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UMBC 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 (fritz@umbc.edu or 410.455.6596). For more information about using Blackboard, visit http://blackboard.umbc.edu or send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.


1. 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

Move 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 Excel
Communications: Chat, Discussions & Messages
Create A Course Glossary

4. Using Bb to Securely Display Scantron Test Scores
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 Group, Consult
8. Bb Will Be Down 7-9 a.m., on 8/26 and 8/27
9. Using Course Cartridges in UMBC's Bb Server
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

Blackboard Sites Created for ALL Fall 2004 Courses
Faculty can now move content from one course to another by themselves
As 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 Courses” 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 Bb 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 blackboard@umbc.edu.

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.

Exceptions include the following:

- Any courses with a "staff" instructor (as listed in the Schedule of Classes)
- Any courses taught at Shady Grove
- Any courses that have been assigned a different instructor since 8/6.

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

The empty Fall 2004 Bb course shell will be "unavailable" to students until the instructor of record turns it on.

• Auto-created 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.

Auto 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.

Courses 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 course sites whose content doesn't change. But to aid communication, OIT recommends using Blackboard "groups" to manage 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 (fritz@umbc.edu or 5-6596) or Bob Armstrong (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 5-3885), or send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

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All Courses Migrated from Version 5 to 6 on 5/21, Bb5 to Shut Down 8/27

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

•Instructors 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).
More information.

If you need help, send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

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Useful Features in new Version of Blackboard
While there are several new features in Blackboard version 6, here are a few we think faculty will like:

Move Content From One Course to Another

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 information.

Add Custom Menu Buttons or Labels

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. More information.

Assignments Replace Digital Drop Box

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 information.

Export AND Import Gradebook To/From Excel

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 & Messages

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 it out.

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.

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Using Bb to Securely Display Student's Grades

For 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).

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FYI: Turnitin.com Module Added to be added to Blackboard’s Assignment Function

OIT 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 (prostko@umbc.edu or 5-1829) or Bob Armstrong (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 5-3885).

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FYI: 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".

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FYI: 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 following:

• Introduction to Blackboard
• Adding Content to Your Blackboard Course/Community
• Managing the Blackboard Gradebook and Assessments/Surveys
• Building Interactivity Through Blackboard’s Communications Tools
• 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 blackboard@umbc.edu or contact Bob Armstrong (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 5-3885).

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Bb Will Be Down 7-9 a.m., on 8/26 and 8/27

To 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 the system.

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Using Course Cartridges in UMBC's Bb Server

Occasionally, 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 blackboard@umbc.edu. Tip: allow enough time for these to be installed and tested before the start of semester. If you have questions, contact Bob Armstrong at rarmstro@umbc.edu or 5-3885.

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FYI: Bb Users Conference to be held in Baltimore, Call for Presentations Deadline: 9/24

Blackboard 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, visit http://www.blackboard.com/about/events/BbUC05

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FYI: Educause MARC Conference to be Held in Baltimore, Call for Presentations Deadline: 9/3

The 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, visit http://www.educause.edu/conference/marc/2005.

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FYI: Winter Session 2005 Course Proposals Due 9/3

Full 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.

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Office of Information Technology • Main Office: ECS 125 • Phone: 410-455-3838 • Email: oit@umbc.edu