“Design Thinking” is Happening in Engineering 1500

Design thinking focuses on encouraging students to brainstorm, prototype and reward out-of-the-box thinking, take “wild ideas” and transform them into real world solutions.

The Engineering 1500 freshman course was designed to do just that! Professor Afsaneh Ghanavati, Electrical and Computer Engineering, in conjunction with LIT, have brought Active Learning (AL) along with experiential learning into the classroom. Students participate in identifying their learning styles, how to work in groups, and push boundaries necessary for creative thinking.

Experience is a natural process that engages students’ learning styles. Kolb’s Learning Style inventory describes the way you learn and how you deal with ideas and day-to-day situations. Students first complete the Kolb Learning Style Inventory to identify their preferred learning styles. Students then participated in a LEGO activity observing their learning styles to get a better understanding of how their style influences their problem solving. And finally, they build a balloon powered car in teams to observe their learning styles when working with others who have different styles.

The Engineering 1500 brings Design Thinking to the forefront of the engineering process. These students are learning the importance of incorporating empathy into the design equation by developing and understanding the needs of the people they are designing products or services for. They are learning how to take problems and apply a human-centric component to their projects.

To learn more about Kolb’s Learning Styles, contact Learning Innovation & Technology (LIT) at lit@wit.edu or visit us at Beatty Hall, room 318.

Respondus Lockdown Browser updates

We’ve seen significant use of Respondus Lockdown Browser in the past few terms. If you use this tool to increase exam integrity in your courses you should be aware that new versions of the browser have been released.

What does this mean for you and your students? Your students should install the newest version of the browser before taking any exams this semester. Some clients will auto-update but others will not. Respondus recommends a reinstall from the download link created when you enable the browser for an exam in your course. As a general practice, LIT recommends that students reinstall and test Lockdown Browser each semester.

A good practice in using Lockdown Browser is to include an item in Blackboard that indicates that tests will require the use of Lockdown Browser, how the browser works, and how to install and test the system:

Download LockDown Browser

This course requires the use of LockDown Browser for online exams. Watch this short video to get a basic understanding of LockDown Browser and the optional webcam feature (which may be required for some exams).

Then download and install LockDown Browser from this link:

To take an online test, start LockDown Browser and navigate to the exam. (You won’t be able to access the exam with a standard web browser.) For additional details on using LockDown Browser, review this Student Quick Start Guide (PDF).

Finally, when taking an online exam, follow these guidelines:
Select a location where you won’t be interrupted

      • Before starting the test, know how much time is available for it, and that you’ve allotted sufficient time to complete it
      • Turn off all mobile devices, phones, etc. and don’t have them within reach
      • Clear your area of all external materials — books, papers, other computers, or devices
      • Remain at your desk or workstation for the duration of the test
      • LockDown Browser will prevent you from accessing other websites or applications; you will be unable to exit the test until all questions are completed and submitted

Once you have installed Lockdown Browser, take the test below to make sure the system is working properly and so you know what to expect.

(create and provide a link to a practice test in your course)

It’s important that students use the download link above to ensure they have a version that will communicate with our Blackboard system.

As always, we recommend setting up a practice test so students can confidently take the real test, having resolved any problems in advance. If you would like assistance in using Lockdown Browser in your course, please contact LIT at lit@wit.edu.

Getting too many Blackboard emails? Check your settings

Many users have reported a recent increase in the number of emails received reporting changes in Blackboard. Last term we worked with a user who was not receiving critical emails from an instructor sent from Blackboard. In the process of fixing that user’s problem, we had to restart the notifications system which sends messages. Apparently the system had not been sending out all the notifications it should have sent and now is.

What that means for most users is that you may be seeing a dramatic increase in messages about any change an instructor or another student may make in Blackboard. These messages might be about content items added or discussion posts added. In an active course, this may result in email overload.

The default setting for notifications is a daily digest. However, if you were not receiving messages you may have adjusted the setting to see if you could get Blackboard to send messages and now are getting more than you want. All users can adjust their notification settings on a very granular basis to select what types of notifications they receive. These settings can be changed globally or on a course by course basis.

The video below demonstrates how to change your notification settings and regain control of your inbox.

What’s Next for the Learning Management System

What’s next for learning the management system?

Wentworth faculty, students, and staff turned out this fall to provide feedback on three learning management systems (Brightspace, Canvas, and Blackboard Ultra) to replace our current Blackboard Learn LMS. Feedback was gathered and testing of these products against use cases is underway. The LMS Selection and Rollout Steering Committee is composed of a small team of faculty, students, staff, and academic leaders who were invited to review the information gathered from vendor proposals, on-campus demonstrations, meetings and results of use case testing to recommend Wentworth’s next LMS. In addition, this group will help develop a rollout plan for migration to the new system. This committee will also recommend minimal LMS use and  LMS site structure for all courses. It is expected that the committee will complete their work during  Spring term. Members include:

  • Pat Hafford –Academic Leadership, College of Professional and Continuing Education and College of Arts and Sciences
  • Lora Kim –College of Architecture, Design and Construction Management
  • Mel Henricksen –College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jim McCusker –College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Kayleigh Carmichall –Wentworth Student Government
  • Omar Abou Nassif Mourad – Wentworth Student Government
  • Hadi Kazemiroodsari –College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Jody Gordon –College of Arts and Sciences
  • John Cribbs –College of Architecture, Design and Construction Management
  • Marisha Rawlins –College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Cidhinnia Torres Campos – College of Professional and Continuing Education and Office of Institutional Effectiveness
  • Ke’Anna Skipwith –College of Professional & Continuing Education, Wentworth Online
  • Lynn Cooke and Tes Zakrzewski – Learning Innovation & Technology

The committee will meet alternate weeks February and March. The tentative schedule is as follows:

  • First meeting: The RFP and evaluation rubric developed by the LIT Advisory Committee will be reviewed and ranking of criteria discussed.
  • Second meeting: We will review the proposals and identify any lingering questions.
  • Third meeting: The committee will review the results of community feedback and use case reviews and, if possible, select Wentworth’s next LMS.
  • Fourth and any additional meetings: Plan the transition to the new system, recommend minimal use standards and course site structure.

More information as the semester unfolds. The Committee will be using the Next Generation LMS site in Sharepoint to gather documents and document the review process.

Don’t Let the Weather Disrupt Your Course!

Unexpected events can disrupt precious class time. With a little preparation, you can keep the continuity of learning moving:

  • post course content on Blackboard Learn
  • use various discussion options to engage students in dialogue (discussion forums, VoiceThread)
  • create short content videos to deliver content whether it’s narrating and annotating slides or problem solving using Panopto or the Lightboard
  • hold virtual office hours or group problem solving sessions using GotoMeeting or Zoom
  • hold a virtual real-time class using GotoMeeting, GotoTraining, or Zoom

For a course consult with an instructional designer, stop by LIT in Beatty 318, email lit@wit.edu, or call 617-989-5428.