Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Blackbaord LEARN Faculty Planning

As LEARN 9.1 faculty users start building their courses for the Fall semester, I thought they may want to be aware of a few things in case they encounter them.The trick is issues really depend on the version your institution is running, but I thought I would list a few that I have run into while building my Fall 2015 courses.

Email Tool

If you use the email feature in Blackboard to send email to your students, the sender on the email will now be listed as no-reply@email.xxx.edu instead of actually listing your email faculty address.  This change is Blackboard’s way of preventing spam.  If the email recipient clicks “Reply” to respond to the email, the no-reply@email.xxxx.edu address will in fact be replaced with your email address.  Please make your students aware of this, in case they are thrown by seeing that address.

Grade Center Decimals

Here at the Virginia Community College System (and other colleges) we seeing occasional 5-digit decimals showing in the grade center.  There is no way to change this and the VCCS administrator is looking into correcting locally because Blackboard Support only answers that the grade center does not report higher than 2-decimal places, it is not happening.  This issue seems only to happen when  displaying grades as ‘percentages’.

Disappearing Images

Images that were inserted into your Blackboard Course by using copy/paste might not be visible any longer .  Check your course and any tests/assignments that are using images. Depending on your use of images this could take some time so make sure you allow enough time to make corrections. The proper way to insert an image is to use the “Insert Image” icon (shown below)  on the third line of the Text Editor. 

YouTube Mashup
Google changed the API for YouTube and Blackboard (Bb) missed changing the code for the YouTube integration, which also affects for Video Everywhere. Blackboard has stated publicly they are working hard to get this fixed and I am sure it will be ready before the Developers Conference on July 20. According to Erik Thomas, Client Support Sr. Manger "The latest updates can always be found in the Support Bulletin at https://blackboard.secure.force.com/btbb_articleview?id=kAA70000000Cb7P but you have to have access to Behind the Blackboard to see the bulletin.For those of you who do not have the required access it basically says that "within the next 30 days"  which would be another week or two. 

Thankfully, the fellow Bb faculty have found solutions and are sharing them with their peers. Below is one such workaround. 
 "If instructors begin using the Video Everywhere tool without having previously authenticated into their YouTube account, they need to sign into their YouTube account using the 'Sign in to YouTube' option in the Recorder window. This is fine - but then the first attempt to record a video fails. The instructors have to close the Recorder window and start over. All successive recording attempts then seem to work. Instructors don't encounter this problem with the first video failing if they are already signed into their YouTube account before they begin using the Video Everywhere tool. They still have to click the 'Sign in to YouTube' option but the tool recognizes that that the users are already authenticated into their YouTube account and lets them begin recording - and the initial attempt to record a video works fine. To make this whole process a lot simpler (until Blackboard gets this fixed), we just direct instructors to the YouTube site to record their videos. They can then use the Video Everywhere tool to integrate their videos into their courses."
 Other things you should do is:
  1. Check your links to make sure what they link to is still there
  2. Request multiple sections of the same course be merged to stream line input & communication
  3. Course copy or export/import course content from prior course (if possible)
  4. Use Date Management to update all due dates within your new course
  5. Review the Blackboard Exemplary Course Rubric or Quality Matters Rubric to ensure optimal course design and accessibility
  6. Make sure to test your course out as a student on different types of devices
  7. Consider talking with your instructional technology design team about tools available in Bb that you are no using and include away to add a new tool to your course to engage students.
  8. Attend BbWorld 2015 either in person or virtually to see what others are doing and what is happening at Blackboard Inc and within the user community

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bb User Community Survey - Please complete


Below is a letter received today from  Ken Sadowski & Terry Patterson, two very powerful voices in the Blackboard (Bb) client community.  If you are a current Blackboard user and you would like to help these two gentleman show Bb Management that the Bb Community expects more then take a few minutes and complete their survey by July 14th.

Fellow User Group & Bb Community Leaders,

One of the ongoing issues that Blackboard must address at this year’s BbWorld, is the lack of community support from the company in recent years. Several years back the Blackboard community, made up of Blackboard regional events and user group meetings/conferences, made the community a major selling point for the company.  Since that time, a revolving set of personnel changes and other contributing factors put the community in a lackluster place. Blackboard leadership, clearly needs to recognize the importance of the user community and provide ongoing support for it.  Other technology vendors base part of their success on a vibrant and engaged community. This community helps sell the product to organizations. The lack of community support by Blackboard leadership shows their need to jump back in and show clients they care. 

We would  like to let them know how the user community feels and what resources we feel are necessary and expected from Blackboard to support it.  We have created a short survey that we hope you will take a few minutes to complete.  This is an important issue for all of us.  The user community must stand together.  The greater the number of responses the greater the impact it will have.  The survey will be open until July 15th but please consider completing it sooner so the data can be gathered efficiently.  These responses will be presented to Blackboard Leadership at BbWorld 2015 in July.
This is important to all of us.  The user community must stand together.  Thank you for your input.

Ken Sadowski
SLATE – Midwest Bb User Group

Terry Patterson
Central States User Group