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Teaching with Technology Q & A with Christine Kunkel
Christine Kunkel participated in the 2011 Summer Teaching with Technology Workshop. She is an Assist- ant Professor in the department of Counseling, Educational Leadership and School Psychology
ITL: Why did you take the summer workshop on Teaching with Technology?
CK: I took the summer workshop on Teaching with Technology to set aside time to explicitly work on learning how to better navigate around and utilize Blackboard. I knew having an expert present would allow me to work past road blocks that I had experienced in the past. I had a few other goals as well, such as possibly developing a web site or a blog site, but quickly abandoned that idea when I saw how much I had to learn with the Blackboard Curriculum you had prepared.
ITL: What road blocks had you experienced in the past?
CK: When I sat down to populate my Blackboard course last fall (Fall, 2010), I tried to upload my syllabus – I was unsuccessful. I spent hours trying to puzzle through it. I then tried to create categories in the menu and had a hard time. In retrospect, I probably had some sort of bug that IT could have resolved, but I did not even try. I figured it was operator error – and that is when I shifted to Wikispaces.
ITL: What were you hoping to gain from this professional development opportunity?
CK: I simply was hoping to develop the ability to use the Blackboard site for a hybrid feature in my face-to-face course.
ITL: In what way did you hope to use Blackboard as a hybrid feature in your f2f [face-to-face] class?
CK: As a place where course information and reading assignments (journal articles, scanned chapters...) could be posted. As a place where we could continue class discussions on the Blackboard discussion board, and as a place where finished assignments could be uploaded.
ITL: And did you learn what you wanted to learn? Why or why not?
CK: I believe that I did learn what I wanted to learn. I am using Blackboard fairly successfully now for all three of my current courses.
ITL: What have you implemented since taking the Teaching with Technology workshop? How successful has that been for you? For your students? What changes would you make in using these technical tools again?
CK: I have put into use the assignment, discussion board and information posting features of Blackboard. I believe it has been very successful as there is now a working online site where my students can easily access assignments, and scanned articles as well as web videos that I have posted for them. We have also conducted several discussion board conversations, and, my students post assignments on the Blackboard site as well. I will use all of these features again and plan to add the wiki feature to my course in the future.
ITL: Can you talk a little more about your online discussions? What topics did you discuss? What challenges did you find as you developed an online component to your f2f course? What went exceptionally well?
CK: Primarily, we read assignments and discussed them on the discussion board. The topics were leadership related: "Distributed Leadership," "Systems in Schools," and "Change Theory." As a second use, we split up into groups and worked as a team, critiquing assignments as they developed and providing support. Challenges were that not all students responded to prompts and to each others' progress on assignments in a timely fashion. This frustrated some of the students. But for the students who did participate, it looked to be very valuable feedback.
ITL: How do you plan on using the wiki feature in the future?
CK: Not completely sure, I am not yet certain about how it works with Blackboard. But if it works similar to Wikispaces, it will provide a forum with much more flexibility than the discussion board function. I might use it as a tool for collaborative assignments (group assignments), or perhaps as a tool for students to continually add information to the topic or conversation, as sort of a clearing house for students to post articles, thoughts and ideas as we explore a topic. Those are just my initial thoughts.
ITL: You seemed hesitant to embrace this technology at the start of the week. What was the tipping point for you?
CK: I guess the hesitation you are referring to was that I simply could not make Blackboard work when I attempted to do so in Fall, 2010. Then someone showed me "Wikispaces," which was so user friendly. I wanted your assurances that Blackboard would be a better resource than Wikispaces, so I guess I pressed you on that matter. The tipping point for me was when I learned that Blackboard is a resource for RIC professors that is secure, and connected to the RIC online services suite. For this reason it is a more sensible option. Another tipping point was developing confidence in my ability to use Blackboard. Once I knew I had the know-how to use Blackboard confidently, I was ready to go with it.