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Online Learning & Academic Technology

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The faculty development offices and programs collaborate with the Office of Online Learning and Academic Technology to provide services to faculty.

Online Learning and Academic Technology

The Office of Online Learning and Academic Technology (OLAT) at Tri-C innovates teaching and learning at Tri-C, leveraging technology to increase student access, support student progress, and drive student completion. Beyond simply supporting the Tri-C community with the Learning Management System (Blackboard), OLAT drives the conversation on how technology can effectively impact improving student outcomes everyday.

Faculty News about an Upcoming Blackboard Upgrade

 What is happening, when, and why?

This December, immediately after grades are submitted on Tuesday, December 19th, Blackboard will be shut down. Availability will resume on Thursday, December 21st. Blackboard will be down in order to update it.  This is largely a backend upgrade. This release will set the stage for us to be able to benefit from a learning environment that is easier to use, save us time, and improve the efficiency and ease of use when completing your daily tasks. The upgrade will allow us to be more responsive on mobile devices, providing a much improved mobile experience in the very near future. Improvement in the accessibility of both content and functionality is another feature as well as an enhancement of the assessment and grading capabilities.  These refinements will increase the quality of Blackboard and make it more powerful- which means happier, more successful faculty and students. Rest assured the look and feel of Blackboard will only change slightly, and navigation will not change through the end of spring term. Content and file structure of faculty content is not effected by the update. The reason for this update is that the current version of Blackboard is circa 2012 and Blackboard will no longer support it.

What is changing?

The majority of changes are those on the server’s backend, which means you will see a very little difference after the upgrade. That is not to say that there will not be enhancements to your experience. The list below outlines the differences between our current version and the upgrade which will be in place for the spring. 2018 term.

·        Drag and Drop Files

You will now have the capability to drag and drop files. When you create content items, assignments and web links, you will be able to quickly and easily drag files from your desktop to the “hot spot” in the Attach Files area. Students will also be able to drag files to upload assignments.

·        Dropbox Integration

Also related to the addition of content, students and faculty can link Dropbox content using the mashup menu. Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers cloud storage.

·        Course Activity Report Enhancement

For large enrollment courses, a Course Activity report can be filtered to break down the calculations of student activity by course groups.

·        An Improved Mobile Experience with the new Apps

With the integration of the new Blackboard student and Blackboard Instructor app, navigating Blackboard with a mobile device will be easier. More information about the student and instructor app will be coming soon. Both apps are now available at the app stores.

·        Improved Accessibility

The discussion board, assessments, grading, journal and the content editor have all been enhanced to advance ADA accessibility.

·        Submission Receipts

You will be able to keep track of all student submissions, regardless of whether the attempt or assignment is deleted or the submission history changed. Students will receive a submission receipt that gives them assurance about their work and can provide you evidence for academic disputes.

·        Missing Coursework Reminders

You will now be able to send email reminders directly from a Grade Center column for student(s) who have missing coursework.

·        Grade Center Improvements

When multiple attempt assessments are set to calculate using the first or last attempt, a new filter is available both in the Needs Grading workflow and the Grade Center to show or hide other non-counted attempts.

Where can I go if I need help?

Handouts with more details on each of the above listed areas will be provided through email, added to the faculty resources page on www.tri-c.edu/online, and also be posted on the OLAT K-web site in the very near future. The new elements related to this update will be incorporated into the Blackboard Boot Camp training for those faculty new to Blackboard as well. Any questions can be directed to the ITS support services desk at 216-987-4357.

Blackboard Boot Camp

A link to the complete Fall ‘17 listing of Blackboard Boot Camp (BbBC) sessions is here BlackboardBoot Camp Date flyer_Fall 17.  Blackboard Boot Camp replaces the Teaching for Online Learning (TFOL) Blackboard training.  BbBC is available both in an online or face to face format. Either option will fulfill the requirement.  All the sessions for fall ‘17 are in TEC and faculty need to register there. The training covers the technical aspects of using Blackboard. It does NOT cover instructional design elements. Faculty are referred to their campus Instructional Designer in the Center for Learning Excellence (CLE) for all course design issues. All TFOL “graduates” or those who took Blackboard training prior to TFOL are not required to take BbBC.

Exemptions to the training will be available if necessary. Like before, for a faculty member to receive an exemption an email from their respective dean should be sent to Bbfacultysupport@tri-c.edu listing the faculty member’s name and their S number. Remember exceptions were designed to facilitate late assignments and only last for 1 term. During the term, the faculty member should enroll in a BbBC session.  With an exemption, the faculty member should work with a Blackboard seasoned veteran instructor to assist him or her.  The exempted faculty member can also work their campus Instructional Technologist from the Center for Learning Excellence (CLE)

Blackboard service restored

Blackboard was restarted from 1pm-2pm on 6/5/2017.
All systems have been reported to be back and functional as of 1:47pm.

Blackboard coming down at 1pm today (6-5-17)

Currently the integration process that updates enrollment in Blackboard is not completing.  There seems to be something that is causing this process to freeze part of the way through.   Because of this problem we will have to shut down Blackboard. We will schedule it for 1pm today (6-5-17)  and the shutdown should last approximately one hour.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Blackboard Scheduled Maintenance

Our next scheduled maintenance window will be on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 beginning at 1:00 am and estimated completion by  7:00  am.

In an effort to increase performance, stability and security for Blackboard the normally scheduled maintenance window for will need to be extended for a few hours. Recent security concerns have driven Blackboard to release this update ahead of the normal release schedule and is strongly urged to apply this update at our earliest convenience. We acknowledge the shutdown length poses an inconvenience for many, but it is crucial to address the concerns.

Along with the important Security updates this particular update will also resolve a few of our issues that have just recently become an annoyance with faculty and OLAT. We acknowledge the fact that these workarounds are not perfect. These workarounds will not be needed after the shutdown.

In the interim, when dealing with the discussion board issue, faculty have a few options:

Issue 1: Involves an access denied error when attempting to access an unavailable discussion board.

1.)           Make the discussion board available, make your changes, then make it unavailable again (if desired).

2.)           If you don’t want the students to post yet or no longer want the forum to be available for students to post to, use the manage option from the pull down menu and make all of your students readers instead of participants. This will limit the students from making any new postings, while leaving the discussion board available for them to read, review, and learn from their peer’s posts.

3.)           If grading an unavailable discussion board, grade using the option in the pull down menu or proceed with the previous step making the students readers instead of participants. You will then be able to read all the postings in context.

In the interim, when dealing with the Grade Center issue faculty can:

Issue 2: Involves the Grade Center and navigating away from a grading attempt. The “Exit” and “Save and Exit” buttons are not functioning correctly. In addition, when moving through the student’s tests, you are presented with a leave or stay on the page message.

1.)           Completely exit one student’s quiz and get back to Grade Center by clicking a button completely out of Grade Center (such as Announcements or Lesson Button) or the Grade Center breadcrumb and then return to the Grade Center

2.)           When grading an attempt and you have the option of leaving or staying on the page instead of saving and submitting, choose leave. The grade will be recorded and one can move on to the next student’s attempt.

We appreciate your patience during this longer than normal, but very important update. A reminder abridged E-mail will follow closer to scheduled date.

**** Students will be notified via a separate E-mail ****

Grade Center Navigation Issue

Currently the Exit and Save and Exit buttons are not functioning properly in the Blackboard Grade Center. In addition, when moving through the student’s tests, you are presented with a leave or stay on the page message. The work arounds for these issues are as follows:

To completely exit one student’s quiz and get back to Grade Center,  click a button completely out of Grade Center (such as Announcements or Lesson Button) or the Grade Center breadcrumb and then return to the Grade Center. When grading an attempt and you have the option of leaving or staying on the page instead of saving and submitting, choose leave. The grade will be recorded and one can move on to the next student’s attempt.

Access Denied Message in Blackboard with an unavailable discussion board

With a recent update, we’ve uncovered a known Blackboard bug. If a discussion board is unavailable and you attempt to edit or create a posting, you’ll receive a Access Denied message. To get around this error, you have a few options,

  1. Make the discussion board available, make your changes, then make it unavailable again (if desired).
  2. If you don’t want the students to post yet or no longer want the forum to be available for students to post to, use the manage option from the pulldown and make all of your students readers instead of participants. This will limit the students from making any new postings, while leaving the discussion board available for them to read, review, and learn from their peer’s posts.
  3. If grading an unavailable discussion board, grade using the option in the pulldown or proceed with the previous step making the students readers instead of participants. You’ll then be able to read all the postings in context.

 SafeAssign Reports Processing Time

At this time, due to the large number of requests, SafeAssign reports are lagging. This is a confirmed problem across several Blackboard institutions and unfortunately nothing that we can control. SafeAssign is a 3rd party service provider and not controlled by Tri-C. If you have been waiting more than 24 hours for a SafeAssign report, please contact us at Bbfacultysupport@tri-c.edu. We will provide an update as soon as we receive more information from Blackboard.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

ShareStream Server Down on January 3, 2017

On Tuesday, January 3rd the ShareStream server will be down for maintenance and an upgrade. This means any media (videos or audio) uploaded to ShareStream will not play and no media (videos or audio) will be able to be uploaded to the server while the upgrade is taking place on the 3rd. The maintenance and server upgrade will allow for a new user interface to be released later in the month and increased functionality, but basic operation will not change. We apologize for any inconvenience this may pose to you.

Online and Blended Syllabus Template Draft

Below are two syllabus templates for online and blended courses. They are drafts that are pending final review from a committee comprised of faculty and deans. They are ADA compliant and reflect all current information, including the attendance policy. Both Part A and B are necessary components.

Video Content on the Blackboard LMS

Online Learning and Academic Technology (OLAT) is working on a time sensitive problem dealing with a video content storage issue within the Blackboard LMS. For faculty affected by the Blackboard LMS video content issue, I wanted to let you now that OLAT is going to reach out to you in the next few days to see if someone from district can come to help you with moving some of the larger video files to the streaming server. While there is some urgency to this problem, we do have some time to take corrective action. OLAT with the help of ITS is working to address the LMS Video Storage Problem. We look forward to assisting our online campus community at TRI-C.

Tom Kemp,  OLAT

Teaching for Online Learning (TFOL)

Find listings of upcoming training workshops in TEC! in My Tri-C Space. (login required)

Teaching for Online Learning is a training for faculty who are preparing to teach in the online or blended environment or use Blackboard as a supplement to the face-to-face classroom. The workshop offers faculty the opportunity to explore basic instructional design concepts and learn basic Blackboard skills. This is a fully online, asynchronous training experience, so participants can log in at any hour of the day to complete activities.

  • Workshop A & B : Designing, Building & Managing Your Course
    This workshop creates an understanding of quality instructional design and provides practical information for using Blackboard. Find out more by viewing and registering via TEC !

 Blackboard Support

Blackboard is a web-based course management system designed to allow students and faculty to participate in classes delivered online or use online materials and activities to complement face-to-face teaching. Blackboard enables instructors to provide students with course materials, discussion boards, online quizzes, an academic resource center, and more.

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