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July 3, 2012

DoIT News Moving to myUMBC Groups

As of today, the DoIT News will be published through the DoIT Group on myUMBC, which in turn feeds the new DoIT site at doit.umbc.edu. As such, we will no longer be maintaining this Movable Type blog. However, it will remain for archive purposes.

FYI to DoIT Group members:

How do I post a new blog in myUMBC groups?

If you have questions, please contact the Technology Support Center (TSC) located on the first floor of the library next to the RLC or call 410.455.3838.

Posted by fritz at 9:19 AM | TrackBack

April 3, 2012

FA2012 Lab & Lecture Hall Software Requests Deadline is May 1

In order to load all lab and lecture hall PCs with our standard set of software (known as an "image"), all requests for additions or changes for Fall 2012 must be received by Tuesday, May 1. For Spring 2013, the lab & lecture hall software "image" deadline is Monday, October 1. All software requests must be made each semester (they do not carry over from semester to semester).

To be added to the lab & lecture hall image, DoIT must have the following:

* Proof of purchase/licenses
* Media and software installation instructions

Please submit an RT ticket containing the required information or contact 410.455.3838 and a Technology Support Center (TSC) staff member will assist you. If the request is not received by the deadline, there is no guarantee the requested software will be made available.

For an instructor-only demo of software, please use a laptop. If you don't have a laptop, you can reserve and pick up one at AV Services (020 ENGR Bldg).

If you need software installed on the lab image for a one-time purpose (for example, a 2-day workshop in which all users need access to the software), the request should be submitted no less than six (6) weeks prior to the first lab reservation for that class. The software will be removed once you are done.

An e-mail will be sent to the requester once the software is installed, typically 1-2 week(s) before the first use of the software; faculty/instructors need to then test the software to ensure everything is working as expected for class. Support for the software is the responsibility of the instructor or department who requested that the software be installed.

Again, proof of purchase and/or license must be provided for as many copies as will be needed for the students in the class. We cannot install software without appropriate proof of licensing.

Although DoIT will make a reasonable effort to get all software packages to work, we can not guarantee that they will. Some packages may not function because of the network, computer hardware, and lab setup. DoIT cannot be held responsible for software that does not work by class time. Please contact the TSC at 410.455.3838 if you have any additional questions.

Posted by readel at 4:35 PM | TrackBack

July 31, 2011

DoIT IT Support Changes - Help Desk & AV Moving

Starting this summer, there will be a number of significant changes occurring in the way DoIT provides support to the campus community. The driver for this change is the new Retriever Learning Center (RLC) that will be opening in the Library this fall. The RLC will have a significant technology component and will provide 24-hour space for students. As part of this DoIT is making significant changes to our Helpdesk and establishing a student-focused unit named the Technology Support Center adjacent to the RLC.

This is one of the most exciting and important initiatives for students that has occurred on campus. So, to support the RLC, DoIT will be making the following changes.

First, we are renaming the Help Desk to be called the Technology Support Center, which will be located next to the RLC. This change is primarily designed to provide walk-up support of students, though faculty & staff are welcome, too. Managed by Jamie Harrison, the TSC will work closely with the Library to proactively meet student technology support needs in a much more visible location.

Second, we encourage all students, faculty and staff to search, request and track technical support using the myUMBC Help menu or directly at http://my.umbc.edu/help. In moving student technology support to the Library we will only have two, remaining full-time staff (distributed in the Engineering Bldg.) who are available for faculty-staff support issues. We are exploring possible collaboration with other functional offices, Departmental IT (DIT) support staff, as well as a way faculty might be able to request specially-trained students for one-on-one instructional technology assistance. All DoIT support groups will continue to monitor the primary 5-3838 technical support phone number, however given potential challenges in our capacity to respond immediately, we are working to improve the myUMBC Help interface so you can find, request and track your tech support needs in one location.

Third, to make certain that the technology classrooms in Engineering are properly supported we will be moving the Audio Visual (AV) services group from Academic IV-A 204 to Engineering 020. In addition to continuing to deliver mobile technology carts from this location, AV will oversee support for the computer classrooms in Engineering, including openings and closings.

Finally, to streamline management we are realigning the DoIT organization so that all three of these groups will be under the Instructional Technology and New Media unit led by Asst. VP John Fritz. As with any change, we know there will be some issues that will arise that we need to address. We are committed to working with the campus to make this a success and appreciate your patience while we make this change. If you have questions, suggestions or comments, please email them to John (fritz@umbc.edu) or myself (jack@umbc.edu).

Posted by jack at 4:57 PM

December 3, 2010

FYI: EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference 1/12 - 1/14

The 9th Annual EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference will be held at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel from January 12 -14, 2011. This year's conference is titled "Setting a New Course for the Future" and will focus on meeting the changing needs of learners, faculty, researchers, and administrators through innovation - while continuing to support the critical IT infrastructure. The programming on Thursday is particularly geared towards faculty and educational technologists, and includes presentations and hands-on opportunities that focus on classroom activities. This year EDUCAUSE is offering special one-day registration options. Early registration is open until December 15 and can be found at http://net.educause.edu/Registration/1025803.

Posted by readel at 3:55 PM | TrackBack

Ad Hoc SP2011 AV Support Reservations Now Being Accepted

AV Services is now accepting ad hoc reservations for AV equipment and support for SP 2011 courses. As previously announced all such requests should be submitted via the Request Service Form, or via the RT system directly. Faculty requiring AV equipment in their classroom on a regular basis should be working with their departmental scheduling coordinator to request a "Smart Classroom" during the course scheduling process. This will maximize the possibility that faculty members will be scheduled into an appropriate room already containing the AV equipment they need.

Over the past several years, DoIT has worked in conjunction with the Office of the Provost to equip more of the classrooms scheduled by the Office of the Registrar with permanently installed AV gear. At the same time, the number of faculty requiring such gear has also increased. While AV Services does have number of mobile carts that can be delivered, in the past year staff members have noted that the deployment of these carts has approached 100% during the peak class times of 10 am to 2 pm, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Additionally, many of the global (semester-long) requests for gear do not come in until the first week of the semester, which makes it hard to anticipate any shortages that might occur. To date, AV Services has not yet had to deny any service requests, and we are hopeful that it will not reach that level. We are asking that academic departments help our efforts in planning ahead by taking advantage of the ability to request a Smart Classroom during the scheduling process. Departmental scheduling coordinators have all been trained how to make this request, and we anticipate that it will increase the efficiency of scheduling limited resources.


Posted by readel at 1:57 PM | TrackBack

WT2011 & SP2011 Bb Course Shells Created 12/1

Bb course shells for both WT and SP 2011 were created on Dec. 1, and will continue to be updated daily. Bb shells were created for all courses (designated as lecture, lab, or discussion) listed in the UMBC Schedule of Classes (SOC), provided that there was an instructor of record listed. The addition of new course sections and instructors will result in new Bb shells being automatically generated each morning. Student enrollment in Bb will continue to mirror the official registration in SA, and will update multiple times daily.

If you are an instructor, and your name is not associated with the course you are teaching in the SOC, please see your departmental scheduling coordinator to get that issue resolved.

Additionally in situations where one instructor is teaching multiple sections of the same course, by default all sections will be combined into one Bb course shell. If you want to have separate shells for different sections, or if you need a shell for for a research or independent study course, please submit a new course request.

As a reminder, all Bb course shells are initially unavailable to students until the instructor makes it available.

Posted by readel at 12:46 PM | TrackBack

June 11, 2010

DoIT Summer Blackboard 9.1 Drop in Sessions

Now that the upgrade to Blackboard 9.1 has been completed and summer faculty are using the new version, the dust is settling and we are ready to offer some drop in sessions to assist and help prepare the rest of the campus for the fall semester.

The following one hour drop in sessions will be held in Engineering 025. Several DoIT staff members will be available to work one-on-one with with users who show up during the designated times.

Additional dates and times will be added in the near future.

SU2010 DoIT Drop In Schedule
DateTime
6/2310-11 am
6/2312-1 pm
6/2810-11 am
6/2812-1 pm
6/2910-11 am
6/2912-1 pm
7/810-11 am
7/81-2 pm

Posted by darnold at 2:46 PM | TrackBack

April 27, 2010

Major Blackboard Upgrade Scheduled in Late May

CORRECTION: The update will begin approximately 7 am on Thursday, May 27, not on May 26 as stated below.

DoIT is planning to upgrade the UMBC Blackboard 8.0 system to Blackboard Learn 9.1 at the end of May, over Memorial Day weekend, after the completion of Spring 2010 courses and grading. The change in the interface from 8.0 to 9.1 is substantial and we are encouraging all Blackboard users to be proactive in educating themselves about the new system. The rationale for this upgrade is detailed below, along with some information on how this might impact the campus community.

When will the upgrade take place?

The upgrade process is slated to begin approximately 7 pm on Wednesday, May 26th and will take several days to complete. All Blackboard courses and communities will be unavailable during this time. At the end of this process all prior courses will still exist (complete with their content), but will just appear in the new Bb Learn 9.1 format.

Why upgrade Blackboard now?

The decision to upgrade Blackboard prior to the start of Summer Session was made for several reasons. There are limited windows of opportunity during the year for DoIT to perform a major upgrade like this. Our current version of Blackboard is old, and does not work well with the most recent versions of Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox. These known browser incompatibility issues have continued to be a problem this semester for both students and faculty alike, and there is no end in sight. Based on information gleaned from other institutions who have already gone through this process, DoIT felt that it was important to have Bb Learn 9.1 in place throughout the summer. This will allow more time for the campus to acclimate to the interface changes, and for DoIT to provide training opportunities for faculty and staff.

What type of testing has been done to date at UMBC?

In anticipation of this upgrade, Karin Readel has piloted the use of Bb Learn 9.1 with 200 SCI 100 students this spring. No major problems have been reported, and the browser-related issues have ceased. DoIT is actively consulting with Presidium (the 24/7 Blackboard Support Service) to monitor any known support issues that they have addressed with other institutions who have implemented this upgrade. DoIT is also in the process of documenting (with help sheets and screen captures) the major interface changes to assist faculty in getting their courses ready for summer and fall. Details on additional “just in time” training resources, and drop-in Bb help sessions will be posted as they become available.

Is there anything that you need to do?

All existing course content will be migrated to Bb Learn 9.1 during the upgrade. As a precaution DoIT recommends that all faculty download a copy of their grade center from their Spring 2010 courses prior to May 26th. Summer faculty have already been enrolled in a Bb Learn 9.1 Sandbox course so that they can test out the new system prior to June. If you are teaching in the summer and you do not have access to the Sandbox course, please submit a request to be added to it. All other faculty will have access to Bb Learn 9.1 starting in June, allowing plenty of time to investigate all of the new features.

Posted by readel at 9:33 AM | TrackBack

February 24, 2010

Bb Down for Maintenance 3/5, 10 p.m. to 3/6 1 a.m.

The UMBC Blackboard server will be down for three hours of scheduled maintenance starting this Friday, March 5, at 10 p.m.

Posted by readel at 11:29 AM | TrackBack

February 16, 2010

Brown Bag: Using Virtual Environment Technology in an Art History Seminar, 3/24, 12-1 pm. ECS 023

The Fall 2009 semester introduced Active Worlds (activeworlds.com) to students in the seminar, “History and Theory of the Art Museum” (ART428/HONR300). In this course, student teams are required to research, curate and design a hypothetical art exhibition within a museum space.

Traditionally, students have constructed museum models with plywood, foam core and photocopies of art objects. In Fall 09, students designed, built and furnished their museums with artworks in the virtual environment of Active Worlds.

May Chang (Head of Library IT Services) discusses the application of virtual environment technology and the logistical requirements of technical support, equipment and finances; Preminda Jacob (Art History faculty) evaluates the potential of virtual environment technology in aiding students’ creative thinking, specifically in helping them to envision curatorial practice outside the ‘white cube’ or ‘black box’ of the contemporary museum or art gallery; Kenneth Miner (AW Lab Teaching Assistant) reports on students’ progress in gaining familiarity with AW in three lab sessions, and Benjamin Hong (ART428/HONR300 student) shares a student’s perspective on engaging in a virtual environment and meeting the challenge of completing a research project in Active Worlds.

Then Now
1.png 3.png

To register for this Brown Bag event, please visit http://www.umbc.edu/brownbag.

Posted by darnold at 1:29 PM | TrackBack

December 4, 2009

Karin Readel Named Director of Instructional Technology

I am pleased to announce that Karin Readel, Senior Lecturer in Geography and Environmental Systems (GES), has accepted the position of Director of Instructional Technology in the Division of Information Technology (DoIT). She will assume her duties on a part-time basis on January 5, but will transition to full-time after she completes teaching SCI100 "Water: An Interdisciplinary Study" during the Spring 2010 semester.

Karin Readel
Throughout her ten years as a faculty member at UMBC, Readel has sought out effective technologies to improve both her students' learning and her own instruction:

• She is highly experienced in the uses of Blackboard, having adopted it for SCI100 in 2001. She also frequently pilots new versions of the Bb software a semester or two before general campus release, and her courses are frequently among UMBC's Most Active Blackboard courses.

• In 2004, she and Biology Professor Phil Sokolove were among the first faculty to advocate for the use of audience response systems (aka "clickers") in large lecture classes. She is currently piloting the latest version of Turning Point’s clickers.

• In 2005, she was among the first cohort of faculty to be awarded a hybrid course development grant to support the conversion of SCI100 to hybrid format during summer and winter sessions. To date, she has taught 12 sections of SCI100 through the Alternate Delivery Program (ADP). In January of 2010, she will be presenting a poster illustrating the success of this conversion (as evidenced by student outcomes) at the EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference (MARC) in Baltimore. She previously presented at MARC in 2005, and has also presented twice at the Blackboard annual users conference.

Beyond looking at her own teaching, Readel has been a supportive colleague.

• In addition to many informal hallway conversations and office demos with GES colleagues, Readel has been an active peer reviewer and mentor in the Summer & Winter ADP.

• She also has a long history of informal consulting through Q & A sessions after her many Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLT) Brown Bags.

• She has a solid foundation of good faculty relations now, as co-chair of the faculty senate's Academic Conduct Committee, and as a former member of the Computer Policy Committee. She has also served on the President's Commission on Women. Over the years, she has also engaged in campus discussions on topics ranging from the overhaul of general education to revamping academic policies that affect the recent SA implementation.

• She is also respected by DoIT’s instructional technology staff, which has supported her numerous pilots. Similarly, Readel has shown an ability in using her teaching and mentoring skills to managing people and projects.

As Director of Instructional Technology, Readel will be responsible for supporting all of DoIT's online and face-to-face technology support of UMBC instructors. She will work closely with Classroom Technology Manager Steven Anderson, as well as Faculty Development Center Interim Director Barry Casey. She will also help me solidify a Fall 2009 pilot to expand hybrid courses in Fall and Spring, which was supported by Provost Hirshman. Finally, she will assist in implementing and evaluating UMBC's strategic plan for teaching, learning and technology, that was approved by the Faculty Senate Computer Policy Committee and the Provost's IT Steering Committee in the 2007-08 academic year.

I understand some may be concerned about losing Karin’s excellent teaching of SCI100 and other service to UMBC. However, she and I both want her to stay active in the classroom, as much as her new duties allow, and I’m excited by the prospects of more UMBC faculty benefiting from her leadership and support of their instructional technology goals.

If you have any questions or suggestions about our future support of instructional technology, please let Karin or me know.

Sincerely,

John Fritz
Asst. Vice President
Instructional Technology & New Media
UMBC Division of Information Technology

Posted by fritz at 11:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 3, 2009

FYI: Educause Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference 1/13-15

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Educause Conference will return to the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel from January 13-15. Early registration is open until 12/16 and can be found at http://http://net.educause.edu/Registration/1022269.

The conference, titled “Opportunity in Adversity”, is an opportunity to meet and hear from innovators and forward thinkers about current and emerging best practices in higher education information services. Many faculty and staff have attended previously and have found it be useful and informative.

For more information and the program schedule you can go to http://net.educause.edu/content.asp?SECTION_ID=445

Posted by darnold at 11:11 AM | TrackBack

November 4, 2009

Bb Will Be Down 11/6, 10 p.m. to 11/7, 6 a.m.

To address issues with web browser compatibility and back up the system before applying latest patches and hot fixes, DoIT will be taking the main Blackboard system down from 10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6, to 6 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Reminder: More info about why DoIT needs scheduled downtime.

Posted by fritz at 7:01 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

24/7 Blackboard Support Starts Wed, Nov. 11

As indicated in the August 24 "Challenges and Changes to Blackboard Support" announcement, UMBC's Division of Information Technology (DoIT) will begin working with Presidium Learning to provide basic Blackboard support starting Wednesday, Nov. 11. The DoIT Help Desk and Instructional Technology staff will still provide walk-in and by-appointment Bb support, but all students, faculty and staff will be able to get 24/7 Blackboard support via phone, IM chat or online knowledge base. Based in Lexington, Kentucky, Presidium specializes in answering technical support questions for faculty, staff, and students at more than 700 educational institutions, and provides a 95 percent first call resolution rate.

UMBC Blackboard Support Portal (sample)
The partnership with Presidium is a one-year pilot to determine if and how external support can improve use of Blackboard, as well as free up DoIT staff for more advanced issues and opportunities, including refinement of Blackboard course creation and enrollment integration with the new Student Administration (SA) system, trend analysis of our most frequent user support demands, and assessment to help identify and promote effective uses of Blackboard.

For the Nov. 11 implementation, students, faculty and staff can do the following to get Blackboard help:

1. Access the online knowledge base at http://bbsupport.umbc.edu (will be active on 11/11).
2. Ask a question via live Instant Messenger (IM) Chat
3. Call the existing DoIT Help Desk phone number of 410.455.3838

Note: A short, brief phone tree will be implemented so as to route all other IT-related calls to the DoIT Help Desk, while still allowing Presidium to handle Blackboard-related calls. In addition, UMBC users will have to create a separate account and password the first time they submit a help request ticket. This may change in the future to use the UMBC userid & password, but is not available at this time.

Initially, Presidium will be responsible for the following:


  • All Blackboard-related application questions or issues, including how to get started, add content, manage discussion, create electronic assignments, quizzes and surveys and use the new grade center.
  • Refer all UMBC-specific uses of Blackboard back to the DoIT Help Desk. These include all account management and password resets as well as integration with SA to auto-create and enroll courses.
  • Provide a monthly report to DoIT showing all Bb-related support requests or knowledge base accesses, identify trend and root-cause analyses, and help benchmark UMBC usage against similar institutions using Blackboard.

"As we go forward in this pilot, it is important to note we are augmenting not outsourcing Blackboard service," says John Fritz, Asst. VP for Instructional Technology & New Media. "By supporting one part of the overall structure with a partner who has a wealth of experience in higher education technical support, we hope to provide a higher level of service for UMBC students, faculty and staff."

Posted by fritz at 2:32 PM | TrackBack

September 30, 2009

Peer Instruction Workshop

Peer Instruction Workshop
Thurs, Nov. 12, 2009, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., UC 312
Limited to 30 participants

Peer Instruction
Eric Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University. An internationally recognized scientist and researcher, he leads a vigorous research program in optical physics and supervises one of the the largest research groups in the Physics Department at Harvard University.

The basic goals of Peer Instruction are to encourage and make use of student interaction during lectures, while focusing students' attention on underlying concepts and techniques. The method has been assessed in many studies using standardized, diagnostic tests and shown to be considerably more effective than the conventional lecture approach to teaching. Peer Instruction is now used in a wide range of science and math courses at the college and secondary level.

In this two hour workshop, participants will learn about Peer Instruction, serve as the “class” in which Peer Instruction is demonstrated, discuss several models for implementing the technique into the classroom, and learn about available teaching resources.

Limited to 30 participants. For more information and to register, please visit www.umbc.edu/training/fdc.

Posted by darnold at 11:10 AM | TrackBack

September 29, 2009

Webinar - Clickers and Peer Instruction: A Powerful Way to Improve Student Engagement and Learning, but Only If You Do It Right

Clickers and Peer Instruction: A Powerful Way to Improve Student Engagement and Learning, but Only If You Do It Right
ELI Web Seminar, October 5, 2009, 1-2 p.m.(joint viewing available in ECS 023)

Douglas Duncan
Douglas Duncan is a faculty member in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences of the University of Colorado, where he directs the Fiske Planetarium. He began his career at the Carnegie Observatories, where he was part of a project that found sunspot cycles on other stars. Subsequently, he joined the staff of the Hubble Space Telescope. In 1992, he accepted a joint appointment at the University of Chicago and the Adler Planetarium, beginning a trend of modernization of planetariums that has spread to New York, Denver, and Los Angeles.

Duncan is the author of “Clickers in the Classroom,” a guide to the powerful new technology that enables teachers to know what all their students are thinking, not just those who raise their hands. He has served as national education coordinator for the American Astronomical Society and has led efforts for better teaching and public communication for astronomers throughout the United States. From 1997 to 2002 he did science commentary on the Chicago public radio station WBEZ. He has authored over 50 refereed publications and his work has been funded by NSF, NASA, the Smithsonian, and the National Geographic Society. Duncan is now part of the University of Colorado group, founded by Nobel Prize winner Carl Wieman, which researches better ways of teaching science.

If you'd like to join us for a joint viewing of this webinar, please register at www.umbc.edu/training. For additional information, please visit https://net.educause.edu/content.asp?SECTION_ID=468&bhcp=1

Posted by darnold at 8:46 AM | TrackBack

September 15, 2009

CPS Clicker Student Help

Please remind students to contact eInstruction first if they have problems with their CPS clickers. If they do not get satisfaction within 24 hours (Mon-Fri) they may enter a Help Desk request (RT ticket). This request must contain documentation of their correspondence with eInstruction, and their clicker serial number.

Student Support (CPS™ Products Only!)
Phone 888-333-4988 (option 1, then 3, then 2)
Monday - Friday 8am-8pm EST
Sunday 3:30pm-9pm EST

Go to http://www.einstruction.com/support_downloads/index.html# for chat support options and trouble shooting tips.

Posted by souder at 1:57 PM | TrackBack

August 21, 2009

Changes in Requesting AV Support and Services

Similar to recent user support changes implemented by the Division of Information Technology, Audio Visual Services has adopted the new Request Tracker (RT) call tracking system. As such, AV Services will no longer be accepting requests for equipment delivery or repair by email.

av_request_form.png
Because email requests often require follow up to get more information, we ask that faculty instead use the "Request Service" form on the recently redesigned AV Services web site.

Eventually, this form will also be connected to the new myUMBC help menu, which you can use. But it does not yet provide as detailed a request as the AV services "Request Service" form. does now.

Finally, AV Services will begin exploring the use or R25, UMBC's campus scheduling system, to schedule deliveries and monitor AV use this semester. Any plans to adopt R25 for SP2010 deliveries will be announced later this semester.

For questions or suggestions about AV Services, contact Classroom Technology Manager Steven Anderson at 410.455.3680 or sanderso@umbc.edu.

Posted by fritz at 4:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 20, 2009

FYI: Blackboard Synch for iPhone Now Installed

The Blackboard Synch for iPhone has been tested and installed on UMBC's Blackboard production system. Used primarily to stay current on recent announcements, document uploads and discussion postings, instructions for downloading and installing the iPhone app are available on the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) Knowledge Base.

Posted by fritz at 5:27 PM | TrackBack

August 17, 2009

Tips for Instructional Continuity in Case of An H1N1 Outbreak

Inclement Weather Update: February 8, 2010

Given the current campus closures due to inclement weather, students and faculty may want to try the H1N1 academic continuity suggestions below.

Of Special Note: if you want to talk, text chat or share presentations online at the same time (synchronously) or at different times (asynchronously), consider using the Wimba web-based audio & video conference tools built into every Blackboard course. | More Info.


Earlier this summer, Provost Elliot Hirshman, in consultation with the Division of Information Technology (DoIT), sent an advisory to all faculty about why and how they might want to consider teaching online in the event of an extended closure of campus due to an H1N1 "Swine Flu" outbreak. The full text of the advisory follows:

Context

In response to the World Health Organization’s recent declaration of an H1N1 level 6 flu pandemic, the University needs to move rapidly to facilitate instructional continuity in the event of a campus closure. Instructional continuity is absolutely essential to ensure the academic progress of our students and the financial stability of the University should the campus be forced to close due to pandemic flu.

The steps proposed here are designed to address the circumstance in which campus is closed, but the information technology infrastructure of the campus remains intact. In this circumstance, remote instruction/distance learning will be necessary to continue courses.

The University recognizes that faculty members may wish to use different approaches to remote instruction and respects the rights of faculty members to pursue any of a range of available approaches. The University also recognizes that some courses (e.g., courses requiring access to specialized equipment or materials) may be difficult to continue remotely. The goal is to continue as many courses as possible to maintain academic progress and financial stability.

Specific Procedures

Some faculty members may teach courses that permit remote instruction, but they may not be familiar with the technology necessary to carry out this instruction. The following steps are designed to assist these faculty members prepare for remote instruction in the most convenient manner possible.

Step 1: If they are not already, all faculty members who are teaching courses in the fall semester should become familiar with the basic functioning of Blackboard. To access tutorial instructions, visit http://www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help or log in to Blackboard via myUMBC (or directly at http://blackboard.umbc.edu) and review the “Blackboard Help” tab at the top of the screen. Faculty may want to visit the “Getting Started” link first.

All Blackboard courses have a student manual (under “tools”) and an instructor manual (under “control panel”), but Faculty members should be able to carry out three basic functions:

  1. Turn their UMBC Blackboard course on. |
  2. Post documents (e.g., a syllabus) on blackboard. |
  3. Send an E-mail to all class members. |

Step 2: Faculty members should consider the lecture, document or presentation posting and discussion requirements of their fall courses. The material below indicates how to use Blackboard to accomplish these tasks remotely. Faculty members should conduct a trial or practice usage of the referenced capacities to ensure that they can post materials remotely and students can access these materials, if necessary.

For Audio Lectures:


For Discussions (text-based):

  • For asynchronous (not at the same time, not at the same place) text-based communication, use the Blackboard Discussion Board capacity.

  • For synchronous (same time, but not at the same place) text-based communication (often known as “chat”), use Blackboard’s built in “Virtual Classroom” capacity (under the “Communications” course menu).

Document and Presentation Posting


  • Use Blackboard’s document upload capacity referenced above.

Additional Guidance from DoIT


  • For faculty members who have mastered the above-referenced approaches, OIT STRONGLY RECOMMENDS using “Wimba Classroom” for synchronous text-based chat. In addition to being more stable and full-featured than Bb’s built in “virtual classroom,” Wimba can also allow you and your students to use voice-based email, discussions and real-time synchronous chat. It takes a little time to learn the effective protocols for conducting synchronous text or voice-based discussions or chats without everyone talking at once, but with practice, it can be done.

  • For more information on using Wimba, visit the UMBC Wimba guides and tutorials on the UMBC Blackboard Help tab, or Wimba’s own support site at http://www.wimba.com/services/support.

  • Through the hybrid learning website, you can learn many other “effective practices” for managing and assessing online discussions or chats: visit http://www.umbc.edu/oit/hybrid/practice.

Resources Available to Support Faculty

In addition to the on-line tutorials referenced above, there are two forms of assistance available to faculty members.


  1. Peer assistance from faculty and staff colleagues is available. Deans will be working with Department Chairs and other members of the Council of Deans to identify peers who are available to consult with faculty members as they become more familiar with the referenced instructional technologies. Examples include the following:

  2. DoIT staff are available for additional consultation

    • John Fritz, Asst VP, Instructional Technology & New Media (410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu)
    • Debra Arnold, IT Training Support Specialst (410.455.3234 or darnold@umbc.edu)
    • Jim Keys, Help Desk Consultant (410.455.3127 or keysj@umbc.edu)
    • Joan Costello, Classroom Technology/Wimba (410.455.3685 or jcoste1@umbc.edu)

Posted by fritz at 4:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 22, 2009

Explore Possibilities With Wimba Classroom, (6/25, 7/28, 8/13)

Wimba Classroom is a real-time virtual classroom environment designed for distance education, hybrid classes and collaboration.

This live, virtual classroom supports audio, video, application sharing, content display and whiteboarding. In addition, faculty can hold office hours, host guest lectures, webcasts, set up workspace for student groups and create meetings. The program enables application sharing from your desktop or a remote desktop and can be archived. You can set up group study areas for any class, not just the online variety.

Check out demos, documentation and webinars from the Wimba site at http://wimba.com/services.

Join us for one of the demos (sign up at http://www.umbc.edu/training) or contact Joan Costello at ext. 5-3685 or jcostello@umbc.edu to meet one on one or as a group.

Posted by darnold at 8:53 AM | TrackBack

May 14, 2009

Use Wimba Classroom for Great Communication

In this age of sustainability and fear of contagion, there is a tool in Blackboard that can help with both of these issues – Wimba Classroom. Wimba Classroom is an online delivery tool – great for hybrid classes and distance education, but general classes and meetings should embrace it also. It could save travel time and expenses for meetings and guest lecturers (non-UMBC people can be invited to participate). Maybe all classes should be prepared to meet this way - no losing important lecture/class time with school closings due to weather/health , etc.

Participants need internet access and a headphone with a microphone. The presentation can be archived for review or later access if there is a problem with their connection. With Wimba Classroom you can present a power point presentation, share whiteboards, applications, desktops, websites and host guest lecturers. Many classes require group presentations –use WC to set up group space for your students to meet, discuss, plan their work.

Please check out tutorial presentations, documentation, etc from the Wimba site - http://wimba.com/services. On campus, our Wimba info person is Joan Costello in AC IV 219, x53685, jcostello@umbc.edu. She will be happy to meet one on one, or a group to help you get started.

Posted by rarmstro at 12:16 PM | TrackBack

September 18, 2008

FA2008 Clicker Support Issues: Duplicate IDs, Slowness, etc.

In recent weeks, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) has learned of and tried to work around issues related to the new version of eInstruction's Classroom Performance System (CPS) "clickers." Specifically, we have received reports of students getting a "duplicate pad ID" error message when they try to click, and we've heard some faculty have to wait as long as a minute to move from one question to another.

After working with faculty and technical support staff at eInstruction, this is what we know.

1. Duplicate Pad IDs

Two weeks before the semester start, eInstruction issued a software update for PC and Mac CPS users. Part of that update included a feature called “Out of the Box," which enabled students to participate in class clicker sessions without having to register their clickers during the first 21 days of the semester. Ostensibly, students could go straight from the bookstore to class without registering, but after the 21 day window, they would be blocked. However, in some cases, this caused duplicate Pad ID numbers to appear in the CPS roster. It also seems to have interfered with properly registered users. The “Out of the Box” feature expired late last week, and we've requested that eInstruction make this an optional (not default) setting on their next release.

In hindsight, we didn't realize what this setting was, and didn't have enough time to test its impact on other settings. We also knew of other problems that the update appears to have solved. For now, DoIT recommends that instructors sync their CPS rosters to confirm properly registered users on a weekly basis. The CPS "Best Practices" describes how to sync your class if you are unsure.

2. Slowness

While it appears to have subsided here at UMBC, eInstruction has acknowledged that slowness in displaying question results is a known issue. They expect to address this in a future update.

3. Support

UMBC standardized on CPS clickers in Spring 2007, but individual faculty had been using them a few years later. Currently, we support more than 4,000 student enrollments which represent nearly 3,000 distinct users. As demand has grown, DoIT has been working with eInstruction to represent our needs and support faculty teaching goals for audience response systems. As this technology matures, here are some recommendations for students and faculty to keep in mind:

Students: Registering Clickers

  • Remember to consult UMBC's clicker support page at www.umbc.edu/clickers.
  • Turn off browser pop-up blockers before trying to register a clicker.
  • ONLY register clicker through the appropriate Blackboard course.
  • Confirm your serial number when registering.
  • Use the same CPS student account for proper credit of payments.
  • If you encounter difficulties registering your clicker, contact eInstruction directly.

    Students: Using Clickers in Class

  • Make sure your batteries are fresh.
  • Wait for your professor to indicate the proper time to turn on your clicker.
  • Turn off your clicker between CPS classes.

    Faculty: Preparing to Use Clickers & Reporting Problems

  • Join the "clickers" email listserve (https://lists.umbc.edu/lists/info/clickers).
  • Sit in on a class of an instructor who uses clickers.
  • If you use clickers, make them required by having students buy them in the bookstore.
  • If you encounter a problem, report it on the clicker listserve.
  • If you don't get a workable solution from your colleagues or DoIT staff, request support from eInstruction and make note of your support ticket or case ID number.
  • If you don't hear from eInstruction in a timely manner, contact Classroom Technology Manager Steven Anderson.

    DoIT is actively working with eInstruction to improve the support process and improve the performance of the clickers in the classroom. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, contact Steven Anderson or leave a comment on this announcement.

    Posted by fritz at 8:50 AM | TrackBack

    August 17, 2008

    Using Clickers to Control Online Access to Recordings of In-Class Lectures

    If you record in-class lectures and make them available online, why would students still come to class? If they don’t—but can pass exams—does it matter? While faculty have mixed feelings about recorded lectures, a combination of new technologies makes it possible to allow ONLY students who attend class to access recorded lectures online, for the purposes of review (not discovery).

    Problem

    For several years, UMBC has been providing a lecture-capture taping service whereby student videographers are paid by professors or departments to trek across campus, set up tripods and cameras, capture a variety of lecture content (and formats), and bring them back for light editing, digitization and distribution online through open and (sometimes) closed access websites. While the process doesn’t scale particularly well, it is relatively unobtrusive to the faculty member, who can go about the process of lecturing pretty much the way he or she has always done.

    In recent years, lecture capture demand has grown as have a variety of solutions that include dedicated, wall-mounted, pan/tilt video cameras with remote control and automated, scheduled recording. These are attractive (and expensive) solutions, but still don’t address faculty concerns about whether students will come to class if the lectures are available online.

    Tamara Mendelson
    Tamara Mendelson
    LH7_audiorecorders.jpg
    A view of the lecturn at the start of Mendelson's Spring 2008 Biology class.
    Proposed Solution

    Last spring, after seeing a photo of 15 personal digital audio recorders aligned along the podium of a large biology class, we talked with the instructor, Tamara Mendelson, who explains her rationale for allowing them: “Everything I say is fair game for a test, so I tell the students ‘If I were you, I’d record it all.’ And they do.”

    Just like our labor intensive lecture capture service, Mendelson didn’t have to do anything and apparently the students were content to have only her PowerPoint presentations online and their own audio recordings. When we suggested she could make the recordings herself and post them on Blackboard, Mendelson wondered if she could limit access to only students who were in the class. In other words, she wanted to provide the online, recorded lectures for review by students who were present, not for discovery by students who were absent.

    Combined with our own lessons learned about simple screencasting software solutions, clickers and the use of a function called “adaptive release” in Blackboard, we realized it is possible to use a daily record of attendance collected by the clickers as a "precondition" for who can access recorded lectures that the instructor posts to his or her Blackboard site.

    While we are using MP3 digital audio recorders only, the same process can be used for recorded screencasts made with Camtasia and published in Blackboard, which we have been supporting for years.

    Essentially, any faculty member can adapt this cookbook “recipe” to use clickers to control access to any file or function in Blackboard:

    1. Record the audio of your lecture with an MP3 digital recorder (we’ve found a good one for $80) accompanied by a powerpoint; or make a screencast which combines audio and any actions or screens on the instructor’s vga display into one synchronized file (we like Camtasia).

    2. Ask at least one clicker question during the class period or (ideally) the lecture yourself so you don't get clicker-only "drop ins" (you might even want to ask questions at the start & end of the period/lecture).

    3. Upload your clicker grades into your Blackboard gradebook.

    4. Create a folder where your lecture materials (e.g., PPTs & audio or screencasts) will reside; make it unavailable to students so you can take your time uploading lecture materials.

    5. Upload your lecture materials

    6. Use Blackboard's "Adaptive Release" function to limit access to only those students who have ANY score (e.g., activity) for that day's clicker question(s)

    7. Make the lecture folder available.

    8. Send and/or post announcement that the day's lecture materials are available for REVIEW to students who were present and "clicked."

    For more information, DoIT has prepared a help sheet, which also uses short screencast videos to "show and tell" the process Mendelson will be piloting this fall:

    Posting/Controlling Access to Recorded Lectures
    http://www.umbc.edu/oit/newmedia/blackboard/help/audio/audio_directions.html

    Posted by fritz at 10:15 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    "Clicker" Hardware & Software to be Upgraded in Lecture Halls

    Following a recommendation from eInstruction.com, makers of the Classroom Performance System (CPS) "clickers" used on campus, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT), will be upgrading the clicker hardware and software in all lecture halls for start of semester.

    So far, DoIT has upgraded the CPS receivers in all of the lecture halls to the new receivers that are similar to the “stick” USB flash drives that many of us use to transport data. Testing has shown they accept the inputs from clickers faster and more reliably then previous versions.

    In addition, new PC versions of the CPS instructor software will be installed in all of the lecture halls. As a result, to remain compatible, DoIT strongly recommends that all instructors upgrade their PC or Mac CPS software on their computers as well. The download for the software can be found at http://www.einstruction.com/Downloads/index.cfm.

    FYI: One of the best features of the new CPS software is the ability to take attendance without having to start a Teacher Managed engage session.

    For more information, visit the eInstruction CPS support site or visit UMBC's "clicker" support site.

    Posted by fritz at 12:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    February 14, 2008

    3/10 Brown Bag Workshop: Digital Alternatives to Writing (and Drawing) on A Chalkboard

    Tired of having to write or draw big so your students can see your notes, formulas or diagrams on the chalk or dry erase board? Then see how you can use digital alternatives that can be projected on a big screen--and even captured, narrated and replayed in Blackboard. This Teaching Learning and Technology (TLT) Brown Bag Workshop will be held on Monday, March 10, at noon in Lecture Hall 8.

    Faculty-led demos will include:

    • Hitachi Smart Board Input Screens (available in LH 7 & 8)
    • Tablet PCs (like the IBM Lenovo X61 currently available in AV Services)
    • Wacom Graphic Tablet (http://global.wacom.com/index2.cfm)
    • Document Cameras (currently installed in all but two lecture halls: LH1 & LH3)
    • AceCad Digimemo "Digital Paper" Pads (http://www.acecad.com)

    With most of these options, if you have some kind of screen capture tool like Camtasia (www.techsmith.com/camtasia), you could also capture the screen movements and audio narration for later display in a password-protected space like Blackboard.

    Light refreshments will be provided for registered participants. To register, visit www.umbc.edu/brownbag.

    Posted by fritz at 1:53 PM | TrackBack

    March 9, 2007

    OIT Standardizes on eInstruction "Clickers"

    RF CPS Response PadAfter two years of piloting with faculty in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology, the Office of Information Technology has decided to standardize on eInstruction's "Classroom Performance System" (CPS) student response units, otherwise known as "clickers" (see www.einstruction.com).

    Currently, about 10 faculty and 1,000 students use the CPS "clickers" to provide instant feedback to multiple choice questions posed in class, typically through an overhead slide or PowerPoint presentation displayed on a screen. The CPS software displays how many units have responded to a question and immediately summarizes the results for all to see. Each student's answers can also be uploaded to a Blackboard gradebook for the course.

    For about $38 during their first semester (or $60 for use throughout their college career), students can purchase the hand-held units at the UMBC Bookstore and buy an activation code. The CPS response pads can be used for multiple courses and in any UMBC classroom with a computer and a free, USB installed radio-frequency (RF) receiver. OIT has equipped all lecture halls with CPS receivers, and instructors can get the CPS software, one receiver and one response unit from eInstruction free of charge.

    Biology Professor Phil SokoloveThis semester, OIT has been working with eInstruction to develop and support a wider rollout strategy, which will include a campus-wide demo by Biology Professor Phil Sokolove on Wednesday, April 18, at noon in Meyerhofff 120 (formerly Chemistry 120). Sokolove was the first UMBC faculty member to use CPS, and says he averages "about four clicker activities in 75 minutes" (to see an example, view his class which OIT tapes and publishes online for student review). Then, on Friday, April 27, at 1 p.m. in ECS 025, eInstruction's Marty Abrahamson will conduct a two-hour training workshop for faculty who want to use the CPS system in Fall 2007. To register for the 4/18 demo or 4/27 workshop, visit www.umbc.edu/brownbag (light refreshments will be provided to registered participants).

    For more information, contact Steve Anderson (5-3680 or sanderso@umbc.edu) or Bob Armstrong (5-3885 or rarmstro@umbc.edu). You can also visit the CPS Clickers "help sheet" on the Blackboard Help tab or http://www.umbc.edu/oit/newmedia/blackboard/cps/cps_online_2.html.

    Posted by fritz at 9:04 AM

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