Blackboard Update - Fall 2004
This 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org
or 410.455.6596). For more information about using Blackboard,
or send email to email@example.com.
OIT Creates Blackboard Sites for ALL Fall 2004 Courses
2. All Courses Migrated from Version
5 to 6 on 5/21, Bb5 to Shut Down 8/27
3. Useful Features in new Version of Blackboard
Content from One Course to Another
• Add Custom Menu Buttons or Labels
• Collect, Delete and Record Grades
for Assignments Automatically
• Export AND Import Gradebook To/From
• Communications: Chat, Discussions
• Create A Course Glossary
Using Bb to Securely Display Scantron
5. FYI: Turnitin.com module to be added
to Blackboard’s Assignment Function
6. FYI: Forwarding Email via myUMBC
7. FYI: Training Options: Workshops, Small
8. Bb Will Be Down 7-9 a.m., on 8/26 and
9. Using Course Cartridges in UMBC's
10. FYI: Bb Users Conference, Call for
Proposals (deadline: 9/24)
11. FYI: Educause MARC Conference and
Call for Proposals (deadline: 9/3)
12. FYI: Call for Winter Course Proposals
Sites Created for ALL Fall 2004 Courses
can now move content from one course to another by themselves
of Friday, August 6, OIT created an empty Blackboard course site
for all Fall 2004 courses listed in the UMBC Schedule of Classes.
If you wish to use Blackboard for a course, simply login and follow
the steps below. If you do not wish to use Blackboard, do nothing.
By default all Fall 2004 Blackboard course sites remain unavailable
to students until the instructor of record makes site available.
To Add Content and Make the Bb Course Site Available
1. Login to http://blackboard.umbc.edu
with your UMBC userid & password.
2. Follow the “Building Blackboard
instructions when you login or click the "Blackboard Help"
tab. Unlike past semesters, Bb instructors can now move sections
of an old Bb course site--or the entire course--into a new
course site by themselves. To see how, click here.
Also, students will be "auto-enrolled"
in the new course, but instructors will need to make the course
"available" in order for students to view or access the course
link in their list of courses on the "My Institution" page.
3. If you are having trouble with step 2 and
would like in-class training, follow the training link on the
"Blackboard Help" tab or visit http://www.umbc.edu/training.
OIT is offering "Setting up Bb courses" basic training
twice a week from now until the end of September.
4. If you need help setting up your UMBC Blackboard
course, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: An online instructor manual is available
inside every Blackboard course in the course's "Control
Panel," or directly at the following: http://www.blackboard.com/docs/r6/6_1/instructor/bbls_r6_1_instructor/
OIT is pursuing this "self-service" model because
we're challenged to keep up with the administrative demand of
manually creating up to 500 courses during a compressed few
weeks before and after the fall semester. We're also not able
to provide as much training and support during the critical
start of semester when faculty probably need it most.
Similar to our auto enrollment function that has been used
for two years now, OIT's Jason Griego has developed
a way to automatically generate a new, empty Bb course shell
for every official UMBC course. Combined with new functionality
in version 6 of Bb, faculty can move entire course content from
ANY past course they've taught into the new, empty course shell
for a current semester.
include the following:
- Any courses with
a "staff" instructor (as listed in the Schedule
- Any courses taught at Shady Grove
- Any courses that have been assigned a different instructor
If for any reason
you think you should have a Blackboard course but don't see
it, please use the Course Request form on the "Blackboard
Help" tab at http://blackboard.umbc.edu.
Note: the form IS still working, despite earlier messages indicating
it was going to be turned off. That is not the case and that
message has been removed.
Default Settings & Deadlines
empty Fall 2004 Bb course shell will be "unavailable"
to students until the instructor of record turns it on.
course sites will have a “course duration”
of August 15, 2004, to January 15, 2005. This will
help students who frequently complain about having numerous
links to old courses in Blackboard. They can request ongoing
access from the instructor, which is useful for processing
incompletes, but the majority of students will not have to
request to be un-enrolled from old courses. Remember: they
can’t do this for themselves.
• By December
1, 2004, all auto-created course shells that remain
“unavailable” AND have not been accessed by the
instructor of record will be deleted.
enrollment will continue, but only for courses with
our standard COURSEID_SECTION#_CURRENTSEMESTER/YEAR naming
scheme. So if a fall course has already been created (about
100 so far), auto
enrollment will still work, but we can proceed with future
needs using the automatic creation process.
with multiple sections will be associated with
one Blackboard course site and given a course ID of the
lowest section number (e.g.,
BIOL100_0101_FA2004). However, the course title will reflect
all sections taught by the instructor of record, such
as "BIOL 100 Introduction to Biology (0101/0201/0301/0401)."
Also, all students in all related sections will be auto-enrolled
into the single course site. This keeps instructors from
having to manage multiple Blackboard
But to aid communication, OIT recommends using Blackboard
multiple section courses.
• By December
1, 2004, OIT will create permanent blackboard sites
a faculty member could develop in and then move into
the empty Bb shells that are auto created every semester.
This way, faculty can still get their content ready and just
move it over before the next semester starts.
We hope you find this new course creation process more helpful
and timely, but if you have any questions or concerns, please
contact John Fritz (email@example.com
or 5-6596) or Bob Armstrong (firstname.lastname@example.org
or 5-3885), or send email to email@example.com.
Courses Migrated from Version 5 to 6 on 5/21, Bb5 to Shut Down
As reported several
times late last Spring, all Blackboard courses were migrated
from version 5 to version 6 on Friday, May 21.
Version 5 should
ONLY be used by Spring '04 faculty and students to post and
view grades until Friday, August 27, when it will be shut down.
All others should now use version 6.
Bb6 Migration Known Issues
can't access gradebook in Spring 2004 courses migrated from
Bb5 to Bb6 (but can still do so in Bb5 at http://bb5.umbc.edu).
• Users can't login to Bb6 if coming directly from Bb5
(solution: quit ALL browser windows, restart browser and go
DIRECTLY to Bb6 at http://blackboard.umbc.edu).
If you need help,
send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Features in new Version of Blackboard
there are several new features in Blackboard version 6, here are
a few we think faculty will like:
Move Content From One Course
Tired of uploading one document at a time? Wish you could move
an entire folder and its contents somewhere else in a course,
or to another course altogether? Now you can in version 6. More
Add Custom Menu Buttons or
If you want to add or revise a main menu item in your course,
now you can. Keep it short, though, so students can see it on
the buttons or text label alternatives Blackboard now provides.
Assignments Replace Digital Drop
Now you can collect (and delete) electronic assignments for
the entire class, rather than do so one at a time for each student.
While the digital drop box is still available, you should make
the switch to the new Assignments function. In addition to managing
the electronic files more easily, using this tool automatically
creates a gradebook entry you can change anytime. You can even
write comments back to the student, upload a revised version
of their file or make notes and attach files only visible to
the instructor. More
Export AND Import Gradebook
In Blackboard 5, you could only export the gradebook to Excel,
which was great if you wanted to calculate grades differently
than Blackboard. But in Blackboard 6, you can now import the
Excel file back into Blackboard, which allows you to display
the grades you calculated in a tool that is familiar and useful
to students. For example, if students take 10 quizzes, but you
want to drop the lowest score—and don’t want to
do so manually—you can export the gradebook to Excel,
isolate the quiz scores, write an Excel query to find the lowest
one for each student, and not have it calculated in the final
grade. At least that’s the theory. Any volunteers? ?
Communications: Chat, Discussions
The virtual chat in Bb 5 is now broken into two tools: lightweight
chat and virtual classroom. Together they constitute the new
“Collaboration” function in Bb6. Beyond real-time
chat functions, the virtual classroom differs from lightweight
chat by adding a whiteboard, shared Web browser and course map,
which allows you to actually link anywhere in your course and
show participants the contents. Discussion board haven’t
changed, but there is now an in-course “message”
function that works like email that’s sent and received
within the course. We’re still not sure students would
use this instead of their own email, but you might want to check
Create A Course Glossary
If your course
content involves specialized terms or vocabulary, you can now
create a glossary of terms that’s constantly available
to students. You could always do so by uploading a document,
but now Blackboard makes this a content item of its own.
Bb to Securely Display Student's Grades
privacy reasons, most colleges and universities have discouraged
faculty from publicly posting student grades sorted by each
student’s full or even partial Social Security Number.
But how do you post grades for assignments or tests that weren’t
administered electronically (e.g., scantron quizzes, homework,
etc.)? In the case of scantron or “bubble sheet”
assessments, OIT’s Testing Services group piloted with
Chemistry last spring to import results of scantron assessments
into Blackboard so students could login with their UMBC userid
& password to see only their grades. The process is still
being refined, but if you would like to use Blackboard just
to display scantron grades, contact Carole Kincaid
(Kincaid@umbc.edu or 5-6568).
Turnitin.com Module Added to be added to Blackboard’s Assignment
and The Faculty Development Center (www.umbc.edu/fdc)
are partnering to provide turnitin.com as a module combined
with Blackboard’s new assignment function described above.
This means if you collect papers through the assignment function
they will automatically be submitted to turnitin.com for an
analysis of authenticity and original content. Details are still
being worked out, but OIT will work with the Faculty Development
Center to add turnitin.com training and documentation into our
Blackboard training on the assignment and gradebook functions.
For more information, contact Jack Prostko (email@example.com
or 5-1829) or Bob Armstrong (firstname.lastname@example.org
Forwarding Email via myUMBC
In the past, OIT
has encouraged Blackboard faculty and students to change their
email address inside Blackboard, if they don’t regularly
check their UMBC email address. However, problems with the Blackboard
migration at the end of last semester have persuaded us that
the best place to “forward” one’s email address
is inside myUMBC. In addition, this assures that users receive
ALL UMBC related email—not just email sent from within
Blackboard. After logging into myUMBC, click the "Personal"
tab, then the link "Create a Mail Forwarding Address".
Training Options: Workshops, Small Group and Consults
If you want to refresh your current skills or explore new territory,
including how to move content from an old Bb course into the
auto-created shell for fall 2004, OIT is offering Blackboard
faculty training twice a week from now to the end of September.
Most workshops are 1-2 hours, and have been scheduled during
the day, evening and some weekends. Sample topics include the
• Adding Content to Your Blackboard Course/Community
• Managing the Blackboard Gradebook and Assessments/Surveys
• Building Interactivity Through Blackboard’s
• Blackboard Maintenance (end of semesters only)
To sign up for a
workshop, visit http://www.umbc.edu/training.
Note: Departmental TAs are welcome to attend any faculty/staff
Blackboard workshop. Also, OIT is happy to present short Blackboard
demos at departmental faculty meetings or to discuss custom
departmental training for faculty and/or TAs, which has been
successful for the English and history departments. For more
information, send email to email@example.com
or contact Bob Armstrong (firstname.lastname@example.org
Will Be Down 7-9 a.m., on 8/26 and 8/27
get ready for the new semester, Blackboard will be down from
7 to 9 a.m. Thursday, August 26, and Friday, August 27. The
time will be used to install memory and processor upgrades to
Course Cartridges in UMBC's Bb Server
we get requests from textbook publishers who've been asked by
UMBC instructors to install a course cartridge that contains
question sets or related course material to be used in a Blackboard
course. However, only UMBC Blackboard system administrators
can install course cartridges, which are zip (compressed) files
with a download key. We prefer to get these files from the instructors
who will actually use them, so if you plan to use a course cartridge,
send an email request (with the course cartridge file and download
key) to email@example.com.
Tip: allow enough time for these to be installed and tested
before the start of semester. If you have questions, contact
Bob Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org or 5-3885.
Bb Users Conference to be held in Baltimore, Call for Presentations
has announced the 7th annual Blackboard Users Conference which
will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center, April 12-14,
2005. They have also issued a call for presentations (deadline:
Sept. 24, 2004), and registration fees will be waived for presenters.
For more information about the conference and call for proposals,
Educause MARC Conference to be Held in Baltimore, Call for Presentations
Educause Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference (MARC) will be held
at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel, January 12-14, 2005.
The call for presentations deadline is September 3, 2004. Educause
is the leading association for information technology professionals
in higher education. FYI: This year's MARC program chair is
UMBC Chief Information Officer Jack Suess. For more information
about the Educause MARC conference or call for presentations,
Winter Session 2005 Course Proposals Due 9/3
and part-time faculty are invited to submit Winter Session course
proposals at http://www.umbc.edu/course_proposal
The deadline for submitting proposals is Friday, September 3.
Faculty interested in teaching a winter course should talk to
their department chair or scheduling coordinator before submitting
a proposal. Winter Session 2005 is January 3-28, 2005. Questions?
Call the Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs at 5-2335.