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Learning Ventures Completely Launched Pathway to Master Online Instructor Program

To meet faculty needs in online course design, development, and delivery, Learning Ventures developed a Pathway to Master Online Instructor Program (Pathway). The entire program was launched on June 1, 2015 with 10 faculty members taking the Online Course Design Certificate. The primary goal of the Pathway program is to ensure the quality of our fully online programs so that students will achieve desired learning objectives and have a satisfactory online learning experience.  Upon completion of the program, participants will be able to:

  • Design effective online courses by incorporating Quality Matters standards and best practices of online learning with technology;
  • Deliver well-structured online courses with technology effectively;
  • Apply the QM rubrics and the QM review process to review online courses and provide helpful recommendations; and
  • Mentor novice online instructors in online course design and delivery.

The Pathway program contains four unique components to prepare faculty in course design, delivery, and revision for continuous course improvement. The first course, Online Teaching Certificate, was first offered in the Fall 2013 Semester. Ninety-two (92) faculty members have successfully completed that course. The second course, ADA Compliance and Online Courses, was launched in May, 2015 with 17 faculty and academic support staff enrolled. The course was offered as a competency-based learning course. Participants followed a suggested schedule to complete course work and assessment at their own pace. The third course, Online Course Design Certificate, was launched on June 1 with 10 faculty members for the pilot run. The fourth course, Applying Quality Matters Rubric, was first offered on campus in Spring 2012. Eighty-seven (87) faculty have completed this course and 20 of them have successfully completed the Peer Reviewer Course offered by Quality Matters.  Eighteen of them have become certified QM peer reviewers who are eligible to serve on QM review teams and provide helpful recommendations to course developers.  Those who successfully complete the entire program will receive a Learning Ventures certificate recognizing successful completion.

To learn more about the Pathway program, please visit Learning Ventures website and the Workshops and Events page for our full catalog.

Tips for Taking Tests in Blackboard

Before Taking a Test

  • Install a preferred web browser. Learning Ventures highly recommends the use of Google Chrome (Download Chrome) when taking online tests in Blackboard. We highly recommend AGAINST using Internet Explorer as your web browser when working in Blackboard. If your instructor requires that you use Respondus Lockdown Browser, please make sure to read the section Note Regarding Respondus Lockdown Browser below.
  • It is also advisable that students clear their cache prior to testing. (Click here for instructions)
  • Please use a wired Ethernet connection when taking tests, if possible.  Avoid public WiFi connections that may not be available for extended times.
  • Blackboard maintenance is performed each morning from 4:00 am to 5:00 am. During this time, Blackboard will be unavailable. Please plan your Blackboard activities accordingly and avoid starting exams close to this time period.

Notes about test settings:

There are various settings in Blackboard that may be applied to the test you are taking.  You will see a list of the settings that are applied to a specific test once you click on the link to the test.  Below are in-depth descriptions of what those settings mean for you:

  • Force Completion: When force completion is enabled, you will not be able to exit and return to your test. If you encounter problems or you get kicked off, your instructor will need to clear your test attempt-in this case you will need to retake the entire test. If force completion is not enabled, you can exit and reenter the test if you encounter technical problems.
  • Timer: The Blackboard timer will run continuously from the time you start the test, and will run until the time you click Submit. The timer will run even if you exit the test or log out of Blackboard.  Therefore, if you leave the test for five minutes, those five minutes would be removed from the timer.  It is not possible to “pause” a blackboard test, so you should plan to take the test in one sitting.
  • Auto Submit: After time expires, the test will automatically submit regardless of whether you are on the test page or not.
  • Prohibit Backtracking: You will not be able to review or make changes once you move to the next question. Be sure you have chosen your answer prior to advancing. Do not double click on the next question button, as this may cause you to skip questions.

During the test:

  • Do NOT try to navigate away from the test area of Blackboard or close the test window.
  • Do NOT click any button on the Browser navigation menu (such as back, next, refresh etc.).
  • Do NOT click the “Save answer” button for each question; you only need to click the “Save and Submit” button when you finish the test.  Your responses will save automatically.
  • Do NOT “double click” on anything in the exam.
  • Click outside of the answer selection radio buttons before scrolling with the mouse wheel or arrow buttons. Otherwise, this will change the selected answer.
  • It will take 5-30 seconds for the system to update the “Save answer” button into “Saved” after selecting an answer. Do NOT panic.

If problems occur…

  • Don’t touch your keyboard or click on anything, wait for a few minutes to see if the problem resolves by itself.
  • If your test freezes, or you seem to no longer be able to advance or select answers, you will need to clear your cache and browsing history.
  • Call Learning Ventures Help Desk at 419-530-8835 or 1-866-886-5336 and let us know the problem you encountered. Be prepared to let us know both the operating system (Windows or Mac OS) and the browser (Firefox, IE, Safari, Chrome) you were using at the time the problem occurred. The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for us to help troubleshoot the problem.
  • Contact your instructor about the problem you encountered.
  • Capture a screenshot (if possible) and send it to utdl@utoledo.edu if you encounter a problem after our support hours. Make sure you include the course number and section number, name of the test, the platform you use (Mac or Windows), and the time you experienced the problem in the message.

Taking an Online Test

  1. Close all programs (browsers, Word etc.).
  2. Launch Firefox or Chrome and log onto your Blackboard course site.
  3. Access the test page.
  4. Click the test you want to take. Single click on the link only. Double clicking the link will open the link twice, which may cause the system to act like you have already taken the test.
  5. Read the instructions carefully.
  6. Click the Begin button.
  7. Select a correct answer (single click) or enter your answer for short answer and essay questions. You do NOT need to click “Save answer” for each question.
  8. Use the scroll bars on the right side of the window to scroll, and click outside where the answer choices are prior to scrolling to the next question. Scrolling using the mouse wheel or the arrow keys may change your answer selections.
  9. Use the navigation buttons within the test window to navigate between questions.  Do not click the Black, Forward, or Refresh/Reload buttons in your browser toolbar.
  10. Please verify that you have answered all questions prior to submitting your test.
  11. Click the Save and Submit button at the bottom of the page when finished.

Note Regarding Respondus Lockdown Browser

Some instructors may require students to take tests using Respondus Lockdown Browser, which is a special browser intended only for taking tests.  In order to take tests that require Respondus Lockdown Browser, students must first download the program and install it on their computers.  Then students will need to launch Lockdown Browser in order to take exams that require it.  Exams that require Lockdown Browser cannot be launched in a regular browser. The Lockdown browser can be downloaded from our downloads and plugins page.  Respondus Lockdown Browser is based off Internet Explorer, so some settings may need to be changed in Internet Explorer in order to ensure optimal performance when taking tests.

Instructions for taking exams in Lockdown Browser:

  1. Click on the LockDown Browser icon on your computer’s desktop or locate within your computer’s program list.
  2. The Choose a Server window will pop open, prompting you to choose an eLearning system. Select Blackboard from the drop?down menu and then click OK.
  3. If prompted to close a blocked program (Instant Messenger, Skype, etc.), choose Yes or Kill These Applications.
  4. The Blackboard login screen will appear. Login to your course.
  5. Enter your course, click on the name of the test and click the Begin button.
  6. A new window will pop open asking whether the instructor has required a password for the test. If the instructor has provided a password, select Yes and enter the password and then click Continue to begin the exam.
  7. If the instructor did not provide a password, select No and click Continue. Respondus LockDown Browser will automatically fill in a special password on the next screen. This password should not be modified.
  8. Submit your answers and then click the Submit button when finished to complete your test.

Tips for using Lockdown Browser:

  • Use the Lockdown Browser for all exams that require the browser
  • Download the Lockdown Browser directly from UT.  Do not search the internet to find a download link for the browser, as each institution’s version of the browser is unique to that institution, and you will be taken to that institution’s login page, and not to the login page for UT.
  • On Windows, be sure to have the latest updates or Internet Explorer installed, even if you do not use Internet Explorer
  • Please set Internet Explorer (for Windows users) to the Medium security setting under Safety>Internet Options
  • Add “lockdown.exe” (Windows) or “LockDown Browser.app” (Macintosh) as a “trusted application” and https://blackboard.utdl.edu address as a “trusted site” in any security software.
  • Turn off any “private browsing” features in Internet Explorer.

Respondus License Update

Our licenses for Respondus and Studymate are purchased on a yearly basis.  Our previous license expired on July 31, 2012.  When users sign into Respondus, they will receive a message informing that their Respondus license has expired.  To continue using Respondus, users will need to update their license code.  The license code can be accessed by logging into Blackboard, and clicking on Faculty Resource Center in the course list. Once in the Faculty Resource Center, click on Software in the left course menu, and click on the folder labeled Respondus.  The new license code is contained in the document labeled Respondus 4 2012 – 2013 License Documentation.  Copy and paste the license key into the provided space on the license dialog box when you first open Respondus.

Our current license is paid through July 31, 2013. Please do not distribute this license key.

Please contact us at utlv@utoledo.edu if you need any assistance with accessing the documentation for Respondus, installing Respondus on your computer, or using Respondus to generate tests or surveys.


Incorrect Course Instructors Listed in Blackboard

When Blackboard courses are created, the instructor listed in the course site is the instructor that is listed as the instructor of record in Banner.  When the instructor of record is changed in Banner after the Blackboard course is created, the new instructor is then given access to the course site, but there is no process to remove the old instructor (and their student account) from the course.  If you are the only instructor listed as the instructor of record, and there is another instructor listed, you can make the other instructor unavailable by following the steps listed below:

To make a user unavailable, go to the control panel and click on Users and Groups. Select Users. Locate the user you want to make unavailable, and click the chevron next to their username. Select Change Availability in Course. Set the availability to No and Click Submit. Please see the video tutorial at the link below for more details.


These steps can also be used to make the other instructor’s student account (the .s account) unavailable in the course site as well.

Learning Ventures and Academic Support are investigating alternate solutions for the future.  If you see a user listed in your course site, and you are not sure of their role, please feel free to contact Learning Ventures for assistance at utlv@utoledo.edu

Accessibility and Teaching Online

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.

Important Information: Blackboard and DL/Web Assisted Classes

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.

Important Information:

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.

Transition to Blackboard 9.1

This summer we begin UT’s transition to Blackboard 9.1 as our standard “learning management system” for online and web assisted courses. It will eventually replace WebCT. Our Academic Support team in collaboration with LV’s Instructional Designers have developed a strategy that will make the transition as seamless as it can be for both the faculty and students who use Blackboard. The first phase of the transition involves a group of “early adopters,” faculty members who decided to use Blackboard 9.1 this summer while it is still in development. The second phase will involve a larger group of faculty who would like to move fall courses. The third and final phase will involve all online and web-assisted courses at UT.

The first phase is underway and successful. The second phase begins now, and we need your input. If you would like your course to run in BB9.1 in the fall of 2010, please send an e-mail message to Lansing Stoll with a brief message saying: “YES, I would like to begin using BB9.1 in the fall.” All courses will automatically be hosted in WebCT unless you indicate otherwise.

Our target date for bringing the BB9.1 server online is Friday, July 16. Updates will be available via the LV blog.

Also, please indicate whether you are interested in attending workshops to learn more about BB9.1. The schedule for workshops is available on our site.

Thank you, and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions.


1. There are many similarities between BB9.1 and WebCT, so adoption may not be a significant change for many instructors. If you are comfortable with online instruction, computers, etc., we recommend early adoption.
2. Instruction will be available in BB9.1 beginning this summer. We are no longer offering group instruction in WebCT. To sign up for an instructional session, visit our website.
3. If you continue to use WebCT, instructional modules will remain available online. LV’s instructional designers will also be available for consultation and assistance with WebCT.

Respondus: How to get it…

A professor wrote recently, “What griffin do I have to slay to get my hands on Respondus?” The implication that only one griffin needs to be slain aside, I thought the question might be a common one, having had my own issues in the past. So, grab your swords:

First, “Respondus” is the name of the company that makes a few technologies to help make online and web assisted instruction easier. The technology most frequently used is their quiz editor. They also make the “Lockdown Browser.” Unfortunately, Respondus is PC-only. I wrote to the CEO of Respondus to get them to reconsider this, but he says their “legacy” coding is so old and bound up with the PC architecture that to change would be simply impossible. An easy solution to this problem is the “Virtual Lab” (more on that another time).

To download the program, you can visit Learning Ventures’ “Faculty Resources” page where we have a link to “Software.” Once there, you’ll see instructions on downloading Respondus. The “Download Now” link takes you directly to the “.exe” file, and you’ll need to get a special password to get to it (your UTAD credentials do NOT get you access to this file). To get the password, contact LV via email or phone. Alternatively, the Faculty Resource Center is in the “Courses” window inside Blackboard.

Download “Respondus” from the “Software” link in the faculty resource center or using the link to the .exe file. Be sure to download the license documentation! Before you run Respondus, you will need to provide information found in that documentation before you can use Respondus on your computer. You will need to copy the “Institution,” “Contact Info” and “Password” exactly as it is in the documentation into the verification window in the Respondus setup routine.

Now you’re ready to go. The documentation from Respondus can help you use the software, and Learning Ventures links to a tutorial module.

Griffin slain…

[edited for clarification]

About Learning Ventures

This is the first edition of our semi-monthly newsletter. Through this web-only publication, the staff of Learning Ventures will work with faculty and students to give information, stimulate ideas, and promote valuable discussions about teaching and learning at The University of Toledo. Learning Ventures is just two months old, but we already have plenty to do. 

Our mission:

“Learning Ventures provides leadership, knowledge, and expertise for a learner-centered community of teachers and scholars at the University of Toledo. Through the development of new approaches to “hybrid” modes of instruction using technologies that expand boundaries associated with traditional course-based learning, Learning Ventures is dedicated to promoting and sustaining a learning environment that can best prepare students for complex challenges. Learning Ventures will cultivate the development of “active learning” strategies, ongoing self-assessment in teaching, new instructional approaches and technologies, and widespread employment of educational strategies that enhance retention and outcomes.”

In the next issue, we will host a discussion of “hybrid learning.” This discussion will be linked to our blog (http://wordpress.utoledo.edu/learningventures) and our Epsilen page (http://www.epsilen.com/grp/UTLearningVenturesGroup) so that we can engage across disciplines and across colleges, and so that we at Learning Ventures can learn from students, faculty, and our constituents.

New Faculty Support Structure

The Instructional Designer’s role in the development of online and hybrid courses is crucial and will be even more important as we transition to more “hybrid” approaches. The Instructional Designer is an expert in the learning process. The ID brings together research, theory, and practice about the processes of teaching and learning in order to support the development of an instructional environment that effectively and efficiently supports the achievement of learning objectives.

In Learning Ventures, we have a staff of 7 very talented designers. Beginning in April, we are making some changes in the way their services are organized. Because they are so important to so many faculty, we want to make sure that these changes are understood and that we share an understanding about how to get help and how to create the best possible learning experience for our students. Because IDs spend so much time answering basic questions about computer use and solving minor or easily resolved issues for hundreds of faculty teaching thousands of courses, they do not have the time they would like to spend on course and program development in a sustained and creative way. Therefore…

Here is our new support structure: To get help or advice, contact our office via our chat window on our main page (utoledo.edu/dl), by email (utlv@utoledo.edu), telephone (419-530-8835), or by stopping by the 3rd floor of the Field House (use the elevator in the center of the building).

First Line: Student Helpers. Student helpers will be hired and trained to help with basic technical issues and problems. Through phone, chat, screen-sharing, and house calls, they will be able to solve many problems we encounter.

Second Line: A staff instructional designer who will be available to help faculty and students with technical questions and problems. The designer will empower faculty and students by showing them how to solve technical problems in their courses. The designer will be able to access courses and student information, and is appropriate in situations in which this kind of access is necessary.

Third Line: If neither the designated designer nor the student helper can resolve your issue, or if the problem or concern involves basic course design, you will work with a team of instructional designers or with the designer with whom you initially built the course to resolve the issue.

Our intention is to provide the best possible service to all faculty teaching with technology in online, face-to-face, and hybridized courses. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns (utlv@utoledo.edu).