Blackboard Downtime 9/2/17

Blackboard Downtime Banner

SHSU Online will need to apply a critical update to Blackboard on Sat, Sept 2, during Labor Day weekend.  As a result, you will not be able to log into Blackboard for approximately 12 hours from 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST.

How can I prepare?

  • Shift any assignment due dates to before or after the downtime
  • Reschedule any online examinations around the downtime window
  • Reschedule any synchronous activities you had planned during that time

As is customary, we will post announcements on the Blackboard landing page, in every Blackboard course, as well as on the SHSU Online website.   The SHSU Online Support Desk will be available to answer any inquiries.

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What’s New In Blackboard?

What's New in Blackboard Learn - Graphic
On Sunday, August 13, Blackboard was updated to a more recent version(Q2 2017). Though the majority of Blackboard will operate the same as before the update, there are some important new features that we would like to highlight.

These features include:

  • Drag and Drop Files
  • Submission Receipts
  • Reminders
  • Blackboard Instructor App
  • Dropbox Integration
  • Needs Grading Improvements

Below you will find descriptions for each new feature as well as links to thorough documentation on each.


drag_n_dropDrag and Drop Files
When instructors create content items, assignments, and web links, they can drag files from their computers to the “hot spot” in the Attach Files area. Students can also drag files to upload when they submit assignments. Drag and drop are also supported in the following areas: Content Collection, Content Editor, blank page content type, blogs, journals, and adding an artifact to Portfolios. | For Instructors | For Students |

Submission Receipts
Instructors can keep track of all student submissions, regardless of whether the attempt or assignment is deleted or the submission history is changed. A submission receipt is captured at the time of submission and includes information such as attached file information, date, time, etc. This feature provides evidence for academic disputes, giving students assurance about their work.

Submission Receipts - Instructor view

Students can receive a notification email for each assignment attempt with information about the submission including attached files. Students can also access receipts at any time on the My Grades page in the submissions filter area. Administrators can optionally disable the email notifications. | For Instructors | For Students |

Send ReminderReminders
Instructors can send email reminders from Grade Center columns to students and members of groups who have missing coursework. Students receive a system-generated email that lists the course, coursework, and the due date if included.
| Learn More |

Blackboard Instructor
Blackboard Instructor is a mobile app that enables instructors to view course content, connect with students in discussions, and interact with classes in Blackboard Collaborate. The app is available on iOS and Android mobile devices.
| Learn More |

Dropbox Integration
Students can attach files and submit assignments from their personal Dropbox accounts using this new cloud service integration.

Dropbox Blackboard Mashup

Fewer Needs Grading Items
When multiple-attempt assessments are set to calculate using the first or last attempt, there are potentially numerous other attempts that will never be used for the grade calculation. This can be particularly problematic in anonymous or delegated grading scenarios where it can be difficult to determine which attempts are associated with students and therefore require grading. A new filter is now available both in the Needs Grading workflow as well as within the Grade Center to show or hide these attempts. Attempts that won’t calculate towards the assessment grade are now indicated with an icon. | Learn More |

fewer_needs_grading

The importance of a virtual office

Virtual Office Info Graphic

In face-to-face courses, students have the luxury of benefiting from questions asked while in the classroom or the ability to stop by your office to discuss an issue they might be having.  In both cases they get the chance to interact with you and possibly some of their fellow classmates.

Sometimes, students find it challenging to find that same connection in an online, hybrid or web-enhanced environment.  The good news is that with Blackboard, you can create a virtual space where your students can experience the same kind of connection and feedback they receive in their brick-and-mortar classes.

Using a virtual office in your online/hybrid/web-enhanced courses provides many benefits. For the purpose of this blog post, we will focus on three.  Using a virtual office:

  • puts the instructor in the course
  • cleans up email inboxes
  • promotes the use of Blackboard (the LMS or Learning Management System)

The virtual office puts the instructor in the course

Placing a photo of yourself, your contact information and a little biographical info can go a long way toward helping your student see you as a person and not some synthetic-robot version of yourself.   If you want to go the extra mile, replace the photo with a quick Intro or Welcome video that can bring out your personality and help the students get to know you.

By subscribing to your own virtual office discussion forum you will receive prompts when questions are posted.  These prompts will help you engage with your students in a timely fashion and make the students feel like you are in the course.

The virtual office cleans up e-mail inboxes

Let’s face it, we all “misplace” e-mail.  For some of us, our inbox receives a hundred new messages or more each day.  Why not make life easier on you and your students by reserving course-oriented email for things of a personal or private nature.  Have your students post general course questions to the virtual office discussion forumWhen you answer questions via e-mail the only people that see that correspondence are you and the student. If a question is answered in a public space like the virtual office, everyone benefits.

You may have to use the first week of the course as a “training week” where you ensure you point your students to the virtual office for answers to course questions.  Make it a requirement in your syllabus, an expectation on your course expectations page and a question on your Syllabus quiz to ensure students know where to go.

BONUS:  The virtual office builds a course FAQ over the course of a semester that you can then use as part of your next semester’s course.

The virtual office promotes the use of Blackboard (the LMS)

The more time a student is spending in your course, the more connected they are to what is happening.  When your students establish the habit of checking the course regularly, they will be more engaged and more successful.

Encouraging your students to check the virtual office daily will get them in your course and connect them to the information and activities they need to conquer course objectives.