Ted for IRPS faculty: setting up your first Ted class

This page is for my colleagues who are using Ted for the first time in Fall 2014. The main difficulty you will encounter is that it is too flexible. There are many ways to do just about every operation. But they often look different to students. One result is that students don’t know where to find material. Another result (again, speaking from my experience last year) is that you will design a Ted setup that you want to change after a few weeks, potentially adding further confusion for students. This is just for IRPS faculty although other faculty new to Blackboard are welcome to look. Everyone else should ignore it.

At Barry’s suggestion, I’m going to suggest a “minimal set,” based on what First Class looked like. Once you have that working, you can add to it over the course of the quarter. My suggested minimal set is:

  1. A course forum that works like Internet forums everywhere: threaded discussions among students, attachments, and so forth. The simplest is to do everything in a single forum.  You can post announcements, old view graphs, etc.
  2. An assignments page, where all assignments (homework, papers due, anything they have to hand in from home)  are posted.
  3. (Automatic) Home page – this is what they see when they sign in to the course. They can change their home page, but I don’t think you can change it for them.
  4. Grading center. This saves your TA a lot of work! When you grade an assignment on-line, your grade is automatically entered into a table. And, your students can see their grades on each assignment. You can also manually create a column for a new assignment and fill it in by hand, but that has less value.

Two “announcements.” First, Ted and Blackboard are the same thing. The rest of the world calls it Blackboard. Your students may have used it under that name. And when you want to Google for instructional videos, look for Blackboard, not Ted. Like many things I will talk about here, if I were designing this I would do it differently. Second, there is a significant bug right now: you cannot “Paste” text into Ted. More precisely, you have to convert it to plain text first.

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To create an Assignment is slightly tricky. See the picture.  Start at Content, then the Assessment tab. I recommend either Assignment or Turnitin Assignment, depending on preference. See the picture with 3 arrows. If you have never used Turnitin, you might want to wait until later in the quarter. [Yes] The picture is about the same for either kind of assignment. [Edit: Nancy Gilson caught an error here. Based on her comment, I now recommend not using Turnitin for most assignments, just for major papers. I will correct the pictures as soon as I have time. Fortunately, the changes are minor.]

For each assignment, you need to fill out a few options. Most important is the due date and time. (See next figure). Anything submitted after that will be marked late, but you can allow students to submit late if you want. Also, change the Post date to something far in the future, because the system will automatically tell students tVoila_Capture 2014-09-29_03-25-35_PMhat all papers will be graded by that time.

Ted also asks you for a “point value.” Grading in Ted is a subtopic that I can discuss later if requested. All you need for now is that if you say “20” here, then your grades will have to be an integer between 1 and 20.

[Ignore this paragraph for most assignments.] Finally, if you are using Turnitin and not regular assignments, you should click on the “options” mark at the bottom left, and tell the system to allow late submissions, and so forth. These are standard Turnitin choices.

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Creating a forum. You only need to do this ONCE. Click on “Discussions,” then Create Forum as shown by the 2 arrows. (See diagram) Give it a name like “Main forum for discussions”.

Unfortunately, to get into the forum students need to repeat the process of of clicking on Discussions, then they must click on the name of the forum. (I have not found a one-step way to get into a forum). At that point, all the threads are visible. The system works like a standard web forum from five years ago. It’s not slick, but it gets the word done. There are ways you can grade forum participation; it’s roughly similar to grading assignments.

Voila_Capture 2014-09-29_03-37-46_PM

Online grading and the grading center. 

If you have used Ted to create assignments with due dates, students get an automated place where they can file their papers, usually as PDF attachments although other options are available. You can then grade them and post the score for that student. You then have 2 choices: grade on paper, or grade on-line. If you grade on paper, just have Ted download  all the students papers, and print them out. (Watch out – a few students won’t put their names anywhere on the paper. Personally, I let these students deal with the “logical consequences;” I don’t try to fix their mistakes after the first week or two.)  Grade them in the usual way, and return the papers in class. The TA then has to enter the grades somewhere by hand.

The on-paper approach leaves you with 1) a bunch of files on your TA’s hard drive, 2) the work of entering the grades by hand, and 3) the delay in returning papers. Therefore, I eventually trained myself to grade on-line, for most assignments. This is especially useful if you don’t have a TA to do the clerical work. With this method, you can download the PDF, edit it using your favorite PDF editor, load it back up to the student, and type in their grade. Or, there are some facilities to grade within the Ted environment directly. One virtue of this approach is that students get their papers back before class time rather than waiting. The choice of methods is up to you. I usually make too many comments no matter which way I work.

By the way, Ted has weak facilities for grading group assignments. If you have long-running groups, you can set them up in the Groups section. But if students just pick partners for each assignment, it ends up easier to just grade the paper for one person, and manually enter the grade for the other person.

Post your questions and comments here, or send them to me by email. With luck, we will be through the startup period in 2 weeks.


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