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Navigating Online Biology Class

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Hello, and welcome to your online biology class. Now, the purpose of this video is to show you how to navigate through the Blackboard site for the class and its basically a sort of generic video and it works whether you're in bio 10, 11, 14 or one of the 13s. It pretty much works for any of those sites. Basically this is a screenshot movie of my computer screen that you can use to follow along with to get an idea of how to use the Blackboard site for the class. And where to find the various aspects for the class. Now, to get onto Blackboard itself you want to go to the website for Sierra College, which is at And again, because this is a screenshot movie of my computer screen you can just follow along with what I am doing as I click along here. A quick, little message that I want to mention here is that I am actually operating in the browser Firefox. Firefox is, right now, preferred by Blackboard. If you are going to be taking exams on Blackboard, or you are going to be downloading material from Blackboard, anything like that, you're going to want to download Firefox from the internet. You can just do a Google search for Firefox and you can download that program. Blackboard does not care for Internet Explorer, at all. It tends to lock up on exams with this browser. You don't want to have that happen. All right. So, you go to the Sierra College website. Again, and you scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see these buttons down here. And you want to click on the one that is the second from the left where it says Blackboard. And that will bring you to this login page its sort of like an extra step for the login I am not sure why we have this extra page but its all right. Its all good. So, you want to click here where it says "Blackboard Login." And that will bring you to a page that looks like this. Now, if you've been on Blackboard before you will notice that this looks a little bit different. In fact, we have updated yet again to Blackboard 8 and this is going to be the Blackboard system that the college is going to be on for awhile. So this video will be a good sort of walk through even for those of you who have experience with Blackboard. Now, to login your user name is going to be the same as your MySierra user name Whatever your MySierra user name is that is your Blackboard user name. Your password, if you have been on Blackboard before, is going to be the same as it was before. But, if you have never been on Blackboard before, the default password is "stu" , short for student, and then the first initial of your first name and the first initial of your last name. all lower case. So, for me, if I were to get on for the first time, and I were a student, then my password would be "stukc". "stu" the abbreviation for student, "k" for Keely and "c" for carroll, again all lower case. But I have since changed my password so I am just going to click here where it says login and that will bring you to a page that looks something like this. And you can personalize your page, change that colors, that sort of thing, whatever you like So, mine might look a little different than yours. But I want you to pay attention to this box that is in the upper left hand corner. In this box you can change things like your personal information, your password, your email, for example So, click where it says Personal Information here and you can see that you can edit your personal information. And its a good idea to check this to make sure that your email is current. Blackboard defaults to your Sierra College email account. So, your email will come to this address. Its important that either you check that email regularly or you change your email here in Blackboard to whatever email you do use. The reason for that is all communication that I send out to you will be sent through Blackboard. So, if you don't have the correct email on here you're not going to get any of the announcements that I send out about the class that you need to know. If you do not want to use your Sierra College email, that's totally fine with me but you also need to know that the college sends out all communications to students via that email address. So you may want to check it on occasion. The other thing that you can change on Personal Information is your password. So you click where it says change password and you can change your password from the default to whatever you want. Ok, so, now I want to navigate back to the main page So, I click where it says My Institution. And when it comes up, you will notice over here on the right hand side that there is a list of courses. Now, the number of courses that you see here will depend upon the number of Blackboard courses that you are enrolled in. That counts for both onground and online classes but not all instructors use Blackboard. But if you click here, you will see I am clicking on the site for the Natural History class and again this works no matter what biology class you're in. But I wanted to bring up this site, so you can take a look at it. But when you click on the site for your class, it will take you to a page that looks a little something like this. You might see a picture and if you scroll down, there will usually be announcements. I don't have any announcements in here right now because I haven't typed any in yet. But the announcements page is important because the announcements page contains, well, announcements for the class. Any material you need to know. Any thing that is coming up in class, or assignments I need to make you aware of So, the announcements page is a really important place to check. I do generally email announcements out as well but don't count on that. You want to make sure that you are checking the announcements page regularly. Now one of the things thats new in Blackboard is this first button here that says "Home Page". And its supposed to be a home page for the class. Now this is a new feature of Blackboard and I'm not 100% sure that it works perfectly well. So, for that reason, you have this one box here, the To Do Box which I think is really rockin' awesome that you could get on here and like go "Oh,here is what I have to do for my class" However, I'm not 100% sure that this will always work so we're not going to use this as a way to track what is due. I have another way for you to keep track of your assignments so we won't worry about that for now. Over on the left, the third button from the top, is a button that says syllabus. Now, I've already emailed the syllabus out to you all but should you need another copy of the syllabus, you can find it at this button. Now, the syllabus is important, and I am going to bring one up here, The syllabus is important because it is basically a contract between you and your instructor. It lists all of the policies for the class. And essentially says that if you follow all of these policies, you should expect that I will too. So, if I say that the grading scale is set up a certain way, then that is the grading scale that I am going to follow. If I say that there is no pop quizzes, then, hey, there are no pop quizzes. You can be certain that I will follow all of the policies listed in the syllabus. So even though its kinda lengthy, it is important that you read through it. There is a lot of information in here. How to navigate the Blackboard site is in there. Information on classroom policies. Information on books you might need for the class. And again you might need different books depending upon what class you are in so don't worry if these aren't the books that you have for your class. Also in here you will find a list of all of the assignments that are required for the class. Let me make a mention about assignments. I have lots of assignments in my classes. By that I don't mean that its like "My Gosh, this class has, like, 100 billion more assignments than other instructors." What I mean is that there is a variety of assignments in the class. Its interesting because in the past when I first started teaching the ways of grading was you give three midterms and one final. And that was all your were going to get. Your grade was only based upon that. What I came to realize was that was not fair. Not everybody is a great test taker. So it seemed really unfair to base your entire grade upon just exams. So in my classes we have things like one minute papers, we have critical thinking assignments, there are exams, there are a variety of assignments. And again the purpose of that is to give people, who maybe aren't great test takers, a chance to succeed. And I know that it sounds like a lot of work but the one minute papers, seriously, take one minute. You might have to do a little research but you only have to type on it for one minute. And in all honesty most students like doing the critical thinking assignments. So read through the syllabus so you understand what those assignments are all about. I even have in the syllabus I have a pie chart to show you where those points come from. You will also find in the syllabus a schedule. And then you will find something called an assignment tracker. I have this available not just in the syllabus but also in a separate location in Blackboard which I will show you in a moment. I broke this document out separately because I don't want you to print the syllabus because it is so long. The assignment tracker can be printed out alone and then posted somewhere that you will see it regularly so you won't miss any assignments. Try to save paper and don't print out too much material for the class. When you look at the assignment tracker it says when stuff is due, and what it is that's due, and there is also a spot where you can fill in your points if you want. There will be another place where you can check your grades that I will show you in a moment. Now, our class week runs from Friday at 8am to Friday at 8am. So, our week starts on Friday at 8am and ends on Friday at 8am. So our due dates, for a lot of our material, with the exception of material that is due in lab, if you have lab is going to be due BY Friday at 8am. Notice that I didn't say AT, I said due BY Friday at 8am. You can do the assignment any time during the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, whatever. I don't care. Its just due BY Friday at 8am. I have had students email me and say "I couldn't get up that early to hand in the assignment." and I say "You didn't need to. Its due BY that date." So this is a great thing to have. This assignment tracker helps you to keep track of what is due in the class. Also in the syllabus, you'll find, oh and by the way, real quick. If you have a lab section, this shaded area points out the material that is due in lab. Also in here you will find the Sierra College Board Policy on Academic Honesty. You need to read through it. It is your responsibility to know it. Being unaware of the policy on Academic Honesty is not a valid reason for violating it. The campus actually has a packet entitled "Student Rights and Responsibilities" and you should have a copy of it. If you don't, you can get it from the Student Life Center. Or you can contact Student Life on campus and ask them to send you a copy because you need to have one. Ok, so you find the syllabus at that button. Make sure you read it. Very important! As I mentioned before, the assignment tracker, you can get separately. The assignment tracker is the fourth button from the top. So you can just download it there. And then on the sixth button from the top you will find a button that says content. Now the content for this class is broken down week-by-week. So each new folder will become available at Friday at 8 in the morning. So you will see a new folder pop-up then When you go to access the content, you click on it and it will open up in a new window, and this is sort of a new way that Blackboard navigates through the content. Its a little bit different I am on the fence as to whether or not its as user friendly as before. But maybe I am just being a stick in the mud about it. Basically in a week you will find over here on the left hand side I have a table of contents and here it says "Material for the Introduction to Natural History". So what that means is in this folder you have all of the material for the lecture on this topic. And here is the link for the next lecture. And then there is this button down here for assignments You can navigate through here by clicking on the table of contents or you can navigate through by using these buttons. Where it says page.. Now, I often have videos on the site to introduce the topic. To watch these videos you will need to have Quicktime or Adobe flashplayer installed on your computer. Most computers have those programs installed on them but I will show you, in a moment here, where you can find links to download them to your computer, if you need them. The lectures for this class are available in two ways: one is that they are available in a pdf format which means that to view them you will need to have Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer. This is a free program and most computers already have the program installed on them however, if you don't I can show you where you can download it. When you download the lectures for the class they will look a little something like this. I tried to make them look nice to take away the pain of having to read through them. You can see that it is basically a text lecture. Sometimes there are little blanks to fill in and sometimes there are not. But maybe you don't feel like having to read through all of that information. Maybe you are not a visual learner. Maybe you are more auditory. Well, I have an option for that. I am a podcaster. There are two ways that you can access the podcasts for the class. The one way I just did it which was I just clicked on the arrow in the content to take me to the next page. Or you can click here on the left hand side where it says podcasts for the lecture. That will basically reroute you to the Sierra College iTunesU site for the class. This is iTunes but you can not access the site through the iTunes store. Sierra College has a backdoor that it uses for its podcasts. Those podcasts are only assessable using the links that I have provided to you. The podcasts basically are me reading the text lecture. There are no real inherent differences between the podcasts and the text lectures. Some people like to use one. Some people like to use the other. Some people like to use both and follow along with the text lecture. Its entirely up to you if you want to use them I have the lectures broken up into units, usually following the exams. So the material for each exam should be clustered together. If you want to get the podcasts, just click the button to the right where it says "get". But you will need what is called a content aggrigator to play the podcasts. This includes a program like iTunes. Again, if you don't have iTunes installed on your computer, I will give you the link to where you can download the program. Getting the podcasts are optional and they are aren't different than the texts. If you look up here at the top, one of the cool things, are these things called breadcrumbs which you can use to visit where you were before. So, I am going to click here at the top to get back to the content page. In each week's folder you are going to find a link for assignments as well. Now the reason that I backed out of the folder that I was in is because I don't really have a lot of assignments for the first week and I want you to see the second week. The second week is on here but it is hidden, so I have click on this button here. You can see that I have the folders up here already but you can't have them early because we all have to follow along at the same pace. Let me try to click on this, yikes, wait that isn't right! So I am going to go back to where I was. So the format looks a little bit different here since this is the instructor mode. But it is still similar to what you saw before. On the left there is the table of contents. But what I want to do is to is to show you the assignments folder. So when you enter the assignments folder you will see a spot that says due dates. It says the date that all of the material in the folder is due by. Then in each week's folder, you will find any number of various types of assignments. You might find one minute papers to do, discussion board topics to do and you might find critical thinking assignments, you might find exams. Let me mention briefly about some of these assignments This one here you can see is the ecological footprint one minute paper. Basically it says click here, I am not going to click here now, but it says that you can click here to visit a site where you can calculate your ecological footprint. This is the impact you have on the environment. So you would then visit the site, calculate your footprint and then complete the assignment. To submit this, you click the header to the assignment and it will bring you to a page that looks like this. All you are going to do is to click here and type your response. That's it. Just type it in and send it to me. There is an option to upload and file and turn it in. Don't. I don't want to have to download all of those files to my computer. Just go ahead and type it in. That's all you have to do. Then click submit and then I can go ahead and grade it. Each of these are worth 3 points. Then the next thing you will see on here, let me scroll down, is the critical thinking assignment. Now critical thinking assignments are designed to get you to think critically about a topic. I will give you a topic and ask you some questions about it. I want you to critically think, critically analyze the problem. I want not only information about the topic that you find out but I want your opinion about it. I am not going to grade you down for having one opinion or another. You know what, that is not my business. I just want to know that you thought about it. I don't care if your opinion on the topic is totally different than mine. What matters is that you thought about it. I never grade anybody based upon their opinion that is not right. I only grade on the material that is submitted. To submit your critical thinking assignment, you click here where it says view/complete. At this link you will be able to upload your critical thinking assignment. Now for this one you will need to upload a file. This is because it has to run through a program called SafeAssign. I apologize that I am using this program because it makes the assumption that people are going to cheat. I know thats not fair. The problem is that over the years some students have cut and pasted material from wikipedia even with the links still intact! So I now have to have people submit material through SafeAssign. What this program does is to check assignments that are turned in against material that is out on the internet. To make sure that it is original. Also in the assignments folder you will find this thing that looks like a person talking which is a link to the discussion board. This gives you information on what the discussion topic is for that week and you can link to it either by clicking here or by clicking 5 buttons down for discussions. Read what it is asking you to discuss and then make a posting. Original posts are due by Tuesday at 8am and two replies are due by Friday. These comments must be substantive to get credit. The comments have to actually say something. I am very particular about the discussion board that we don't get angry or agitated with each other. We need to be fair, kind and nice to each other and don't judge people for what they say. We judge the information based upon the data and facts that are presented. I don't care what your opinion is, just have the information to back it up. To use the discussion board you need to click the topic and after you click the topic, you can click where it says create thread and then you can just do your message. Then once other topics are posted then you can reply to other student's postings. Another thing I want to show you on here, is there is a link directly to iTunesU. There is another button that says learning outcomes here. This is basically a list of the things that you can expect to learn in this class. You will learn at least this stuff and you might learn even more than this. This is at least the basics of what you can expect to learn. So its pretty handy. I also have a button for something called tech toolbox. So as I mentioned before if you don't have Quicktime or iTunes or Adobe installed on your computer the links to these programs are all right here so you can link to where you can download the programs. There is a button called tools. This has a couple of buttons you might be interested in. There is a send mail button. You can use this to email me or another student in the class. Contacts so you can contact me if you need to. Probably the main thing that students like on this site is the MyGrades button. Let me turn off my edit mode so you can see it in a student view. I see Blackboard a little different than you do so I want to make it a student view. So MyGrades is the button you will be interested in. MyGrades is a running point total of all of the points that you have in the class. Along with any comments that I give you on any assignments you turn in. I will have MyGrades up to date around the third or fourth week of the semester. That is because it takes me a little bit of time after all of the adds and drops to get that data entered. You can click on this and see what your grade is. This is really handy for a couple of reasons: one, its always good to know how you are doing in a class; two, you can make sure that I didn't enter any of your grades wrong. So this is a good thing to check regularly. There is also a button for Blackboard help which will take you to their help center. They can help you out if you are having problems with the system. The last button here is called learning resources and that will link you to the library. Then there is another button here for Wimba/Pronto. I am going to click on that and bring that up. Basically what Wimba is is a program that allows you to instant message myself or anyone else in the class who is online at the time. When you go to Wimba you follow a series of steps to download Wimba onto your computer. Then when you open Wimba, where are you, oh for goodness sakes I can't find it. Be patient with me for a moment. There it is. It is usually in my toolbar. Sorry about that. When you open Wimba, you get a screen that looks like this. Sign in. This brings up a screen that looks like this. Don't panic. For some reason it has all of my old classes listed here. I need to remove some of these but basically anybody who downloads Wimba onto their computer and gets onto Wimba will see anybody who is on Wimba at the same time listed here. You can then instant message any person who is on Wimba at that time. Whether its myself or anyone else in the class. Any time I am on office hours, whether online or on ground, I am on Wimba. So you can contact me anytime. Wimba is great for quick questions but it can also be used for more complicated questions as well. So that is Wimba. It is a pretty nice program to have. Lets go back to Blackboard. That is pretty much the Blackboard site for the class. I suggest that you get on the site and explore it. Make sure that you get the syllabus first and read it over. The sooner you explore the site, the sooner you can contact me if you are having problems. Ok, so now for a little bit about me. I am your instructor, Keely Carroll. And this is my bedroom. The kinda great thing about online is that you can do it anywhere! That's the best thing about being an online student, which I have been before, and being an online instructor. Yes, this is a giant map behind me. My husband loves geography. I have been teaching at Sierra for a few years now. Before coming to Sierra I taught at Sac State, City College and Folsom Lake College. My background is primarily in ecology. My focus is wildlife ecology. I have taught classes in natural history, non-majors biology, majors cell and molecular biology, field methods in ecology, environmental regulations what else have a I taught? Environmental science and I used to teach interdisciplinary here at Sierra. So I have a varied background. My main interest is in ecology. I did my masters at Sac State. In fact I am sort of a good example of someone who took a very circular path to get done with school When I first went, I did not want to be there. My GPA my first semester was 1.50. It was really, really bad. After a year of college I dropped out. I had no interest in being in college anymore. I moved to the Bay Area and managed Musicland stores because I had a massive interest in music. One day my husband said, "You are miserable in that job, go back to school." He was right and so I did. I went back with a renewed interest in college. I understood the importance of it. From that point in time until I got my degree was about 6 years, It took me awhile. So I did get my degree eventually in biology. Then I did go back and get my masters in conservation biology. I had a blast doing it. I actually studied skunks. Not striped, Pepe le Pew skunks, I studied spotted skunks which are little, about the size of a 6 month old kitten with their tail up. Entirely cuter. A lot more fun to work with. I will go back some day and get my doctorate simply because I love school. But I do have to wait until my 2 kids are grown. I do have 2 young children who you might hear occasionally in the podcasts. My son is a fan of sound effects so occasionally you might hear him making sound effects in the background. Or sometimes they just like to talk to me when I am podcasting. I live out in Placerville. So I have a little bit of a commute to get into school. Again, online teaching is sometimes a bonus. My favorite things to do: I like to read. Its a lot of fun. Gosh, that sounds so nerdy. I do love to read. I love to run which also sounds nerdy too. And a bit pathetic! I love to cook. You will probably find in some of my classes that there is sort of a running theme about food. That is partially not only because I love food but also because I want people to learn how to cook, to learn how to eat nutritiously, especially students. My gosh when I was a student I lived on Macaroni and Cheese. I think after I graduated from college I didn't eat Mac and Cheese for like two years because I was sick of it. We can break out of the Mac and Cheese mold and eat other things. There are other things to eat that are fairly inexpensive. Cooking is another one of my favorite things. I love being outside. I love camping. Hiking.Biking. Pretty much any activity that forces me to be out of doors. That's pretty much it about me. The main thing that I want you to know is that if you are ever having any problems in the class what-so-ever, you need to contact me. I really, honestly can't help you unless you get a hold of me. Whether its regarding your grades, course navigation, or even if you are having a conflict with another student. I can't help you if you don't contact me. Remember that is what I am here for. I am here to help you, should you need it. That's it for this video. I hope it was helpful and not too terribly boring and I will, I guess you can say, see you in class.

Video Details

Duration: 34 minutes and 37 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Keely Carroll
Director: Keely Carroll
Views: 269
Posted by: bioblurbs on Aug 11, 2010

This video is designed to demonstrate to you how to navigate the Blackboard site for your online class.

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