Schoology training for faculty at the Yap campus

When one tours a country, seeing a place for the first time through the windows of a tour bus, one does not necessarily understand what one is seeing. One still gets a broad impression of what the country contains. I opened the workshop in that manner, presenting a tour through the features of Schoology. The presentation is eighty-six slides that cover a number of aspects of Schoology - a bus tour through some sections of Schoology.

I noted that even with an empty campus, and fiber optic connectivity, the latency I was seeing suggested that once students arrived on campus, there might yet be bandwidth issues. Knowing that Google Drive Assignments performs well in a low-bandwidth environment, I opted to share the Google Drive Assignments presentation after the morning break.

After lunch I worked one-on-one with individual faculty. The ways in which each faculty member sets up a grade book and associated grading system is unique to each faculty member. There are also other unique needs that are best tackled one-on-one.  The afternoon was spent attending to these individualized needs.

On Tuesday I worked with an instructor who needed a system that took three weighted categories and produced a midterm grade. Then the same three weighted categories produced a second half of the term grade. Then the midterm grade and second half of the term grade are averaged to generate a final course grade. I set up six categories with each category at half the weight the category holds in the whole term. While not an exact copy of the settings, I set up something akin to the following:

Homework first half 10%
Tests and quizzes first half 25%
Midterm 15%
Homework second half 10%
Tests and quizzes second half 25%
Final exam 15%

This appears to work: in the first half of the term a student is not "limited" to "50%" as Schoology runs calculations only on used categories. Unused, or not yet used, categories do not count in the calculation. Thus a student can have 100% at midterm.

Over in the electronics laboratory the instructor demonstrated a "smartboard" that functioned using a standard issue whiteboard, an infrared pen, and a camera.

The camera sits on top of the projector...

... and faces the whiteboard.

The infrared emitting pen is tracked by the camera and one can interact with the image just as one might with a smartboard. The key difference is cost. The above system is roughly a hundred fold less expensive than a smartboard. Bear in mind that out here shipping on a massive smartboard is a significant portion of the cost.

Wednesday the fiber optic line was not connected through to the Internet and faculty were kept busy with registration.

Thursday I spent the morning at the FSM Fisheries and Maritime Institute. The campus is not connected by fiber optic cable, but one passes near the campus and may provide future connection capabilities.

In the afternoon I returned to campus to assist faculty.

Assisted one faculty member with launching Schoology. Spoke with another at length about Schoology capabilities and how to interact with Schoology given different sorts of grading work flows.

I then worked with a third faculty member on Schoology, primarily hardware tech trouble shooting. When working on the wired connection, Schoology pages were timing out. Other Internet pages, however, were coming up fairly quickly, such as I suggested the faculty member switch over to using the WiFi on her iMac 10.7.5 Lion unit. Although she was still working in Chrome 49, Schoology pages were fast and responsive on the WiFi connection. This is the unexplained "WiFi is faster than wire" effect that I saw at Kosrae campus last summer. At the time that Schoology pages were timing out on her Windows XP machine, my ChromeBook running Chrome 71 was seeing very fast response times and low latency. The fiber optic line was up and running, thus the slowness on the wire was truly puzzling. I then assisted her with adjustments to her Schoology gradebook settings.

Spent the end of the day demonstrating the capabilities of Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings to IT Yap campus Among other capabilities I demonstrated were, sheets, new special URLs in Chrome, version history in shared slide presentation to see which student did the work, the capabilities of Google Drawing, the login interface, and other details surrounding ChromeOS. We also discussed Ubuntu and the use of Xubuntu, Lubuntu, as a way to put old computers back into service.

Friday morning I attended the all faculty term start meeting. Discussions were held of the fall assessments and the spring calendar.

At 9:30 I joined the system wide meeting on the MS 100 College Algebra course outline and textbook. The core intent of the meeting was apparently to consider adoption of OpenStax College Algebra for MS 100 College Algebra. The math instructors agreed to adoption for fall 2019. I noted that Kosrae campus and possibly Chuuk campus might need to order hard copies - the online copy is only usable where a campus has a fiber optic connection to the Internet.

There was also discussion of the COMET placement test. Once again I noted that now in 2019 many high schools in the nation are highly functional, that the math placement section of the test does not perform reliably and consistently for students coming out of higher level high course math courses. The math placement was useful for highly underprepared students, but the test misplaces students who have had higher math courses. The solution is not to fix the math placement section of the COMET. The solution, as I have called for since 2003, is for the math division to look at high school transcripts. Students who have completed Algebra I and Algebra II with an A or B should be placed in MS 100. Students who have an A or B in Algebra I, Algebra II, and PreCalculus/senior math should be placed in MS 101 or MS 150.

Later in the day I met with four part-time instructors in regards Schoology which wrapped up my work day on Friday.


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