MyUni (known as “blackboard” to people not at Uni of Adelaide), is a powerful tool for supporting your students’ learning. There are a whole lot of awesome things you can use it to do: use discussion boards, have virtual classrooms, set up group assessment, student wikis, and the list goes on. The bread-and-butter of MyUni is of course to put up the lecture notes, assignments and prac instructions.
And this brings me to the most important thing you can do in MyUni to make your students’ lives better: label everything properly. And not just any labels — descriptive labels.
Let me illustrate with some examples:
Imagine yourself as a student doing your assignment and needing to remember how to, say, produce a QQ plot in SPSS. You remember that you had a computer prac at some point in the past where you learned to do that, and that the prac instructions told you how. So you go to the part of MyUni where all the prac instructions are. And you are faced with the following picture to the left.
And now you have to go through every prac one at a time, dowloading one pdf after another, to find where the instructions are. You have an intense feeling that perhaps it’s just not worth it.
If only the lecturer had labelled them with a description of what was in them! something like this:
- Prac 1: Entering and importing data, saving data
- Prac 2: Descriptive stats, graphs, importing into Word
- Prac 3: Labelling categories, making tables, drawing scatterplots, calculating regression
- and so on…
Then you as a student would be able to find the instructions yourself and not have to ask for help, or worse, just give up.
Imagine yourself as a student studying for your exam. You have been going through your assignments and you find that you really need to go over the topic “integration by parts”. So you decide to go and watch the appropriate lecture recording.
You go to the part of MyUni where the lecture recordings are and you see the picture to the left. There is a list of the lectures at the bottom, but they are organised by date. You don’t have dates in your own personal lecture notes because you organise them by topic, since that fits with your learning style. How on earth are you supposed to know which one is the one about integration by parts? You’re not about to watch the first ten minutes of ALL of them to figure it out!
If only the lecturer had put each individual lecture as its own item with a little description of what it was about, you’d have a much easier time as a student. Indeed, you’d get a really good picture of what was going on in the course if for some reason you were forced to miss some lectures. (It would be even better if the MyMedia setup allowed lecturers to choose descriptive titles for each lecture at the time they recorded it, which was automatically included in the info here…)
Imagine yourself as a student trying to do an assignment. You remember that you lent your lecture notes to a friend earlier in the day, so you go into MyUni to download the slides. You know you are particularly looking for the bit on Indifference Curves, but when you go to the bit with the slides you see this:
You know it’s one of Module E, F or G, but which one? If only there was a description of what was in each lecture, you might actually be able to choose which one. And in fact you might possibly get an appreciation of what the whole course looks like since the topic list would be right there. As it is, you waste precious time, and vow never to lend your notes to your friends ever again.
Do you see how important this one thing is? Do you see just how annoying it can be for a student to have to deal with a lack of labelling, and how it can actually seriously impede their learning? Do you see how proper labelling might actually smooth the way for the students to become more independent?
This is why I think it is the one most important thing you can do to label everything properly. Lecture notes, lecture recordings, practical notes, assignments, tutorials — everything. It really will help your students learn more than you will ever know.
So please, label everything clearly in MyUni!