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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 30, 2012

UMBC Blackboard Update: SU2012

UMBC Blackboard update is provided by the Division of Information Technology for students, faculty and staff using Blackboard at UMBC. If you have questions or need help, please consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Blackboard or directly at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help. You can also contact the Technology Support Center (formerly the Help Desk) at 410.455.3838 or submit an RT (Request Tracker) ticket via the myUMBC Help menu or directly at http://rt.umbc.edu.

HEADLINES

1. SU2012 Bb Course Shells Created on April 16
2. SU2012 Blackboard Drop-in Schedule
3. Hybrid Teaching and Learning Resources Lunch & Learn on May 7
4. Hybrid Course Redesign Workshop on June 8
5. Bb Collaborate Training Webinar Links Now Available
6. FA2012 Lab & Lecture Hall Software Request Deadline is May 1
7. FYI: Turning Technologies Overview of Product Enhancements - Lunch & Learn May 9
8. All Students Required to Create Account Security Questions by May 22

Posted by readel at 1:23 PM | TrackBack

Bb Collaborate Training Webinar Links Now Available

Blackboard Collaborate is the web-based conferencing system that DoIT staff installed on the UMBC Bb servers in December, 2011. It allows faculty to incorporate live, multi-way audio and video, a basic whiteboard with mark-up, application and desktop sharing and other tools for interactivity. It can also be used asynchronously; faculty can narrate a lecture presentation (including Power Point slides), save the recording, and make it available for students to access via Blackboard.

Recently Blackboard Collaborate, Inc. provided 4 two-hour training sessions to staff from DoIT, the AOK Library, and CPS. These sessions were recorded and are now available for anyone to view. The first session is an overview of the basic features of Bb Collaborate. The second session includes advanced features appropriate for faculty interested in running synchronous online sessions with their students. The third session covers the use of the software packages Plan! and Publish! Plan! allows faculty to prepare complex Collaborate sessions with many features (such as slides, interactive white board exercises, and quizzes) ahead of time. Publish! is a tool that allows you to download a recorded presentation in several formats including as an .mp4 video file. The final session focuses on the integration of all of the previously covered features. Links to these sessions are below:

1. Bb Collaborate Essentials
2. Bb Collaborate Beyond the Basics
3. Bb Collaborate Plan! & Publish!
4. Putting it all together

First time Bb Collaborate Users are encouraged to go to the First Time User support page first, to ensure that the computer is equipped appropriately. Bb Collaborate also offers an On Demand Learning Center with many training resources.

Posted by readel at 12:47 PM | TrackBack

SU2012 Bb Course Shells Created on 4/16

Bb course shells for SU 2012 were created on April 16, and will continue to be updated daily. Bb shells are available 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 hourly.

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 or submit an RT ticket with your request.

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

Posted by readel at 11:39 AM | TrackBack

April 17, 2012

Blackboard Down for Maintenance 10 pm Fri. 4/20 - 1 am Sat. 4/21

The UMBC Blackboard server will be down during the regularly scheduled maintenance window from 10 pm Friday, April 20 to 1 am Saturday, April 21. DoIT staff will be applying updates necessary to fix a reported problem with the wiki tool.

We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconveniences that this down time may cause.

Posted by readel at 7:36 PM | TrackBack

April 10, 2012

SU2012 Blackboard Drop-in Sessions

DoIT is offering drop in Blackboard Drop-in sessions to assist and help faculty prepare for summer courses.

The following drop in sessions will be held in Engineering 025. A DoIT staff member will be available to work one-on-one with with users who show up during the designated times. Please note that this is not a formal Blackboard training class. Users may show up or leave at any point during these sessions.

Additional dates and times may be added as demand warrants.

SU2012 Blackboard Drop-In Schedule
DateTime
Tu 5/812-1 pm
Tu 5/1512-1 pm
M 5/214-6 pm
Tu 5/2212-1 pm
Th 5/2412-1pm
W 5/3012-1 pm
F 6/112-1 pm
M 6/412-1 pm

Posted by readel at 10:03 AM | TrackBack

April 6, 2012

Blackboard Down for Maintenance from 10 pm Fri. 4/13 to 1 am Sat. 4/14

The UMBC Blackboard server will be down for three hours of scheduled maintenance from 10 pm Friday, April 13 to 1 am Saturday, April 14. DoIT staff will be applying security updates required by Blackboard during this time.

We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconveniences that this down time may cause.

Posted by readel at 4:24 PM | TrackBack

April 3, 2012

Hybrid Teaching and Learning Resources Lunch & Learn on 5/7 at 12 pm

Are you interested in learning more about hybrid teaching and learning? Are you curious about what resources are available to you on campus? Bring your lunch and join the conversation on Monday, May 7, from 12-1 pm in ENGR 023. Representatives from DoIT and the Office of Summer, Winter & Special Programs will give an overview of the Hybrid Course Redesign Workshop, the Alternate Delivery Program, and resources available through Quality Matters and the SLOAN-C College Pass program. All faculty are welcome to attend. Cookies and beverages will be provided for registered participants. To register, please go to this event on the myUMBC Training site.

Posted by readel at 4:15 PM | TrackBack

Hybrid Course Redesign Workshop, 6/8

DoIT and the Faculty Development Center will be offering the Course Redesign/ Hybrid Course Redesign Workshop on June 8, 2012 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm in ENGR 023 on UMBC's Main Campus. In the morning participants will learn the principles of good course design, including designing assignments and assessments that help students achieve the goals for their learning. Lunch will be provided and participants will hear from a panel of faculty experienced in teaching hybrid courses. In the afternoon faculty will apply the principles of good course design from the morning session to planning a hybrid course (part-online, part face-to-face), and gain hands-on experience with some of the technology tools that are effective in online teaching. This workshop is open to all full or part time UMBC faculty and is limited to 14 participants. To register, please go to this event on the myUMBC Training site.

The workshop will also help meet the requirements for a one-time course-redesign stipend through the Alternate Delivery program (ADP), which is sponsored by both the Office of the Provost, and the Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP).

Posted by readel at 4:05 PM | TrackBack

March 14, 2012

Blackboard Down for Maintenance from 7-9 am Wed., 3/21

The UMBC Blackboard server will be down for two hours of maintenance from 7 - 9 am Wednesday, March 21. DoIT staff will be installing necessary patches and updates during this time.

We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconveniences that this down time may cause.

Posted by readel at 3:31 PM | TrackBack

January 22, 2012

New Features in Bb Learn 9.1 SP6

The December 23 upgrade of the Blackboard Learn 9.1 system to Service Pack 6 has introduced a variety of new features and enhancements, several of which are listed below.

1. Increased Browser Support: Blackboard is now compatible with Internet Explorer 9, Safari 5, and stable release channels of Firefox and Chrome.

2. Timed Assessments: Attempt information for timed assessments includes details on how much time the student spent on the attempt versus how much time was allotted. Instructors can now choose to make the timed assessment save and submit automatically when the timer expires, or to allow the assessment to continue beyond the allotted time.

3. Interactive Rubrics: Instructors can now create interactive rubrics for gradable content items including Blogs, Journals, Wikis, Discussion Boards, Assignments, Tests etc. When creating a rubric, instructors can assign weights to categories, allowing the same rubric to be used across multiple items with different possible points. Instructors can interact with any associated rubric for grading in a grid or list view, and Feedback can be typed for each criteria as well as the entire assessment. Rubrics can be made visible to students at any time, before or after grading has occurred.

4. Enhanced "Needs Grading" Tool: Gradable Blogs, Journals, Wikis, and Discussion Board activity can appear in Needs Grading status in the Grade Center and on the Needs Grading page. When an instructor chooses to make an interactive tool gradable, they will also have the option to choose how many interactions will place the item in needs grading status. A Discussion Board forum, for instance, might be set to only appear in Needs Grading status after a student has made three posts, rather than with each individual post.

Posted by readel at 10:41 PM | TrackBack

UMBC Blackboard Update: SP2012

UMBC Blackboard update is provided by the Division of Information Technology for students, faculty and staff using Blackboard at UMBC. If you have questions or need help, please consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Blackboard or directly at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help. You can also contact the Technology Support Center (formerly the Help Desk) at 410.455.3838 or submit an RT (Request Tracker) ticket via the myUMBC Help menu or directly at http://rt.umbc.edu.

HEADLINES

1. Known Issues with Enrollment of Bb Courses
2. New Features in Bb Learn 9.1 SP6
3. SP2012 Blackboard Drop-in Sessions
4. Bb Down for Maintenance 10 pm 1/27 to 1 am 1/28
5. Sloan-C Workshops on Online Teaching Open to UMBC Faculty

Posted by readel at 10:16 PM | TrackBack

Sloan-C Workshops on Online Teaching Open to UMBC Faculty

UMBC is an institutional member of the Sloan-C College Pass program and has approximately 70 free seats to be used towards their workshops. The 2012 workshops include such topics as Getting Started in Online Teaching, Academic Integrity in Online Education, Copyright Compliance, Second Life and Improving Student Engagement in Online Courses. UMBC full time and part time faculty can access the required College Pass Coupon Code by going to this URL: http://www.umbc.edu/oit/hybrid/support/downloads/index.php. You will need to be logged in to myUMBC in order to access this webpage.

Posted by readel at 10:02 PM | TrackBack

Blackboard Down for Maintenance from 10 pm Fri. 1/27 to 1 am Sat. 1/28

The UMBC Blackboard server will be down for three hours of scheduled maintenance from 10 pm Friday, Jan. 27 to 1 am Saturday, Jan. 28. DoIT staff will be performing MS Windows Server maintenance and updates during this time.

We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconveniences that this down time may cause.

Posted by readel at 9:58 PM | TrackBack

January 20, 2012

Known Issues with Enrollment of Bb Courses

UPDATE: 1/24/12

As of 10:30 a.m. today, course enrollment updates are now occurring hourly.

Current SA to Bb Update Schedule:

  • New user updates - top of the hour
  • New enrollment updates - bottom of the hour
  • New course updates - daily at 2:15 a.m.


    As reported previously, there have been a number of issues with auto creation and enrollment of Blackboard courses since the December 23 upgrade:

    12/29/11: Spring 2012 Bb courses were auto created but auto enrollment is still once a day
    12/28/11: Bb auto enrollment changed from every two hours to once a day
    12/26/11: Winter 2012 courses were manually created by hand, not auto created

    Basically, DoIT has had to completely re-engineer Bb's integration with the Student Administration (SA) system, a project we'd planned for Summer 2012. Good news? It is nearly completed and appears to be working. Bad news? It is not fully tested.

    Current Status & Next Steps

    • Blackboard courses are being auto-enrolled ONCE A DAY at 3 a.m. using the new "snapshot" process.
    • This process can take up to 90 minutes to complete and has impacted performance.
    • Enrolling courses more frequently risks overall performance and usability of the system at the hectic start of semester.
    • DoIT is testing a new "event driven" process that would update Bb course enrollments every hour, based on incremental changes in SA. If it doesn't work, we can and will roll back to the once-at-3 a.m. approach.

    What You Can Do To Help?

    Students

    If you cannot access your Bb course 24 hours after officially enrolling in it via SA, please submit an RT ticket via myUMBC help or directly at rt.umbc.edu. Please include the following:

    Faculty

    Similarly, if you do not see your Bb course, confirm you are the official instructor of record in the Schedule of Classes (SOC). If not, contact your department scheduling coordinator so you can be added to the course in SA, which updates Bb instructor enrollment, just like students.

    If you ARE the instructor of record but still can't access your Bb course, follow the same steps as students (above), but also include your Blackboard courseID.

    Posted by fritz at 2:23 PM | TrackBack

    January 9, 2012

    SP2012 Blackboard Drop-in Sessions

    DoIT is offering drop in Blackboard Drop-in sessions to assist and help faculty prepare for the spring semester

    The following drop in sessions will be held in Engineering 025. A DoIT staff member will be available to work one-on-one with with users who show up during the designated times. Please note that this is not a formal Blackboard training class. Users may show up or leave at any point during these sessions.

    Additional dates and times may be added as demand warrants.

    SP2012 Blackboard Drop In Schedule
    DateTime
    W 1/183-5 pm
    Th 1/1911 am-12 pm
    M 1/2312-1 pm
    M 1/235-7pm
    Tu 1/243-5 pm - HELP WITH GRADE CENTER
    W 1/2511 am-12 pm
    F 1/2712-1 pm
    M 1/3011 am-1 pm - HELP WITH GRADE CENTER
    Tu 1/3112-1 pm
    Th 2/212-1 pm
    W 2/812-1 pm
    F 2/1012-1 pm
    M 2/13 12-1 pm
    W 2/1512-1 pm

    Posted by readel at 1:31 PM | TrackBack

    December 23, 2011

    Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP 6 Upgrade Completed

    The scheduled upgrade for the Blackboard Learn 9.1 system was completed at approximately 2:30 pm on Friday, Dec. 23, and the system was made available to the campus community at that time.

    We thank you for your patience during this scheduled downtime.

    Posted by readel at 2:22 PM | TrackBack

    December 15, 2011

    Blackboard Acknowledges Delay in Processing of Safe Assign Reports

    UPDATE: Blackboard released a final support bulletin on Friday, December 23, regarding the performance of Safe Assign. They report that all of the backlogged papers have been processed and that processing times are back to normal (24-48 hours). If instructors have papers without SA reports generated in 48 hours, it is possible that the papers are corrupted, and Blackboard suggests that they should now resubmit those papers.
    ----------------------


    UPDATE: Blackboard released an updated support bulletin on Monday, December 19, regarding the performance of Safe Assign. Though new submissions are on the decline, there is still a significant delay in processing papers, and faculty should expect reports within 3-5 days. As previously announced, they request that papers not be resubmitted unless they have verified that an error with them has occurred.
    ----------------------

    On Wednesday, December 14, Blackboard released a support bulletin that provided an update on the Safe Assign paper processing delay that has happened over the past several weeks. They confirmed that there is still a global backlog of papers waiting to be processed, and that reports will take 3-5 days to generate. They reiterate that the worst thing instructors or students can do is to resubmit a paper, as that will move the paper to the back of the processing queue. If you have papers that have not received Originality Reports within 5 days of their submission date, please submit an RT ticket and include your name, the Bb course, the specific assignment, and the paper ID.

    Thank you for your patience.

    Posted by readel at 3:26 PM | TrackBack

    December 5, 2011

    UMBC Blackboard Update: WT2012

    UMBC Blackboard update is provided by the Division of Information Technology for students, faculty and staff using Blackboard at UMBC. If you have questions or need help, please consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Blackboard or directly at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help. You can also contact the Technology Support Center (formerly the Help Desk) at 410.455.3838 or submit an RT (Request Tracker) ticket via the myUMBC Help menu or directly at http://rt.umbc.edu.

    HEADLINES

    1. Reminder to FA2011 Faculty to Download Bb Gradebook, Bb Upgrade on 12/22
    2. Blackboard Collaborate Replacing Wimba
    3. Course Redesign/ Hybrid Course Redesign Workshop, 1/20
    4. FYI: EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference 1/11 – 1/13
    5. FYI: 1/18 - 1/20 Digital Storytelling Workshop

    Posted by readel at 5:43 AM | TrackBack

    December 2, 2011

    Blackboard Collaborate Replacing Wimba

    As previously announced in October, DoIT will be installing Blackboard Collaborate 11 during the Bb upgrade window starting on December 22 at 10 pm. Bb Collaborate 11 is the new web-based conferencing system following Bb's acquisition of Wimba and Elluminate in Summer 2010. It allows faculty to incorporate live, multi-way audio and video, a basic whiteboard with mark-up, application and desktop sharing and other tools for interactivity. A free 30-day trial of Collaborate 11 is available to any faculty member wishing to preview it, by signing up at http://try.bbcollaborate.com/trial/register.go. DoIT staff will introduce Bb Collaborate 11 during drop-in sessions in ENGR 025 from 12 - 1 pm on January 4, 6, 9, and 16. Further training sessions will be planned prior to the start of the Spring 2012 semester.

    Posted by readel at 1:13 PM | TrackBack

    December 1, 2011

    Reminder to FA2011 Faculty to Download Bb Gradebook, Bb Upgrade on 12/22

    As previously announced, DoIT will be upgrading the Blackboard (Bb) production system on Thursday, December 22 starting at 10 pm. Though final grades are not due until January 4, all FA2011 faculty are encouraged to back up their Bb gradebook by downloading it to Excel, before the upgrade starts. This is just a precautionary step as no problems are anticipated with the upgrade. DoIT staff will be available in ENGR 025 from 12- 1 pm on Dec. 13, 14, 20 and 21 to provide assistance, should faculty have questions about downloading their grades.

    Bb course shells for Winter and Spring 2012 courses will be auto-created on Monday, December 26. Prior to that date, faculty can develop content using older course sites, and then use the export/ import process to move that content once the new shells are auto-created. However, given the start of Winter Session on January 3, DoIT will manually create Winter 2012 shells upon request, with the understanding that faculty who do so need to use a published work around if they encounter the broken links problem the upgrade is meant to resolve.

    This upgrade is necessary in order to fix a growing number of web browser incompatibilities, and a known issue of broken links occurring in an imported course. There is no longer a convenient window of time when upgrades can occur during the academic year, but we have reviewed this decision with an informal advisory group of active Bb instructors in several disciplines, as well as the Faculty Senate’s Computer Policy Committee at its 9/16/11 and 10/7/11 meetings. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to improve the campus’ use of Blackboard.

    Posted by readel at 1:28 PM | TrackBack

    November 30, 2011

    Course Redesign/ Hybrid Course Redesign Workshop, 1/20

    DoIT and the Faculty Development Center will be offering the Course Redesign/ Hybrid Course Redesign Workshop on January 20, 2012 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm in ENGR 023. In the morning session participants will learn the principles of good course design, including designing assignments and assessments that help students achieve the goals for their learning. In the afternoon session faculty will apply the principles of good course design from the morning session to planning a hybrid course (part-online, part face-to-face). This workshop is open to all full or part time UMBC faculty. To register, please go to this event on the myUMBC Training site.

    The workshop will also help meet the requirements for a one-time course-redesign stipend through the Alternate Delivery program (ADP), which is sponsored by both the Office of the Provost, and the Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP).

    Posted by readel at 1:03 PM | TrackBack

    FYI: EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference 1/11 – 1/13

    The 10th Annual EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference will be held at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel from January 11-13, 2012. This year's conference is titled "Reimagining IT in a Changing Landscape" and will focus on the need to reimagine, reinvent, and innovate in a climate of constant change and challenge. The programming on Thursday includes a variety of sessions that may be of interest to faculty and educational technologists. For the second year EDUCAUSE is offering special one-day registration options. Early registration is open until December 14 and can be found at http://net.educause.edu/content.asp?page_id=1028976&bhcp=1#REG.

    Posted by readel at 12:52 PM | TrackBack

    October 12, 2011

    12/22 Bb Upgrade Will Delay Auto-Creation of WT & SP 2012 Courses

    To fix a known issue of broken content links in some courses, reduce growing web browser incompatibilities, and install Collaborate (Blackboard’s replacement for Wimba), DoIT will be upgrading the Blackboard production system on Thursday, December 22, at 10 p.m. As a result, Winter and Spring 2012 course shells will NOT be auto-created until Monday, December 26.

    Faculty can still develop 2012 content using older course sites, and simply delay the export/import process until 2012 course shells are auto-created on 12/26. However, given the start of Winter session on January 3, DoIT will manually create Winter 2012 course shells upon request, with the understanding that faculty who do so need to use a published work around if they encounter the broken links problem the upgrade is meant to resolve.

    Important Note to Instructors About Fall Grades

    While Fall 2011 classes end December 13, final grades are due on January 4. Accordingly, if you display Fall 2011 grades to students in a Bb course, DoIT recommends backing up the gradebook by downloading it to Excel BEFORE the 12/22 upgrade begins at 10 p.m. We do not anticipate any issues with the upgrade, but to be safe, faculty should back up their grade book before the upgrade.

    Why DoIT Is Upgrading Blackboard Before Fall Semester Ends

    Last month, DoIT announced the known issue after students in about a dozen Blackboard courses could not access uploaded documents. We have not received many new reports since then, nor have we (or Blackboard) identified a specific cause, though it appears to be related to importing a Spring 2011 course into an empty Fall 2011 shell under our current version of Bb (9.1.4). While the content IS present in the new shell, the displayed links to it in some Bb courses do not work. Additionally, there is no site-wide fix DoIT can implement after this export/import process has occurred, though faculty can manually work around it if they or their students encounter it.

    Since exporting and importing Bb courses is the primary way all content is moved from one semester to the next, DoIT considers this to be a potentially very serious issue if it is more widespread, particularly in WT and SP 2012 courses. Blackboard believes upgrading our production system will allow the export/import process to work properly, and we believe it will also help minimize a growing problem with web browser incompatibilities due to some browsers changing more frequently than Blackboard. Additionally, we will be installing Blackboard Collaborate which is the new web-based conferencing system following Bb’s acquisition of Wimba and Eluminate in Summer 2010. Collaborate was released this past summer, but not in time for us to test for a Fall 2011 release at UMBC.

    Unfortunately, there is no longer a convenient window of time when upgrades can occur during the academic year, but we have reviewed this decision with an informal advisory group of active Bb instructors in several disciplines, as well as the Faculty Senate’s Computer Policy Committee at its 9/16/11 and 10/7/11 meetings. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to improve the campus’ use of Blackboard.

    Sincerely,

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    UMBC Division of Information Technology

    Posted by fritz at 4:44 PM | TrackBack

    August 24, 2011

    UMBC Blackboard Help Now Part of myUMBC Help Wiki

    As part of campus-wide user support changes announced by the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) earlier this summer, the Blackboard Help tab inside Bb (available at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help) is now run by the “Find Help - FAQ” wiki on the myUMBC Help menu.

    myUMBChelpmenu.png
    Wherever possible, our approach will be to focus on UMBC-specific Bb help that can't be found elsewhere (e.g., course creation, enrollment, availability), or useful, but perhaps less well-known tools in Blackboard’s generic online user manuals available in every course site under “Tools” (for students) or the “Control Panel” (for instructors & community leaders).

    Examples include:

  • How to make your Bb course available (a key UMBC-specific task), and
  • How to enable "subscription" to discussion boards so users can get an email alert of new posts (a useful, but little known tool).

    As in the examples above, our preference will be to show brief (5 minutes or less) focused video “screencasts” of key tasks, followed by simple step-by-step text instructions. Not all articles will contain videos, but our goal is add them to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs).

    In addition, there are key advantages to using a wiki for Blackboard Help. First, as some faculty know who have used wikis for student projects, it is easier for more people with a variety of technical skills to edit and maintain a wiki because it is a completely web-based tool and does not require highly technical programming skills to do so. For now, DoIT staff are maintaining the site, but eventually we hope to make this more directly available to students, faculty and staff who can help us monitor and edit existing help documentation or actually create new articles that can be published (and searched) as “drafts” for use by the UMBC Bb community. Until then, you can “suggest an article” on the FAQ “about” site to add, change, comment on or request deletion of an existing FAQ article.

    Second, there are useful wiki tools such as shorter URLs or web addresses, a “history” of changes to the document and the ability to email it to yourself or a colleague. We’ve also added feedback tools and a “request help” link that goes to the other main link on the myUMBC Help Menu: Request Help. This site serves as the campus gateway for the RT (Request Tracker) ticketing system used by DoIT, Financial Services, Academic Services and some academic departments such as Computer Science/Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Unlike sending a help request to a support staff member’s personal email inbox, an RT ticket can be monitored and acted upon by more than one individual, who may be busy or unavailable due to vacation or sickness. In addition, you can use the RT interface to monitor the status of your open RT ticket and provide feedback on your experience.

    Clearly, interest in RT is growing, and it appears the myUMBC Help menu may be one reason why. Last year, the campus generated more than 50,000 RT tickets (about 25,000 were IT-related), and the “Request Help” link was accessed 30,000 times (students, faculty and staff can also call the main tech support number of 5-3838 to have a ticket entered on their behalf).

    By contrast, the myUMBC “Find Help” site, which used to be called DoIT Knowledge base (KB), was accessed 10 times less than “Request Help.” So, over the summer, DoIT and Library staff worked on redesigning the FAQ, with the hope of creating a central, community-driven knowledge base similar to Indiana University or Virginia Tech. We also plan to participate in a broader higher education knowledge management initiative that is sponsored by the Kuali Foundation and based on the Indiana KB.

    Finally, DoIT and the Library have collaborated on the “Find Help -- FAQ” wiki as part of the new Retriever Learning Center (RLC) that opens this fall. The goal is to explore and refine inevitable issues when different organizations (and cultures) share a single web platform to provide end user support. This is key to encouraging other campus organizations to use the wiki, which will hopefully make it easier for students, faculty and staff to find, request and track online help about a wider variety of topics.

    For more information, visit the FAQ “about" site that contains a brief, video overview of the changes to myUMBC help.

    Posted by fritz at 6:16 AM | TrackBack

    August 23, 2011

    WT 2012 Alternate Delivery Program Provides Hybrid Course Support

    The Alternate Delivery Program (ADP), sponsored by the Office of the Provost, and the Office of Summer , Winter and Special Programs, provides funding to faculty redesigning a course for hybrid delivery. Instructional design and technology support are also provided by the Faculty Development Center (FDC) and Division of Information Technology (DoIT). Faculty need to complete a series of requirements including developing and presenting two online course exercises. The WT 2012 ADP cohort will begin in mid-September. Interested faculty should read through the requirements and self enroll in the Hybrid Course Design Workshop Bb Organization by September 9. For more information contact Karin Readel at readel@umbc.edu.

    Posted by readel at 8:04 PM | TrackBack

    July 29, 2011

    Wimba Classroom Upgrade from 10 pm 8/6 to 7 am 8/7

    Blackboard Collaborate has announced that UMBC's Wimba Classroom will be upgraded to version 6.1.4 during an extended maintenance window from Saturday, August 6 at 10:00 PM to Sunday, August 7 at 7:00 AM. The maintenance release will address server-side enhancements of Wimba Classroom. During this time, services, including live sessions and recordings, will not be available.

    Thank you for your patience during this upgrade.

    Posted by readel at 11:30 AM | TrackBack

    April 29, 2011

    UMBC Blackboard Update: SU2011

    UMBC Blackboard update is provided by the Division of Information Technology for students, faculty and staff using Blackboard at UMBC. If you have questions or need help, please consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Blackboard or directly at http://www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help. You can also contact the DoIT Help Desk at 410.455.3838, ENGR Room 020, or submit an RT ticket via the myUMBC Help menu or directly at http://rt.umbc.edu.

    HEADLINES

    1. Summer Course Shells Created on 4/19
    2. End of 24/7 Bb Support for Students / DoIT Help Desk Moving to RLC
    3. End of LO Building Block (Blogs/ Wikis/ Journals)
    4. Hybrid Faculty Workshop June 9
    5. Call for Software for Lecture Halls/ Lab Images & Preliminary Lab Reservations
    6. Bb Courses Older than Fall 2005 Will Be Deleted August 25

    Posted by readel at 1:12 PM | TrackBack

    April 28, 2011

    Hybrid Course Redesign Workshop, June 9, 2011

    DoIT and the Faculty Development Center will be offering the Hybrid Course Redesign Workshop on June 9, from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm in ENG 023. Participants will learn the principles of good course design and apply them to a traditional, face-to-face (F2F) course that could be delivered as a hybrid (part-online, part F2F) course. Using hybrid delivery to demonstrate best practices of hybrid teaching, this workshop is open to any UMBC instructor considering teaching a hybrid course in any semester. To register, please go to this event on the myUMBC Training site.

    The workshop will also help meet the requirements for a one-time course-redesign stipend through the Alternate Deliver program (ADP), which is sponsored by both the Office of the Provost, and the Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP).

    Posted by readel at 10:37 AM | TrackBack

    March 11, 2011

    Blackboard Down for Extended Maintenance from 10 pm Fri. 3/18 to 10 am Sat. 3/19

    As a part of DoIT's regular scheduled maintenance, Blackboard will be down for an extended time on Friday, March 18 (10 p.m.) until Saturday, March 19 (10 a.m.) in order to reindex the entire database. This process is the second phase of a 2-step process recommended by Blackboard in order to fix the previously reported spikes in database utilization. The first phase, replacement of a key database function, was completed on February 11. DoIT staff are hopeful that the completion of this second step will resolve any lingering Blackboard performance issues.

    We are sorry for the inconvenience of this temporary downtime, and we thank you for your cooperation and patience.

    Posted by readel at 1:01 PM | TrackBack

    February 4, 2011

    2/11/11 Bb Downtime & Known Issue: Abnormal Usage "Spikes"

    As part of DoIT's regular scheduled maintenance window, Blackboard will be down next Friday, February 11 (10 p.m.) to Saturday, February 12 (1 a.m.) to address abnormal database utilization "spikes" occurring several times a day since the start of this semester. Normally, Bb operates at about 20-30 percent of system capacity, but DoIT has seen spikes of nearly 100 percent, resulting in very slow performance for up to 30 or even 60 minutes each occurrence.

    We've heard similar reports from other institutions that have upgraded to version 9, and have been exploring their suggested fixes. We've also been working with Blackboard, which has recently recommended a two-step approach: 1) replacement of a key database function that will occur during next week's downtime, and 2) re-indexing of the entire database.

    This re-indexing step #2 would require at least 12-hours of scheduled down time, which we are not yet prepared to do given the disruption to students, faculty and staff during the semester. Our preference is to do this over Spring Break, but if step #1 does not buy us time by temporarily fixing the problem, we may be forced to act sooner.

    DoIT will continue to monitor the Blackboard system and update the campus when we know more. In the meantime, thank you for your cooperation and patience.

    Posted by fritz at 2:00 PM | TrackBack

    Educause Publishes Video Demo of UMBC "Check My Activity" Tool for Students


    The final 2010 issue of EDUCAUSE Quarterly includes a brief (5 minute) video demo of UMBC's "Check My Activity" (CMA) tool for students. The CMA demo was part of EQ's special focus on student retention, and includes new information comparing how students use Blackboard by final grade distribution in all 1,461 Spring 2010 Blackboard courses. Specifically, D & F students used it 47 percent less than students earning a C or better, which is similar to results from previous semesters based on much smaller samples. A similar analysis is being conducted on all Blackboard courses for Fall 2010.

    Posted by fritz at 12:58 PM | TrackBack

    January 12, 2011

    SP 2011 Blackboard Drop-in Sessions

    DoIT is offering drop in Blackboard Drop-in sessions to assist and help faculty prepare for the spring semester.

    The following one hour drop in sessions will be held in Engineering 025. 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 may be added as demand warrants.


    SP2011 Blackboard Drop In Schedule
    DateTime
    Tu 1/1812-1 pm
    W 1/1912-1 pm
    M 1/244-6 pm
    W 1/2612-1 pm
    M 1/3112-1 pm
    W 2/212-1 pm

    Posted by readel at 4:48 PM | TrackBack

    December 3, 2010

    UMBC Blackboard Update: WT2011

    UMBC Blackboard update is provided by the Division of Information Technology for students, faculty and staff using Blackboard at UMBC. If you have questions or need help, please consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Blackboard or directly at http://www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help. You can also contact the DoIT Help Desk at 410.455.3838, ENGR Room 020. Students may submit a help request via the 24/7 Blackboard Support portal at http://bbsupport.umbc.edu.

    HEADLINES

    1. WT2011 & SP2011 Bb Course Shells Created 12/1
    2. Instructional Continuity Support WT & SP 2011 Courses
    3. 24/7 Bb Support Still Available For Students Only
    4. Only 4 Seats Left in Hybrid Course Re-design Workshop 1/14/11
    5. Ad Hoc SP2011 AV Support Reservations Now Being Accepted
    6. FYI: EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference 1/12-1/14

    Posted by readel at 4:27 PM | TrackBack

    Only 4 Seats Left in Hybrid Course Re-design Workshop 1/14/11


    Participants learn the principles of good course design and apply them to a traditional, face-to-face (F2F) course that could be delivered as a hybrid (part-online, part F2F) course. Using hybrid delivery to demonstrate best practices of hybrid teaching, this workshop is open to any UMBC instructor considering teaching a hybrid course in any semester.

    The workshop will also help meet the requirements for a one-time course-redesign stipend through the Alternate Delivery Program (ADP), which is sponsored by the Office of Summer, Winter, and Special Programs (OSWSP) and the Provost's Office.

    Posted by readel at 4:21 PM | TrackBack

    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

    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

    August 23, 2010

    Support for WT & SP 2011 Hybrid Courses, Instructional Continuity

    While the Fall semester starts next week, the Division of Information Technology (in partnership with the Provost's Office and Continuing & Professional Studies), is providing support for hybrid learning and instructional continuity. Specifically, departmental course proposals are due to the Registrar's Office September 10 (for Winter), and October 1 (for Spring). Faculty who have support from a chair and meet Fall requirements of the Alternate Delivery Program (ADP) can receive a one-time, $2,500 course development stipend. Space in the ADP is limited, and DoIT encourages faculty to carefully consider how (and why) they are actively using instructional technologies now, but the following resources may be helpful in deciding whether to identify a Winter or Spring 2011 course proposal for "hybrid" or "online" delivery:


    1. ELI's Online Fall Focus Session on Blended Learning (September 15-16)

    Karin Readel
    UMBC's Alternate Delivery Program (ADP) will be featured during the
    1:15 p.m. session on Thursday, September 16 when Karin Readel, Director of Instructional Technology and a 2006 ADP "alum," provides an overview of the ADP, describes her own experiences hybridizing her SCI100 course, and joins a follow up panel of speakers for Q & A. For this online event, we'll have to "share" Karin with the rest of the country, but DoIT is holding a free, joint viewing in ECS 023 for both days of ELI's online Fall Focus session. This is a great way learn more about hybrid or blended learning, ask questions, and think about your own course delivery options before submitting your course delivery proposal to the Registrar's office.

    Note: UMBC is an institutional member of ELI, which is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in effective use of instructional technologies. All you have to do is create a free Educause account and list UMBC as your institutional affiliation. Resources include the "7 things you should know about . . ." series, live webinars and archives, and the spring and fall focus sessions. While separate registration is required, the 2011 ELI Annual Meeting will be held in Washington, DC, February 14-16, 2011. Harvard Physics Professor Eric Mazur, who spoke at UMBC last fall, will be the keynote speaker.

    2. ISD Instructor Jeannette Campos Available for Hybrid & Online Learning Consults to ADP Faculty

    Jeannette Campos
    In addition to working with Karin, for faculty who participate in the ADP, Jeannette Campos, an instructional designer and UMBC instructor in Education's ISD program, is available for up to 10 hours a week of online and remote support. Some may recall Jeannette was a "virtual speaker" for one of our Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLT) "Brown Bag" workshops last fall:

    Using Online Tools for Remote Instruction (9/28/09)

    For her remote support of ADP faculty, Jeannette will hold "office hours" twice per week using Skype, and will probably make at least one afternoon per month available for faculty who would prefer daytimes. She will do tutorials, follow-on work, review of course sites and proposed learning activities, and email related correspondence consistently throughout the week. She will also assist us in further developing our hybrid workshop into an online and hybrid resource for faculty who can't attend the face-to-face versions in January and June of each year. For more information, contact Jeannette at jeannet1@umbc.edu.

    3. Blackboard "Drop-In" Sessions & Informal Consulting with Peers

    DoIT is continuing to provide informal Blackboard "Drop In" sessions through this month and the first week of September. There is no "agenda," per se and you do not have to register in advance, but questions and issues are taken on a first come, first served basis, and time given to each topic is subject to the number of people attending.

    In addition, faculty may want to consult peers in their departments who are actively using Blackboard and ask how or why they do so. Of course, this has to be mutually agreeable between colleagues, but over the years we have found that faculty often learn best from other faculty. Also, while it is not required for participation in the ADP, DoIT recommends that faculty be in the top 50 percent of their department's overall Blackboard activity, as this will make the transition to hybrid or online teaching much easier.

    4. Resources for Instructional Continuity

    Finally, DoIT has prepared a list of instructional continuity resources, strategies and activities that faculty may want to consider in case of inclement weather, H1N1 or other disruption to normal campus operations and access. Many of these "effective practices" are used extensively in hybrid and online learning, but if you're not ready or comfortable to teach this way all semester, then being prepared for occasional disruptions can be a great way to test the waters . . . so to speak.

    One idea that will be described in more detail are optional, virtual "snow days" this fall. Faculty may want to participate in one or more of these exercises by using remote instruction strategies. Tentative plans are underway for virtual snow days on the following Fridays: 9/24, 10/29, 11/19 (last Friday before Thanksgiving break) and 12/10 (last Friday of Fall 2010).

    Posted by fritz at 6:29 AM | TrackBack

    August 22, 2010

    Take a Two-Week, Online Course in "How to Teach an Online Course"

    Since most faculty teach the way they were taught--and most weren't taught online--the best way to start is to first learn online, when someone else is driving the experience. In 2008 UMBC joined the Sloan Consortium, an institutional organization dedicated to promoting quality online education. As members UMBC faculty have access to Sloan-C's "College Pass" program, which allows them to register for online courses on topics ranging from delivering online content and fostering student engagement to podcasting and use of Second Life. Of particular interest is the two-week "Getting Started: First Step Toward Online Teaching" course that begins August 25 and is repeated on October 13 and November 3. During this course, faculty will be introduced to the fundamentals of online education, and gain practical “hands-on” experience with technology. This is an ideal opportunity for faculty interested in exploring hybrid or online teaching.

    UMBC has an annual total of 100 workshop “seats” which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. In order to take advantage of the free registration for Sloan-C workshops, faculty need to obtain UMBC’s College Pass Coupon Code which is located on the Alternate Delivery Program website under the Support link. Details on the registration process are also included in a short jing video.

    Posted by readel at 9:51 PM | TrackBack

    July 7, 2010

    Take a Two-Week, Online Course in "How to Teach an Online Course"

    Since most faculty teach the way they were taught--and most weren't taught online--the best way to start is to first learn online, when someone else is driving the experience. In 2008 UMBC joined the Sloan Consortium, an institutional organization dedicated to promoting quality online education. As members UMBC faculty have access to Sloan-C's "College Pass" program, which allows them to register for online courses on topics ranging from delivering online content and fostering student engagement to podcasting and use of Second Life. Of particular interest is the two-week "Getting Started: First Step Toward Online Teaching" course that begins July 14 and is repeated on August 25, October 13 and November 3. During this course, faculty will be introduced to the fundamentals of online education, and gain practical “hands-on” experience with technology. This is an ideal opportunity for faculty interested in exploring hybrid or online teaching.

    UMBC has an annual total of 100 workshop “seats” which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. In order to take advantage of the free registration for Sloan-C workshops, faculty need to obtain UMBC’s College Pass Coupon Code which is located on the Alternate Delivery Program website under the Support link. Details on the registration process are also included in a short jing video.

    Posted by readel at 5:41 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

    April 21, 2010

    Hybrid Course Redesign Workshop at Shady Grove Campus, June 4, 8:30 am - 4 pm


    Participants learn the principles of good course design and apply them to a traditional, face-to-face (F2F) course that could be delivered as a hybrid (part-online, part F2F) course. Using hybrid delivery to demonstrate best practices of hybrid teaching, this workshop is open to any UMBC instructor considering teaching a hybrid course in any semester.

    The workshop will also help meet the requirements for a one-time course-redesign stipend through the Alternate Delivery Program (ADP), which is sponsored by the Office of Summer, Winter, and Special Programs (OSWSP) and the Provost's Office.

    Please note: This workshop will be held at the Shady Grove Campus.

    Camille Kendall Academic Center, Room 2203 (Bldg III on the map)
    The Universities at Shady Grove
    9630 Gudelsky Drive
    Rockville, MD  20850

    Directions:
    http://www.shadygrove.umd.edu/about/directions/

    Parking:
    http://www.shadygrove.umd.edu/about/directions/parking.cfm

    Posted by darnold at 9:44 AM | TrackBack

    February 22, 2010

    Blackboard Blogs & Wikis Upgraded

    The Blackboard blog and wiki tools developed by LearningObjects.com have been upgraded to the latest version 3.0.12 today. All content and functionality appears to be present and working properly, but one documented issue is the possible loss of a course menu link to the JournalLX (blog) and TeamsLX (wiki) tools. If this occurs, the fix is easy: create a NEW menu button link to the blog or wiki too available in the Bb course tools area. ONLY the menu button link may disappear, all content is still available via the blog or wiki links in the Bb tool area.

    Note: JournalLX and TeamsLX are part of a social networking suite of software that is collectively known as Campus Pack:

  • ExpoLX -- a personal blog and wiki tool available to all UMBC Blackboard users. Tip: each can tool can be "shared" with your classes or communities on the Blackboard server OR even with non-UMBC account holders, who you can allow to view, comment or edit.

  • JournalLX -- a blogging tool for Bb courses and communities.

  • TeamsLX -- a wiki (collaborative web site) for Bb courses and communities. UMBC History Professor Anne Rubin is featured in a LearningObject.com case study.

  • PodcastLX--an upload tool for audio podcasts.

  • SearchLX--searches content across the entire Campus Pack tool suite.

    For brief (30 minute) online demo of the entire Campus Pack software suite, visit the LearningObjects.com "community site."

    Posted by fritz at 8:58 PM | TrackBack

    February 16, 2010

    Brown Bag: Developing and Assessing Quality Learning in Online and Hybrid Courses, RESCHEDULED for 3/10/10, 1-2 pm, Engineering 023

    Bring your lunch and join us as Katie Morris (Social Work) and Tim Hardy (Economics) share two examples of quality student learning in their online and hybrid courses. Both faculty members are past participants of the Alternate Delivery Program (ADP).

    Morris and Hardy joined Tyson King-Meadows (center) for a panel presentation during the Summer 2009 Hybrid Course Re-design workshop.

    Morris, who has served as an ADP peer reviewer, recently completed the Quality Matters Program online certification training. Using the QM principles and approach, she converted her hybrid SOWK 240 course into an online-only course for Winter 2010 and will share her students' feedback.

    One of six faculty to re-design an ADP Summer or Winter course for Fall 2009 hybrid delivery, Hardy will share his observations about quality student learning. Specifically, when comparing his students' scores on his department's common final exam, he found the hybrid students performed better than students in a traditional, face-to-face course.

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

    Posted by darnold at 8:56 AM | TrackBack

    December 4, 2009

    OSWP, DoIT& FDC Offer 1/15/10 Hybrid Course Re-design Workshop

    The Office of Summer, Winter & Special Programs (OSWSP), in cooperation with DoIT and the Faculty Development Center (FDC), will again sponsor a Hybrid Course Re-Design Workshop for full or part-time UMBC faculty interested in learning how to develop a hybrid class. If the course is offered during SU2010, OSWSP provides a one-time, $2,500 course development stipend as part of its Alternate Delivery Program (ADP).


    Three faculty experienced in hybrid teaching share lessons learned during a recent Hybrid Course Re-design Workshop at UMBC. Seated from left are Katie Morris (Social Work), Tyson King-Meadows (Political Science), and Tim Hardy (Economics). More Information.

    The Hybrid Course Re-design workshop consists of two sessions focusing on pedagogy and good course design in the morning, a panel discussion from past participants during lunch, and effective practices using instructional technology in the afternoon. Both sessions are required and will be held in Engineering 023.

    Following the face-2-face workshop, participants who wish to receive the one-time, $2,500 ADP stipend for SU2010 delivery will be required to present two “learning objects” During the Spring 2010 semester (see dates on the ADP requirements site).

    While the Hybrid workshop is NOT required to participate in the ADP, it has been shown to help faculty prepare to meet the ADP’s requirements. The ADP faculty presentations are open to the campus, especially departments of participating faculty, and will be videotaped for online viewing by future participants through UMBC’s iTunesU and UMBCTube video distribution sites. To register, go to the Hybrid Design Workshop training site.

    Posted by fritz at 11:08 AM | TrackBack

    October 9, 2009

    UMBC "Check My Activity" Reports for Students Now Available Inside Blackboard

    bb_reports_tool_link.pngBased on user response to a system-wide announcement in all UMBC Blackboard courses this past week, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) has made a permanent link to the self-service "Check My Activity" (CMA) reporting tools for students on the myBlackboard tools menu.

    Specifically, all students now have an easy way to find the "Check My Activity" (CMA) and "Grade Distribution Report" (GDR) tools for comparing their own activity against an anonymous summary of their course peers. Using this same myBlackboard tools menu link, faculty and staff have access to similar reports, though staff are unlikely to have need for the GDR tool, which is only valuable if a grade has been entered in a Bb grade book.

    As reported previously by DoIT and The Retriever Weekly, students have had access to their own CMA and GDR tools since Spring of 2009. However, adoption has been slow, probably because the tools don't reside inside Blackboard. So, a link to both reports was posted on Friday, October 2, at 5 p.m. and expired a week later at the same time on Friday, October 9.

    CMA & GDR Demo
    CMA & GDR Demo
    The Results?
    • In just one week, CMA & GDR usage activity increased more than 1,000 percent to 6,051 visits compared to 391 visits the entire previous month (Sept. 1 to Oct. 1).

    • The total number of page views increased to 20,008 from 537 the previous month. Average page views per visit also increased to 3.31 compared to 1.37.

    • The average time spent on the CMA & GDR reports jumped to 1 minute, 18 seconds, compared to just 13 seconds the previous month.

    • Also, returning visitors accounted for 83 percent of all page views, and they spent more time on the site (1 min, 26 secs) compared to new visitors (58 secs). This means the the CMA & GDR tools constitute a "sticky site," in that once visitors discover it, they come back again and again.

    • Is is worth noting that the Grade Distribution Report (GDR) was by far the most popular tool, accounting for 73 percent of all visits to the UMBC Blackboard Reports site that contains all "self service" tools and list of Most Active Courses for each semester over the last two years.

    While user activity steadily declined as the week progressed, it may be because there were fewer new grades to compare user activity against. This strong interest in grades and related Blackboard activity confirms key findings of a national study showing students value the ability to check grades and gain access to practice quizzes and sample exercises as the most valuable functions in a course management system (CMS) like Blackboard.

    A full report showing the CMA & GDR usage activity from September 1 to October 9 is available here.

    Posted by fritz at 10:19 PM | TrackBack

    August 24, 2009

    Challenges and Changes to UMBC Blackboard Support

    This summer, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT), has begun to face more than our typical “back to school” challenges in providing Blackboard support to UMBC students, faculty and staff. Specifically, we have lost an employee who provided fulltime support for nine years; the campus has implemented a new student information system that provides the data for our auto course creation and enrollment scripts; and we are preparing for a possible disruption of classes due to the H1N1 flu this coming year.

    In addressing these challenges, DoIT asks for your understanding as we make some necessary changes to sustain (and hopefully improve) how we provide Blackboard support to the campus.

    For example:

    1. We will continue to rely on the full time DoIT Help Desk staff to provide tier 1, basic Blackboard support, including all queries about Bb course creation and enrollment issues.

    myumbc_help_still.png
    A year ago, Help Desk staff members Jim Keys and Barb Myers agreed to an experiment: working with Instructional Technology to learn the inner workings of Blackboard and provide tier 1 basic support, so our full time instructional designer, Bob Armstrong, could focus on more advanced or time-consuming issues and opportunities, including one-on-one support to faculty participants in the Summer & Winter Alternate Delivery Program. By all accounts, the experiment “worked” and Jim and Barb are seasoned Blackboard support veterans now.

    In addition, Jim and Barb have helped us transition Blackboard support to DoIT’s new call tracking system, Request Tracker, or RT for short. As such, to coordinate (and document) demand for Bb support, it would be very helpful to DoIT if ALL Bb help requests are submitted using the RT request form, which is available in the myUMBC help menu or directly at http://my.umbc.edu/help/request. Alternately, you can call the help desk at 410.455.3838 or drop in by visiting Engineering Room 020.

    myumbc_help_still.png
    Debra Arnold

    I also want to thank Debra Arnold, who is stepping up to provide day-to-day, tier 2 application support for Blackboard now that Bob Armstrong has joined the Johns Hopkins School of Engineering to support their distance education program. Deb has provided outstanding IT support and training to UMBC staff for many years, and has orbited the Bb support periphery before, by helping to support Blackboard communities and using Bb to support PeopleSoft finance and HR training. She also recently completed all requirements for her Master’s in Instructional Design at UMBC this summer.

    Currently, Blackboard is used in about 50 percent of all 2,500 UMBC course sections each semester. This includes 65 percent of all 1,000 faculty and 95 percent of all 12,000 students. DoIT has a little more than two (2) FTE support staff dedicated to Blackboard user support. Admittedly, informal benchmarking with other schools has shown an average of .25 FTE for every 1,000 students supported, so we’re sized just shy of where we should be for current usage. But with the new SA challenges, possible H1N1 closures or high absenteeism, and recent staffing changes, user patience and cooperation will be appreciated this semester, and will be important in sustaining efficient and effective Blackboard support.

    2. We encourage faculty within departments to continue helping each other.

    Long before our current challenges, we have always relied upon and tried to facilitate faculty learning from each other. This is one reason why we publish the most active Blackboard courses by discipline, as well as the past participants in the Summer & Winter Alternate Delivery Program.

    True story: I once interviewed a faculty member about student reports of her good Blackboard use (in front of colleague from her department). When we finished the interview, her colleague said: “I had no idea what you were doing. Can we have lunch?” I just smiled and realized half of my job is connecting faculty who can and want to learn from each other. Hopefully, our lists of experienced Blackboard practitioners can do the same.

    Of course, if faculty providing or requesting collegial help get stuck, please consult UMBC's Blackboard Help or submit a myUMBC help request to DoIT and we’ll do our best to solve problems, provide effective workarounds or escalate the problem to Blackboard directly.

    3. We will begin another experiment this year by outsourcing our Blackboard support to Presidium Learning, Inc., which provides 24/7 support, and a 95 percent first-call resolution rate.

    Details are still being ironed out and will be communicated more fully, but working in concert with the DoIT help desk which will provide walk in support, all UMBC students, faculty and staff will soon be able to get 24/7 Blackboard support via phone, IM chat or an online knowledgebase. In addition, DoIT staff will be freed up for more advanced issues and opportunities, including trend and root cause analysis of our most frequent user support demands, and how these benchmark with other institutions running Blackboard installations of our size and composition.

    Perhaps most importantly, if the university is closed or challenged by absenteeism for an extended period due to the H1N1 flu, Blackboard support can continue with off-site support, in case DoIT staff also get sick and can’t provide it. That said, DoIT staff will continue to provide on-site consults, preferably for small groups or cohorts from the same department, but we ask the campus community to first try to use Presidium support.

    Finally, we hope the addition of Presidium will provide a much needed support structure for students, who have often had to rely on faculty for informal technical support, since there just aren’t enough DoIT support staff to meet everyone’s needs. In particular, we think the 24/7 access will be a welcome addition to students when they’re working late at night and having technical problems.

    It is important to note that the agreement with Presidium is a one-year pilot only. A growing number of colleges and universities are considering or implementing outsourced support, but we want to learn the pros and cons of UMBC doing so. In addition to helping with a staffing crunch and possibly increased support due to H1N1 this year, we think it is worth conducting the pilot now as part of DoIT’s overall plan to improve end-user support.

    If you have questions or suggestions about UMBC’s Blackboard support strategies, please contact me at fritz@umbc.edu or 410.455.6596.

    Thanks,

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    Div. of Information Technology

    Posted by fritz at 4:21 PM | Comments (1) | 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

    August 14, 2009

    FA2009 Bb Course Shells Created 7/30, Use Request Form if Yours Wasn't

    As is our practice normally, Fall 2009 Bb shells have been created for all courses listed in UMBC's official Schedule of Classes (SOC) on 7/30/09. By default, a Bb course shell is unavailable (to students) until the instructor of record makes it "available."

    INSTRUCTORS: If your course was not listed in the SOC on 7/30/09 OR a cross-list with another course was not officially indicated in the SOC, please submit a Bb Course Creation Request.

    In addition, if you or your department intended one Blackboard course to be "cross-listed" or "associated" with another course, this needs to appear in UMBC's official Schedule of Classes for Blackboard to automatically do so. Please contact the registrar’s office to make official cross-lists, so that all students will be properly enrolled in the correct Blackboard course shell.

    STUDENTS: You MUST be officially enrolled in a UMBC course via myUMBC to be "auto-enrolled" in a Bb course "shell." You will see them when they have been made "Available" to students by the instructor.

    If you have questions or need help, please consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Blackboard or directly at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help, or contact the DoIT Help Desk at 410.455.3838, ECS Room 020 or submit a help request via myUMBC or directly at http://my.umbc.edu/help/request

    Posted by fritz at 4:13 PM | 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

    May 8, 2009

    FYI: Hybrid Course Re-Design Workshop 6/4

    The Office of Summer, Winter & Special Programs (OSWSP), in cooperation with DoIT and the Faculty Development Center, will again sponsor an “Hybrid Course Re-Design Workshop” for those interested in learning how to develop a hybrid class. If the course is to be offered during WT2010, OSWSP provides a one-time, $1,500 course development stipend as part of its Alternate Delivery Program (ADP).

    The Hybrid Course Re-design workshop consists of an all-day workshop focusing on pedagogy and good course design in the morning, a panel discussion from past participants during lunch, and effective practices using instructional technology in the afternoon. Both sessions are required and will be held in ITE, Room 456.
Following the face-2-face workshop sessions, participants who wish to receive the one-time, $1,500 ADP stipend will be required to present two “learning objects” During the Fall 2009 semester (dates TBD). While the Hybrid workshop is NOT required to participate in the ADP, it has been shown to help faculty prepare to meet the ADP’s requirements.

    The ADP faculty presentations are open to the campus, especially departments of participating faculty, and will be videotaped for online viewing by future participants through UMBC’s iTunesU and UMBCTube video distribution sites. To register, go to the Hybrid Design Workshop training site.

    Posted by rarmstro at 9:41 AM | TrackBack

    March 15, 2009

    Duke Recommends a UMBC "Effective Practice" -- Online Discussion Portfolios

    Andrea Novicki from Duke University added a new post on the Center for Instructional Technology's (CIT) blog about a UMBC hybrid learning effective practice: using participation portfolios to manage and assess online discussions.


    Novicki attended John Fritz' "participation portfolio" presentation at the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) annual meeting in Orlando in January of this year. Basically, a "participation portfolio," consists of the following:

    • An instructor-developed "rubric" that defines a quality discussion post and reply;
    • A portfolio template that allows students to copy & paste their best 3-5 examples of a discussion board participation (based on the rubric).
    • A "self-grade" that students submit, and instructors can accept, raise or lower--based on the "evidence" students supply that meets the rubric.

    The "participation portfolio" and other "effective practices" were developed through a collaboration between faculty and instructional technology staff in UMBC's Alternate Delivery Program.

    Posted by fritz at 10:14 PM | TrackBack

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