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.
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
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.
Keeping 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!)
The beginning of the semester is always a good time to try something new to make teaching more effective and more efficient. We’d like to start the spring semester with both a pedagogical tip and a practical tip that hopefully will make your courses more successful and less time-consuming to manage.
Pedagogical Tip: Be consistent in both the structure and formatting of elements in your course site. For example, compare these two screenshots of my announcements page with each other:
While it’s true that the second picture looks a little boring, compared with the variety in colors, titles, and fonts in the first picture, students will find it easier to develop the habit of attending to weekly announcements and to absorb the information they contain when the structure and the formatting are consistent.
Another reason to keep formatting consistent and low-key is to make text more accessible to screen readers, i.e. text-to-speech programs used by the visually impaired. Screen readers can get tripped up by inconsistent formatting or text with lots of different types of emphasis. So pick a font that you like and stick to it, and pick either bold, underline, or italics for emphasis, and stick to that. It will make things easier for both you and your students!
See our Accessibility Resources Site for more information on accessible course sites and materials.
Practical Tip: Keeping your Dev sites up to date. As you all know, the process of getting online courses up and running at the beginning of the semester can be a bit hectic (or even very hectic). A great way of making your own life easier is to keep your Dev site updated with all the changes you make to your course during the semester (the ones you want to keep, of course). You have a couple options for how to go about this:
- Always make changes to the Dev site immediately after making them in your live course
- Keep a log of changes as you make them in the live course site in a document or spreadsheet. You can even keep this document in your course (just don’t make it available to users). Then, at the end of the semester when things are not so hectic, take an hour or two to sit down and add all the changes you want to keep in your Dev site.
Why is this so useful? Once you’ve updated your Dev site, your course is ready to copy. All you have to do at the beginning of the next semester is adjust all the due dates and availability dates for time-sensitive items in the course. This makes for a relaxing break!
Have a great spring semester,
Sarah & Antonia