So Many Standards! An Annotated List for Teaching Librarians

(updated June 19, 2023)

In my teaching, I help my LIS graduate students to embrace their role as teaching librarians. For a couple of the classes I teach, they are required to design activities or lesson plans that align with standards appropriate for their communities. While some of this classwork focuses on K-12 standards as an example, I often have students who are focused on adult, higher education, or special library communities.

As a result, over the last couple of years I have developed this annotated outline of different learning standards for different communities, with recommendations about which versions of their documentation to consult, links, and how to cite them by name/number in lesson plans.

I hope you find this helpful!

Jump to: K-12, Higher Ed, Adult Learning, Special Libraries, General


Higher Ed

Adult Learning

  • College and Career Readiness (CCR) Standards for Adult Education
    • PDF –
    • Quote different parts of the CCR standards by strand (writing, speaking and listening, etc.), developmental level, and anchor number, for example:
      • CCR.ELA-LITERACY.W.B.8 – Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories (notably, this maps to CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.8)
  • For content curricula, look for unit and lesson plans from a variety of different partners, such as workforce training centers, state health initiatives, etc. 

Special Libraries


What has Arden been up to?

I realized I haven’t posted in a really long time, so as one year ends and another begins, I thought I should catch everyone up. These days I’ve been playing around with infographics so I thought maybe some visuals could tell my story more efficiently. This infographic is interactive, so hover over different parts for more details or links.

New Year, New Work

Photo titled "The Road Ahead" by Arden Kirkland. A view of the road at a NY state thruway stop, leading straight to a rainbow in the distance.

The Road Ahead

Happy New Year! This year brings some big changes for me.

About 6 years ago I began slowly steering my career in a different direction, and I’m finally fully on my new path, focused on digital library projects.

In this new year my work will be split between a few different projects. First, I’ll be working more on the Design for Learning program, which I’ve been working on since last February through Syracuse University. Through this program, library workers from all over the country are taking online courses to learn how to teach online. I’ll also be working on a public art inventory project for Oneida county, working for Sculpture Space in Utica on all the digital aspects of building an online archive and print publication to document artwork all across the county. I will also continue my research for, collaborating with a widening group of historic costume collections to develop shared digital strategies.

After completing my second masters degree last May, following up on my MFA with a Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS) at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, I’ve been easing my way out of my position in the Drama Department at Vassar College. This fall has been my last semester there, and my colleagues and students there have given me a wonderful send off. I look back on my time there with great pride while I turn to my new path. Of course, I will stay involved with Vassar’s collection of historic clothing as I make sure that it is represented in the work for

I was too busy back last May to toot my own horn very much, but along with my MSLIS I also completed a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Digital Libraries, with a 4.0 across the board (toot, toot) and although I wasn’t able to attend commencement in person, in absentia I was awarded the Antje Lemke Award for my commitment to libraries and scholarship. After that it was a bit anti-climactic for me to continue on in my “old” job for several months, but I knew the transition would be gradual.

So, now I’m excited to finally be devoting all of my work to digital library projects. Here’s to 2016!

Welcome to my New Location!

I’m very excited to be here in this new location for my blog, as a part of my new website and online portfolio!

All of my future blog posts will be here, rather than at my old site. I’ve copied over all my old posts so that they are also on this new site. I won’t shut down the old site, though, in case anyone has linked to it.

I finally had some time to set up a custom WordPress installation here at my own domain. This has allowed me to set up an online portfolio that provides a great introduction to all my many various projects. In this way, each post has more context of how it fits into my entire body of work, as it’s constantly evolving.

I hope to see more of you here on my new site – thanks, as always, for your attention to my thoughts and my work.

Musings of a CDRS Summer Intern

This is a cross-post from the blog for the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) at Columbia University, where I was an intern in the summer of 2014.

Last spring, I was looking for the perfect summer internship to bring together all that I had learned so far in my studies for the Masters in Library and Information Science at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University (SU). My internship would also be the final piece to complete my Certificate of Advanced Study in Digital Libraries at SU. As I followed several leads through my network, all roads pointed me toward the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship at Columbia University. A place to continue my work with web-based Digital Humanities projects? CDRS. A place to continue learning more about Research Data Management (RDM), following up on my work at SU on the Capability Maturity Model for RDM? CDRS. A place to pursue hands-on experience with data curation, building on my coursework? CDRS. I was very grateful to be chosen as an intern, and I jumped right in.

From the very beginning of my time at CDRS, I was struck by how everyone really seems to care so much about the work they’re doing, and how they are a part of a bigger picture of Open Access (and consciously see themselves that way). It was also impressive to be a part of a library system the size of Columbia’s, and to see both the extreme specificity of certain job descriptions, and the collaborative nature of work across departments.

Over the course of my summer internship, working 2-3 days a week for 8 weeks, I worked on two data rescue projects. One was to create a detailed survey of Columbia researchers who have published in journals by the Ecological Society of America, to embed the funding sources for their research, find out if their raw data are still available, and collect information to facilitate the process of adding their datasets to Columbia’s digital repository, Academic Commons. That project will be ongoing, and I look forward to finding out about the results of the survey. The second project was a case study of a recent student’s Digital Humanities project published as a website, to collect and preserve the data components independent of the website, and to experiment with ways of preserving the website itself, all with detailed process documentation, especially concerning metadata remediation. Later this fall I will work more on this case study, in hopes of publishing my findings so that others may be able to apply some parts of my process to other projects.

I was surprised and pleased with the level of independence I was given for my projects. I did not expect the opportunities I had to meet with diverse staff members across multiple different departments, and I am very grateful to my site supervisor, Amy Nurnberger, for connecting me with all the many different people who could help with my projects. I was able to learn from a diverse group, each with very specialized knowledge, and these are valuable contacts to have in the future. Columbia library staff in the digital divisions are an incredibly knowledgeable and passionate group! The opportunity to attend many different meetings and presentations, both in and out of CDRS, learning about GIS and MODS-RDF for example, was another pleasant surprise that was great for my professional development.

The data curation projects I worked on during my internship gave me wonderful opportunities to apply many different concepts I had studied in school to a practical situation. I was able to directly apply work from my studies in these classes at SU: Digital Libraries, Metadata, Creating, Managing, and Preserving Digital Assets, Tech in Web Content Management, Information Architecture, and Information Policy. This experience really was the whole package, allowing me to tie together all that I had learned so far in my degree program. I had just taken Creating, Managing, and Preserving Digital Assets in the spring, which had a strong focus on digital preservation, and it was very helpful for me to see how each practical situation is usually far from an ideal situation. The work requires prioritization to determine the first small steps to take toward preservation with available resources, improving conditions with each continued step. The necessity of collaboration also was driven home to me through my work on these projects at CDRS. Everyone who touches data in even the smallest way during the data lifecycle has an impact on the future preservation of those data, so it’s incredibly important that we raise awareness with everyone involved, from the very beginning, about the choices that can negatively impact preservation.

My career has definitely taken a turn toward digital curation and preservation as a result of my work during the internship. When I began my library degree, it was with the goal of helping to create diverse digital library collections with value for education. Now I am much more aware of how building a web-based collection is just one part in the middle of the data lifecycle, in between the content specialists whose research data become material for a collection and the end users who may use these data in unexpected ways. Maintenance for prolonged access to such collections (and the raw data in them) still remains a fragile prospect, and I hope to personally play a part in reducing that fragility in the future.

There was much that I learned in my internship that I will apply to my future work, regarding the importance of collaboration, documenting processes for future replication, and developing policies, guides, workshops, etc. to help stakeholders follow best practices. As I begin my post-graduate job search, I am grateful for the experience I had in my internship with writing a data management plan, working with OpenRefine to clean up data, developing XSL transformations, documenting processes for future replication, developing complex surveys using Qualtrics, and (perhaps most importantly) collaborating with diverse stakeholders.

All in all this was an incredible experience for me, for which I am very grateful! Basically, I just wish I could have stayed longer and done more – the summer flew by far too fast. Thank you to everyone at CDRS for this wonderful opportunity!

A Few Projects . . . my HILT Ignite Talk

I’m at Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching (HILT) this week, at the University of Maryland ( I’ll be giving a short presentation about some of my projects at the HILT Ignite event on Tuesday night, and I thought it would be a good idea to share the links from all my slides. So here they are – enjoy!

Historic Clothing at Vassar –

Wedding Dress exhibition page –

ObjectVR –

Sample Item Page –

Costume Core Metadata Application Profile –

Historic Dress Omeka prototype, version 1 –

Historic Dress sample notebook page –

Shawl Exhibit –

Capability Maturity Model for Research Data Management –

Net Neutrality?

Below you’ll find the comment I just submitted to the FCC, as they’re currently accepting public comments about the idea of reclassifying internet access as a public utility, like water or telephone service. The initial period for public comments ends on July 15.

Save the Internet in white text against red backgroundI have been a college level educator for over 20 years, and that work has led me to pursue a new career as a digital librarian. I have seen education revolutionized by the way that the internet has removed countless barriers to accessing information. As a result, we are in the midst of an incredible period of learning for young and old, rich and poor, across the globe. I find it devastating to imagine this progress coming to a screeching halt if Net Neutrality is destroyed. It is obvious to me in my role as an educator that internet access should be reclassified as a public utility, like telephone service or access to clean drinking water, so that our government can regulate the industry and take steps to prevent corporate greed from interfering with our intellectual freedom. My entire career has been based on work with non-profit organizations. As an emerging digital librarian, I am in the midst of building digital collections that provide valuable educational materials to anyone on the internet. Such collections, created by non-profits, can’t afford to pay the fast-lane fees internet service providers will charge if net neutrality is ended. No one but greedy internet service providers can possibly think that this is fair. Libraries are both consumers and producers of information, and without regulation will face huge cost increases both as users and as providers. The end of net neutrality would be a devastating blow to our culture and our democracy.


Updated July 12, 2017: Visit for more information and ongoing activities

3D Funday

I just joined the NYC Museum MediaLab Meetup group, and on March 15 I attended my first meetup for a 3D Funday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This was a great opportunity to learn about 3D scanning, modeling, and printing technology. We were able to experiment with most of the tools ourselves – and anything I didn’t get to try myself, I got to peek over the shoulder of someone else using. There were lots of questions asked and answered, with everyone being extremely generous about sharing their knowledge and ideas.

After lots of time to get to know the other meetup-ees, and to hear about a great range of exciting projects everyone’s working on, we all sat down to formally introduce ourselves, and then heard from artist  Jeff Hesser. Jeff spoke about the relationship between three different threads in his work as an artist: his traditional work with figurative sculpture, his teaching, and his work with digital media. His work deals with several different kinds of tension: between realism and abstraction, between memory and forgetting, between permanence and impermanence, between old age and youth, all of which echo the tension between the physical and the digital. The issues he brought up were a great way to get us started on our day, and none of us who were there will ever look at a sculpted eye the same way again.

Scanning sculpture at the Met, using the Sense scanner from 3D Systems

scanning sculpture at the Met, using the Sense scanner from 3D Systems

Several of us commented on the fact that the act of scanning the sculpture in the galleries really forced us to do a kind of close looking that we might not have done otherwise (I have similarly found this to be true in my work with students to create objectVRs of historic clothing). To make sure that we were doing a good job of catching all the nuances of shape in our scans, we really had to look very closely at just what it was we were scanning. The act of choosing what to scan also became another kind of close looking, as we examined objects very carefully to choose what we thought we wanted to capture for different projects, and what we thought would make a successful scan, based on lighting and physical access to the different sides of the object. As artist Jeff Hesser said in our discussion after our scanning time in the galleries, “the making of the thing leads to a deeper experience of it.” This was also true as Don Undeen demonstrated how to work with a completed scan using the TinkerCAD software, and the experimentation began: to turn the object into something new.

editing and printing 3D scans

editing and printing 3D scans

If you’d like to see what we scanned that day, you can do so at  (the Buddha body at the very bottom, and the Masonic chair, were two that I helped to scan). These are best viewed in Chrome as your browser, I believe. Choose on an object, then on its page you’ll usually see a choice of views, click on one that’s blue, and then click on “thingiview” (doesn’t work in Safari), then you can click/drag to rotate it and see all its 3D glory. These scans are still very rough – the idea is that our next meetup will be an opportunity to clean up the scans and do something with them.

The conversations that day really brought me back to conversations about digital material culture from THATCamps past. The scanned objects float in space in the software, initially removed from the context in which they were captured, so the focus is on the object itself. This allows for a kind of close looking that feels surreal, allowing you to see all sides of an object, around, above, and below (and sometimes even inside). This removal from the physical context initially feels wrong, but of course it’s precisely what museums do when they place objects in white cube galleries very different from the context in which they were made, used, or stored.

I’ve had several discussions over the years with museum folks and educators about the challenges of portraying the different contexts in which an object has lived over the course of its life – for some objects, there are many. Can we combine our 3-D models of these objects with models in which we re-create several of the different spaces from their history?

Anyway, here’s an outline of what we did that day:

“Scan, sculpt, print”
that’s what Leanne from 3-D systems wrote on the whiteboard to start us off for the day

  • Scan
    • Sense scanner from 3D Systems (shown in the top photo above) – first we practiced scanning each other, then we worked in teams to scan some sculpture in galleries where we had permission from curators
    • 123D Catch photogrammetry – this app works on iOS, in a web browser, or as a PC download – you take a series of photos of an object, circling around it, and the software stitches the images together into a 3D view
  • Sculpt
    • a demonstration of the Sculpt software (also from 3D systems)
    • also a demo of Tinkercad, editing a scan after we came back from the galleries
    • other 3D software mentioned:
  • Print
    • a few test prints with the adorable Cube printer, from 3D Systems
    • an example of a resin printer, demonstrated by another Meetup-ee
    • a larger printer in the Met MediaLab, in the middle of a weeklong print

Many thanks to Don Undeen and the team at the Met MediaLab, to artist in residence Jeff Hesser, to the team from 3D Systems who let us play with all their great tools, and of course to the powers-that-be at the Met who let us scan and photograph objects in the first place. I’m really looking forward to the next MediaLab Meetup!

Also, just as an aside, I appreciated the poetry of spending time in a digital media lab which is a re–mediated (ha!) former slide library.

Efficiency? Cons and Pros of Online Learning

This is a follow up from my previous post that provided an outline of my workflow as an online student.

I love my online classes, but I take issue with anyone who suggests that online classes are a more efficient format than face to face classes, as some who have made education their business model would have you believe. Such an opinion probably comes from the perspective of being able to re-use class lectures and other materials on a larger scale of geography and time, but those of us who have been blessed with a high quality education know that lectures and readings are only a small part of an ideal learning experience. Interaction with instructors and other students, and hands-on exercises, are where a higher level of cognition takes place, and this takes time and energy: in other words, labor.

If I’m taking so long to read through the asynchronous discussion posts of all my classmates and reply, imagine how many hours my instructor must put in, if she’s doing a good job. Instead of 1-3 hours of face to face contact time weekly, in an online class I would imagine that easily becomes 7-12 hours for an online instructor, to keep on top of an engaged discussion board and other student communication. I imagine class lectures are also a much lengthier process: in addition to the usual lecture preparation, an instructor doesn’t just show up and present, but must carefully record a video, often doing it several times over if a tech glitch comes up, or if something interrupts them in the middle of recording. The time to set up the Blackboard for a class, or a module in another learning management system, should also not be underestimated. A class site that is easy to navigate makes all the difference with regards to a student’s cognitive load, but it takes a lot of advance preparation on the part of the instructor to organize the presentation of material in a learning module. All of this is on top of the time that an instructor would usually put in, including usual class preparation and quality feedback on assignments.

However, all in all, I find that the inefficiencies of the format are definitely balanced by other advantages. Efficiency is not what education is all about – there are other factors that are far more important to fulfill the personal learning needs of any particular student. As a working mother, I personally would not be able to go back to school for a second masters if I could not do it online. In my online program I get to discuss issues with fellow students from all over the country and all over the world – and I don’t mean they’re just from another country, but as they write they are sitting in another country. I can respond to a classmate’s post at 2 in the morning, or over my lunch break at work, if that’s when it fits into my busy schedule. I can go to a conference, or take on an out-of-town freelance job, and participate in a class from my hotel. I have worked on very successful group projects with teams spread out across the country, using Skype, Google Hangouts, and Google Apps for video meetings and collaborative authoring. As a result, I have been able to adopt such tools for real-life work, building a dream team for a project that is not limited by geography.

Finally, my online discussion participation has helped me greatly to develop my ability to articulate my thoughts in writing – thoughts that are typed rather than spoken. By the time I complete my degree, I probably will have written a book’s worth of discussion posts. In face to face classes in my past it has often taken me several weeks to warm up to my classmates before I feel comfortable jumping into a discussion, but the asynchronous format allows students like me a greater comfort to carefully develop our thoughts at our own pace before sharing them. This has built my confidence in a way that has allowed me to jump in sooner in face to face situations since.

Keep in mind though, I am able to thrive in this online situation precisely because of the face-to-face liberal arts education I had as an undergraduate. That was the formative experience that forever made me think critically and articulate myself carefully, rising to the challenges of my instructors and classmates. Without that foundation, I could very well be floundering in my online discussion boards. I admire efforts to bring to an online format the kind of undergraduate education I was lucky to have, so that it can reach a wider audience, but in that situation quality comes from time and personal attention: again, labor. Technology can scale certain aspects of education, but an instructor or advisor’s personal attention cannot be scaled in the same way, which means, yes, someone needs to pay for their labor.

All of this summarizes my experience so far as an online student, and I hope it is enlightening to those who are looking at online education from the outside, or those who are taking their first online class. If you’re an online student with a different perspective, I hope this will inspire you to share your experience as well, either in the comments below or on your own blog (in which case I hope you’ll provide a link in the comments below). We need to share our perspectives and help shape how the future of online education will develop.

One Online Student’s Workflow

aka: How to Keep Blackboard from Driving You Insane

These days I find myself particularly aware of my workflow to stay on top of the two online courses I’m taking this semester as a part of my MLIS program at Syracuse University. One of my instructors has been asking about our online student experiences, and my mother is taking her first ever MOOC, so I’m in a position to share my thoughts. This is not intended as advice, but simply as an observation of how one student approaches the work – one very busy adult student who is also a working mother – a common demographic, I believe, for online learners. I’ll follow this up shortly with another post as  a narrative reflection on my experience with the pros and cons of classes that are fully online.

There’s a lot here about how to get around the Blackboard learning management system (LMS) – some will apply to another LMS, others won’t. If anyone has thoughts about an LMS that’s less frustrating, I’d love to hear it (Moodle?).

  • Scheduling

    • For my classes this semester, one has its week from Monday – Sunday, and the other from Wednesday – Tuesday. I’m finding this helpful, so I don’t have end of the week deadlines for both classes at the same time.

    • I schedule an hour of work time for each class every night, with extra time on the weekends, but realistically the weekday evening times often get pushed to the weekend after my other commitments – really, most of my classwork has to happen on weekends

    • I do at least try to do some reading for one class, if not both classes, each evening before bed.

    • I also try to check in with the discussion boards for each class daily, even if I don’t have time to write a post

    • At the beginning of the semester, I mark assignments in Google Calendar so that I can be sure to schedule enough lead time to work on each one. If I have assignments for 2 classes that are close together, or if I have a home or work conflict around the time of the assignment, I need to work on assignments further in advance.

  • Accessing materials

    • As an online student I’ve become acutely aware of the limitations of each browser, so I’m constantly switching between three:

      • Chrome handles files/downloads best, and works best with all the Google Apps I have become dependent upon, but has been very slow for me lately

      • Safari is best for printing (or saving material as PDFs), and has been the fastest of the 3 for me lately

      • Firefox is best for viewing video lectures in Panopto (see below), but also can be slow

  • Reading

    • When a new class week begins, I collect any readings:

      • I use my laptop to access Blackboard and download any readings

      • then I email it to myself and open it on my iPad

      • then I download it into the GoodReader app

        • this used to be easier – I could access Blackboard directly on my iPad using the Blackboard mobile app and grab PDFs directly from there – but Blackboard has updated the app so it only works with iOS system 6 and above, and disabled the old app, so I can’t use it with my first-generation iPad.

        • I can access Blackboard in Safari on my iPad, but it tends to log me out each time I leave Safari to download a PDF into GoodReader, which gets very annoying very fast

      • This is easier if the readings are already PDFs

      • If they are web pages, I open them in Safari and use the Print command  to turn them into PDFs, which I then email to my iPad and import into GoodReader.

        • I can also do this directly on my iPad using, but it doesn’t always work, and the formatting isn’t great

    • Once the readings are in GoodReader, I sort them into a folder structure, with a folder for each class and folders for each week within.

    • I use GoodReader because I find it very simple to annotate my readings – I can highlight, underline, circle, draw, type notes, whatever! There’s also great search capability, etc.
  • Other course materials

    • For future reference, I like to save all links (including public PDFs) to Delicious, tagged with class number and appropriate subject tags (this is one of my OCD parts)

    • I also save learning objectives, assignment instructions, etc. as PDFs, on my laptop

      • I have a folder for each class, and within, folders for each week and each major assignment

  • Lectures

    • In my classes so far, I have experienced a variety of technology used for “lectures.” Voice over Powerpoint slides is by far the most common lecture format, and works well, but I have experienced some other formats:

      • Panopto is my favorite for viewing lectures

        • Pro-tip – if you watch it in Firefox, you have controls that don’t exist in the other browsers. My favorite is control over the spead of playback. I imagine this could be great for students who are not native English speakers to slow a professor down – but I usually use it the opposite way, speeding everything up to 1.5x the normal rate. It still is very listenable, with many profs. If I want to take detailed notes about a section, I’ll pause the video for a moment, so I probably take the same overall amount of time to view a lecture, but it’s more focused for me this way.

        • You also can easily navigate through the slides, which are connected to the audio/video so you can easily replay a section

        • I also really like the way many profs use this to show slides or screencasts and their face at the same time. This “embodiment” gives me more of a connection with the professor, which is helpful.

      • For one class the instructor had made podcasts years ago and has been re-using them. Unfortunately he included references to specific due dates, and assignments that had changed slightly, so this felt a little stale. This would work better if an instructor re-used content lectures but created brief greeting lectures to address content specific to this incarnation of the class

      • For another class the instructor shared PDFs of slides without any voice over. At first I thought this would be insufficient, but he really did make the slides speak for themselves, and I enjoyed being able to go through them at my own pace. He also included many links to a wealth of video content already existing on YouTube, which exposed us to a wide diversity of perspectives, internationally.

      • If the lecture is in an audio/video format over slides, I do appreciate having the slides available separately as a PDF. I like to view the slides on my iPad in GoodReader while viewing the lecture, so I can take notes directly on the slides as I go.

  • Discussion Boards

    • For most of my classes so far, this is where the meat of the class really happens, which is particularly interesting given the variety of instructor interaction with the discussion boards. I have had classes where an instructor replies to many posts and adds other thoughts, others with instructor comments only 1-2 times a week, and others with no reply from the instructor whatsoever. Of course, the same is true in face to face classes.

    • In my program at SU, I am very lucky to have some very thoughtful classmates, who raise the level of discussion to a high level. My classmates and I often raise new questions, share links to additional online resources, and overall truly benefit from our interaction with each other. In most classes only a handful of students really participate in the discussion at this level, but again, that is true in face to face classes as well

    • asynchronous discussion (anyone can post at any time) really allows for more thorough exploration of a subject than the limited time and competing voices in a face to face classroom

    • however, when those limits from the face to face classroom’s time and space are taken away, in a very engaged class it can become very time-consuming to keep up with the discussion boards.

      • In one class of about 25 very engaged students, we all posted lengthy posts / replies about 5-7 times a week (not once a day, but several posts, a couple of days out of the week). I just looked back at my archived reading from one week from that class (see below) and the PDF is 86 pages long – for one week! But it’s hard to say what you could cut back from that – this particular class had a real variety of perspectives, including several international students, so I wouldn’t have wanted to miss their thoughts

      • For another class, the large class was divided into 3 smaller discussion groups, and we were only required to follow our assigned group. This was much more manageable, but then on one occasion I used the search tool in Blackboard to try to find a past post, and discovered a wonderful discussion thread in another group that I felt sad I had missed out on! You can’t have everything.

  • Communication with the class

    • In addition to the communication of the discussion board, Blackboard usually provides two other means of private communication, at the discretion of the instructor

      • Email – this function allows you to choose from a list of anyone in the class (including the instructor) to send an email. The idea is that by sending it from this system, all email communication is archived within the system. In real practice, this is very annoying. It’s great to be able to receive an email outside of the class system, but you can’t reply to it, because it’s not coming from the person who sent it, it’s coming from the system. You have to log into Blackboard to reply. If I’m working on a class project, I usually ask my classmates to send an email from Blackboard but to include their preferred email in the body, so we can use regular email from that point on.

      • Messages – there’s a message system within Blackboard which acts kind of like email, but is even more annoying than the situation above. This system exists entirely within Blackboard, with no notification system. If one of my classmates tries to reach me with this kind of message, and I’m not expecting it, it might be weeks before I happen to check the message module and notice that I have a message in my Inbox. The only way for this system to work is if you get into the habit of checking it every day, which for me and my busy schedule is too much.

  • Navigating Blackboard

    • I have had some instructors set up a great Blackboard, and others set up one in which it was nearly impossible to find a particular resource. Each instructor may structure the site in a different way, but what’s most important is consistency – that I know I can always find readings in a section called “Readings” for example, and that is true for every week and all content.

    • I find it helps greatly to have one central place for each week’s content, and everything links from there.

      • for some classes, I’ve had instructors create a single splash page with links to everything for the week

      • for most of my classes, instructors have created a learning module folder for each week, and within that are folders for readings, video lectures, assignments, etc.

      • for either of these formats, I usually start at the first page/section of the module and then methodically go through each section, capturing the content as described in the sections above

      • if no central learning module is provided, it is much more difficult to approach this methodically

    • Redundancy can be both good and bad – I appreciate it when professors link to the same content from several places in the site, so that it’s convenient. However, if they do this as a duplicate post, rather than a link to a post, this can get very confusing – especially if they change the information in one place but not the other.

  • End of semester archiving

    • I try to preserve all the content from each class to have on hand for future reference.

      • Learning Modules

        • Materials are collected during each week of class, as discussed above

      • Discussion board

        • once the class discussions are officially over, I:

          • visit each part of the discussion board, one at a time

          • expand all posts

          • use the “collect” function to view all posts on one page

          • save as a PDF (works best in Safari)

Fellow students, what did I forget?  New students, what else do you have questions about?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Also, please continue on from this outline to my next post, a narrative reflection on my perspective of online classes.