Setting availability and due dates for items and assignments in Blackboard is important so information is clear and readily available to students. However, it can be very time consuming to update these dates as you reuse content from semester to semester.
The Date Management Tool is one of the improvements the College will pick up as part of the Blackboard upgrade scheduled for August 2015. Using this tool, instructors can more easily adjust availability and due dates for their course within one convenient location.
All Blackboard items with dates are supported by date management,. These include:
Content, such as items, files, and audio.
Assessments, such as tests, surveys, and assignments.
Tools, such as discussions, blogs, journals, and announcements.
Faculty have long desired a true student preview mode in Blackboard. Good news! The wait is over. Student preview is one of the improvements the College will pick up as part of the Blackboard upgrade scheduled for August 2015.
In Student Preview mode, faculty will be able to view their Blackboard course sites from a student perspective, allowing them to review course content and ensure course settings are working as expected.
The San Jacinto College Blackboard system will be upgraded during the period of August 15, 2015 at 5:00 PM through August 17, 2015 at midnight. This upgrade will serve two purposes:
1) provide enhancements for faculty to support their instructional processes within the system, and
2) remove old course content from the system for any semester prior to fall 2014 (201510).
An outage will be necessary during this period to perform the upgrade. Additional details will be announced as they become available.
Informational sessions to share details of the upgrade are scheduled for the following dates and locations for those who would like specifics about the enhancements that will be available.
Monday, April 20
Tuesday, April 21
Thursday, April 23
Friday, April 24
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
1:30 PM– 3:30 PM
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Additional sessions, as well as both on-demand training and face-to-face training sessions, will be announced in the future.
STEPS YOU SHOULD TAKE
Faculty should take time to archive copies for each of your courses. This process will create a permanent record of the course, including all content and user interactions. Archived copies of courses should be kept in a secure location like your SJC H:\ drive folder. You may find this End of Semester Checklist handy for details on archiving your course(s).
Be sure to watch the following locations for future updates and information on the Blackboard upgrade plan and training opportunities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have you ever wondered why San Jacinto College creates a standard syllabus for each of its courses to be used by the faculty? We asked Dr. Catherine O’Brien, Associate Vice Chancellor for Learning, to help answer that question.
“Legislation requires all colleges to post the course syllabus online for students. San Jacinto developed a single, district-wide syllabus template and a process whereby changes made in a single location can be pushed out in multiple formats. That means that the course syllabus in SOS, as well as on the college website, reflects the most recent curriculum revisions. The beauty of the system is that it also allows us to make a single revision to the honesty statement, emergency notification, the disability statement and other pertinent information, and it will be reflected in the next version of the course syllabus. Each time a course section is created for fall, spring or summer, a new syllabus is simultaneously developed. To this end, it is important for faculty to check their courses in SOS prior to each semester.”
To assist faculty in tracking student attendance, EdTech has implemented a new building block tool within the Blackboard system. Using the Online Attendance Tool, instructors can set up a detailed log of student attendance and can later print out for their records. Optionally, the tool can be made available to students to keep track of their absences.
With the Blackboard IM tool, faculty can instantly communicate with students, colleagues and support staff creating a learning network to support office hours, meetings and desktop video conferencing. Visit http://www.brainshark.com/blackboardinc/vu?pi=977377618 to view an introduction video of the IM product.
As always, EdTech staff are around the district available to assist you. For training or to learn more about available instructional tools, contact your campus Instructional Designers to schedule a training or consultation.
In preparation for the Spring 2014 semester, here is the latest copy of 5 Things to Know from EdTech. In addition, we willhost Open Labs on each campus during College Community Week. Dates, locations and times are listed on the handout below. A copy of the handout included below will be included in the packets distributed at the in-service event on Tuesday, January 7, 2014.
1. New Blackboard Course Site Template. This semester Blackboard course sites will be using an updated template. Included in the 201420 (Spring 2014) site template is content to help meet the minimum course presence expectations and Quality Matter (QM) standards. Detailed information on the features can be found at this link: Blackboard Course Template Update.
2. Blackboard Updated to Service Pack 13. Due to necessary maintenance, Blackboard will not be available from 12:01 am January 5, 2014 through 11:59 pm January 6, 2014. Blackboard will install a service pack which will enhance or repair some features. Detailed information can be found here: Blackboard Service Pack Updated Scheduled for January.
3. Kaltura Media. Media development and screen capture is now integrated in Blackboard through the Kaltura Media building block. This tool will allow you to manage your course media content and record video or screencasts directly from within Blackboard. For more information, visit the Blackboard Tutorials page or consult with your campus Instructional Designer.
4. Online Attendance Tool. Attendance can now be tracked in Blackboard using the Online Attendance tool. For more information, visit the Blackboard Tutorials page or consult with your campus Instructional Designer.
SoftChalk Cloud is now available for all San Jac faculty who want to add some learning activities to enhance their courses. Interactive elements such as drag-n-drops, matching, multiple choice, hotspots, jigsaw puzzles and more are available.
The desktop version of SoftChalk has been available at SJC for some time now, through the Virtual College of Texas. The desktop version required several steps to “package executable lessons” and further steps were needed to incorporate the lessons into the Blackboard Learning Management System.
With the “cloud” version, everything is much simpler to use in many ways. Faculty can now log in to SoftChalk Cloud from any computer, anytime, anywhere. Faculty can collaborate on creating lessons with a colleague, share content quickly and easily with the world, or to specific individuals or groups. One SoftChalk Cloud lesson can link to multiple Blackboard courses. For example, if a change is made to your SoftChalk Cloud lesson, it is automatically updated in all Blackboard courses that link to this lesson. Instead of having to package a lesson and deal with zipped files, your lessons are simply published to your SoftChalk Cloud account. All you need to do is give the hyperlink to your students! You are also provided with the embed code if you wish to embed the lesson in a Blackboard content item. SoftChalk activities are quick and simple to create, and work especially well for interactive “self-check” questions that provide the student with feedback and opportunities to practice a concept.
If you want to use SoftChalk Cloud to create more formal quizzes or tests that you want to be recorded in the Blackboard grade book, you will simply post an “LTI” link provided by SoftChalk Cloud inside Blackboard and the scores will be transferred into the Blackboard gradebook.
If you are interested in giving SoftChalk Cloud a try, please contact an Instructional Designer in the EdTech Department to get an account set up. Contact information for the Instructional Designers can be found on the EdTech website, at http://sjcblogs.sanjac.edu/edtech/about/people/