One of the great opportunities I have in my position at UA-PTC is the ability to bring in awesome products that help our faculty. Qwickly falls into that category. We’ve been using the tool integrated into Blackboard for the past semester. During that time, instructors became very pleased with what the tool did to improve their use of Blackboard.
This past summer, we were looking for a tool that would help us collect student attendance and participation in all our courses. This tool needed a simple interface which was easy for instructors to use. It also needed flexibility for a variety of different attendance/participation scoring instruments. I’ve been waiting for Blackboard to develop an attendance tracker/scoring instrument that didn’t require access to their card solution. Qwickly brought the ability to us when we needed it.
Two groups really benefited from the flexibility of Qwickly Attendance in their courses. The first group was our biology instructors. Anatomy and Physiology courses are a gateway to many of our health science programs here at UA-PTC. Another major set of programs connect to the Technical and Industrial options at the college. In both the areas, instructors needed the flexibility to evaluate additional items along with the attendance.
In Anatomy and Physiology courses, instructors needed to be able to have lab attendance included with lecture attendance. Our Blackboard environment keeps the lecture and lab sections together instead of separately. Also, many times these labs will be on the same day. Qwickly attendance gives the instructor the flexibility to take attendance multiple times in a single day.
Our Technical and Industrial programs, such as Automotive, Collision Repair and Power Sports also utilize Qwickly Attendance in a unique way. Students split their time between classroom lecture and practical lab experience. In their labs, instructors grade the students on their professionalism and participation following safety standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Qwickly allows the instructors to deduct points from a student if they aren’t wearing appropriate safety attire, following safety guidelines or spend more time on their mobile device than participating in the lab. The customized attendance types also give the students feedback on their issues and weaknesses that should be addressed during the semester.
Not only do our instructors get the ability to use the Qwickly Attendance feature, but it also includes access to the Qwickly+. Every instructor on campus now gets a Blackboard course shell. Unlike some institutions, we don’t merge courses or sections together. To be honest, we aren’t at a place that our student information system can provide us with that ability. So currently faculty can teach several sections of the same course. Prior to Qwickly+, I’d here instructors frustration with the inability to post the same item to multiple sections at one time. Qwickly+ allows instructors to post announcements, documents, web links, assignments and send emails in one central location. These features available in Qwickly+ can really make an instructor who slightly tolerates the use of Blackboard, to one who feels empowered to use it.
Video: Qwickly Attendance
How Qwickly Can Improve Online Courses
I’ve been reading a lot of research lately about online instructor presence. This has been part of developing a new Quality Online Course program at UA-PTC. The Community College Research Center in Teachers College at Columbia University released a research article in April 2013 that I’ve been sharing with my colleagues. In it, the researchers reviewed 23 gateway online courses. These courses were at two community colleges and focused on high demand careers. The study (Link to PDF) found that instructors who utilized the communication tools in their learning management system, like Blackboard, to engage students and create interpersonal interaction led to the retention of students and in the end successful completion of the course.
Qwickly+ and Qwickly Attendance can help instructors engage students and create a personalized relationship with each student. These tools also provide instructors with time-saving resources which let them spend more time focused on the content and students. If you are interested in Qwickly you can download a free version or sign up for one of their webinars. Find out more at their website, www.goqwickly.com
The Blackboard Guru