Academic Technology - Florida State College at Jacksonville

Academic Technology

LMS

Canvas Technical Implementation and On-Site Visit

EdTech, LMSRobyn Reese

During the second week of October, the Educational Technology Department hosted two members of the Canvas support team: our Customer Success Manager, Brianna, who will be responsible for managing our Canvas account throughout its life, and our Implementation Consultant, Greg, who will be assisting us in setting up the system for faculty and student use.

The purpose of the on-site visit was to share information and resources that would ensure that FSCJ’s IT team was progressing towards a successful implementation of Canvas here at FSCJ. We had three days of meetings scheduled, covering wide-ranging topics such as PeopleSoft integration, log-in authentication, faculty and student training, support portal setup and course migration.

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Much of the two-day visit was spent working on the two most technical (and most immediately important) parts of the implementation process: Authentication and PeopleSoft integration. If you are not a person with an interest in college IT processes, the terms “authentication” and “integration” probably don’t mean much to you, but they affect the work that you do in the LMS every day. Authentication refers to the way that users log in to all college systems, so that each system knows who you are, and allows you log you in with the same password, showing you the same information that uniquely identifies you. In order for this to happen, each college system needs to be connected to our Active Directory, the database that stores usernames, passwords, email addresses, and employee IDs. When systems are connected to Active Directory, then user passwords can be created and changed in one place, rather than needing to be managed in each system individually.

The setting up of PeopleSoft Integration involves creating a bridge between myFSCJ and Canvas that will allow the enrollment data that is created in myFSCJ to come over to Canvas fully and completely. Basically, all courses, users, and enrollments are created within myFSCJ through the encoding (courses), application (users) and course selection (enrollment) process. This data is stored in myFSCJ as our college’s system of record, but must be moved over to Canvas in order for students to take online courses. It is vital to ensure that a system is set up that moves the correct data over to Canvas at the right time with no interruptions. So, as you can imagine, getting these two processes right will have a massive impact on FSCJ students’ and faculty’s ability to use the Canvas LMS as it was meant to be used. Without authentication, users cannot log in to the system. Without integration, there are no users, courses, or enrollments!

Once we had a firm concept of how to complete these two processes and our IT teams began doing the work, we moved on to discussing other issues that are much more visible and immediately important to our faculty! We had extensive discussions about content migration and strategies for successfully moving courses from Blackboard to Canvas with Greg, Brianna and the Center for E-learning Team. Our goal was to identify the best process for moving courses efficiently from one system to another without losing or scrambling content. We gained valuable information about the best practices for moving courses, what types of content can be moved (and which cannot) and information about whether it would be best for users to just start fresh.

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After this we sat down with the Information Technology Service Desk Staff to discuss the best approach on how to support our students and faculty with Canvas. For the first year of our Canvas rollout, our staff and students will have dedicated support from the Canvas Help Desk, via phone, email, ticket, or SMS. Canvas support has a response time of under three minutes in most cases, and can resolve most issues within 24 hours. Support will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and all faculty have a dedicated line so that they won’t be confused with the students when getting their issues handled.

We hope you're just as excited as we are for Canvas! If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at edtech@fscj.edu.

Canvas Transition Team Meeting: Sub-Accounts

EdTech, Faculty Content, LMSRobyn Reese

On September 19, the Canvas Transition Team held their second meeting, at which they really started to dive into the challenging work of making decisions about how to set up the new LMS. Because we wanted to start at the top level of the project and work down to the specifics, this month the team was tasked with deciding whether FSCJ would utilize a hierarchal sub-account structure for the overall LMS instance.

Let’s pause for a minute to explain what this task actually is and why it is important. Currently, our Canvas LMS instance is like a completely blank, well, CANVAS (for lack of a better term). When a user logs in, they see the normal side navigation menu that one would expect, but it only holds fifteen users and fourteen courses. There is NOTHING in there—it is an empty container. So, before we begin to fill it up with courses and tools and content and students and instructors and all of the things that make an LMS a place where learning happens, we wanted to take a hard look at the structure of that container to see if we could find a way to divide it up. These smaller buckets would allow us to group courses by subject area so that we could deploy tools and user permissions more strategically, based upon the needs of our college’s varied academic units. Because (as we all know) FSCJ is an institution that serves an incredibly varied community of learners that often have drastically different needs and wants in our shared eLearning space.

We landed upon the concept of the sub-account to help us create these smaller containers within the larger Canvas account. A sub-account is an organizational unit within Canvas that can be customized so that it may provide a slightly different experience for the students and instructors who are accessing the courses within it. LTI tools and resources can be made available to specific sub-accounts where they are used and users can have different permissions granted to them based upon their needs.

In order to understand how this works for the user, it is helpful to think about the way that the physical structure of a traditional school is organized. Students all enter through the same front door and walk in the same common areas, but in a mathematics classroom, they may have access to tools like graphing calculators while in a science lab they may need to use beakers and graduated cylinders. Students can move from class to class easily, but the tools that they encounter and the responsibilities that they have change based upon the learning space that they are currently occupying. The access point is the same, but the experience within the class is different.

The Transition Team was tasked with figuring out if such a structure would be desirable for the FSCJ community, and then to figure out how to set this structure up in a way that was logical, sustainable, and able to be automated. During the meeting Robyn Reese, our LMS Administrator, walked the team through a presentation that explained how to meet these three goals. In order to do this, the team had to figure out how to use the existing academic structure within myFSCJ (the SIS or Student Information System) to create groups that would also fit with the current structure of our schools and departments.

Click here to view the Sub-Account Presentation shared during the meeting

As we progressed through the meeting, the Transition Team provided a great deal of valuable information about the level of structural complexity that they thought would be valuable for the areas that they were representing. As might be expected, it was found that certain areas of the college would require more dedicated sub-accounts for purposes of management and tool deployment. For example, in the Credit area, because of the variety of courses that are offered, we plan to pursue an sub-account organization based upon academic department. For areas like Professional Development, CWE, Not-for-Credit, and Clock, a simpler sub-account that encompasses several subject areas was thought to be best because it will allow for more management flexibility. Moving forward, the Educational Technology department will be meeting with the staff that oversees these areas to obtain more details regarding the specific structure and composition of the sub-account, as well as what support staff are used in this area and what LTI tools are utilized by their instructors.

The Transition Team’s next meeting will focus on training and will be held mid-October.

Additional Resources:

Canvas at FSCJ site

Canvas Transition SharePoint Site

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is coming to a Course Shell Near You!

EdTech, LMS, News, Faculty ContentRobyn Reese
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This fall, FSCJ Academic Technology will be phasing out the original version of the Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing tool so that we can have consistent use of the new and improved Ultra version of Collaborate. The two products function in much the same way by allowing students and instructors to meet together in a virtual space, regardless of where they are located or what device they are using. 

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, though, unlike the "original" version, is currently a major focus of product development for Blackboard and is being loaded with tons of new features as this year progresses. Information about what these new features are and when they will be accessible can be found in this Academic Technology blog post from earlier in this calendar year.  If you are brand new to all versions of Collaborate, please view these useful webinars that go over the use of Collaborate as an instructional tool to give you an overview of the basics before you begin.  

While, as mentioned above, the two products function in the same basic way (and with a similar interface) once a user enters the course room itself, the launch screen for the two versions is quite different and may cause some confusion for faculty and staff that were used to the original product. Below are two side-by-side screenshots of the "original" launch screen and the "ultra" launch screen:

 

Blackboard Collaborate "Ultra" 

"Original" Blackboard Collaborate

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Whereas in the "original" version of Collaborate, users simply need to click on the very visible "join room" button to become a part of the virtual learning experience, the ultra interface is not quite so simple to use, but as a result packs in some very useful features. 

First of all, faculty have the ability to lock the course room very easily so that it cannot be accessed at all times (a useful security setting that prevents students from using the course room for non-instructional purposes). This can be done very easily by clicking on the three dots to the far right-hand side of the Course Room's name, as shown below. For this dropdown menu, you can also provide links for guest access, as well as view reports about student attendance and usage. 

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Instructors can also use the "Create Session" button at the bottom of the interface to to schedule sessions with a predetermined beginning and end time so that the Collaborate Course Room is only available at specified times. This is shown below. From this window, you can also specify who in the session can act as a moderator, whether it should be recorded, and if these recordings are downloadable.  Recorded sessions, once made, will also be listed and searchable in the area below the "create session" button. 

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We hope that you find this product upgrade to be a great addition to the educational technology tools that are currently integrated with Blackboard. If you have any questions about how to use the more advanced features of Collaborate Ultra, please contact EdTech@fscj.edu

Save the Date for a Blackboard Upgrade!

LMS, EdTechRobyn Reese

Academic Technology will be performing a required upgrade to our Blackboard Learning Management System on August 25, 2018 beginning at 8:00 p.m. We expect to have a system outage for approximately 12 hours, and anticipate a complete restoration of all services at 8:00 a.m. on August 26, 2018. 

While we do not expect this system upgrade to result in a loss of courses or materials, we recommend that faculty export any courses that they are working on developing, as well as any course from past terms that they would like to save. Exported courses can be saved on a professor's own computer, external hard drive, or cloud storage service so that they are accessible at any time. This is a good routine practice to complete at the end of each year or term. 

While this upgrade is required to ensure that we continue to receive product support from Blackboard, we are excited about the new features that it will provide for our faculty, staff, and students, as detailed in the chart below. 


An instructor or grader can create personalized feedback recordings for tests, assignments, discussion board postings, and blogs. Each recording can be up to 5 minutes long and can include both video and audio.

Creating Recorded Feedback

 

When instructors create content items, assignments, and web links, they can drag files from their computers to the "hot spot" in the Attach Files area. Students can also drag files to upload when they submit assignments. Content can also be moved directly from a cloud storage location. Cloud storage that is supported includes OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, Google Drive including G suite accounts, Dropbox, and Box.

Drag and Drop Files & Cloud Storage Integration

 

Instructors can keep track of all student submissions, regardless of whether the attempt or assignment is deleted or the submission history is changed. A submission receipt is captured at the time of submission and includes information such as attached file information, date, time, etc. Students can receive emailed submission receipts, and can also access them from the "My Grades" page.

Assignment Submission Receipts

 

 

 Instructors will now be able to: View full titles of Grade Center columns (making it easier to distinguish between similarly-titled items), view as many columns as the size of their window will allow (this is a BIG improvement for Apple users), and enter into Grade Center full-screen mode to make the most of their desktop experience. Instructors will be also able to delete multiple columns from the grade center at once. 

The grade center also now should display all grades and averages with five decimal places. According to documentation provided by Blackboard, this is somewhat of a buggy feature at this time, however, and is unpopular with users (especially since it is a default that cannot be changed or overridden), so it is our hope that it will be patched and changed soon. 

Grade Center Improvements


We will continue to provide updates and reminders as the upgrade date approaches. If you have any questions regarding this update, please email EdTech@fscj.edu.

What's New with (and What's Coming to) Blackboard Collaborate Ultra?

LMS, News, EdTechRobyn Reese
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Are you a Collaborate power user, or a relative newbie? Either way, Blackboard is giving FSCJ faculty and staff a ton of new reasons to try out Collaborate for the first (or five hundredth) time this year!

Currently, FSCJ adopts the Collaborate "Ultra" product, which has a different-looking interface and more advanced features that the  "basic" product. One of the best features of this version of Collaborate (and, in truth, what makes it "Ultra"), is that it is a continuously-developed product that is updated periodically by Blackboard with new and improved features. 

On March 28, 2018, Blackboard held a webinar to discuss some of the changes and improvements that they would be pushing out to the Collaborate web conferencing tool over the coming year. The chart above, taken from the webinar, lays out these changes in a visual format. Read on for a bit more information about the most impressive and useful ones. 


Available Now

A Collaborate room can now accomodate 1,000 participants, as opposed to the 500 that were previously possible. This is owing to upgrades to their local servers that allow for increased traffic. 

More Participants! 

Expansion of Phone-In Capabilities

 

 

Taking a cue from Cisco's popular WebEx product, Blackboard Collaborate will now allow users who are enrolled in courses to access Collaborate meetings by dialing in on their mobile phone or landline. Whereas in the past users could use a mobile phone for audio only, it can now be used as the sole way of connecting to a Collaborate session. When the session is set up, a phone number and pin are established that can be shared with students who may need it. Keep in mind that users who are using the dial-in only option to access a Collaborate session will not be able to access shared documents or whiteboards, so if at all possible the Blackboard mobile app should be used by students on the go so that they can get the full interactive experience. 

Recordings can be Renamed

Users can now rename their Collaborate recordings for easier searching, archiving, and viewing by students. Currently, by default Collaborate recordings are labeled with the date and time of the recorded session and are titled with the name of the course. Instructors can now change this designation so that sessions can be labeled by topic or activity to aid in keeping materials organized. Remember that Collaborate recordings remain in course shells indefinitely, but only appear in the recordings list for 30 days. Recordings that are older than 30 days require the user to shift the viewing timeline using the controls in the collaborate viewer. 

Users can now direct their chats to individuals in the class, rather than using the chat box and making their questions or comments visible to everyone in the session. This might be useful for shy students or to establish back channel conversations amongst participants. The moderator can always maintain a bird's eye view of all conversations occurring within the session.  

Private Chats Enabled


In Development Phase (To be Released by the End of the Year)

On-Screen Timer

The on-screen timer is being released as part of Blackboard's commitment to Academic Effectiveness. Part of the tool set that currently includes the polling function, the timer will be controlled by the session's moderator and will be visible in all breakout rooms that may be set up for group work with the intent of helping participants to complete work with a defined pace. 

Improved Group Viewing Options

Blackboard is working to release an improved participant viewing interface that will allow the moderator to see all of the participants, not just the one who currently has the floor. Taking on a tiled look, when the moderator chooses this view, they will be able to see up to  24 participants on a grid at a time--in a look that is reminiscent of the Brady Bunch--super useful for ensuring that all students are attentive, and for gaging understanding based upon non-verbal cues. This view is currently in development, but Blackboaard hopes to have it released by the end of the year. 

Downloadable Attendance  Report

Blackboard is finally releasing a super-useful new downloadable attendance report at some point this month that will enable instructors to gather data on which students attended a Collaborate session and for how long. This is just the first artifact of Blackboard's new commitment to using data to enhance the effectiveness of Collaborate by adding assessment tools. More reports are in the research phase, as described below. 

Auto-Captioning

In line with Blackbaord's current push to improve accessibility in all of its products, auto-captioning is coming to Collaborate! Captioning focuses on the speaker who currently has the "floor", and can be used to increase options for instructors,  it should be noted that Blackboard has made no guarantee about the accuracy of captioning, and thus it may not meet the 99% accuracy guideline set out in the Americans with Disabilities Act. They will, however, provide the option to clean up captioning files that are attached to recordings after the session is complete.


In Research Phase (No Release Timeline Set)

Whiteboard enhancements

Blackboard is working on developing methods for saving whiteboards so that they can be reused from class to class. This would be especially helpful for instructors who host sessions in a series and want to pick up where they left off. Whiteboards will also be able to support multiple slides in the future, so that users will not need to clear the board to make more space to keep working on a problem or issue.  Whiteboards from breakout sessions will also soon be importable into main sessions, for easier sharing of group work. 

In the coming months, Blackboard administrators will be able to have access to reports that detail the number of times that Collaborate tools are being used globally, as well as how many times individual recordings are being watched. Instructors will have access to reports that chart how engaged students are in a lesson, based upon the number of interactions that they have with the content. 

More Reports


As you can see, Blackboard will be releasing a number of really valuable improvements to Collaborate Ultra over the next few months! Educational Technology will do its best to keep the faculty, staff, and students at FSCJ abreast of any changes that occur. 

Improvements to the Blackboard Inline Grader are on the Horizon!

LMS, EdTechRobyn Reese
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The Educational Technology team has not received a great deal of positive feedback about the new Blackboard Online Grader. One of the most important tools for teaching and learning online, the inline grader is used to provide specific feedback on student papers by using annotations, highlighting, and comments that are nested within the paper's content. 

Until the end of 2017, the inline grader was provided by Crocodoc, until the Box Corporation purchased Crocodoc and sunset the technology. Blackboard was then required to use a similar Box product for the inline grader. Users quickly found that the new product did not have comparable functionality at all, and many complained to Blackboard to report the need for old tools that were not contained within the new product. 

In February, Blackboard announced that Box will be more aggressively rolling out new features for the inline grader that will hopefully make it more useful and useable. The chart below provides a roadmap of the tools that are in development currently and those that have been targeted for addition in the future: 


What it appears users really want is the ability to select the point annotation icon and have it persist, allowing creation of multiple point annotations at once without having to reselect the point annotation icon in the nav bar each time. Currently Available

Allow Multiple Point Annotations to be "Sticky" / Created in Succession


Users want to free-hand draw on documents. Currently Available

Drawing Annotations


Display List of Current Annotations / Summary View

Users want to see that comments exist and the content of comments without having to mouse-over the annotation.  Additionally, the expanded point annotation covers other text/content in the document, and the point comment content disappears when not being moused-over making it impossible to see multiple point comments at the same time.  Being able to see the content of the annotation comment(s) in a list format without mouse-over would solve both concerns. Available in the first half of 2018


Change Highlight, Text, and Drawing Annotations Colors

Users want to have different options for highlighting color, text color, and drawing color when annotating.


Users want to edit their own comments after they have been posted and recognize which comments have been edited after initial posting.  An additional benefit would be for instructors to be able to edit annotations from users with less permissions (e.g. Teaching Assistants or Graders).

Editing Comments


Users want the ability to download a version of the original document with current annotations applied to the document.

Download Documents with Annotations


Users want to strikethrough text and associate a comment with the strikethrough.

Strikethrough Annotations


Users want to be able to add annotations to excel-based documents (.xls, .xlsx)

Annotate on Excel-based files


Area Annotations

Users want to select a free-form area and associate a comment with that area.


Users want to more easily see when a comment is associated with a highlight vs when text is only highlighted without a comment.

Indication of Comment in Highlighted Text (vs Highlighted Text without Comment)


Users want to be able to move and/or relocate comments.

Drag-to-move Annotations


Did you miss Canvas Demo Day?

DMP, LMS, EdTechRobyn Reese
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The Academic Technology Department hosted a live-streamed demonstration of the Canvas Learning Management System on Friday, February 16 from 9:30 to 11:30 A.M. A recording of this event can be found below. This demonstration is intended to provide faculty and staff with a first look at Canvas so that they can become more familiar with the LMS that the Faculty Senate has recommended for adoption by our institution in the coming years. 

The demonstration was facilitated by Dee Bohne, Canvas Senior Enterprise Director; Brian Yuhunke, Canvas Solutions Engineer; and Steve Brunner, Canvas Senior Director and Solutions Engineer. The live and remote audience had an opportunity to ask questions about the use of Canvas and its features. A copy of the chat transcript that was created during the broadcast can be found here. 

If, after watching the broadcast and reading the chat transcipt, you have questions about the use of Canvas, please contact EdTech@fscj.edu. For general information about the LMS, please visit our dedicated Canvas page by clicking here. Thanks for watching our broadcast! 

Blackboard Inline Grading is getting a refresh!

LMS, EdTechRobyn Reese

Even if you often use the inline grading feature in Blackboard, you probably don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about how it works (and if you don't use it, you really should--it's amazing). Inline grading uses a technology called Crocodoc to allow instructors to provide feedback such as comments, highlights, and even drawing/annotation, directly on a document while grading it. 

Over the Winter Break, the inline grading service is being upgraded to replace Crocodoc with more powerful Box technology. Instructors should not notice much of a difference in how they access and use the tool, but it will have a few new features, as detailed in the chart below. 

 Taken From Blackboard Help (https://help.blackboard.com/)

Taken From Blackboard Help (https://help.blackboard.com/)

The upgrade will take place prior to the start of the Spring Term, so it will not interfere with the grading of work at any time. All prior artifacts that were annotated with Crocodoc will still be fully accessible within past terms' course shells. 

For more information about this change, or to find out more about inline grading, click here. For further questions, please contact Educational Technology (EdTech@fscj.edu).

 

New Blackboard Apps!

LMS, Tutorial, In Focus, Student Content, EdTechRobyn Reese
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We are happy to announce that Blackboard has released a suite of new, improved mobile apps and that they are now compatible with myFSCJ for Fall 2017 and beyond! Blackboard has split the functionality of the apps to create one that is specifically tailored towards the needs of students and one that is perfect for instructor use! 

Blackboard App (for Students)

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The Blackboard App is the current name for the student-centered version of Blackboard mobile. It replaces the current Blackboard student app, which has been discontinued.

It is available in the iOS App Store, in Google Play, and in the Windows Store. 

Like the previous version of the Blackboard mobile app, students can still take tests, view announcements, post discussions, and review grades with Blackboard App. Now, the app is optimized for mobile, so that the content will adapt to all screen sizes and be more visible and accessible! Users can also upload assignments and attachments from Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, making it easier than ever to work on the go using just your mobile device. The new homepage for the app also features an activity stream, displaying due dates, posted grades, and assignment uploads for all classes in one continuous, integrated flow. Collaborate is also now fully integrated into the mobile experience, so students do not need to use another app or their browser to join learning sessions on their phone or tablet. 

The Blackboard app will be continuously updated, with the intent of making it easier and more efficient for students to complete online coursework wherever they are. For more information, visit Blackboard's help site.

Login to the Blackboard Student app:


Blackboard Instructor

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The Blackboard Instructor app is brand new, and only shows the courses that are being taught, not those that the user is enrolled in. Instructors can use the app to view and send announcements or make courses available for viewing by students. The app is fully responsive and mimics the content layouts and file structure of a Blackboard course within the full LMS. This structure can also be edited or changed from the mobile app.

The app contains a student viewer that can help faculty to better understand the student mobile experience while taking tests, watching videos, and reading content. The app will also allow the user to export content for use in other mobile apps or in a web browser. It also incorporates Collaborate access natively, so that sessions can be run completely from the mobile app without relying on a browser or separate plug-in. For more information about the Blackboard Instructor App, visit Blackboard's help site. 

Login to the Blackboard Instructor app:


To access your online courses on the Blackboard Mobile app, please follow the directions listed below:

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1. Ensure you have the correct app downloaded onto your smart-device. The Blackboard Mobile app’s icon should appear as a blue square with a pencil. (Note: The Blackboard Learn app, which looks like a chalkboard, is not compatible with myFSCJ, so if you only have that app on your device, please download the correct Blackboard Mobile app).

2. Upon opening the app, you will be prompted to enter your college. Type in “Florida State College at Jacksonville”.

3. You will be presented with a prompt telling you to “Web Login”. Click the “Web Login” button.

4. You will be redirected to the myFSCJ login page. Please login using your myFSCJ userID and password.

5. Locate and click the Blackboard link underneath the “Useful Links” section of the student tab. For instructors, locate the Blackboard link within the faculty tab.

6. This will certify your session and take you back to the Blackboard Mobile app interface.

 

If you are experiencing any issues during any one of these steps or with the functionality of the app, please contact the Technical Service Desk at (904) 646-2300, option 3.