recording.


Keep an eye out for an invitation to the May sessions. We're going to have a full week's worth of content featuring institutions discussing their best practices in course content using publisher integrations.

Thank you to those of you who were able to join us for the session on February 25 with Bryant University to talk about two courses designed for Student Success and Campus Safety. The recording is now available here.

Thanks to everyone who joined us yesterday for the launch of the Higher Ed BITS session. Lisa Clark and Carey Smouse knocked it out of the park! If you missed the session - or if you just want to catch up with their awesomeness - you can watch the recording here.


Keep an eye out for details about the the February session, coming soon. When the details are finalized, we'll post it here as well as send you email. So, stay tuned ...