Back to School

Some of the advice in this post by Mary Clement on course evaluations and what students want might seem obvious to the experienced, but I thought it was a very good summary of some basic practices that really make a difference so I am passing this along.

10 responses to “Back to School

  1. Eleanor Shevlin

    Thanks for the link to this post, Laura. I do wonder if anyone is troubled by the inability of college-age students to understand percentages. I sometimes use the point-system and at other times percentages (and I spend time at the start of the semester explaining how whichever works). Yet, we encounter percentages in our daily lives all the time–in the political arena, retail unit, and more–and it seems that students need to understand how percentages work.

  2. Laura Rosenthal

    Personally I have found that using the “Gradebook” function on Blackboard solves this for me since it keeps a running “score” for them. I’m not sure that my students didn’t understand percentages, but I think Clement is right that they appreciate knowing where they stand all the time. You’re right, though, that it’s a problem in other aspects of life if they don’t understand percentages.

  3. Eleanor Shevlin

    I also used Blackboard unitl my university system switched to Desire to Learn (D2L); the new system is more cumbersome. I fully agree that students appreciate (and expect) to know how they are doing at any given point.

  4. Laura Rosenthal

    We’re switching too and I will be very disappointed if the new system does not have this feature or is more cumbersome in other ways. I’ll keep you posted.

  5. Eleanor Shevlin

    Out of curiosity, what is your new system? D2L does have a gradebook, but it was not intuitive. In the past I had used eCollege, WebCT and, for many years, Blackboard. I was able to learn all of these systems without training (and I used many of their features). D2L has been different, and I attended two training sessions. Although gradebook was quickly covered, I didn’t have the patience to do all the upfront work to use it — primarily because there had been so much upfront work to the other parts of the site. I was on medical leave all of last year, so I didn’t have an opportunity to try the grading feature, but I plan to do so this fall.

  6. Laura Rosenthal

    It’s called “Canvas.” This is its website:
    I haven’t really explored it yet, so if anyone out there has experience with it I’d like to hear how it’s worked out for you.

  7. Eleanor Shevlin

    Thanks. I’ve not heard of it. The Canvas page in which this system is compared to other CM systems suggests that it has several advantages over its competition,
    (–including being open source…

  8. Thank you for sharing the Canvas system. I hadn’t heard of it. WebCT and Blackboard have worked well for me in the past, but my current system, Moodle, is very clunky. An open source CM system may be a better alternative for me.

  9. Laura Rosenthal

    I hadn’t heard of it before either. If you have any insights about it after checking it out, please let us know!

  10. Raymond Ricketts

    Another thank you here. Your suggestions and links to resources reveal yet another reason why I can’t depend on student evaluations exclusively to guide me in future planning–I need to hear from smart “translators” like Clement, as I find many student comments rather cryptic (i.e., “I found his teaching of _______ to be choppy,” etc.). And P.S., by school has switched to Moodle; fewer moving parts than Blackboard, but the grading component seems a bit labor intensive.