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“Check-ins and Office Hours” using Blackboard Collaborate

by Mary Beth McNicholas, M.B.A., P.M.P., C.S.M.


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Over the past 2 years, while teaching various MSPM courses in project management, I have found it to be very helpful to have regularly scheduled checkpoints with my students. Depending on the course, some content requires clarification or demonstration (such as how to use MicroSoft Project); other times students need guidance or mentorship for project challenges as with the capstone course. I have found that scheduling standard weekly “office hours” has been beneficial.

Real time interaction and engagement using web-conferencing
I use Blackboard Collaborate to effectively share information during my office hours. We use the audio to discuss challenges, ask and answer questions and share ideas. I share my screen to provide instruction on how to use software like MS Project. I can use the whiteboard to exemplify how to calculate complex Earned Value Management equations or show how to use various scheduling and estimating techniques. Some students can read the text and figure out how to complete equations or use watch a video or tutorial on how to use software, but others need additional demonstration and discussion. During office hours I can get better insight into where students are struggling, and allows me the opportunity to clarify or find additional sources of information for them.

I typically use a Moodle survey at the start of the semester to determine the best evening or weekend to hold office hours. I give them 3 or 4 options to pick from and then hold the call at the time that is most convenient for the majority.

Blackboard Collaborate lets me record the call, and then I can post the recording into my Moodle course for students who could not attend. It is also great for them to go back to in case they need a refresher. I find Bb Collaborate to be a strong tool to help me with my MSPM courses. I was lucky to be included in an intensive training session last year. Take advantage of the training and Instructional Design Staff at GSC to make it an effective teaching tool for you too!  There is also support documentation on IT Help.