Creative Tips for Teaching through Blackboard Collaborate™ 2 of 3

Hi folks! Here’s my second helping on my next 10 tips for using  Blackboard Collaborate™ in more collaborative ways. These are all based on my own experiences and thoughts. Hope you find them useful!

1. Be an academic provocateur!  Provoke critical thinking and opens up a lively discussion during your session or on social media. Sparking debate is what we want after all! I think Marcia Tucker sums it up well. If we agree that teaching is in fact an art form, then online teaching should mirror this,

as a process, an interface, a tool, an ‘agent provocateur’ whose role, rather than being didactic, is to get people to see and think for themselves.”

—Marcia Tucker

2. Quit Summarising! To save time, try not to summarise group ideas on the whiteboard. Instead, ask participants to populate it with theirs. This is especially useful for smaller groups who could be microphone shy.

3. Mind-map. Write the subject topic in centre of a whiteboard page and invite the group to use the text box or highlighter to brainstorm. This works well as an entry point but also effectively checks for understanding. I love using this for all types of groups as it allows me to estimate the level of a group and gauges how much time I’ll need to spend on subsequent slides.

4. Different Platforms. Bear mindful that participants use a multitude of devices in accessing Blackboard. I’ve noticed for example, that participants who use tablets can’t, to date, use the whiteboard. In such cases, encourage participants to diversify more and use their chat box or mic and keep the flow going.

5. Spin a little more. Allow the break out chat rooms to spin a little and say so. There can be an unintentional tendency here to rush this process (and I’ve been guilty of doing this) A good chat takes time to unfold.

6. Maximise chat box messages. Play down allocating the importance of the question and answer section at the end.  It’s often the case that we are all tired at the end and the opportunity for recapturing the creative momentum of an earlier comment or question can be lost. Invite questions and comments throughout.

7. Multi-context. Read participant comments while others are writing on the whiteboard. This saves a lot of time and helps those who are not writing to stay on task, not to mention benefit the whole group with a diversity of ideas while  formulating their whiteboard responses.

8. Compose Key organising questions! This is especially useful for Breakout groups. By creating task-based questions that are grounded in context, more critical thinking is evoked and avoids simple recall or going off task.

9. Assign Roles. Once participants are familiar with your online teaching style, you can assign roles such as ‘reporters’ to either give feedback on a public page, chatbox or the mic. You could also add roles of ‘summarizers’, ‘provocateurs’ or ‘devil advocates’ to inspire even more discussion. The hope is that then spills over asynchronously in the forum or on blogs.

10. Final thought for this week, remember it’s a collaborative environment, so be yourself and enjoy it!

Featured image: Question Mark. Marco BellucciFlickr.


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