To kick off 2019, we’ll be live with members of the Academy for Teaching and Learning to find out more about the purpose of the Academy, upcoming events, faculty-specific professional development opportunities, and other great ways the Academy benefits you as an FSCJ faculty member.
As the Fall term has progressed, many of members of our faculty have asked us what they should be doing to best prepare for the migration of their courses to Canvas. During the Fall, it was not yet essential that faculty do anything in preparation. Now, however, the Canvas system is set up and it is a good time for all faculty to begin preparing their Blackboard courses for the transition by doing some Spring (Term) Cleaning.
As course shells are used and re-used over terms, they can begin to get a bit cluttered with materials that may no longer be needed or that may not be well-organized. This content does not need to come over to Canvas, and may make your transition more difficult. So, as we begin to migrate course content from Blackboard to Canvas, there are a few things you can do to prepare your content by ensuring that it is well-organized.
Exporting Your Course:
The first step that you should take in this process is exporting your Blackboard courses, which will ensure that you have a backup of the complete course before you make any changes or delete files. You can store the packaged file on your local computer or within OneDrive through Office365.
For instructions on backing up a course, review this knowledge base article: How to export a Blackboard course
To Access OneDrive:
Clearing Out the Content Collection
Next, you can begin the clean-up! You’ll start in the area where your Blackboard course content is all stored, the often-neglected Content Collection, which can be accessed as shown below.
Once there, you can determine if completing any of the following tasks will make your course less cluttered, and more organized.
Delete Unused Files
If there are files that you no longer using in your course, delete them.
Delete Duplicate Files
If the original file exists, then the duplicate file(s) should be removed. These files generally contain keywords in their file name such as (1) or Copy.
Export Videos Store within Blackboard
All videos that have been directly uploaded into Blackboard should be exported to your local computer so that they can be re-uploaded into Arc (Canvas' new video storage system). Video files will have the following extensions: .MP4/.AVI/.FLV/.WMV/.MOV
If you have used a Kaltura MediaSpace, YouTube or similar product to simply embed the video, you will not need to move/address the video - it is not actually being stored in Bb. We will address how those videos will be migrated more thoroughly in future communications/training.
Canvas is coming! We hope that you are as excited about this change as we are! But, for those who are experiencing some trepidation, we have scheduled abundant training and outreach at each campus throughout the 2019 Spring Term. Educational Technology will be teaming up with Training and Organizational Development, the Center for eLearning, and Digital Media Productions to offer in-person and online training opportunities, campus visits, and live broadcasts so that you can learn more about our new Learning Management System, Canvas (or just express your excitement, if you are already a Canvas FanPerson).
Here’s a list of the events that will be occurring through the the 2019 Spring term:
Canvas at FSCJ: Basic Training Course
What: This course will provide introductory training on the Canvas Learning Management System. It will provide attendees with an opportunity to become accustomed to Canvas’s user interface, as well as learn how to build, manage, and grade course content and communicate with students.
When: This course will initially be offered on January 4th during Professional Development Day, then advertised throughout the Spring term.
Where: Online or in-person, at each campus.
How to Join the Fun: Pay attention to weekly emails from Training and Organizational Development and register for the course that meets your needs within the Student Center of myFSCJ.
Open Lab: Canvas Migration Assistance
What: Scheduled to assist instructors with migrating their course content from Blackboard to Canvas.
When: Every Friday during the Spring term during the hours listed below. If you are in need of assistance at a time that is outside of the hours listed, please email EdTech@fscj.edu to schedule an appointment.
Deerwood Center TV Studio from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Kent Campus Faculty Resource Center from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Downtown Campus Faculty Resource Center from 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.
South Campus Faculty Resource Center from 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.
North Campus Faculty Resource Center from 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.
How to Join the Fun: Just show up and bring your Canvas.
Tech Tours: Canvas Transition
What: The Educational Technology, Center for eLearning, and the Digital Media Productions teams will visit each campus to discuss the details of the transition to Canvas and answer any questions instructors may have.
When & Where
Deerwood Center TV Studio from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Nassau Center B202 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
North Campus Faculty Resource Center from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Cecil Center Room 206 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Kent Campus Faculty Resource Center from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
How to Join the Fun: Just show up! No Canvas needed.
LIVE Canvas Chats
What: These live broadcasts will provide an update on our LMS transition, as well as an opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Each month we’ll focus on a different piece of the Canvas puzzle.
When: Live at 11:30 a.m. on the last Friday of each month during the Spring term
How to Join the Fun: Review our blog to see each month’s topics and send in those questions in advance to be answered live.
As always, if you have any questions, please email us at EdTech@fscj.edu.
We have a new WebEx Collaboration platform here at FSCJ and it’s really quite impressive! The new modern look, ease of use, and additional features are a great addition to the IT services available. You can reach the new WebEx site by going to webex.fscj.edu.
This month on In Focus, the Educational Technology team takes an in-depth look at how to use the the new tool, whether you’re an experienced power user or just getting started.
As a reminder, here’s the initial email IT sent out announcing the change. If you have any questions or need assistance with WebEx, please visit help.fscj.edu and submit a ticket, and we’ll will be happy to help!
In this broadcast of In Focus: Student Edition, we’re sharing apps, programs and plugins to make your College life better, organized and more successful.
Starting Wednesday, November 14, 2018, when students log in to myFSCJ, they’ll be prompted to choose and answer a few easy security questions. Once this is set up, any future password issues will be a breeze to resolve.
When the Student tab is selected, students, faculty and staff will be prompted to select and answer three security questions from a dropdown list. Once all three questions are chosen and answered, students will click Save, then will be taken back on the Student tab.
After this process is complete, students can easily change or reset their password by clicking the myFSCJ link called Student Help. To reset the password, students will be prompted to answer the security questions they set up. If their answers are correct, they’ll be able to reset their password.
As always, if students have trouble resetting their password, or with any other technical issue, the FSCJ IT Service Desk is happy to help. Help tickets can be submitted by visiting help.fscj.edu and selecting Submit a Ticket.
Just to clarify, this new system is for student passwords ONLY. While some faculty and staff members do have both staff and student passwords, this system will only work for student IDs and passwords. Staff IDs and passwords will not be affected.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Innovate to Educate is a series created by Educational Technology and Digital Media Productions to share information about innovative technology being used by our amazing faculty at each of our campuses. In this episode, we speak to Professor Dana Logan about how she uses educational technology in her classroom to engage students.
Free and Paid versions available
How to Request Software
Select Services, then Software Requests
WordPress has now been updated to version 4.9.8!
If you don’t already have a WordPress blog site and you’re faculty or staff here at FSCJ, you can request to have your very own! If you aren’t familiar with this resource, WordPress is a blog site that you can use as as your own personal Content Management System for class or use as a professional blog. Here at FSCJ, blog sites are often used by instructors to complement the content in their classes, organizations and groups to communicate to their members, and other users who simply share information about their area of expertise.
Today’s update focused on the overall security for our WordPress website, but also provided updates to all of our themes and plugins we have.
If you need any assistance with your WordPress website, would like to request to have one, or have questions about WordPress in general, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to assist you with all of your blog site needs.
Have a great day!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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
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.
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.
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.
It’s the day before the test and you’re getting down to the wire in terms of studying. However, you can’t seem to stop making new tabs with YouTube, Netflix or Reddit while staring down Blackboard. These distractions can be troublesome as your limited amount of time is now being eaten away from your studying efficiency. Sometimes you can tell yourselves that a five-minute break isn’t a big deal, but those times can stack up against you once you put all of those breaks together.
Instead of taking a bunch of breaks everywhere, why not do bigger chunks of studying without having the temptation to open another tab to distract you? For most people, it’s hard to have that self-control because our minds can run rampant and then you’ll want to go look some piece of information up. Many people who want to become more driven just delete their social media accounts, which is an effective method but it’s also very destructive. There’s a better solution though, an application that doesn’t just block you from popular websites but also helps you with the important skill of moderation.
Introducing the Cold Turkey Blocker! A free application that not only helps you moderate your distractions but completely locks you out of any distracting website for the time declared. If you want to pay an additional fee you can block applications and create a schedule as well. Once the timer for Cold Turkey has started, there’s no undo button, you have to wait out the entire duration! Cold Turkey comes with these default web sites blocked, but you can add as many as you need.
In case that’s not enough and you need to write a paper, there’s an even better way to block out the distractions. Using the Cold Turkey Writer, which is essentially a notepad that locks you out of everything until the time limit you have set is over. Another option available is that you can’t close the Writer until the word count you set is complete. Although this seems like a lot in terms of preventing distractions, this forced moderation really helps jumpstart the self-control you might need for the upcoming semester!
Both of these Cold Turkey apps work great on PC/Mac with Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. I can further attest to this as I used both upon writing this article. Check it out!
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.
Below is our estimate timeline for the transition to Canvas. As the project progresses, items may be adjusted and details will be added.
Decision made to replace Blackboard as FSCJ's Learning Management System with Canvas. Project planning begins.
- Transition Team meets monthly on focused topics to create and refine business practices
- Technical implementation IN PROGRESS
- Canvas on-site visit
- Authentication working for those who have manually created accounts
- Meetings with Academic Departments for requirements gathering
- Sub-account structure design in process
- Basic Training course created and shared with Transition Team Members and Training Department
- Canvas instance branded for FSCJ and canvas.fscj.edu URL created
Scheduled for Jan:
- Training made available to all faculty, admin, and support staff
- System available for faculty access through myFSCJ
- Reqeusts made available for those who wish to teach in Canvas during the Summer 2019 term
- First communications planned to inform students of the transition to Canvas
- Faculty may begin course migration
- Open Lab hours, Basic Training Course, and Campus Tech Tours scheduled throughout term on each campus
- Live broadcasts, Canvas Chats, scheduled for last Friday of each month to provide updates and answer questions about the transition
- Kaltura MediaSpace to Arc transition
- Early Adopters begin teaching live courses in Canvas
- Training, assistance, and communications continue
- Tier 1 Support available 24/7 provided by Canvas for all faculty, staff, and students
- Conferences & Arc are live in Canvas
- All courses now loaded and taught in Canvas!
- Support sessions and training continue - with shifted focus to instruction
- Tier 1 Support available 24/7 provided by Canvas continues for all faculty, staff, and students
Final term of Blackboard availability for the purposes of course archive and incomplete resolution
Blackboard contract ends and is no longer available.
The Transition Team was formed to elicit recommendations and knowledge from the various areas of the College that have stake in the success of the LMS. The team will meet once a month throughout the lifetime of the project, working to define best practices within the new system. Meetings will provide an opportunity to communicate project updates and allow a forum to share ideas and concerns. The Transition Team is responsible for ensuring that all project goals of scope and time are met.
Assistant Director Educational Technology
Educational Technology Specialist
Center for eLearning
Technical Service Desk
Faculty Development Specialist
Center for eLearning
Academic Technology Committee
Shannon Dew/Susan Mythen
Library Services + Curriculum and Instruction
Marketing and Communications
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
In the fourth episode of Innovate to Educate, Assistant Director of Educational Technology Brandi Bleak welcomes Cecil Center's Library Learning Commons Manager Michael Turnquist to discuss the use of iPads and the Educreations app to create podcasts and learning objects that are integrated into the college's Libguides system.
Having been involved in the "business" of education for a number of years, Mr. Turnquist is interested in how to make it easier for students to create and find information in Mathematics and Science. Sensitive to the ways that information transfer and availability have changed with the advent of computer technology, the conversation revolves around how libraries are changing in response to these phenomena.
Join us for a common-sense look at how FSCJ's libraries are incorporating technology reach our students!
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
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).
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.
Users want to be able to add annotations to excel-based documents (.xls, .xlsx)
Annotate on Excel-based files
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.