NBC Learn on Blackboard – Adding a Media Rich Resource to Your Courses

NBC Learn on Blackboard


One of the best things about the connectedness of the web space is the ability to find media rich content to supplement or enhance course activities and materials. The beauty of this particular medium is that it is not just left to the instructor to utilize this media. Students can now liven up online discussions, assignments, projects and more with historical, current or relevant video or audio media. YouTube has long been a mainstay in this arena, in that it’s API allows for easy integration and everyone is familiar with what it does. However, there are other vast collections of resources out there that are relatively untapped by the student/faculty population. One of these curated resources is NBC Learn.

NBC Learn is a rich and unique resource that provides thousands of historic news reports, current event stories, original content, primary source documents, and other digital media specifically designed to teach and engage students. NBC Learn content can easily be downloaded for offline use or connected to your Blackboard courses.

The content is also fully accessible it allows for keyboard navigation, assistive technologies(works with screen readers), support for deaf and hard of hearing. http://www.nbclearn.com/accessibility

NBC Learn PortalYou can Browse NBC Learn, and see the Collection of all NBC resources within the NBC Learn environment. You can browse by category that best matches your field of study or just Search NBC Learn via keyword.

Each video has its own CueCard with metadata like source, date, description, keywords, & citation (allows students or faculty to include citation in posting), as well as transcript tab for full transcript.

NBC Learn Cue Card

  • Each video can be saved to your personal playlist within NBC Learn. You can also print a 2 dimensional version of the CueCard.
  • Download: You can choose a quality version and save it locally to your computer. (You will need administrative access to your computer as the download will be an executable NBC Learn player)
  • Videos can be sorted for easier searching. (Title, Date, Story Date, Alphabetic, Recently Updated)
  • Don’t see your category? NBC Learn allows users to “contact us” and add comments/suggestions in terms of new categories for the NBC learn site.

NBC Learn on Blackboard


NBC Learn & Blackboard – Working Together

There are a couple of ways to add NBC Learn content to your courses:

  1. Employing the Mashups button anywhere you use the Blackboard text/content editor (items, folders, discussions, etc…)
    Adding NBC Learn to Blackboard

    This particular option allows both you and your students to build context around the video. Whether you are introducing a unit or your students are adding to a vibrant online discussion, using the Mashups button in the content editor can add rich media throughout your Blackboard course.

  2. Accessing the Mashups area under Build Content and selecting NBC Content (places content directly in content area as it’s own item).NBC Learn Mashup Item

    The beauty of this option is that the media itself becomes a piece of course content.

**You can also leverage a NBC Learn content module that will allow you to display categories of videos like: NBC Learn Science, History, News, Social Studies etc.. on any module page in your Blackboard course.

nbclearn_moduleNBC Learn and Blackboard have integrated and that is a win for Blackboard instructors and students. Now course content and contributions can become more rich, relevant and engaging!

The Performance Dashboard – Tracking Student Performance

Possibly one of the most informative and helpful tools in your Blackboard tool belt is the Performance Dashboard. Blackboard instructors can reap the benefits of keeping on top of how active students are in their courses, just by using this tool.

The Performance Dashboard provides you with a view into all types of user activity in your course or organization. All users enrolled in your course are listed, including instructors, students, teaching assistants, graders, observers, and guests, with pertinent information about each user’s progress and activity.

Performance DashboardThe page can be accessed by going to your course’s Control Panel, selecting the Evaluation category and clicking on Performance Dashboard.


The Performance Dashboard page appears and displays a summary of information for your course:

  • Last Name, First Name, and Username: The user’s name and the username they use to log in to Blackboard Learn.
  • Role: A user’s defined role within your course. Examples of roles include instructor, student, grader, teaching assistant, guest, and observer. A user can have one role in a course, and a different role in another.
  • Last Course Access: The date and time when a user last accessed your course.
  • Days Since Last Course Access: The number of days that has elapsed since the last time a user accessed your course.
  • Review Status: Displays how many items have been reviewed. For a detailed view, click the number shown. If the review status tool has not been enabled for your course, this column does not appear.
  • Adaptive Release: Displayed only if adaptive release is enabled in your course. Clicking the icon opens a new window showing a directory tree overview of the entire course relative to a user and the access status.
  • Discussion Board: Displayed only if the discussion board tool is enabled in your course. Clicking a number link opens the Discussion Board page listing all of the selected user’s discussion board comments in your course.
  • Customize Retention Center: Displayed only if the Retention Center tool is enabled in your course. This column shows the number of triggered rules and the number of total rules that may trigger a warning. For example, 2/6 would mean a user has triggered two rules out of six total. Clicking the data in this column will display a page showing the Retention Center status for the user.
  • View Grades: Displayed only if the Grade Center is enabled. This column provides direct links to the Full Grade Center.

For even more help, watch this quick video on the Performance Dashboard: http://ondemand.blackboard.com/r91/movies/bb91_evaluation_performance_dashboard.htm

July 2015 – SHSU Online How-to Sessions

SHSU Online How-toSHSU online is excited to announce the official debut of our 2nd cohort-based completely online certification option.  Strategies & Practices for Effective Assessment is a three week online certification course that will begin on July 6th. In this 3 week course, you will gain in-depth knowledge of the tools and features that help monitor and evaluate student performance. Topics include the Grade Center, the Retention Center, the Performance Dashboard, inline assignment grading, the review status feature, and the reports and statistics you can use to better track student progress. You will also pick up on strategies and practices that will help you more effectively assess your students.

Sign up today: http://distance.shsu.edu/faculty-staff/how-to-sessions/index.html

We are also offering a number of face-to-face how-to sessions for July meant to assist you for the coming year:

  • 8th, 30th – Blackboard Learn: Portfolios
  • 9th – Blackboard Learn: Achievements (Gamification)
  • 13th – Blackboard Learn: Blogs, Wikis and Journals
  • 16th, 23rd – Kaltura: Lecture Capture in Blackboard
  • 15th, 20th, 22nd – ProctorFree – Online Proctoring for Blackboard Exams and Quizzes
  • 6th, 29th – Spice Up your Blackboard Course (Finding and Adding Images)

Sign up today: http://distance.shsu.edu/faculty-staff/how-to-sessions/index.html

Does your Blackboard Course have web links to external content? Make sure they work!

A good best practice for any Blackboard instructor is to ensure you check any links you have to external content within your Blackboard course(s). YouTube links/embded don’t always last forever and periodicals, files and web resources can change location or be pulled from the Internet.

By keeping tabs on your web links you can reduce student frustration and confusion and increase overall course satisfaction.

Now is the perfect time of year to check your courses to be sure that any web links you do have operate like they should! This instructional video should help remind you:

May 2015 How-to Sessions

learn_blogEach month, SHSU Online offers face-to-face and completely online technology training/how-to sessions for faculty and staff at Sam Houston State University. In April we are offering 12 face-to-face and 2 online courses to keep faculty and staff connected and in the know.

May brings with it more learning opportunities, including sessions covering SHSU’s automated online exam proctoring tool, ProctorFree, and Kaltura, the new way to do lecture capture. Sessions on the use of electronic portfolios in Blackboard courses, as well as how to use Blackboard Collaborate’s suite of audio tools, will be offered.

SHSU Online is excited to announce a brand new certification that SHSU Blackboard instructors can achieve.  Starting this May, we are offering a completely online “Effective Assessment Strategies and Practices” course. This course takes an in-depth look at methods to increase success in evaluating students, along with a look at the tools Blackboard employs to monitor, evaluate and report on student assessment. Topics covered include, but are not limited to: Hallmarks for Effective Assessment, Grade Center Basics, Best Practices for Effective Assessment, Grading Periods, Grade Columns, test Reliability and Validity and more. Participants successfully completing the Effective Assessment Strategies and Practices training will receive certification.

To sign up, please visit our Development Sessions sign-up page.

Session Name Description Date/Time
**NEW**
Effective Assessment Strategies & Practices
This three week online course takes an in-depth look at methods to increase success when it comes to evaluating students along with a look at the tools Blackboard employs to monitor, evaluate and report on student assessment. Topics covered include, but are not limited to: Hallmarks for Effective Assessment, Grade Center Basics, Best Practices for Effective Assessment, Grading Periods, Grade Columns, test Reliability and Validity and more. Effective Assessment Strategies and Practices attendees will receive a certification upon successful completion. Enroll today! Online/Cohort Starts May 11
What’s New in Teaching and Learning for Blackboard? This self-paced, completely online course is designed to familiarize SHSU faculty with the latest features and enhancements in Blackboard Learn. Modules cover enhancements in building and designing courses, communication and assessment. Online/Self-Paced
Blackboard Learn: Designing Engaging Content This self-paced, completely online, Designing Engaging Content course is put together so that SHSU instructors learn strategies for effectively designing and organizing content to increase student engagement within Blackboard courses. Online/Self-Paced
ProctorFree – Online Proctoring for Blackboard Exams and Quizzes This one hour session covers how to use ProctorFree for your online exams & quizzes in Blackboard. ProctorFree is an on-demand, automated online proctoring service that deters cheating in an online testing environment. Using biometric and machine learning technologies, ProctorFree has eliminated the need for a human proctor during testing. This innovative technology creates a convenient testing option for distance education students and increases the credibility of online certificates and degrees for higher education institutions. 5/11/2015 – 1pm
ProctorFree – Online Proctoring for Blackboard Exams and Quizzes This one hour session covers how to use ProctorFree for your online exams & quizzes in Blackboard. ProctorFree is an on-demand, automated online proctoring service that deters cheating in an online testing environment. Using biometric and machine learning technologies, ProctorFree has eliminated the need for a human proctor during testing. This innovative technology creates a convenient testing option for distance education students and increases the credibility of online certificates and degrees for higher education institutions. 5/12/2015 – 10am
Kaltura: Lecture Capture in Blackboard Adding video to our Blackboard course just became easier! This 60-90 minute session covers how to add video to your Blackboard course using the Kaltura Mashup tool. Attendees will learn how to record and upload video from their webcam as well as capture what is on their own computer screen (PowerPoints etc.). 5/13/2015 – 10am
Blackboard Learn: Portfolios This 90 minute session covers an invaluable tool in academic professional development. Porfolios provide a powerful medium for users to efficiently collect and organize artifacts representative of work completed over time. Attendees will learn create portfolio assignments as well as build out a portfolio so that they can better communicate with students about buidling their own. 5/19/2015 – 10am
Blackboard Collaborate: Voice Tools This 1 hour session will show attendees how to utilize Blackboard Collaborate voice tools throughout their course. Topics covered include: personalizing your course by adding your voice anywhere you add text, and implementing a “Voice Board” for a different take on an asynchronous discussion. 5/20/2015 – 1pm
ProctorFree – Online Proctoring for Blackboard Exams and Quizzes This one hour session covers how to use ProctorFree for your online exams & quizzes in Blackboard. ProctorFree is an on-demand, automated online proctoring service that deters cheating in an online testing environment. Using biometric and machine learning technologies, ProctorFree has eliminated the need for a human proctor during testing. This innovative technology creates a convenient testing option for distance education students and increases the credibility of online certificates and degrees for higher education institutions. 5/25/2015 – 10am
ProctorFree – Online Proctoring for Blackboard Exams and Quizzes This one hour session covers how to use ProctorFree for your online exams & quizzes in Blackboard. ProctorFree is an on-demand, automated online proctoring service that deters cheating in an online testing environment. Using biometric and machine learning technologies, ProctorFree has eliminated the need for a human proctor during testing. This innovative technology creates a convenient testing option for distance education students and increases the credibility of online certificates and degrees for higher education institutions. 5/26/2015 – 1pm
Kaltura: Lecture Capture in Blackboard Adding video to our Blackboard course just became easier! This 60-90 minute session covers how to add video to your Blackboard course using the Kaltura Mashup tool. Attendees will learn how to record and upload video from their webcam as well as capture what is on their own computer screen (PowerPoints etc.). 5/27/2015 – 1pm
Kaltura: Lecture Capture in Blackboard Adding video to our Blackboard course just became easier! This 60-90 minute session covers how to add video to your Blackboard course using the Kaltura Mashup tool. Attendees will learn how to record and upload video from their webcam as well as capture what is on their own computer screen (PowerPoints etc.). 5/28/2015 – 10am

To sign up, please visit our Development Sessions sign-up page.

Blackboard Course Banners are NOT Just for Course Landing Pages

Since the early days of Blackboard and other Learning Management Systems in the field, Course Banners have been a great way to personalize the online or web-enhanced learning environment. Instructors could differentiate any course by starting it out with a graphic or photo of their own choice/making. Course Banners have been used far and wide since then to add flare and personalize the online and blended environment.

Course with Banner ScreenshotFor years, instructors who used Blackboard have been operating under the assumption that a Course Banner could only be used on the landing page of a Blackboard course. Well guess what? Course Banners can be placed almost anywhere in an online/web-enhanced course. Check out this before and after photo of a Blackboard content area, in this case Lesson 1:

Before and After - Adding BannersWith just the addition of a few graphics, a theme change and a Banner image, we can add continuity to the course as well as make it more engaging.

How do you do it?

Show Text OnlyFirst, you will want to give yourself more real estate in the Content Area where you will be placing the Course Banner. You do this by changing your page options to show text only.

  • Ensure your Edit Mode is on.
  • Click the contextual menu next to your page title and select Page Options.
  • Click Show Text Only.

This gives you more space for your graphic to live in the content area where you place it, by removing the icon that shows up next to your content title.

Note: It is also a good idea to make your Course Banners in the subsequent course content areas a little bit smaller. This cuts down on load time as well as screen resolution issues.

Add ImageNext, add/edit a Content Item on your page and add an image to the top.

  • Add/Edit a Content Item.
  • Click the Add Image button.
  • Browse and Attach your Banner.
  • Click Submit.

You will now have a content item with a banner graphic that is placed at the beginning of the content area, folder or module of your choice:

Adjusted Content Item ExampleThis practice will add a layer of continuity and engagement to your course. If your students feel like they are in a familiar place and are engaged while browsing, their satisfaction levels will increase. Consider adding more Course Banners to your online/web-enhanced courses today!