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Introduction, Getting Started, Exploring, Performing

Introduction

Faculty can design learning environments that support different student learning styles by providing multiple opportunities for learning. Using learning objects to supplement your course can improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning by increasing the number of high quality resources available in your online course.

In this module you will learn how to locate learning objects that have already been created and explore how they are used in education. This module will also discuss the use of RSS feeds in Blackboard to integrate the learning objects. You do not need expensive equipment or training to complete this module but should be comfortable in using technology.

Getting Started

Locating learning objects for your course involves some investigating and searching on the Internet, but is quite simple. If you plan on using RSS Feeds to incorporate information into Blackboard, you will need to follow the step by step process located under PERFORMING. Review the information below to help you get started.

What are Learning Objects?

Learning objects are:

  • web-based, self-contained chunks of learning
  • small units of learning, typically ranging from 2 minutes to 15 minutes.
  • self-contained – each learning object can be taken independently.
  • reusable – a single learning object may be used in multiple learning environments and across disciplines.
  • can be aggregated – learning objects can be grouped into larger collections of content, including traditional course structures

Why Use Learning Objects?

It is not feasible for every teacher to create all of the learning objects for a course. The reusability of learning objects, however, offers an efficient way to facilitate instruction of commonly taught concepts, procedures, applications, and skills.

Learning objects can be used and reused in a variety of different contexts either to provide content before classroom follow-up or as a personal development tool.

What are RSS Feeds?

An RSS Feed is a means of incorporating learning objects into your Blackboard course site or web page. RSS is an acronym that stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. An RSS Feed is a dynamically generated summary of information or news published on other web pages. When the published RSS changes, your web site or Blackboard course information will automatically change too. Another way to think of RSS Feeds is a means of distributing and collecting "what's new" from different web sites.

Why Use RSS Feeds?

  • offers up to date subject targeted information that changes on a regular basis
  • encourages students to regularly visit your course site
  • once created, there is little ongoing maintanence but students receive up to date information.

 

Exploring

"Learning objects are small stand-alone "chunks" of information designed to be easily reused and repackaged to meet the needs of different audiences. They typically are designed to achieve a certain narrow learning objective and may contain an assessment to determine success against that objective." [Learning Objects Network]

What You Need:

  • Computer

  • Internet

  • Blackboard course site (if you want to integrate RSS feeds into your course site

Learning Object Resources

Explore the sites below for content specific learning objects that could enhance your course.

Merlot
MERLOT is a free and open resource designed primarily for faculty and students of higher education. Links to online learning materials are collected here along with annotations such as peer reviews and assignments.

CLOE
The Co-operative Learning Object Exchange (CLOE) is a collaboration between Ontario universities and colleges for the development, sharing, and reuse of multimedia-rich learning resources.

Maricopa Learning Exchange
The Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX) is an electronic warehouse of ideas, examples, and resources (represented as "packages") that support student learning at the Maricopa Community Colleges.

Wisconsin Online Resource Center
The Wisconsin Online Resource Center is a digital library of Web-based learning resources called "learning objects." The digital library of objects has been developed primarily by faculty from the Wisconsin Technical College System.

RSS Resources

Merlot RSS
Collection of Merlot RSS Feeds, searchable by content area

RSS: a quick start guide for educators

NY Times
Listing of NY Times RSS Feeds by content areas

Additional Resources

RSS Feeds in Education
Explains what an RSS Feed is and how it can be used in education

Adding the RSS Feed to Blackboard

Adding an RSS feed to Blackboard requires specific steps:

  • Find the RSS feed
  • Convert the RSS feed in Blackboard
  • Turn off WYSIWYG text box editor
  • Add the RSS feed to your Blackboard Site

Note: MERLOT Search, a Building Block for the Blackboard Learning System (release 6.2 or higher) is now available. This tool will allow instructors to search for educational materials available through the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) without exiting their Blackboard course. MERLOT free and open resource features more than 12,000 online educational materials and more than 25,000 members representing the higher education community.

Step 1 - Find an RSS Feed

RSS feeds can be found on most news sites such as CNN, and the BBC. You can also search for RSS feeds in a search engine. Type in the key term that you are looking for and RSS feeds. Most sites indicate an RSS feed with a graphic like one of these:

   ltc-rss_rss1   ltc-rss_addtomyyahoo  ltc-rss_xml_button  ltc-rss_atom

           ltc-rss_ngsub1  ltc-rss_sub_modern3

 

Step 2 - Click on the RSS Feed Button

This will place the address of the feed in your web browser address bar and will also display the code that runs the RSS feed. Copy the address using the control keys [CTL+C] or use the Edit menu.

ltc-rss_merlot_url

Step 3 - Generate the JavaScript

There are free web sites that will generate the JavaScript code necessary for uploading into Blackboard. For this module, we will use the Feed2JS site.

Go to Feed2JS and follow the step by step directions:

  • Paste the RSS feed from Step 2 into the first box.
  • Click on Preview Feed to see how the feed will look in Blackboard.

    ltc-rss_generate

  • Click on Generate JavaScript to generate the code needed to access the feed in Blackboard. You will need to copy and paste this code into Blackboard in Step 4

Step 4 - Adding RSS feed to Blackboard

Once you are logged into Blackboard, you will need to turn off the WYSIWYG text box editor.

To turn off the Text Box Editor:

  1. Log into Blackboard
  2. On the Welcome screen (or Faculty tab) under the Tools menu, click on Personal Information (upper left column)
  3. Click Set Text Box Editor Options
  4. Click Unavailable and then click Submit
  5. Click OK twice to return to the Welcome screen

Decide where you want to put the RSS feed in your course site. You might want to place it as a permanent announcement or if you have several feeds related to course topics, you may want to place them in Course Documents along with the content.

Adding the code:

  1. Go to the content area or course tool in Blackboard where you want the RSS feed to be displayed
  2. Add a new Item (Content Area) or new Announcement (Course Tools)
  3. In the Text box, click on the words <HTML>. The HTML view dialog box will appear
  4. In the HTML view dialog box, type <BR>. The HTML code will place a space befor the displayed information in the RSS feed
  5. Past the Feed2JS code after the <BR>.
    ltc-rss_bb_code
  6. Click Submit
  7. The feed will automatically be displayed. In this case, it added the most recent materials in MERLOT
    ltc-rss_bb_added2