Monday, September 22, 2014

Pre Mid-Term Reviews

We're gearing up for midterms!  Wouldn't it be great for your students to review course concepts in a fun and engaging way?  How about having students create their own study questions and activities? But, you say, there's really no time to find the tech tools to do this.....  StudyMate to the rescue.

StudyMate is a Bb tool that helps students "master the basics" of course material through learning activities, self-assessments, and games. It includes a dozen activities – such as flash cards, crosswords and quizzes – that engage students with course content in an individualized way.

Would you like to start using StudyMate in your Bb course right away?  

Enter your Bb Course
Click on Course Materials or any Bb "content area" you'd like to locate your activity.
Click Tools > StudyMate Class

Name your StudyMate activity, select options and click submit.

The StudyMate activity is added to your Bb content area.  Click "Select this Item" to open and begin editing your StudyMate  activity

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Now that the semester has been underway for a few weeks, it's likely that you'll want your students to begin to submit assignments.  Use the Blackboard Assignment Tool to make submitting and grading assignments easy.

There are two types of assignments in Bb -- "Regular Assignments" and "Safe Assignments."  The table below highlights the difference between the two:

 Safe AssignmentRegular Assignment
Grade Center Integrationgreen circle.pnggreen circle.png
Due Datesgreen circle.pnggreen circle.png
Check for Plagiarim
SafeAssign Report
green circle.png 
Attach Files (Instructor)
green circle.png
Multiple Attempts green circle.png
Anonymous Grading green circle.png
Inline Grading green circle.png
Assign to Groups green circle.png
Bb Rubrics green circle.png

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Picture = 1,000 Words

I have two image-related topics for you this week.

Avatars, there's not just for games.  You and students can now add small avatars or pictures to your Bb profile. The image will appear on your profile as well as within blogs, journals, discussions, and notifications modules.  The best image size to upload is 150 x150 pix.

To upload an avatar:
  1. From the global navigation menu, click Settings, and then click Personal Information. You can also accessPersonal Information on the Tools panel.
  2. On the Personal Information page, click Personalize My Settings.
  3. On the Personalize My Settings page, you can add or change your personal avatar. Click Use custom avatar image. You will not see this option if your institution has turned on the profiles feature.
  4. Click Browse My Computer.
  5. Select the avatar image file and click Open.
  6. Click Submit.

Achievements - Badges. Images, but with Meaning!
Badges are quickly becoming a popular way to display skills or achievement that' we've earned.  Blackboard now has both badge and achievement tools that may be used within courses.  Badges may be uploaded to Mozilla Backpack.   This video explains the concept of badges, and how they can be displayed in Mozilla Open Backpack..

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And they're off.....

Start of the Semester Checklist

 Start your semester with a bang by getting your Blackboard courses up and running right away.  Here's your Fall 2014 Checklist!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Blackboard Upgrade July 2, 2014

Our last upgrade was about two years ago -- since then, Bb has done a lot of work to get Bb Learn more responsive to users' needs and desires.  We'll be upgrading on July 2, 2014 --  starting at 2 AM until (approximately) July 3, 2014 - 1:00 PM. Blackboard will be unavailable during the upgrade.

Enhancements & New Features:
  • Achievements- Badges and Certificates: The Achievements tool allows instructors and course designers to designate criteria for issuing rewards to students in the form of both Badges and Certificates.
  • Course Messages Notifications: Course messages are private and secure text-based communication that occurs within a course and among course members. Although similar to email, you must be logged into a course to read and send course messages.
  • Date Management: After instructors have copied a course, they can speed up the transition of old dates to new ones relevant for the new course using Date Management. From Date Management, instructors can adjust all availability dates, due dates, and adaptive release dates.  Watch a Tutorial Here.
  • Groups Management: Blackboard has improved the management of groups within the course site.
  • Inline Grading: Instructors have a consistent grading sidebar within assignments, blogs, discussions, journals, and wikis. This grading sidebar allows them to grade a submission, post, and entry without leaving the page.
  • Test IP Address Filtering: As a way to prevent cheating and secure high stakes tests, Blackboard Learn Service Pack 14 is introducing Test IP address filtering to enforce location restrictions specified by administrators to correspond to specified IP addresses or IP ranges. This can limit the computers that have access to certain tests to a testing lab for example or other location that can be monitored or proctored.

Check out the Features Showcase:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bb Organization Mgmt: Global Email - Limit Students' Ability to Send Email to All

Many faculty and staff are leaders of Bb Organizations  -- Blackboard sites, not associated with a CRN number.  There are Orgs for all majors on campus, as well as for various committees and working groups.  Occasionally, an organization leader or course instructor may want to control and limit who can send out email to all of the organization members or students.

The following procedure limits the ability of students enrolled in courses, or participants enrolled in Bb organizations, from sending a "global email" to all other students/members. Instructor or Org Leaders are not impacted by these limitations.

From the Control Panel, click Customization
Select Tool Availability
Scroll down until you see the listing for Email
Click the Drop Menu for the Email listing and select Email Settings,

You will see a list of "groups" that email can be sent to -- for example, "all participants" "all users" etc.

In the left column, you will see the "groups" with in the Org/Course that can receive email. Note the "Available"column on the right side of the screen.  Students have permission to contact groups marked with a check-mark.  Therefore, click to remove the check-mark for groups you want to limit students' permission to contact via email.  In the image below, you can see that "Participant Users" has been un-checked. Therefore, students are not permitted to send email to "Participant Users" -- i.e. all other students or participants in the Org/course.

Click Submit when finished.

Changing these settings does NOT change your ability as the organization leader to send email.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Boosting Grades

Midterms are finally behind us, and at this point, it seems the semester starts to really fly!  But, at least for now, we're not in the that final stretch just yet.  This is good news for students who need that extra push to get them back into gear!  How can you help your students boost those grades?  Of course, Bb has some tools to help you see what's going on, and communicate the good or bad news to students.

How can I see who is falling behind, not performing well or not engaging in the course -- and notify them?

The Bb Retention Center:  
Watch this video tutorial for an overview of the Retention Center

The Retention Center  lets you glance at a visual list of students at risk, specific items and students you are monitoring and your course activity.  The alters feature graphs and visual indicators to alert you to students who fall into the following categories of "risk"
1. Missed Deadlines
2.Grade Alerts
3. Course Activity Alert
4.Course Access Alerts

You can use the Retention Center lists to notify students who fall into the categories above, or for any "rule" you create within the four categories.

I'd like to offer Extra Credit - How do I add that to the Bb Grade Center?

You can add a column to the Bb Full Grade Center to reflect extra credit points for students.  It's a matter of adding a new column, and setting the points possible to 0.  Bb will add any points you enter to the total column, without penalizing students who do not earn extra credit.
Please view instructions here.

My Students need HELP -- how can they get tutoring?

Smarthinking is 24/7 online tutoring in most academic subjects, as well as an online Writing Center to which students can submit written work for critique.  You can find additional information here, and sign up for a faculty demo account as well.  Students access Smarthinking via Bb.