November 2012 How-to Session Schedule


Jacob will be out on Medical leave during November, but no worries!  We’ve enlisted the help of a Blackboard Certified Trainer directly from the company and Thomas Sosebee is stepping in to lend a hand.  Because of this, we’ve been able to add a few more sessions to the schedule!  Please check out the How-to Session Schedule for the additions.  We’ve even added a brand new session called:

Q&A With a Blackboard Certified Trainer
Just like the name implies these sessions will be available for you to bring your ideas, questions and quandaries and ask a Certified Trainer directly from Blackboard.

November 2012 How-to Sessions GraphicWe have posted the November 2012 How-to Session schedule.  Sign up now for a number of different sessions to get you ready for the transition of fully-online courses to Blackboard.  Session offerings include:

  • Blackboard Learn – Using the Grade Center
    The ins and outs of grading, extra credit, calculated columns, smart views, managing your gradebook and more.
  • Blackboard Mobile Learn
    Using the new Blackboard mobile app for Smart Phones and tablets to connect with your courses.
  • Blackboard Learn Advanced Course Content Options
    With the new Blackboard, comes new ways to present content to your students.  Find out about these new options by attending this session.
  • Blackboard Course Building
    Building your course has never been more convenient.  Learn about the New Blackboard environment and how to build/organize your course.
  • Blackboard Communication
    Find out about Blackboard’s new Notification system, and catch up with your old friends, the Blackboard communication tools.
  • Blackboard Assessment
    Learn how to assess your students with assignments, rubrics, tests, early warning system and the performance dashboard.
  • Blackboard Advanced Communication tools
    Blackboard has a slew of new communication tools to play with: Blogs, Wikis, Journals and Voice Tools.  Learn about how and when you might want to use them.
  • Blackboard Learn Building Tests
    Learn how the tests, test options and test questions have changed.
  • iPad Apps for Educators
    Find out how to leverage your tablet device to help you teach and organize your work.

Sign-up Today:


Moderating Posts in Discussion Forums? Now there is an ORIGINAL thought!

Discussions Forums GraphicOne of the best communication tools used in online, hybrid and face-to-face courses is the discussion forum. The benefits of forum use are widely published in academic circles. Some examples of these benefits are:

  • allowing the student to reflect and respond thoughtfully to a discussion question
  • allow them to apply that same kind of critical thinking to a peer’s posting
  • enables students who might not otherwise responds in a live classroom environment to have a “voice”

As envelopes are pushed in the distance education arena, we are discovering some things that need to be addressed.  Having taken a few online courses for my Master’s degree and in working with faculty in their courses, I’ve noticed a trend when it comes to some student postings in what are supposed to be well reasoned, interactive back-and-forth discussions.

Students are waiting to see what their colleagues post and then creatively copy-pasting their own discussion board posts. Instead of doing the leg work of coming up with their own thoughts about whatever it is they are supposed to be posting, they are rehashing their colleague’s posts.  There are thoughts as to why this may be happening, but that is subject for a different post.

The challenge then becomes one of encouraging the interaction and critical thinking you want in a discussion board while maintaining the academic integrity of original thoughtForum moderation presents itself as a workable solution.  Forum moderation allows the instructor or designated reviewer to approve the post before it is seen by the rest of the class.  So, with this in mind here are the steps to promoting original responses in discussion board postings:

  1. When creating the forum be sure to ensure that your force moderation of posts.*
  2. Assign a due date for the creation of discussion threads in response to your discussion question.
  3. Do NOT publish/moderate the posts until after the due date.
  4. Turn off post moderation once the due date is reached (you can also disable the ability of the students to add new threads)
  5. Have a separate due date for replies to original postings.

By following these steps, the students make their posts, completing the first part of the discussion assignment (the part when you want them to reply with their original thoughts) without being able to view the posts of fellow students. Then, when you open the discussion back up for reply the are free to build off of each others’ ideas and continue to interact.

This does entail a little more work on the part of the forum moderator (professor, instructor, TA), but can really go a long way to ensuring the integrity of student discussions.  This solution does not have to be utilized on every discussion forum in your course, but can be leveraged for when you want to ensure the student’s thoughts are original.

*Some Learning Management Systems do not have the ability to moderate posts, so another solution may be in order.

Kaltura Building Block for Blackboard – Video Walkthrough

Kaltura has partnered with Blackboard to deliver a video application that opens up a whole new set of engaging teaching possibilities – from integration of lecture capture and video materials, to video assignments, and sharing of student and faculty video content, all fully integrated within the Blackboard Learn platform.

Watch this video walk-through to find out more.

Steps for utilizing the Kaltura Media tool:

  1. In Edit Mode, navigate to the content area where you wish to upload/record your video
  2. Select Tools from the Action Bar (Action bar starts with Build Content and Assessments buttons and then Tools)
  3. Select Kaltura Media
  4. Type in Name and Description
  5. Use the Upload Media Button to upload your video or record via a webcam.
  6. Once you have successfully upload/recorded your media click Submit.

New Course Merge Tool

With the implementation of a new version of Blackboard comes a new method for course combinations, called Course Merge. Course combinations have always been available for faculty, however there were drawbacks.

What is Course Combination?

When an instructor is teaching more than one section of the same course where the content is exactly the same, it is often easier and more efficient to have one central course to upload materials and track grades. Previously, these combinations would be done through IT@Sam and one course would be placed into another – meaning the request needed to be made as early as possible in the semester and could result in the loss of some data.

With Course Merge, a container or “master course” is created into which the combined sections, or “child courses” are placed, much like placing several small containers inside one large container. The instructor sees one master course and all child courses on their Blackboard page, but the students will only see the section for which they are registered – and the instructor need only update the master course for all sections to be updated.


In this image, you can see that instead of combining all sections into one, “child courses” are placed inside a master.
Pictured below is how a Merge appears on the Instructor’s My Courses module:


The master course is shown as well as the sections, which are listed as child courses of the master course.

Also with the older method, once combined, there was no easy way to tell which students were registered for which section. With Course Merge, a column is added to the Grade Center of the master course that indicates which section the student is in. In the image below, the column is highlighted that indicates which section the student is in:

 The table below breaks down the differences between the old method and the new method:

Course Combination

Course Merge

All students placed in one course, no way to tell which student was in which section Grade Center column in master course indicates which section a student is in
One course placed inside another, possibly resulting in loss of uploaded materials or grades Child courses placed into a master course, no loss of data
Students see combined section in their course list Students only see the section in which they are registered
Instructor sees only combined course in course list Instructor sees master course in course list, as well as child courses with an indication that these courses are Merged into a master course

Course Merge can be done at any time during the semester, as no data is lost. Keep in mind that although you can access the individual child courses, any changes made therein will not be seen by students, only changes made in the master course. An orange banner will appear when accessing the child courses, alerting that any changes made there will not be seen and that changes must be made in the master course.

If you are interested in doing a Course Merge for sections you are teaching, please contact DELTA at or call (936)294-4780.