Author Archives: longm

Blackboard Upgrade

Hello ECU Faculty, Staff and Students – [Blackboard is back up as of 5/13/2013, 4 pm]

You have been redirected to this page because ECU’s Blackboard system is currently down for a small upgrade.  The planned downtime window is from 5/11/13 (12:30pm) through 5/13/13 (5pm).  During this downtime anyone who attempts to access https://blackboard.ecu.edu will be re directed to this blog post.

The upgrade will be a minor one for faculty and students.  To learn about the new features that you will see after the upgrade is complete  please visit this blog post. 

If you have any questions at all regarding the downtime feel free to email longm@ecu.edu .  If you have any general Bb questions or other questions I would encourage you to enter a helpdesk ticket at https://ecu.edu/9866

Summary Information

  • Blackboard will be down from 5/11 (12:30pm) – 5/13 (5pm)
  • New Service Pack 9 features are HERE
  • Questions or concerns about the upgrade?  Email longm@ecu.edu

 

- Blackboard Support Team

Safe Assignment Tool

To ECU Faculty who use SafeAssign in Blackboard -

On April 8th some Blackboard customers submitted helpdesk tickets stating  that the Safe Assignment tool was slow to check student submissions.  I have done some local testing today (April 9th) and the tool seems to be working normally with speedy file checks.  Keep in mind that Safe Assignment  is a Blackboard hosted and managed tool so if submission checks do slow down we need to contact the vendor to see what can be done to fix this problem.   At times in the past Safe Assignment has slowed down during midterm and finals because of the amount of files being submitted and checked by all of Bb customers.  In recent semesters this has not been an issue.

Note: Once or twice during the semester, please check if you need to Synchronize SafeAssignment. It’s very quick: Control Panel > Course Tools > SafeAssign > SafeAssignments > if you see a yellow bar to the right of your screen that says Synchronize this Course, please do so. It simply synchronizes the papers in the course with the SafeAssign central database, ensuring the correct associations exist between the course and the central database. This is especially pertinent to courses that have been copied from semester to semester. SafeAssign is a building block added to Blackboard.

If you do notice any slowness this semester, please contact the ECU  helpdesk ASAP at https://ecu.edu/9866 or call 252-328-9866 .

Safe Assignment Links:

 

Blackboard 9 Service Pack 9

Upgrade Date: 5/11/2013

What you need to know: On May 11th we will be moving from Service Pack 7 to Service Pack 9. This new version of Bb affords us a small amount of new features. Blackboard will simply be down for 6-8 hours while this happens. Then, the Blackboard team will do our testing before we make Bb available for everyone. During the downtime you will be redirected to a blog post about the upgrade and the upcoming features.

Reminder:  Bb will be down on 5/11/13( Saturday)  through 5/13/13 (Monday).  Please do as much course development before the upgrade date so you are ready for the start of summer on 5/14/13.

What’s New Blackboard 9.1 Service Pack 9: Blackboard Learn, Version 9.1, Service Pack 9 (SP9) includes a new look and feel that will enhance the experience for instructors, students, and administrators. Users already familiar with Bb 9.1 will be pleased with the additional functionality that SP9 offers. Download the PDF with new features.

  • New features affect Bb’s user interface, which is now more in line with today’s Web 2.0 experience.
  • Workflow functionality is improved, including course navigation, course structure, and course theme enhancements.
  • Grading features are improved to better support instructor’s efficiency in the grading process.

To learn more about a specific feature click on its corresponding link from the list provided below.

:::Vendor Support Resources:::

The next four links will take you to the Blackboard Tutorial Center on the vendor’s website: Look for SP8 or SP9 – those are the new tutorials and they pertain to the May 2013 upgrade, or are tools/features you currently use. Please disregard all “SP10″ tutorials.

>>>Working in the Course Environment

Course Environment Tutorials – Building content, Setting Permissions , Course Reports

>>>Communicating and Collaborating

Tutorials for Discussion Board, Managing Groups, Blogs, Journals, Wikis, Announcements, Scheduling

>>>Assessing Learners

The Grade Center, Tests/Surveys/Pools, The Assessment Tool, Student Performance

>>>Blackboard Instructor User Manual

:::New Features with accompanying video and/or PDF or screenshot:::

screenshotNew Action Bar Functions in

Content Area Have Been Renamed:Instead of adding tool links from the Build Content button, you can now add these links from a new action button called “TOOLS.” All tools are available. Please see the screenshot.

Simplified Options in the “Create Navigation” (+ icon) area: Simplified options now include the following: Content Area, Blank Page, Tool Link, Web Link, Course Link, Subheader and Divider.screenshot Please see the screenshot.

Course-to-Course Navigation: TUTORIALS > (VIDEO)
SP9 allows users to jump from a page or tool in one course to that same page or tool in another course! For example, instructors are able to jump from the Grade

Center of one course to another course’s Grade Center, or the Discussion Board of one course to the DB of another course. As well, students can jump from one course’s Announcements page to another. Please see the screenshot.

screenshot

Course Structures: TUTORIALS > (VIDEO) (PDF)
In SP9, you can choose between a wide variety of pre-built course structures. These course structures have a predefined navigation setup, such as menu tool links and content area. They “add” to your course and never overwrite anything (e.g. a menu item you created). Basically, they will help you improve your navigation and course design setup depending on the purpose of your course. You’ll go to Control Panel / Customization / Teaching Style.

Negative Marking: TUTORIALS > (VIDEO)
Negative marking allows instructors to apply negative point values for wrong answers on test questions. This allows them to prevent (by penalty) guessing or the selection of egregiously wrong answers.

Automated Regrading: TUTORIALS > (VIDEO) (PDF)
Instructors can now fix problematic questions by simply editing the invalid question directly and having all necessary updates flow automatically to the Grade Center. For any given question, Blackboard now allows instructors to drop, give full credit, change point value, or change the correct answer. After the question has been updated, Blackboard recalculates the score of all submitted assessments that included the updated question, reflects the updates in the Grade Center, and provides notification to both the instructor and optionally to the student for all impacted submissions. Note: Instructors have the option of saving as new when editing a question in a pool. Please see the screenshot.

Needs Grading Tool Enhancement: TUTORIALS > (PDF)
Discussion Board activity can appear in Needs Grading status in the Grade Center and on the Needs Grading page. Instructors will choose how many interactions will place the item in Needs Grading status.

Activity Reports: TUTORIALS > (VIDEO)
Two new course report formats are added into the Course Reports under Evaluation on Control Panel in each Bb course site: Course Activity Overview and Student Overview for Single Course. The Course Activity Overview displays overall activity within a single course, sorted by student and date. Data includes the total and average time spent per user and the total amount of activity the user had in the course. The Student Overview for Single Course report displays an individual student’s activity within a course, sorted by date. Data includes the total overall time the student spent in the course as well as detailed information about the student’s activity.

screenshotPaste from Word Mashup:

TUTORIALS > (VIDEO)
Microsoft Office products use a proprietary form of mark up (code) that for the most part, only MS Office understands :-). As many of you know, it does not play well with Blackboard. We have installed a new “mashup” called “Paste from Word” that changes all WORD code to standard HTML. No more formatting nightmares! The Paste From Word mashup tool is accessed from the Bb textbox editor. This can be used when creating content, announcements, etc. The last button in the third row of the textbox editor contains the mashup tools. Please see the screenshot. Note: You need to make this feature available by going to Control Panel > Customization > Tool Availability > Word > Click the box to turn it on.

Adding a Textbook information to your Course: TUTORIAL > (VIDEO)
Add the ISBN number, search by title or author to provide your students with the textbook(s) you plan to use in the course. Students CANNOT purchase books thru this option. It’s only intended for informational purposes.

screenshot

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Resources

 

Blackboard Course Purge from 2009,2010,2011

Every year we purge old Blackboard courses. We do so to stay within our storage goals and business policy of keeping only two years of Blackboard sites in our production system.  In a few short weeks, we will be purging the following courses (all of them) unless you submit a request to have your courses saved.

>>>>>The purge date is  March 18th, 2013  <<<<<

  • 2009 Fall semester
  • 2010 Spring semester 
  • 2010 Summer #1 semester
  • 2010 Summer #2 semester
  • 2010 Full Term Summer semester
  • 2010 Fall semester
  • 2011 Spring semester

You have 2 choices for saving your course site.

1 - Request us to save your Bb sites in Blackboard. If you choose this option you will need to list all FULL COURSE ID’s in your request submission. Here is the link to submission site
—>>>   https://ecu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_8wyHalKtQRLOzlP

2 – Export or Archive your Bb courses offline.  This is a suggested best practices for all used Blackboard courses at the end of every semester. Make sure you save all exported or archived sites on your ECU Piratedrive.

If you’d like to export or archive your own courses, it is easy.

Export: Only course content
Archive: All course content, student interactions and gradebook data

In both an export or an archive you will be saving a .zip offline for your records. Please save these files in a secure location like Piratedrive.

  1. Go to the Control Panel in your Blackboard course, click Properties and Utilities.
  2. Click Archive course.
  3. Include Grade Center History if you want to save student work.
  4. Click Submit.
  5. Wait for an email confirming the archive process.
  6. Once you receive the email, go back to Export/Archive Course under the Control Panel. Click to download to a secure location (e.g., Pirate Drive).

Please download the one-page PDF, How to Archive Your Course for further details, including FERPA and HIPAA regulations regarding privacy. Note: The .zip file is only useful once uploaded to the Blackboard environment.

Questions? Contact Matt, Cindy, or Allen

longm@ecu.edu or bowersc@ecu.edu or dennisa@ecu.edu

Blackboard Support Email: ecublackboard@ecu.edu

Blackboard Planned downtime 2/13/03 6:00am-6:15am

Downtime: Blackboard, Piratedrive and Medical Images through Centricity
When
: Wednesday, February 13  /  6:00am – 6:15am

 

The following systems will be unavailable on Wednesday morning from 6:00am till 6:15am while we perform necessary maintenance:

-Blackboard
-Piratedrive
-Medical Images through Centricity

To check the authenticity of this e-mail:

Visit www.ecu.edu, and click on the “Help Desk” link under the “MyLinks” section on the right-hand side. This will take you to the ECU IT Help Desk page where you can review our “Announcements” section.

Need Help?
If you experience any difficulties in relation to this announcement or have any questions, please contact the ECU IT Help Desk by phone at 252-328-9866 or via the Web at www.help.ecu.edu.

ITCS Notifications: www.ecu.edu/cs-itcs/allnotices.cfm

Computing Systems Maintenance Schedule
Please keep in mind that regular maintenance on all computing systems is performed on Sundays between the hours of 5:00 am – 12:00 pm. If there are other times that systems will be down, notification will be sent through ITCS Notifications.

Illegally downloading music, movies, and other copyrighted material via file-sharing programs can cost you your network access. You may even be subject to civil and criminal penalties. Anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

University employees who violate university computer-use policies will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. Student violations are misconduct under the applicable student disciplinary code. Sanctions may include revocation of access privileges in addition to other sanctions available under the regular disciplinary procedures. Visit www.ecu.edu/itcs/itsecurity/filesharing.cfm for more information.

Follow ECU’s Student Code of Conduct, computing-use policies, copyright policies, and federal copyright laws. University Attorney Statement on Copyright: http://www.ecu.edu/cs-itcs/policies/copyright.cfm

 

Assessment Creation Best Practices and Information

Hello Everyone -

Below you will see a list of tutorials and best practices for both building and taking Blackboard exams.  If you ever experience any issues with students taking your Blackboard exams please report these problems asap to either Matt Long (longm@ecu.edu), Cindy Bowers (bowersc@ecu.edu), or Allen Dennis (dennisa@ecu.edu).  When reporting these issues please include the following:

  • Course ID
  • Test location and name
  • Student email ID
  • Symptoms (behavior/details, browser, PC or Mac)
If we cannot figure out the exact reason of your exam failure we will report this issue to Blackboard for more investigation and troubleshooting.

Keep in mind exam failures can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as wireless network, local computer problems, third party software running in the background, exam content (rare but does happen sometimes), and/or exam settings (see below for more information).

Test Creation Information and Best Practices

  • Assignment Tool (creates link for students) – download the PDF
  • Creating and Deploying Tests – download the PDF
  • Creating a Test From a Pool – download the PDF
  • Test-Taking Troubleshooting Tips for Instructors – download the PDF
  • Test-Taking Tips for Students – Share with Students — download the PDF
  • Respondus LockDown Browser - read the blog post for information
  • Rubrics with Assessments – download the PDF

Browser Info: Reminder: Blackboard works best using Firefox as the browser (for Macs also); please remind your students. The gradebook is especially noticeable (slow, not working properly) if you are using IE instead of Firefox. See Blackboard’s recommended browsers.

Blackboard Test/Exam Failure Avoidance: Best Practices

The suggestions below come directly from Blackboard technical support. Exams with a high rate of failure may have some of the following characteristics:

  • Avoid creating large exams involving many and/or complex questions and presented all at once.
    • 50 questions is a lot of questions.  SOLUTION - break up larger exams into smaller exams taken in a sequence vs. one large exam.
    • Large exams also create much more server load when submitting the final exam, which can lead to failures due to application overload when groups of users submit at the same time. SOLUTION – Stagger exam submission times when possible.
  • Train users to save their attempt every 10-15 minutes (but avoid too-frequent saves, which may overload the application). SOLUTION - train student to use the “SAVE ALL” option during an exam every 5-7 minutes if they are in the middle of working on a problem.
  • *Avoid randomized display order for exams using question-by-question (one at a time) display. SOLUTION – None.  Only use this feature if you believe it is needed for the test being given.
  • *When using random selection of questions from pools, keep the overall exam especially short. SOLUTION – None. Only use this feature if you believe it is needed for the exam being given.
*Regarding pools and randomizing questions:  If you are using a Random Block of questions for a given exam be sure NOT to use the “Randomize Display” option.  This is not helpful and definitely puts unwanted strain on the Blackboard assessment engine.
In summary, the above suggestions are a best-practices roadmap to making better and more reliable exams.  All of these features have been used by hundreds of ECU faculty for many years. With confidence, we can say that the large majority of Blackboard exams are submitted/completed without incident. The suggestions listed will be most helpful for those that are having consistent issues with student test completions.

 

As always, if you have any questions please call or email Matt Long, Cindy Bowers, or Allen Dennis.
longm@ecu.edu / 328-9074
bowersc@ecu.edu / 328-9167
dennisa@ecu.edu / 328-2841

Fall 2013 Kickoff Information

Hello Everyone -

Welcome back from the summer break!  Below you will find all of the different tutorials to make the start of your Fall 2013 a smashing success.  Good luck and please let us know if we help you with your Blackboard needs.

Bb Planned Downtime – 12/19 – 12/20

Blackboard downtime on December 19-20, 2012
When: Wed, Dec 19, 8:00am-Thurs, Dec 20th, 5:00pm

**Those enrolled in CPE courses that must be completed by December 31st, will be able to log back into Blackboard no later than 5:00 p.m. on the 20th

Blackboard will be unavailable on Dec. 19th and 20th  while we perform upgrades to the system.  If you have any questions please call 252-328-9866 (ECU Helpdesk).

Bb planned downtime. 11/18 7am-11am

Blackboard downtime on Sunday morning
Posted 11-14-2012

System/Service:  Blackboard

When:  Sunday, Nov 18 / 7:00am-11:00am

Description:  Blackboard will be unavailable from 7:00am-11:00am on Sunday morning while we update the system during our normal maintenance window.

Please call 252-328-9866 if you have any questions.

Subject: Internet outage on Sunday morning 11/4/2012 7-11am

Subject: Internet outage on Sunday morning
When:
  Sunday, November 4th, 7:00am-11:00am

There will be a short internet outage for ECU on Sunday morning, November 4th, while we upgrade the network firewalls during our normal maintenance window.  The outage will last about 30 minutes, and will occur sometime between 7:00am and 11:00am.

During the outage ECU users will be affected in the following ways:

- On-campus users will not be able to access the internet (but will be able to access ECU’s network and ECU resources like Onestop, Blackboard and the ECU website) during the outage.

- Off-campus users will not be able to access ECU’s resources such as Onestop, Blackboard or ECU’s website during the outage.  VPN access will allow users to connect to ECU resources (but not connect back out to the internet).


To check the authenticity of this e-mail:
Visit www.ecu.edu, and click on the “Help Desk” link under the “MyLinks” section on the right-hand side. This will take you to the ECU IT Help Desk page where you can review our “Announcements” section.

Need Help?

If you experience any difficulties in relation to this announcement or have any questions, please contact the ECU IT Help Desk by phone at 252-328-9866 or via the Web at www.help.ecu.edu.

ITCS Notifications: www.ecu.edu/cs-itcs/allnotices.cfm

Computing Systems Maintenance Schedule

Please keep in mind that regular maintenance on all computing systems is performed on Sundays between the hours of 5:00 am – 12:00 pm. If there are other times that systems will be down, notification will be sent through ITCS Notifications.