Academic Technology - Florida State College at Jacksonville

Academic Technology

Blackboard

Blackboard Upgrade and New Features for Students

Student Content, EdTech, help.fscj.eduThomas Lewis
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As we approach another exciting Fall Semester here at FSCJ, we have some new features for Blackboard rolling in as well! In this post, we'll focus on the features that directly have an impact on you, our students. 

Drag and Drop Assignment Submission

When submitting assignments, no longer do you have to take those extra steps in browsing for your file. Instead, you can now drag and drop your assignment directly from your computer, including cloud storage services, to the "hot spot" within the Attach Files area. When you drag and drop your assignments, make sure they all have different names or they won't transfer successfully.

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Submission Receipts for Assignments

After a successful submission, the Review Submission History page appears with information about the submitted assignments and a success message with a confirmation number. Students can copy and save this number as proof of their submissions.

When students working on group assignments, a receipt is generated for each member, and the anonymous state of an assignment is respected.For assignments with multiple attempts, students receive a different number for each submission.

Students will also receive an email with a confirmation number and other details for each submission. To see a history of your past submission receipts, go to My Grades and click on the Submission Receipts link at the bottom of your grade history.

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Blackboard System Outage

Blackboard will be upgrading to a new version so that we can provide these and many other new features. To do so, the system will be unavailable beginning Saturday, August 25 at 8:00 p.m. until Sunday, August 26, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. This is the weekend between grade submission and start of the Fall term (to help not inconvenience our fellow students and staff.)

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

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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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.

MediaSpace Update & Resolution

DMP, Faculty Content, Tutorial, EdTechBrandi Bleak

Kaltura MediaSpace

This Spring, there was an update to Kaltura MediaSpace to make login compatible between myFSCJ and Blackboard. This resolved the issue of being unable to access MediaSpace content from Blackboard. 

MediaSpace can now be accessed from myFSCJ within the Faculty, Employees or Students tabs, shown below, as well as within Blackboard via a Building Block.

If you experience any issues accessing or viewing content that was created within MediaSpace prior to the Spring update, please submit a ticket at help.fscj.edu which will be routed to our MediaSpace administrator who can correct many outlying issues.

CaptureSpace Users

If you previously downloaded CaptureSpace to your computer you may need to take steps to reestablish your connection. If you experience any issues or are unable to see content while trying to record a new video, follow these directions:

1. Log onto MediaSpace and initiate a CaptureSpace recording by selecting “Add New” from the upper right corner. Make a test recording then check to ensure it uploads correctly.

If unsuccessful:

2. Uninstall CaptureSpace using these directions. Try to initiate a CaptureSpace recording in MediaSpace and it will give you the directions to reinstall CaptureSpace. Make a test to verify it works.

The video you were trying to upload is probably still on your computer.  You can find your previously recorded video by looking for the Settings tab in CaptureSpace. Under settings you’ll see the storage location of the file. Here is a video of the process. Once you have the file you can upload the video to MediaSpace.

For clarification, or to ask additional questions, please submit a ticket at help.fscj.edu or email us at 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


Turnitin Feedback Studio Videos

EdTechRobyn Reese
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Did you miss the Turnitin webinar on February 9? Not to worry! We have resource videos below that can help you to learn how to use the major features of this vital Blackboard plug-in. Turnitin has also created a video that can be shared with students to assist them in learning how to submit Turnitin assignments. You can use the embed codes in the viewers below to add these videos to your Blackboard shell or blog! 


Students: How to Submit a Turnitin Assignment in Blackboard

Faculty:  How to Create A Turnitin Assignment in Blackboard


Faculty: How to read a Turnitin Originality Report in Blackboard


Faculty: How to provide feedback with Turnitin Feedback Studio in Blackboard

Making a Blackboard Course Shell Available

Faculty Content, Tutorial, EdTechBrandi Bleak

When an instructor has prepared their Blackboard course shell and are ready to make the course available to their students, there are a few steps that need to take place. If no steps are taken, the course will become available to students upon the first day of the session.  

To make a course shell available, select Customization from the course menu. Next click Properties.

 

As a reminder, course shells will not be available to instructors until 60 days prior to their start date. 

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Set Availability

When instructors are ready to set the availability of a course, first scroll to Set Availability and ensure that Yes is selected.

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Set Course Duration

Instructors can decide whether they would like the course to be available immediately or to become available on a specific date in the future.

By default, course shells are set to become available to students enrolled on the date the course begins. To make the course available in advance, either change the date or select Continuous for the duration to make the course available immediately.  Note that courses with continuous enrollment will NOT close automatically at the end of the term. If continuous enrollment is selected, faculty must remember to make these course unavailable at the end of the term.

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If you have any questions or issues with course availability, please submit a ticket at help.fscj.edu or email EdTech@fscj.edu.

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).