Online Learning – Transitioning Across Platforms and Bringing the Undergraduates with You
General description of the project
In Fall 2022 UHD made the tough decision to move away form BlackBoad Learn as a leaning platform and move to Canvas. This presentation will discuss how Scholars Academy organization previously located in BBL as an organization found itself with a “home base” due to several factors. One such factor decided by the academic leadership that Canvas would be used only for courses and BBL was going away in Spring 2024.
So what was the 23 year old College of Science and Technology unit left to do to maintain an online presence and storehouse for its membership?
With the help of the UHD formstack team, we decided to move into the MS TEAMS space for our Scholars Academy (SA) organization. Students were already somewhat familiar with this platform as Scholars Academy used this as a portal for several grant awards supporting mentored research under the guidance of PhDs.
MS Teams was already profuse among UHD users and quite easy to grasp. SA leaders set a goal for all Peer Mentors to be trained in use and in training others in use by late August. This goal was reached.
The technologies used to simulate what BBL had afforded SA in automation of results for membership requirements were selected. UHD Formstack, a simple, but nominally powerful survey tool was selected. The SA leadership team had used Formstack previously for registration and uploading of documents for a summer grant program supporting minors, community college undergraduates and UHD undergraduates.
The SA Executive Director had envisioned how this combination of technologies might work together and indicated to the developers, she would generate the forms necessary. While a few questions arose, formstack developers were very timely with their help.
Once the formstack forms were ready, then MS Teams became the targeted platform for the SA Organization. Using MS TEAMs allows for 200 members to have access to a variety of the sections in the platform. As well, MS Teams also can privatize some of the areas of MS Teams to some or all of the membership. Its versatility lends itself to being a true portal for membership.
Explain project results
Because UHD is an HSI/MSI university and because the Scholars Academy mirrors the demographics of UHD in all areas except African Americans, the MS Teams serves all students who in some instances may be underserved. SA membership like the portal because they are millennials and enjoy the digital access to university.
We will be extending the post-semester survey to all SA membership in December and will provide data of its use and address how members like using this platform.
Why it should be considered best practice?
All universities are seeking cost-savings and platforms that best serve student needs and instructional needs. Many times too much choice creates chaos rather than simplifying what learners might need. As for the SA Organization, there was little choice, so using a platform that was somewhat known to many students seems to have worked well. The best practice is making what you have access to serve the organization’s needs and that is a best practice.
Highlights of your proposed presentation
Demonstrate BBL the old platform; Demonstrate formstack; Demonstrate MS Teams and the ways in which SA is using it, then Demonstrate the combination of formstack and MS Teams.
Lessons learned: 1) start sooner in the “switching over” rather than the beginning week of classes; 2) experiences in the development of many platforms acts to assist what can be envisioned (First Class; Moodle; BBL ; MS Teams; others); and 3) Need is the mother of invention!
The Evaluation Committee will evaluate submitted proposals based on the following criteria. Each area will be rated on a scale from 1 to 7 (1= non-satisfactory; 7 =outstanding), for a maximum of 63 points.