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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 16, 2012

Known Issue: Error Accessing Blackboard Wiki Tool (RESOLVED)

UPDATE: DoIT staffed installed the patch for the Blackboard wiki error during the downtime on Friday, April 20, and the wiki tool is now functioning normally.

UPDATE: Blackboard has verified that the wiki error we are experiencing is a known issue (LRNSI-5667) and is due to a Java resource leak which results in unexpected behavior of the tool. DoIT is currently testing the patches provided by Blackboard, in anticipation of installing them on the production server Friday night.

-------------

DoIT is tracking a problem involving the Blackboard Wiki tool. When users try to create or access an existing Bb wiki, an error is generated. DoIT staff are working with Blackboard, Inc. to troubleshoot this issue and we hope to have a solution soon.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Posted by readel at 12:44 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

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

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

    September 7, 2011

    Known Issue: Students Can't Access Bb Course Files

    DoIT is tracking a problem that has emerged in a dozen Fall 2011 Blackboard courses in which students see the following error:

    The specified resource was not found or you do not have permission to access it.

    Workaround

    Actually, the files DO exist in the course, but need to be re-linked (NOT re-uploaded). We understand this is a challenging problem and workaround at a very hectic time of year. We have submitted a support ticket into Blackboard, which is working to dentify the cause of this problem. We will update UMBC Bb instructors as we learn more.

    Posted by fritz at 7:53 AM | TrackBack

    August 25, 2011

    UMBC Blackboard Update: FA2011

    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. Fall Course Shells Created on July 11
    2. Bb Courses Older than Fall 2005 Will Be Deleted Aug. 26
    3. UMBC Blackboard Help Now Part of myUMBC Help Wiki
    4. FA2011 Bb Drop-in Sessions
    5. Known Issue: Blackboard compatible browsers
    6. Blackboard Weekly Maintenance Schedule Reminder
    7. End of LO Building Block (Blogs/ Wikis/ Journals)
    8. WT2011 Alternate Delivery Program Provides Hybrid Course Support
    9. FYI: ELI Annual Meeting Presentation Proposals Due September 7

    Posted by readel at 5:49 AM | 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

    Blackboard Weekly Maintenance Schedule Reminder

    This is just a friendly reminder to the UMBC campus community of the Blackboard weekly maintenance schedule window from Friday 10 pm to Saturday 1 am. Although this maintenance window is not always utilized, DoIT Staff will now be regularly implementing server updates on the last Friday of each month, starting with August 26, 2011. Reminder notices about the downtime will be posted several days in advance. Blackboard instructors should take note of the weekly maintenance window, and as a general rule, refrain from assigning any work that is due on Blackboard during this time. Similarly students should understand that Blackboard may be unavailable each week from Friday 10 pm - Saturday 1 am.

    We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience as we maintain these critical systems.

    Posted by readel at 12:35 PM | TrackBack

    August 21, 2011

    UPDATE: FYI: Bb Courses Older Than FA2005 Will Be Deleted 8/25

    UPDATE: DoIT has pushed back the date to remove Bb courses older than FA2005 by one day, to Friday, August, 26 at 3 pm.

    -----

    In accordance with the Blackboard Course Retention Policy, all Blackboard courses older than Fall 2005 will be deleted. DoIT has scheduled this removal for Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 3 p.m. No downtime will be required.

    Instructors are encouraged to download and keep a copy of the Grade Center for any affected courses. Instructors may also archive an entire course, and keep a local copy for their records. Be aware though that only DoIT system administrators can "restore" an archived course on the UMBC Blackboard production server.

    Posted by readel at 11:33 AM | TrackBack

    August 1, 2011

    FA2011 Blackboard Drop-in Sessions

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

    FA2011 Blackboard Drop In Schedule
    DateTime
    M 8/2212-1 pm
    W 8/2411 am-1 pm
    W 8/243-5 pm
    F 8/2612-1 pm
    M 8/293-5 pm
    Tu 8/304-6 pm
    F 9/212-1 pm
    Tu 9/612-1 pm
    F 9/912-1 pm
    NEW F 9/1612-1 pm
    NEW M 9/1912-1 pm
    NEW Th 9/2212-1 pm
    NEW M 9/2612-1 pm

    Posted by readel at 1:15 PM | TrackBack

    July 18, 2011

    FA2011 Bb Course Shells Created on 7/11

    Bb course shells for FA 2011 were created on July 11, 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 10:12 AM | TrackBack

    April 29, 2011

    End of LO Building Block in Bb (Blogs/ Wikis/ Journals)

    As of SU2011 DoIT is discontinuing the use of the Learning Objects (LO) building block in Blackboard, including the 3rd party Campus Pack blogs, wikis and journals. Blackboard includes similar tools as components in the Learn 9.1 release, and they have been available for instructors to use since the major upgrade in May 2010. Having two different tools (one native to Bb and one from a 3rd party vendor) to accomplish the same thing has been a source of frustration to instructors. DoIT staff recommend that instructors who wish to keep a record of any of the Campus Pack blogs, wikis or journals from their courses, export them as html files prior to May 26, 2011. After that date, these items will no longer be accessible in your old Bb courses.

    DoIT staff thanks you for your patience during this transition period.

    Posted by readel at 1:27 PM | TrackBack

    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

    End of 24/7 Bb Support for Students/ DoIT Help Desk moving to RLC

    On May 26, DoIT will no longer outsource student support of Blackboard. Instead, like faculty and staff, all students will now contact the DoIT Help Desk by calling 410.455.3838. As a reminder, the DoIT Help Desk hours are 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Mon-Fri), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sat.) and Noon-5 p.m. (Sun.). Before, during and after these hours, everyone is encouraged to 1) consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Bb or directly at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help, or 2) submit an RT (“Request Tracker”) ticket via the myUMBC Help menu or directly at http://rt.umbc.edu. Also, DoIT has found that customers who can supply a “screen capture” of a software problem help us resolve the issue more efficiently or effectively.

    Since November 2009, DoIT has been piloting a 24/7 outsource of Blackboard support with Presidium Learning, Inc., in part to address staffing challenges from turnover, retirements and current budget challenges. During this time, we’ve tightened our standard operating procedures by having to explain them to a third party. Also, Presidium’s approach to managing support through metrics has also complemented our own. DoIT began publishing monthly support statistics last January, including results of voluntary customer satisfaction surveys when an RT ticket is resolved.

    Unfortunately, outsourcing support to a third-party has been more challenging than expected. As announced last Fall, DoIT ended 24/7 Bb support for faculty due to challenges in supporting the depth and variety of faculty Blackboard needs. While students have continued to use the 24/7 support, especially the online knowledge base designed for self-service, our analysis of ticket volume shows very few students were submitting support tickets after our Help Desk’s current hours of operation.

    Finally, as part of the Retriever Learning Center’s opening in the Library this fall, DoIT and the Library have decided to join forces in providing on-site support of students. As such, we are exploring moving some of our current operations from the Help Desk in Engineering 020 to the RLC’s first floor of the Library. Details are still being discussed, but we imagine having more trained, student IT workers available and roving in the RLC to answer customer questions directly. Since most of DoIT’s current customer support is provided remotely (by phone or online), this will be a dramatic change in how we do business. But we are intrigued by the possibilities of working more directly with customers in the RLC. We will continue to provide direct, remote support during existing Help Desk hours, but ask customers to consult our online knowledge base before submitting an RT ticket.

    In addition to feedback and suggestions, DoIT appreciates your patience as we work through this transition in Bb support specifically and IT customer support generally.

    Posted by readel at 12:47 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

    April 25, 2011

    FA2011 Lab & Lecture Hall Software Requests Deadline is June 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 2011 must be received by Wednesday, June 1. For Spring 2012, the lab & lecture hall software "image" deadline is Tuesday, November 1.
    To be added to the lab & lecture hall image, DoIT must have the following:

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

    Contact 410.455.3838 and a Help Desk staff member will enter a ticket.
    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 (204 ACIV 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 Help Desk at 410.455.3838 if you have any additional questions.

    Posted by readel at 3:23 PM | TrackBack

    April 19, 2011

    SU2011 Bb Course Shells Created on 4/19

    Bb course shells for SU 2011 were created on April 19, 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 8:08 PM | TrackBack

    February 24, 2011

    IHE Journal Publishes Article on Check My Activity Tool for Students

    The Internet and Higher Education has published an article about UMBC's Check My Activity (CMA) tool for students in its special issue on web mining in education. For more information, see the following:

    Fritz, J., Classroom walls that talk: Using online course activity data of successful students to raise self-awareness of underperforming peers, Internet and Higher Education, Volume 14, Issue 2, March 2011, Pages 89-97.

    Posted by fritz at 2:44 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

    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

    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

    August 24, 2010

    Changes in How Faculty Can Get Blackboard Help

    Starting today, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) is directing faculty to the DoIT Help Desk to resolve basic (tier 1) Blackboard issues or escalate to DoIT's Instructional Technology & New Media group. Presidium Learning will continue to support basic (tier 1) student Blackboard issues, excluding DoIT's auto-enrollment and auto-course creation processes, which are unique to UMBC.

    Generally speaking, tier 1 IT support refers to basic but frequent end user support (e.g., forgotten passwords), tier 2 refers to less frequent but more advanced application support (e.g., how to export/import a course or use the grade center), and tier 3 refers to a handful of back end, but high impact system administration issues (e.g., server is down).

    We are making this change in faculty Blackboard support for a number of reasons:

    First, a steady number of faculty continue to report lack of consistency in the depth and quality of 24/7 Bb support they have received from Presidium Learning. We have continually worked with Presidium to address specific issues when we learn of them, and results of a recent user satisfaction survey are generally positive. However, feedback from some faculty is still mixed. As we announced in May, one reason we proceeded with the 9.1 summer upgrade was to learn about issues that may affect support of faculty before the start of Fall. While any upgrade can be challenging, we don't want support of faculty to complicate the transition, so we are making this change now.

    Second, student use of 24/7 Bb support continues to outpace faculty--especially during nights and weekends, and feedback is generally positive. Since nearly all students have at least one Blackboard course, faculty may want to ask students to start with 24/7 Bb support if they have technical issue. In turn, this may reduce the default "help desk" role many faculty play in their Blackboard courses now. Also, as Presidium continues to provide student support, it frees up DoIT staff to provide more advanced, tier 2 application support.

    Finally, as I announced a year ago today (and again in November and January), we continue to face challenges in providing support for an application that is now used by nearly all UMBC classes--with the same Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staffing as when we started using Blackboard ten years ago. To do so, faculty have stepped up to not only support each other, but also to lead by example in how to get the most out of Blackboard and other instructional technologies or effective practices (e.g., AV, clickers, digital storytelling, hybrid learning, etc.). DoIT values and intentionally facilitates these kinds of faculty learning communities, but as technology adoption increases, we need to find the right balance between supporting people while also helping them to help themselves and others.

    To be clear, this change now means that "after hours" faculty Bb support will be limited to the UMBC support staff (and faculty colleagues) who able and willing to provide it. But we hope this change and continuing use of 24/7 Bb student support will be a step in the right direction.

    If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please let me know.

    Sincerely,

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    UMBC Division of Information Technology
    410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu

    Posted by fritz at 9:47 AM | TrackBack

    August 23, 2010

    Anecdotal Reports of System Slowness After Bb 9.1 Upgrade

    Early after the Blackboard 9.1 upgrade at the end of May, DoIT received a few anecdotal reports of slowness in the new version of Blackboard. While we've not been able to consistently replicate these issues for further analysis, we have been in frequent contact with Blackboard, which has inspected our system and found nothing out of the ordinary.

    Without being able to consistently reproduce a problem, it is difficult to pin down, diagnose and resolve. If you encounter slowness in Blackboard, you can help by reporting it via an RT ticket.

    In addition, if you are willing and able to do so, capturing when the slowness occurs in the form of an optional, "show and tell" video screen cast would be extremely useful. I'm attaching a similar email request I sent to hybrid faculty back in June, but essentially it would be helpful if students, faculty and staff could do the following if and when there is new evidence of possible Bb system slowness:

    1. Capture it with Jing (works on a Mac or PC, is free and can be downloaded at www.jingproject.com)
    2. Show or tell the browser and release version you're using (e.g., Firefox 3.6.3, IE8, etc.)
    3. Show or tell the operating system you're using (e.g., Windows 7, Mac OSX 10.4, etc.)
    4. Show or tell the kind of internet connection you're using (e.g., wireless on campus, wireless at home using Comcast, etc.)
    5. Show or tell the specific problem you are able to repeat (reminder there is 5 minute limit on free Jing videos)
    6. Upload your video to screencast.com (part of the free Jing service) and get a link you can paste into an RT ticket (http://rt.umbc.edu)
    7. Create an RT ticket using the "online learning" queue, perhaps with "Bb 9.1 Issue w/Jing" as first part of your subject line
    8. Paste the link to your Jing video in the body of your ticket as well as text responses to items #2,3,4 above.
    9. Submit the RT ticket
    10. OPTIONAL: Add your Jing to the following site so others can learn about "known issues" (I've put up an example):

    UMBC Bb 9.1 Known Issues
    https://spaces.umbc.edu/x/vhHg

    Again, creating a "show and tell" video screencast is totally OPTIONAL and not required for submitting a ticket that contains the same information in textual format. But if you can create the video, it will really help DoIT determine the root of the problem--if it persists.

    As DoIT continues to investigate this issue, I will update the community if we learn more. In the meantime, if you have any questions, suggestions or need more information, please let me know.

    Sincerely

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    UMBC Division of Information Technology
    410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu

    Posted by fritz at 1:51 PM | TrackBack

    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

    Blackboard Upgraded to Bb Learn 9.1; New Features and Known Issues

    UMBC’s Blackboard Learning Management System was upgraded to Bb Learn 9.1 over Memorial Weekend. Approximately 300 faculty members successfully used this new system to teach their courses throughout summer, taking advantage of the many new features available. These enhancements include the accessibility of the Control Panel, the new Course homepage, the Course Files feature, and drag and drop ability. Highlights of these new features, as well as some of the known issues are detailed below.

    New Features:

    1. Control Panel - All course management tools are now immediately available upon course access for instructors, without having to open a separate page. The control panel is now permanently located at the lower left of the window (and is not seen by students). This area provides easy access to the Gradecenter, Group/ User Management, Course Tools, and Course Files. Instructors now have the ability to edit the Course Menu directly through the addition of content areas and tool links.

    2. Course Home Page - The default course entry point is the new Course homepage, which contains a variety of modules such as “Course Announcements”, “What’s New”, “Calendar” and Tasks. The Course homepage provides “one stop shopping” for students by consolidating all relevant course information in one place.

    3. Course Files - Bb Learn 9.1 now provides a Course Files area that allows instructors to view and manage all files related to their course content. Instructors can now upload a file once, and use it in multiple areas of the course. When a file is renamed or moved, any links to that file will remain intact. The new 360° View lets an instructor see all of the places that any given file has been used in a course.

    4. Drag and Drop Function - Instructors are now able to use "drag and drop" to reorder Course Menu buttons, files, folders, and other content items.


    Known Issues:

    1. DoIT has received some anecdotal reports of Bb 9.1 system slowness. In some cases the issue was related to an older desktop machine, running IE 7.

    2. When opening an Office 2007 document in Internet Explorer, the user is sometimes presented with an unnecessary authentication dialog. Canceling it allows the document to open normally.

    3. If an instructor has created a Course Menu button to an external link, and set it to “open in a new window”, the URL is often appended with extra characters, making the URL unusable. The workaround for this is to set Course Menu buttons to external links to open in the existing browser window.

    4. Documents that are added as “Content Items” do not have the ability to open in a new window. If a user clicks on the link, the item is downloaded directly to the local machine. There is a new “File” content type, which allows an instructor to attach a file, and also allows the option to open that file in a new window. The key differences between “Item” and “File” content types are that with the “File” type the instructor is limited to attaching a single file, and there is no ability to add a textual description to it.

    5. When using discussion boards, if students post an attachment using the VTBE, the instructor will not be able to view it. Instead, the student should use the “attach file” button below the VTBE window.

    Posted by readel at 7:12 PM | TrackBack

    July 26, 2010

    DoIT Extends Summer Blackboard 9.1 Dropin Sessions - Aug & Sept.

    Now that the upgrade to Blackboard 9.1 has been completed and summer faculty are using the new version, DoIT is offering additional 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. 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 as demand warrants.

    SU2010 Aug & Sept DoIT Drop In Schedule
    DateTime
    Tu 8/312-1 pm
    Th 8/511:30 am-12:30 pm
    M 8/912-1 pm
    W 8/1112-1 pm
    M 8/1612-1 pm
    Tu 8/1712-1 pm
    Th 8/2612-1 pm
    F 8/2712-1 pm
    NEW M 8/305-8 pm
    W 9/112-1 pm
    Th 9/212-1 pm
    Tu 9/712-1 pm
    Th 9/912-1 pm
    NEW T 9/1412-1 pm
    NEW F 9/1712-1 pm
    NEW M 9/2012-1 pm
    NEW Th 9/2312-1 pm
    NEW T 9/2812-1 pm
    NEW W 9/2912-1 pm

    Posted by darnold at 2:48 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

    May 19, 2010

    A Case for Using The Blackboard Grade Book

    In 2008, a national study of more than 30,000 seniors and freshmen at more than 100 colleges and universities (including UMBC) reported that students value the ability to check their grades far more than any other function in a course management system (CMS) like Blackboard. Yet, less than half of UMBC's Bb courses used the grade book this past fall and spring. We understand why: it takes a little time to master the Bb grade center, faculty may prefer to use Excel functions in an "offline" mode, and there may be a reluctance to put a grade on everything students do. But apart from keeping students from constantly pestering faculty, an active Bb grade book can be "leveraged" in some interesting ways.

    UMBC_bb_gdr.png
    UMBC Bb activity by grade distribution, 2007-2009. Detail table
    1. Post Your Final SP2010 Grades To Help Understand Student Bb Usage by Grade Distribution

    As some may recall, DoIT has been researching how students use Blackboard. Specifically, over two years in a sample of 110 courses, D & F students tend to use Blackboard 39 percent less than students earning better grades. To be clear, we are not suggesting or interested in how Blackboard "makes" good students. Instead, we are interested in how good students use Blackboard, and how displaying this information (albeit anonymously within courses) might help raise awareness of their under performing peers.

    This is where faculty can help, by voluntarily adding to the sample of courses so we can study the Bb activity of students by final grade distribution. To do so, simply add a column called "GRADE" (quotes omitted) to your Blackboard grade book with your students' final letter grades. You can even hide the column from student display if you only want them to see your final grades in SA. But after final grades are due on May 26, if your Bb grade book contains a GRADE column, we will run a script that analyzes your student grades AND Bb activity to see if and how the usage trend does or does not persist. For more information, visit our project blog at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/reports.

    2. Encourage Your Students to Use the Bb "Check My Activity" (CMA) Tool

    If faculty use the grade book, our "Check My Activity" (CMA) tool beneath the "My Grades" tool lets students see an anonymous summary of Bb activity for students who earned the same, higher or lower grade they earned on any assignment. From prior surveys about the CMA, nearly 30 percent of students say they are "surprised" how their own Bb activity compared to peers (another 42 percent say they'd have to use the CMA more to determine its usefulness, but they appear to be intrigued). In addition, 54 percent say they would be "more inclined" to use the CMA's grade distribution report to review their Bb activity on past assignments--before future assignments are due. In other words, the CMA may leverage or amplify the feedback effect of grades that faculty are going to give students any way, but it can only do so if they use the grade book.

    Note: After initial promotional campaigns within Blackboard each weekend in October and March of this year, the CMA currently generates more than 1,300 weekly visits, 80 percent of which are by return users who are spending more than a minute per session viewing the 2-3 custom reports they can generate themselves. While we don't completely know who is using the CMA or why (the reports can only be viewed with a myUMBC login), we plan to study usage further and conduct focus groups and interviews with students. For more information, including a brief, online video demo of the CMA, visit www.umbc.edu/blackboard/reports.

    3. Use Adaptive Release: The "Killer App" for Structuring Online Learning

    Tim Hardy
    Hardy's presentation begins at 00:28:34.

    Using Blackboard's "adaptive release" function, faculty can create "pre-conditions" that students have to meet before they can even gain access to other functions or content in a Bb site. For example, you could require that students pass a syllabus or academic integrity quiz at the start of the semester, before they can turn in any work for credit. But to do so, you'll need a "grade" for the quiz that adaptive release can use as a condition for allowing students to even see the web link to an electronic assignment, subsequent quiz or discussion board.

    Tim Hardy in Economics has used adaptive release so effectively, his ECON122 Bb course was UMBC's most active undergraduate Bb course this past fall and spring. Also, students in his hybrid course have consistently scored 20 percent higher on his department's required, common final exam, largely (he says) because the Bb course structure makes them apply concepts in assignments that prepare them for it. "Initially, students hate it, but after they pass the final exam, they tell me it worked," says Hardy, who also participated in the Alternate Delivery Program to re-design his course for hybrid delivery last summer and fall. For more information, see Hardy's 3/10/10 Brown Bag workshop with Katie Morris from Social Work, "Developing and Assessing Quality Learning in Online and Hybrid Courses."

    From our position in supporting faculty, we typically see three kinds of Blackboard usage:

    1. User & Document management (Pulling students to the site through mandatory use)
    - Password-protected class & group space
    - Attach or copy/paste documents such as syllabi, presentations, notes.

    2. Communications (Pushing content to them and facilitating interaction)
    - Announcements
    - Email
    - Chat & Discussions (especially if "email subscription" of new posts is enabled)

    3. Assessments (Pushing & Pulling to facilitate self-paced learning)
    - Electronic assignment delivery & collection
    - Quizzing, Surveys, use of Grade Book
    - Adaptive release to structure student responsibility and self-awareness

    To be sure, most faculty are doing #1 (maybe even #2), but students would like to see more faculty doing #3. Depending on where you see yourself now, I'd like to encourage you to consult your peers who are actively using Blackboard, or let us know if and how we can help you help your students take more responsibility for their own learning.

    Sincerely,

    John Fritz
    Asst. Vice President
    Instructional Technology & New Media
    UMBC Div. of Information Technology
    410.455.6596 | fritz@umbc.edu | www.umbc.edu/~fritz

    Posted by fritz at 3:38 PM | TrackBack

    April 29, 2010

    Turnitin No Longer Available in Blackboard as of SU2010

    As of SU2010, DoIT is disabling the Turnitin (TII) plagiarism-detection software inside Blackboard, since it does not currently work in Bb's new version 9.1 that the campus will be upgrading to on May 26. Instead, DoIT recommends that faculty use the SafeAssign plagiarism-detection tool that is already built into Blackboard.

    At its April 16 meeting, the Faculty Senate Computer Policy Committee (CPC) approved the recommendation to disable the TII "building block" (or 3rd-party "plugin"), which first began having technical issues in SP2008 when we upgraded to Bb version 7.3. At that time, Blackboard had also acquired SafeAssign, an alternate plagiarism detection tool, and made it part of the delivered Blackboard software.

    Currently, it is not possible to return a TII-reviewed paper to students in the Bb 9.1 grade book, though faculty can assign a grade for it. This is a known issue reported by other institutions as well. As in the past, we have attempted to troubleshoot the TII issues, but there was and continues to be very little incentive for Blackboard and TII to collaborate.

    While some faculty prefer TII functionality over SafeAssign, which does not have as large a submission database at this point in time, a recent report by Florida State University compared the two products and recommended SafeAssign. UMBC has not conducted a similar review, but at this point, neither tool has been widely adopted in many UMBC courses. Given past technical issues and the likelihood TII will be difficult to use in Bb, DoIT recommends faculty switch to SafeAssign, if only to concentrate our support on one tool that can still support UMBC's academic integrity initiatives.

    For faculty who still want to use TII, which is paid for by the Provost's Office, they can do so outside of Bb by going to the TII website and supplying a UMBC code provided by Barry Casey, interim director of the Faculty Development Center. In addition,
    students will need to create a TII user account to submit and receive papers that are reviewed for originality through the TII database.

    Posted by fritz at 10:19 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

    April 7, 2010

    Lunch and Learn Session on Turning Technologies Clickers

    Earlier this semester DoIT announced that UMBC would be adopting Turning Technologies clickers starting in Summer 2010. In anticipation of this change, Elizabeth McConnell from Turning Technologies will be hosting a clicker Lunch and Learn session on Monday, April 19th from 11:00 am - 12:45 pm in ECS 022.

    All faculty, whether or not they have used clickers in the past, are encouraged to attend. Lunch will be provided to registered participants. Please sign up at the training site.

    Posted by readel at 9:40 AM | TrackBack

    March 3, 2010

    DoIT Adopts Turning Technologies Clickers Starting SU2010

    The Division of Information Technology (DoIT) has decided to adopt the Turning Technologies Student Response System (SRS) or “clickers,” starting in Summer 2010. This means Turning Technologies (TT) will be the only clicker sold at the UMBC Bookstore, supported on instructor stations in UMBC lecture halls, and enabled for online class registration in all Blackboard courses.

    The decision to change clickers is a difficult one because of the additional cost to students who have already purchased lifetime use of the Classroom Performance System (CPS) “clickers” from eInstruction.com. However, after a review of current clicker issues and support last year, including a Spring 2009 survey of active clicker faculty and students, and a TT pilot in Fall 2009, DoIT concluded the TT clickers were a better fit for achieving the pedagogical benefits of using clickers in the classroom.

    To be clear, this was not an exhaustive review of the still maturing use of clickers among colleges and universities. To do so would have required even more time than DoIT is currently expending to support two clickers (one in pilot mode), and likely could have led to a decision to eliminate support of clickers altogether. However, building on Karin Readel's experience using TT clickers in her 100 student SCI100 class for several years, DoIT asked Phil Sokolove to pilot TT's newest clicker with Readel last fall. They presented their "lessons learned" during a Nov. 9 clicker faculty meeting. DoIT has also been consulting with Sunaina Khandelwal, a senator representing the Student Government Association (SGA), and has presented several updates to the Faculty Senate Computer Policy Committee (CPC), which approved the decision to adopt TT during its December 11 meeting, following an update about the FA2009 pilot.

    TT clicker to be sold
    in the UMBC Bookstore.
    Currently, about 3,000 students in 20 large enrollment courses, particularly in the sciences, are using clickers. While the UMBC Bookstore will not be “buying back” CPS clickers, students who purchase a TT clicker from the Bookstore ($40.00) prior to the end of the fall 2010 semester, will receive a $10 rebate from TT. This offer does not apply to the same model for sale on TT’s E-commerce website for UMBC (school code = "UMBC" quotes omitted). In addition, there is an active online auction and exchange market for CPS clickers. The buyback value of the TT clicker at the Bookstore is $15, resulting in a potential net total cost to students of only $15.

    Finally, for faculty who allow use of laptops and web-enabled cell phones in the classroom, TT provides students with the ResponseWare (software only) solution for an annual license of $16. A four-year license is $32 and the software can be downloaded for a free, 30-day trial. There is no additional registration cost for use of any TT clickers (hardware or software solutions) each semester, which was a vocal concern among students responding the Spring 2009 survey, and in recent discussions with the SGA.

    Again, to be clear, DoIT is not urging faculty to allow students to use laptops or cell phones in classrooms, if they don’t now. Nor is DoIT promising students that all faculty will support this option. However, given the costs that students may have expended on lifetime use of CPS clickers already, the TT “software only” solution could be a less expensive way for the University to get through a transitional year or two.

    DoIT will continue to provide updates on this transition between clickers, including training this summer when faculty can receive a free TT clicker and receiver, which can be used on their laptops (DoIT will install the TT software on all lecture halls this summer). For more information, visit www.umbc.edu/clickers.

    Posted by fritz at 9:09 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: 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

    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

    February 13, 2010

    24/7 Bb Support Update: January Stats & Known Issues

    Last month, UMBC began its first full semester with Presidium Learning as the provider of our new 24/7 Blackboard support service. As a result, 169 students and 83 faculty sought direct, start-of-semester help (266 total). In addition, the related Bb self-support portal recorded 755 visits, 167 knowledge base article accesses and a total of 1,766 page views. This does not include 195 Blackboard "Request Tracker" (RT) tickets resolved by DoIT staff directly. A more detailed summary of January's 24/7 Bb support is available here, and future monthly reports will be announced in this DoIT News blog each month during this one-year pilot that was announced last fall.

    While it's too soon to say what our 24/7 Bb support usage reports mean, or if and how Blackboard support may improve given staffing challenges reported last fall, a few specific issues emerged last month that need to be clarified or improved:

    1. UMBC course creation and auto enrollment issues cannot be solved by 24/7 Bb Support.

    As part of this pilot, UMBC elected not to give Presidium access to the Student Administration (SA) system, which is needed to troubleshoot course and enrollment mismatches between SA and Blackboard. A DoIT workgroup is meeting regularly to address the course and enrollment mismatch issues that emerged again this semester, with a focus on how to improve our current process before a planned upgrade to Blackboard version 9 in Fall 2010. While DoIT initially announced that Presidium would have to refer such "UMBC-specific uses of Blackboard back to the DoIT Help Desk," including course enrollment issues, some students and faculty sought support for these issues from Presidium, which could not solve them.

    For now, DoIT asks students and faculty to submit an RT ticket via myUMBC help or directly at http://rt.umbc.edu for any course creation or enrollment mismatches between SA and Blackboard. Please include the specific course name, and userIDs of students or instructors who are officially enrolled in or eligible to teach the course according to the SA system. We will also continue to ask Presidium to escalate these requests to DoIT on behalf of UMBC students and faculty who end up contacting Presidium first.

    bb_support_still.png
    Tips for getting & improving UMBC Bb help (4:02 min)

    2. Presidium should facilitate a "warm transfer" of issues they cannot solve or that are out of scope (e.g. UMBC Bb course creation and enrollment).

    By mutual agreement, this means the Presidium Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) should explain to the UMBC student, faculty or staff member that they will need to transfer his or her call to the DoIT Help Desk during our business hours, or create an escalated ticket in DoIT's RT system after hours. Unfortunately, this was not done consistently in the first two weeks of January, resulting in some students and faculty contacting 24/7 support only to be told they should hang up and call the DoIT Help Desk directly. This is understandably frustrating and not acceptable. DoIT worked with Presidium's account manager, and the UMBC-specific knowledgebase that guides Presidium CSRs now reflects this "warm transfer" procedure.

    3. UMBC's course copy process is actually Blackboard's export/import function.

    When UMBC first started using Blackboard in 2000, DoIT made a deliberate choice to disable a delivered function called course copy, which literally allows a faculty member to make a new, exact copy of an old course. The problem is that it also requires faculty to create a unique and permanent courseID that follows a consistent naming convention we knew we'd need for any kind of auto-enrollment process to work. Instead, like a number of other institutions, we disabled course copy, and opted to create empty course shells each semester (with the unique and consistent courseID embedded in the new shell for auto-enrollment to work). As we never imagined giving true "course copy" functionality to faculty in the future--and had no third party support entity like Presidium now--we continued to use the phrase "copying an old course to a new one" for what is actually the export/import function in Blackboard now. This simply became a matter where IT and the faculty we've supported for the last 10 years came to understand and thus redefine what "course copy" meant in using Blackboard at UMBC.

    Unfortunately, our understanding differed from Presidium's, which has clients who do allow faculty to use the "course copy" function, resulting in Presidium advising UMBC faculty to do something they can't. When we became aware that Presidium's "course copy" advice to UMBC faculty conflicted with our long-standing recommended export/import practice, we decided it would be easier to train Presidium CSRs than change a term and task UMBC faculty had been using for several years--especially right before the semester started. Unfortunately, some Presidium CSRs reverted to their common practice and terminology, which led to unsatisfactory support for some faculty. Again, we altered the UMBC-specific knowledge base that Presidium CSRs use in supporting our faculty, but it has come at the expense of some faculty understandably being upset with the advice they received from our 24/7 Bb support.

    Going forward, as part of our plans to upgrade to version 9 in Fall 2010, DoIT is exploring a change in our current processes to make course creation and enrollment less problematic for UMBC students and instructors, as well as DoIT and Presidium.

    Finally, I want to thank UMBC students and faculty for their patience as Presidium learns how we operate and vice versa. Eventually, this pilot may show us that 24/7 support is not needed or desirable, and that we should try to staff up if and when budget issues ease, to meet the support needs of ever growing Blackboard usage. However, like January's summary report, I have noticed a similar pattern in November and December that students used the 24/7 support twice as much as faculty. At a minimum, I'm hopeful this may mean we can reduce the default tech support role many faculty find themselves in their current Blackboard courses. In turn, this may free up DoIT staff to support more advanced pedagogical needs of faculty, if Presidium is handling basic Blackboard support needs.

    For now, I'd like to issue an open call to any UMBC faculty member to contact me or Karin Readel (readel@umbc.edu), Director of Instructional Technology, if Presidium is not "learning UMBC" or supporting faculty the way they should. In addition, if you open a ticket on the Bb support portal, please provide feedback when the ticket is resolved, if your support experience could have been improved. We can't help Presidium improve if we don't have specific details of how and when they've stumbled (e.g., date/time of the incident, name of course, name of CSR). To date, DoIT has received 12 such reports from faculty since we started using Presidium in November. Presidium has also expressed appreciation for feedback on what they can do better, and I have appreciated them providing access to the monthly reports I'm sharing in this and future updates about our 24/7 Bb support.

    Together, I still believe we can partner with Presidium to provide quality 24/7 Blackboard support to UMBC students and faculty. If you have questions, concerns or would like to discuss this further, please post a comment to this entry or contact me directly.

    Sincerely,

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    UMBC Division of Information Technology
    410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu

    Posted by fritz at 11:09 PM | TrackBack

    January 27, 2010

    Spring 2010 Blackboard Auto Enrollment Issues (RESOLVED)

    1/29/10 UDPATE: SP2010 Bb Courses Now Being Enrolled at 8 a.m./p.m. and 2 a.m./p.m.


    The auto enrollment script that takes students who are officially enrolled in SA and places them into the corresponding Blackboard course shell stopped working on Thursday, Jan. 21. It was restarted as of 11 a.m. today.

    DoIT is currently working to increase the frequency of auto enrollment, especially during the 10-day add/drop period. For now, however, auto enrollment occurs nightly at 2 a.m. and takes about 45 minutes to complete. In the meantime, the workaround for faculty members is as follows:

    • check official enrollments in SA
    • if student is missing in Blackboard course, instructor may manually enroll student (NOTE: If student is not officially enrolled in SA, do not put them in Blackboard)
    • check Blackboard the following day to verify roster
    • if student is no longer enrolled, submit a help desk ticket
    If and when we are able to increase the frequency of daily auto enrollment, we will notify the campus on the DoIT News blog and inside Blackboard.

    Posted by readel at 11:20 AM | TrackBack

    Blackboard & Web Browser Known Issues for Start of Spring 2010 Semester

    We are running a fixed version of Blackboard (8.0) and the web browsers used by most faculty, staff and students are not fixed; this has resulted in a significant amount of support calls dealing with incompatibility issues within Blackboard.

    Examples of these known issues include:

    • invalid file type errors when creating or submitting documents/assignments
    • inability to post to discussion boards
    • in quizzes, the submit button is blocked by the timer

    DoIT plans to upgrade to the newest version of Blackboard, version 9.0, for the fall semester of 2010. At that time, we anticipate that most, if not all, of these incapability issues will be resolved. In the meantime, the workaround is to use a supported browser. Please refer to the “Blackboard Supported Web Browsers” list located on the “myBlackboard” tab within Blackboard or at http://kb.blackboard.com/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=25368489.

    Posted by darnold at 10:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 26, 2010

    DoIT Extends Informal 60 minute Technology "Drop-In" Sessions

    Now that the semester is well under way, DoIT wants to continue helping faculty during this busy time by extending drop in sessions for Blackboard and Wimba. AV Services will continue to offer sessions upon request.

    SP2010 DoIT Drop In Schedule
    DateBlackboardWimba
    2/1 ECS 025 (12 pm) *IMC (2 pm)
    2/2 ECS 025 (11 am)IMC (3 pm)
    2/3 IMC (10 am)
    2/4 ECS 025 (10 am)IMC (1 pm)
    2/5 ECS025 (12 pm)IMC (12 pm)
    2/8ECS 025 (12 pm)IMC (12 pm)
    2/9IMC (10 am)
    2/10ECS 025 (12 pm)IMC (3 pm)
    2/11ECS 025 (2 pm)IMC (1:30 pm)
    2/12ECS 025 (12 pm)
    *IMC - International Media Center, Academic IV B Wing, Room 219

    BLACKBOARD DROP-INS | Support Site

    DoIT will be hosting drop in sessions for Blackboard so that faculty can have their questions answered and work with someone to resolve any issues.

    WIMBA DROP-INS | Support Site

    Wimba Classroom is a real-time, virtual classroom environment designed for distance education, hybrid classes and collaboration and supports audio, video, application sharing, and archiving. Faculty can conduct class, hold office hours or set up group work spaces. Voice Tools include:

    • Voice Board - a recorder tool
    • Voice Direct - an aural chat
    • Voice Presentation - describe slides
    • Podcaster

    AUDIO VISUAL SERVICES | Support Site

    As always, AV Services will schedule individual tutorials on an as needed/by
    appointment basis. Please call X52461 to make arrangements.

    Posted by darnold at 1:16 PM | TrackBack

    January 8, 2010

    Blackboard & Web Browser Known Issues for Start of Spring 2010 Semester

    We are running a fixed version of Blackboard (8.0) and the web browsers used by most faculty, staff and students are not fixed; this has resulted in a significant amount of support calls dealing with incompatibility issues within Blackboard.

    Examples of these known issues include:

    • Invalid file type errors when creating or submitting documents/assignments
    • Inability to post to discussion boards
    • In quizzes, the submit button is blocked by the timer

    DoIT plans to upgrade to the newest version of Blackboard, version 9.0, for the fall semester of 2010. At that time, we anticipate that most, if not all, of these incapability issues will be resolved. In the meantime, the workaround is to use a supported browser. Please refer to the “Blackboard Supported Web Browsers” list located on the “myBlackboard” tab within Blackboard or at http://kb.blackboard.com/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=25368489.

    Posted by darnold at 10:31 AM | 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

    DoIT Offers Informal 60 minute Technology "Drop-In" Sessions

    With the start of the semester right around the corner, DoIT wants to help faculty prepare for this busy time by conducting drop in sessions for Blackboard and Wimba. AV Services will continue to offer sessions upon request.

    SP2010 DoIT Drop In Schedule
    DateBlackboardWimba
    1/19 *IMC (10 am)
    1/20 ECS025 (10 am)IMC (11 am)
    1/21ECS 025 (1 pm) IMC (12 pm)
    1/22 ECS 025 (11 am)IMC (1 pm)
    1/25 ECS025 (2 pm)IMC (1 pm)
    1/26IMC (11 am)
    1/27ECS025 (12 pm)IMC (12 pm)
    1/28ECS025 (10 am)IMC (2:30 pm)
    1/29ECS025 (12 pm)IMC (12 pm)
    *IMC - International Media Center, Academic IV B Wing, Room 219

    BLACKBOARD DROP-INS | Support Site

    DoIT will be hosting drop in sessions for Blackboard so that faculty can have their questions answered and work with someone to resolve any issues.

    WIMBA DROP-INS | Support Site

    Wimba Classroom is a real-time, virtual classroom environment designed for distance education, hybrid classes and collaboration and supports audio, video, application sharing, and archiving. Faculty can conduct class, hold office hours or set up group work spaces. Voice Tools include:

    • Voice Board - a recorder tool
    • Voice Direct - an aural chat
    • Voice Presentation - describe slides
    • Podcaster

    AUDIO VISUAL SERVICES | Support Site

    As always, AV Services will schedule individual tutorials on an as needed/by
    appointment basis. Please call X52461 to make arrangements.

    Posted by darnold at 11:09 AM | TrackBack

    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

    Using the Blackboard “Subscribe” feature in Discussion Boards to Engage Students

    The discussion boards within Blackboard have a feature that allows students to subscribe to a forum or thread. By enabling this feature, students can choose to receive a link to the discussion forum/thread post or the body of the new post in their email. When you create a new discussion forum or thread, students receive email notices alerting them to that fact and no longer have to go to their Blackboard course site to see if anything new has been posted to a discussion forum.

    To enable the subscribe feature in a forum or thread, here’s all you need to do:

    1. Go to Control Panel > Discussion Board. Click your course discussion board (the same name as your course) to open it.
    2. Click the +Forum button at the top left of the window to create a new discussion forum.
    3. Name the discussion forum and decide how you want it to look and behave for your students. One of the choices is “Subscribe.”

    By default, Blackboard has the “Do not allow subscriptions” radio box selected. However, you can choose between the following:

    1. Allow members to subscribe to threads
    2. Allow members to subscribe to forum (with the additional options of (a) include body of post in the email or (b) include link to post.

    subscribe.png

    If you select “Allow members to subscribe to threads,” then any threads in that post will have a button at the top right of the discussion thread view labeled “Subscribe.” When the student clicks this button, they are automatically subscribed to that thread, with any new posts being sent to their email.

    subscribe2.png

    If you select the second choice, “Allow members to subscribe to forum,” that forum will have the “Subscribe” button for the student to select and all new postings to that forum would either be (a) posted in its entirety to the students’ email or (b) posted as a link (less text in the student’s email message, since it would just be a link to the discussion forum.)

    Either way, students CANNOT respond to discussion forums or threads through their email. They MUST go to the Blackboard course site and post there. The subscription feature simply alerts students to new postings without having to go to each Blackboard site. It’s a great way to keep students engaged with their courses and is a valuable feature to a discussion board.

    "Show & Tell" videos

  • For Bb instructors: How to Enable the Subscribe Feature in a Discussion Board
  • For Bb students: A Student’s View of the Subscribe Feature in a Discussion Board

    Posted by darnold at 11:06 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

    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

    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

    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

    Confessions of a Converted Lecturer

    Lecture: Confessions of a Converted Lecturer
    Wed, Nov. 11, 2009, 6-7 p.m. LHV (Engineering Bldg.)

    Eric Mazur
    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.

    I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students' performance significantly.

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

    Posted by darnold at 11:04 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 10, 2009

    Deepening Student Literacy with Visual Assignments

    TLT Brown Bag Presentation by Nicole King
    Thursday, October 15, 2009
    12:00 PM, ECS 023

    Who doesn't like a good show and tell? Now, this favorite grade school assignment is finding its way into more UMBC classrooms as digital stories: short (3-5 minute) digital movies based on personal photos, artifacts and a vivid memory of the students who produce them. In addition to assigning digital stories to develop or harness student media skills, many faculty are finding visual assignments deepen textual literacy, too. Starting with a 300-word focused narrative that students share in a story circle, Nicole King, Assistant Professor of American Studies, and a digital story telling peer faculty trainer, will share how and why she offers visual assignments, how she evaluates them, and what she and her students are learning from the process.

    You may register for this TLT Brown Bag at http://www.umbc.edu/brownbag

    Posted by shewbrid at 2:27 PM | TrackBack

    August 25, 2009

    FYI: Bb Courses Older than FA2003 Will Be Deleted 8/27

    As announced at the end of the Spring 2009 semester, all Blackboard courses older than Fall 2003 (six years from this fall) will be deleted.

    The Division of Information Technology (DoIT) has scheduled this removal for Thursday, August 27, 2009, at 7 p.m. No downtime will be required.

    Posted by fritz at 1:27 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 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

    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

    DoIT Offers Informal 60 minute Technology "Drop-In" Sessions

    With the start of the semester right around the corner, DoIT wants to help faculty prepare for this busy time by conducting drop in sessions for AV services, Blackboard and Wimba.

    FA2009 DoIT Drop In Schedule
    Date AV BlackboardWimba
    8/24 LH1 (11 am)
    LH2 (1 pm)
    ECS025 (10 am) *IMC (11 am)
    8/25 LH3 (11 am)
    LH4 (1 pm)
    ECS025 (1 pm) 
    8/26LH 7 (11 am)
    Note: LH8 is identical to LH7
    ECS025 (10 am)
    ECS025 (1 pm)
    IMC (11 am)
    8/27LH 5 (12 pm - this is a change)
     
    ECS025 (10 am)
    ECS025 (1 pm)
     
    8/31LH 9 (11 am)ECS025 (10 am)
    ECS025 (1 pm)
     
    9/1 ECS025 (10 am)
    ECS025 (1 pm)
     
    9/2ACIV 204 (12 pm)ECS025 (12 pm)IMC (12 pm)
    9/3 ECS025 (1 pm) 
    9/4ACIV 204 (12 pm) IMC (12 pm)
    9/9ACIV 204 (12 pm)  
    9/11ACIV 204 (12 pm)  
    *IMC - International Media Center, Academic IV B Wing, Room 219

    AUDIO VISUAL SERVICES DROP-INS | Support Site

    AV Services will be hosting informal drop-in tutorials for UMBC faculty
    and staff on the use of the AV equipment housed in lecture halls. Topics to be covered include:

    • using your laptop to provide video and audio to the projector
    • playing content through the projector with the VCR and DVD players
    • using the local computer for content
    • where applicable, using the document camera for content instead of a whiteboard
    • lighting and sound options

    AV Services will also hold open drop-in tutorials for faculty and
    staff on equipment usage in classrooms and lecture halls during free hour (12-1 pm).

    As always, AV Services will schedule individual tutorials on an as needed/by
    appointment basis. Please call X52461 to make arrangements.

    BLACKBOARD DROP-INS | Support Site

    DoIT will be hosting drop in sessions for Blackboard so that faculty can have their questions answered and work with someone to resolve any issues.

    WIMBA DROP-INS | Support Site

    Wimba Classroom is a real-time, virtual classroom environment designed for distance education, hybrid classes and collaboration and supports audio, video, application sharing, and archiving. Faculty can conduct class, hold office hours or set up group work spaces. Voice Tools include:

    • Voice Board - a recorder tool
    • Voice Direct - an aural chat
    • Voice Presentation - describe slides
    • Podcaster

    Posted by darnold at 1:15 PM | 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

    June 8, 2009

    Experienced Hybrid Teachers Share Lessons Learned

    FA2009_hybrid_panel.png
    Three faculty experienced in hybrid teaching shared what works or doesn't during a lunch time panel for the June 4 Hybrid Course Re-Design Workshop at UMBC. Comments by Tim Hardy (Economics), Tyson King-Meadows (Political Science) and Katie Morris (Social Work) are now available on YouTube, iTunesU and UMBC's own Streaming Media site.

    Posted by fritz at 7:33 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

    Faculty Senate's CPC Approves Blackboard Course Retention Policy

    To improve Blackboard performance, minimize downtime during upgrades, and manage growing disk usage, the Faculty Senate's Computer Policy Committee (CPC) approved a DoIT proposal to delete all courses that are more than six years old at the end of each academic year. In addition, all empty, unavailable, auto-created course shells that have not been accessed by students or faculty will be deleted at the end of each semester.

    The full policy approved by the CPC is as follows:

    UMBC Blackboard Course Retention Policy

    To improve Blackboard performance, minimize downtime during upgrades, and manage growing disk usage, DoIT will implement the following changes after the Summer 2009 semester:

    1. All empty, unavailable course shells that have not been accessed by students or faculty will be deleted at the end of each semester.

    2. Any course shells that are more than six (6) years old will be deleted at the end of the current academic year.

    3. Instructors can archive any course at any time and keep a local copy for their own records, but only DoIT system administrators can “restore” an archived course to the UMBC Blackboard production server.

  • Note: Blackboard’s license with all clients stipulates that the company must only support “backward compatibility” of up to two (2) full versions from its current, generally available release.

  • For example, Bb’s current release is version 9.0. UMBC is now operating under version 8.0 and upgraded to version 7.0 in January 2007.
  • 4. Faculty are encouraged to “copy forward” the most current version of their courses, by copying into an empty course shell and then requesting to delete past versions of the course.


  • If they use the Blackboard grade book, faculty are also encouraged to download and keep a copy of it after each semester.
  • 5. DoIT will broadly communicate this policy at the end of each spring semester, but only implement it at the end of the summer special session.

    Posted by fritz at 9:45 AM | TrackBack

    WT2009 ADP Student Survey Results

    In an effort to determine the effectiveness of hybrid courses at UMBC, DoIT and the Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP) have begun to survey students about their experiences in special session hybrid courses. Initially, only summer and winter courses that are taught by faculty that have participated in the Alternate Delivery Program (ADP) have been surveyed. Eventually, we are hoping to survey all special session courses.

    This first survey showed that 69% of the students who responded had never taken a hybrid or online course before and 48% strongly agreed they would take another. The complete set of results from winter 2009 survey can be found online.

    If you have any questions about the survey results, please contact Bob Armstrong at rarmstro@umbc.edu or submit a ticket at http://my.umbc.edu/help/request.

    Posted by rarmstro at 9:43 AM | TrackBack

    Faculty Request: Show Each Other How Good Students Use Blackboard

    To help DoIT’s ongoing study of how good students use Blackboard, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) would like to encourage faculty to post their final grades in the Blackboard grade book using “GRADE” as the column heading (please omit quotes and make the column heading ALL CAPS).

    This is a totally voluntary action on your part that will allow DoIT to run a script that determines the average hits per student by grade distribution. DoIT has been reporting final grade distribution by Blackboard activity for the past two years, and we will include SP2009 results after final grades are officially submitted. If you do not want your Bb final grades to be included in the overall, anonymous grade distribution report summary, then do nothing.

    If you want to run your own grade distribution report for your own class, visit the "self service reports" on the UMBC Blackboard Reports site.

    As a matter of convenience to students, we know posting of final grades in Blackboard is a wide-spread, informal practice among many faculty now, and should not be construed as a replacement for “official” submission of final grades. But until we can link Blackboard activity and official sources of final grades in the new Student Administration, this voluntary action by faculty is the only way we can begin to see what relationship, if any, exists between student activity and performance.

    Note: DoIT is NOT suggesting there is a correlation between Bb activity and grades. However, we are interested in Bb activity as AN indicator of student engagement. As such, we would like to see how good students (as measured by final grades) tend to use Blackboard. We are also interested in seeing whether feedback to all students – by showing their grades against an anonymous summary of their peers – can be effective in helping them be more aware about their own performance during the semester, when they might be able to do something about it.

    For more information, visit http://www.umbc.edu/blackboard/reports.

    Posted by fritz at 9:42 AM | TrackBack

    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 24, 2009

    Staff Development Workshop: Exploring Web 2.0 Tools, 4/24, 8:30 am - 12 pm, Library Gallery

    8:30 a.m. Breakfast Keynote: "The Reward of Risks: How Learning 2.0 Tools can Help Higher Education Reinvent Itself"
    Over the past two years the McMaster University Libraries have undertaken a dramatic transformation from very traditional academic library to innovative, user-centered partner in teaching, learning, and research. University Librarian Jeffrey Trzeciak will explain how and why his staff reinvented itself by embracing Web 2.0 tools, and share lessons learned that may be useful to other colleges and universities. UMBC staff will also highlight how they are using these tools in their work during some "Show & Tell Demos". For more information and to register, please visit www.umbc.edu/brownbag.

    Trzeciak_Jeffrey.jpg
    Jeffrey Trzeciak is the University Librarian at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He is responsible for the management of the Thode Science and Engineering Library, Innis Business Library and Mills Library for the Social Sciences and Humanities. Jeff has more than twenty years experience working in academic and public libraries. He has spoken internationally on a variety of topics including digital library initiatives, web 2.0, organizational change, and library innovation. When not at "work" Jeff can frequently be found online in Facebook, SecondLife and World of Warcraft.

    Web 2.0 "Show & Tell" Demos

    • 9:45 am "Beyond the I Drive:How the AOK Library Staff uses a Wiki for Knowledge Management," Heather Moss and Jennifer Fitch
    • 10:30 am Break
    • 10:45 am "How the PROMISE Program uses Facebook to Support Minority Ph.D Students," Renetta Tull, Director, PROMISE (www.umbc.edu/promise)
    • 11:30 am "How to Practice using Web 2.0 Tools with myUMBC," Collier Jones, Campus Portal Architect
    To register, please visit www.umbc.edu/brownbag.

    Posted by darnold at 12:49 PM | 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

    February 3, 2009

    Hybrid Learning Faculty Presentations

    Faculty in the Summer 2009 Alternate Delivery Program will present two (March 6 and April 17) required "Show & Tell" hybrid learning presentations that address the pedagogical problems (or implications) a hybrid or online course solves (or creates). If you're interested in learning more about hybrid courses, this is a great way to see how faculty colleagues are preparing for their Summer 2009 courses. Lunch will be provided to registered participants. For more information or to register, please visit http://www.umbc.edu/training/fdc.

    Posted by darnold at 8:57 AM | TrackBack

    February 2, 2009

    SP2009 Blackboard Update

    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 suggestions, contact Bob Armstrong (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 410.455.3885). For more information about using Blackboard, login via myUMBC or visit http://blackboard.umbc.edu.

    HEADLINES

    1. Blackboard Announcement Emails Not Working

    2. Upcoming Bb Workshops: New Grade Center, Assessments, etc.

    3. MDBUG 4/23 Conference "Call for Proposals" (Due: 2/20)

    4. TLT Brown Bags: How Students Use Bb, Moving Course Evals Online, Beyond PowerPoint

    5. SU2009 Hybrid Course Re-design Faculty Presentations

    Posted by fritz at 5:17 PM | TrackBack

    MDBUG Conference Call for Proposals (Deadline: 2/20)


    The Maryland Blackboard Users Group (MDBUG) is now accepting proposals for its next biannual conference, "Learning 2.0: Beyond the LMS," to be held Thursday, April 23, 2009, at the University of Maryland, College Park.

    Also, the conference keynote will be presented by Jeffrey Trzeciak, University Librarian at McMaster University, which received the 2008 Excellence in Academic Libraries award from the Association of College and Research Libraries, in part for their exemplary professional development program in the use of Learning 2.0 tools and strategies.

    Come join your colleagues and share your stories by submitting a proposal to present at the conference. MDBUG is accepting proposals for individual or panel presentations or posters in the following areas:

    • Effective practices in teaching and learning (faculty focus)
    • Effective support models (instructional technology support/technical staff focus)
    • Effective practices/implementations in K-12
    • Leadership issues
    Proposals are due by February 20, 2009, and can be submitted online at the following:

    http://www.oit.umd.edu/as/MDBUG/mdbugproposalform.html

    Posted by fritz at 4:11 PM | TrackBack

    Upcoming Blackboard Workshops

    Need to brush up on or learn how to use Blackboard? Upcoming workshops include:


    • Blackboard 8.0 Grade Center (2/6, 1 p.m., Engineering 025)
    • Building Activity with Blackboard's Communication Tools (2/13, 1 p.m., Engineering 025)
    • Creating Assessments in Blackboard (2/20, 1 p.m., Engineering 025)
    • Blackboard Wikis & Blogs (3/6, 2:30 p.m., Engineering 025)

    Blackboard 8.0 Grade Center (2/6, 1 p.m., Engineering 025)

    This 75 minute workshop will provide the gradebook user with an advanced look at the new Blackboard Grade Center that will be used starting with the Spring semester. New features include easier recording of grades, ability to divide the gradebook into multiple course sections, dropping the lowest score and advanced reporting features.Familiarity with the current gradebook is helpful.

    Building Activity with Blackboard's Communication Tools (2/13, 1 p.m., Engineering 025)

    This 90 minute hands-on workshop will introduce you to the various communication tools in Blackboard and discuss how they can be effectively used. Topics will include how to use the new discussion board, use of the "Assignments" feature, effective ways to use groups, Turnitin, and email. (Please bring an electronic copy of your syllabus if you have one.)


    Creating Assessments in Blackboard (2/20, 1 p.m., Engineering 025)

    This 90 minute hands-on workshop will focus on creating both assessments and surveys in Blackboard and how to manage the course Gradebook. Attention will be focused on the Test Manager, Survey Manager, uploading and downloading grades, managing items in the Gradebook and the Gradebook settings.

    Blackboard Wikis & Blogs (3/6, 2:30 p.m., Engineering 025)

    All UMBC Blackboard courses and communities have access to interactive community publishing tools such as blogs (diary-like journals any user can create) and wikis (a communal web site anyone can add to and edit). This one hour hands-on workshop will give participants a chance to try out blogs and wikis for themselves, and show how others are currently using them in UMBC Blackboard courses and communities.

    For more details about these workshops and to register, please visit http://www.umbc.edu/training/blackboard.

    Posted by darnold at 9:55 AM | TrackBack

    December 1, 2008

    WT2009 UMBC Blackboard Update

    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
    suggestions, contact John Fritz (fritz@umbc.edu or 410.455.6596) or Bob Armstrong
    (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 410.455.3885). For more information about using Blackboard,
    login via myUMBC or visit http://blackboard.umbc.edu.

    HEADLINES

    1. Blackboard Down for Upgrade 1/13-16

    2. FA2008 Course Shells Expire 1/15

    3. SP2009 Course Shells Created 12/1; WT2009 Shells Created by Request

    4. New Blackboard Tools (Gradebook) for Spring 2009

    5. UMBC Blackboard User’s Annual Survey (12/1 to 12/9)

    6. FYI: Hybrid Course Re-design Workshop 1/15-16

    7. FYI: Blackboard Training in January

    8. FYI: Educause Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference 1/7-9

    Posted by fritz at 3:34 PM | TrackBack

    November 21, 2008

    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 rarmstro at 11:46 AM | 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

    Changes to Turnitin Interface--Not Status @ UMBC

    While the interface to Turnitin has changed, the status of the plagiarism detection software's use at UMBC remains unchanged.

    As announced last spring, there remain unresolved issues with Turnitn possibly "crashing" inside Blackboard versions 7.2 or higher (which UMBC runs).

    While there were minimal reports of this happening at UMBC, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) still wants faculty to be aware of these potential issues as well as other alternatives (e.g., using Turnitin oustide of Blackboard or using SafeAssign, which is Blackboard's plagiarism detection tool).

    In the meantime, DoIT will continue to support both Turnitin and SafeAssign for the Fall 2008 semester, but faculty should weigh their own concerns about interruptions in deciding which tool they should use.

    FYI: Once you use the new Turnitin interface, there is a "switch back" option to return to the original interface.

    Posted by fritz at 4:16 PM | 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

    Seven Classrooms & One Lecture Hall Get Tech Upgrades; Mobile AV Requests Due 8/22

    For the second straight year, the Provost's Office has funded a classroom technology plan to permanently install presentation technology upgrades in all of UMBC's 73 general purpose classrooms.

    Specifically, seven ACIV classrooms (006, 011, 108, 145, 150, 151 and 305) now have permanently installed data projectors, which now means 53 (or 73 percent) of UMBC's general purpose classrooms are permanently "fixtured." In addition, projectors in Physics 107 and 201 have been upgraded this summer.

    NOTE: For faculty teaching in classrooms without a permanently installed data projector--you can check the classroom tech inventory here--please submit an AV request by Friday, August 22.

    DSCF2659.jpg
    The new screen in LH7 is nearly twice as high as the previous one, making it easy to see any slide, web page, image or video from the back of the room.
    In addition to installing projectors in classrooms, the wide but narrow screen (and image) in Lecture Hall 7 has been replaced and can easily be viewed from all seats in the room. Unfortunately, the new screen covers the white board permanently installed at the front of the room when the ITE Bldg. was built in 2003, but faculty who need to write notes as well as present images or videos to their classes have two options:

    1. Use The Portable White Board

    DoIT has purchased a portable, double-sided white board that can be moved anywhere at the front of the room--including 25 feet closer to where students are sitting compared with the permanent white board.

    NOTE: The portable white board must NOT be stored or placed directly underneath the new, larger projector screen. If the screen is lowered or raised, any sharp edges on the white board can damage the screen fabric, which is very expensive to replace.

    2. Convert to Digital Annotation & Writing

    If you only want to use one display (the larger screen), then consider switching to digital annotation, writing or drawing, using a tablet PC or the built-in "star board" annotation pad built into the instructor station. In addition to just switching between applications like PowerPoint, a website and a video or image, you can record your digital annotations (and voice) for later review by students.

    For more information, view the taped archive of DoIT's 3/10 "Digital Alternatives to Chalk" brown bag presentation or contact Steven Anderson, manager of classroom technology, at 410.455.3680 or sanderso@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 7:13 AM | TrackBack

    May 20, 2008

    OIT Publishes SP2008 Most Active Blackboard Courses

    OIT has again published UMBC's "Most Active Blackboard" courses reports for the Spring 2008 semester, based on an "average hits per user" approach. For the second straight semester, one department (Information Systems) and one class (PSYC 100 "Introduction to Psychology) have taken the top spot for most active discipline and undergraduate course, respectively. For more information, visit www.umbc.edu/blackboard/reports.

    Highlights (based on student activity ONLY):

    Most Active Graduate Course: IS 634 "Structured Systems Analysis and Design" taught by Heather Holden, Carlton Crabtree, Carolyn Seaman (avg hits per student: 2,685).

    Most Active Undergraduate Course: PSYC 100 "Introduction to Psychology" taught by Linda Jones, Eileen O'Brien, Brian Jobe (avg hits per student: 1,632).

    Note: PSYC 100 was also the most active undergraduate Bb course for Fall 2007.

    Most Active Discipline: Information Systems (84 Blackboard courses).

    Note: Information Systems was also the most active discipline for Fall 2007.

    Most Active Community: Geography and Environmental Systems Department managed by several GES faculty (avg hits per user: 533).

    Total Number of Blackboard Courses (including those with multiple sections): 1,034

    While activity alone is not a measure of quality, OIT publishes these reports so faculty can seek each other out about what does (or doesn't ) work in using Blackboard. Toward this end, faculty may also want to try out the new "Average Hits Per User by Final Grade Distribution" reports announced on March 6.

    For more information about the Blackboard Reports project, contact John Fritz at 410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 11:09 AM | TrackBack

    May 3, 2008

    Using Blackboard for Job Search or RFP Committees

    provost_search_bb.png
    When the 20-member Provost Search Committee identified its four finalists, it did so using a Blackboard community to review AND rank all applicants online before meeting face-to-face to discuss their differences. Similarly, the Alternate Delivery Program has frequently used Blackboard to review faculty proposals to receive a one-time course development stipend to redesign an existing course for hybrid delivery in summer or winter sessions.

    Key Steps

    1. Members review candidate materials or RFP proposals on the Bb community discussion board or blog.

    2. Members post an initial "vote" by changing subject line of their reply to "yes" or "no" or "maybe."

    3. Optional: Members use body of their reply to explain their "vote"

    4. Members meet face-to-face as a group to "negotiate" their online voting differences and reach consensus

    "Show & Tell" videos

  • For Bb Leaders: How to Post Applicant/RFP Materials So Committee Members Can Review Them
  • For Bb Leaders: How to Set Up a Discussion Board So Members Can "Vote" On Applicant/RFP Materials
  • For Committee Members: How to Vote and Comment on Applicant/RFP Materials

    Posted by fritz at 12:45 AM | TrackBack

    SP2008 UMBC Blackboard Update

    UMBC Blackboard update is provided by the Office of Information Technology for
    students, faculty and staff using Blackboard at UMBC. If you have questions or
    suggestions, contact John Fritz (fritz@umbc.edu or 410.455.6596) or Bob Armstrong
    (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 410.455.3885). For more information about using Blackboard,
    login via myUMBC or visit http://blackboard.umbc.edu.

    HEADLINES

    1. SP2008 Course Shells Expire on 6/15

    2. SU2008 Course Shells Created on 4/30

    3. OIT Publishes FA2007 Blackboard User Survey Results

    4. New myUMBC Tools Show How Good Students Use Blackboard

    5. UMBC Joins Two National, Online Learning Faculty Development Networks

    6. Job Opening: UMBC Blackboard Graduate Assistant

    7. FYI: Using Blackboard for Job Search or RFP Committees

    8. FYI: OIT to Upgrade Labs to MS Office 2007 (PC) & 2008 (Mac)

    9. FYI: BbWorld'08 World Conference is July15-17

    Posted by fritz at 12:42 AM | TrackBack

    May 2, 2008

    Job Opening: Blackboard Graduate Assistant

    OIT’s Instructional Technology & New Media unit seeks a graduate assistant to provide Blackboard support to students, faculty and staff. The person will assist with routine Bb system administration functions (e.g., course & community site creation), and development of Blackboard user support procedures and documentation. Candidates will be expected to work well in a collaborative team environment and to communicate effectively with customers from a variety of academic and administrative departments.

    In the past, special projects have included design and development of the following:

    UMBC Blackboard Reports
    UMBC Blackboard Help

    The successful candidate must be self-directed and work well communicating information to technical and non-technical users. The candidate must also be able to interact with customers of all levels in a highly professional and competent manner.

    Qualifications

    The qualified candidate must be an officially registered UMBC graduate student with demonstrable experience providing end-user support. The candidate must have good problem-solving skills, strong analytical and organization skills, and excellent oral/written communications skills. Experience with web application development (ideally using PHP & MySQL) is preferred.

    Compensation & Hours

    Term (9 Month)
    Closing Date: Open until filled
    Compensation: TBD by Graduate School policy (typically stipend, tuition & health)
    Hours:
    • PT (20 hours/week) in Fall & Spring
    • FT (40 hours/week) possible in Winter & Summer

    Application Process | Show Me (video)

    1. Login to Blackboard via myUMBC or directly at http://blackboard.umbc.edu
    2. Search for and “Enroll” in the “Blackboard User Group” organization on the Bb Community tab
    3. Complete the “UMBC Bb GA” application by attaching the following:

    - Cover Letter (include a brief description of how you use Blackboard now)
    - Resume or CV
    - Unofficial PDF version of your transcript from myUMBC
    - Names of three references and how they know your work
    - Note: You can “save” your application and come back, but can only “submit” it once.

    Send an email to blackboard@umbc.edu when you have submitted your application using the process described above, or if you need help doing so.

    Posted by fritz at 12:15 PM | TrackBack

    April 8, 2008

    4/30 Team Based Learning Demo

    Team Based Learning Book
    If you want to make sure students are prepared for class and group work, come to this demo of Team Based Learning (TBL) and its Readiness Assurance Process (RAP) that includes the following:


    1. An individual quiz over assigned readings;
    2. A team quiz over the same material using immediate feedback "scratch off" cards;
    3. An open book "appeals" phase for incorrect "team answers" only.
    4. Corrective instruction (mini lecture) by the instructor based on a real-time understanding of what students didn't understand.

    John Fritz and Jack Prostko will lead the first half of the demo, including a short TBL quiz of L. Dee Fink's "Integrated Course Design" summary paper from the IDEA Center at Kansas State University. Then, Anna Rubin (Music) will share lessons learned from her use of TBL in her Winter 2008 hybrid course, "Introduction to Music."

    For more information and to register, visit www.umbc.edu/fdc/training

    Posted by fritz at 9:49 PM | TrackBack

    March 6, 2008

    New myUMBC Tools Show How Good Students Use Blackboard

    myUMBC Blackboard Reporting ToolsOIT announces the release of two new myUMBC tools designed to show the campus community how top UMBC students use Blackboard.

    Specifically, students can "Check My Blackboard Activity" to see a comparison of their own activity against an anonymous summary of other students in their classes. In addition, faculty can now run their own "Grade Distribution" and "Tool Usage" reports showing their students' Blackboard activity by any item in the Blackboard grade book (including final grade), or by overall tool usage within the course.

    While the trend needs further study, initial findings suggest that students who earn higher grades tend to use Blackboard more than students earning lower grades. It is NOT the case that using Blackboard alone will produce higher grades, simply by "gaming" the system.

    But if students know how their activity compares to an anonymous summary of peers, at any time during the semester, this timely and personal feedback may allow them to monitor and change their own behavior as it pertains to engaging with course concepts, materials, instructors or each other. In essence, students can now draw their own conclusions about the quantity AND quality of their Blackboard activity and the impact this may or may not have on their learning.

    Since the "Check Grade" tool in Blackboard allows students to view statistical differences between their grades and the class average for any visible item in the grade book, OIT will eventually publish student reports showing activity by grade distribution as well. In the meantime, faculty who wish to can provide further insight to students, by viewing, printing and publishing (as PDF files in their Bb course site) their current or past student activity GDRs for their specific courses.

    Background

    A year ago, OIT began reporting on UMBC's "Most Active Blackboard Courses" based on a simple "average hits per user" approach. In this way, "rankings" don't favor large enrollment sites over smaller ones. To date, we now have reports for the Spring, Summer and Fall 2007 semesters.

    After OIT announced the Fall 2007 Blackboard reports and availability of the "self service" faculty Grade Distribution Reports (GDR), 16 faculty used their GDRs, which collectively showed overall Blackboard usage was higher by students earning higher grades. The self service GDRs complemented earlier pilots with two faculty from Geography and Environmental Systems (Karin Readel and Chris Swan), which also showed higher Blackboard usage among students earning higher grades.

    While there is no statistically significant difference among students earning As, Bs and Cs (numerically there is: students earning higher grades tend to use it more), there is a significant difference between this group and those students who earn Ds and Fs. So far, the pattern has held true in the courses mentioned above, and OIT is working on a way to load final grades into a table that looks at all Bb courses to see if the trend is broadly generalizable.

    OIT recognizes that hits alone are no endorsement (or indictment) of course quality. But looking at and publishing user activity is one way to help faculty and students identify and consult each other about effective teaching and learning practices. By adopting an attitude of transparency about Blackboard usage, the entire UMBC community (and not just OIT system administrators) gains a "birds eye view" of how this Course Management System (CMS) is being used.

    For more information, visit http://www.umbc.edu/blackboard/reports. You can also view a brief video demo of these new myUMBC tools for students and faculty.

    Posted by fritz at 2:00 PM | TrackBack

    February 25, 2008

    UMBC Joins Two National, Online Learning Faculty Development Networks

    On behalf of the UMBC community, the Office of Information Technology has recently joined QualityMatters and the Sloan-Consortium, two national, online learning networks that specialize in faculty development, online training and research-based "best practices." Membership in both organizations is made possible through a partnership with the University System of Maryland (USM).

    QualityMatters LogoEstablished in 2003 with a three-year, $500k grant from the Fund for Improvement to Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), QualityMatters is a nationally-recognized initiative by MarylandOnline that focuses on defining and evaluating best practices in quality online or hybrid course design--not instructor delivery.

    Last year, OIT staff and selected faculty participated in several USM-sponsored course design and peer reviewer training workshops by QualityMatters, which is now an institutional subscription service supported by more than 100 colleges and universities in 31 states who have voluntarily adopted the QM course design and peer review standards. UMBC's own Alternate Delivery Program also adopted the QM standards as part of the Hybrid Course Design Workshop.

    Now that UMBC is an institutional QM member, all faculty may access summary or annotated versions of the the highly regarded rubric (or "check list") of 40 course design characteristics that educational research literature identifies in good online courses. An interactive version of the rubric, as well as a form to request peer review by QM trained reviewers, is also available. Send email to John Fritz at fritz@umbc.edu to receive your userid & password for the interactive QM services.

    Note: Two Education faculty members, Zane Berge and Greg Williams, are QM certified "peer reviewers," as are Jack Prostko, Director of the Faculty Development Center, and John Fritz and Bob Armstrong from OIT.

    Sloan-C LogoKnown for its research-based course design rubric--which takes a lot of the guess work out of developing or evaluating online courses--QM does offer face-to-face and online training workshops, but also frequently partners with the Sloan-Consortium, which specializes in online faculty development in all aspects of online learning.

    As 2008 institutional members in Sloan-C's "College Pass" program, UMBC has a total of 100 free "seats" to be used toward any online workshop (including how to use the QM rubric) and 50 additional "seats" in select workshops. UMBC also has ten (10) $50 registration discounts toward Sloan-C's highly regarded Conference on Asynchronous Learning Networks in Orlando, Florida (Nov. 5-7).

    For now, OIT will manage the "College Pass" registration codes on a "first come, first served" basis. To receive a Sloan-C "College Pass" code, click here.

    EducauseFinally, faculty are reminded that UMBC has also been a member of the Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) since 2006. While ELI does not focus exclusively on online learning, it provides excellent resources, including free webinars on timely topics, a very popular "Seven Things You Should Know About . . ." series, and the annual Horizon Report that looks at new and emerging technologies likely to be adopted in the next one to five years. The Horizon Report is also a partnership with the New Media Consortium, which UMBC also belongs to.

    For more information about any of these opportunities, contact John Fritz at fritz@umbc.edu or 410.455.6596.

    Posted by fritz at 11:24 PM | 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

    February 9, 2008

    3/7 Hybrid Teaching Workshop & Faculty Presentations Brown Bag

    OIT and the Faculty Development Center will again sponsor a day-long Hybrid Course Design Workshop on Friday, March 7 in Engineering 023. It includes a lunch-time "Brown Bag" presentation of "learning objects" designed by faculty who have participated in previous hybrid workshops, and are now completing requirements for a one-time, $1,500 course development stipend sponsored by the Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP).

    Workshop 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. For more information, visit www.umbc.edu/oit/hybrid/training.

    During lunch, faculty in the Summer 2008 Alternate Delivery Program (ADP) will present the first of two required "learning objects" that address the pedagogical problems (or opportunities) a hybrid or online course solves (or creates). A review panel of faculty who have taught online or hybrid courses will hear the presentations, which are open to the campus and will be videotaped (past presentations are also available on the Hybrid Course Design Workshop Blackboard site, and in the Teaching and Learning section of UMBC's iTunesU service). Lunch will be provided to registered participants.

    These lunch-time SU2008 ADP faculty presentations are a great way to see how faculty apply their training in online or hybrid course redesign approaches.

    Note: Currently registered Hybrid workshop participants do NOT need to register for this brown bag. It is included as part of the workshop.

    Posted by fritz at 11:32 AM | TrackBack

    January 25, 2008

    Blackboard "Turnitin" Issues & Scheduled Downtime (1/26, 6-9 a.m.)

    Following the planned upgrade to version 7.2 last week, OIT has discovered issues with the Turnitin "Building Block" that instructors may want to understand before using this tool.

    In addition, the main Blackboard production server will be down for routine, scheduled maintenance this Saturday, January 26, from 6 to 9 a.m. This is unrelated to the Turnitin issues described in this announcement.

    Basically, the Turnitin "Building Block" (or plug-in) for Blackboard we have used for several years has been going down sporadically in Bb versions 7.2 or higher. This was not publicly announced and it seems to be an issue when Blackboard is used in a multiple server configuration such as UMBC uses to guarantee redundancy and performance. We've learned that other schools have experienced similar issues.

    The issue has become more complicated since Blackboard released its own plagiarism detection tool, SafeAssign, this summer. While SafeAssign is free (the Faculty Development Center currently pays for Turnitin), the key to any tool like this is the library of past submissions to compare future papers against. Clearly, Turnitn has a larger library at this point, but given its wider availability across all 3,700 colleges and universities using Blackboard, SafeAssign is bound to catch up. Also, there were early reports of "issues" when Safe Assign first shipped, but they appear to be settling down.

    While we have worked with Turnitin, there is no guarantee the tool will not go down if you use it inside Blackboard. Accordingly, OIT has made SafeAssign available in all courses and suggests the following options:

    1. Use Turnitin Outside of Blackboard

    As a campus, we haven't done this in a while, but it is possible to access Turnitin outside of Blackboard; it's just not as easy for faculty and students who may be accustomed to using it inside Blackboard.

    Instructions

  • Go to http://www.turnitin.com
  • Click on "Create User Profile"
  • Pick "Instructor" and click
  • Enter UMBC account "ID" and "Enrollment Password" (Obtain from Jack Prostko at prostko@umbc.edu)
  • Create user profile.
  • After creating the profile, add your class and create a password.

    After the class is created online, students will need to create accounts and submit papers using your class ID. If you have questions, please contact Jack Prostko, Director, Faculty Development Center (ext. 5-1829 or prostko@umbc.edu).

    2. Use SafeAssign

    While we do not have a lot of experience with this tool yet, OIT has made it available. Also, faculty can upload student papers from past courses to "jump start" the rebuilding of their respective bank of papers SafeAssign can check against. For more information on how to use SafeAssign, visit www.safeassign.com.

    3. Use Turnitin Inside Blackboard | More Information

    OIT recommends piloting “Safe Assign” for those courses where issues would be most problematic or for faculty who do not wish to worry about Turnitin. We will keep the Turnitin service running for faculty who wish to continue using it and accept that there is some risk.

    If you have questions or concerns, please add them as a comment to this announcement, which OIT will monitor, or send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 1:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 5, 2007

    OIT Publishes Strategic Plan for Teaching, Learning and Technology

    This fall, the Office of Information Technology has published Richness AND Reach: A Strategic Plan for Teaching, Learning and Technology and now seeks campus feedback on five specific recommendations and their related issues and opportunities [excerpted below]:

    From the TLT Plan Executive Summary . . .

    To face our issues and take advantage of recent opportunities, this plan recommends the following actions over the next five to seven years:

    1. Assess and promote TLT practices that improve student learning; facilitate faculty awareness, networking, mentoring and training of or in these effective practices, especially in STEM disciplines or where large, introductory “gateway” courses have a history of high failure or dropout rates.

    2. Invest more fully in the Blackboard architecture and community of practice, to support and elevate existing faculty usage from simple user and document management to increased interactivity and online assessment that improves student engagement, retention and recruitment.

    3. Coordinate development, implementation and support of all current and proposed online degree programs. Collaborative partnerships could include academic departments (for subject matter expertise), the Faculty Development Center and Office of Information Technology (for instructional design and technical support) and Continuing and Professional Studies (to administer and market the online program needs and experiences of students).

    4. Develop a strategic plan for design of formal, informal and (where appropriate) virtual learning spaces. A good first step is to complete the three-year plan to equip all registrar-controlled classrooms with fixed presentation technology by FY11. In addition, we should use the new Fine Arts and Humanities building to challenge current and future assumptions about what it means to learn not just anytime, but also anywhere.

    5. Create an interdepartmental Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology charged with defining, implementing, evaluating and reporting progress on recommendations 1 through 4. The TLT Center could be populated with staff from the Library, OIT’s Instructional Technology unit, FDC, Learning Resources Center (LRC) and Continuing and Professional Studies (CPS).

    Working with a faculty advisory group at the start of the Spring 2007 semester, the plan was developed over the summer and presented to the Provost's IT Steering and Classroom Committees last month, as well as to the Faculty Senate Computer Policy Committee, for which chair Ant Ozok is devoting several meetings to discuss the plan in detail.

    In addition to sharing feedback with representatives of the IT-related committees above, members of the campus community may also share comments at the end of this article, or contact John Fritz, director of Instructional Technology & New Media, at fritz@umbc.edu or 410.455.6596.

    Posted by fritz at 8:18 AM | TrackBack

    October 31, 2007

    OIT & FDC Present 11/16 Hybrid Training Workshop

    The Office of Information Technology and Faculty Development Center are offering another Hybrid Course Redesign Workshop on Friday, November 16, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Engineering 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. Lunch wll be provided to registered participants.

    The workshop will also help meet the WT2008 requirements for a one-time course-redesign stipend through the Alternate Delivery Program, which is sponsored by the Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs. For more information and to register for the workshop, visit http://www.umbc.edu/oit/hybrid/training

    Posted by fritz at 9:40 AM | TrackBack

    October 16, 2007

    GES Faculty Show and Tell How and Why They Use Blackboard

    Karin Readel
    Karin Readel
    Chris Swan
    Chris Swan
    OIT has published two inaugural "Show & Tell" screen capture videos by Geography and Environmental Systems (GES) faculty Karin Readel and Chris Swan, whose courses are among the top five Most Active Undergraduate Blackboard Courses for Summer 2007 and Spring 2007 respectively, as measured by average hits per student on the UMBC Blackboard Reports site.

    In addition, OIT has published pilot reports for some of Readel's and Swan's recent courses showing student activity by final grade distribution:

  • Readel: SCI100_7050_SU2007 "Water: An Interdisciplinary Study"
  • Swan: GES302A_0101_SP2007 "Applied Issues in Ecology"
  • Swan: GES408_0101_SP2007 "Field Ecology"
  • Swan: GEOS206_0101_SP2006 "Ecology"

    While this kind of individual course report is not yet available (faculty can do it manually), OIT intends to provide this service to faculty who wish to view it privately (or eventually post it inside a Bb course for future students to monitor and benchmark their own activity).

    OIT will also be publishing a similar, public report that summarizes student activity and tool use by grade distribution in the top 25, 50, 75 and 100 percentile ranges of all UMBC Blackboard courses. The goal is to see what difference, if any, exists in student grade distribution across a range of Bb courses and activity levels.

    UMBC on iTunesAfter watching Readel and Swan show how they use Blackboard in their actual course sites, faculty may want to check out why they do so in two new "Q & A" video interviews on UMBC's iTunesU service (for more information about UMBC on iTunes, see http://itunes.umbc.edu).

    OIT plans to publish more "Show & Tell" (how) and "Q & A" (why) videos from faculty teaching active Blackboard courses in other disciplines, but if you or a colleague has an effective practice or insight you'd be willing to share, send email to fritz@umbc.edu. Please include a short description of the pedagogical problem that is solved or the new learning opportunity that is created in using Blackboard.

    Note: To protect the work and identity of students who may appear in the "Show & Tell" videos, only UMBC faculty can access them with their myUMBC userid & password. These videos are intended for collegial, professional development only, so all faculty are reminded that any medium containing identifiable student academic information constitutes an "educational record" that is protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

    Posted by fritz at 4:10 PM | TrackBack

    October 15, 2007

    OIT Staff Present Blackboard Reporting Project at MDBUG Conference

    MDBUG ConferenceOIT staff members John Fritz, director of Instructional Technology & New Media (ITNM), and Jeffrey Berman (an ITNM graduate assistant) presented the UMBC "Most Active Blackboard Courses" Reports project at the Maryland Blackboard Users Group (MDBUG) conference on Tuesday, October 2, at the UMBC Technology Center.

    Proceedings are not yet available on the conference website, but you can watch Fritz and Berman's presentation, "Why and How UMBC Publishes Its Most Active Blackboard Courses Reports," on the Blackboard reports site (Fritz handles the "why" and Berman explains the "how").

    Other UMBC presenters included:


  • Anne Rubin (History): "Child Labor in the American South: Using a Bb Wiki for Historical Research"
  • Matthias Gobbert (Math/Stats): "Screen Capture of Mathematics with Voice Over using a Tablet Laptop"
  • Katie Morris (Social Work): "Social Work & Technology: An Unlikely Pair?"
  • Bev Bickel & Adriana Val (MLL): "Multiple Voices from Online EFL Teacher Education"

  • For more information about the Maryland Blackboard Users Group, including the opt-in email listserve, visit www.umbc.edu/mdbug.

    Posted by fritz at 1:45 PM | TrackBack

    September 13, 2007

    SU2007 Blackboard Reports Now Include Tool Usage

    OIT has published the Summer 2007 "Most Active Blackboard Courses" reports for all categories of usage (e.g., all courses, graduate courses, undergraduate courses, communities, etc.).

    In addition, we have published the specific "tool usage" metrics for the top 50 courses in all categories. Future plans include providing this for all courses.

    Reminder: Course activity alone is not a measure or endorsement of quality. These reports are merely provided as a way for faculty to seek each other out about what works (or doesn't) in using Blackboard.

    Posted by fritz at 1:39 PM | TrackBack

    August 28, 2007

    Blackboard Will Be Down 9/1 (9 p.m.) to 9/2 (9 a.m.)

    To extend a fix of recent "database connection" errors that have increased during the busy days leading to the start of semester today, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) needs to take Blackboard down from 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, to 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 2.

    Working with Blackboard, OIT has developed a short-term fix to the "database connection" errors, but needs extended downtime with no user access to address an underlying issue with the production database. No content has been lost, nor is it expected. But the production database that runs Blackboard needs to be "cleaned up" so performance does not degrade throughout the semester, when the user load will only increase. We are also continuing to work with Blackboard to identify existing processes that may be contributing to the problem.

    Currently, we believe overall performance is stable. If we find otherwise, we will post an update on the OIT News site at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/news which you can also subscribe to by RSS feed or view in myUMBC. If you encounter system performance problems, please send email to helpdesk@umbc.edu.

    We understand this is a busy time of year, and appreciate your patience as we address these system issues to maintain acceptable performance during the semester.

    Posted by fritz at 2:18 PM | TrackBack

    August 6, 2007

    Call for Presentations: 10/2 MDBUG Conf. @ UMBC Tech Center

    The Maryland Blackboard Users Group (MDBUG) is now accepting presentation proposals for its first-ever conference on Tuesday, October 2, 2007, at the UMBC Technology Center (proposal deadline is Friday, September 7). This is a great, local opportunity to meet other Blackboard users and share effective practices.

    To propose a presentation, you MUST use the attached form and submit it on the MDBUG "Connections" site at http://communities.blackboard.com (a free Blackboard "connections" userid is required to login, find and "self-enroll" in the MDBUG site). In addition to traditional lecture, workshop and panel presentation formats, the MDBUG conference will also offer a "Five Minutes of Fame" slot, modeled after the popular format at the annual New Media Consortium conference.

    The MDBUG was formed in March 2007, and has 80 members from more than 30 public and private institutions in Maryland who are using or supporting Blackboard on their respective campuses. In addition to the space on Blackboard's own "Connections" site (which always runs the latest version of the Bb software), the MDBUG also maintains a member email listserve (see https://lists.umbc.edu/lists/info/mdbug for more information).

    For more information about MDBUG or to consult on a conference proposal idea, contact John Fritz at 410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu or Ellen Borkowski at 301.405.2922 or eyb@umd.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 6:17 AM | TrackBack

    August 3, 2007

    8/22 Hybrid Training Workshop

    The Office of Information Technology and Faculty Development Center are offering a Hybrid Course Redesign Workshop on Wednesday, August 22, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in The Commons, Room 328. 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.


    The workshop will also help meet the WT2008 requirements for a one-time course-redesign stipend through the Alternate Delivery Program, which is sponsored by the Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs. For more information and to register for the workshop, visit http://www.umbc.edu/oit/hybrid/training

    Posted by fritz at 10:22 AM | TrackBack

    May 3, 2007

    5/16 Hybrid Course Design Training "Information Session"


    If you're not ready to teach online only, but you'd like to explore teaching and learning beyond a face-to-face (F2F) or even web-enhanced setting, join Jack Prostko, director of the Faculty Development Center, and John Fritz, director of Instructional Technology & New Media, for a hybrid course design training "information session" on Wed., May 16, at Noon in The Commons 331. You'll learn about the training workshop developed to support the Alternate Delivery Program sponsored by the Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs. You can also think about joining the next workshop tentatively scheduled for Friday, August 17 and/or Monday, August 20 (still TBD). Lunch is provided, but please register online so we can plan accordingly.

    Posted by fritz at 2:51 PM | TrackBack

    March 21, 2007

    5/30 Goucher Conference on Teaching & Learning (3/30 RFP Deadline)

    The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology at Goucher College will bring together faculty and academic support personnel from Baltimore area colleges and universities to consider the topic of learning styles in higher education. The 2007 Conference on Teaching and Learning will take place on May 30th, with pre- and post-conference sessions on the 29th and 31st. Our theme is Learning Styles: From Theory to Practice.

    We invite proposals for panels and individual presentations for May 30, and workshops for May 31. We especially encourage the submission of proposals that include active learning components. The RFP deadline is March 30.

    Questions to consider include: What are learning styles and how can they be identified in the classroom? What activities are you using in the classroom to provide varying approaches to material? What are some effective formats for student projects and research assignments? Is assessment impacted by different learning styles and what strategies can be used to keep it meaningful? Are there new technologies that help faculty to address varying learning styles?

    All presenters must register for the Conference.

    Proposals are due by March 30, 2007. Notification of accepted proposals will be on or about April 3, 2007.

    To propose a session, please e-mail ctlt@goucher.edu and in your message, or attached document, address the following:

    Name of session leader and names of additional leaders
    Title of session (15-word maximum)
    Abstract for website and printed materials (50 words)
    Abstract for selection committee (500-word maximum)
    Technology needs, if any (internet access, instructor computer with
    projection, computer lab, etc.)

    Note: In both of your abstracts, you should delineate where appropriate how conference participants who attend your session will engage in active learning.

    Alternately, you may mail your proposal to:

    Jeffrey Samuels, Conference Coordinator
    CTLT / Goucher College
    1021 Dulaney Valley Road
    Towson, MD 21204

    You may view offerings from previous conferences at:
    http://www.goucher.edu/x11320.xml

    Posted by fritz at 1:40 PM | TrackBack

    January 8, 2007

    Seven Faculty Selected for SU2007 "Alternate Delivery Program"

    Seven UMBC faculty have been selected to participate in UMBC's Alternate Delivery Program (ADP) to redesign existing UMBC courses for online or hybrid delivery in Summer 2007.

    Sponsored by the Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP) and supported by the Faculty Development Center (FDC) and Office of Information Technology (OIT), the Alternate Delivery Program provides a course development stipend, instructional design training and technical support to redesign existing courses for online or hybrid delivery.

    Since the ADP began in Spring 2005, 16 faculty have redesigned their courses for online or hybrid (part online, part face-to-face) delivery in UMBC's Winter and Summer Special Sessions. Of the seven new faculty accepted into the SU2007 cohort, five will be redesigning an existing course, and two will participate as "peer mentors," which was a new award announced in the Summer 2007 "Request for Proposals."

    The SU2007 ADP faculty cohort includes

  • Matthew Belzer (Music)
  • Mary Davis (Economics)
  • Linda Harris (English)
  • Jodi Kelber-Kaye (Gender & Women's Studies)
  • Katherine Morris (Social Work)
  • Susan McCully (Theatre)*
  • Greg Williams (Education: Instructional Systems Design)*
  • * Selected to serve as "Peer Mentors."

    After two half-day training workshops in mid-January, the SU2007 cohort will begin working on their course redesign deliverables. These include meeting twice during the spring semester (March 1 and April 5) to present two learning objects, assignments or activities that represent how their courses will be redesigned for hybrid or online delivery. Each faculty member's departmental colleagues are encouraged to attend the lunchtime presentations (location and presentation schedule to be announced).

    Quality Matters Online Learning "Rubric"

    One new development in the SU2007 ADP cohort is the use of the Quality Matters online learning "rubric" or checklist as both a proposal form for the new "peer mentor" awards and as a guide for all new faculty developing future online or hybrid courses. Quality Matters is a voluntary, standards-based method of evaluating online course design (NOT instructor performance or course delivery). In addition to having their online courses evaluated, QM also trains faculty to serve as QM peer reviewers who can earn $150 for participating in a three-member team evaluation of another faculty member's online course.

    From 2003 to 2006, QM was funded by a $500,000 grant from the Fund for Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE). It has won numerous awards for articulating a simple, but effective standard by which online learning design can be evaluated. Currently, QualityMatters is operating on an indvidual and institutional "subscription" model. However, during the 2006-2007 academic year, the University System of Maryland is sponsoring several QM workshops and training programs to System schools and faculty. In March, QM will host online and face-to-face workshops on how to improve an online course and how to become a QM peer reviewer.

    For more information about the UMBC Alternate Delivery Program, visit www.umbc.edu/ssfaculty/adp or contact John Fritz at 410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu

    Posted by fritz at 2:00 PM

    November 6, 2006

    11/17 USM Overview of "QualityMatters" Assessment of Online/Hybrid Course Design

    The University System of Maryland (USM) is sponsoring a Nov. 17 half-day "Overview" workshop at Towson Univ. on the "QualityMatters" rubric (or "checklist") of best practices for evaluating online or hybrid course design. The deadline for online registration is 11/16, and will be followed by "hands-on" workshops in January and March. Seating is limited, but many participating USM schools (including UMBC) plan to host on-campus, video conference "viewing sites" for most, if not all of workshop activities. For more information about QualityMatters or the related USM sessions, please visit: http://www.usmd.edu/usm/onlinelearning.

    FYI: UMBC will be using a "self review" version of the "QualityMatters" rubric for the Summer 2007 Alternate Delivery Program (RFP deadline: 12/8/06). Specifically, the QM rubric will be a required final deliverable for the $1,500 "course redesign" award OR as the proposal form for the new $1,000 "peer mentor" award. For more information, see http://www.umbc.edu/oit/hybrid.

    Posted by fritz at 11:02 PM

    Summer '07 "Hybrid/Online" Courses RFP (Due: 12/8)

    The Office of Summer, Winter & Special Programs (OSWSP) invites proposals from UMBC full and part-time faculty to develop online or hybrid courses to be offered during the 2007 Summer Session. This "Alternate Delivery Program" (ADP) includes $1,500 "course redesign" OR $1,000 "peer mentoring" funding as well as support from the UMBC Faculty Development Center (FDC) and Office of Information Technology (OIT).

    APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, December 8, 2006
    AWARD NOTIFICATION: Monday, December 18, 2006

    For more information, including ADP requirements, proposal procedures, a list of past participants and a related 11/28 "information session," please visit www.umbc.edu/ssfaculty/adp or www.umbc.edu/oit/hybrid.

    Posted by fritz at 10:49 PM

    April 12, 2006

    Alternate Delivery (Online & Hybrid) Winter 2007 RFPs (deadline: 5/19)

    The Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP) is sponsoring a program to increase the number of alternate delivery courses - specifically, hybrid and online courses - offered during special sessions (winter and summer terms) in 2007.

    Supported by OIT and the Faculty Development Center, the OSWSP invites proposals from UMBC full and part-time faculty to develop online or hybrid courses to be offered during the 2007 Winter Session. Course development funding, high speed Internet access, technical support, and the opportunity to participate in a faculty learning community are available through this program. The application deadline is Friday, May 19, 2006 (recipients will be notified the week of May 24, 2006). For more information, visit http://www.umbc.edu/ssfaculty/adp.

    Posted by at 4:13 PM

    December 9, 2005

    Summer 2006 ADP Deadline Extended: 12/12/05

    Due to today's weather delay, the Summer 2006 "Alternate Delivery (Hybrid/Online) Course Re-design Program" has been extended to Monday, Dec. 12, 2005.

    For more information, see the following:

    http://www.umbc.edu/ssfaculty/adp

    Posted by fritz at 11:28 PM

    Bb 2006 User Conference Proposal Deadline Extended: 12/16/05

    The 2006 Blackboard World Conference call for proposal deadline has been extended from 12/9 to 12/16. For more information, see the following:

    http://blackboard.com/company/events/bbworld/

    Posted by fritz at 11:25 PM

    Blackboard Announces $50k Innovation Award (Deadline: 1/6/06)

    Blackboard has announced it's "Greenhouse" project to "cultivate innovations in e- learning, support the organic growth of knowledge within the Blackboard(R) community and recognize exemplary campus service programs."

    According to Bb's 11/29/05 press release . . .

    "Three Award Programs Will Offer a Total of $50,000 to Winning Submissions"

    "Applications and details on the awards are available on the Blackboard Connections Web site (http://connections.blackboard.com), a central hub where users can collaborate, share best practices and deepen their knowledge and expertise related to Blackboard.

    "The deadline for submissions is January 6, 2006. Eight winners, in total, for all three awards, will be selected by February 3, 2006 and invited to attend and speak at the 8th Annual Blackboard Users Conference, Bb World, in San Diego from February 28 - March 2."

    Posted by fritz at 11:20 PM

    November 29, 2005

    Spring 2006 Bb Course Shells to be Created on 12/05/05

    On December 5, 2005, OIT will create an empty Blackboard course shell for all Spring 2006 courses that have assigned instructors and are listed in the UMBC Schedule of Classes. Courses that don’t have assigned instructors will be created as courses are added to the Schedule of Classes by the Registrar’s office. Students will be automatically enrolled in all Bb courses as has been done in the past.

    Any faculty member who wants to use Blackboard simply needs to login via myUMBC or http://blackboard.umbc.edu and follow the instructions on the Blackboard Help Tab. If you do not wish to use Blackboard, do nothing. By default, all UMBC Blackboard course "shells" remain unavailable to students until the instructor of record makes his or her course available.

    NOTE: An online instructor manual is available inside every Blackboard course in the course's "Control Panel" and on the Blackboard Help Tab.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact John Fritz (fritz@umbc.edu or 5-6596) or Bob Armstrong (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 5-3885), or send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

    Posted by rarmstro at 8:08 AM

    Reminder: Fall 2005 Bb Course Shells Will Expire 1/15/06

    As announced earlier in the semester, Fall 2005 auto-created Bb course "shells" are set to expire on January 15, 2006 after grades are due. This means the course will automatically revert to being unavailable to students, but faculty will still see the course link. This will help students who frequently complain about having numerous links to old courses in Blackboard. They can request ongoing access from the instructor, who can override the duration settings manually. This may be helpful for processing incompletes, but the majority of students will not have to request to be un-enrolled from old courses

    Remember: students can’t un-enroll from Bb courses themselves. If you don’t need your old Bb course site, please consider deleting it by completing the “Bb Course Delete” request form on the Bb Blackboard Help tab.

    Posted by rarmstro at 8:03 AM

    Blackboard Will Be Down for Upgrades on 1/13/06

    The UMBC Blackboard server accessed via myUMBC or at http://blackboard.umbc.edu will be down for maintenance on Friday, January 13, 2006. Among other things, OIT will be applying a hardware upgrade to improve performance and upgrading the Blackboard software to version 6.3. (See below). The server will be back up on Saturday, January 14, 2006.

    New Features for Blackboard Version 6.3:

    • New Navigation Design
    • Content Adaptive Release
    • More Question Types
    • Performance Dashboard
    • Student Report Card
    • “What’s New” module
    • Improved Language Support
    More information

    Posted by rarmstro at 7:57 AM

    November 28, 2005

    Winter 2006 Bb Courses to Operate on Alternate Server

    OIT will run winter 2006 Blackboard courses on an alternate server (http://bbss.umbc.edu) so that we can upgrade and prepare the regular Blackboard server (http://blackboard.umbc.edu) for the spring 2006 semester. The winter semester is the most convenient time to do this upgrade since there are fewer courses using Blackboard. OIT will still enroll students in your winter Bb course, and we will post an announcement in a mirror version of your winter Bb course on the regular server, that links students to the actual course on the alternate Bb server (please alert them of this change during your first winter class as well).

    If you wish to use Blackboard for the winter semester, simply submit a request for a course shell by using the New Course Request Form on the Blackboard Help tab available before and after logging in to Blackboard. These courses will stay on this server throughout the winter semester and then be moved to the regular Blackboard server (http://blackboard.umbc.edu) during the Spring semester. If you have a course that is already being developed on the current server, please send an email to blackboard @umbc.edu and we will move it for you. Please include your course name and course id number in your request.
    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact John Fritz (fritz@umbc.edu or 5-6596) or Bob Armstrong (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 5-3885), or send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

    Posted by rarmstro at 4:01 PM

    OIT Seeks Faculty Volunteers to Pilot Bb version 7.0

    OIT has installed the latest version of Blackboard (version 7.0) and is looking for faculty volunteers to pilot this system. For a list of new features available in version 7.0, visit Blackboard’s own site.

    As in past UMBC Bb pilot programs, faculty who want to use the most recent version should consider the following:

    • OIT will place an announcement in your pilot course describing what you and your students need to do if you encounter a problem in the version 7 pilot environment. We would ask you to make this a “permanent” announcement in your course throughout the semester.

    • Throughout the semester, you and your students may be asked to complete a survey about your experience with the software.

    • Your course will not be compatible with the regular production server until it is migrated to the version 7.0 software. Currently, OIT plans to migrate all courses to version 7.0 in January 2007, but may considering doing so for Fall 2006 if we get acceptable results during a substantive pilot program this spring.
    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact John Fritz (fritz@umbc.edu or 5-6596) or Bob Armstrong (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 5-3885), or send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

    Posted by rarmstro at 3:57 PM

    Start of Semester Blackboard Tips & Workshops

    Here are a few things to keep in mind starting the Spring 2006 semester:

    • Remember to make your course “Available” once you have it ready for students.

    • If you copy course content from a previous semester, be sure to check to see that your “Course Duration” is set for the current semester. OIT sets a default “unavailable” date in the semester shells we create, but if you import an entire course from a prior semester into the new shell, the older course’s “duration” will overwrite the new shell’s duration.

    • Students will be automatically enrolled in the appropriate Blackboard course after they officially register for a course. Remember to remove those students that drop once the official Add/Drop date has passed, as students can never un-enroll themselves from a Bb course site, and OIT’s “Auto Enroll” process is “additive” only.

    Also, starting in January, OIT will be offering a variety of workshops that will highlight the new features in Blackboard 6, as well as our other workshops that focus on Blackboard tools and the new user. For more information and to register online, visit the OIT Training site at http://www.umbc.edu/training and click on Blackboard.

    As always, if you have specific questions or you just can’t figure out how to do something in your course/community, please send email to blackboard@umbc.edu, or contact Bob Armstrong at rarmstro@umbc.edu or 5-3885.

    Posted by rarmstro at 3:49 PM

    FYI: Turnitin Interface Has Changed

    If you are using Turnitin in Blackboard, you will notice some changes for spring 2006. The interface now looks more like what you would see if you logged directly into Turnitin.com. Instead of going into “Tools” and then “Login to Turnitin”, you just go to the course control panel and click on “Turnitin Assignments”. The process for creating Turnitin assignments is the same.

    The interface is much cleaner and offers you more options for downloads and setting Turnitin assignment preferences.

    Posted by rarmstro at 3:45 PM

    FYI: Bb Assignments Feature to Replace Digital Drop Box

    The Assignments feature in Blackboard is a tool that was designed to replace the Digital Drop Box by allowing the instructor to create individual assignments for each student submission, rather than have all of the submissions for the course submitted into one place. This allows for easier document management—no more need to delete Digital Drop Box files one at a time—and no more confusion by students about whether they've POSTED an assignment to their drop box, or SUBMITTED it to the instructor's drop box. The Assignment function even creates a column in the Gradebook for easier management of grades.

    With the upgrade to version 6.3 we we eventually plan to phase out eliminate the use of the Digital Drop Box, and focus exclusively on the Assignments feature.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact John Fritz (fritz@umbc.edu or 5-6596) or Bob Armstrong (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 5-3885), or send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

    Posted by rarmstro at 3:40 PM

    FYI: 2/15/06 Brown Bag: Inside Bb Product Development

    Zahra Safavian, Blackboard Product Manager and ’97 UMBC alum, will be here on campus Wednesday, February 15 at noon to talk about how Blackboard develops its’ product and give you an opportunity to give her some of your suggestions. For more information and to register for this free workship, visit http://www.umbc.edu/brownbag.

    Posted by fritz at 2:58 PM

    FYI: Wimba Voice Tools and Learning Objects Pilots Continue

    OIT will continue to pilot the Wimba Voice tools and Leaning Objects Teams and Journal tools for the Spring semester.

    The Wimba Voice tools allow you to create voice announcements, emails, and discussion boards along with a live classroom component. These tools can add non-textual interactivity by providing a live voice component that can be used for greetings or discussions. Wimba also has a live classroom component for doing conducting your classes live online.

    The learning Objects tools, called Team LX, Journal LX, and Expo provide easy-to-use tools that function as a course wiki or a blog. Descriptions for these tools and online help can be found under the “Blackboard Help” tab before and after logging into Blackboard via myUMBC or directly at http://blackboard.umbc.edu.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact John Fritz (fritz@umbc.edu or 5-6596) or Bob Armstrong (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 5-3885), or send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 2:28 PM

    FYI: Maryland Blackboard Community Available

    Want an easy way to communicate with other Maryland Blackboard users? Blackboard has set up an active community that you can enroll in and get insight into how other campuses in Maryland are using Blackboard. The community is using many of the new Blackboard features and can serve as a springboard for showing you techniques that you may have never thought of. To enroll in the community, simply go to http://communities.blackboard.com, create and user name and password and you are ready to go.

    Posted by fritz at 2:27 PM

    FYI: 2006 Bb Users Conference (RFP Deadline: 12/9/05)

    The Blackboard World 2006 User Conference will be held in San Diego, CA February 28 to March 2. The deadline for proposal presentations is December 9, 2005, and accepted presenters will receive a 50 percent discount on their conference registration. For more information, see http://blackboard.com/company/events/bbworld

    Posted by fritz at 2:24 PM

    November 4, 2005

    Hybrid/Online Course Design RFP (Deadline: 12/9)

    The Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP) is piloting a new program to increase the number of alternate delivery courses - specifically, hybrid and online courses - offered during special sessions (winter and summer terms) in 2006. The OSWSP invites proposals from UMBC full and part-time faculty to develop online or hybrid courses to be offered during the 2006 Summer Session. Course development funding (or a laptop computer), high speed Internet access, technical support, and the opportunity to participate in a faculty “learning community” are available through this program. The proposal deadline is December 9, 2005. More Information.

    Posted by fritz at 10:12 PM

    September 21, 2005

    OIT Seeks New Media/Web Standards Specialist

    The UMBC Office of Information Technology (OIT) seeks a New Media and Web standards specialist. The incumbant will serve as a Web developer, evangelist and consensus-builder to lead technical development of UMBC’s web presence and institutional adoption of Web standards as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium. Specific duties include: developing and supporting web applications on university and departmental web sites; leading the technical redesign of UMBC’s external Web site; leading development and implementation of scalable, device-independent Web solutions; producing or providing end-user support through online documentation or training; working with a diverse range of end-users as well as content editors, graphic designers, and systems administrators, to devise clean, standards-compliant, usable web sites; and performing other duties as assigned. More information.

    Posted by fritz at 4:05 PM

    August 25, 2005

    OIT Pilots Use of Blogs & Wikis in Blackboard

    This year, OIT is piloting a third-party Blackboard extension (or "Building Block") that provides blogs (diary-like web journals) and wikis (group developed websites) contained in Blackboard courses or communities and only visible to enrolled members. Developed by a company called Learning Objects, their "Campus Pack" building block is a set of tools that are designed to foster greater communication between and among Blackboard users.

    Bob Armstrong
    Bob Armstrong
    Teams LX gives Blackboard instructors or managers a powerful way to assign, manage, and assess group projects consisting of web sites jointly built by more than one person (also known as "wikis"). More Information.

    Journal LX enables users to create, share and comment on blogs within a Blackboard course or community. More Information.

    Backpack LX is a dynamic blog and web site builder that permits students and instructors to create and showcase journals and web sites in a central location of the course or community.

    OIT will be evaluating the Campus Pack suite of tools during the 2005-06 academic year, and invites instructors/managers and students/members of Blackboard sites to give us feedback on the product. For help or feedback, contact Bob Armstrong (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 410.455.3885). You may also want to see the Team LX and Journal LX help sheets on the UMBC Blackboard Help Tab.

    FYI: To see how colleges and universities are using collaborative tools like blogs and wikis in the classroom, see the June 24, 2005 Chronicle of Higher Education special section "Ten Techniques to Change Your Teaching" (login required to view the issue online, or visit the New Media Learning & Development office in ECS 101). Sample articles include the following:

    THESE LESSONS CLICK: Thanks to his students' remote-control devices, a biology instructor at the College of Lake County, Ill., can measure the class's comprehension instantly.

    C3PO 4 EE101: Electrical engineering students at Montana State University have a lot of knowledge to navigate, and so do their robots.

    PIXEL PERFECT: A University of Denver art-history professor exchanges the slide projector for more flexible digital technology.

    CUT! Education students at the University of Texas at Austin are learning to tell stories through laptop-produced videos.

    CRUDE BEHAVIOR: Computer simulation turns students at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School into oil executives in a tense negotiation.

    AMERICAS ONLINE: Videoconferencing allows students at the University of Maryland and the Mexico City campus of the Monterrey Institute of Technology to model a joint business venture.

    FACE TO FACE: Thanks to video over IP, the Virginia Community College System can affordably offer an education course team-taught in several linked locations.

    A BUILDING TOOL: Three-dimensional software helps students at Carleton College design an environmentally friendly house.
    CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? Students in an online constitutional-law class from Concord University listen up and write back.

    PEN IN HAND: Tablet PC's allow an English professor at CUNY's College of Staten Island to mark up papers the old-fashioned way -- but in a new-fashioned way.

    Posted by fritz at 12:11 AM

    June 1, 2005

    Enrollment Issues in Summer Blackboard Courses

    Some officially enrolled students in summer courses are finding they don't have access to the companion Blackboard course site. This was due to a problem in our auto-enrollment process that now appears to be fixed.

    Instructors: If you find otherwise, you can do two things: 1) enroll the students yourself or 2) set the Bb course enrollment options to "self-enroll." This allows students to search for the Blackboard site and then enroll themselves. As instructors, you can change this setting later, if you want to do so.

    More Information

    Posted by fritz at 1:23 PM

    May 20, 2005

    Change in Process: Requesting Summer '05 Bb Courses

    To UMBC Faculty:

    If you plan to use Blackboard for Summer '05, there is a slight change in the process: you will need to request that a course be created for you by using the "Request a New Course Form."

    Why?

    OIT is currently testing the newest version of Blackboard (version 6.3), including the auto course creation process we've used for the past two semesters. We'll still run the current 6.2 version for Summer '05, but we would like to see if version 6.3 (and our processes for administering it) are ready for Fall '05. Stay tuned.

    Posted by fritz at 3:08 PM

    OIT Seeks Faculty Volunteers for Summer Pilot of New Blackboard

    OIT has installed the latest version of Blackboard (version 6.3) and is looking for faculty volunteers to pilot this system during Summer '05. While there are some interesting new features (especially with assessments), the following conditions would apply for anyone participating in the pilot:

    1. Turnitin.com will NOT be available during the summer pilot on version 6.3.

    2. Your Summer '05 course is already created, but you will have to:

  • Turn the course on by making it available (similar to past semesters)
  • Copy the content from your 6.2 version course to the empty shell course in version 6.3. The copy course content process is the same as in past semesters, but you just need to import the 6.2 course from http://blackboard.umbc.edu to the 6.3 server at http://bbss.umbc.edu.
  • Request a course shell be created in version 6.2 with an announcement/link telling your students that their course is being run on the version 6.3 server (http://bbss.umbc.edu).


    If you would like to participate in the Bb 6.3 summer pilot, please contact Bob Armstrong at 410.455.3885 or rarmstro@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 1:49 PM

    Online Tech Training for UMBC Faculty & Staff

    Need to brush up on Excel? How about managing your time & projects? If you need to learn IT or business productivity skills, but don't have time or budget to attend in-class training, you can now learn online with SkillSoft. UMBC recently joined other USM schools using SkillSoft. With over 1,800 titles to choose from, SkillSoft is open to all UMBC faculty and staff. Use it on your own or setup a professional development plan between supervisor and employee. SkillSoft can even be used "off-line" and then synched up "on-line, and you can print certificates of completion. For more information, visit http://www.umbc.edu/skillsoft or http://www.umbc.edu/training (includes online demo). To login, use your full UMBC email address for userid & password (e.g., youruserid@umbc.edu). For more information or help, send email to training@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 1:42 PM

    April 25, 2005

    Hybrid Courses and Faculty Development

    In his column for Insights Online, UMBC Faculty Development Director Jack Prostko explores why and how faculty may want to explore using the hybrid course delivery format.

    Posted by fritz at 2:06 PM

    March 31, 2005

    Spring '05 Blackboard User Survey

    OIT is conducting a UMBC Blackboard User Survey until Monday, April 4, 2005. To complete the survey, login to blackboard and select the relevant student/member or instructor/manager survey links on the My Institution page, or inside ANY Blackboard course or community.

    Your participation will help improve the service, and be compared with our last user survey in spring 2003. If you have questions or concerns, send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 9:20 AM

    What it's Like to Teach an Online or Hybrid Course (4/6, 1 p.m.)

    In light of the USM Board of Regents proposal for more online or hybrid (part online, part face-to-face) courses, what's it like to teach and learn this way? Faculty from UMBC's three online master's programs in Emergency Health Services (Maguire), Education (Oliva) and Information Systems (Seaman) will describe their experiences, and share their thoughts on what it would take to support this mode of delivery for UMBC's undergraduate curriculum. Wednesday, April 6, 1 p.m., ECS 023. To register, visit http://www.umbc.edu/brownbag.

    Related Information:

  • USM Board of Regents Efficiency & Effectiveness updates
  • How ( and Why) to Teach a Hybrid Course (10/21/03 TLT Brown Bag Workshop.
  • 2006 Summer & Winter Alternate Delivery Request for Proposals
  • This workshop will be broadcast via the USM Interactive Video Network (IVN).
  • Posted by fritz at 9:19 AM

    Summer & Winter Session RFP for Online & Hybrid Courses

    The Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP) is piloting a new program to increase the number of alternate delivery courses* - specifically, hybrid and online courses - offered during special sessions (winter and summer terms) in 2006. The OSWSP invites proposals from UMBC full and part-time faculty to develop online or hybrid courses to be offered during the 2006 Winter Session. Course development funding (or a laptop computer), high speed Internet access, technical support, and the opportunity to participate in a faculty “learning community” are available through this program. For more information, click here.

    The Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP) is piloting a new program to increase the number of alternate delivery courses (specifically, hybrid and online courses) offered during special sessions. The OSWSP invites proposals from UMBC full and part-time faculty to develop online or hybrid courses to be offered during Winter Session 2006. Course development funding (or a laptop computer), high speed Internet access, technical support, and the opportunity to participate in a faculty "learning community" are available through this pilot program.

    Faculty who are interested in developing a course which can be offered as a hybrid (combination face-to-face & online) or entirely online during WINTER 2006 are encouraged to apply to participate in this course development program.

    Preference will be given to proposals to develop alternate delivery methods for existing courses which are: typically oversubscribed during the regular academic semester or during special sessions (as evidenced by student "hold lists"), required for graduation or a major, or lend themselves particularly well to the alternate delivery format.

    The deadline to apply is May 13, 2005. Those selected to participate will be notified by May 27, 2005.

    Details regarding the program and a course proposal form are available on the special sessions faculty web site at: www.umbc.edu/ssfaculty/adp. For questions, contact Beth Jones, Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs, at ejones@umbc.edu or John Fritz, New Media Learning and Development, at fritz@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 9:18 AM

    College Park Teaching with Technology Conference (4/8)

    The University of Maryland at College Park will hold its 12th annual Teaching with Technology Conference on Friday, April 8. There is a small fee for USM faculty & staff ($50) to cover parking and food. For more information, visit http://www.oit.umd.edu/twt/. Apologies for the late notice on this one. JF

    Posted by fritz at 9:17 AM

    Save the Date: Goucher College Conference on Academic Technology (5/17)

    Goucher College will be hosting a Conference on Academic Technology on Tuesday, May 17. A conference website has not yet been established, but likely topics include the following:

  • What are the latest technology trends and gadgets our students are using? What websites are they visiting and what are they doing there?
  • How do students use technology to engage in academic work?
  • The dark side: how can technology enable or even encourage academic dishonesty, and what can we do about it?
  • “Technology Fluency” for faculty: what do we need to know and how do we do it?
  • How does a course undergo a transformation through academic technology? What are the possible outcomes?
  • How can we apply distance education pedagogy in a face to face or mixed (hybrid) course setting?
  • How can we use technology to bridge the gap between extra-curricular activities and academics? Can technology bring about a living-learning environment?

    For more information, visit Goucher's Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology or send email to ctlt@goucher.edu

    Posted by fritz at 9:11 AM

    March 30, 2005

    End of Semester Check List for Your Blackboard Course

    As we near the end of the semester, here's a checklist of tasks instructors may want to keep in mind (help sheets are available on the Blackboard Help tab):

    Make your course unavailable to students
    Create a backup copy of your course (and gradebook)
    Send UMBC Blackboard course deletion requests

    While past courses are available online in Blackboard, OIT recommends creating a backup copy, too. It's also smart to make your course unavailable to students after the semester ends, so it doesn't show up in their list of courses in future semesters--a big complaint of students. Exceptions might include keeping the course open to process incompletes, or as a courtesy to students who request to have ongoing access.

    If you have created a backup copy of your course (online or on your own computer) consider having all older versions of the course deleted. You can then create your future course from your backup or the most recent version online. This way, you always "copy forward" the most recent version, and can get rid of past versions that are just taking up space--and probably still appear in past students' course lists. To permanently remove the course from your list, use the online form on the Blackboard Help tab. When the request has been received, we will send you an email to confirm your request.

    For more information or help, send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 11:54 PM

    January 28, 2005

    FYI: How to Limit List of Courses in Blackboard

    FYI . . .

    To limit the number of courses displayed on your Blackboard "My Institution" screen, click the yellow pencil icon on your "My Courses" menu and then de-select the course link you don't want displayed. You will not be removed from the course, but it will no longer be displayed when you log in.

    Posted by OIT at 5:04 PM

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