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Community Corner

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Today wraps-ups the second of the Community Enhancement blog series where we share following improvements that complete our community refresh. You will see the larger changes to the home page and content look and feel go-live starting Friday, December 15th and continuing through the end of 2017.


Simplified global navigation & Improved Layouts

Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 4.28.53 PM.png


  • We've revised the navigation to make it easier to find forums, user groups, product information, ideas, programs as well as information that you're accessing the most.
  • We've redesigned the community home page and several popular forum home pages to better guide you to the content you're most interested in
  • We've added a custom search to various areas such as the home page and forums to make it easier to look up information
Consolidated two forumsHomepageScreen Shot 2017-12-08 at 4.41.45 PM.pngEducators PageScreen Shot 2017-12-08 at 4.49.53 PM.pngInstructional Designer PageScreen Shot 2017-12-08 at 4.50.54 PM.png
  • We've combined Educators and Instructional Designers into a new forum called Teaching & Learning.
  • We brought together two forums who have a similar audience in order to consolidate information. This gives users the ability to access high-level information as well as specific content regarding Educators and Instructional Designers through the forums additional pages.
  • As it is a new place, you will have to follow it to stay up-to-date with its activity.
  • For those of you have both pages bookmarked, you will be automatically redirected to the new place URL.
New Content  LayoutsScreen+Shot+2017-12-05+at+2.30.12+PM.pngScreen+Shot+2017-12-05+at+2.26.39+PM.pngScreen+Shot+2017-12-05+at+2.27.36+PM.png
  • Content types now have a cleaner and more modern look that is also optimized for viewing on mobile devices.
  • Content has been redesigned to highlight the unique attributes of each type.
  • For example, you can now add header images to blog posts
  • The full width view provides an easier read experience
  • The list of Actions on the right can now be found in top-right hand corner.
  • The bread-crumbs can also be found in the top-left corner.
New Profile LayoutsScreen Shot 2017-12-12 at 1.48.15 PM.png
  • Profiles have received an upgrade and you will be able to see:
    • Instead of a photo carousel, you now see a configurable, optional banner at the top of the profile. You won't see the banner until you upload an image by clicking Add a banner.
    • Scroll down the page to find your other profile photos. They're in the Photos section under Skills. Click the thumbnails to open the full-screen photo carousel.
    • You'll see the following changes to the Profile editing tabs:
      • Your Profile is now Profile Details.
      • The Avatar & Photos tab is now an Avatar tab (which lets you select or create an avatar) and a Photos tab where you can manage additional profile photos.
    • The Follow button now appears directly to the right of the person's name instead of to the far right of the profile.
    • You can now see Rewards point totals on a clickable bar indicator to the right of the user's photo.
    • You can now write as much as you like in your profile details section because there is no limit
    • There is no Connections section and the Following, Followers and the Org Chart have their own sections.
    • A new Top Content section includes links to content authored by the profile owner, prioritized by recency, positive feedback, and number of interactions with the item. You only see this section if you published content within the last month.
    • A new Recent Activity section shows content you have interacted with most recently. You only see this section if you have been active in the community within the last month.
    • You can now find Most Liked content in the Overview section. You only see this section if you have published at least one piece of content that received at least one Like
  • As we mentioned in our first Community Enhancement blog series, we are very excited about sharing these new features and changes with you and welcome your feedback.
  • Enjoy the improvements and we hope you make the most of these modifications!

Today we start a two-part series of blogs titled Community Enhancements that describe the new changes and improvements you will see throughout the site. The first of several launches today and some of you may have seen it already.


  • New background color: We changed the sites background color for improved clarity.


  • Improved Networking Opportunities: We've made it easier to find user groups by regions and topics with the creation of the User Group Directory (launching Friday, December 8th) as well as introducing Blackboard MVP Program where the community can meet members of our MVP program and learn how it works.



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Please let us know what you think of these improvements; we welcome your feedback and would like to thank all of those who have shared their thoughts. We have considered them and hope you will see that feedback reflected in your redesigned community.

I wish those that are celebrating a Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels. We are so grateful for your honest conversations, feedback and continued participation in the Blackboard Community!


I'm exciting to announce that starting November 27th through the end of December, we will be rolling out a variety of enhancements based on feedback community users have shared with us over the last year. Specifically, we are making improvements in:


  • Design: We have a new look and feel to match our updated Blackboard branding
  • Usability:
    • Improved global navigation: we've made it easier to find forums, user groups, product information, ideas, programs as well as information that you're accessing the most.
    • Improved layouts: we've redesigned the community home page and the forum home pages to better guide you to the content you're most interested in
    • Consolidated two forums: We're combining Educators and Instructional Designers into a new forum called Teaching & Learning
    • Updated content experience: We'll move to a cleaner, more concise format for our threaded discussions, blogs, videos and profiles
    • Search: We've added a custom search to various areas such as the home page and forums to make it easier to look up information in the areas you're interested in
  • Product News: We're launching a new area in the community called Product News. Follow it to stay informed.
  • Networking: We've made it easier to find user groups by regions and topics with the creation of a new landing page for sorting and searching.


We are thrilled to witness the evolution of our community and invite you to be part of its continued success.


Thank you for your support!



Finals; exams do not come worse than these. Finals approaching might have taken you into looking for ways to ace your exams, not just any ways, but the most practical ways. Students all over the world have had several beliefs about exams and how to tackle them. Essay geeks give an insight of these superstitions. However, here are the most practical tried and tested ways to prepare for your finals.

  1. When studying, switch environments rather than sticking to one place, it goes a long way in helping you recall what you study.
  2. Test yourself as regularly as possible. This helps you to master your anxiety, plan out your time and familiarize with the paper.
  3. Organize your work station, it goes a long way in helping you recall what you study.
  4. Take a break regularly. Putting in continuous hours without a break can be detrimental to your memory, so take a break from time to time and you will be good to go.

  These tips should set you on the path to passing your finals.


Who is Blackboard?

Posted by tjatkin Nov 15, 2017

In recognition of Blackboard’s 20th anniversary this year, we launched the #IamBlackboard campaign, featuring stories and insights from Blackboard clients and employees around the globe. So, I thought I’d share my story.


I joined Blackboard in June 2016. I’m a Coast Guard veteran, a former faculty member, a former political appointee, have over 16 years experience leading the full range of IT services and responding to client needs, and #IamBlackboard.


As Blackboard’s Chief Client Officer, I’m motivated every day by 3 driving forces:


  • The power and importance of education in defining individuals and their future. I was the youngest of 5 children. My dad was a Navy pilot and we moved every 3 years. With each move, my parents picked where we would live based on what schools we would be attending. Education was the top priority (sometimes leaving dad with terrible commutes to work!). I learned from my parents, and have witnessed first hand, how the power of education can transform and shape lives.
  • The passion and commitment of Blackboard’s clients. Every faculty member, instructional designer, system administrator, CIO, provost and student or learner who I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk with since joining Blackboard has demonstrated inspiring commitment to student success. Two weeks ago at the 15th Annual SLATE conference, I was energized by the sharing of experiences, lessons learned, and innovative ideas to leverage technology to drive better outcomes.
  • The Passion and commitment of the Blackboard team. My colleagues and our partners simply rock! I’m so proud to be part of such a hard-working team that cares so deeply about making a positive difference in education, for everyone involved. This fall we completed a thorough assessment and self-reflection of how we can improve the client experience. We have work to do to achieve the world class experience that our clients deserve, and we know it.  And we’re excited about the improvements we will make. I’ll share more in the coming weeks and months as we strive for continuous improvements.


In a nutshell, I’m lucky to have a job that enables me to be part of a community that’s improving lives, and the world we live in. #IamBlackboard.  Check out other #IamBlackboard stories here.


Providing Quality Feedback

Posted by aauthier Nov 9, 2017

Another month - another episode of What's Your Problem? In this episode, we focus on best practices for providing quality feedback to online students.


Research has clearly shown us that, in order for feedback to be truly effective, it should be timely, specific, and personal – but it often seems impossible to do all three. This month, What’s Your Problem? looks into some effective ways to provide quality feedback that is timely, specific, AND personal to students in distance learning courses. Is it even possible to do all three? (Spoiler alert: it is).



Check out past episodes at our YouTube Channel. Subscribe to be notified when new episodes come out.




Adam Authier, Kaylynn Cesarz, Jason Kane

It's time for another installment of What's Your Problem? from the instructional designers at Schoolcraft College. Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne in 1989’s Batman said it best, “You want to get nuts? Let’s get nuts!” What’s Your Problem? gets a little nuts this month with a thematic episode based on the hit Discovery Channel program, Mythbusters! For our Mythbusters! episode, Adam, Jason, and Kaylynn tackle some of the common myths circling around the Distance Learning modalities and attempt to “bust” them. You know how sometimes education requires you to leave your comfort zone to accomplish something worthwhile? Well this time, we left it, like waaaaaay left it! We tried something new this time, and since we are clearly not scientists, this episode is a little out there, but we think you'll enjoy it. Just in case, though, you can always enjoy our previous nine episodes by subscribing to our YouTube Channel.




Adam Authier, Jason Kane, Kaylynn Cesarz


From 35,000 feet....

Posted by tjatkin Sep 27, 2017

As I’m writing this, I’m on a plane on my way from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles. 


I’m going to LA for a (belated) summer vacation.  Even though I’m not going for work, I’ll get to visit with my friend and fellow Blackboarder Karen Yoshino.  She’s a rock star and I’m excited to get to see her and catch up!


Because I’ve flown this airline before, I know I’ll be receiving an email with an online survey asking me about my experience.  I’ve completed their surveys in the past, and yet I’ve never seen or heard any feedback.  Did what I say matter? Did what I say influence anything about the ticketing process, notifications, boarding, the flight experience itself, how fast I get my luggage after I land?


Have you found yourself asking these questions after you’ve taken an online survey?  I, like many of you, take these surveys with faith that they’ll make a difference.


I mentioned in my blog post last week that I’d share the results of Blackboard’s annual Client Satisfaction survey.  In April 2017, over 2,000 clients participated in Blackboard’s annual Client Satisfaction survey.  Thank you for having faith. I want you to know your participation matters. These survey results help me – and everyone at Blackboard – to reflect, prioritize and plan . . . and to improve how we partner with you.


In conjunction with our research firm, we perform sophisticated statistical analyses to determine strategic areas of focus where we have room for improvement and areas that are most important to your overall satisfaction. We identified the following key areas of focus:

  • Product ease-of-use
  • Ease of integrating with other systems and tools
  • Ease of doing business with Blackboard
  • Proactive communications


We are paying close attention to your inputs, and we are laser focused on improvements in these areas.


Product ease-of-use
The design language we call Ultra has dramatically improved ease of use within Blackboard Collaborate and our newest mobile apps, and we are working diligently to drive faster continued adoption of Ultra design across all our products. We know there is always room to improve and we will continue to add features to our newest products, always while preserving the simplicity of the Ultra design.


Ease of integrating with other systems and tools
We’re addressing this priority in two important ways.  First, we’re working diligently to better integrate the end-user experience across Blackboard products. For example, the Blackboard app for mobile devices provides a seamless user experience across Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Collaborate. Additionally, we continue to work to improve both the ease and depth of integration of our products within your larger technology ecosystem. Examples of this work include our continuing expansion of REST APIs available through the Blackboard Developer Portal and our ongoing support for standards-based integration through our participation and leadership in the IMS Global community.  We pledge to continue to improve the ease and variety of integrations supported in Learn and our other platforms.


Ease of doing business with Blackboard
When it comes to "doing business with Blackboard," we are pursuing improvements across all facets of the Client Experience. We will soon be concluding a large internal system consolidation and upgrade that will allow us to streamline the quoting, contracting, and invoicing processes. We’ve expanded accessibility of resources in places like, the Community Site, and Behind the Blackboard. Between these and other improvements, such as the improved reach of our Client Success team, we will strive to be the best partner to you that we can be.


Proactive communication
At BbWorld this summer, we worked hard to create open forums for transparent and honest conversations about every aspect of our work. For those who were able to participate, we appreciate your candid insights.  The launch of the CCO blog is another step in our effort to support a two-way dialogue, to ensure we can understand your perspective and proactively share information.  We’re continuing to identify additional areas where we can improve our communications with you.


Beyond those key areas identified for improvement, the survey recognized improvements between 2016 and 2017 in a number of areas. We are pleased that clients are experiencing greater satisfaction overall, and seeing sharp improvements in:

  • Satisfaction in adoption of Blackboard products at your institution
  • The value of Blackboard events and networking opportunities with other Blackboard clients
  • Blackboard’s thought leadership within the education sector
  • Satisfaction with Blackboard Student Services
  • Scalability of Blackboard solutions
  • Depth of functionality of Blackboard solutions


At Blackboard, we are extremely proud of our nearly 3,000 professionals around the world, and we believe these improvements in the survey results reflect the hard work of our employees and teams over the past year. A few examples of our employees' work include the continuous delivery of improvements to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Learn SaaS, and a renewed focus on client programs such as User Groups, Catalyst Awards, Exemplary Course Program, Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series, Tech Previews, Cohorts, and this Community site.


We know the results are more than numbers. They represent the very real daily, weekly, and monthly impact we have on people around the world – the impact we have on you.  We want to continue to hear from you in our annual survey, and as importantly, throughout the year. I encourage you to continue the conversation here on the Community Site and via other forums.


In future blog posts, I will continue to share information about work we’re doing to improve our work in areas identified through the annual survey.


How do we listen to you?

Posted by tjatkin Sep 20, 2017

Several weeks ago, I sat in Blackboard's Curie conference room (named for Marie Curie, the famed researcher, double Nobel prize winner, and first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris) and listened to the results of our Client Satisfaction survey, an annual survey we conduct to better understand how we’re meeting our clients’ needs.  As I listened to the different data points – the highs, the lows, the trends, and the areas of focus - I thought of:


  • the Online Campus leader who emailed Bill Ballhaus and me with ideas of how we can improve our efforts to support his university;
  • the Associate Provost who sat next to me in a listening session at BbWorld, and shared her team’s concerns;
  • the Instructional Designer and the System Administrator (from different universities) who I talked with for 3 hours at the House of Blues party in New Orleans after BbWorld; I got to know them as caring, engaged and fun education professionals – and we never even “talked shop;”
  • the Professor Emeritus who reached out to me via email as she didn't know where to turn for help;
  • my neighbor who is a kindergarten assistant at a Blackboard client county system; and
  • my nephew who uses Blackboard in school.


I realized the survey results represent not just these individuals, but their teams, their colleagues, their peers, and their classmates. The survey results are more than numbers. They represent the very real daily, weekly, and monthly impact we have on people around the world – the impact we have on you.


The survey results help me, and everyone at Blackboard, to understand the individual stories, challenges, needs, and desires in a more holistic way. The survey results help us reflect, prioritize, and plan.


Previously, Blackboard had sporadically obtained client feedback via survey tools.  In 2015, we committed to an annual survey cycle across all of our clients to better inform our work.  Next week, I will share a summary of our annual Client Satisfaction survey taken in April, 2017.


When you read the survey summary, you'll likely see elements that reflect your experience with Blackboard. You'll also see that other people and institutions may have competing needs and desires. Keeping with our conviction about the importance of transparency as a cornerstone of partnership, we will be sharing these results because we believe it will strengthen our dialogue.


Stay tuned. And thank you for taking the time to read my first blog post in my role as Blackboard's Chief Client Officer. I look forward to our conversation.



The full blog post by Eric Kunnen is available here.


Based on a project request from faculty involved in the Pew FTLC Strong Start Initiative, a class photo roster feature has been implemented in Blackboard to enhance personal connections between faculty and students.


The Strong Start Initiative, led by Pew FTLC Faculty Fellow Tom Pentecost, focuses faculty attention on best practices for engaging students in first-year undergraduate courses and important aspects of the college experience vital to student success.

The Strong Start Initiative highlighted the importance of making it a priority to learn students’ names and calling them by name as a recommendation for improving student success, along with being more approachable as a faculty member.

Read the blog post about the Blackboard Class Photo Roster ...

You waited all summer for it, and your wait is over. That’s right, Season 3 of What’s Your Problem? is here. Our third season kicks off with an episode dedicated to Practice. Why is practice so fundamentally important to our success? Adam Authier, Jason Kane  and Kaylynn Cesarz tackle this question and offer some ways you can ensure that the practice opportunities you offer your students will prepare them for success! As always, visit our YouTube channel to view past episodes, and drop us a line anytime with questions or suggestions for future episodes!



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In Amazon’s latest push into education, the tech giant is encouraging colleges to experiment with its Echo smart speakers and add the devices to their curricula.


The company is working with Arizona State University, for instance, where it gave 1,600 Echo Dots to engineering students living in a new dorm called Tooker House.


“ASU’s main motivation was to develop an opportunity for its engineering students to gain skills in voice technology, an emerging field,” says John German, an ASU spokesperson. The engineering school at ASU has added "a little bit" of voice technology to the curriculum of three existing courses this semester, German said. However, the students who received the Echo Dots will "not at all" be required to take these courses. The dots are "literally a gift," German says.


The Amazon Alexa team “met frequently” with the university, and “offered advice,” says John Rome, ASU’s deputy chief information officer.


The company also recently set up the Amazon Alexa Fund Fellowship, which so far includes four colleges—Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Waterloo, the University of Southern California, and Johns Hopkins University. The year-long program will give selected students “funding, access to Alexa devices, and mentoring from an Alexa Science team member to develop an undergraduate or graduate curriculum around one or more of these disciplines,” according to a company blog post.


And the company is also running a research competition for universities called the Alexa Prize, in which it will dole out $2.5-million in prizes to teams developing new ideas in conversational artificial intelligence.


Amazon officials imagine a world where their devices are woven into student life, used for things like “ordering transportation and setting homework reminders,” says an Amazon spokesperson, who asked not to be named.


Phil Hill, an edtech consultant and blogger for eLiterate, says he believes Amazon is “playing the long game” with its Echo strategy, just as many big tech companies do in education.


read more ...

So you got a free Echo Dot at the BbWorld DevCon, now what?



Well, you can say "Alexa, tell me a joke", or "Alexa, tell me a cat joke", or "Alexa, tell me a Star Wars joke" ... but eventually you'll run out of the funnies.  You can buy accessories on Amazon like a pink skin or a wall mount.  If your flight got re-routed to Orleans, France, instead of New Orleans, and you didn't get the Dot, here is a way to run an emulator with just your existing Amazon account: Alexa Skill Testing Tool -

You could try the game: "Alexa, enable Blackboard Game; Alexa, open Blackboard Game"


Or you can Google "things to do with Alexa", and come up with all kinds of gems like: 10 things you should do now that you've welcomed Alexa into your life

Eventually you'll be like "ok, Google".


So why not integrate your Dot with the Blackboard Community site to hear only the unanswered yet questions or latest discussions?


Steps to enable Bb Community in Flash Briefing.


You can say: "Alexa, enable Bb Community News Feeds".


or follow these steps:


1. Login to the Alexa app on a mobile device or

2. Go to skills and find "Bb Community News Feeds"

3. Go to Settings -> Flash Briefing

4. Select the section of the site you want to hear about: Unanswered Questions, Discussions, Announcements.

5. Say: "Alexa, give me the news"


You may need to configure your Dot for English (U.S.) to listen to this skill.  The custom flash briefing skill doesn't have the U.K. option yet.  Plus, in U.K. English things are misspelled and pronounced funny.  Probably a bug, ex: centre, theatre, defence, organise, etc.


By the way, this skill uses Bb instead of Blackboard to avoid students being confused in adoption of the My Blackboard skill.  The search in the app store should skip the community site skill when keyword "Blackboard" is used.


What does your Dot look like?


If you can, post a picture of your Dot in the comments.  Does it look pretty? Is the ring orange, red, blue, white, or green?  Let us know!



More about Alexa:

Digital audio assistants in teaching and learning - Blackboard Blog

From Automatons to Amazon Alexa – the History of Digital Assistants .

Amazon Alexa for Blackboard Learn - BbWorld17 Teaser for Innovation Corner

Amazon Alexa game for BbWorld New Orleans

Free Amazon Echo at BbWorld.  Get yours and start sweet talking the AI.

Source code: GitHub - OSCELOT/alexaFlashcardsBlackboardGame: Alexa Flashcards Blackboard Game: working version of the unavailable pro…

Gamification in Blackboard Learn session at BbWorld17IMG_9163.PNG

Wed 11:30am room 276


Download the “MyGame” mobile app (App Store, Google Play, or Amazon Underground).  Play the game before, during, and after the session to understand how to gamify course activities and Blackboard Learn course.  Complete the missions, including Amazon Alexa fun, and win a free Amazon Tap.


What can you expect at the session?


1. Introduction to Gamification.

Gamification can be defined as “the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals” (Burke, 2014).  The session will elaborate on gamification frameworks by You-Kai Chou and Andrzej Marczewski.

More at the session and in Course Gamification Tools for Blackboard Learn.


2. Identify the Engagement Problem

Engagement suffers in classrooms leading to problems in many academic fields.  For example, in STEM 48% for bachelor’s candidates and 69% for associate degree candidates left field of study or left college all together (Chen & Soldner, 2013).  Disengagement of knowledge workers at the office is also a problem.  Customer loyalty programs need polishing.  Harvard Business Review warns that 50% of women currently in STEM jobs will leave the industry.


3. Why Gamification and Why Now?

The idea of gamification is not new,  however specific conditions in the environment that promote gameful thinking growth are now present:


  1. Theory. Positive psychology is "the scientific study of what makes life most worth living”.  1998.

    Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 9.28.02 AM.png

  2. Business popular science. ”Good to Great” James Collins. 2001. “Reality Is Broken“ Jane McGonigal. 2008. The Drive” Daniel Pink. 2009. “Where Good Ideas Come From” Steven Johnson. 2010
  3. Tools. ClassDojo. 2011.  Mozilla Open Badges. 2011.  ClassCraft. 2013. GradeCraft. 2013.
  4. People. Atari. 1972. “The Well-Played Game”. Bernard De Koven. 1978


4. How to use Gamification Principles in Blackboard Learn

  1. Quiz Tournaments
  2. Course Reports Games
  3. Adaptive Release
  4. Achievements/Badges
  5. XP Ledger
  6. ECP Program as a Requirements for Gamification Projects


5. A case study of a course that applied gamification in Blackboard Learn

In depth review of peer-reviewed literature, motivational theories, gamification methods, quantitative content analysis of student feedback.

A second case study in Germanic Studies Dept of University of Illinois at Chicago: The “UIC German” Game App for the Enhancement of Foreign Language Learning Case Study | International Journal of E…


  1. 1002 course review comments
  2. 182 entries
  3. activity data collected from the custom gamification system
  4. Cengage (SAM) system,, and


Qualitative Content Analysis:

331 extracts grouped based on emerging themes and patterns.  The categories were adjusted in a cycle of revisions following the patterns found in the data.








Csikszentmihalyi, M., (1991). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper

Cunningham, C., Zichermann, G., (2011). Gamification by Design: Implementing Game Mechanics in Web and Mobile Apps. O’Reilly Media, Sebastopol, CA.

Deterding, S., (2012). Gamification: designing for motivation. Interactions 19, 14–17.

Entertainment Software Association. (2016). 2016 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry. Retrieved from 2016.pdf

Granic, I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R. E. (2014). The benefits of playing video games. American Psychologist, 69(1), 66–78. doi:10.1037/a0034857

Machajewski, S. (2017).  Application of Gamification in College STEM Introductory Course: A Case Study (Doctoral dissertation).  Retrieved from

McGonigal, J., (2011). Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Penguin Books, New York, NY.

Ryder, R., & Machajewski, S. (2017). The “UIC German” Game App for the Enhancement of Foreign Language Learning Case Study. International Journal Of Educational Technology (ISSN 2476-0730), 4(1), 1-10. Retrieved from

Learning analytics looks at proxies for learning, and it can be tempting to mistake correlations for causation.

robotics-research-review.jpgPredicting the future is an enticing idea to academic leaders. Programmers have their "Design Patterns", which are methods to solve problems in the code, before such problems become evident. However, we have seen some unfortunate stories connected with analytics and Big Data in education. Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland “drown the bunnies” is a good example. Even students are calling out to have permission to fail. I think we should welcome failure and use it as a tool for teaching.


Quantitative research in education dealing with student success is often not objective. Studies funded by textbook publishers find that students who read the textbook often get better grades. LMS companies report that students who check their grades often are more successful. May there be a causation versus correlation issue here?


Recently Blackboard posted an interesting article about analytics. There was a paragraph on "downsides". I appreciated this thread of concerns being voiced in a published report.


"Learning analytics looks at proxies for learning, and it can be tempting to mistake correlations for causation. Learning analytics requires close cooperation between campus departments that traditionally have worked independently (e.g., IT, academic affairs, student affairs, and faculty). Data required for learning analytics can be distributed across campus and difficult to integrate, particularly if technology vendors format data in proprietary ways. Available data may not be suitable for analytics models. Using student data for analytics raises ethical issues surrounding data privacy and institutional obligations to act on analytics findings, including by providing resources to assist those learners. Analytics algorithms may include biases and may mislead the very students they are intended to help, perhaps prioritizing efficiency toward a credential over a learner’s passions. Misapprehensions about analytics among university administrators can result in unrealistic expectations for results, and some faculty resist analytics, arguing that it focuses on behavior rather than on learning." Read the article by J. Allen, T. Cavanagh, M. Gunkel, and John Whitmer : 7 Things You Should Know About Developments in Learning Analytics


The software project Course Gamification Tools represents a form of protest against the misuse of Big Data in Education.

The project: Course Gamification Tools for Blackboard Learn


The story: Course Gamification Tools for Blackboard Learn – The Rest of the Story | Gamification and Play :: Experience Design for …


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