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COBL - Center for Online and Blended Learning
ISSUE 13 - December 2008

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BGSU e-Learning News and Updates

Online Education: What You Need to Know

“Staying the Course: Online Education in the United States, 2008” ( the sixth annual report on the state of online education in U.S. higher education, was just published earlier this month. Supported by the Sloan Foundation and the Babson Survey Research Group. This report answers some of the current fundamental questions about the nature and extent of online education.

Some of the findings include:

  • Over 3.9 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2007 term, a 12% increase from the previous year.
  • This growth rate for online students exceeds the 1.2% growth of the overall higher ed student population.
  • Over 20% of all US higher education students were taking at least one online course in the fall 2007 semester.

Furthermore, the report states that:

  • Higher fuel costs will lead to more students choosing online education.
  • Institutions that offer programs to serve working adults are the most positive about potential enrollment growth being driven by rising unemployment.

What does this tell us at BGSU?
The demand for online education is growing!

Several factors are driving this demand including the capabilities of current technologies and its ubiquitous nature in all of our activities. As the usage of technology in students’ daily lives has expanded, so have their expectations for the classroom changed. In addition, our student population is changing. Adult and non-traditional students…a growing population… have life circumstances, such as jobs and families, that do not allow for them to travel to a campus to take courses.

Online education provides opportunities for access to a BGSU education and is responsive to the goal of the University System of Ohio strategic plan of graduating more students in Ohio.

Developing BGSU Online Courses and Programs
The Center for Online and Blended Learning is well established and experienced to lead and support the growing need and demand for distance education. We are excited and enthusiastic about the future and look forward to working with the BGSU community in the development and implementation of online programs and courses at BGSU!

Questions? Information needed? How to get started? Contact:
Connie Molnar, Director, Center for Online and Blended Learning; 419-372-6792

OLN Resource of the Day

COBL, The Center for Online and Blended Learning at BGSU, was featured by the Ohio Learning Network for their design and development of a new Blackboard video tutorial database that makes it extremely easy for BGSU instructors to search for and find Blackboard video tutorials created by the COBL staff. This new searchable database has a built in ajax live search engine, tag cloud, categories, rss feed, and an email subscription service to connect faculty to the latest tutorials.

To use the dynamic search engine, one only needs to start typing a word in the search area, such as “gradebook” and immediately the page begins to display tutorials that relate to your topic as you type your search. The database is currently populated with video tutorials regarding the most popular and newer functions in blackboard and will continually be updated with more videos throughout the year. As a member of the Academic Technology Unit on campus, COBL has designed this resource to be useful to the entire BGSU community.

Changes to the Online Faculty Training Program

We'd like to announce some exciting changes to the Online Faculty Training Program. First and foremost, the program has been broken up into two sessions, Blackboard Basics for Online Faculty and Best Practices for Teaching Online. Upon completion of the two training sessions, participants will receive a Certificate of Completion. The sessions are offered back to back, which makes for a smooth transition from basic to advanced principles. Keep reading for an explanation of each session.

Blackboard Basics for Online Faculty
This one week, self paced course introduces key components of Blackboard and basic pedagogical and technical principles of online teaching. The tutorials use videos from the Blackboard Tutorial Database to illustrate common tasks in the course management system. Participants of this course benefit from experiencing an online course from a student's perspective as well as managing a practice classroom. Participants who already know their way around Blackboard can opt to test out of this training session, before moving on to the next.

Topics include: course management, communication and assessment tools, the new grade center, and a basic overview of more advanced concepts.

Best Practices for Teaching Online
After completing or testing out of the Blackboard Basics session, participants have the opportunity to learn about effective strategies for the design, development and delivery of an online course in this highly interactive two week training course. Participants primarily use discussion boards to interact with the instructor and fellow online teachers, but we also explore blogs, wikis, and social networks as forms of communication as well.

Topics include: effective use of media and Web 2.0 tools, techniques for facilitating multiple forms of online communication, managing online group projects, and assessing and grading online students.

Upcoming dates

Blackboard Basics for Online Faculty:

February 2-8, 2009
March 9-15, 2009 (Spring Break)

Best Practices for Teaching Online

February 9-22, 2008
March 16-29, 2009

Blogs are on the Move at BGSU

It's been two years in the making and now blogs are on the move at BGSU. Terence Armentano, Assistant Director for COBL, developed and deployed a beta version of the system on a server off site last year. This fall, in collaboration with ITS, we've moved the system to a server on site at,, and currently serve 926 blogs and 725 users and those numbers are growing every day.

It's been a successful migration to the new server and COBL would like to thank Kurt Bechstein for doing a great job administering the blog server as well as Anthony Fontana for spreading the word and giving demos of the system to individual faculty and departments around campus. The term blog does not adequately describe all of the uses that the system can be leveraged to accomplish.

Do you want to teach online but don't know how to get started?
Contact Connie Molnar, COBL Director at or 419.372.6792 for assistance.

Articles, Ideas, and Innovations in online teaching and learning

COBL Podcast #5 - Dr. Allen Rogel - Teaching ASTR 201 Online
by: Michael Kudela
Instructional Designer - COBL, BGSU

Dr. Allen Rogel spent some time with Micheal Kudela discussing the Online ASTR 201 course. This is the first time Dr. Rogel has taught Modern Astronomy online, and agreed to share this experience with our audioence. Dr. Rogel goes over the positives and negatives of teaching astronomy online, and where he sees his classroom in the future.

Click the play button to listen.

Subscribe to the COBL Podcast Feed (What is a Feed?)
- View our COBL Podcast Page

Quality Matters Training Review
by: Connie Molnar
Director - COBL, BGSU

Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components. Sponsored by MarylandOnline, Inc, Quality Matters has generated widespread interest and received national recognition for its peer-based approach to quality assurance and continuous improvement in online education.

The implementation of Quality Matters is well underway at BGSU! Thirteen faculty and staff have participated in QM peer reviewer training and seven have passed the assessment exam to become official QM peer reviewers. BGSU hosted the first Ohio Quality Matters peer reviewer training on September 9th which included participants from BGSU, Miami University, Cleveland State University, and Owens Community College. BGSU faculty have also attended training at Miami University and additional faculty will attend training in Columbus in December to add to BGSU’s growing list of certified QM online course peer reviewers.

9/9/08 BGSU Quality Matters Training. QM Ohio Consortium members pictured left to right: Brenda Boyd, Miami U; Connie Molnar, BGSU; Julia Matuga, BGSU; Mark Karamol, Owens Community College, and Paul Bowers, Cleveland State University.

Several BGSU online courses will undergo a Quality Matters peer review this academic year, conducted by QM Ohio Consortium members who have completed peer review training as well as by master reviewers funded by the Ohio Learning Network. Courses that meet Quality Matters standards are awarded a QM official recognition.

Benefits to Quality Matters
1. Rigorous online and blended course design review helps to ensure the development and delivery of quality courses and programs.
2. National recognition for BGSU courses which meet Quality Matters standards.
3. Peer reviewer faculty training provides professional development for faculty teaching online.

How You Can Get Involved:
To learn more about Quality Matters, to request an online course review, or to request peer reviewer training, contact Connie Molnar, Director, Center for Online and Blended Programs at In addition, on-campus presentations will be delivered during the spring semester; dates and times will be announced in upcoming Campus Update emails.

Bruce's Corner
by: Dr. Bruce L. Edwards
Associate Vice Provost for Academic Technology


We're building the Academic Technology Blog @ BGSU to invite faculty, staff, and student exploration of new and emerging technologies and, more importantly, learn how to use them effectively to enhance research, teaching, and learning.

As BGSU strives to lead the state and nation in innovative ways to engage its community in the highest quality educational environment, we in COBL hope to prepare our students to compete and become leaders in the growing information economy. Join us for discussion about new products and best practices in academic technology.

Free and Easy Screen Recordings with Jing
by: Stehpen Jenkins
Instructional Designer- COBL, BGSU

Have you ever wanted to show a student or colleague something on your computer? Maybe you'd like to show them how to share a Google doc, how to embed YouTube videos on their blog, or maybe just review a document while providing commentary. If they are sitting next to you, they can simply pull up chair and take notes while you share your valuable insights. But what if they are across campus, or across the country? Until recently, capturing anything more than a still screen shot of your screen required bulky, complex, and often expensive software.

Jing is a software product that has changed, dare I say revolutionized that process completely. Jing is free screen recording software, available for both OSX and Windows that provides an extremely simple way to share a video recording of your screen with an optional voiceover. The software operates in a similar manner to existing products: the user activates the recording tool, is given the option to crop the portion of the screen being recorded, and then records their activity. Where Jing is fundamentally more effective is in the sharing of your newly recorded video. Instead of storing the video away somewhere on your machine, you are given the option to immediately store the video on a remote server. To further simplify things, Jing then immediately copies the URL of your now online video to your clipboard, for easy pasting into an email or webpage! The uses for Jing are limitless--give web "tours", explain complex processes, troubleshoot a computer remotely, critique a paper line by line--you are constrained only by your own imagination!

Jing is available at for free, and is available for Windows and OSX.

Bb Tips for a User-Friendly Online Course
Use Blackboard Tutorial Database for Just in Time Training

by: Carolyn Kraut
Instructional Designer- COBL, BGSU

If you haven't read Stephen's article about Jing - do that now! It's a great article that introduces this amazing tool called Jing. We used Jing to develop the video tutorials in the Blackboard Tutorial Database as a way to address common issues and questions relating to Blackboard course shells and course delivery. There are a few key features to this database I'd like to highlight:

  1. Searchable Database. Having trouble in the Grade Center? Type a keyword like "grade" into the search bar and a list of videos that best match your keyword will appear as you type.
  2. Browse by Tags. Not sure what your issue is? Look through our list of Tags to see what videos best fit your problem.
  3. Permanent Links. Do you learn by repetition? Bookmark the page(s) for any tutorial you think you'll need to come back to later.
  4. Show and Tell. In addition to visually walking you through a process from start to finish, some videos are supplemented with a short explanation of why the specific function exists or why the process will help you develop a strong online course.

If you run into a problem while developing or teaching your course, check out the database first. We're constantly adding new videos. Odds are - you'll be able to find help. If not, send us an email at and we'll add a new video relating to your issue. Check out the video at the following link to see how you can use the database to troubleshoot on your own.

Sign up Today for Spring Sessions!


What BGSU faculty are saying:

  • “All of it was valuable.  Perhaps most useful was seeing what could be done, the detailed instructions, and being in a position of being forced to complete assignments........seeing it through the eyes of the student.”

  • “Overall, I found this extremely valuable and will recommend it to colleagues.”

An online course is much more than a repository of information. It is an interactive, collaborative, and informative method of instruction. What better way to learn how to teach effectively online than to experience it from the student's point of view. Join your colleagues in learning how to harness the power of online instruction by participating in two courses offered completely online via Blackboard and facilitated by a distance learning specialist. Just like most distance courses, these courses work around your schedule rather than vice versa. After completing both courses, you will receive a COBL Certificate of Training and join the ranks of other leaders in e-Learning at BGSU as a member of the BGSU e-Learning Colloquium.

Click Here to learn more and enroll in the COBL Online Faculty Training Courses or for more information call 419-372-6792, or e-mail

NOTE: These courses are most beneficial for instructors somewhat new to facilitation and course design in the online environment.

The Distance Learning newsletter is published by COBL (the Center for Online and Blended Learning) to provide faculty with current news and initiatives in online learning at BGSU. Each newsletter will contain online pedagogy articles, training and workshop dates, online teaching tips, online teaching resources, and interviews with BGSU faculty or staff who teach online.

"BGSU is accredited from the North Central Association for its distance learning programs at BGSU and has also been granted the "Best Practices in Student Services" designation by the Ohio Learning Network."

Issue 15