Dr Christopher Jobling

Senior Lecturer

Engineering

c.p.jobling@swansea.ac.uk

Last term I posted a Blackboard survey to evaluate the e-learning in my module EG-259 Web Applications Technology. In this first of a planned short series of articles to be published over the next few days, I introduce the module and the e-learning technologies used.Part 2 

Introduction

Like most other departments and schools here at Swansea University, the School of Engineering requires staff to engage in student assessment of its modules. This is a paper-based exercise in which a common questionnaire is distributed to students at the end of each semester. Students are invited to rate the lecturer by awarding marks out of 10 under various effectiveness criteria. These are then passed to the lecturers and their programme directors for comment. Any actions are eventually fed back in to the “annual monitoring of programmes” activities.Apart from having a slightly different set of assessment criteria for continuously assessed and laboratory-based modules, these questionnaires are completely generic, and as yet, have no space for assessing e-learning activities. I thought that I would therefore get my students to complete a second questionnaire addressing the e-learning on my Web Applications Technology module. And I decided to use a Blackboard survey for this purpose. These articles will discuss the results and my reflections on the feedback that I received.

About the Module

EG-259 is concerned with web applications technology and is fundamentally about HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP programming. There is a lot of material that is presented at a fairly brisk pace. There are two programming exercises: one on programming JavaScript for a web form validation exercise, the second on creating a simple PHP data-driven web application. In addition there are several case studies: installing a W/LAMP platform (Windows or Linux with Apache+PHP+MySQL) and a set of web development tools; installing a WordPress Blogging Platform; theming a WordPress blog; using AJAX; and building web applications with Ruby on Rails. Some of these case studies are done as screencast demonstrations, others are live demonstrations done in the lecture.

The e-Learning Technologies Used

To give some context to the survey, I should state up-front what e-learning technologies are used in the the module.

  • A wiki is used for the lecture notes and the lecture presentations, review questions and homework problems.
  • I make recordings of the lectures with my MP3 player and upload them as mp3 files to be are delivered as a podcast.
  • I make screencasts of some of the demos, and
  • I maintain a module blog.

Blackboard is used as a portal to these facilities and I have made use of the learning objects blog and the podcast tools. The screencasts were created in Camtasia Studio, Jing and Wink and the resulting Flash movies are either hosted at screencast.com and embedded in Blackboard or hosted on my own off-campus hosted web site and linked into Blackboard using external links.All the lecture notes, problems and homework are linked to the external Dokuwiki wiki, that is also hosted on my website.I used a Blackboard survey to obtain the feedback discussed in these articles and I did the summative assessment for the module using a Blackboard quiz. I also made extensive use of the Blackboard grade-book for both formative (coursework) assessment feedback and for the summative assessment for the module.

Coming Next

In the next few articles I will publish the feedback results and my reflections on them. I will finally finish this series with with some overall conclusions. In a future separate post, I will also need to reflect on the lessons learned in the summative assessment.

January 30th, 2009

Posted In: blackboard, e-learning, reflection

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