Category Archives: Online Learning Task Force

OTAAG Oct 9, 2014

This week’s topic is an extremely important one.  It’s relevant to teaching in any mode but a real challenge and point of potential weakness in online learning.

How do you verify and know that the work done in your online class is being completed by the student registered for the class?

For several years there has been a federal mandate to authenticate student identity through a specified method.  This method for ICC is the process by which our students are given an assigned username and password by the college to log in to Blackboard.  As long as we maintain a secure process to issue usernames and passwords, we meet the requirements of the federal mandate.  The liability is twofold.  The college must maintain the secure process to issue user credentials and the student must maintain the responsibility to keep those user credentials secure and private once he/she has them.

There are a variety of vendors wanting us to buy a commercial “solution” to identity verification.  There are video proctoring services where live proctors monitor webcams focused on students taking tests.  There are “biometric” solutions for capturing each user’s unique mouse usage.  There are fingerprint scanners to unlock content.  There are databases that ask security questions much like the ones your bank or credit card company would ask.  There are “lock down browsers” which stop a student from accessing content in a different program or browser on one computer.

I have seen the live webcam proctor in action and it seems to work for a testing environment. However, to me it’s not feasible to webcam monitor ALL of the work a student does, therefore at least a portion of the grade could be earned by someone else.  The biometric, fingerprint, or security question “locks” can be easily outsmarted.  I can unlock the content and then let you do the work!  And the lock down browser is fine when I am working on only one device, but a recent survey of ICC students indicated that over 80% of 180 student respondents have 2 or more web-enabled devices.  So while you’re locking me down in one computer, I just need my phone, laptop, tablet, or other web-enabled device to look up content in an “unlocked” environment.  And the no-print/no-copy code we used to use?  It takes only the camera on my cell phone to capture the on-screen content perhaps more efficiently and effectively than printing, anyway.

So all of this may seem like gloom and doom and a reason to stop teaching online.  It isn’t.  But we have to continue to work on developing high-quality, engaging online classes which defeat the “shadow scholar” (Chronicle article, November 12, 2010:

How do you do this?  How do you know the “right” student is completing work in your online class?  How do you maintain the integrity of offering an ONLINE class with the needs to KNOW your students individually and authenticate their work?  What strategies do you have to share with others?  Post your comments to the blog or email me at


From Access to Quality?

Sloan-C, a well-known organization for online learning, is offering a new workshop on online quality.  Sloan’s description for this workshop is pasted below.  Our Online Learning Task Force is addressing and will continue to do more work on ‘quality’ as it relates to online learning at ICC.  Last fall you had the opportunity to complete a survey about course development, delivery and quality assurance and we’ll share and discuss the results this spring.  We’ll be revising or at least revisiting our own course development rubric and we’ll continue to investigate other course development and assessment tools such as Quality Matters and the CA Chico Rubric.  We also have two task force members engaged in the ION Master Online Teacher workshop on quality assurance this spring.

Weigh in on this after reading the description below – what do you think?  Are we on track?  Where are we headed?  What should we be most concerned about?  What should we not allow to concern us? Is it safe/enough for us to say we’ll assign, design, develop and deliver quality education online just like we do it in-person?  Why or why not?  How are we going to know when we’re at least starting the move from access to quality?  Or should we?  Add your comments to this blog entry to join in the conversation.

Retrieved January 29, 2012 from Sloan-C:

“Online education’s first era was all about providing access. The second era is more about improving quality — not just for online education, but for all education. Unfortunately, most ideas about the cyberization of education advocate narrow, oversimplified viewpoints about how to improve the quality of online education. Online learning practitioners need a broader, unifying perspective – one that accommodates multiple perspectives and integrates these viewpoints into a larger context by showing how to move online education from access to quality improvement.”

Student Retention and Success in Radiology: Live discussion, journals, blogs

This is a guest post authored by ICC Radiography Faculty, Lisa Arnett. If you have virtual campus/online learning information or ideas to share and would like to write for the 5th campus blog, contact Patrice at

Night Before the Test Q&A: Live Online Discussion Forums

Our sophomore students are currently studying Radiobiology and Radiation Protection, material that is both difficult and comprises 25% of the national registry exam that they will be taking after they graduate in July, 2012. They have traditionally struggled with the material so in 2008, my first year of teaching, I was looking for a way to help the students to understand the material so April suggested we meet on Blackboard the night before the test for a live “jam session.”

So the night before the test I am available for one hour to answer questions in the Discussion Board. If enough students participate, I just facilitate the discussion but if only two or three are present, I answer any questions or clear up any concepts they bring up. It has been a well-attended tutoring session and, obviously, the more that participate, the more fun it is. After attending the Blackboard sessions this summer I considered using some of the other collaborative avenues that are available but I ultimately stayed with the Discussion Board for a few reasons: the threads make it more organized and easy to follow (especially when 10-15 students are participating at a time), the discussion that took place is available for those students who were unable to attend to view at a  later time during the evening, and the discussion is also available when the students are reviewing for the final exam. Really, the only disadvantage to the forum is everyone has to back out of the Discussion Board and re-enter it to see new postings.

Mentoring and Retention Strategies: Journals and Blogs

April and I are also very excited about a couple of retention strategies and mentoring initiatives that we piloted this semester for our freshmen students. Our program suffered a pretty drastic attrition rate in our current sophomore class and the main reason that students gave for leaving was they didn’t know what they were getting into. In an effort to address the issue, we piloted an expectation that our students use journaling to keep us informed of how they are doing in their clinical rotation, barriers to studying, stressors, etc…..anything that could signal a potential drop from the program so we can intervene early. We ask that the students journal or come to see us twice this semester just to check in. It is in no way meant to take the place of conversation; either will count towards the expectation. So far it has gone well and no students have dropped to date!

Finally, as a way for our freshman students to stay in touch with each other, mentor each other, and encourage professionalism, we created three blog spots. It will be easier to explain them by sharing the titles and descriptions so I will include them below. The students just started in their clinical rotations so little has happened in the blogs so far but we are hopeful that the students will use them as time goes on.

Blog Examples

Positioning Blog
Are you having problems with a particular radiographic position? Chances are, if you are having problems, someone else is or knows how to help. Quit struggling! Post your positioning challenges and work them out with your peers. Did a tech give you a positioning pointer that was helpful? Share it with everyone! Use this area to improve your positioning skills.

So This Stuff Really Does Work!
Post any examples of what you are learning in the classroom that you were able to apply in clinicals. Did something happen that helped you to “put it all together?” Were you finally able to perform that perfect radiograph that you struggled with for so long? Did you see an example of a theory you were just learning about such as differential absorption? It’s exciting for everyone when the light bulb comes on – tell us about it!

Triumphs in Radiography!
Have you had a particularly great clinical shift? Did you get a compliment from a (gulp!) radiologist? Did you take the most I-can’t-believe-how-gorgeous-that-turned-out chest x-ray or knee x-ray or scapula x-ray? Did a tech actually smile at you and ask you your name? Did a patient thank you for your kindness? Let everyone know about your accomplishments, your victories, and those things that keep you coming back for more! We could all use a lift!

Lisa Arnett is an instructor in the ICC Radiography Program and a member of the ICC Online Learning Task Force.  Email Lisa at for more information about these strategies or Patrice at about the online learning task force at Illinois Central College

Blackboard Users Conference 2011

ICC Instructional Technologists Gayle Blodgett and Jeff Maston attended and presented at the 2011 Blackboard Users Conference (hosted by SLATE).  The conference was held October 13 and 14 at the Gleacher Center, University of Illinois-Chicago.  See: Gayle and Jeff’s compilation of session notes, including Blackboard tips and strategies; See also the Slate Conference Blog for 2011:

Summary of notes topics: simple clicker/Blackboard integration; wikis, communication and collaboration; assessment; Google Docs

Need help with Blackboard? Contact the ICC Teaching and Learning Center,, 694-8908 or 240A on the East Peoria Campus

October 2011 Update

Summary of information and activities related to the ICC Online Learning Task Force (OLTF) and the Virtual Campus initiative:

  1. ICC Online Learning Task Force Virtual Campus Status :: a list of current activities and short-term future tasks;
  2. Artifacts collected for the ICC October Board of Trustees meeting :: provided at the meeting were copies of the Online Degrees and Certificates list and the first page of the Fall 2010 Illinois University and College Distance Learning enrollments;
  3. Current ICC online learning data:
    1. Enrollment comparisons
    2. Course success and withdrawal
    3. Percent fill
    4. Section offerings
  4. An update on online tutoring;
  5. An update on online COMM212 Public Speaking.

Celebration of Learning: Online Showcase-Evaluation of Student Achievement

Presenters: Jennifer Flaig, Communication; Christine Dunkel, Art

Jennifer’s Tips
Use Journals with open criteria to assess student engagement and progress, get to know students;
Use Journal prompts asking for examples from the text, application of a concept to real life;
Connect with students individually and privately through journal comments;
Ask students to blog, sharing with their classmates;
Use Discussion Board forums to have students share and comment on each other’s work;
Use YouTube videos as a subject resource, asking students to find a video which illustrates a concept from a chapter in the text – discuss the videos in class;
Use Google Voice to establish an instructor telephone number separate from an office, home or cellular phone – setup Google Voice notifications for messages and use the voicemail transcription feature;
Experiment with different tools in Blackboard;
Find, share and collaborate with others who teach online – LinkedIn has online teaching groups;
Provide students with detailed rubrics on how discussion and journal contributions will be graded; see Jennifer’s examples here: example 1 (PDF); example 2 (XLS)

Christine’s Tips
Take on the challenge to teach online when large-sized/high-quality media is required, such as teaching Art History online!
Find or develop resources where students may study and create flash card tools online with the images;
Provide students with how-to information they will need to be successful navigating the course tools, such as how to locate images and create image flashcards;
Plan for online evaluation to be “open”; open-book, open resource, etc. but design the evaluation/test so students would not be able to simply transmit right answers from resources to the test;
Students who go through the process of preparing test-taking materials, such as flashcards, will have learned simply from the process of preparing the materials;
Require students to demonstrate achievement on tests not from one source but from many synthesized sources;
Require students to demonstrate achievement by applying information they have learned;
When using tools like or SafeAssign to systematically check student paper submissions, notify students in course information/policies of how the process works and what the consequences for plagiarism are.
For more information about the ART150 image gallery, contact Christine, or Brandy Thatcher,, 694-5306.

Celebration of Learning: Online Showcase-Hybrid Teaching and Learning

Presenters: Doug Peterson, Computer Science; Pam Dewey, Business; David Thompson, History

Doug’s Tips
Define for students what you mean by ‘hybrid’, how your course works – Doug’s class meets in-person from 6 to 7:50 PM, students are required to “make up” the other half of the class by engaging online;
Plan for how class time is used – for lecture? lab? a mix? projects? discussion? individual consultation?
Explicitly state how the course works and how class time and online time is used in your course information/syllabus;
Also state anticipated “homework” time PLUS time in class and online; for example, 2 hours of lecture+2 hours of lab+2 hours of homework for every lecture or lab hour=12 hours per week allocated to this class;
Doug prepares and uses the same content for courses taught regardless of mode – in-person, online or hybrid;
Use recorded video uploaded to YouTube for class how-to’s as well as class content;
Record a video introduction of yourself – and don’t worry if it’s not perfect, you wouldn’t stop and rewind if you sneeze in class!
Provide an opportunity for students to connect with you via “online office hours” (use online conferencing tools, virtual classrooms, instant messaging, phoning, etc. — contact the TLC, or 694-8908, for assistance!)

Dave’s Tips
Dave has had mixed experiences with teaching hybrid classes, challenged most by how to use the reduced class time;
Dave structures the online component of his hybrid classes in a manner similar to the structure of his fully-online classes;
Boiling down full-length lectures to shorter durations was not successful, too frantic;
Students enrolled did not understand the structure of a hybrid class, thought it was just class in shorter amount of class time or had to enroll because the class was needed and enrolling in the hybrid section was the only option;
Students enrolled in hybrid classes meeting one time a week often had gaps in their schedules when they didn’t have a class to enroll in “opposite” the hybrid class meeting in the regular pattern of T/Th classes;
Students did not read or prepare prior to in-person class meetings;
In the future, Dave would require a pre-class reading quiz;
Dave presents as many options as possible in his web-enhanced courses (traditional in-person classes offering a Blackboard component); see Dave’s sample exam and grading criteria.

Pam’s Tips
Pam had 4 tips for the session…see her session handout for a sample assignment checklist and more on journals.
Establish a discussion board forum for Questions for the Instructor and set the forum for subscriptions so you are notified via email when a new post is made;
Provide students with a checklist for assignments so they can work through and keep track (see page 2, Forum Settings > Subscribe for more information:;
If a student drops the class, set the student’s status to Unavailable in Blackboard then hide that student in the Grade Center – do NOT remove the student from the site, all of his/her records will be removed as well; a student whose status is set to Unavailable will remain in the site but the student would not be able to access the site or see the course name in My Courses in Blackboard (see page 2, Changing Roles in the Course for more information:;
Use Journals for student reflections on learning and provide students with an explicit rubric for grading (see Blogs & Journals: