Making Text Look Normal in Blackboard

A person's hand is rested on a Dell computer next to a Mac computer

Have you ever pasted text into Blackboard and found that it just doesn’t look right? It might be that the font has changed, weird symbols have replaced some letters, background colors have suddenly appeared, or your spacing and lists are all wrong. It can be maddening when all you want to do is paste a simple string of text, but Blackboard can’t manage to display it properly. This is very common if you’re trying to paste text from Word, Google Docs, or a website. Heck, it even happens sometimes when you paste text from Blackboard into Blackboard. Why is this happening? There’s actually a simple reason this is happening, and it’s not that there’s something wrong with your computer. Most of the time, the text that you see on a web page or in a digital file isn’t just text. It’s actually a representation of one coding language or another that your browser or application interprets and displays as text…. Read More >

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Webinar - Inline Grading with New Box View

Webinar Series

The most recent update to Blackboard, over break, included an update to its inline grading functionality. To cover the new features in this tool—which allows for student work to be read, graded, and even commented on within Blackboard, without forcing you to download—we turned to our fearless peers, Susan Graham-Rent and Susan Hyde, who delivered an excellent webinar on the subject which you can view below.

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New Blackboard features for 2018

Blackboard Features

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Every December, the UNE IT department updates Blackboard, giving the gift of handy new features to students and instructors. Here are three of those goodies that the Instructional Design team is anxiously anticipating. Drag-and-Drop Files Whenever you need to add a file to Blackboard, it can be a hassle to search the file viewer to pick one document from a list of many. The new drag-and-drop feature should make this a little quicker. You’ll be able to click and drag right from your desktop or whatever folder you have open already. Drag-and-drop will be available to both students and instructors. Submission Receipts Ever clicked the assignment submit button and wondered, “Wait, did that really work?” Blackboard submission receipts are for moments like those. When an assignment is received successfully, students will see a confirmation number linked to a record of their submission. That record notes the date and time of the submission,… Read More >

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Tools for Office Hours - Blackboard Collaborate

Webinar Series

Last week we covered Appear.in as a tool for conducting online conferences. This week we’re going to go over the same steps for creating persistent and scheduled online conferencing spaces, but with Blackboard Collaborate. The differences between Collaborate and Appear.in make them both useful, we think, for different applications. Appear.in is very simple and easy to use, but has limits to the numbers of students who can be in there at the same time, fewer tools, and isn’t built into Blackboard. Collaborate is far more robust. First off, the way to access Blackboard Collaborate is by clicking “Course Tools” (or “Organization Tools” if the course is taking place in an organization, as is the case with our IDS Sandbox pictured below) and then clicking “Blackboard Collaborate.” The Blackboard Collaborate page presents you with a dashboard for selecting the type of Collaborate Session you want. There are two types: you can use Persistent Rooms or Scheduled Sessions. Persistent Rooms function very much… Read More >

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Science Prerequisites for Health Professions - Why These Courses are Unique

Lending a helping hand with an online science prerequisite course

UNE Online offers many great degrees and certificate programs; however, did you know that we also offer individual science prerequisite courses? From Microbiology to General Chemistry, these courses can be taken anywhere in the world! Students who enroll in our science prerequisite courses are typically students who wish to enter a health professions program but need one or two courses to fill a gap in their transcript. Have we caught your attention? Keep reading to learn more! How are these courses set up differently than courses in matriculated programs? Our science prerequisite courses have a 16-week completion time and they have no due dates, meaning students can complete earlier if desired! Another great aspect of these individual courses is the fact that we have start dates every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month. Yes, that is right; two start dates every month! Frequent start dates allow students plenty of options when signing up for our courses, and are great… Read More >

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Video: How to Override a Grade

How to Override a Grade

This video will show you how to override a grade in Blackboard and what the student sees on their side.

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Blackboard Releases Results from Usage Study

Blackboard

Blackboard Learn. North America. Spring 2016. 927 Institutions 70,000 Courses. 3,374,462 unique learners. The most recent Blackboard usage study casts a much wider net than has been their scope in the past. Titled “Patterns in Course Design,” the learning management system heavyweight released an interpretation on the current environment of course design. By crunching the aggregate data across their broad sample, they were able to classify every course into one of five “archetypes.” They accomplished this by analyzing the tools deployed within the courses and how they were utilized. The identified archetypes reflect larger patterns of course design and student experience. These five archetypes are telling of the primary use of the Blackboard learning management system. Three out of four Blackboard courses are used, likely in coordination with a face to face course, as a course content storage platform. In these types of courses, the majority of Blackboard’s tools go unused. Students are rarely assessed, interact, or are graded in Blackboard in the “Supplemental”… Read More >

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Webinar - The Blackboard Grade Center

Webinar Series

We’ve received several requests to dive more purposefully into the nitty gritty of using Blackboard, and so today we conducted the first in a series of webinars on it, focusing on the Grade Center. As we found ourselves jumping rather quickly from tool to tool, we think the video may be less valuable as a recording than a textual breakdown, with screenshots, that you can jump through at will below. Navigation Finding the Blackboard Grade Center We always suggest faculty use the “Full Grade Center,” as the “Needs Grading” page will not always show you all the assignments that need grading. For example: A student may receive permission to submit an assignment a second time. The second submission will not appear in “Needs Grading” if the first was already graded. If the faculty is using only “Needs Grading” with the (understandable) assumption that the new submission will appear there, the new submission may go unacknowledged. The Invisible Scrollbar (on Mac computers)… Read More >

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Using Course Announcements to Maximize Instructor Presence

Course Announcements

Research shows that online students appreciate a strong instructor presence. Online instructors who leave regular digital footprints in their classes show that they are actively engaged and committed to supporting student success. In addition to discussion boards and assignment feedback, course announcements provide an excellent opportunity for instructors to maximize their online presence while also sharing important course information. Personalize Your Space Let your students know that you are more than words on a digital page. While you want to be professional, you also want to be approachable. Use an early course announcement to introduce yourself and to let your students know that you are there to support their learning. Since you are an expert in your subject, you may also want to provide your own research or professional anecdotes to help students engage more deeply with the course material. Don’t be afraid to be creative with your posts. The addition of occasional cartoons, memes, digital photos, charts and video… Read More >

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How Students View the Feedback Provided in Rubrics

Feedback Rubrics

This is for instructors and students alike. For those of you who are instructing, this could come in handy as a resource for any students who are claiming they can’t find the feedback you know you provided for their assignment. As a first step in addressing that issue, consider sending the student to this post. For students…well, of course this is handy! One of the most important interactions you can have with your teacher is his or her feedback following an assignment, including feedback rubrics that were provided at the start of the course. Don’t let it go to waste! We’ve heard that some students may have been struggling to locate this rubric-contextual feedback in their gradebook, so we’ve put together these screenshots to show how to do it. Step-by-Step Instructions for Viewing Feedback Rubrics First, access your grades. In most online programs at UNE, you can do this by clicking “My Grades” in the sidebar. You will then see… Read More >

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Webinar: How to Assure Quality in your Online Course

Webinar Series

Yesterday, the entire Instructional Design team in CGPS put on a (rather successful, by our estimation) webinar on assuring quality in online courses. We recorded the webinar for the faculty, administrators and staff who could not make it to the live broadcast. That recording is below: (Note: The first 26 minutes are of the webinar, with one or two questions from the audience mixed in. After 26 minutes, the webinar becomes a QA session.) For your convenience, you can also go directly to the slideshow itself. And, for those of you who attended and asked about it, here are a couple pictures from the room taken during the webinar:

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Webinar Series - Fun with Rubrics

Webinar Series

In today’s webinar, Chris Malmberg and Sarah Cochran went into the methods you can use for taking full advantage of the rubrics in your courses, both to grade students fairly and give them quality feedback. There were many questions throughout, which we answered as best we could, but if you have more questions please write them in the comments below.

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Blackboard Wiki Tutorial

Wiki Tutorial

We’ve received a few questions over the years about just how the Blackboard Wiki works. Mostly, these questions are filtered our way via facilitators, who initially received the question from students who are looking at the tool for the first time. Concerned as we are that teachers understand the tools that their students are assigned to use, this is as much for them as it is for the students. Primarily, though, we’d like everyone to consider this a resource for students who are being asked to use the Blackboard Wiki tool for the first time, or who are being asked to use it again after enough time has passed that they have forgotten how to do so. So, without further ado, we give you the Blackboard Wiki Tutorial.

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Sending email messages to students from a Blackboard course

Blackboard grade center view

We all have our workflow preferences and places that we check to stay connected. Some prefer using Course Messages (which in our configuration won’t send the message to a student’s email, unfortunately), and others prefer using actual email service. There may be a practice compromise to accommodate both the need for convenience such as emailing a student (or a number of students) without leaving the course, and using email as a system, so that both students and instructors will get alerts when they receive messages. Blackboard has emailing capabilities. While it email as a tool has been also disabled in our configuration, the workaround exists and instructors can choose to send an email directly from the course when using the Grade Center. Here is how. STEP 1: Visit Grade Center In both Edit On and Edit Off views you have access to the “Email” button. Select a student you want to address, or several at once, and use the email… Read More >

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Webinar: Peer and Self Assessment in Blackboard

Webinar: Peer and Self Assessment in Blackboard

Please consider watching this brief webinar on Peer and Self Assessment and adding an activity of this nature to your course where appropriate. Thanks for watching! For more information, you can also revisit our previous write-up about Peer and Self Assessment.

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Turnitin faces new questions about efficacy of plagiarism detection softwar

Be Yourself

I have long been having controversial feelings and thoughts about plagiarism detection and its place in higher education. Our contention has always been that it’s a tool at best, and a highly imperfect one at that, to help faculty find things in students’ writing. What sort of things exactly? This article brings up what this software (both TurnItIn and SafeAssign, and Google as a separate item altogether!) may do, and what effect using this software has on teaching practice. Some important ethical questions are raised here. This article invites an open discussion, and there are a few comments there already, worth noting, so please comment below here or on the original page as well! Turnitin faces new questions about efficacy of plagiarism detection software : InsideHigherEd

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Self and Peer Assessment

checklist

In many instances, it is beneficial to students to do peer evaluations – that makes them look at submissions more critically and learn in the process, plus using a predetermined rubric helps identify the high points and the important performance criteria for an assignment. The Self and Peer Assessment feature in Blackboard allows students to submit an assignment to a dropbox, then to be randomly assigned several of them for review (anonymous option available) and offer feedback, and even include a self-evaluation, if desired. In the current courses, we often have a discussion forum set up for similar purposes, where one has to submit an assignment – usually as attachment (and sometimes viewing of the discussion forum is restricted so that students can only access the other threads after creating their own). Then one will pick which papers they will read and provide feedback based on either suggested criteria or their own perception of a quality paper. Both papers and… Read More >

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How to Work with Google Drive Folder Shared with You

In your course click on Course Documents in the navigation menu

We have been trying to streamline the process of storing and sharing files, especially in document-intense courses like Field Seminars and Practica. While there are a number of advantages to setting up our system this way, there has been some difficulty navigating around the shared folders as they don’t always feel intuitive for a particular task. All of the course documents are shared to allow anyone who has the link to view the contents of the folder. You can also download certain types of files without as much as logging into Google. 1. In the Course Navigation Menu on your left, click on Course Documents 2. You will be able to view documents all at once either as a grid or a list. You can click on any of the documents and get an instant preview. 3. Close the file preview, and add documents to your Drive. If you are not signed in already, click on the blue [SIGN IN]… Read More >

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Understanding SafeAssign Reports

How to Read SafeAssign Reports

Watch the complete webinar recording on Preventing Plagiarism and SafeAssign. https://www.youtube.com/embed/0iLblaAoOPo

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Randomize Group Enrollments

Edit Group Set Enrollments - New Student Orientation

Instructors often like to have control over student group assignment. Sometimes, it matters not who is where, but a rather quick assignment is needed. While there is absolutely no way to change the type of the group set already created (at present), it’s possible to have the system randomly assign all the students (more or less evenly) across all the groups. If you would like to know how to do so, here are two simple steps: 1. On the groups page (make sure your Edit Mode is switched on), mouse over the group set line and select “Edit Group Set Membership” from the drop-down menu: 2. Use “Randomize Enrollments” to fill in all the groups at once. You will have a chance to go through the users and remove extra roles (assistants, teaching assistants, leaders, instructors etc.)

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Look at all these Writing Tools in Blackboard

Blackboard

Hey y’all! One of Blackboard’s strengths is the variety of tools it has that allow students to express themselves in writing. I’ve divided these tools into two camps, Individual and Social. Tools in the Individual camp are designed for writing projects that only the student and the teacher see; tools in the Social camp are designed to engage the class as a whole or students in groups. Individual Assignments A Blackboard Assignment stores all the information from when the student submits his or her project through the assignment portal. The assignment portal links that information directly to a column in the grade center. Each submission is called an attempt, and any assignment can be programmed to allow multiple attempts or only one, but only one of the attempts is meant to be graded for any one assignment. The emphasis of the assignment tool is on product, by which I mean that, generally, students are graded on the quality and polish… Read More >

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Customizing your preferences for course notifications settings

global navigation

With the recent developments, it looks like we are now able to set up email alerts for the events in your course that you want to keep track of. The switch happened to be turned on on Tuesday without a warning and your inbox may have been affected: all of a sudden, instructors and teaching assistants started receiving alerts from “admin@null.com” about journals needing grading, assignment submissions and discussion posts. The indiscriminate switch may be too much – and honestly, quite unnecessary and annoying for those of us enrolled in a dozen or more courses. Now, however, the settings can be customized, so you can turn on notifications for things you care about in the courses that make most sense to your teaching or supervising load. Here is how: Step 1. Use this link Edit Notification Settings to access the settings (you need to be logged in Blackboard at UNE). Step 2. Select either individual courses or all courses that you are… Read More >

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Instruments, and the Craft, of Feedback

feedback

Feedback is a craft, and like any craft it is simultaneously distinct from and defined by the tools we use to practice it. Quality feedback can go through any communicative medium—text message; youtube comments section; a waxed string strung tautly between two paper cups—because the properties of good feedback are universal… Good feedback is honest Good feedback is encouraging Good feedback is mindful of its own context relative to the course’s Learning Objectives, and also Good feedback is mindful of the unique context created between the course, the student, and yourself (perhaps by connecting the specific assignment to which it responds to other examples of the student’s work, that student’s personal life, or even your own personal life) …though it never hurts to use the right tools for the job. That’s not a great list. The properties of good feedback are so subjective…maybe it would be better to ask y’all to list some of the properties you consider most important… Read More >

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How to replace a file in Blackboard

Blackboard

This week it’s an easy tip for those who often update their forms or other files in Blackboard. The first impulse is to go and edit the item/page and upload a file and link it. As a result, you will end up with two files in the file structure, the old one and the new one (however, if you keep the title the same it’s possible to overwrite the file on the upload). In addition, if another instance of linking to the same file exists, you will have to replace it as well (unless you overwrite it on the upload). Also, there may be a remainder of the old link next to the new one. Do I have an easy solution for you! Instead, don’t edit the item/page in Blackboard, just go ahead and overwrite the file as shown in this silent, but eloquent nonetheless!, tutorial below. As usual, you are most welcome with followup and questions as well as… Read More >

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