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

EdTech, LMS, News, Faculty ContentRobyn Reese
collaborate_ultra_participant_empty_room.png

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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Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 2.28.10 PM.png
 

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. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 2.28.37 PM.png
 

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. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 2.29.13 PM.png
 

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

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

LMS, News, EdTechRobyn Reese
Collaborate Roadmap.png

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. 

The Best and Brightest at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show

NewsBecky Hudson
Adobe Spark (1).jpg

Las Vegas hosted the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show on January 9th, unveiling the newest technology that will soon hit the shelves. With over 3,900 exhibitors, 900 startups and more than 900 speakers, the CES was once again an innovative look into the future. The CES started off with a bang this year, that is a bang of transformers blowing, resulting in a 2-hour blackout! With a flood of light up of cell phone screens illuminating the showroom floor, the CES was already making headlines just a few hours in. Once the blackout ended and companies could start to show off their products, it was easy to see that some of the greatest minds in technology had come together to showcase their innovations.

There was a common theme between many of the products that were exhibited this year: to make every day processes faster, safer, and more user friendly.  The CES showcased the Lishtot TestDrop, a small device that can test the quality of drinking water by analyzing the electric field around it. Follow this link provided to secure your TestDrop now for $34.95.

There was an intelligent toilet by Kohler Numi. This smart toilet offers heated seating, heated flooring for your feet, gentle lighting and music. You can find more information here.

The Pelotron Tread combines workout machinery and videos by showcasing a treadmill with a large built-in LED screen which live streams workout classes. Now you can join a workout class without having to go to the gym! The Pelotron Tread can be pre-ordered here, for all of you fitness fanatics!  

The CES also showcased the worlds first smart swimsuit. Swim.com partnered with Spire Health Tag to create the small tracking device that can be placed in most swimsuits. The platform tracks the number of laps swam, the time per lap and much more. This summer you can sport your smart swimsuit for just $30 plus the price of the suit.

Sticking with the theme of making tasks faster and more user friendly, there were an array of gadgets to make your home hands free. The Lenovo Smart Display is a voice-activated assistant that connects directly with Google. It is like Amazon's Echo, but the Lenovo exceeds its rivals by offering a touch screen that is not only sleek and attractive, but it also can voice activate YouTube videos, search for recipes and much more. Click here for more information!

Honda showed up at this year's CES with not only one robot, but an array of robots from their 3E-A18series. One of the factors that makes this robot so unique is the ability to empathize with and understand its commander. Learn more about these compassionate companions here.

If you are into televisions, then Samsung’s newest creation THE WALL will not only astound you, it may make you cry. This television is a whopping 146-inches and literally takes up an entire wall.

One gadget that pulled at the heartstrings of many visitors at this years CES was the My Special Aflac Duck. A small and interactive toy that is a replica of the famous duck in all the Aflac commercials, it was designed and intended to be a companion to children diagnosed with cancer. The interactive duck not only expresses feelings through facial movements, it gives a child a companion during a time when they may feel alone. This toy is set to roll out in late 2018 and will be available at no cost to children diagnosed with cancer across the nation. The My Special Aflac Duck received the Tech For a Better World Innovation  Award for its efforts to raise money to cure childhood cancer. For more information on how you can help Aflac in their mission, visit this website. 

The CES 2018 was a gathering of some of the greatest minds, and biggest hearts, across the world. Although many of the gadgets and innovations will not be available to the public for some time, this showcase is a glimpse of what the future may hold. In a world of VR, assistant robots, smart technology, and self-driven cars, we have a lot to look forward to for the future.

Blackboard Course Shell Availability

News, EdTechBrandi Bleak

Blackboard Course Shells - Now Available for Fall!

We are happy to communicate that Fall course shells have now been successfully loaded in Blackboard and have been associated with their instructors. Professors should be able to access them now by logging in to Blackboard via Artemis. 

Be aware that students will not yet be populated within courses, and thus will not have access to them, even if the instructor makes the course shell available. The loading of students into courses will take place during the course of the week of August 20.

FSCJ Online Courses

Those that use a course master may not yet have the associated content loaded into the shell. At this point, all A term master course content should be loaded into the Blackboard shells. The work of loading B term course content should be completed this week. 

Online Syllabus Builder

The link to the Online Syllabus Builder is now visible within my.fscj.edu under the newly designed Faculty tab. Please view our separate post regarding the online syllabus builder for more information. 

Issues, Questions, or Concerns?

If for any reason you have issues with access to Blackboard or are unable to view a course that you have been assigned for the Fall, please contact EdTech@fscj.edu.

FAQs

I was recently encoded in a course, however, the shells have not appeared within Blackboard. When will they appear?

Any courses that were encoded within the last week or so will not be available in Blackboard until the final migration is complete and all data has been transitioned over. We appreciate the patience of all instructors who were recently added.

My course and lab appear as two separate shells.

Many courses with a hands-on facet are experiencing this issue--not exclusive to pure sciences--as a result of the way that these courses are encoded in PeopleSoft.  When a student enrolls in the lecture component, they are automatically enrolled in the lab. However, these courses are still graded as one course offering.

In order to reduce confusion for both faculty and students when navigating Blackboard, we would like to ask all faculty with duplicate course shells to ONLY make the lecture component available to students and keep all other components unavailable. To identify which Blackboard shell was created for the lecture component, look at your course schedule within myFSCJ. As shown in the example below, “lecture” or “laboratory” is marked in parentheses after the course title. In the first column, note that the course code is the same, but the reference number in parentheses is different for the lecture (3888) and the laboratory (3889).

Sample Schedule to pair with Bb example.png

 

When looking at courses within myBlackboard, the last four numbers in each course shell title matches reference number seen in the first column of the faculty schedule in myFSCJ. Thus, in the provided example below, the second course, COOP-EDCTN (INTERN)-3889, is the laboratory component and should not be made available to students.

Sample Blackboard Course Numbers.png

 

Students do not see courses that are not made available in myBlackboard and therefore will not be aware of the duplicate course shells. Please know that this process will not have any effect on students’ final grades.

Will the class roster populate students info at a later time?

Yes. The creation of course shells and instructor association was the first step of the integration of PeopleSoft with Blackboard. After receiving feedback from professors, we prioritized the creation of course shells so that content could be built in advance of the Fall Semester. The addition of students to Blackboard requires a change to student user IDs that cannot be performed until the Summer Semester's end, so as not to disrupt ongoing classes. We’ll be sending more information out about the progress soon.

The IT Maintenance Dates are not currently visible within the Syllabus Builder, however often used to inform students and for planning purposes. 

We are currently working to integrate the dates within the online syllabus builder, however they may not be ready prior to Fall. You can visit the Calendar page located within fscj.edu to view a full Collegewide calendar. 

Below are the IT Maintenance dates for the Fall term:

August 26-27, Weekend in between grade submission and start of term.
September 16-17, Saturday 9PM – Sunday 9AM
October 14-15, Saturday 9PM – Sunday 9AM
November 10-12 Veterans Day
December 23 – January 2 Winter Break


Will HEIF replace JPEG?

DMP, News, EdTechBrandi Bleak

If you’ve taken, shared, or edited a photo within the last 25 years, chances are you’ve worked with a JPEG file. This file format is the standard for all digital photos, was around before modern digital cameras were available, and every camera on the market currently is able to export photos as JPG files. Just like many other technologies, though, it looks like we could be heading toward a change in the standard file format that many of us use on a daily basis. 

During Apple’s most recent WWDC 2017 Keynote on June 5th, they introduced a file format that will give images better quality while only requiring half of the storage space on a mobile device. If you are an avid user of your mobile device's camera, you know what a needed innovation this is, as it is sometimes challenging to balance personal storage needs for apps, files, videos, and photos. This Fall, with the launch of iOS 11, iPhones and iPads will all capture and store images in HEIF, or High Efficiency Image File Format. The smaller image files will include all of the features users expect, as well as anticipating the needs of future users. 

 

If Apple has its way, the standard file format everyone is used to will be improved and JPEGs will be replaced by HEIFs.

 

The HEIF format stores images, video, image bursts, audio, and text together in one file, that can be edited without compromising the original quality of the image. When editing or cropping a file, a separate portion of the file is viewed without taking up additional storage, essentially utilizing non-destructive edits. That’s a huge improvement from the JPEG, which when an image was saved, it gave you a final image with less quality each time it was edited. 

  Example files copyright © Nokia Technologies 2017

Example files copyright © Nokia Technologies 2017

View more example images

What does this mean for an average user? At this point, we will have to wait and see. If the format catches on though, consider the extent to which images are currently integrated into our everyday life and communications. Software companies will have to adapt to the change by issuing updates that will enable this new file type to be compatible with current desktop applications. Additionally, websites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat where images are a core component of the service will need to support the files, and browsers will need to adjust as well. It could instigate a series of huge changes throughout all segments of technology. 

However, Apple isn’t the only one working to change our future. Google has also developed their own format for images on the web, called WebP.  it remains to be seen which of these two massive tech companies' file format will become the new standard. 

Blackboard Upgrade in the Works!

News, EdTechBrandi Bleak
blackboard logo

FSCJ is planning to upgrade Blackboard on May 10, 2017, with outages certain on May 10, and possible throughout the day on May 11. 

Why Upgrade?

Blackboard releases version updates twice a year, in order to introduce new features and address bugs that are problematic in old ones. Currently, we are a bit behind in adoption of Blackboard versions, and will be making a larger leap from Version 9.1 CU 5 2014 to Version 9.1 Q2 2016.

What to do to Prepare for the Upgrade

There is very little that needs to be done by instructors or students to insure that the upgrade is successful; the Academic Technology Department will work with Blackboard to complete the transition as seamlessly as possible. 

We are asking, however, that professors export any summer courses that you are working on now and store them locally for backup purposes. For more information on how to do this, visit the FSCJ Knowledge Base. 

What to Expect after the Upgrade

Though the Blackboard interface will not change substantially as a result of this upgrade, and most things will look and function the same, users will notice some small changes, detailed below. 

Announcements

When creating an announcement, "Not Date Restricted" is now selected by default.

Email

This release fixes an issue with email sent from Blackboard. Some email clients do not use the reply-to header of emails sent by BbLearn to populate the "To:" field when the user replies to an email. As a result, some students were confused when they received email from do-not-reply@<bblearn_domain> instead of their instructor's email address. This update will fix that problem.

Discussions

Users can navigate from thread to thread without having to return to the main Discussions page.

Browser & HTML5 support

Learn 9.1 now supports the Microsoft Edge browser. The Content Editor now supports HTML5 Audio and Video playback in Chrome and Edge browsers.

VALUE rubrics

As part of the Association of American Colleges & Universities' (AAC&U’s) Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative, the VALUE rubrics contribute to the national dialogue on assessment of college student learning. Educational professionals from over 100 higher education institutions collaboratively developed 16 VALUE rubrics to use the most frequently identified characteristics for measuring success in key learning outcomes.

For users who are interested in using these rubrics, Blackboard has made them available for download and import. Each rubric has been built and formatted appropriately so it can be imported to your courses and used anywhere you can align and evaluate with rubrics today. The downloadable rubrics are available in US English only because this is how they were authored by AAC&U.

Scheduled Winter Maintenance Period

NewsRobyn Reese

As we approach the end of 2016, the Information Technology Services Team would like to wish each of you Happy Holidays.

Please keep in mind during this season we will have a scheduled maintenance period from December 23rd – January 1st to perform the updates necessary to provide you with optimal service throughout the year. We know this may be inconvenient at times, however, it is essential for us to continue to maintain the systems properly. We will have processes in place to route you to available resources as needed while systems are down. Thank you for your patience during this time.

Blackboard will not be affected and will remain online throughout the maintenance period. PeopleSoft, ServiceNow, and Campus Wireless will all experience periods of downtime during the break.

To minimize the effects of the downtime, student registration will remain online for most of the break, with the exception of the approved 3-day maintenance period from December 26th – 28th.

Here are a few important notes:

  • If you have not yet enrolled in the password reset tool, or if your password will expire over the break, visit password.fscj.edu.
  • You can access Blackboard while other systems are down by visiting artemis.fscj.edu, through which you can obtain access to the LMS. 
  • The portal help.fscj.edu will remain available over break with the exception of a small window of time during the evening of December 23rd. If you visit help.fscj.edu after this time, you will see a newly redesigned and updated site, to be introduced in 2017. 
  • You can follow ITS on Twitter for periodic service updates @FSCJIT

In closing, we hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends and we look forward to serving you in 2017 with exceptional technology services.

 

Building a Rube-Goldberg poster presentation with the Ed Tech team

News, EdTechBrandi Bleak

The Educational Technology team just spent time at the New Media Consortium presenting an Idea Lab Poster session. Here are some shots of the process of building the Rube-Goldberg inspired poster. 

 First phase, brainstorming.

First phase, brainstorming.

 Trying it out before final edits and packing it up for the flight to NY.

Trying it out before final edits and packing it up for the flight to NY.

 Life size sketch-up.&nbsp;

Life size sketch-up. 

 And we're up! Show time!

And we're up! Show time!

Bosnia List productions

Photos, NewsRobin Herriff

The Academic Technology team was proud to be a part of the College's 2016 Author Series this year.  Projects included coordinating and recording an interview with a local survivor of the Bosnian War, and profiling the Escape Room, a gamified look into author Kenan Trebincevic's journey back to his homeland, created by Professor Amy Baskin.

Video: Watch the Superdome Control Room Calmly Resolve Power Outage - cbs.com

NewsMichael Smith

3623143471_c2bec31171_bThis is a clip from the NFL Superbowl control room when they realize the power has gone out for half of the stadium. We've also experienced power loss during live events (on a smaller scale). Sometimes, we've been able to resolve the problem before it became obvious to the audience. When a quick fix isn't possible, clear and calm communication (as displayed by the crew in this video) is the key to resolving the situation and minimizing its impact.

Image: AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by ALalto