New “Paste from Word” tool for Bb makes your life easier!

February 8th, 2011 by Liz Stover

Pasting content from a Word document can result in problems, including display errors, formatting gone awry, and strange characters appearing on the page. This is a result of excessive code use by Microsoft that other programs cannot interpret correctly

GOOD NEWS!

We have installed a new mashup tool in Blackboard to help resolve this issue without requiring re-typing items into the text editor or using another tool to strip the code. Better yet, it’s simple to use! Click the link below to learn more.

Learn how to use the Paste from Word tool.  :)

Also, please note that the YouTube mashup tool has been fixed!

Blackboard Friday: Problems/Solutions, continued

February 4th, 2011 by Liz Stover

Here’s a list of the current issues noted from our most recent Blackboard update:

  • Menu items in unavailable courses might show “hidden” when they are not
  • YouTube mashups not working This was resolved on 2/10!
  • Clicking locked test attempt takes instructor to another student’s test
  • Calendars and Due Dates in Calendar module display incorrectly

Some Blackboard Issues Resolved

January 31st, 2011 by Liz Stover

Some of the Grade Center problems have been resolved, including the issues related to submitting test attempt, clearing test attempt, and the duplicate assignment download and clear links.

The remaining Grade Center issue is related to navigating to a locked test attempt. The link below will explain the problem and provide a work-around. However, at this time, new YouTube mashups are not working (existing ones are fine) and there is a menu problem for unavailable courses.

The following document will provide more information and workarounds:

Blackboard SP4 Issues (pdf)

NOTE About CALENDARS: There are some issues with the Calendar display and due dates displayed in the My Calendar module. More information will be posted at a later date. The Calendar display can be resolved by using Firefox or IE 8 browser (but not in compatibility mode).

Update: What’s Right? What’s Wrong?

January 24th, 2011 by Liz Stover

CFCC recently updated Blackboard and a few issues were resolved included:

  • Course banners are now available.
  • Students can again embed images in discussion, wiki, and blog posts and the instructor can view them.

There are a few problems with the Grade Center, including issues with navigating to locked tests, submitting test attempts for the students, and clearing attempts. The link below describes the problems and work arounds or solutions:

Grade Center Problems and Solutions (pdf)

Free eBooks and More

January 7th, 2011 by Liz Stover

Open Culture is a great site that identifies free resources available for education.

Among this week’s posts is a notice that Kaplan is offering 130 free eBooks through January 10 (for iPad, iPhone, iPhod, Nook, and Sony eReader). There are many SAT, GRE, GMAT, and other college exam study guides available.

Other things you will find listed at Open Culture include audio books, online courses, language lessons, eBooks, textbooks and movies. One example is To Kill a Mockingbird, shown below.

Visit the Learning Objects and Open Source Content to learn about other educational content you can use for your courses.

Help Your Students Help Themselves

January 7th, 2011 by Liz Stover

It’s a new semester with new students. There are few things you can do to help students succeed in their online courses:

  • Remind them about the Blackboard student tutorial. This course appears in every student’s list of courses and they can enter it at any time. This tutorial provides students with activities they can complete to familiarize themselves with Blackboard. There are a number of tutorials and guidelines they should follow when taking online courses.
  • Request that students read the Distance Learning Basics: Skills for being a successful online student (pdf), which is included in the Blackboard Student Tutorial (available to all students in Blackboard). Some instructors include the reading as one of the introduction activities to the course.
  • Provide a thorough introduction to the course, along with your expectations (see CFCC Course Essentials)
  • Let students know which file types you will accept for assignments (be aware that some students might not have MS Office, etc. so provide ways for them to save files in an acceptable format) and how to properly name files. See this Filenaming and File Types document (part of the student tutorial) for some information and suggestions.
  • Provide students with information about taking quizzes and tests in Blackboard. This document is included in the student tutorial.
  • Advise students about two important help sites:

Are Your Courses Ready For Spring 2011?

December 15th, 2010 by Liz Stover

Instructors are likely in the process of building courses at this time, in preparation for the spring 2011 semester.  The following documents will help you determine if your courses are ready for the first day of class. Items include content, design, and support items. The first document, the Course Readiness Checklist, provides you with an interactive form to help you document the status of your course(s). The other documents support the Course Readiness Checklist.

  • Use the Course Readiness Checklist (pdf) to help ensure that your course is ready to launch.
  • Check the Grade Center to ensure that all activities were copied and are correct; that the correct grading schema is being used; and that items are correctly categorized. Refer to Grade Center Check document (pdf).
  • If you are revising your course, consult the CFCC course essentials checklist (doc).This document identifies 25 standards that should be addressed in online courses. You can use the rubric (doc) with these standards if you want to take notes as you review your course.

If you have any questions, please contact the DL Instructional Technologist, Liz Stover at lstover@cfcc.edu.

Have a great holiday season!

-Liz

What’s Working? What’s New?

November 22nd, 2010 by Liz Stover

There’s good news for CFCC DL faculty. The course copy and course reports features are now working! You can find information on how to use both on the DL Faculty Procedures and Guidelines page.

There’s a new feature available that will make your lives easier. Under the Control Panel in Course Tools, you will see a link for “Add Test Student”. This tool allows you to add your own test student, which enables you to login in with a different username to view your course content from a student’s point of view. Remember, the course must be made available to allow viewing (you can make it unavailable after you are finished if the course is not live yet). Please see Add Test Student in Courses for information on how to use this feature.

Prepare Your Spring Course

November 1st, 2010 by Liz Stover

It’s that time of the semester when you should be preparing your Spring 2011 courses. Below are a few reminders and tips:

  • Use Course Copy to copy previous courses into your new course shell.
  • Please make sure you do not copy items more than once.
  • Make sure you include an Enrollment Verification discussion thread, which will be used to verify a student’s participation by the census date.
  • Take a look at the Course Essentials Checklist and rubric to ensure that your courses meet these standards. The Department of Distance Learning offers an online resource for this, Best Practices for Teaching Online, and Course Essentials workshops to help you apply these standards. See Module 4 in the Bb101 course in Blackboard for instructions on self-enrolling in the Best Practices course. Refer to the DL Training Schedule for upcoming workshops.
  • Remove all discussion posts by students from the previous semester.
  • Remove old announcements.
  • Check the Grade Center to ensure that all graded items are included.
  • Check links in the course to ensure that they work properly (includes internal and external links).
  • Review content for validity.
  • Build into your course reminders to students about the Blackboard Student Tutorial and Distance Learning Basics manual.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Department of Distance Learning if you have questions or need assistance.

FREE eLearning Webinars from NC Learn

October 5th, 2010 by Liz Stover

These free webinars, provided by NC Learn, will offer valuable information on some great tools to enhance your courses.

Visit NC Learn Online for more information and to register for these workshops.

eLearning on a Shoestring

Tuesday, October 26, 10-11 a.m.

In these times of tight budgets, teachers struggle with the need to deliver quality learning experiences, often via online means. This program focuses on strategies for building effective, no-cost online training solutions.

Social Media for Teachers

Tuesday, November 9, 10-11 a.m.

Explore the use of free technologies like blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and online groups to help build communication, increase participation, and enhance retention of new learning. We’ll both define and demystify each tool. You will get ideas for applying no-cost collaboration strategies to your own training programs—both classroom and online.

Blackboard Updates

September 24th, 2010 by Liz Stover

The Distance Learning Department would like to advise instructors of some updates on issues with Blackboard:

Resolved

Links in Content Areas to Bb Tools

When creating a link in the content area to a tool in Blackboard (discussion forum, send email, etc.), the link was breaking if that link information was edited (or simply entered and re-submitted). This resulted in the need to re-link these items.

This issue has been resolved and the tool links work properly.

Workarounds

Menu Link to External Website

When creating a link to a Website in the Blackboard course menu, and setting it to open in a new window, the link does not work properly (might work the first time and later fail). If the option to set the site to NOT open in a new window is not an desired, you can work around this error by adding a question mark to the end the URL (web address) for that site.  This will result in the link working properly.

Please refer to the Blackboard FAQ page for more information.

Pending Issues

We are working with Blackboard in an attempt to resolve the other remaining issues. Please check the Blackboard FAQ’s page for answers to frequently asked questions, to our Teaching with Blackboard 9 page for tutorials and tips to help your students work in Blackboard, and to the Faculty Resources section for other information about training, procedures, guidelines and course development issues.

We will continue to keep you posted on new developments.

Contingency Planning

August 31st, 2010 by Liz Stover

Have you prepared your students?


Now that we’re in the middle of hurricane season, it’s a good time to remind students of the CFCC contingency plan. This will help decrease stress and uncertainty for students and for you.

Remember that if the server is down at CFCC, users can still reach the Blackboard server by using the alternate Web address: http://cfcc.blackboard.com

The phone number for closings and delays is (877)799-2322 .

Read the complete DL Contingency Plan here.

Blackboard Blues?

August 27th, 2010 by Liz Stover

Now that we’re almost through the second week of the semester, some of you have noticed a few glitches in the new Blackboard LMS. We are working closely with Blackboard to try and resolve these problems as quickly as possible.

We have documented “workarounds” for some issues, and a list can be found on our Blackboard Faculty FAQ page . On this page, you will also find other frequently asked questions and guidance related to Blackboard so you’re encouraged to check often for updates.

We’ll keep you posted on any news related to issues affecting your online courses.

A Few Reminders for Online Instructors

August 18th, 2010 by Liz Stover

Welcome back to the Fall semester at CFCC. As online instructors, you are likely busy adding finishing touches to your courses and getting to know your new students.

The Distance Learning Department wants to advise you of a few updates and tips:

Are Your Courses Ready for Fall?

July 27th, 2010 by Liz Stover

 Note: The Department of Distance Learning is revamping its Website, so some of these links will change. You can always navigate through http://cfcc.edu/dl to locate content.

It’s that time again, time to make sure your courses are ready for the Fall semester. If you teach Internet or Hybrid courses, your course shell is automatically created in Blackboard. You will then either 1) copy content from an existing course into the shell or 2) copy template information into the shell or 3) start from scratch.  Information about copying content or uploading the template can be found on the DL Faculty Resource page.

You might end up with duplicate menu items. Items that link to tools will contain the same information and duplicates can be removed.

If you copied content from another semester, make sure to:

  • Remove old discussion posts.
  • Remove old announcements.

Check the following items before your course goes live:

  • Make sure all links and dates are correct.
  • Make sure the points stated in the syllabus, class schedule, etc. match what is in the Grade Center.
  • Check your Grade Center to make sure you are using the correct grading schema, that all graded items are in the Grade Center with appropriate point values and are properly categorized if using weighting. Please refer to the Grade Center Check document (pdf).
  • Correct display problems in the course. The Teaching with Blackboard 9 page has a number of resources listed, including Resolving Invalid HTML Errors and Bb Text Display Errors .

This also might be a good time to familiarize yourself with the CFCC Course Essentials, accepted standards for quality online courses. This document is a simple checklist; if you would like to learn how to implement these and other standards, instructions for self-enrolling in Best Practices for Online Teaching can be found in Module 4 : Using Blackboard for Instruction the Blackboard 101 course in which all online faculty are enrolled. 

Please check the DL Training page for upcoming workshops and have a great semester!