Friday, June 6, 2014

Instructor Use of the Learning Management System

As you probably know, e-Racer, the Jenzabar portal for our online classes, has the following tools available for instructors to use to organize class materials and keep student records: Attendance, Gradebook,    Coursework, Syllabus, Handouts, Bookmarks, Collaboration (discussion boards), and a Blog function.

Of these, only two are required: Attendance and Gradebook. You know which tools you use, but what about your colleagues? Does anyone actually use the blog? The answer is yes! As of Fall 2013 semester, here are the numbers of faculty (21 total, full-time and part-time) using various areas of the portal:

Attendance 100%

Gradebook 81%

Coursework 67%

Syllabus 62%

Handouts 57%

Bookmarks 43%

Collaboration 38%

Blog 10%


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Jenzabar Student Satisfaction Survey Results


The first group of students to take the survey was enrolled in classes identified to require high portal use. Most of the students who filled out the survey were first- (55%) and second-year (29%) students. 72% of them had completed at least some of the Online Orientation course and currently use the portal for their classes. 92% regularly use the portal for one or more classes. 91% knew the portal was required for the class in which they took the survey, and 80% said using it was required for another course as well. The top three areas of the portal used are the Collaboration Forums (88%), the Gradebook (87%), and the Coursework page (78%). Statements about the portal were divided into three categories: positive, neutral, and negative. Students checked those with which they agreed. Positive statements had an average 48% rating, neutral statements had an average 11% rating, and negative statements had an average 4% rating. Below are more detailed survey results.

Year in School and Completion of Online Orientation Course

Of first-year students (47 total), 83% had completed some portion of the Online Orientation Course:

·        All of it – 45.7%

·        Most of it – 17.4%

·        Some of it – 10.9%

·        Very little of it – 8.7%

·        None of it – 17.4%

In contrast, of second-year students (25 total), about 60% had completed some portion of the Online Orientation Course:

·        All of it – 40%

·        Most of it – 8%

·        Some of it – 4%

·        Very little of it – 8%

·        None of it – 40%

Finally, of 3rd/4th/other-year students (11 total), only 55% percent had completed some portion of the course:

·        All of it – 27.3%

·        Most of it – 18.2%

·        Some of it – 0%

·        Very little of it – 9.1%

·        None of it – 45.5%

Although all students are now required to complete the training, we can see that returning students may feel less inclined to do so. Slowly, however, the culture of computer use for classes is changing. 92% of students use the portal at least some of the time:

·        Always – 41.9%

·        Often – 24.4%

·        Sometimes – 25.6%

·        Rarely – 8.1%

·        Never – 0 %

How the Portal is Being Used

Following is how the portal is used, from the tools that are most used to those that are least used:

·        Collaboration-Forums – 88.4%

·        Gradebook – 87.2%

·        Coursework-Basic Assignment – 77.9%

·        Coursework-Upload Assignment – 65.1%

·        Attendance – 64%

·        Handouts – 52.3%

·        Syllabus – 51.2%

·        Bookmarks – 30.2%

·        Coursework-Online Test – 29.1%

·        Collaboration-Chat – 23.3%

·        Collaboration-Classmates – 5.8%

·        Other – 4.7% (“To find school email address”)


Identification with Positive, Neutral, and Negative Statements about the Portal

Positive Statements

Jenzabar helps me stay in touch with my instructor. 36.0%

Jenzabar helps me stay in touch with my classmates. 18.6%

Jenzabar helps me communicate with my instructor. 38.4%

Jenzabar helps me communicate with my classmates. 25.6%

Jenzabar helps me to stay organized. 64.0%

Jenzabar helps me keep track of my attendance. 66.3%

Jenzabar helps me to keep records of class material. 58.1%

Jenzabar helps me keep track of my grades. 83.7%

Jenzabar helps me see what I’ve missed when I’m absent. 61.6%

Jenzabar allows me to check the syllabus when I need it. 59.3%

Jenzabar inspires me to learn. 26.7%

Jenzabar motivates me to get my work done. 44.2%

Jenzabar makes a class more fun/interesting for me. 36.0%

Neutral Statements

Jenzabar doesn’t make any difference to me. I could take it or leave it. 18.6%

Jenzabar might be useful in the future but is not useful right now. 4.7%

Jenzabar doesn’t improve communication with my instructor but doesn’t hurt either. 26.7%

Jenzabar doesn’t improve communication with my classmates but doesn’t hurt either. 26.7%

Jenzabar could help me keep track of my attendance, but I don’t really need to. 9.3%

I don’t need it to keep me organized. 14.0%

I don’t need it to keep records of class material. 4.7%

I don’t need it to keep track of my grades. 2.3%

I don’t need it to find out what I’ve missed when I’m absent. 2.3%

I don’t need to check the syllabus online. 8.1%

 It doesn’t inspire me. 7.0%

 It doesn’t motivate me to get my work done. 7.0%

 It doesn’t make a class more fun/interesting to me. 14.0%

Negative Statements

Jenzabar makes staying in touch with my instructor more difficult. 5.8%

 Jenzabar makes staying in touch with my classmates more difficult. 8.1%

 Jenzabar makes communicating with my instructor more difficult. 7.0%

 Jenzabar makes communicating with my classmates more difficult. 4.7%

 Jenzabar makes staying organized more difficult. 3.5%

 Jenzabar makes keeping track of my attendance more difficult. 2.3%

Jenzabar makes keeping records of class material more difficult. 2.3%

Jenzabar makes keeping track of my grades more difficult. 2.3%

Jenzabar isn’t useful for when I’m absent. 7.0%

Jenzabar doesn’t help me to check the syllabus when I need it. 4.7%

Jenzabar discourages me from learning. 1.2%

Jenzabar discourages me from getting my work done. 2.3%

It makes a class more frustrating/boring for me. 5.8%

Students’ Comments

(Spelling and punctuation left as is.)

Jenzabar is a good tool :)

Jenzabar is fine.

Actually really like what I need & use it for. Thank you! Please keep using it.


All in all Jenzabar is a usefull tool.

I like Jenzabar.

It is a very great tool to have because now days we are so into electronics. & its good to see things that you might need to know Very glad we have it.

Is helpful alot

It helps me out. I have no problems with it. Kind of makes me stress when I look at my grades. Overall helpful.

The portal is just fine.

It's very helpful! It's very helpful because you can keep track of your assignments, and log onto any computer. I really enjoy using this portal.

I like this alot!

Jenzabar has been important tool during my college classes. It has helped me very much keeping track of my work and attendance.

Don't like neutral or negative statementing at all!

I have nothing but good things to say about Jenzabar. It's great and helpful.

I (heart) Jenzabar!

In this course there was a problem with the system.

It's okay, but makes it very hard for students with no internet access at home.

Nothing to hold a student back at all, it's all self motivation to get done, but very forgetful to use.


You are not notified when there is new work.

I don't like the aa-mm [negative responses]. It really too me ahile to figure out some of the thing on Jenzabar!

Jenzabar would be a much more helpful tool if I had Internet connection to use it while at home not just at the school.

If I had a self-alarm to a personal cell phone, that would be great! I am VERY forgetful. It's helpful! But I personally am very forgetful.....?

When am I absent? I'm healthy as a horse. I have no family living anymore after my uncle died. I have no immediate family to bother me. No drama. My only peev is I don't have internet connection at home, and this semester, it bothered me I didn't have $ until midterm for my books. But I had my required books for this class. Others, expensive books $120 or better & using only a couple chapters, then class is over.

I need to keep track of everything I do. Explain more about the site and what it does.

I think if we're going to have computer on class then it should just on the computer. If we're going to have class on paper, it should be on paper.

It would be nice to have e-mail on jenzebar

Jenzabar seems like it can be a helpful program and in some ways it is (gradebook and checking attendance) but I feel that most of the instructors here are not using jenzabar to the full potential. It seems like instructors are implementing this program into their class because someone higher up told them to.

No Comments

-uneccessary -too much distraction -hard to get in away from school Better off without it. My feeling is that it distances our relationship with instructors. I don't see why assignments can't remain on paper. If they can be on a computer they can be printed out. Again instructors lazy to carry paper/or be responsible for those papers.

I think it's a big distraction, un-necessary unrelyable

I don't really like it. I really hate the system. This syle of teaching and learning just ain't for me. I am not saying it's not good. I just don't like it.

I think the Jenzabar is complicated more than it should be. The IT guys don't have very good Network skills.

Sometimes confusing when schedules and syllabus changes too much in some classes. [in regard to the statement "Jenzabar discourages me from getting my work done," the student wrote "sometimes when schedules change."]

Some instructors are not on top of their grades. I've had an F in two of my classes for two months. I know my grades are higher than that.

When I say it discourages me I mean that it's hard to keep up with the discussion boards, and when I fall behind it costs a higher grade.

Does not allow me to these tasks with ease (a, b, c, m) or many times links and upload option are not accessible. Fix the glitches! :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Online Orientation Course

After working here for awhile and encouraging everyone to use the online system for coursework (Jenzabar e-Racer), it became clear that we simply had not developed a culture of electronic learning. Instructors were learning to use the system for grading, attendance, coursework, and more, but students were lagging behind; we were losing them, and their performance was suffering.

I was asked to create an online orientation course to familiarize them with the system, and just as I was starting I had an epiphany. I needed to connect the use of the system to the seven Anishinaabe values around which our entire curriculum is based. As crazy as it sounds, it wasn't difficult to connect wisdom, love, humility, courage, respect, honesty, and truth to the use of the system.

Doing this did what I'd hoped - helped students to connect with the responsibilities I was asking them to take on - and also something I hadn't expected. For some students, it was the first time they'd ever heard of the values, so it served as an introduction to both the words in Ojibwemowin and the concepts as related to the Ojibwe culture.

So far this semester, of the 296 students enrolled in the course at LLTC and Red Lake Nation College, twelve percent (36) have completed it fully. Forty-four percent (131) are in the process, and the remainder have not yet begun. They have until the end of the semester to complete it, and most of these students are continuing students.

According to the survey that students take at the end of the course, twenty-eight percent didn't even know what the portal (that's what we call the Jenzabar e-Racer interface) was before taking the course. The number of students who reported being uncomfortable with the portal dropped from forty percent before the course to twenty-eight percent afterward.

More than half of the students complete the course with the help of an instructor, usually in the Path to Success class, though it is designed to be completed alone. As we continue through the semester, I will be encouraging students to complete the course and will report in December the overall results and completion rate.

Click here to view the videos on YouTube. They make up about half the course. The remainder is exercises designed to get the students using various aspects of the portal.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Scratch Creative Learning Community for Kids

I recently attended and presented at the World Conference onEducational Media and Technology otherwise known as EdMedia 2013. This year it was held in beautiful Victoria, BC, Canada at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, and what a lovely location it was! This conference was one of the best tech conferences I’ve attended, and it was unique in another way as well. The opening ceremony was begun by calling attention to the area’s colonial past, present, and future with a note to appreciate that we were on traditional indigenous lands. What a breath of fresh air it was to hear that!


The title of the opening talk by Mitchel Resnick of MIT was called “Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society.” Mr. Resnick echoed the opinion of many educators when he said that nothing is more important than helping young people grow up as creative thinkers, because the world is changing faster than ever before. They will face a constant stream of changing circumstances, he said, and their survival will depend on their ability to think creatively. He pointed out that technologies are creative themselves, but they aren’t designed to help young people develop as creative thinkers.


He went on to share with us a project created at MIT called Scratch whose motto is “Learning to code, coding to learn.” Scratch is a website that allows users, primarily kids, to create stories, games, and animations in an open source environment with user-friendly software utilizing colored coding blocks. “The programming is very much like snapping Lego bricks together.” The whole point is that if technology doesn’t allow us to express our creativity, if it just allows us to interact with something in a limited way, then it’s not helping us grow and learn.  A quick perusal of the projects on the Scratch website yields literally millions of projects created, shared, revised, and shared again.


While the site and its tools were used by kids to create authentic project and empowered them to be creative thinkers – just as hoped – they also started using Scratch in ways the designers didn’t initially expect. They created tutorials for other kids, offered their consulting services (free), and collaborated internationally. Kids on Scratch make social connections, comment on each other’s projects, and learn valuable lessons about getting and receiving credit for their work. Resnick emphasized that everyone needs to learn to write even if they won’t be professional writers. Similarly, everyone should learn to code for the valuable lessons they will learn in creative thinking.


“Developing strategies for problem solving and design, breaking complex problems down into parts, how to iteratively improve their work and the work of others, how to identify bugs and fix them – these are useful skills no matter what you grow up to be.”


ScratchEd, the corresponding online community for educators, is a great place to start!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

10th Annual Report on Online Education

For 10 years the Babson Survey Research Group has conducted a survey of 2,800 chief academic officers in higher education on the subject of online learning in the U.S. Each year I look forward to reading the report to find out how colleges and universities across the country view online education.

This year for the first time, the survey reports on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which is an exciting new development. Currently, only 2.6 percent of institutions have a MOOC, but another 9.4 percent are planning for one. Most are still undecided or have no plans at this time for developing a MOOC.

Overall, however, online education continues to be of growing importance in higher education with 69.1 percent of academic leaders sying that it is "critical to their long-term strategy" (p. 4). 32 percent of all students are taking at least one of their classes online, bringing total enrollment to 6.7 million students.

Online instructors may be happy to know that the percent of leaders now recognizing that online teaching takes more time and effort is up a few percent from last year - unless you're teaching in a private, for-profit institution. The authors of the report speculate that this may be because private, for-profit institutions have invested in course development, which saves faculty on time and effort.

Up from 57.2 percent to 77 percent is the number of leaders who now believe that learning outcomes for online education are the same or better than face-to-face education. Not surprisingly those leaders at schools that offer online education have a higher opinion of it than those at schools with no online classes.

"It remains unclear, however, if it is that institutions with a positive opinion towards online are more likely to implement online coures, or if it is that institutions with experinece with online develop a more positive attitude as their experience grows" (p. 25).

Paradoxically,only 30.2 percent of leaders believed that faculty accept online education as valuable and legitimate. Some of the other barriers to impacting the growth and success of online education are the level of student discipline required (88.8 percent agreed), lower retention rates in online courses (73.5 percent agreed), and lack of acceptance by potential employers (40 percent agreed).

Allen, I. E. & Seaman, J. "Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States." Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group, LLC. (2013). Web. 16 Jan. 2013. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Language Tools for Indian Country

At NIEA 2012 I attended an iPad language workshop. ThorntonMedia pioneered the concept of hi-tech digital tools for American Indians to preserve traditions through Language Pal Apps (Apple and Android). Since 1995 they have worked with over 160 tribes.

 The process is streamlined, and the product is really cool. Provided you’ve done your work ahead of time (word lists, etc.), they build the app in one visit.

4-Step Process at your reservation:

1.           Create word list 30 days before their visit

2.           They arrive with a pre-built app & record voices

3.           Create your app; you edit for errors

4.           They submit to the iTunes Store

What sets Thornton Media apart:

·       They have experience with Native communities

·       They do not own your cultural property

·       They do not trap your recordings (export to use in other applications)

·       They adjust to the client (no template lists)

·       They compete in the marketplace (no grants)

I took notes on what the finished product looks like the best I could, since I was looking at a sample app, and I had to translate it into text:

Home page – (photo) score/login so that many people can use the same ipad app

·       Language – categories (fruits, technology, phrases, etc.)

o   Learn

o   Games

§  Easy, Medium, Hard (email score to teacher)

o   Quizzes

§  Listening, Speaking, Reading

·       Culture Notes – Audio, video, Images

·       Audio:10 listings

·       Link YouTube videos (videos take a lot of space)

·       Images: 50 listings (historical photos, for ex.)

·       Search – searchable database in English

·       Credits – can link to website

I would really like to attend the Las Vegas Workshop, Feb. 4-5, 2013.    You can come to Las Vegas for one week, bring your speaker and record there.
o   Get a mini-app in your language for $999 with 50 preselected entries, images

o   Send us your 50 audio files 30 days before

o   We pre-build app. We do not teach you how to build an app (sorry).

o   For a low price, see what a language app can do for your community. Show it to your language class and see the reaction

 If you purchase a full app:

ü  They adjust their tools to you

ü  You can write your own word list

ü  You can use your own images (you still have access to 2000 image library)

Other options:
  • You can do all your recordings yourself at home and email them to the company (saves money).
  •  They also do custom apps!

Other discounts:
  • Discounts for bulk purchases, either multiple languages, or multiple levels
  •  Are you a returning client? (Nintendo? Phraselator? (no longer available)) If you have your complete files, they can use them to create an iPad or Android app. 50% discount

2 Distribution Options:

v You have the choice of being listed as the distributor yourself, or they can distribute for you

v If you distribute, you must get an acct for $99 per year. Your organization will be listed as distributor. You can also sell the app.

v If they distribute, they will be listed as the distributor, and the item will appear in their app store.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Respecting Traditional Learning Styles in a Digital World

This session by Jerry Lassos & Steven C. Haas and presented by the latter was very interesting, especially if, like me, you have an interesting in learning styles. He started the session asking this question:

How many visual-spatial (V-S) learners are there in a typical classroom?
The answer is 64-68%. But did you know that among Native American kids the number jumps to 80%? (Validation work with individual tribal groups available upon request.) Visual-spatial learners learn differently, and how you teach them matters. In their minds, they are constantly translating from auditory-sequential instructions to understand things in a visual spatial way. These students actually require fewer auditory details when receiving instructions. They exhibit circular, non-linear thinking, which is a different hemispheric orientation of the thinking mind. The comic above comes from The Gifted Development Center, and yes, you guessed correctly: a lot of gifted kids are Vistual-Spatial learners.
Here's a good description from the website above:
"Visual-spatial learners are individuals who think in pictures rather than in words. They have a different brain organization than auditory-sequential learners. They learn better visually than auditorally. They learn all-at-once, and when the light bulb goes on, the learning is permanent. They do not learn from repetition and drill. They are whole-part learners who need to see the big picture first before they learn the details. They are non-sequential, which means that they do not learn in the step-by-step manner in which most teachers teach. They arrive at correct solutions without taking steps, so “show your work” may be impossible for them. They may have difficulty with easy tasks, but show amazing ability with difficult, complex tasks. They are systems thinkers who can orchestrate large amounts of information from different domains, but they often miss the details. They tend to be organizationally impaired and unconscious about time. They are often gifted creatively, technologically, mathematically or emotionally."
A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink is one recommended book that explains this concept. New breakthroughs, new careers, and even whole new fields in the 21st century will spring from V-S thinking. The tragedy in education at the moment is that we are pouring resources into education, and we’re not getting the results we want. The gap is widening, and the model is catch up! Native kids are uniquely positioned to take advantage of those breakthroughs, even lead them.


Dr. Donald Fixico calls this “the American Indian Genius.” He is the author of The American Indian Mind in a Linear World.


Some of the teaching techniques that appeal to the minds of V-S learners are using colors, image projection, computers, graphing calculators, videos, youTube, DVDs, movies, slides, charts, diagrams, drawings, demonstrations, visual clues, and thinking maps.


Some of the tasks these students often do well with are website development, video creation (digital storytelling, live broadcasts), and project-based opportunities (tribal flag ceremony, outdoor classroom).


The learning goals should focus on student engagement, strengths-based programming, access to opportunities, and self-esteem/self-efficacy.



“The emphasis has been on “a curriculum of high expectations and rigor, culturally relevant content, and Native languages and dialects…” But that massive effort…is doomed to fail unless equal respect is paid to learning styles.”