Online discussion options

In some courses, instructors choose to create an online space where students and faculty can pose and answer questions. This technology has many names: message board, discussion forum, bulletin board, and so on. The way it works is that someone posts a message and others are invited to reply whenever they like. The original message and its replies are called a thread. The communication is asynchronous; participants don’t have to be online at the same time.

A blog can provide similar functionality. After someone publishes a post, others can make comments that evolve into a discussion. An email list is another place where discussion can occur. The instructor can also disallow student posting and create a one-way “announcement list.”

A chat room is different. Chatting is synchronous — all of the participants are online at the same time. Conversation is free-form and the contents are usually not saved.

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Calendaring

Many instructors use an online calendar to keep track of course-related events: class times, office hours, guest speakers, and more. Some go much farther, organizing the course syllabus as a calendar with links to readings and assignments, and then sharing it with students.

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  • Google Calendar – use it for yourself or share it with a Google Group for a class — you decide how public it is
  • Sakai Schedule tool – add directly or from other tools (Sign-Up, Assignments, Tests & Quizzes, etc.)

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ePortfolio

nDEEP logo

An ePortfolio (short for “electronic portfolio”) is a virtual workspace where students publish samples of their work and showcase their knowledge and skills. As of the 2015-16 academic year, all undergraduate students at the University of Notre Dame have an ePortfolio based on the Digication system.

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E-books and readers

BryteWave screens

Electronic books or e-books are typically digital versions of printed books, but some are “born digital,” with features unavailable in the print medium. You can read e-books on a Kindle or other dedicated reader, but you can also use a tablet, desktop computer, or smartphone.

One of the advantages of e-books is that you can carry many of them on a single, lightweight device. It’s also easy to search an e-book for a specific quote or reference – and some readers allow you to save highlighting and personal notes. One of the disadvantages is that it’s generally not easy to share e-books with someone else.

The Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore uses a system called BryteWave to offer e-textbook rentals (see a video demo). If a digital edition of a book is available, students are presented with that option when they purchase a text.

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[updated June 2015]

Plagiarism detection

plagiarism

Notre Dame has a strong Undergraduate Academic Code of Honor; students receive an orientation to it before they arrive on campus. As a precondition for course registration, all undergraduates pledge:

As a member of the Notre Dame community, I will not participate in or tolerate academic dishonesty.

The Kaneb Center strongly urges instructors to address plagiarism before it becomes a problem. Take a positive approach; contact us about designing assignments in ways that encourage academic honesty.

Technology is available which can check for plagiarism in student work. If a Notre Dame instructor believes this is necessary, the Provost’s Office can provide an individual license to Turnitin.com at university expense.

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[updated June 2015]

Sound recording and editing

Photo by Dennis S. Hurd

Anyone who listens to NPR or talk radio knows the power of a voice recording –the moving accounts of Story Corps, the antics of Tom and Ray on Car Talk, or the fiery rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh.

There are lots of practical applications for sound recording at a university. Language classes are an obvious example, and anthropologists appreciate lightweight field equipment that is low-tech and non-invasive. Recording a live interview for later transcription is much easier than trying to do it all in real-time.

The Remix website provides lots of ideas for student projects and assignments that involve sound recording (follow link and click “Sound” at top of page).

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Image credit: Photo by Dennis S. Hurd

[updated November 2015]

Bubble sheets

scantron answer form
Instead of manually grading multiple choice exams, answers can be recorded on paper “bubble sheets” and graded by machine. Here are the basic steps:

  1. You pick up a blank answer sheet and create an answer key,
  2. You purchase a class set of blank answer sheets,
  3. You administer the test,
  4. You return the answer key and completed forms,
  5. The Scantron machine at the Print Shop grades the forms, and
  6. You receive an email with the results.

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[checked August 2016]