All posts by Leslie.Childress

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Why Use Blackboard Content Collection?

5 Reasons your department should be using Blackboard Content Collection

You may have seen the words “Content Collection” within your Blackboard course sites, but did not know what it meant, or where afraid to click on the unknown. In this article, I hope to provide you with information on what Blackboard’s Institutional Content Collection is, how San Jacinto College is using it, and 5 benefits Institutional Content Collection can have for your department/program.

Blackboard Content Collection
Blackboard Content Collection

What is Blackboard Institutional Content Collection?
The Blackboard Institutional Content Collection System is an area within the SJC Blackboard LMS environment, where files are stored and can be shared/linked throughout Blackboard course sites.

How is San Jacinto College using Blackboard Institutional Content Collection?
San Jacinto College uses the Blackboard Institutional Content Collection System for two primary purposes:

1. To store institutionally used instructional files that are incorporated in multiple Faculty Blackboard course sites. This purpose primarily relates to the use of files in Ready-to-Teach (R2T / iR2T) courses.

2. To be utilized as a Blackboard content repository to share ideas, instructional documents/files, links, etc. amongst faculty teaching the same course. The Blackboard Content Collection system should only be utilized for these types of instructional materials resulting in the use of files in a Blackboard course site.

5 Benefits for utilizing Blackboard Institutional Content Collection
1. Singular repository for content that all faculty can access, view, and link files into their course sites.

2. An area for faculty across the district to share ideas, activities, assignments, etc. with other’s teaching the same course or discipline.

3. The Content Collection System allows you to link a single file to multiple Blackboard course sites. Once the link is created, any modifications to that file in the Content Collection System will automatically update in the Blackboard course sites.
Example: If lecture notes are uploaded to Content Collection and then linked to multiple individual course sites, when the notes need to be updated, the updated lecture notes file is uploaded into Content Collection and overwrites the original file. After the new file overwrites the old, within Content Collection, the file link is automatically updated to the new notes in any course site where the link may exist. This process removes additional steps organizing and updating content across multiple courses.

4. Having the ability to link one file to multiple Blackboard course sites reduces the amount of storage space that is used on the Blackboard servers.
Example: If you would like to link to a topic’s lecture notes in multiple course sites, instead of uploading the same file to each individual course site, the file should be added to the Institutional Content Collection folder, and then linked to all relative course sites. Resulting in only one upload of a file versus multiple uploads of the same file.

5. Due to Content Collection being within the Blackboard system, a user can access the system anywhere with an internet connection. This method of using Content Collection is more beneficial to the end-user than using a San Jacinto College network storage drive (G:/ or P:/), because it eliminates the need to use VPN to access College network drives.

If you are interested and would like to find out more information about how Institutional Content Collection works and how it can be implemented for your department, please contact your campus Instructional Designer or click here for on-demand resources.

5 Tips for an Effective Course Menu

An effective course menu is the starting point to an organized and well-designed course. If you are interested in 5 tips to help you get started in creating your course menu buttons this is the place to find it.

  1. Number of buttons – Depending on how your course is organized the amount of course menu buttons may vary. Try to keep the amount of buttons to a minimal. A good rule of thumb is between 5-10 buttons. Delete any duplicate buttons that may be in the course menu. Duplicate buttons take up space in the menu as well as they may be confusing for students to understand which button is the correct area to obtain the content.
  2. Naming structure – Be concise in the naming structure of the menu buttons. Pick a name that is self-explanatory and tells exactly what content is within the button. Also, keep the name of the buttons short. If a title is too long the name will be cut off at the end of the button.
  3. Colors – Keep the colors of the buttons and fonts at a high contrast. This means either dark background color but light font color or light background color and dark font color. Try to keep the background of the buttons simple and limited to visible basic colors. Having patterns as a background color is not suggested, as these can prevent readability.
  4. Content – Only have buttons in the course menu that are relevant to the course materials and have content/materials within the button. Un-needed and/or empty buttons can clutter the course menu and be distracting for students.
  5. Keep it simple – Keeping your course menu buttons as simple as possible is what will help your students find the correct place to find information and course materials. Try to group similar items under the same menu button. For example, in the course menu example below the syllabus and course calendar are under the same menu button with a concise name stating exactly what can be found under the menu button.
Effective Course Menu
Effective Course Menu

Inserting a SlideShow with Audio in SoftChalk

SoftChalk is a great tool to “chunk up” course content as well as adding engaging activities about your course material. SoftChalk has taken engagement to a new level by offering the ability to upload PowerPoint presentations with the addition of adding voice over audio to each slide. This additional tool is great for a distance learning course, as an instructor can lecture by recording audio snippets and then place the audio over individual slides via SoftChalk. SoftChalk gives you a similar ability to what other screencast products do, but all directly from within a SoftChalk module. By adding a voice over PowerPoint presentation to a SoftChalk unit, this can be very helpful for students, as SoftChalk keeps all the unit materials in one location. Therefore, students do not have to search in multiple places on a course site to receive the course material.

How does this work?

When saving a PowerPoint presentation, you have the ability to save the file in multiple formats. Save your PowerPoint presentation as individual JPEG files.  Using voice recording software like Audacity, record an audio segment for each slide, saving each audio piece as an MP3 file. Be sure to save the audio files with a similar name as the topic of the PowerPoint slide the audio is matched to.  Open up SoftChalk, and in the menu bar select Insert/Activity/Slideshow. Each PowerPoint slide you saved as a JPEG will be added as a new slide in SoftChalk. When uploading the JPEG file you will then have the ability to upload your MP3 audio file. Once you have uploaded all slides and audio clips, your slide show is now finished and can be easily watched within a SoftChalk module.

This concept can not only be done with PowerPoint presentations but as well with any type of file that can be saved as a JPEG file (e.g., pictures).

Watch the tutorial video below from SofthChalk’s website for more specific instructions on how to add voice over PowerPoint slides to a SoftChalk unit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZVaC81fpHU&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL