FIU Online had its presence felt at this year’s BBWorld 2017 in New Orleans, LA, by presenting three information sessions. BBWorld is Blackboard’s annual conference where education professionals from all levels gather to exchange ideas, share best practices, and discuss how to tackle the challenges faced by education today.
The first of the presentations was delivered by Erika Huezo, Senior Instructional Designer, and Luis Alvarado, Instructional Designer. The joint session titled “We’re in this Together: Leveraging Online Collaboration” highlighted the importance and benefits of using collaborative assignments within online courses.
The session used pedagogical theories to lead participants through the history of group work, how to implement group work within online courses, examples of online group work, as well as how to deal with possible setbacks that can occur during implementation. The session lasted well beyond the 50-minutes, with many in the audience asking questions as well as sharing their own experiences of group projects created within the Blackboard learning management system.
Later on, Instructional Design Managers Lergia Olivo and Karina Ocampo, and Senior Instructional Designer Maikel Alendy participated in a Higher Education Rocket Session called “Digital Fairytale: Not Your Everyday Course”, where they sped through 20 slides, only spending up to 20 seconds on each slide. Within their session they highlighted Maikel’s experience creating a highly interactive course where multiple tools like VoiceThread, Instagram, as well as podcasts were utilized to create a dynamic experience for the learners. This course was created entirely by using open education resources which kept student cost at a minimum, garnering the Affordability Counts Award Medallion. Through cost effective innovation Lergia, Karina, and Maikel were able to showcase that creating a highly interactive online course does not have to come at a cost to the student learners.
If that wasn’t enough, our very own Matthew Thomson, Instructional Design Assistant, delivered an award winning showcase of his self-made social media LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability), which he impressively created in under 3 weeks for the first ever Hackboard–a Blackboard sponsored Hackathon. The tool integrates Instagram with Blackboard, allowing for assignments that utilize the tool to be graded using the Grade Center. This won him a trophy and also helped promote just how much homegrown talent has developed at FIU Online. The recognition he received from Blackboard executives helped culminate a very successful showcase at this year’s BBWorld.
These sessions provided a glimpse of the great work FIU Online is doing to not only be at the cutting edge of learning, but also keep cost low for students. Focusing on innovative techniques to provide higher levels of learning is why FIU Online has been awarded one of the highest number of Quality Matter certifications for our online courses. This coupled with the Affordability Counts initiative ensures that everything we do helps the student. Florida International University is one of the most diverse institutions in the country and with many students being first time college attendees, we need to continue to provide unique solutions to better serve our student population.