Academic Technology - Florida State College at Jacksonville

Academic Technology

Update

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

Online Syllabus Builder - Deployed Updates

EdTechBrandi Bleak
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This week, the developer of our Online Syllabus Builder deployed an updated version that addressed a number of recent issues. Here is a list of the expected fixes: 

Self Developed and Word Documents

  • An issue causing the Spring courses to not populate has been resolved.
  • If a user revisits a page after creating their syllabus, it did not show the syllabus status. This has been resolved.

Edit Screen

  • Flagging now enabled if user edits two different syllabi in the same session
  • Issue with save button not functioning as expected has been fixed
  • Deans employee ID has been added to transaction for backend processing 

Portrait Screen 

  • Checked to make sure session not timed out before deleting portrait
  • Checked session before trying to change image
  • When a session times out, it will now redirect user to the login screen

Office Hours 

  • Issue with saving office hours has been corrected
  • It was reported that Tuesday auto-selects. This should no longer happen.
  • College logo updated to match the new standard
  • Bullets removed from template page

macOS Sierra

EdTechBrandi Bleak

Last week, Apple release a new operating system for your computers called macOS Sierra. There are some really helpful new features that you should be aware of as you update your hardware, and here are the basics.


Siri is now in your menu bar and Dock

Now Siri can assist you in locating recent files or adding a new event to your calendar.

Now Siri can assist you in locating recent files or adding a new event to your calendar.

Universal Clipboard

This one is helpful if you have a tendency to work on multiple devices and often use them interchangeably.

Auto Unlock

This may not affect everyone, but for those who have the Apple Watch, it's a very nice option.

Photos have been organized

You can now view your photos by event, location, or search who or what was in the photos.

iCloud Drive

You can now share the content from your Desktop and Documents folder across each of your Mac devices. You can select what items you'd like to make available within iCloud Drive by going to System Preferences, iCloud then Options. Click here for more assistance with iCloud Drive

Optimized Storage

Your Mac can help reduce some of the unwanted files and delete files left in the Trash for 30 days. Click here to learn more about Optimized Storage.

Picture in Picture

This feature is great when you're viewing a webinar and taking notes or multitasking.