Author Archives: Cynthia Bowers

LDB Essentials for Instructors

Fall 2016

For Instructors: Respondus LockDown Browser (LDB) Essentials 

LockDown Browser (LDB) is a product of Respondus, and is a secure browser designed to cut down on cheating when students are taking tests online. When using the browser (LDB), students cannot print screen, access email, search the web, open new tabs, etc. New to LDB as of Fall 2016, is a Help Center within LDB for students, with a system check tool, knowledge base, and an option to contact tech support. 

Please view this short video from Respondus to get an overview of LDB. Choose Overview next to the Blackboard logo to view the video. (Note: Any reference to Webcam Monitor when you are reviewing Respondus material can be ignored. We have not adopted the Webcam Monitor tool.)

As an instructor, you do not need to install anything. LDB is available in your course tools (Control Panel > Course Tools > Respondus LockDown Browser). Students download LDB to their desktops. Our computer labs also have LDB installed on the computers.

A blog post has been created for students re: LDB. The Install URL for students is always under the Blackboard Support tab at the top of their Blackboard landing page. Please share the blog post with your students if you plan to use LDB: LDB Info for Students

How to require Bb tests to be taken in LDB:

screenshot LDB

Once your tests have been added/deployed to a content area, you need to associate the tests with LDB, so access Respondus LDB in your course tools (Control Panel > Course Tools > Respondus LockDown Browser).

You’ll then be in the LDB dashboard. (Screenshot above)

  1. Choose Modify to require LDB for test-taking.
  2. You have the option to create a password to share with students, but it’s not necessary. (Not to be confused with the password info below, in #3)
  3. Important: LDB will auto-generate a scrambled password in your test options for each test to be taken with LDB. If you go back to the settings for any reason, do not remove that scrambled password in Test Options – ignore it because it is the lock in LockDown Browser. If you do need to make any change in Test Options, like a date change, go back to the LDB tool in Course Tools, and if you see a red “Fix It” message, just click Fix It, and the test will be active again.

The most common troubleshooting question from students: “I am trying to take an online test, and a box pops up and asks for a password.” The student is not accessing Blackboard through the LDB icon on the desktop. Remind the student to click the LDB icon on the desktop to get into Blackboard.

The most common troubleshooting question from instructors: “Students are not able to access my quiz to be taken with LDB and they mention an error message.” The instructor has gone into Test Options to make a change in settings, which breaks the link. The fix is to go back to the LDB tool under course tools, and if there is a “Fix It” message, simply click Fix It.

Questions? ecublackboard@ecu.edu

 

LDB Essentials and Help Center

Fall Semester 2016

Respondus LockDown Browser for Students

LockDown Browser (LDB) is a special browser for online test-taking, and it is also a building block in Blackboard. Some instructors require that online tests be taken using LDB as the browser. All other programs on your computer (email, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) need to be closed down for the install to continue (you will be prompted). If you plan to use computer labs on campus to take your exams, skip the download/install instructions. Campus lab computers have LDB installed.

LDB icon

  1. Download LDB to your desktop. Link for Download
  2. Look for the Respondus LockDown Browser icon on your desktop (screenshot left). Click, and log into Blackboard. Find your test, and Begin.
  3. Respondus now has a Help Center, if you run into any difficulties while taking an online test. See below.

Respondus recently added a “Help Center” button to the toolbar of LockDown Browser that lets students run a system check on their computer, networking environment, and the Learning Management System (Blackboard) itself. The data is presented in a simple format that allows students to solve basic problems, such as a computer with poor Internet connectivity.

HELP TAB

It is easy for students to send this technical information to our ECU help desk, Blackboard Support email inbox, or open a ticket directly with Respondus. Providing the System Check information speeds up the troubleshooting process. There is also a student-centric knowledge base within LockDown Browser.

  • Any reference to the Respondus Web Monitor can be ignored. We have not adopted that product.
  • Always communicate with your instructor if you run into any difficulties taking your test in LDB.
  • (Do another install at the beginning of each semester – no need for uninstalling.)
  • Submit a Help Ticket to the Respondus LockDown Browser queue with any issues not solved in the LDB Help Center.
  • For general questions, send an email to: ecublackboard@ecu.edu

Lynda.com Work-Around

Blackboard’s building block for Lynda.com is not working as expected.

The issue: Faculty are unable to embed a new Lynda.com course into a Blackboard course. Note: If you had pre-existing Lynda.com course links in your previous Bb courses, your links should still work. Lynda.com engineers are working toward a resolution.

The Work-Around: As a work-around, please follow the instructions:

Part 1

  1. Log into ECU’s Lynda.com here with your Pirate ID and password.
  2. Search for Lynda.com content to find the Lynda course you’d like in your Bb course. Click the Lynda course name.
  3. Once you decide on a course, click Share and then Copy, which will give you the URL to paste in your Bb course. Please see screenshot below.

screenshot share

Part 2

  1. Return to your Blackboard course and go into the content area of your choice.
  2. Choose Build Content, then Add Web Link (screenshot below).
  3. Type a name for your Web Link (e.g., Lynda.com course)
  4. Paste, which will add the URL you got from Lynda.com. (Windows users > Ctrl+V = paste. Mac users > Command-V = paste.)
  5. Submit.

screenshot web link

If you have any questions, feel free to send an email to ECU’s Lynda.com support team.

Weighted Column Does Not Display Properly

Scenario: Your Weighted Total Column has empty boxes where you normally see categories and columns.

The Fix: This is nearly always remedied by clearing your browser’s cache/history. And it usually happens in Firefox.

To clear your cache in Firefox or Google Chrome:   Shift+Ctrl+Delete, leave all boxes marked that are checked. For Firefox > Click “Clear Now.” For Google Chrome > Click “Clear Browsing Data.”

Or, change from Firefox to Google Chrome browser and look at your Weighted column again. You don’t have to continue working in Blackboard with Chrome if you don’t want; the display issue is temporary. (It is common to switch back and forth between browsers if something does not display correctly in Blackboard.)

Send us a note with questions: ecublackboard@ecu.edu

Fall Semester 2016 Things to Do

Instructors: Prepping for FALL 2016 Semester

question mark

 

 

The Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions from Instructors

  1. How do I make my course available to students?
    • Control Panel > Customization > Properties > Set Availability > Yes
    • We (Bb Support) do not automatically make your courses available. It is up to the instructor to make the courses available to students.
  2. How do I log into Blackboard? I get a message that my username or password is incorrect.
    • Please submit a help ticket asking for assistance, and include your Banner number and your username.
  3. How do I copy my course from one semester to the next? Go here.
  4. How do I merge (or collapse) two or more course sections? Go here.
  5. How do I add another instructor or a TA to the course?
    • Control Panel > Users and Groups > User > Find User to Enroll > Browse (type username only in the box), click Go > when you see the username, click the box and then Submit.
    • If that does not work, please send an email to ecublackboard@ecu.edu with the username and role (TA or instructor). The Blackboard team will add your TA or instructor.
  6. Does a browser change really make a difference with Blackboard?
    • Yes it does. Firefox and Google Chrome are still favorite browsers for Blackboard, even for the Mac. It’s a common suggestion from the Blackboard team, “Please try another browser.”
    • We’ve also found that clearing the browser’s cache/history every couple of weeks is useful when there are display issues (such as in the gradebook). It just takes a few seconds to clear your cache/history. Instructions are here.
  7. I don’t see SafeAssign as an Assessment. Where is it?
    • If you notice the SafeAssign green-check icon is missing in your courses, there is nothing wrong. SafeAssign is a submission option when creating an actual assignment, and the green icon is a thing of the past. The assignment icon is the same for a SafeAssignment and regular Assignment. (That happened a year ago, after the May 2015 upgrade.)
  8. Drops & Adds – How does that work?
    • We update the Blackboard feeds frequently at the beginning of the semester, syncing data with Banner multiple times per day. The drops and adds are updated from Banner – you do not need to remove or add students.
    • If you use Groups in your courses, consider waiting to add groups until you’re pretty sure your roster is stable and there won’t be many more drops and adds.
  9. What kind of Blackboard training do you offer instructors?
    • To search for Blackboard training sessions, please log into ECU’s Cornerstone Portal for training.
    • If you do not see what you need, please contact one of us for a desk-side or small group departmental training session.
    • Blackboard has a YouTube channel for instructors where you will find short instructional videos for the different tools and features in Blackboard: Go here.
  10. Do I need to do anything special at the beginning of the semester if I use Tegrity or Mediasite in my courses? Yes.

As of May 2016, ECU uses TeamDynamix for our help ticketing system, so for any technology-related questions, please submit a help ticket or call the Help Desk @ 252-328-9866.

 

Blackboard Support Team

Notifications

6/10/16

The Notifications feature in the Global Navigation area of the Blackboard landing page is currently not working for students in Blackboard. Until the issue is resolved, students will need to go directly to their Blackboard courses to check for new announcements, gradebook updates, and new assignments. If you have questions or need assistance, please submit a Blackboard Service Request.

Course Structure Tool in Blackboard

See our blog post for the upcoming Blackboard updates (May 9-11).

Course Structure Tool in Blackboard

We’ve created some sample courses using the Course Structure tool in Blackboard. If you’re new to Blackboard or open to changing your course structure to give your course a facelift or new design, give this tool some consideration. You can access the sample courses as a guest, by clicking the link(s) below. You must be logged into Blackboard first, before you access the sample course. Simply open a new tab or window, log into Blackboard, then come back to this page and click the link(s) to view the sample course(s).

C O U R S E            Course Structure

Selecting a Course Structure:
Your Control Panel is where you will find the Course Structure Tool. Customization > Teaching Style. Also, please review this Course Structures on how to get started, and what you should know about Course Structures. Take a look at Blackboard’s Course Structure Help Page for an expanded description of course structures.

Following are very brief descriptions of the course structures used in the sample courses above:

CASE STUDY – focus on activity

Use the case study approach to engage students in critical thinking for real-world situations.

MODULE – focus on content

A module is an independent unit or lesson. Modules are usually self-contained and students can access them in any order, making them suitable for self-paced courses.

WEEKLY – focus on time

Organizing content by time can help students stay on track. You can make folders for future weeks unavailable until they are needed to keep students focused.

TRADITIONAL – focus on content

The traditional course structure organizes the online environment by content type or function. For example, there are course areas for assignments, tests, and your content.

SCIENCE-FOCUSED – focus on content

You can use the science-focused course structure to present information and lab materials to students and provide areas for reflection and collaboration.

GUIDED DISCUSSION – focus on communication

Guided discussion is an active learning technique that encourages students to reflect on their own experiences, explore alternative ways of thinking, connect to a topic, and improve analytical skills.

TOPIC – focus on content

Use the topic-based course structure to organize your course in self-contained segments. (This course has some information on the flipped classroom, but does not have the canned content from Blackboard.)

Notifications Issue

STUDENTS: There is an issue with the Notifications feature in the Global Navigation area of the Blackboard landing page (top right of screen once logged into Blackboard). Blackboard will be unavailable from 2:00 am to 3:00 am on Wednesday, April 27th for technicians to make critical updates to resolve this issue.

Issue: The student may see a little red box with a number. When that number is clicked, the student expects to see notifications for all Blackboard courses. Instead, no notifications will appear. Please go directly to your course to check for new announcements, gradebook updates, new assignments, etc.

Again, the issue will be resolved during a downtime, April 27th, from 2:00am to 3:00am.

Questions? ecublackboard@ecu.edu

Notifications Issue

STUDENTS: There is an issue with the Notifications feature in the Global Navigation area of the Blackboard landing page (top right of screen once logged into Blackboard). Blackboard will be unavailable from 2:00 am to 3:00 am Tuesday, April 12th for technicians to make critical updates to resolve this issue.

Issue: The student may see a little red box with a number. When that number is clicked, the student expects to see notifications for all Blackboard courses. Instead, no notifications will appear. Please go directly to your course to check for new announcements, gradebook updates, new assignments, etc.

Again, the issue will be resolved during a downtime, April 12th, from 2:00am to 3:00am.

Questions? ecublackboard@ecu.edu

Blackboard Grade Center Best Practices

Summary

The Grade Center in Blackboard is an online grading tool. Instructors can record grade data, track student work, create reports, and add private comments and feedback with students throughout the semester. The grade center is integrated with gradable items or assessments such as quizzes, assignment file uploads, discussion forums, blogs, journals, and wikis. Specialized calculations, such as weighting grades, are set up in a Weighted Total column. The gradebook can be downloaded to Excel, and uploaded back into the gradebook with grade changes.

When the grade center is not calculating grades correctly, we look for clues and a few examples are below:

Common reasons that lead to miscalculation of grades for students:

  1. For students who do not participate in any gradable assessment, be sure to manually add a zero (0) to their grade cell or they will not be penalized for missing any assignment, test, or any assessment with points. The double hyphen (–) in a student’s grade center means “null,” and the each student’s grade cell for each assignment needs a manually added score of zero for non-participation. Type 0 in the grade cell, then Enter. It will replace the double hyphen.
  2. Typo or error on gradebook column values (e.g., assignment is worth 100 points, but the instructor manually adds 10 to the grade cell).
  3. Incorrect use of categories within a weighted grade column.
  4. In a weighted grade column, the “calculate as running total” option should be left on (the default setting). “Calculate as running total” means the student will see her or his “grade so far.”
  5. Hidden columns (hidden from instructor, but not from student). Hidden columns are included in the running total (whether or not you use a weighted total). When instructors do a course copy from semester to semester, it is common for hidden columns to grow in quantity.
    1. Look for hidden columns, especially if you had hidden columns in a previous semester and did a course copy to the current semester.
    2. Previous wording in Blackboard’s Grade Center was “Hide Column,” which meant the column would be hidden from the instructor and not the student. The current terminology, when you look at the dropdown menu for each column is “Hide from Students On/Off” and “Hide from Instructor View.”
    3. Go to Manage > Column Organization, and if you see grayed out columns, they are hidden from you and possibly from students. You won’t know until you “Show Selected Column” and Submit. A column name with a circle and red line means it is hidden from students.
    4. If you do want to hide a column(s) from students, you can do that two ways: Click the dropdown menu for the column and choose “Hide from Student View.” Or, click the dropdown menu for the column, choose “Edit the Column Information,” and then choose “No” for “Show This Column to Students” at the bottom of the page.

Best Practices for the Grade Center

  1. Let the Grade Center Create the Columns. You do not have to create a column for assessments created in the content area, such as assignments, quizzes, discussion/journal/blog/wiki posts because once you add points to the gradable item, the column appears in the gradebook. There are exceptions, and a common reason for choosing Create Column in the gradebook is for a column such as “Participation,” “Attendance,” or “Extra Credit.”
  2. Consistent Column Names. Use column names that are consistent with the naming convention in the course site.
    1. Grade Center Columns should match exactly what the activity, assignment, or assessment is named in the content area.
    2. If you have a long assessment name, you can use the Grade Center “display name” to abbreviate the name for your use for easy recognition while grading.
    3. Do not change points for assignments/quizzes in the Content area after they have been created or deployed. In the case of an exam that has an answer choice that has been updated/corrected because of an error, Blackboard will ask you if you want to change the points for all students who have taken the exam (choose Yes).
  3. Column Organization. Organize columns in a logical order, such as sequential due date or category.
    1. By default, new columns are added to the far right of the Grade Center. To reorder, go Manage > Column Organization and slide the rows up or down by sliding the “handles” on the left side of assessment name. Submit.
    2. Column Organization is a great place to look at your gradebook from a “bird’s eye view.” You can check on points for each column, change categories, reorder columns, check for hidden columns, etc. To get there: Manage > Column Organization.
  4. Delete unused/unwanted columns. Delete any unused columns to prevent confusion for you and your students. If there is no delete option, and you do not plan to use that assessment for the current semester, you need to find the assessment in the content area and delete it from that location. Hint: If you do not know where to find a test located in a content area (common with a course copy when outdated tests are added from multiple course copies), look under the Control Panel > Course Tools > Tests, Surveys, Pools > look at the Deployed column.
  5. Weighted Total Column. Many instructors like to weight grades. Example: Assignments are worth 40%, Tests are worth 40%, Discussions are worth 20%, equaling 100%. It’s easy to set up a Weighted Total column ahead of time, using categories (you can create categories in addition to the default categories by going to Full Grade Center > Manage > Categories). Then, any new assessment you add is assigned a category – a default category unless you choose another. At that point, Blackboard’s Weighted Total column does the calculations whether you add 5 or 15 assessments throughout the semester. One reason we like the Weighted Total column is because you can assign grade weights by columns, category or both. Finally, “Calculate as running total” is the default setting and for the student, this means “This is my grade so far.” Ask for our PDF tutorial.
  6. Back up your grades. We recommend a gradebook backup to Excel on a semi-regular basis. From the Full Grade Center, choose Work Offline > Export (use the default settings) and your gradebook will be saved to an Excel file. You can also import your saved Excel file back into Blackboard if you’ve been working in Excel. Learn more about downloading and uploading your gradebook here.
  7. Extra Credit. If you are interested in adding an extra credit column to your gradebook, look at these instructions for a simple way to add an extra credit column (giving it 0 points possible).
  8. Progress Report. If you ever want a printable “report” for students, you can create one from the Full Grade Center > Report > Create a Report. Give the report a name (e.g., the date or the student’s name) and then you’ll be able to choose which student or all students, and which column or all columns. You can print or save the report (“Save As” from your browser). Here are further instructions for creating a progress report from the Full Grade Center.

Remember, you can grade student submissions right from the gradebook, if you created assessments from the content area and added points. Each student’s grade cell has a dropdown menu option where you will see View Grade Details, Exempt Grade, and View Attempt. View Grade Details is a fast place to clear an attempt, if you want the student to have another chance at a new attempt. View Attempt will get you to the student’s submission whether it is an assignment, a test attempt, a discussion post, etc. Exempt Grade – do not use unless you want the student totally exempted from an assessment, i.e., the student is not required to complete the assessment.

Grade Center Icons

  • The exclamation point (!) icon in a student’s grade cell means the attempt needs your attention – either a grade or the student submitted an assessment late.
  • The round clock icon in a student’s grade cell means there is an attempt in progress by the student.
  • The double hyphen (–) means the student has not yet made an attempt. Be sure to manually add a zero (0) if the student misses the assessment – assuming you want the student’s grade to be zero for missing the assessment.

Blackboard Training

The Blackboard Team offers training sessions on the Grade Center. Please look in ECU’s Cornerstone calendar to sign up for a session.

Matt Long

Cindy Bowers

Adam Brewer

Allen Dennis

ecublackboard

Submit a Help Ticket