It has been said the busiest time of the year for faculty members teaching traditional classes is the last week of school. On the other hand the busiest time for online faculty is the first week of school.
At BridgeValley our Blackboard LMS is integrated with our Banner system, which means that as soon as the next semester courses are entered into banner a course shell will also be created in Blackboard. The instructor of record and enrolled students will automatically be placed in Blackboard from the banner system.
Although the course is created and students entered, the LMS locks student access until the first day of the semester. Faculty will have access immediately and can start working with the new section as soon as it appears. Here are a few things online faculty need to do to get their previously taught online class ready for a new semester.
Before Your Class Begins…
- Copy your Blackboard section (if you have taught your course in Blackboard previously and want to reuse the same materials for the upcoming term). Instruction to Move Content from Semester to Semester
- Change the Syllabus
- Using word make changes to the old syllabus
- Save the updated syllabus as a PDF document
- From the designer view go to where the old syllabus is deployed to students.
- Click the action link to the right of the syllabus name and choose Overwrite File from the popup menu.
- Upload the new PDF Syllabus.
- Double check your course link to make sure the new syllabus is available to students.
- Change all Due Dates
- Change due dates in the course for all course tools such as assignments, discussion, Announcements, etc… (These dates reflect in the students’ ToDo list and will show up as past due if they are not changed.)
- With the new Date Manager updating Due Dates is much easier.
- Go to Control Panel> Course Tools> Date Manager
- If you have never run date manager before you will need to click Run Date Manager> List all Dates for Review> Start.
- Once the process is complete click Next.
- Select the Pencil to the right of each item to change the dates.
- Once all the dates have been changed click the Refresh button at the top right of the screen and Blackboard will send you an email with all the new dates.
- This process will change dates for…
- Selective Release items
- and any other dated item
- If a date is missing from the list of available items you will need to go to that individual item and add the date. After that is complete the item should appear in the date manager.
- Hide/Reveal Selected Content
- All items including exams, modules, assignment, etc. can be hidden in BB9
- In the designer view click the Action Link beside the name and select Edit
- Check to make sure Permit Users to View this Content is set properly to make it available or unavailable to students.
- Check The Grade Book For Unwanted Columns
- Sometimes a lot of unwanted columns appear in the grade book such as Totals, Weighted Totals, and extra Start Here columns
- To remove them click on the Control Panel> Grade Center> Full Grade Center
- Identify the column you want removed and click on the Action Link in the column header and select Delete Column
- If there is no delete option, it means the column is attached to a tool such as discussion or quiz. In order to remove that column you will need to go to the tool and delete or edit the assignment. If you want to keep the assignment but remove the column in the grade book, you simply make the assignment not gradable.
- You Can Now Delete The Column In The Grade Book
- You can now return to the full grade center and delete the column.
- To organize the order in which the columns appear to instructors and students
- Go to the Full Grade Center and click Manage> Column Organization
- Click the four headed arrow on the left of the screen and drag the columns in the order you want them displayed
- Make sure to click Submit after arranging the order of column or you will lose the changes.
- Check The Discussions For Previous Semester Post
- Click on Discussions
- You should see a list of Forums; to the right of each forum you should see Total Post. If there are post click on the Forum Title to enter the forum
- In the Column title row select the checkbox to select all post
- Click the delete button to remove unwanted post
- This must be done for all forums that contain unwanted post.
- Check Course Menu For Dual Tools
- When copying a course from one semester to the next you will sometimes find dual tools on the course menu.
- Most often Homepage, Start Here, Tools, and Help will be duplicated, but others may be as well
- To remove click the action link beside the unwanted item and click Delete
- Organize the Course List on the Blackboard Homepage
- When you first log onto Blackboard 9 where you see your list of courses, on the My Courses Title bar module, click on the round icon on the right of the screen.
- On the Edit Course List page you can hide courses by unselecting the course.
- You can also change the order the courses appear on your home page by clicking and dragging the course up or down the list of courses.
- When completed click the Submit button.
- Review your course content and fix any broken hyperlinks, images, etc.
- Update your course calendar. Many faculty use the “Calendar” tool to help students see important due dates. Others prefer to include that information on their syllabus or on a stand-alone web page. Regardless of location, busy students appreciate having this information!
- Merge your course sections, if applicable. If you are teaching two sections of a course you can have the students to appear in one section. This process will keep you from having to maintain content in two separate areas. To have your courses merged please contact the Director of Digital Learning.
Next week I will cover tips for the first week of the semester.
In order to increase test security, faculty can use Blackboard’s enhanced test results and feedback options under Test Options to:
- restrict when test results and feedback are shown to students
- select which results (scores, correct responses, and submitted answers) students can view
By default, students see the test results for any course in the My Grades tool (always available in the My Blackboard menu of the global navigation panel) unless you disable the test results in Test Options or hide the grade column from students.
Possible scenarios for showing test results and feedback:
- After Submission: Students can see their test results immediately.
- One-time View: Students can view test results only once, and only after clicking the Save and Submit. If the instructor has turned off all the results, the students will not see any questions.
- On Specific Date: Students can view test results only after the specified date and time fields.
- After Due Date: Students can view the test results only after that date.
- After Availability End Date: Students can view their results after the specified test availability end date.
- After Attempts Are Graded: If tests include essay questions that must be manually graded by the instructor, students will see the specified results after all the attempts have been graded.
Below are 4 scenarios for setting the test and feedback options for test and exams. Each example will show the Test Results and feedback to students setting and be followed by a view of what the student actually sees once they have submitted the exam.
After Submission with Score per Question Selected
One-Time View with No Selections and After Due Date With All Selected
After Submission with All Options Selected
One-Time View with Score per Question and After Due Date With All Options Selected
Many instructors have old video tapes that they use to demonstrate various concepts to their students in traditional classrooms. Now that everything is digital they want to transfer that obsolete technology to a usable format. Over the years I have been ask many times about transferring that data into digital format. Yes it is possible, but often I will use it as an opportunity for the instructor to modernize their resources and find up to date material. In some cases that is just not possible. In addition, there is always those old home movies out there that we as parents use to blackmail our kids when they start dating.
At any rate there are several options available to transfer the data. One new option is the Elgato Video Capture System (https://www.elgato.com/en/video/video-capture). This system is a simple Adapter and cable with the necessary software to connect to your VCR and computer to make the transfer. The system works with both Mac and PC and at less than $100, is affordable.
You may also want to check out the c\net tutorial, Learning How to Take VHS Tapes and Archive Their Content (http://vhs-tapes.worthytales.tv/learning-take-vhs-tapes-archive-content/#).
As a quick reminder, please follow all copyright laws when transferring video.
The Date Management Tool allows the instructor to easily adjust all content and tool dates in your course in one easy location.
To access the Date Management Tool click on the Control Panel> Course Tools section, you can choose to adjust dates automatically or individually.
The first step is to decide if you want the system to automatically adjust the previous or current course item dates to new dates. That can be done Using Course Start Date or Adjusting by Number of Days.
You may also choose to List All Dates for Review, this option will list all the dates without making changes. This is a great tool to use if you only want to change a few dates during the semester.
Use Course Start Date
Use this option when adjusting for new terms. Adjust dates according to the course start date. The Current Start Date displays the date that the course is currently set to start. Change the new start date to reflect when this new course is going to start. All dates in the course adjust by the number of days each date occurs after the start date.
For example if the original course started September 1 with an assignment due September 26—twenty-five days after the start date. If you adjust the new start date to January 12, the assignment is now due February 6—twenty-five days after the new start date.
Using the Use Term Info options allows the instructor to choose the term associated with the course instead of entering start/end dates.
Adjust by Number of Days
Use this option when you know exactly how many days you want to adjust dates by. Type the number of days you want to adjust all dates in the course by. This is based on the dates that are currently set for each item in the course, not today’s date.
Example: On June 1, you adjust dates by 30 days. The assignment that was set to be due September 1 is now due October 1.
Important: Negative numbers move the dates back. Positive numbers move the dates forward.
Items Supported by Date Management
All items with dates are supported by date management, including:
- Content, such as items, files, and audio.
- Assessments, such as tests, surveys, and assignments.
- Tools, such as discussions, blogs, journals, and announcements.
- Manual grade columns.
- Course and organization tasks.
Service Pack 14 in Blackboard allows instructors to create multiple attempt assignments and determine which grade is recorded for that Assignments.
In the Option menu under Grading>Submission Details, an instructor can now allow Multiple Attempts at an assignment.
When Selected a Score Attempts Using drop-down menu will appear. The instructor can choose between Last Graded Attempt, Highest Grade, Lowest Grade, First Graded Attempt, and Average of Graded Attempts.
Service Pack 14 in Blackboard allows instructors to determine which grade is recorded for multiple attempt Test. A Score attempts using drop-down list has been added to the Test Options.
This is a workflow improvement to ensure that instructors know about and can easily find this setting for tools that support multiple attempts.
Blackboard Learn Service Pack 14 has several upgrades to the student My Grades. Students can now sort the order of grades several ways.
The Order by: drop-down list allows students to change order by last activity, due date (Latest First), or Due Date (Oldest First). The default order is Course Order, which displays items in the order the instructor has arranged them in Grade Center.
Students can now narrow the grade list by selecting All, Graded, Upcoming, and Submitted. Graded allows the students to view only the rows that have been graded by the instructor. Submitted show all items submitted, but not grades.
Feedback is included in-line, so students can view it on the page without additional mouse clicks.
As technical support for the online classroom, I am often asked by faculty members about how to preview their course as a student. For a while we used the edit mode, but everyone knows that is not a true student view. Then we moved to the Add A Test Student tool, which required the faculty member to log out and back in under a demo-student. Finally blackboard has added a Student View that does not require a log out.
The Enter Student Preview function appears in the top-right corner of your course pages, next to the Change Course Theme function.
With student preview, you can experience your course as your students do. You can do the following student activities:
- Submit assignments
- Take tests
- Create blog and discussion posts
- Create journal and wiki entries
- View student tools, such as My Grades
Student Preview is a great improvement over previous solutions. The next time a student tells you that they cannot see an assignment, take a look for yourself.
ADA Compliance of Streaming Media
When producing or using audio, images, or video in your online classroom you will need to pay attention to the Americans with Disabilities Act for accessibility concerns. At minimum ALT tags, transcripts, and Captions are required depending on the media. Several links are available to help you understand ADA Compliance:
- Website Accessibility Under Title II of the ADA – http://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap5toolkit.htm
- Creating an ADA-compliant website – http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/web-designer/creating-an-ada-compliant-website/
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Accessible Online Video Requirements – http://www.3playmedia.com/2013/06/13/the-americans-disability-act-ada-accessible-online-video-requirements/
- Section 508 Checklist – http://webaim.org/standards/508/checklist
Tools for Creating Closed Captions
- Tools For Youtube Closed Captions, Subtitles And Translations – http://www.reelseo.com/closed-captions-youtube/
- Camtasia – https://www.techsmith.com/products.html
- ScreenCast-o-matic (http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/
Copyright and Fair Use
I will not speak a lot about copyright and fair use laws because is not my expertise, but I do know you will need to consider this when using any work you did not create. I have listed a couple reliable sources your you to learn more about copyright and fair use.
- Stanford University Copyright Overview (NOLO) http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/
- Columbia University Fair Use Checklist – http://copyright.columbia.edu/copyright/fair-use/fair-use-checklist/
Remember ADA compliance and Copyright issues are not just the right things to do, they are the law.
This is not a comprehensive list of software to use to create streaming media, it is a list of some of my favorite. Depending on the type of computer you use such as a Mac or PC, different software will be available. As multimedia continue to advance many computers come with built in software to help with many of these task. Your computer may already contain software to record and edit audio and video files so the first place you need to look is on your computer. This list is basically a getting started list to help you see the art of video production is not as scary as you think it is, you have just got to get started.
To create audio files you will only need a microphone. To record the sound you can use the built-in microphone, if your system has one, or attach a microphone to your computer, or use a headset with a built-in mic. Many tools exist out there to edit the audio, my favorite is Audacity. You can download it for free at http://web.audacityteam.org/.
Depending on your content you may need to write a script prior to recording. Once recorded and edited you will need to save the file as a MP3. MP3 is a digital audio codec, a method of compressing and decompressing digitized sound. The digital information on a standard audio CD requires about 10 megabytes per minute of music.
To create video files you will need a video camera with a built-in microphone. Often people will use the cameras on their laptop, iPad, or phones to capture simple videos. These products usually come with software to do some minor editing. To do major editing you will need a product like Director, Adobe Premiere, or Camtasia, but these come with a high price tag. There are plenty of free stuff out there to get you started. You may want to check out the following:
- Digital Trends – http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/best-free-video-editing-software/
- PC Advisor – http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/test-centre/photo-video/3512375/14-best-free-video-editing-software-2015-uk/
- Web Seasoning – http://webseasoning.com/technology/best-free-video-editing-software-for-windows/1079/
You will need to convert your finally video to MP4 format. MP4 is a compressed video, meaning it has been altered to take up less space on your computer. It is difficult to give a file size for this video because many factors determine size such as time, dimensions, pixels, framerate, and clarity. This format is commonly used in streaming video and can be played by a variety of players.
PowerPoint are another easy to produce video types. You will start with a standard PowerPoint and use the tools within the software to add a voice-over. Basically all you will need to produce the video is a microphone or headset with a built-in microphone.
Creating the voice-over depends on the version of PowerPoint you are using. For Office 2013 it is a simple matter of going to the Slide Show tab and choosing Record Slide Show from the Set Up menu. Simply clicking through the slideshow will advance the slides and record your voice. Once you have completed the show save it and export to a video (Internet & DVD) file. When saving, make sure to save as MPEG-4.
Screen capture software allow you to capture events from your screen and preserve it in a video format. In addition to capturing the screen, many software packages allows you to do a voice-over of the action on the screen. A variety of software is available, my favorite is Camtasia, but again it can be expensive. Sean Aune from Mashable has created a list software to help you get started with screen captures, you can find at http://mashable.com/2008/02/21/screencasting-video-tutorials/.
Jing is one package I use frequently. It can be downloaded at https://www.techsmith.com/jing.html for free. Jing does have its limitation. It is limited to only small videos (Under 10 minutes) and cannot be edited by the software. To edit a screen capture from Jing you will need to use something like Camtasia. As for the time limit, in most cases for online training your content should be broken into small chunks anyway. More than 10 minutes on a video can cause students to lose interest and not comprehend the material.
The only thing you need to get started with screen capture is the software, a good microphone or headset and maybe a script of the final product. You will need to save the file in MP4 format.
Conferencing software is most often used in synchronous meeting, but often it allows you to record the meeting for later viewing. One of the drawbacks of using these recording is the real-time element, the video usually cannot be edited, therefore if the recording took an hour to record, it will play for an hour. Often times the software will give the audience an opportunity to fast forward, but being unfamiliar with the content sometimes it is hard to determine where to begin fast forward and where to stop.
There are some free software such as Google Hangouts (http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/) but each has their strengths and weakness. Check out PCMag’s list of recommendations for more information. This can be found at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2427703,00.asp.
To get started with conferencing video you will need a video camera with microphone.
Interactive instructions is one of the more difficult media to create. It involves software that requires a high level of expertise to master. It often involves a combination of several types of media such as images, videos, and sounds.
My favorite interact video software is Camtasia (https://www.techsmith.com/products.html). Camtasia allows you to combine videos and images, as well create interactive components to engage students. It will also allow you to create close caption for your video. Again the price can be a problem for some people as well as the level of expertise.
A good alternative would be ScreenCast-o-matic (http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/). It contains editing and script tools, webcam recording, and draw and zoom actions. This software runs $15 a year and has the added bonus of caption available.