Tag: Blackboard Help

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Welcome to the Fall Semester! – September 2020 Faculty Newsletter

September 2020

We hope everyone is having a smooth transition into Fall semester! The Office of Faculty Development and Instructional Design (OFDIT) will be sending out a newsletter a few times each semester with updates on tools and resources from individual teams within OFDIT, and professional development events to assist with your online teaching needs.

We are pleased to present our first newsletter here!

Ensemble Video
Have you heard of Ensemble Video? If you’re using video in your SPS course, then Ensemble is something to consider. It’s features match, and in some cases, exceed those found in video hosting platforms like YouTube or Vimeo. Think of Ensemble like you own SPS YouTube channel but with significant advantages for educators, like no social media interruptions, no advertisements, no suggested videos. Furthermore, it’s integrated into Blackboard and tied to the SPS captioning service. More details on our Ensemble Video SPS Faculty page.

If you’d like to learn more, please consider registering for one our information sessions coming up. In the session, we will introduce the tool’s more salient features, including student viewing data, the Blackboard integration, and streamlined professional captioning. Auto-publishing, in-video quizzes, and student video submissions will also be discussed.

Annotate Tool in Blackboard
We would like to introduce everyone to Annotate, a new integrated grading tool in Blackboard, replacing Box View. Annotate allows instructors to provide customizable feedback to students’ assignments when they are submitted as any of the supported file types (not when entered as text directly). Annotate is integrated directly in the Grade Center; i.e. submitted files will open right in your browser so you can readily use available grading tools, such as free-hand drawing and erasing, or highlighting and underlining. Another option is to use images from your computer as well as ready-made or customized stamps (e.g. “approved” stamp or “draft” stamp). Annotate also features options for both in-line commenting and written comments, which appear in a side panel. Finally, Annotate allows you to download a student’s submission with your annotations, and to search for specific text within a submission.

To learn more about Annotate, please watch this video and review the Annotate support site by Blackboard (which includes a list of accepted file types when using Annotate). Reach out to our team at facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu for any questions you might have.

Important Note on Grading: CUNY Blackboard times out after 60 minutes. Be sure to save any grading comments before the 60-minute time limit or else you might lose your work.

Before you go, please remember our fall trainings and events! We are continuing our regular informal meetups on Oct. 21 and November 18. We also hope to see you at our upcoming faculty discussion on Trauma-Informed Pedagogy on October 2 from 12.45-2 EST. Please register using this link. Our fall trainings include sessions on Zoom Meeting for Student Hours, A Cut Above: Making Your Videos More Professional, VoiceThread: Humanize Your Online Course, Student Engagement in Online Learning, and more. Find more information and registration links on our SPS Faculty Community Site.

Thank you for reading! As always, please contact us at facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu with any questions or support requests. See you at one of our upcoming events, or for our next newsletter in October!

Your OFDIT Team

 

Teaching Tip: Using the Re-ordering Button in Blackboard

The re-ordering button in Blackboard is a neat way to re-arrange items on a page, such as discussion forums, weekly folders, etc., without having to scroll and then drag things all the way up and down with your mouse. This feature can be helpful when having to re-arranging items on a long content page, or if you’ve ever re-ordered items on your course site and had them mysteriously return to their previous order. The re-order button also helps users who cannot use the drag and drop feature in Blackboard because of mobility or other issues.

On your Blackboard course page, select the Keyboard Accessible Reordering icon in the upper right-hand corner.

In the Reorder box, select the item you’d like to move from the list. Use the Move Up and Move Down icons to adjust the order and click Submit.

Finishing Up the Semester and Preparing for Summer

The semester is winding down and soon, final grades will need to be submitted through CUNYFirst. If you’re new to this process, or just need a reminder, see our video tutorial on entering grades in CUNYFirst:

While we’re on the subject, maybe you’d like a some help calculating final grades? You don’t even have to ask your friend who’s good at Excel. The Grade Center in Blackboard makes this easy and accurate. If you use “weighted total” (ie. if your grading scheme is set up so exams are 20% of the overall grade, discussions are worth 30%, etc.) then check out our quick guide on using weighted total to calculate final grades. If your course is set up to simply add points for an overall final grade, check out our quick guide for using total points. Whichever your preference, we’ve got you covered!

If you’ll be teaching this summer, or would like an early start with your fall course site, consider attending one of our remaining “Preparing Your Dev Site for Course Copy” trainings. See our website for dates and times and sing up here using our registration form.

In these trainings we’ll also introduce Date Management, a useful Blackboard tool which allows you to easily adjust due dates and availability dates in your course site when moving from one semester to the next. Find out more about this tool on our Date Management resource site.

Don’t forget that we’re here for you on the weekend as well! Faculty support is available from 2pm-4pm every Sunday for any questions you have. You can meet us online through GoToMeeting during that time, or email us at facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu.

Write us at facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu with any questions you have and to get in touch about one-on-one training sessions. We always look forward to working with you!

Antonia, Krystyna, and Anick

Navigating Discussion Threads on Blackboard

After the latest Blackboard upgrade in December 2016, a new (old) feature has been re-introduced to your course sites: arrow buttons for navigating threads on the Discussion Board.

You’ll find these buttons in the top right corner of each thread page. If you use individual threads for each student in your weekly discussions, you might find these buttons particularly helpful for navigating from thread to thread, or to jump to the first / last thread with one easy click.

Happy navigating!

Replacing the Banner in Your Spring 2017 Course Site

As the Spring semester begins, you may be have heard from students that your course banner is not displaying. It’s true – unfortunately, due to a glitch in the Blackboard upgrade that occurred over winter break, most course banners are not displaying to students and need to be re-uploaded. It’s important that you re-upload your banner even if it displays normally to you, because it may still not be appearing to your students.

There are instructions on how to replace your banner below, but you can also watch this short video tutorial covering the same information.

The first thing you need to do is get the image file for your banner. If it is saved to your computer, you’re all set and can jump to the instructions below. If not, you can download your banner file either from your Spring 2017 site (if it is visible to you there), your Dev site, or a previous live (semester) site.

To download the banner file, go to the Announcements page. Right click on the banner image, select “Save Image As” and save the image file to your computer.

To re-upload the banner to your Spring 2017 site, scroll down to the “Control Panel” on the course menu. Click on “Customization,” and then on “Teaching Style.” Scroll down to the “Select Banner” section. Tick the box that appears next to “Delete this banner” and click on “Browse My Computer.” Select the file for your banner and click “open” in the pop-up window. Then click on “Submit” to save the banner file in your course site.

Please get in touch if you have any questions about this issue, or the steps described above.

Have a great start of the semester!
Antonia & Krystyna

Making New Semester Prep Easy With Date Management

One of the most important bits of bookkeeping we all have to do before the beginning of a new semester is to update all of the due dates, availability dates, and adaptive release dates in our Blackboard courses. Fortunately, Blackboard has a tool expressly for this purpose — Date Management.

date managementTo access the Date Management tool in your course site, scroll down to the Control Panel underneath your course menu, click on Course Tools, and then Date Management. Here, you will have the option to change all the due dates and availability dates in your course based on either the semester start date, or by a fixed number of days.

First, you might want to see a list all the dates in your course for review on one screen, which you can also do from this page. This is a great option particularly if you are inheriting an existing course because you can see which announcements, assignments, tests, or folders have dates associated with them and whether these are due dates, availability dates, or adaptive release dates.

To return to the options on the initial screen, click “Run Date Management Again” in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Here,  you can now shift all the dates in your course based on the semester start date or by a fixed number of days. This might require a little arithmetic. For example, Fall 2016 began on a Thursday but Spring 2017 classes begin on a Monday. You can adjust all of the dates in your Spring 2017 live site at once using the course start date, but might have to adjust some dates back or ahead to have due dates for assignments follow the day/week system most instructors use at SPS (ex., Test 1 due Sunday of Week 1, Test 2 due Sunday of Week 2, and so on.)

Luckily the Date Management Tool has the flexibility to let you adjust each date individually, to select a group of items to adjust by the same amount, or to adjust all dates in the course at once.

To learn more about this tool, see Blackboard’s Help page on using Date Management and there are a number of videos on YouTube that explain it quite well, including this very short video from the Center for Innovation & Technology at Northern Kentucky University and this recording of a webinar on Date Management from the University of Miami.

We hope this tool will lighten some of the pre-semester work in your course sites. Please email us if you have any questions about Date Management, or any other Blackboard tool while preparing your course sites for the upcoming semester.

Looking forward to working with you,
Antonia & Krystyna

Retiring Learning Object Tools in CUNY Blackboard

Icons of Campus Pack tools in BlackboardAs you may have heard, CUNY will retire Learning Objects tools — i.e. Campus Pack blogs, wikis, journals, and podcasts — in Blackboard at the end of the Fall 2016 semester. If you have been using these tools, which have characteristic orange icons, you’ll want to save copies of student-created content for your records and recreate course activities using Blackboard-native tools.

We have created a short video tutorial that shows how to do this plus how to create Blackboard blogs and wikis in your course site to replace the ones that will be retired.

Here are the basic steps for saving your Campus Pack (CP) content:

  1. Go to your Blackboard course site.
  2. Navigate to the Campus Pack blog, wiki, or journal assignment.
  3. Click View.
  4. Click “Export”, or “Export Site” (in CP blogs and wikis, on the bottom-right of the menu; in CP journals at the top of the screen with the other menu options).
  5. Save the .zip file to your computer.

This process creates a compressed folder with an .html file for each page of the site (whether journal, blog, or wiki), which can be opened in any web browser. Please note, comments in blogs or wikis will not be retained. When saving journals, you can select an option to include comments.

To save blogs or wikis with comments, unfortunately the only way is to print each page with comments to a .pdf file:

  1. On the blog/wiki page, click on Print with Comments near the top of the menu to the right of the screen.
  2. For printer, select “.pdf” and then save the resulting PDF file to your computer.
  3. Repeat these steps for every page with comments that you wish to have a record of.

To save media from a CP podcast, open the podcast, right-click on the media in the player and select “Save Video/Audio As.”

Please email us with any questions you might have, or if you’d like any support with this transition.

Turnitin available in Blackboard! And: Join us for a training.

With both Turnitin as well as SafeAssign available now, SPS faculty have more options for creating and checking writing assignments for originality within your Blackboard sites.

SafeAssign was recently integrated into the Blackboard Assignments interface. To use SafeAssign, simply tick the box in the “Submission Details” section of a regular Blackboard assignment.screenshot Safeassign in Blackboard

You may already know Turnitin from using it outside of Blackboard. It is now available CUNY-wide through Blackboard, as a separate assignment type in the Assessments dropdown menu.

screenshotA Turnitin assignment is fully integrated with Blackboard: students access it like any other assignment in your course, and you can view and grade assignments directly in your course site. Turnitin differs from SafeAssign primarily in that it has a much larger database, including billions of web pages and hundreds of millions of journals, periodicals, books, and student papers against which it compares students’ submissions for plagiarism.

Turnitin offers a user-friendly inline grading function, called Feedback Studio, where you can leave voice and text comments, markup papers with comments or “QuickMarks” (i.e. preset comments with explanations that you can customize to fit your needs and insert into students’ assignments), as well as Turnitin-specific rubrics or checklists for grading.

Also included are functions such as Revision Assignment, which allows you to create assignments with multiple drafts; and PeerMark Assignments, which give students an opportunity to participate in peer review, with Turnitin managing the distribution of papers for review according to settings you choose.

Here are the steps to replacing existing Blackboard assignments with Turnitin:

  1. Copy the assignment’s instructions and take note of its settings (e.g., in a Word document).
  2. Delete the existing assignment from your course site.
  3. Recreate it as a Turnitin Paper Assignment by hovering over Assessments > Turnitin Assignment. Paste the assignment instructions you had copied, and check all Optional Settings for accuracy.
  4. Remember to make these changes in both your dev and live site.

Note: Turnitin assignments are automatically created in a grading category called Turnitin Assignment. If you use a Weighted Total column to calculate the final grade, be sure to change it to include the Turnitin Assignment category, or change the category of your Turnitin Assignment in the Grade Center.

Some useful resources for learning more about Turnitin:

There is still time to sign up for our upcoming online Turnitin training sessions. Please join us on one of the following dates:
Tuesday, September 27 at 6pm
Thursday, October 6 at 3pm
Tuesday, October 18 at 12pm

Looking forward to working with you!

Antonia, Sarah, and Krystyna

Welcome to the fall semester at CUNY SPS!

Dear SPS faculty,

 We hope your fall semester is off to a smooth start. During the month of September and October, OFDIT is offering a different online training almost every day of the week to help you put new skills in your online teaching toolbox. There is something for everyone, whatever your schedule so please review our training calendar and read more about some of the sessions below.

We are excited to be running trainings on Turnitin, a new CUNY-wide writing assignment tool with a plagiarism checker, an easy-to-use grading interface, and a user-friendly peer-review function that students can use to review their own and their peers’ writing.

We have also added two new training topics to our growing list of one-hour online sessions: Facilitating Group Work and Monitoring Student Progress in Blackboard. Student group work encourages active engagement with course material and develops interpersonal skills that will be vital on the job market. Our group work training covers the technical details of Blackboard’s Groups tool as well as strategies for how to facilitate group work in an online environment. Monitoring student progress can be difficult in an online class. Our training on this topic introduces the tools that Blackboard provides to help you keep abreast of who is doing well in your course, who needs a little encouragement, and who might need more support.

In addition to these new topics, we have several sessions of oldies-but-goodies on offer, such as creating videos for your courses, using VoiceThread as a multimedia discussion tool, and using Blackboard to its fullest potential to make your course more effective and your life easier. Last but not least, Creating Accessible Documents for Your Course covers how to create Word, Excel and PDF files that are accessible to screen reader users and more easily understood by everyone. One of the biggest advances of the online education revolution is the potential for higher ed to be inclusive of all students; this training gives you a couple tools for following through on that promise.

To read about all of our upcoming training sessions, click here. To sign up for scheduled training sessions, fill out this form.

Wishing you a wonderful fall, and looking forward to working with you,
Antonia, Krystyna, and Sarah

What Do OFDIT and Stevie Wonder Have in Common?

Besides our outstanding musical ability? Our goal of promoting accessibility!

If you tuned into the Grammy’s last month then you may have noticed musician Stevie Wonder’s call for greater Disability Rights. His appeal is part of a broader movement of people across the country and around the globe working to make institutions, including universities, more accessible to all people.

Locally, instructors here at CUNY SPS are joining the ranks of other educators to make their schools, classes, and course materials accessible to people with disabilities.

word cloud accessibilityKeeping in mind the diversity of our students, faculty, and staff, including individuals with disabilities, OFDIT collaborates with instructors and administrators to make all of our online learning environments accessible and inclusive, and to contribute to a richer learning environment. In order to fulfill this goal we created an Accessibility Resources Site listing materials on Universal Design in Learning (UDL), as well as how-to guides for creating accessible course documents.

This month we continue our efforts through the introduction of a new Accessibility Training Series covering how to use the tools already at your disposal to make your online courses accessible to all students. Sign up for our short lunchtime training sessions on accessibility features in Microsoft Word, captioning course videos, and more. We look forward to continuing our work with faculty to ensure that we serve all of our diverse students!

Antonia, Dominique & Sarah

PS: Check out our latest UD Nosh post on the third UDL principle, featuring your colleague Prof. Julie Maybee from the Disabilities Studies Program as our co-author! (Thank you, Julie!)