Archive for August, 2010
Here are some more questions and tips that faculty have shared with us, with answers and suggestions. The first is from the College of Education:
- Question: “We would like to have an ASSIGNMENT DROP BOX link that takes the students directly to the DROP Box (to see all the assignments that are due) on the left-hand menu box. I tried to do it, but the links did not work.”
Answer: If the assignments have been created within a learning module or a unit, use course link. Here is how:
1. Create a Content Area link on Course Menu and name it Assignments.
2. Click the Assignments link on Course Menu
3. Click Build Content Drop-down Contextual Menu list and select Course Link
4. Click Browse and select the assignment
that you have been created in a module or a Unit
5. The name of the assignment and Location
will appear respectively in the slot Name & Location
6. Click Submit
And the next concerns the Gradebook function. We’ve noticed that the WebCT gradebook was much more capable than the Blackboard 9.1 gradebook. It is odd that a company would strip functionality from an old version in updating to a new one, but that seems to be what they have done. Many functions are still there but need to be accessed differently. This comment is from the College of Arts and Sciences and it concerns the grading of multiple attempts at a quiz (do you want to take the highest score, the last score, or an average of the attempts?):
- If you are grading multiple attempts, the graded item must have been set to allow multiple attempts when it was created. If the option for multiple attempts was selected, the option for grading will appear on the Grade Details page. Grades for all attempts are tracked in the Grade History.
The faculty member continues: “…of course there is no link to tell you what/where the “grade details page” is- maybe another week of searching will find it.” And finally, a puzzle: “I am still trying to find out how i check on an individual student’s multiple choice answers… any ideas?”
This article at the Chronicle today reminds us that accessibility in our online courses is an important issue. ProfHacker is thinking broadly about accessibility and universal design principles and it’s worth a look, but it is important to remember that our courses must remain accessible to all students. Blackboard 9.1 is fully compatible with technologies that ensure accessibility (screen readers, various forms of input, etc.), but your course’s accessibility depends in part on what you put on it. For instance, many faculty are opting to teach with open-source materials freely available on the web or using scanned copies of articles, staying within boundaries of “fair use.” However, unless your scanned copy is easily “read” by an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) program, what the seeing-impaired student gets will be either nonsense or nothing. If you use media files, are they accessible? Is your You-Tube video close-captioned?
If your course–whether online, face-to-face, or “hybrid”–needs to be made fully accessible, we strongly recommend that you contact the Office of Accessibility long before the beginning of a semester to make suitable arrangements. LV will work with the Office of Accessibility to ensure that exams and documents are accessible for all online or web-assisted courses in which accommodation has been requested.
Finally, please be sure to submit your book orders on time. This is not just to satisfy the bookstore’s need for an early order. The primary reason to submit your book order early is so that the Office of Accessibility can help make arrangements (digitizing textbooks, captioning, etc.) for students who need help accessing course materials.
If imported content from WebCT appears for instructors but not students and students get messages like “File Not Found” or “You Do Not Have Permission To Access This File” etc, then we suggest you take the following steps, and that you suggest two additional steps to your students:
- In the “Control Panel” at the bottom left of the left-pane menu, click on Files.
- Click on the course number (i.e. the “Alphanumeric.” For example, MLS 4600_5600 (since the course is cross-listed as a 4k and 5k course).
- Then, in the window labeled “Course Content:…”, click on the the Contextual Menu to the right of the WebCT imported content folder (it will say “imported content”) and select Permissions. (The “contextual menu” looks like a chevron or a double-arrow pointing downward).
- Click the Add Course User List button near the top of the screen. The button has white writing with a blue background.
- Click the check box to the left of All Course Users and click the Submit button to secure your changes.
Presto, bingo…all course users (including students) should now be able to see content imported from WebCT. If you’d like to see this actually done with a little narration from me (BP) and our senior designer, Dr. Peter You, follow this link to a screen capture: http://screencast.com/t/MTM1Mzky
If students still have problems and cannot see course content, ask them to “clear the cache” in their web browsers. Once they do, the page will load appropriately.
Our transition to Blackboard 9.1 has been compared to “wrestling bears.” Whether this comparison is favorable or unfavorable I will leave to you, and so much depends upon the size of the bear and whether it has been de-clawed, but the message was clear: it has not been easy to make the change, particularly for those of us who like to take a more “hands-on” role in course design.
As part of our regular updates about the transition, the LV Instructional Designers and I would like to address recurring issues and solutions that might help you and your students. You can help us a great deal by leaving comments below: are you frustrated with a feature or a bug (and if you can’t tell the difference, it’s probably a bug)? Is there a mystery tool that you’d like to use but know nothing about? Have your students encountered a problem? Leaving comments here will help us share knowledge and find solutions more quickly.
- Phoebe Ballard sent us the following today: “If faculty choose to use the Messages tool ONLY for all course related email, they will need to disable to the Email tool for the course in Customization > Tool Availability. If they do not, students will still be able to send Blackboard generated utoledo email via the My Institutions tab.” You may have noticed that the “WebCT Email” function is called “Messages” in Blackboard, and the Blackboard “Email” tool actually integrates with UTAD and generates an email to the preferred UTAD address. Depending on how you want communication to work in your course, you may wish to disable this function following Phoebe’s instructions above.
- If imported content from WebCT appears for instructors but not students:
-Go to the File Manager.
-Click on the Contextual Menu to the right of the WebCT imported content folder and select Permissions.
-Click the Add Course User List button near the top of the screen.
-Click the check box to the left of All Course Users and click the Submit button to secure your changes.
- We’ve discovered that some course content displays perfectly well in one browser but not in another, and the same is true of quiz tools. We recommend that students and faculty download and use Firefox. It is more stable, faster, and seems to give us the fewest fits. If something seems to be “broken” on the site (for students or faculty), you can always try to clear the browser’s cache and try to do something over. If that doesn’t work, try another browser (Explorer, Safari (for mac or windows), or, if you’re feeling adventurous, Chrome or Opera) and see if that clears up the problem.
- If you’ve started teaching using Blackboard, you’ve noticed that your course comes with a busy-looking “Homepage.” That is a machine generated page that provides students with notifications of new material, announcements, due dates, and reminders. It is a very good thing for students, so we strongly recommend that you leave that page displayed. You do not need to do anything to that page but simply ignore it. It is so that the students can be notified of changes and updates at a glance and will help them with time management.
- Lance Stoll requests (or perhaps “strongly urges”) faculty who would like to have a web assisted course to use our “WA Course Request” link on the LV home page, even if you have already submitted a request. It really is the fastest way to get your course assigned.
To those of you trying Blackboard 9.1, we appreciate your patience and your willingness to work with us. We are still a few days behind in processing the hundreds of requests we’ve received over the last few days, and we are still dealing with the occasional glitch or hiccup in the marriage of Banner and Blackboard, but that’s to be expected in any marriage. Again, comments are welcome and appreciated. How has your experience been? How can we help you?
We ask that you make a final decision concerning your choice of server–Blackboard 9.1 or WebCT 4.1–no later than NOON on Saturday, August 21, 2010.
Learning Ventures is attempting to process many requests to adopt Blackboard 9.1. However, technical issues involving the integration between Banner (which contains enrollment data) and Blackboard (in which students are enrolled), as well as the sheer volume of requests, are slowing our processing. If you are already teaching a web-assisted or online course and would like to use Blackboard, please keep reading. If you have not yet asked for a web-assisted course and would like to do so, please request a web assisted course.
Below are four very important pieces of information if you are using Blackboard for your online or web-assisted course. ALL of this information and more is available on the Learning Ventures blog: http://wordpress.utoledo.edu/learningventures). To get our updates, check the “Faculty” tab in the portal for the Learning Ventures window, or better yet, include our RSS feed (http://wordpress.utoledo.edu/learningventures/feed/) in your email program or RSS feed reader. Posts on the LV site are linked to keywords or “tags” and the site is easily searched for the topic of interest to you.
Faculty and students will have access to both WebCT (Blackboard 4.1) and Blackboard 9.1 beginning this weekend (Saturday or Sunday, August 21 or 22). We ask that you make a final decision concerning your choice of server no later than NOON on Saturday. This is for the sake of your students so that logging on is easy and for the sake of our organization so that we can effectively assist faculty teaching online.
If you’ve been keeping up with our transition plans, you know that we are loading ALL courses onto both our old WebCT server and our new Blackboard 9.1 server. Our intention is to have every unused site contain a link to the site being used for instruction so that students cannot get lost. But we will need to know which site you are using in order to do this. You should have notified Lansing Stoll if you want to use Blackboard 9.1. Otherwise, the “default” is to WebCT. If you have notified Lance and are not yet being directed automatically to the correct server, please have patience: we are processing hundreds of requests and need time to fulfill them all.
If you are using Blackboard 9.1 and want to help prevent confusion, you can advise students to access the appropriate server. Access can be achieved in any of the following three ways:
1. Via “My Courses” on the Portal. BUT: To use this option, you will have to manually change the link directing students to the Blackboard server. To do this:
- Go to “My Courses” and look at your schedule
- Next to each course you will see a red “Edit” button
- Click the red “Edit” button.
- You will get to a window called “Set Course Homepage.” It will allow you to select the “default” homepage for your course.
- Click “WebCT-Fall”
In the box marked “URL:”, enter the following values:
If you intend to use WebCT, leave it unchanged! WebCT is the “default” server.
If you intend to use Blackboard instead of WebCT, enter: http://blackboard.utdl.edu
- Click “Save Changes”
- You will be returned to the “My Courses” page where you can check the link. Once it is updated, the link will take you and your students to the appropriate server.
2. Via the UT Learning Ventures web page.
- Go to www.utoledo.edu/dl
- Just below the banner, you will see a “dropdown” menu.
- Choose the correct system from the dropdown menu and click “go”
3. Direct Link:
- If your course is in WebCT in the fall, give students this link (in an email or on paper): https://utwebct.utdl.edu:2153.
- If your course is in Blackboard in the fall, give students this link: https://blackboard.utdl.edu.
The BAJ “Modules” are now accessible to all students and faculty enrolled in a BAJ course. In order to get to your course, log in to blackboard.utdl.edu and click on the course title. The “course” is called “BAJ Connection,” which is distinct from the individual BAJ course you are facilitating. Once there, feel free to poke around but please, don’t change anything! That site is shared by all students and faculty, so changing something there means changing something for everybody! If you spot a typo, an inaccuracy, or if you have something to add, please send your note to “firstname.lastname@example.org” and we’ll make sure it gets to the right person.
Remember that modules can be copied to your own course site (and all “required” modules will appear in the course site’s “template”, by the way). For instructions on how to do this and lots of other things related to the BAJ project, go to this FAQ document on a web-based sharing site. The doc can be downloaded in multiple formats:
Finally, instructional sessions will be offered throughout the months of August and September. Visit our LV web site for a link to our scheduled sessions, and if your program, department or college would like to schedule a customized session, contact us.
More to come. Please contact UTLV@utoledo.edu if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions.
In order to avoid frustration and to accommodate the transition to our new system, Learning Ventures decided to give faculty a choice between the old and the new. Therefore, if you are teaching a web-assisted or fully online course this fall, you will have access to a course site in both Blackboard CE 4.1 (aka WebCT 4.1)and Blackboard 9.1. Here’s how to move ahead if you’d like to teach with the new system:
If you are a faculty member and you would like to use Bb 9.1 for fall, please do the following:
1. Contact Lance Stoll (email@example.com ) and ask him to code your course as Bb 9.1 so that your students can log into your course via the myUT portal.
2. If you would like to use a WebCT backup from a previous term, contact UTLV@utoledo.edu or if you already work with an instructional designer, contact that designer directly. In your message, indicate the course number, section number, and semester of the backup you would like to use. You may also build your course from scratch.
3. Before Friday, August 20, email your students via the myUT portal and tell them that you will be using Bb 9.1 for fall (see the attached file).
4. To learn more about Bb 9.1 features and tools, attend our workshops or review our online guides. All training sessions and workshops will be “BB9.1” oriented, though we will continue to offer online resources and staff assistance in WebCT.
5. If you have any questions, contact UTLV@utoledo.edu, call LV Support (530-8835), or drop us a message through the chat window on our main page (utoledo.edu/dl). ;
Once you’ve taken the plunge into BB9.1 (and there are many advantages to doing this), UTLV will do the following:
· Post a message in the course site that you will not be using (either Bb 9.1 or WebCT). This message will direct students to the correct login screen.
· Load students into the Guide to UT Online Learning approximately two weeks before the start of the term.
· Load students into both WebCT and Blackboard sites on Friday, August 20.
· Provide Bb 9.1 workshops for students in FH 2010.
Please contact LV if you have any questions, and check back often for updates and suggestions. This site is searchable, so if you click on the appropriate “tag” or use the search window and type in “blackboard” or “9.1,” you’ll get a full list of all our postings on that topic.