Academic Technology - Florida State College at Jacksonville

Academic Technology

Collaborate

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

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. 

Tools for the Millennial Student Training Materials

Workshop, EdTechRobyn Reese
 

On July 13, 2017, the Educational Technology Department worked with the Office of Training and Organizational Development to offer Tools for the Millennial Student, a look at how technology has changed the educational experience for today's students. The training provided an overview of some apps, websites, and applets that fit into the broad categories of effective learning detailed in the graphic above, drawn from the Adobe Education Creativity Study.

 

MediaSpace/CaptureSpace

For those who are interested in learning more about MediaSpace, FSCJ's media streaming service and CaptureSpace, the screencasting and recording tool, the Office of Training and Professional Development is offering a dedicated session on Wednesday, July 19th at 2:00 at the Advanced Technology Center Downtown. 

You can also view an In Focus webinar that showcased MediaSpace, produced by the Academic Technology Department, here, along with a series of tutorials that explain how to use some of the more advanced features of MediaSpace, like chaptering and video quizzing. Information about the Reach auto-captioning service for MediaSpace can be found by watching this tutorial. Remember that, as discussed in training, all academic videos should be captioned to 99% accuracy in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Blackboard Collaborate

Based upon the results of the exit survey that we administered at the end of the training, many of the participants wanted more information about the use of Blackboard Collaborate. You can find a series of webinars that detail the many features of Collaborate, along with best practices for their use, here. 

Thanks so much for attending our training! For more information about inititiatives offered through the Training and Organizational Development Office, click here to visit their website. 

Blackboard Collaborate Webinars

Videos, TutorialRobyn Reese

FSCJ recently made the switch to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, a very useful synchronous communication tool that is available within every Blackboard course shell. Blackboard allows individuals to collaborate (hence the name ;) ) over the web using their computer's onboard camera or microphone to give live lessons or work on group projects. 

It also allows professors to share and mark up powerpoints or word documents with students, show and demonstrate applications and screens, and record lessons for later viewing by students. It is a truly versatile and incredibly useful tool for online faculty, as well as those teaching face to face classes! 

Prior to Spring Break, the Educational Technology Team hosted a series of webinars that took a deep look at the many features of Blackboard Collaborate. All three webinars are shared below. 

This webinar is useful for proessors who are just getting started with using Collaborate. It covers setting up the camera and microphone, sharing applications and files, and the use of the digital whiteboard. 

This webinar picks up where Beyond the Basics left off, and covers breaking students into groups, recording sessions, and ideas for using the whiteboard and file sharing applications. 

This webinar reviews the features of the Collaborate mobile app, as well as best practices for its use. 

We hope that these webinars are useful for faculty and staff in providing a introduction to and a reference for Collaborate. As always, please feel free to direct any further questions to et@fscj.edu.

In Focus Student Edition: Collaborating on the Go

In Focus, Student ContentElizabeth Rodrigue

A big part of success for college students is keeping up with the work of communicating with professors and fellow learners. This is even MORE important if you are enrolled in online or hybrid courses, since group projects, content questions, and grade inquiries are more challenging when your audience is not right in front of you! Sometimes managing your schedule and workload can feel stressful.

Worry no longer...Educational Technology has your back! Join us for In Focus: Student Edition, where we discuss adding your FSCJ email and calendar to your mobile device and show you some tools for collaborating with classmates efficiently and effectively. 

Technologies covered in this video:

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate is a web conferencing tool that is used by professors to connect with students. As a student, you can use Blackboard Collaborate to meet with your peers for a group project, attend a webinar, or share and work on documents. There are also tools to share your screen, review a PowerPoint presentation, and write on a digital whiteboard. Blackboard Collaborate can be accessed in courses, if your professor has enabled the Tool. Please ask your professor if it is not visible within the course’s menu on the lefthand side of the course shell.

For more assistance with Blackboard Collaborate, submit a ticket at help.fscj.edu or visit the Blackboard Help site.

Microsoft OneNote

OneNote is a virtual notebook tool that can be used to store photos, documents, links, and audio memos. Notebooks are stored in the cloud, update automatically, and can be shared. There is also a mobile app for OneNote that allows you to take photos, videos, and record audio files. OneNote is Included in Office 365 Suite and is FREE for all FSCJ faculty, staff and students.

For instructions on how to download Office 365: https://fscj.service-now.com/esp?id=kb_article&sys_id=049dc4794f108200e67c76601310c722

For more information on OneNote from Microsoft: https://support.office.com/en-us/onenote

Dropbox (and Paper)

Dropbox is a tool that allows you to store and share digital files with others. The basic version of Dropbox is free and gives you 2GB of space to use. You can write, comment, and embed media in Dropbox and access those Documents from anywhere, even a smart phone!

Click the link below to sign up for the FREE version of Dropbox.

https://www.dropbox.com/register

Google Drive / Docs / Hangouts

Google Drive is a FREE cloud storage service that provides 15GB of space for its users. It accepts all file types and allows for collaboration and sharing with others. Google Drive integrates with the Google Productivity Suite, which includes these free, cloud-based apps: Google Docs, a word processor, Google Sheets, a spreadsheet program, and Google Slides, a presentation program. These are very similar to the Office365 Tool Suite. 

Google also provides a great communication and conferencing tool, Hangouts. It  allows users to text, make FREE calls, or video chat. The video function uses your computer's webcam, but also has screen sharing capabilities, so that you can show someone else what you are working on. You can use it to communicate one-on-one or in a group. It can also be used anywhere, via the Mobile Hangouts app, which is available for iPhones, IOS, and android devices.

For more about the features offered in Google Drive:
https://www.google.com/drive/using-drive/#start

Find out how to get started with Google Docs: https://support.google.com/drive/answer/2424384?hl=en

Find out how to get started with Google Hangouts: https://support.google.com/hangouts/answer/2944865?hl=en

Thanks for watching! If you have any questions or would like to suggest topics for future episodes of In Focus, please email us at et@fscj.edu.

In Focus LIVE - Blackboard Collaborate Edition

In Focus, DMP, EdTechBrandi Bleak

This episode of In Focus was a special edition, which aired May 25th at noon. The LIVE event covered the details of the newly available Blackboard Collaborate tool. Brandi Bleak and Marc Boese hosted the episode from Deerwood's TV Studio, but online streaming means viewers were able to participate from any campus - or really, anywhere in the world! 

Here is the recorded segment for viewers who were unable to watch live. If you have any questions about the tool or would like to share how you are using it in your class, we would love to hear about it. Email us at et@fscj.edu. 


Blackboard Collaborate is here!

Tutorial, DMP, EdTechBrandi Bleak

Information Technology Services (ITS) is happy to announce the FSCJ arrival of the newly redesigned Blackboard Collaborate, a Blackboard-integrated web conferencing tool. All FSCJ faculty, staff, and students have access to Collaborate through the Blackboard learning management system.

Additional resources are available within the Blackboard Help articles, here. Stay tuned for upcoming webinars, additional features, and more in-depth training opportunities.

If you have additional questions, please open a service desk ticket or contact LMS Support Specialist, Cody Coughlin.