July and August Blackboard Training

July 8th, 2010 by Liz Stover

If you will be teaching on Blackboard this Fall, please make sure to complete the Bb 101 course on the new Blackboard 9.1 server. All instructors are enrolled in this course, so it will appear on your list of courses after you login to Blackboard.

After completing Bb 101, you can attend a face-to-face workshop, which will introduce you to the Bb 9.1 course management system. You will also be enrolled in a Sandbox course as an instructor. You can use this area to practice using Blackboard tools.

To view a list of workshops being offered , select the “DL Training for Instructors” link on this blog.

Blackboard 9.1 : 30-day FAQs

June 14th, 2010 by Liz Stover

We’ve been using Blackboard 9.1 for approximately one month now and DL wants to provide a little report of some recurring issues/questions:

Where can I find Blackboard Tutorials?

How do I resolve text display and html error messages?

These items are generally related to bad code carried over from the old Blackboard. The new Blackboard is stricter, which alerts people to some underlying problems. While pesky, these problems can generally be resolved. Refer to two documents on the Teaching with Blackboard 9 page:

How do I weight grades?

You can set up weighted grades in two ways, individual columns or by assigning categories (most common).

See the tutorial on our Teaching with Blackboard 9 page: Grade Center: Weighting Grades (movie cc) or refer to the NC Community Colleges help article: Grade Center > Columns-Calculated Grades > Calculating Grades: Explain how grade weighting works.

How do I view assignments or quizzes that have been submitted?

You will go to the Grade Center in the Control Panel. Select “Full Grade Center”, where you will see rows with students’ names and columns with items and graded activities. The NC Community Colleges help site has tutorials for viewing and grading submissions (Bb Support: Instructors > Grade Center ) .

How do I use a quiz/test from one course in another?

The easiest way to reuse tests and quizzes is when an entire course is copied. This will retain the course structure and any assessments.

Move all tests, surveys, and pools

You can use the Course Copy feature under Packages and Utilities in the Control Panel to copy all of your tests, surveys, and pools from one course to another (you cannot select to copy individual quizzes). This will push them all into the Test Manager. You can then deploy them in the course where needed. In the Course Copy feature, you will select just “Tests, Surveys, and Pools”. Do not select other content or you will have duplicates of these other items in your course. In summary:

  1. Use Course Copy to copy the item into the course.
  2. Deploy the test (or survey) in course.

Move just one or some tests, surveys, or pools

However, you might be in a situation where you just need to move just some quizzes or tests (you might not need or want all tests, surveys, and pools moved). This is a three step process:

  1. Export the test from the old course.
  2. Import the test to the new course.
  3. Deploy the test in the new course.

The NC Community College Online Support Center provides tutorials for exporting, importing, and deploying quizzes/tests (select Bb Support: Instructors > Tests, Surveys, Pools > Reuse/Find Questions).

Refer to the tutorial for doing the same with Pools if you are using test pools.

Why can’t I email students my announcements?

The new feature (notifications) is not working correctly so this has been disabled until the problem is resolved. In the meantime, the easiest way to do this is to copy the content of the announcement and use the Send Email feature in Blackboard. Select to send to all students.

How do I get rid of all the extra columns in my Grade Center?

Next to each column heading in the Grade Center, there is a set of chevron arrows. Click this to select “Delete Column”. Keep in mind that if the column is linked to an activity in the course, you cannot delete it.

What is the easiest way to see if all of my activities are in the Grade Center?

In the Grade Center, select Manage > Column Organization.
Scroll to your graded activities. This will show you the list of items in the grade center, their points, and other information. You can reorder the columns here by dragging and dropping the four-headed arrows on the left of each.

Why isn’t my button to an external link working?

Some of you include a menu button to an external website. If you set it to open in a new window, it is likely broken. This is a bug that has been reported to Blackboard. We are requesting that you open items in the same window until this is fixed.

Also, for links in course materials, sometimes the items open in a new window that minimizes to the student’s task bar and they think the item is not there. Selecting to open in the same window will resolve this problem.

How do I run Course Reports for attendance?

View the movie, Running a Report of User Activity. Use the first day of class as the start date and the day after the census date as the end date (to pick up all activity through the census date). You only need to print the page with the student names and dates, usually near the end of the report.

Note that this report does not include your course ID so make sure to include your name and the course ID on the document after printing.

Don’t Get Stung by the Blackboard Upgrade

April 27th, 2010 by Liz Stover

prepare for the Blackboard 9 upgrade

CFCC will be upgrading from Blackboard 7.3 to Blackboard 9.1 starting on May 10. The system may be unavailable through May 13. Be forewarned that the new version of Blackboard is significantly different from the current version so it’s important that you complete Bb 101 and attend training as soon as possible to prepare for this new and exciting change.

Are you prepared for the upgrade?

  • Have you completed Blackboard 101 for Bb9?
  • Have you attended either a What’s New in Bb 9 workshop (current online instructors) or a Getting Started with Blackboard workshop (new instructors)? See training schedule.
  • Have you copied course content for your summer and/or fall courses?
  • Have you reviewed our Teaching with Blackboard 9 webpage?

The Department of Distance Learning is here to help you with this transition. Please contact us for further assistance with your courses and have a great summer!

North Campus Training

April 21st, 2010 by Liz Stover

The Department of Distance Learning will offer one final workshop before the end of the semeseter at the North on What’s New in Blackboard 9 on April 29. For more information and to sign up for this workshop, visit the DL Training page on this blog. 

This will be the last training opportunity at North campus before the summer semester. We will be upgrading the Blackboard server to the new version from May 10-13, so the system might be unavailable for those dates. You can continue to work on your courses in the current Blackboard system and make your course copies. We will move all content over during the upgrade.

What’s New in Bb 9 Training at North Campus

April 16th, 2010 by Liz Stover

If you are current online instructor at North Campus and have not yet attended a What’s New in Blackboard 9 workshop, the Department of Distance Learning is offering one just for you on April 19. For details, please visit our Training Page.

Free Your Files: Bb improves file management

April 5th, 2010 by Liz Stover

Are you tired of embedding and attaching files in Blackboard, only to try and recall all of the locations where you need to replace these for future revision?

Let me introduce you to the Blackboard 9 Course Files system. This will look familiar to those who have used Moodle or WebCT in the past. For those who prefer the old method, this will still be available, but now you can upload your files into a file manager and link to them when needed. This allows you to replace files as they need updates, without breaking the links, as long as you do so properly ;-). Sometimes, you have files that might be linked to several areas in your course (e.g. rubrics). This new system enables you to update the file in the storage area rather than require you to re-embed an instance of the file in each location. This saves you time and effort.

Are you interested in learning how this works? Check out Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center and a movie tutorial explaining this tool: View Course Files Tool tutorial. Learn how to upload and organize files and how to link content in your course.

There is one little viewing glitch with this movie; the full screen does not show when viewing at 100%from the link in the On Demand Learning Center, but if you open the link I provided above, you’ll see the tutorial in full-screen.  Happy filing.

Just Enough, Just in Time

March 18th, 2010 by Liz Stover

Blackboard On Demand Learning CenterMany of you are preparing for the Blackboard upgrade to version 9. Be reminded that the interface is quite different (and more flexible) though most of the tools will look familiar. Blackboard has recently released many short movie and text tutorials (see link below) to help familiarize you with Blackboard 9 and the many exciting improvements offered.

I encourage you to bookmark the following page and visit as needed. The library of tutorials will continue to grow, so check back from time to time.

Blackboard On Demand Learning Center (will open in new window)

March 19 Blackboard Training Added!

March 18th, 2010 by Liz Stover

The Department of Distance Learning has added a morning workshop for What’s New in Blackboard 9. The workshop will be conducted on Friday, March 19 at 9 a.m. in L210 (technology training center in the library). You should complete Bb 101 on our test server before attending. Please refer to the training page for more details and contact information to register for this workshop.

It’s Course Copy Time!

March 4th, 2010 by Liz Stover

Course shells have been created for the summer session in Blackboard. It is now time to copy your course content from previous courses into the new shells. Please refer to DL’s faculty resource page to access the How to: Copying Course Content document.

We are also holding special drop-in days devoted to helping faculty with course copies on Mon., March 22 & Tues. March 23 in our S200 office, and at the North Campus Learning Lab on Tues. March 30 from 1 – 4pm.

Finally, please make sure to read our Upgrading to Blackboard 9 document, which will provide you with details about preparing for this change. Have a great Spring Break (although it’s not yet spring).

Join us online for What’s New in Blackboard 9?

February 22nd, 2010 by Liz Stover

I will be conducting an online training equivalent to our face-to-face workshop entitled “What’s New in Blackboard 9?”.  This workshop will be conducted in DimDim, which is a fully web-based free conferencing program. It will be beneficial for you to have a microphone to ask questions, but this is not required; there is a text-based chat available, as well.

We are hoping to use more web-based tools for training and feel this is a good move since our instructors are teaching online. DimDim will allow you to see the screen and hear audio, just as you would in a training lab.

The online workshop will be held on Thursday, March 4 from 2:00-3:00 pm.

Prerequisites: Blackboard 101 and “Getting Started with Blackboard” workshop.

Important: Please send me an email to sign up for this (or any) workshops: adminbb@cfcc.edu . I’ll send you the web address for the workshop at that time.

Don’t forget to check our training page on this blog for more training dates.

Blackboard 9 Cheat Sheet

February 17th, 2010 by Liz Stover

Many of you are awaiting the upgrade from Blackboard 7.3 (old school) to the new, bright and shiny Blackboard 9. The following document will provide you with a snapshot of some differences you can expect:

What’s New in Blackboard 9? (PDF) 

Remember, when you get access to our Blackboard 9 test server, do NOT count on building out your courses to be moved to the production server, since test servers do not have guaranteed stability. You can continue building out courses in our current Bb and these courses will be moved to the Bb 9 production server during upgrade.

Oh, while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out CFCC’s Course Essentials Checklist (.doc), conveniently also available in a rubric version, if you’d like to take notes while checking your course.

What’s New in Blackboard 9?

February 8th, 2010 by Liz Stover

You might be asking, “What’s Blackboard 9?”  CFCC will be upgrading its current Blackboard 7.3 software to the newest version, Blackboard 9. This upgrade will occur in between the spring and summer semesters and we hope it will be a seamless process, with only a day or two down time.

Please be aware that this new version looks considerably different from the current model, utilizing Web 2.0 features to provide a more flexible and robust course management system. Once you get beneath the surface, most of the tools look familiar so don’t worry that you’ll be learning an entire new system. The gradebook is now called the Grade Center and this tool has been most revised.

The Department of Distance Learning will be providing a number of workshops to get you acquainted with this upgraded platform. Please check the training page on this blog for dates and make sure to contact lstover@cfcc.edu to sign up for workshops.

NCLOR Adds New SREB 2.0 Resource Series

February 8th, 2010 by Liz Stover

As part of the SREB State Virtual Schools Alliance in partnership with the AT&T Foundation, a list of New Media/Web 2.0 Tools has been prepared especially for SREB and online teachers by Chris O’Neal, Faculty Associate for the George Lucas Educational Foundation. This list provides practical explanations and examples of numerous new media tools that have direct applicability for teachers.

Read full article on the NCLOR News Blog.

My, What Big Files You Have!

February 5th, 2010 by Liz Stover

Do you frequently create graphic-rich documents or presentations for your courses? If so, unless you are optimizing them, they are likely very large. While your images, charts, and photos do enhance the learning experience, you don’t want the file size to bog down disk space or become problematic when downloading, especially for students who do not have high speed connections.

There’s good news, though, as there are some simple ways for you to optimize your files, primarily by compressing the images in them. This applies to Office products (Word, PowerPoint, etc.) and Adobe PDF files. Note that you must use Adobe Acrobat Professional (not just the free Adobe Reader) to take advantage of file optimization for this application.

Optimizing Files will take you through file optimization for Office 2007, Office 2003, Office for MAC, and Adobe Acrobat Pro.

So, if you’re ready to magically shrink your bloated files, check out Optimizing Files, for those times when size really does matter.

Strategies for Decreasing Plagiarism and Cheating

January 27th, 2010 by Liz Stover

The following passage about plagiarism and cheating was taken from DL’s course in development,  Best Practices for Online Courses:

Instructors are frequently concerned about cheating and plagiarism when developing course activities. This is another good reason to provide a variety of assessment types in your course. If your entire assessment relies on a series of multiple choice quizzes, expect that copies exist. There is no surefire way to prevent copying of a quiz so your best defense is to create assessments where cheating and plagiarism are difficult to carry out.

Papers can also be obtained through paper mills, former students, etc. This is especially true for general topics and for assignments that have been used many times. This is where we will start discussing specific ways to minimize cheating and plagiarism.

First, clearly state your college’s academic dishonesty policy in the syllabus. The CFCC Academic Dishonesty policy can be viewed in the Student Handbook section of the CFCC Course Catalog. Students should know what constitutes plagiarism and cheating and that they are taken seriously. You might include a question about this topic in your course’s icebreaker assignment. Also, sometimes students plagiarize because they do not know how to properly pararphrase or cite sources. Make sure you provide students with writing resources. For example, if you require that students submit essays with APA Style formatting, provide them with links to the current APA Style Manual or online tutorials.

In addition to stating your school’s policy and offering writing guidance, there are a number of things you can do when designing activities to decrease the possibility of cheating and plagiarism. Below are some suggestions to help you create such activities:

  • Recent references:
    Require that at least some references not be more than a year or two old or tie in the assignment to current events.
  • Specific references:
    Require that students use some references from specific sources, such as resources used in the course or articles from the school library.
  • Submit work in stages:
    When assigning large projects or papers, consider having students submit this in stages. For instance, you might have students first submit a summary or outline of their project, then a rough draft that will be revised before submitting a final product.
  • Personal:
    Make at least part of the assignment personal by including a component such as an interview, personal experience, etc. or use project-based assignments. Adding a personal component to assignments will also motivate students.
  • Presentations:
    Require that students present their paper or project and defend their position, design, etc. Presentations can be conducted by using presentation software (such as PowerPoint with or without audio) or other multimedia applications such as Camtasia or Screencast-O-Matic. Discussion about presentations can be conducted in the discussion forum of the course.

You can learn more about these strategies and others by reading Arthur Sterngold’s article, “Confronting Plagiarism: How Conventional Teaching Invites Cyber-Cheating”, available through NCLIVE.