Tag Archives: tools

SJC Blackboard Course Site Template Updates

The SJC Blackboard course template was revised during the Summer of 2015 to reflect additions made in the 5th edition of the Quality Matters rubric.

This template, originally developed for the 201420 course sites is an updated template with content to help meet the minimum course presence expectations and Quality Matter (QM) standards. The infographic below details features in this new template. You can download a PDF copy of this infographic: Understanding Bb Course Template.

QM Template Sept 2015 Update


Support staff and resources are available to help faculty in course design, with Bb training, or in meeting the QM standards.

Contact information for Instructional Designers, Blackboard Support and Multimedia Specialists can be found via the People Page of the EdTech blog at http://www.sanjac.edu/edtech .

End of the Semester Checklist

The close of another great semester is just around the corner. Sometime between final exams and preparing your course grades, take a few moments to review one of our newest features on the EdTech blog – our Checklists section. These checklists were built to serve as quick references and guides for faculty. Currently there is a two references –  Beginning of Semester and End of the Semester – with plans to roll out additional topics in the future.

The checklists can be accessed via the Checklist button in the blog menu. Here’s a quick link to the End of Semester checklist.

Should you need any support, please contact EdTech personnel from the Bb Support or Instructional Design teams.

Yes, Bb is for F2F Courses Too!

Incorporating Blackboard into a face-to-face course has many benefits. Organizing files and content within a Blackboard course site creates a concrete course organization for students. It also becomes the central hub of information for students and faculty through the use of Grade Center and other communication tools. We’ve listed a few ideas in this post. For further support, contact an instructional designer at your campus or visit our blog tutorials: Blog Blackboard Tutorials.

1. Grade Center

Keeping records of individual grades and final averages keeps students informed and accountable of their success. This allows for important decisions and changes to be made by learners. Actively using Grade Center also allows for more efficient use of instructor’s time. Rather than manually keeping students aware of grades, it will become the norm to rely on Blackboard for such information. At the end of the semester, grades are automatically averaged and can be printed out in an Excel file for a much smoother semester checkout experience.

Training is available via SPARK; below are the course descriptions:

• BKBD 9081 – Blackboard: Getting Started
• BKBD 9084 – Blackboard: Setting up the Grade Center
• BKBD 9095 – Blackboard: Using the Grade Center

2. Attendance Tool

A new feature is the “Online Attendance” tool in Blackboard. Instructors simply set up the semester range and meeting dates, then submit attendance online in each class. Students can view their attendance records, allowing for the transfer of responsibility to them. Attendance records can be printed out for semester checkout, another timesaver for faculty.

Bb Attendance Tool Tutorial

3. Communicating with Students

Using Blackboard as the central location for class messages is possible through the use of “Announcements”. Every faculty is provided with an announcements tab in their course shells. Instructors can disseminate information via an announcement that is not only posted in Blackboard, but automatically sent to student’s San Jac email.

Bb Announcements Tool Tutorial

Another great feature for face-to-face courses is Blackboard IM. This is an instant messaging application that is downloaded and allows faculty and students to communicate instantaneously online. Collaboration occurs either through text or voice and screen-sharing can be allowed to view content together.

Bb IM Tool Tutorial

4. TurnItIn

Assignments can be uploaded via TurnItIn in Blackboard, which then checks for originality. The exact source is provided if material is copied verbatim from other works. Previously submitted assignments are also checked for any sharing of work between students. Instructors can highlight and annotate areas of work for students to view. Each assigned grade is also automatically sent to Grade Center. Using an Apple iPad, an app allows instructors to read, annotate and grade papers through their tablet. Turnitin has extensive training resources which can be accessed via their Getting Started page.

TurnItIn Getting Started Training Resources

5. Online Tutoring

One student resource available via Blackboard is SmartThinking, an online tutoring session available at no cost. Students can request an appointment or drop in for a live assistance with English, Math, Science, History and more. Smarthinking can be accessed via the Tools menu on the MySanJac tab in Blackboard.

Smarthinking In Bb SJC











These are only a few ideas of how Blackboard can be integrated into a face-to-face course. For further help, see an instructional designer at your campus or visit our blog tutorials: Blog Blackboard Tutorials.

2014 NMC Horizon Report released

Each year the New Media Consortium (NMC) publishes the Horizon Report to share research on “the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative inquiry” in higher education. On February 3, the NMC released the 2014 Horizon Report. This is the eleventh edition of the research project. This year’s release takes a closer look at key trends and significant challenges impacting Ed Tech adoption in higher education.

The report also looks at developments NMC considers to be adopted within the next 5 years. This includes flipped classroom, learning analytics, 3D Printing, gamification, quantified self and virtual assistants.

If you would like to learn more you can download and read the full report at http://www.nmc.org/publications/2014-horizon-report-higher-ed. A video summary is also available at this http://youtu.be/TmSvQqAvEUM.

Now at SJC…NBC Learn


NBC Learn has landed at San Jacinto College. NBC Learn / Higher Ed is a collection of primary source videos, newsreels, documents, and images that can be used for research, projects, and in classroom and online teaching. The College has initially licensed the product for three years. For an overview of the product, view the video Brian Williams on NBC Learn.

For training on how to access NBC Learn and integrate it as tool within Blackboard, contact your campus Instructional Designer.

app talk: Need a Personal Assistant?


Cozi, Available on the web and for most mobile devices (iOS, Android, Kindle, Nook, Blackberry), free

If you have a busy family that you need to keep organized, this is the perfect app for you. Cozi Family Calendar & Lists, available on the Android market (Play Store) is a cool way to keep your family’s lines of communication open. Cozi Family Calendar & Lists works with one shared account, which allows each family member to add and edit calendar events (doctor appointment, school activities, etc), to do lists, shopping lists (groceries: milk, cheese, bread) and even jot down those memorable events you wanted to share and remember via its journal, plus so much more. This app is free unless you want to upgrade to the ad free Cozi Gold for additional features, but the free version alone is more than enough.

All entries are updated within a matter of minutes for all family members to see. Cozi can be accessed via its app or online (www.cozi.com). It also keeps family members informed of the upcoming week’s calendar appointments via email without having to access the app or its website. If you’re in need of family organization, this is an app you can’t do without.


Robin screenshot

Robin, Android, free

You know the iPhone’s Siri, well meet Robin.  Robin, the Siri Challenger, is free and available for the Android user.  Ask Robin a question and he or she will do his or her best to answer it. That’s right, Robin can be set to utilize either a male or a female voice, whichever you prefer.  When asked, who is Siri? Robin affectionately responds, “Siri is my fruity sister…” yes, Robin also has a sense of humor.   You can ask it to open a specific app, tell you a joke, remind you of something, give you the day’s news or weather, read your social media feeds, or report traffic conditions to home or work.  Robin will even automatically announce incoming text messages and will ask if you’d like them read to you.  Robin can almost do it all.  If you’re looking for a great personal voice assistant for your android, look for this free app in the Google Play Store.



app talk: Managing Your Email

If you’ve ever watched the famous Inbox Zero video presentation that Merlin Mann gave at Google in 2007, you may have been inspired to take a more active approach in managing your email. Today, in 2013, many continue to struggle with the overwhelming task of managing our email inboxes – with the added challenge of doing so via a smartphone or mobile device.

This App Talk post will highlight several popular email apps which may help you manage your email in today’s mobile world.

Mailbox, iOS, free

The new app Mailbox has hit the iOS world by storm and those subscribing to the Inbox Zero approach are excited to get their hands on it. What makes Mailbox so appealing is how it allows you to manage your messages quickly, using swipes to trash, archive or “snooze” messages until a time when you might be ready for them. At this time, Mailbox is only for Gmail users and iOS platforms, but the company behind the app is working on compatibility with other platforms. Download the Mailbox app from iTunes to “reserve’ your spot!

Taskbox, iOS, $2.99

Taskbox, another app currently only iOS and Gmail compatible, is different because it works as both an email client and a to-do list app. Taskbox also makes use of the “swipe” to more quickly handle email – sending them to trash, spam or archive. The key feature, however, is the ability to turn emails into tasks with prioritization, due dates and assignments to others. For more information, vist the Taskbox website at http://taskbox.co/ or download from the iTunes store.

MailDroid, Android, free

Are you a Droid user looking for a replacement to the standard Android email client? MailDroid may be your answer. Nice features – including the ability to save attachements to an SD card and to setup up custom email rules – make it worth looking into alone.  MailDroid supports many email services including Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail and allows you to add POP3/IMAP providers. To learn more, or to download, visit http://slideme.org/application/maildroid.

K-9 Mail, Android, Free

In a search for the top Android email clients, K9 Mail popped up on nearly every “best email app for Android” that I came across. K-9 Mail is an e-mail client with search, IMAP push email, multi-folder sync, flagging, filing, signatures, bcc-self, PGP and mail on SD card. K-9 supports IMAP, POP3 and Exchange 2003/2007 (with WebDAV). Alos, K-9 Mail is an open-source, community developed project – this allows you, the user, to become directly involved in improving the product. For more information or to download K-9 Mail, visit https://code.google.com/p/k9mail/ or the Google Play store.

More information on the Inbox Zero approach can be found at http://inboxzero.com/ and http://www.43folders.com/ .

app talk: Visual Storytelling and Mobile Studying

Today marks the launch of a regular new series on the San Jac EdTech blog: App Talk. Every other week we will present you with a few exciting apps that will enhance your creativity, support your instructional goals, increase your productivity or are just plain fun to use. We will include apps from both iOS and Android in this series, but if you have another operating system or device that you want us to consider, be sure to comment and let us know.

In this week’s post: Make a 6 second movie, shoot with mobile multi-cam, or study on the go. Our app selections this week are all about visual storytelling and mobile studying.

BackSpaces, free, iOS

Allowing you to create stories using a combination of pictures and words, Backspaces has included a few key features that helps it to stand out from other mobile social apps. Imagine if instagram had individual threads that you could post a series of photos in to tell a short story of your day. Rather than posting individual photos randomly throughout the day, you can create a single story for your followers to click which opens a chronologically listed thread of photos with captions detailing whatever story you feel like telling. Its streamlined interface is designed specifically for ease of use and quick browsing. It could probably be best described as an Instagram/mobile blog hybrid. It’s fun to use and free. After a quick browse through, you can see how many creative methods of storytelling have been used here.


Vine, free, iOS
Shoot, Edit, and post quick 6 second videos with ease. You could argue that Vine is just the animated .gif version of Instagram. While for the most part, you’d be right, the added layer of audio and video provides the ability to tell a funny or cute short story in little to no time. It’s definitely an app worth checking out, if for nothing else than to kill a little time. Also, it’s free so why not?


Vyclone, free, iOS
This is a free video app that has a unique ability to save and edit using a combination of multiple cameras and social media. If you and a friend are both shooting video of the same event from your phones, you can use Vyclone to upload those videos within the app and edit the two of them together seamlessly. There’s also an “auto-edit” feature that will take your various uploads and do edit them together for you so the video will appear to be planned out and well done. You’ll always have access to both your original video and whoever else’s original video was combined with yours in an edit.


Sparknotes , free, iOS
Sparknotes.com has huge and continually growing library of online study guides for literature, test preparation, quick how-to’s, and entertaining short articles aimed at the young college demographic. Now it’s all at your fingertips with the free download of their handy app. It has a clutter-free, clean interface designed for easy navigation and quick referencing. You can save preferred study guides and literature in your virtual library within the app, as well.


Flashcards+, free, iOS
Well the name kind of speaks for itself. It’s a mobile, virtual flashcard app. What makes this app so cool is it’s social media feature. Not only can you create your own study cards, but you can even browse and study from the increasing library of user uploaded cards from Flashcards+ own servers. You even get to view your cards with the familiar and comfortable flashcard paper look, without those nasty paper cuts.

Just DOODLE to simplify scheduling meetings

If you have spent much time scheduling meetings you know how nice it can be when everyone’s schedules come together easily and how frustrating when you are trying a third, or fourth, or fifth day and time with no success. Scheduling a meeting or event when all attendees are on the same email system (i.e. Microsoft Outlook) can be simple using the built-in features in the software that allows you to check for conflicts, identify open times, and email everyone to set up a meeting but that isn’t always the case.

If you find you need to schedule a meeting or event for multiple attendees who aren’t all using the same calendar system you might want to consider using a web tool called Doodle (http://doodle.com).

What is it? Doodle is simple, web-based scheduling tool that allows you to work with multiple users to easily identify available meeting times and schedule them in just one try. Users can create a free account at the site, select the dates they want to consider for the meeting, enter time options, then send an email to all invitees with a link for them to select times best suited for their schedule. Users add their name, select available times and click save. As the organizer you can quickly see the best time and schedule the meeting once and be done.

This video will provide you with a short demo of the system.

Doodle Introduction from Doodle AG on Vimeo.

Wimba Presentation Tool

Have you ever wanted to present web-based content to your class in the form of a presentation, make a statement or explanation about the pages, and then have your students reply with their own ideas and comments? Now you can with Wimba Presentation. Wimba Presentation is one of the many tools offered within the Wimba Voice package. Wimba Presentation gives instructors the ability to present web-based content along with adding text and voice messages. Wimba Presentation is a balance between presenting a slide show with the capabilities of the Wimba Voice Recorder. Wimba Presentation allows an instructor to add multiple “slides”, where each slide can contain a different website. Once a slide has been added, the web-content is then displayed in a window where the website becomes fully interactive, this giving the student or instructor the ability to navigate through the page.

Why use Wimba Presentation in a course?

  • Build engaging course content
  • Author narrated web tours
  • Add energy and interactivity to class presentations and discussions

How can a Wimba Presentation be used within a course?

  • Present web-based material (YouTube videos, websites, online PowerPoint Slides, etc).
  • Have students comment on the material.

Each semester you include a Wimba Presentation, please be aware of where the presentation is hosted. All Wimba Presentations are hosted on the Wimba server. Therefore the presentation will always have the same link and information. If an instructor is teaching 2 sections of the same course or is copying courses from semester to semester, and would like students to comment on each presentation slide; due to the presentation being hosted on the Wimba sever the students in both sections or courses, will see each other’s posts. Therefore, if wanting to use the presentation in multiple sections of a course, this instructor will need to recreate the presentation in each course to prevent this from happening.

If you are interested in implementing any of the Wimba tools in your course and need training, please contact an Instructional Designer at your campus. Tutorial videos for all Wimba Voice tools can also be found on the EdTech Blackboard Support blog at http://sjcblogs.sanjac.edu/edtechbb/trainings-and-tutorials/