Before the Break: Teaching Considerations for this Summer

Palm Trees, Venice Beach by American Virus on Flickr by Michaella Thornton, Assistant Director for Instructional Design

Late April to mid-May is often a frenetic time of year for faculty, students, and staff (admittedly, my mind often wanders to a beach much like the one pictured here in Venice Beach).  The semester is winding down, culminating projects are well underway, and time is fleeting and in short supply.  Yet before the barrage of grading final projects and papers begins or graduation commences, I’d like to take a moment to share two important events happening at Saint Louis University that may affect those of you teaching this summer and beyond.

Saturday, May 18, 2013: SLU Global, which will be officially known as Blackboard Learn on May 18th, the Learning Management System (LMS) used by many faculty members and graduate teaching assistants and supported by SLU ITS, will be upgraded from Service Pack 7 to Blackboard Learn 9.1 Service Pack 11.  This upgrade was announced by ITS on March 6 via Newslink and live webinar “tours” of the Blackboard upgrade are available this week and next, also announced via Newslink on April 19th.  To register for these “tours,” click here.

To get a sense of the upcoming changes, Kim Scharringhausen, Instructional Liaison, also recommends viewing the following videos so those teaching at SLU may see what’s in store with the enhanced design and improved functionality and accessibility of Service Pack 11:

So, what does the Blackboard upgrade mean for you, the faculty member or graduate instructor?

  • Blackboard Learn will not be available for most of the day on May 18th and after May 18th Blackboard Learn may look and/or function differently to SLU users, depending on users’ familiarity, comfort, and prior review or experience with the new look and feel of the updated LMS.
  • This also means that anyone teaching during or immediately after this Blackboard upgrade may want to take extra time planning and preparing for online or face-to-face courses that use Blackboard, in addition to reviewing syllabi and course schedules to ensure major assignments or online collaboration and discussions are not due on May 18th.
  • Notifying students about the Blackboard upgrade and how it may affect their ability to complete coursework on Saturday, May 18th is also a smart plan of action.  Plan Bs (and Cs and Ds) are often a professor’s best friend, especially when learning technologies are being upgraded.

Monday, July 29 – Friday, August 2, 2013: The next session of the CTTL’s Online Teaching & Learning Institute, or OTLI, has been designed to fit into full-time faculty members’ schedules for one week this summer.  OTLI will take place from 9 AM to 4 PM the week of July 29.  Seating is limited to 12 full-time SLU faculty members. Priority seating is given to those who have not already gone through the Institute, are planning to teach an online or blended course in the near future, and for full-time professors who hail from a variety of departments, schools, and programs at Saint Louis University so as to foster an interdisciplinary cohort interested in exploring effective practices and pedagogy for teaching online.

OTLI includes daily meetings and facilitated conversations about online teaching and learning, collaborative and independent work time, individualized instructional-design consultations, and much more.  To register for this summer’s OTLI, please click here.

Best of luck as your semester wraps up!  We hope you’ll consider the forthcoming update to Blackboard Learn as you plan for summer and fall classes and think about registering for the CTTL’s next Online Teaching & Learning Institute.

 

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