UT Online

Archive for April, 2011

Email and Messages tools in Blackboard 9.1

Blackboard 9.1 has two different communication tools for sending communication to students.  The first tool is “Messages” and the other tool is “Send Email” The Messages tool allows instructors and students to send messages to other users in the course.  Communication sent by the Messages tool remains within the course, and students must check the course to see their messages.   This is similar to the old WebCT “Mail” tool. Users can send a message to one or more course users by using the selection tool that is shown below.:







The “Send Email” tool sends messages to the user’s UT email account, and the message is not stored in the course.  Students can view and reply to communication using their UT email account.  In addition, the “Send Email” tool offers the following presets for sending communication, allowing users to quickly send their communication to one of the following audiences:

All Users

  • Send email to all of the users in the Course.

All Groups

  • Send email to all of the Groups in the Course.

All Teaching Assistant Users

  • Send email to all of the Teaching Assistant users in the Course.

All Student Users

  • Send email to all of the Student users in the Course.

All Instructor Users

  • Send email to all of the Instructor users in the Course.

All Observer Users

  • Send email to all Observer users in the Course.

Single / Select Users

  • Select which users will receive the email.

Single / Select Groups

  • Select which Groups will receive the email.

Single / Select Observer users

  • Send an email to selected Observer users.



Best Practices for using course communication tools

Instructors should indicate their preferred communication method for online courses, and should provide the appropriate tool link and contact information to their students.  In addition, instructors should also set a policy for when they will check their communications with students and provide a timeframe in which students should expect a response.

WebCT –> Blackboard, Urgent Message


After consulting with faculty and assessing our options last spring, Learning Ventures began the transition from WebCT to Blackboard (Bb) 9 in March of 2010. If you are still using WebCT for online or web-assisted teaching, the time to switch is now.

The GOOD news is Bb 9 has some great tools for engaging students online:

  • The Blog (web log) tool is a great way to encourage the development of an online community.
  • The Discussion Board is easier to grade and easier to track student posts and replies.
  • The Journal tool offers a private way to communicate with your students while tracking their individual reflections.
  • The Wiki tool allows a group of students to collaborate on a collective document.
  • The SafeAssign tool helps students cite their writing properly.
  • The Assignment drop box allows you to submit multiple documents at once.
  • You can drag and drop files to the course.

Bb 9 is a very different experience for the faculty and the instructional designer; therefore, you will need time and assistance to create a maximally learning-centered experience for your students. Learning Ventures offers extensive, hands-on support for faculty who use Bb 9. In addition to our regularly scheduled workshops (schedule available here: https://utdl.edu/DL_training), we invite your department or program to schedule an instructional session at your convenience.

To get more information about Bb 9, or to make an important connection with an instructional designer, contact LV:

Email: UTLV@utoledo.edu
Phone: 419.530.8835
Chat: utoledo.edu/dl, use our chat window

For more updates on the transition, follow us on Twitter (@UTLV) and check our blog (feed available on the “Teaching” pane in the UT Portal. Also: http://wordpress.utoledo.edu/learningventures).

Online Learning, Quality Matters, and New Federal regulations

Ohio QM ConsortiumLearning Ventures is proud to announce that The University of Toledo is now a member of the Ohio Learning Network’s Ohio Quality Matters Consortium. “Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses. QM is a leader in quality assurance for online education and has received national recognition for its peer-based approach and continuous improvement in online education and student learning.” (http://www.qmprogram.org) There are now over 500 higher-ed institutions affiliated with the Quality Matters program and Ohio has the largest state-wide consortium with 58 member institutions.

QM has developed a researched-based rubric for evaluating and improving online and blended courses. The rubric is designed to evaluate only course design and not course delivery or content. The rubric consists of eight broad categories broken down into 40 individual standards. These 40 standards can be used in a variety of ways ranging from providing guidelines for course development to the evaluation and certification of courses (either through an internal or external review process).

Interest in evaluating and certifying the quality of online courses and programs continues to grow as new Federal regulations on state approval for distance education go into effect on July 1, 2011. These new regulations require that any institutions providing distance and online education to students in a State in which they are not physically located will be subject to the State’s jurisdiction and must meet its requirements. Responsibility for establishing these requirements is up to the individual State. Furthermore, institutions offering online courses or programs must be able to document the individual State’s approval upon request.

While QM concentrates on providing a standard by which to compare the design quality of online courses, the nonprofit Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) has developed a “quality scorecard” that might serve as a standardized way for administrators to compare and improve institutional support for online programs. This scorecard, developed by a panel of 43 “long-serving” online administrators, consists of 70 metrics in nine general categories ranging from support for students and faculty to technology support.

From Epsilen’s CEO

According to Evan Nisonson, Epsilen CEO,  “a leading marketing and communications company based in Dallas, Epsilon, discovered what the press has described as a substantial breach of some of its client data and is currently investigating the situation. Due to the similarity with the name of our companies, I wanted to simply assure you that Epsilen has nothing to do with this issue.  At Epsilen, we take the security of our customer’s and user’s information very seriously and would never request any personal information, login credentials, or sensitive personal information such as credit cards or social security numbers in an e-mail.”

For further information, Epsilen users can always access the company’s  privacy statement at www.epsilen.com. If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Epsilen at privacy@epsilen.com.