Blackboard Tip: Connect with the Larger Blackboard “Community”

Blackboard Community Logo

Have you heard about Blackboard Community? Blackboard Community is a community of instructors, instructional designers, admins, Blackboard staff, and educational leaders who interact in one place so that everyone involved can benefit. Becoming a member of community.blackboard.com allows instructors and others to:

  • Connect with Blackboard instructors around the world
  • Make suggestions and vote on product enhancements that matter to you
  • Contribute to a Teaching & Learning forum that allows you to ask questions, share ideas and be a part of the Blackboard Community
  • Have conversations that matter over topics that mean something to you
  • Learn from industry experts as well as colleagues in the field
  • Make your own mark in the Teaching & Learning community

This resource is for anyone that uses Blackboard, not just online instructors. SHSU Online encourages you to join this growing community and take part in the cognitive surplus of ideas, resources, and conversations around eLearning. Visit community.blackboard.com to join today!

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Extra Credit in the Blackboard Grade Center

At SHSU Online, “How can I add extra credit to my Grade Center?” is a question that is asked often by instructors who use the Blackboard grade book to present grades to their students.   In the Grade Center, you can provide extra credit to students in three ways:

  • Extra credit for the total column
  • Extra credit when weighting grades—added to a category
  • Extra credit for a weighted total column

Extra credit for the total column

Create an extra credit column in the grade center with a maximum score of 0 that is included in the default Total computation.  Assign extra credit points as needed.

In the Grade Center:

  • Click Create Column
  • Call it Extra Credit
  • Select Score for primary display.
  • Select Percentage for secondary display.
  • Points Possible = 0
  • Include in Calculations
  • Click submit.

Screen shot of Extra Credit column that affects the Total column

The extra credit appears in the Grade Center. When you add points in an extra credit column, a student’s total points can equal more than 100 percent.  If a student receives full credit for all gradable items (100 points) and receives six extra credit points, the result is 106 or 106%.

Create extra credit when weighting grades

The weighted total column generates a grade based on the result of selected columns and categories, and their respective percentages. When you create a weighted column, you can include other calculated columns and other weighted columns. Your options are to add extra credit points to a category or to the overall grade.

Option 1: Add extra credit points to a category

For example:

You want to add 5 points extra credit to tests. In the Grade Center, create an extra credit column worth 0 points. After adding the 5 points for each student to the extra credit column, create another column to calculate the combined test grades total. The “Tests Total” column includes any columns that include test grades and the extra credit column. When you create the weighted total column, instead of adding the category “Tests” worth 20%, add the “Tests Total” column for 20%.

Create a “Test Extra Credit” column

  • Click Create column
  • Call it Tests Extra Credit
  • Select Score for primary display.
  • Select Percentage for secondary display.
  • Points Possible = 0
  • Include in Calculations
  • Click submit

 

Create another column to calculate the total of the tests columns and tests extra credit column.

  • Select Create Calculated column and select Total Column
  • Give it a name (Tests total) & description
  • Include the test & tests extra credit columns
  • Select Percentage for primary display.
  • Select Submit

Screenshot of tests Extra credit column that affects the Tests Total column

For your weighted total column, check that the “Tests Total” is the column that is being weighted and not the category “Tests.”

Option 2: Add extra credit points to overall grade

  • Click Create Column.
  • Call it Extra Credit
  • Select Points for primary display
  • For Points Possible, type 0
  • Include in calculations
  • Select Submit

Create a “Final Total” column that includes the “Weighted Total” and the “Extra Credit” columns.

5 First Week Strategies for the New Year

1. Connect your students to the Blackboard App

I hope that you will have a wonderful holiday and are looking forward to a prosperous new year.  In the spirit of looking forward, here are some strategies that you can look forward to implementing to provide your students with a firm footing and a good start in your online course(s) during the first week.

Blackboard App IconYour students spend a large amount of their time with their faces pointed toward a mobile device.  Why not have them spend some of that time looking at push notifications from your course?  Connect your students to the Blackboard App and increase student engagement. Students will be updated when they have a test coming up, an assignment is due as well as when new grades are posted.  The push notifications can engage your students and drive them to your course. The Blackboard App provides your students with:

  • Activity Stream
  • Course Timeline
  • Collaborate Ultra
  • Course Outline
  • Assignments and Tests
  • Grades
  • Connecting Cloud Content (Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive)
  • Discussions
  • Push Notifications

You can place this link in your and it will direct them to where they can download the Blackboard App for iOSAndroid and Windows devices.

2. Record a video introduction

Video IconVideo Introduction performs an important function in any online course.  One of the drawbacks to digital communication is that it divorces the person from the medium.  An e-mail, discussion post or instant message cannot convey meaning or tone of voice.  A Video Introduction allows you to speak to the student as you would speak to them in your office or in class.  They get to hear as well as see “you” rather than just a paragraph or two of text welcoming them to the course.

Here are some suggestions for content of your introductory video:

  • Introduce Yourself
  • Brief Description of Course
  • Virtual “Tour” of the Course/How it will work
  • Expectations can be Relayed

Giving yourself a social “presence” in the course with a video introduction is an important first step in getting your students engaged and ready to contribute.  The good news is that it is easier than ever for you to provide this feature in your course.  You can use tools like YouTube, Kaltura or Blackboard Collaborate to upload or directly record and upload your introductory video yourself.

3. Create an introductory activity

Figure holding a sign with the words "introductory activity (20 minutes) on itResearch shows that students who feel they have contributed to a course, or have “co-ownership” of their learning, report a higher level of satisfaction with the course and instructor. One way to start your students contributing early on, is to have them participate in an introductory activity.  The activity serves multiple purposes. First it does what it says it does and allows your students to get to know you and each other.  Doing this helps them break the ice and feel less wary about reaching out to each other as the semester progresses. Secondly it shows them how to use the tools in the course and gets them in the habit of interacting with each other in the manner set by your instructions.  Finally, it gets them started and active in the course.  Student who feel like they are not just sitting around, report a higher level of satisfaction and are more likely to finish the course.

Note:  Since this is the “first” activity in the course, it might be a good idea to model the behavior you want your students to display.  Go ahead and be the first person to submit the activity or link to previously used example.

4. Establish student and instructor expectations

A great way to cut down on cut down on student confusion about course expectations and activities is to create an Expectations content item in your course.  This part of your course should contain 2 sets of expectations.  What you expect of your students and what your students should expect from you.  You can even have your students post that they have read and understood the course expectations. Here are some examples of course expectations:

ExpectationsExpectations of Students

  • Use the virtual office to ask general course questions
  • Check the course homepage, discussions and their e-mail several times a week
  • keep up with reading assignments, activities, assignments and quizzes
  • Participate actively in class discussions, responding to at least 2 colleagues for each forum
  • Practice Netiquette in the course.  No flaming (negative hurtful comments); use correct grammar and spelling; don’t yell (write in all caps)

Expectations of Instructor *These will vary depending upon your comfort level

  • I will read and respond to discussion posts directed at me, e-mails and other forms of communication daily (not on weekends)
  • I will post grades for your assignments and exams quizzes within a week of submission
  • I will have office hours at these days/times: (insert times here) via Skype (Skype address here) or via phone (phone number here)

Letting your students know what to expect from you and what you expect from them will go a long way toward ensuring a successful experience for them and you in your online course(s).

5. Create and utilze a syllabus quiz

Syllabus QuizIn a brick and mortar class the first day is usually spent covering course expectations, policies and yes the syllabus.  You have a captive audience at least for the hour or hour and a half that you have your students in the classroom.  Even if the students didn’t seem excited about being there, you know they at least heard you go over the information.  In online courses it can be difficult knowing if the students have even looked at your syllabus even though it may be prominently displayed in your course.

A great tool to employ to ensure that your students have looked at your syllabus (at least once) is the Syllabus quiz.  You can offer questions that point to what you think might be important parts of your grading policy and or course schedule and whatever else you think might be important.    The syllabus quiz can have two other benefits besides ensuring your students are least familiar with the Syllabus.  It gives your students a first look at the testing mechanism in your online course, and if you employ adaptive release, it can become a gatekeeper for the rest of your course.  You can set a point threshold for them to reach in order for them to be able to access the rest of the course.

Keep Your Students Engaged with the Blackboard App

One of the challenges faced by online, hybrid, and web enhanced instructors is keeping your students engaged.  This blog post could go into depth about the myriads of streams, hashtags, posts and cat videos that are all competing for your students’ attention. So, rather than go down that particular rabbit hole, we will focus on a way to engage your students…..using the Blackboard app.

Blackboard App - Course ContentLet us take a quick look at the various features of the app. This is not the primary focus of this blog post, but I am getting ahead of myself. Here is a quick look at the Blackboard app feature set:

Blackboard App Features

  • View Blackboard Activity Stream
  • View course items/announcements
  • View Due Dates
  • Complete assignments (Google Drive, DropBox & OneDrive integration)
  • Participate in discussions
  • Check grades
  • Interact with instructor and class via Collaborate Ultra
  • Download course files and view them when offline
  • Push Notifications

These are all great features, but you will notice the special emphasis on certain features in the list.   These features provide a little extra engagement for your device carrying students.

Activity Stream

Your students can see an up-to-the-minute list of important course activity including new content, announcements, and grades. The activity stream automatically prioritizes items to help students focus on the tasks that they want to take care of right away.

The activity stream shows first when the app is opened. Students tap the menu icon to navigate to their courses and other features.

Blackboard App - All GradesGrades

Students can select Grades in the main menu to see a quick view of their grade in each course. They tap a course grade to see submitted assignments, tests, quizzes, and graded discussions. Students can see calculated grades, such as running totals if the  them. If a calculated total shows in a desktop browser but not in the app, your school hasn’t updated Blackboard yet.

While in a course, students can tap their current grade at the top of the Course Overview to see all of their graded work. They can tap a graded item to view the assessment details, attempts, and instructor feedback.

Push Notifications

The Blackboard App will keep students up to date and let them know when a test is coming up or an assignment is overdue. It will also send notifications when new grades are posted.

These notifications will show up on their smart phone with a buzz or a bing or when the student checks their device.

This is Great, Now What?

So if you like what the Mobile App can do for your students, what can you do to get them to use it? How about making one of Start Here activities in your course an assignment where students have to submit a screenshot of your course as viewed through the Blackboard app.  Provide the link to the app in the assignment instructions for easy access.  If the students already have the app, they just need to do the screenshot portion of the assignment.

SHSU Online Faculty Development Sessions November 2017

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SHSU Online is pleased to offer a number of faculty development opportunities via different avenues for November 2017.

Online Cohort and Self-Paced

Webinar

By Appointment

self-paced_header_graphic webinar_header_graphic face-to-face_header_graphic
  • Multimedia in Blackboard Courses
  • Building Online Communities
  • Organization the Bb Gradebook
  • Bb Collaborate Ultra
  • Copying Your BB Course Into Next Semester
  • Choose From our Catalog
  • Ask for a Custom Session
  • One-on-one or Group

Faculty Development Schedule – Face-to-Face/Self-Paced/Webinar

Date Session Title Delivery Method Time/Location
Open Building Online Communities Blackboard Course Self-Paced – Online
Open Multimedia in Blackboard Courses Blackboard Course Self-Paced – Online
Open Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (Starts Nov 1st) Blackboard Course Self-Paced – Online
Nov 13 Managing Groups in Blackboard Webinar 2pm – Online
Nov 16 Blackboard Discussion Forums Webinar 3pm – Online
Nov 28 What’s New in Blackboard? Webinar 2pm – Online

Enroll in one of our faculty development sessions today!

Faculty Development by Appointment

by_appointmentThese sessions can be 5 minutes to an hour and can take place in your office, ours, over the phone and online.  Use the same link to sign up for face-to-face or one-on-one sessions. Just select a topic or come up with one of your own and we’ll do it!

Visit the SHSU Online Faculty Development How-to Session page and schedule a one-on-one with a member of the Instructional Technology Support Services team.

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.

Blackboard Tip: Course-to-Course Navigation

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of working on a particular item in a Blackboard course only to realize that you should probably make the change on the same or similar item in another one of your courses?

At this point you may start grumbling about the fact that you need to exit this course, go back to the My Courses module on Blackboard’s main page, scroll to find the course you were thinking of and then access it.  Well, hold the grumbles, because there is a faster way to jump from one course to another in Blackboard.  We give you the Course-to-Course Navigation Menu!

COURSE-TO-COURSE NAVIGATION MENU

From one of your courses, you can conveniently access all of the other courses you’re enrolled in.

course_to_course_navigationSelect the Course-to-Course Navigation icon to access the menu and select another course title. If the same page you’re currently viewing in the course exists in the next course, that is where you’ll land. The most recently visited course is listed first.

For example, if you’re viewing the announcements page in one course and select another course in the menu, you’re taken to that course’s announcements page.

For more information on how to quickly jump from one course to another, watch the following video: