Raising the Bar: Rubrics for Student Engagement


Rubistar – Online Rubric-generation Tool   can save you a lot of time and effort, but you still need to do your own thinking when it comes to identifying the appropriate rubric criteria, etc. Copy and paste your final rubric contents into the Blackboard or Moodle rubric tool.   iRubric is another excellent tool. And while its interface is more complex, it’s easier to locate good rubric samples by academic discipline in the gallery.

Sample Rubrics from the Assoc. for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Ed

DePaul University Rubrics Resources Excellent resource for all aspects of rubrics including many specific examples.

Creating a Rubric – An Online Resource for Faculty  University of Colorado at Denver through their Center for Faculty Development

Process to Create an Effective Rubric Two-page handout that steps you through the creation process to make sure that your rubric supports the learning objectives of the assignment.

Link to tutorials for using the Blackboard rubric tool Rubrics can be integrated with discussions, blogs, journals, and wikis but NOT SafeAssignments (not yet anyway).

Link to resources for using the Moodle rubric tool Integrates with assignments, but NOT discussions or wikis.

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Better Late Than Never? Joining the Smartphone Epidemic

Hey! I enjoy technology.  I WORK in technology as an instructional developer.  But I have fought getting a smartphone even though I have two daughters who are iPhone fanatics.  Mostly because I couldn’t justify paying somewhere between 85$ and $110 a month for this fancy electronic “toy.”

But I’ve become a Believer.   In the importance of participating in the smartphone phenonmenon, anyway, if you are in education.  Let me explain.

Since I got my Droid about a month ago I find that my thinking has changed about a lot of things.  The joke–“There’s an app for that!”–has become a reality, and I find myself thinking in terms of possibilities instead of accepting what I can’t do.  In fact, I understand that it’s not that difficult to create your own apps (“There’s a toolkit for that!”), and it might be fun to give it a try. 

But as an educator, what comes through loud and clear, is that unless you own and USE a Smartphone you cannot fully appreciate the concept of mobile learning.

My smartphone has tapped into my explorer spirit and I find that I am interested in things that didn’t hit my radar BSP (Before SmartPhone).  Using the maps app to find my friend’s party out in the country makes me wonder how online maps and/or GPS could be used in courses that involve geography/maps.  Taking pictures with my smartphone and uploading them immediately into my Picasa web albums gives me ideas for helping faculty build useful sets of images for their classes while they’re on vacation or at a conference.  Works for Flickr, too.  And easy to link to from Blackboard or Moodle.  Or view on my iPad using the Web albums Picasa app.  And creating voice memos and/or using voice to text opens up a whole new dimension of work methods with some good news:  keyboarding is out,  voice recognition is in.

Stay tuned as I continue to explore some of these smartphone-inspired strategies and be sure to share your favorite tools and efficiencies, too.

(Oh, and I got around that nasty “cost” issue by going with Virgin Mobile’s $40 a month Unlimited Data and 1200 Anytime Minutes plan with no contract.  Seriously good deal.  If you decide to give it a try, I’d appreciate you using my code xGQMXdOL.)

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Oops! Google’s Droid phone apps wide open to hackers

I’m happy with my LG Optimus V (for VirginMobile) smartphone, but I’m NOT happy to learn than it and all other Droid phones are hugely vulnerable to malware and spyware built into Android Marketplace apps.  Shame on you, Google!

My friend gave me the bad news when she brought in a copy of this Charlotte Observer article.  It turns out that Google has a laissez-faire attitude toward Droid apps and is willing to sacrifice its customers security and valuable equipment in order to increase the speed with which Droid apps are developed and delivered to the public.  Quantity over Quality, most definitely.  Although I’m not an Apple devotee like my daughters, now more than ever, I DO appreciate the careful vetting they give to iPhone and iPad apps:  if it’s in the iTunes marketplace, it’s passed muster and is safe, if not always satisfying.

Thank goodness I haven’t downloaded many apps yet.  Just the Opera mini browser, Mint, Groupon, LivingSocial, and Quick Settings.  I’m hoping they will be malware-free.

If anyone out there knows about an app that will zap bad apps, I’m interested!

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My choice for online photo storage and presentation

After a lot of research and experimentation, I’ve settled on using Picasa Web Albums for my online photo storage and presentation.  Here’s my reasoning:

  • 1G of storage for free or 20G of storage for $5 per year
  • Lots of iPad apps work with Picasa – for example:
    • Evernote
    • Web Albums   or     MyPix (I haven’t explored this option)
  • Seamlessly integrated with my Droid phone (because it’s Google)
  • Can email photos directly using “secret” Gmail email address* 
    (NOTE:  doesn’t work for videos)

My colleague asked why I didn’t use Dropbox, and the main reason is that I want an application specifically designed to store and present photos.  Dropbox does have a Photos folder and you can create albums which will display as slideshows.  But it is a very basic tool.  You can’t even rearrange your images, for example.

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So far so good…

I am still frustrated that I can’t access my photos on Skydrive from my iPad. However, I have discovered that my Picasa web albums synch with my Droid, so that opens up some avenues worth exploring.

***Update:  I’m liking Picasa Web Albums more and more.  It’s quite easy to upload photos and downloading is easy, too.  The only requirement is that you must have Picasa installed on your computer, which makes sense.  Then you download/share entire Web Albums.  I haven’t done this a lot yet, so I don’t know how quickly (or slowly) this transfer occurs.  But at least it is straightforward.

Picasa Web albums aren’t fancy, but you can add captions with a 1024-character limit (let’s say about 200 words–quite a lot!) and adjust the “playing” speed in the viewer.  Sharing is super-easy:  for instructional use I highly recommend using the “embed slideshow” options.  You can select your player size and whether or not to include captions (your students can turn these off, if desired.)

Look at house nicely the embedded slideshow presents within Blackboard:

I think that this is definitely a tool to consider for those faculty who have a lot of images that they would like to use in their distance courses (or supplemental websites).

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Seeking harmony among my dysfunctional digital technologies

Since I got my iPad about a month ago, my life has changed. Suddenly I didn’t want to type on a keyboard any longer: I wanted to touch and gesture and stretch windows right on my screen. My dumbphone seemed even dumber and I started to get serious smartphone envy, especially when I was around my two iPhone daughters. The biggest issue was the big monthly fees. Ouch!

As a Virgin Mobile customer I was used to being contract-free, but had never given much thought to getting any kind of smartphone besides an iPhone. I figured it was iPhone or dumbphone, nothing in-between.

And then I found myself heading home to Seattle for a visit and wondering how I could use my iPad while I was there. My dad doesn’t have the Internet and I’m doubtful about my Mom’s nursing home. The solution I arrived at was a surprise to me, but so far is working awfully well.

I purchased a smartphone offered by Virgin Mobile, the LG Optimus V, which is a mid-level Android. My daughters were aghast that I would even consider something other than an iPhone. But my $40 a month, unlimited data and 1200 anytime minute plan made me brave.

The deciding factor was that my Droid could act as a Wifi Hotspot according to the information I found buried in a Droid blog. It was worth the gamble: so far this has worked like a charm. I’ve learned that the next OS update on my phone could end this bliss, but I’ll have to trust that the hackers will not stay far behind.

My current frustration revolves around my desire to access my Skydrive photo library from my iPad: “No mobile access” is the black message when I try to login. What to do? The other cloud storage sites cost a lot for a lot less, but I’m determined to view my pics on my iPad. Stay tuned as I continue my search for digital harmony…

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