Every unit delivered at Southern Cross University features a MySCU learning site which offers a wide variety of tools that allow you and your students to share information and communicate, either synchronously (in real-time) or asynchronously (not at the same time). Learning sites are created with a default SCU unit template which includes site links for Announcements, Contacts, Unit Content, your unit's Discussion Board and Blackboard Collaborate.
You are able to access other interaction tools including journals, blogs and wikis (as well as the Send Email tool) under the Site Tools menu which is located within the Site Management menu. When building content within a site, you can also access these tools under the Tools drop-down menu or add Tool Links to the site menu for ease of access.
MySCU allows you to easily group students together for collaborative activities which can also be made assessable, where unit outcomes allow. Groups in MySCU have their own group homepage, providing members with convenient access to group interaction and assessment tools.
The following section outlines the capability of the key features available in MySCU.
The Announcements tool is the best way for teaching staff to provide important time-sensitive information to all students. It is useful for progressively reminding students of unit milestones as well as notifying students of content additions, changes or clarifications. The information posted using the Announcements tool is the first content that appears when students access a learning site.
The Contacts tool is where staff contact information is located so that students can easily find out how and when teaching staff are best contacted. You can include a staff photo for a more personal touch.
The Send Email tool is useful for sending emails to selected users or groups on your learning site. Emails sent in this way are not stored within MySCU, but a copy of the email is also sent to your SCU address for record-keeping.
Another commonly used tool in MySCU Learning Sites is the Discussion Board. Discussions offer an important vehicle for asynchronous interaction and can serve a range of purposes, including as a place for online social interaction, class collaboration, as well as a place where students can field questions regarding unit content, activities and assessments. Discussions can be moderated by either teaching staff or selected students and the records of conversation are stored for later review.
Journals are a personal online place for private communication between a student and their teacher. Journals can also be used for self-reflection by students with the ability for a student to post their opinions, ideas and concerns about their learning as well as discussing and analysing unit learning materials.
A blog - a shorthand term that means weblog - is a personal online journal that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption. Blogs in MySCU are created and managed by teaching staff and only available to site users. Students make blog entries consisting of any combination of text, images, links, multimedia, mashups and attachments. Students and teaching staff can also comment on blog entries.
Wikis allow for the collaborative creation and modification of pages of unit-related materials. These pages can be created quickly and easily with changes and additions made by individual users monitored and recorded. Wikis can be created for the entire class or for specific student groups.
Users and groups
Teaching staff can easily divide students into groups to allow for the creation of group-based activities and assessments. Groups can be created in sets (where all students are allocated membership of a group), or single groups (which may include specific subsets of the students). Groups have their own area where interaction and assessment tools can be located specifically for the facilitation and assessment of the collaborative efforts of the group members.
Blackboard Collaborate is MySCU's tool for synchronous interaction in your learning site and supports real-time audio and/or video communication as well as text-based chat. Its virtual classroom includes an interactive whiteboard that can be configured to be used by the site users of your choice by hosting whiteboard slides, drawing tools and the sharing of desktop applications such as web browsers, Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Word. Moderation tools allow you to guide and control interaction with and between your students.
Blackboard MyPortfolio is a useful tool that can be used in teaching and learning as a place to create portfolios for professional development. The MyPortfolio page is the launching point for viewing, creating, and reviewing portfolios. Access the MyPortfolio page from the global navigation menu at the top right of the page (the area with your name). Select Tools and then click Portfolios.
Lecturers may also elect to add a shortcut to the Portfolios page from a student’s Blackboard learning site.
There are two tools in the Blackboard learning sites for accessing the Portfolios. To create a tool link on the navigation bar to the portfolio tools, click on the 'plus' button and select Tool Link.