Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Resource: Preparing College Instructors to Teach Online

"As campuses remain closed during the coronavirus outbreak, college students aren't the only ones experiencing a learning curve with online education...In the quick switch from on-campus to remote learning that happened in response to COVID-19, most professors had about a week to prepare and deliver the remainder of their spring semester classes online..." (read more on best practices and relevant resources for teaching online)

Friday, April 10, 2020

Virtual Lectures with Blackboard Collaborate

As Blackboard is the college’s current Learning Management System (LMS), it is recommended that faculty use Blackboard Collaborate for virtual lectures. Below is an overview of the Collaborate interface.

For additional details on the many uses of Collaborate, please see this article on the eLearning Services website or this knowledge article on the PGCC website.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Remote Teaching Resources

Blackboard Resources
  1. How to Log In to Blackboard
  2. How to Use the Content Editor
  3. How to Embed Multimedia Objects Using the Content Editor
    • For larger forms of media, use the Content Collection.
    • Specific instructions for adding content to the Content Collection are located here.
  4. How to Add your Contact Information/Faculty Info
  5. How to Create Learning Modules OR How to Create a Folder
  6. How to Create a Discussion Board
  7. How to Create an Assignment
  8. How to Add an Announcement
  9. How to Use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra*
  10. How to Create an Assessment
For the full list of Blackboard knowledge articles including How to Create Blogs and Wikis, click here.
As Blackboard is the college’s current Learning Management System (LMS), it is recommended that faculty use Blackboard Collaborate for virtual lectures.
Checklist - Teaching Remotely
1.   Communicate expectations to students
  • Discuss in class what will happen in case of a disruption, not only as part of the syllabus, but especially when you anticipate a disruption (e.g., when severe weather is forecasted).
  • Emphasize that students must continue to study and complete assignments, but also assure students that you will be flexible about assignments in emergency situations.
  • Students also need to keep calm and carry on! You should also consider using an app such as Remind to communicate with students on their phones, in addition to announcements in Blackboard.
2.   Check your home network and access to Blackboard
  • Test your Internet connection and ensure that you can access Blackboard.
  • Conduct a test of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra if you plan to use it for synchronous class sessions.
3.   Clarify students’ technology capabilities
  • Inventory student technology and require students to check their accessibility of Blackboard at home.
    • Take a poll of your class about what technology they can use at home (you may use an online app such Microsoft Forms). Make sure you differentiate between types of technology (laptops, smart phones, tablets) as well as Internet access. You need to ask what students have in order to determine what is possible for assignments.
  • Give students clear instructions on how to access Blackboard.
    • Require them to access Blackboard from home (you may want to create this as an explicit assignment, asking students to take a screen capture of your instructor information or some other detail).
  • Ensure that students can use all class technology (not only Blackboard).
    • For example, you must provide instructions on how to create and upload a video into their YouTube account, if that’s an assigned task.
  • Run a test of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (if applicable) and have students test their connections from home.
    • You may want to hold online office hours from home using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra early in the semester if this is an essential part of your strategy. That being said, even without a test, students have been able to easily access Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, but it is better to be prepared by running a test!
4.   Prepare your Blackboard course
  • Save any documents not already uploaded into Blackboard into the Content Collection.
  • Add your instructor information, particularly emergency contact instructions.
  • Create a logical folder structure that will allow students to find assignments quickly.
5.   Assemble or create learning objects
  • For quick asynchronous lessons, create content in Blackboard or import content created in other applications into Blackboard.
    • With more time, you may also consider narrated PowerPoints or screencasts.
  • For synchronous lessons, discussions, and group collaboration, consider using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra along with the lessons you’ve created.
  • For asynchronous illustration of concepts or examples, use the learning objects you’ve created or consider using OER resources (from the library, YouTube, iTunes U, Merlot, and other sources) embedded in your lessons or add them as items or mashups in Blackboard.
6.   Create assignments
  • Create assignments in Blackboard and clearly indicate what students need to do.
    • Consider adding a course link to assignments in your announcement as an easy way for them to get to assignments quickly.
    • You should create your course so that all assignments show up in the Course Content area.
  • When using multimedia resources, consider creating assignments that require students to demonstrate learning and apply knowledge actively, rather than passively review materials.
  • Consider creating assignments that require students to use technology actively.
    • Ensure that your students have clear instructions on how to use the technology.
  • Create alternate assignments for students without technology.
    • Encourage students without technology to download material from Blackboard when they are at school, with access to computer labs, whenever possible.
  • For asynchronous group work, consider creating group wikis in Blackboard or simply create groups and group assignments.
    • For synchronous group work, consider using breakout groups in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
  • For asynchronous discussions, consider creating a Blackboard Discussion Board.
    • It’s advisable to grade the Discussion Boards to encourage students to participate fully, and adding a discussion rubric for grading their performance is highly encouraged.
7.   Monitor student performance online
  • Check in on discussion boards and add your own comments when appropriate. Model best practices!
  • Review the progress of student wikis and try to contact students who are missing in action!
    • You can actively reach out to students to see what’s impeding their participation.
  • Make sure that students who are struggling can reach you.
    • Create and keep your emergency office hours.
    • You can use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to conduct your office hours.
    • Answer student messages as promptly as possible and according to any institutional or departmental practices, while also setting realistic expectations around turnaround time with students.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Problems Uploading PowerPoint

Blackboard users with Windows 10 and Office 2016 are receiving the following message when attempting to upload PowerPoint files to the Whiteboard in Blackboard Collaborate for web conferencing:

                "Failure Calling PowerPoint to Process Presentation"

At this time, the following workarounds are available:
  1. Download and use Apache OpenOffice to complete the PowerPoint upload process
  2. Save and upload your PowerPoint slides as image files:
To Save the Slides as Images
·         Open PowerPoint
·         Open the presentation needed
·         Click File
·         Click Save as Pictures
·         Save the pictures to your Desktop for easy finding
·         Select Format: JPEG
·         Click Save
·         The images are now saved to a new folder on your Desktop
To Upload the Images to your Session
·         Open your Collaborate session
·         Click Load Content
·         Browse to the Desktop folder created above and select all of the images from the newly created folder by pressing Command + A
·         Click Open
·         Select: Import Images as Individual Pages > Load
·         The Page Explorer will open. This will allow you to move slides to different rooms and organize them.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Starting December 31, 2018, Blackboard Instant Messaging (BBIM) will no longer be available, as Blackboard has discontinued this service. It is recommended that Bb Collaborate be used in lieu of BBIM.  For more information on Bb Collaborate, click here.

For faculty who choose to use BBIM this fall 2018 semester, there is a known issue where new users cannot download the BBIM file to install the product on their laptop or computer from the Quicklinks, Course Tools area.  Faculty must invite unregistered users via the BBIM application on their computer by following these instructions:
  1. Open BBIM on your computer or laptop. 
  2. Go to the View menu and make sure that "Show unregistered classmates" is checked.

3.      Go to the Classmates tab and expand the "Without Blackboard IM" list for your course.  You can then click on the envelope to invite the unregistered users. 

4.      You can enter an optional message to send to the students in the “Your Message” box.

An email will be sent to students with a link to create an account and download BBIM to their computer.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Updates for Blackboard Learn: what it means for you

Blackboard will be upgraded to the Q4 2017 release on May 20, 2018.
During the upgrade, Blackboard will be unavailable beginning at 3:30 am on May 20th and may be unavailable for up to 20 hours. 

The new Q4 2017 release will provide new features and enhancements that may simplify some of your everyday tasks, offer a better mobile experience, and improve accessibility, assessment and grading. Here are some of the top highlights of this new version:

  • Improved mobile experience. When accessing Learn on your mobile device, look for the new hamburger icon that makes navigating BbLearn even easier; plus, many tools are now mobile-friendly including blogs, journals and discussion boards.
  • More efficient Grade Center cleanup. You can now delete multiple gradebook columns at once making managing the gradebook easier.
  • Discussion board “Replies to me.” Keeping up with discussion posts is simpler with unread replies to your own posts called out.
  • Collaborate for groups. Increase student group engagement by offering web conferencing tools. Synchronous collaboration, content sharing and whiteboarding are sure to get your students involved.

Here are a more resources you may find useful:

  • Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series (BITS): Blackboard hosts BITS webinars to share strategies and best practices for increasing educator efficiency and improving learning outcomes. You can register for live webinars or watch recordings of past events.
  • Blackboard Community Educator Group: Connect with other educators across the world that are using Blackboard through Blackboard’s Community Site.
  • Blackboard Help Site: Find detailed documentation on all the features and functionality in Learn on Blackboard’s Help Site.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

New Inline Grading Tool Issues

For those of you that have become frustrated with the new “New Box” inline grading tool in Blackboard, you may be interested to read that they are working to improve this feature.

Please see this blog post for more information.