Turnitin Service Maintenance – March 7, 2015

Turnitin services may be unavailable during a scheduled maintenance period on Saturday, March 7, 2015, from 10 AM to 2 PM U.S. Eastern Time (see other time zones: http://go.turnitin.com/e/45292/o29x6yg/3f48x/278351733).

Instructors may want to consider modifying due dates to accommodate the time the system is unavailable.

Find content for your Blackboard course site FAST – Mashups and other tools

Trying to make up snow days? (Five days of missed classes since January 23!) Instead of trying to create recordings for the missed days, consider finding appropriate resources using some of the “mashup” tools in Blackboard, YouTube, Lynda Learning, Atomic Learning, Slideshare, Flickr, and VoiceThread. You may even have content in some of these repositories that you want to reuse or repurpose.

Screenshot of Build content menu with Mashups indicated.

Mashup options in Blackboard content creation tools.

YouTube, for example, has a number good channels that can provide appropriate video content for your courses. Check out the Periodic Table of Videos for an example of engaging chemistry video content. Of course YouTube has a lot of junk as well. One advantage of using the Blackboard mashup is that it embeds the video in the Blackboard interface rather than redirecting students to the YouTube website decreasing the likelihood that students will be distracted by the amusing pet videos or or “related” but possibly inaccurate videos. You, the instructor, can also frame the context for the video content to describe how the content fits into the course and builds on other concepts already learned.

Two mashup tools of particular note are Lynda.com and Atomic Learning. Both companies provide video tutorials on a number of topics. Of particular interest are their tutorials on software products that are loaded on Wentworth laptops. If your disciplines use specialized software why not leverage the resources available by linking to this content in Blackboard and use your time to create content that is unique to your course?

VoiceThread is an interactive presentation tool that allows you to incorporate images, video and audio into a linear presentation that students can comment on directly in the presentation. If you’ve used this tool, you may already have some good content that you can repurpose.

Other sources of video content that you can leverage by linking to the websites. (Create an external link to direct students to these resources):

PBS (http://www.pbs.org)

iTunes U - Use the iTunes app, scroll to the bottom of the opening screen and select iTunesU from the list at the bottom. (To download: http://www.apple.com/itunes/)

Open Courseware - Google “Open Courseware” for a list of institutions that have content available (http://www.oeconsortium.org/ has a search tool allowing you to search across institutions). Open Courseware is more than video content, often courses have no videos, but includes other resources that may be useful in rounding out an online class session.

Ted Talks – There are over 1900 talks that range from very short (less than 6 minutes) to longer videos (over 18 minutes). All are engaging presentations on a variety of topics (including engineering, computers,  alternative energy, architecture, biomechanics, physics, math, and economics).

Additional activities: Once you’ve found some engaging and appropriate content, pair that content with some activities. Have students discuss a video with classmates on a discussion board. Assign a problem set for students to work based on topics covered in the video. Create a quiz to test understanding and provide feedback on what they can do to address areas on misconception. Have students identify muddiest points in each video and create your own video to address those points or discuss those in a face-to-face class.

Reason 21 for using Blackboard – make up snow days!

Today’s snow showers reminded me that I wanted to post about another reason for using Blackboard.

If you need reasons for using Blackboard we presented 20 reasons for using Blackboard during Wentworth Opening Week. Tuesday’s storm added another reason to use Blackboard – snow days!

If you are looking to make up lost class time consider using Blackboard to deliver some content to your students – think lecture content you can find on sites such as YouTube and Ted Talks, interactive slideshows you can create on VoiceThread, or even lecture recordings you can create with Echo360 Personal Capture.

Once you have content provided to your students add an assignment or activity that requires your students to interact with the content such as a discussion forum, problem set, or quiz to encourage students to engage with the content you’ve shifted to Blackboard.

If you want to use Blackboard to make up this week’s snow days and need help, stop by our office in Annex Central 205 and we’ll be glad to help you.

Copy or Import Course Content

Spring courses start this week and if you haven’t started adding content to your Blackboard site you may want to consider copying or importing a past semester’s content. Both options will allow you to batch process content and add it to the current term’s Blackboard site, the difference is in the process and details.

Copying a course is relatively easy and we have documentation for that process. Basically, enter the course that has the content you want to copy, select what you want to copy, click submit and wait for Blackboard to e-mail you that the copy process has completed. The linked instructions recommend clicking select all for what to copy. Using the select all option is OK if you have a completely empty shell. If a template has been applied, you will want to select the individual items and make sure that the Settings section is deselected – specifically the navigation settings. If the navigation settings option is selected, you may have duplicated menu items, causing confusion and creating a clean up task.

Exporting and importing a course is also easy but it’s a two step process. Use this process when you want to maintain a clean master copy of a course – you can export a Blackboard Site and store it on your computer or a network drive for archival purposes – or if you need to copy a course from a colleague to have consistent content across sections. (Your colleague will have to export the course and share the export file with you – or contact LIT for assistance). Again, we have documentation for the export and import process. Overall, both steps are similar to a course copy. When exporting, you select what to export, just like the course copy. When importing, you select what to import, again the same as a course copy.

These are just two options to add content to your Blackboard course site. Other options exist and will be discussed in my next post.

As always, if you need additional assistance contact the LIT team at lit@wit.edu.

Clean up My Courses

Finals and grading are done for another term, but you have a bunch of old courses listed on Blackboard. It’s time for a bit of end of term clean up for your My Courses module. Because we now categorize courses by term you can sort your courses by term (which was the topic of an earlier post) and select which terms and even which specific courses to show in the My Courses module.

If you don’t want to see courses from last fall you can make them disappear (and reappear if you find you need them).

To choose which courses appear on the My Courses module click on the settings icon for the module (it looks like a gear at the upper right corner of the module).

Settings button location for My Courses module.

My Courses module with settings icon indicated.

On the Personalize My Courses page, deselect the courses you don’t want to see listed:

Deselect a course by unchecking all the check boxes next to the course name.

Edit course list with deselected course highlighted.

Once you’ve deselected the courses you want to remove from My Courses, click the submit button to activate the change. If you want to re-enable the courses, reverse this process.

Blackboard access to courses restored.

Blackboard has resolved the earlier problem and Blackboard courses are now available at this time.

Blackboard course access issues

We are currently experiencing problems accessing Blackboard courses. Users are able to login to Blackboard but when they click on a link to any course in the My Courses module, they receive a screen reading “ERR”.

We have contacted Blackboard and they are working on the problem.

Lynda Learning Now Available on Blackboard

As of this morning you can now add Lynda Learning video tutorials to your Blackboard course sites in addition to video tutorials from Atomic Learning. Using the new building block you can select specific Lynda.com courses for your students to watch as part of your course.

To add video content with this new tool navigate to a content area in Blackboard and select the “Build Content” menu. On the bottom right, under Mashups, you’ll see the new tool:

Blackboard Build Content menu with Lynda.com Mashup highlighted

Blackboard Build Content menu showing New Lynda.com tool.

When selected, the first time you will be redirected to our custom Lynda.com login page. Next you will be prompted to search for the Lynda.com course you want students to watch. Once you select a course to add to your site, the link will be inserted into the Blackboard page.

For a list of Lynda.com and Atomic Learning videos related to software on Wentworth laptops see the list at: http://wit.edu/ld/onlinetraining/atomic-lynda-laptop-software-fall14.pdf


Blackboard Emergency Maintenance Tonight – December 16th 1-5 AM

Blackboard Managed Hosting Support has determined that they need to do emergency system maintenance to address the problems encountered earlier today.

To accommodate this work Blackboard will be unavailable from 1-5 AM Tuesday, December 16th.

VoiceThread Training in January

Just a short post…

You can connect to VoiceThreads in Blackboard with a building block. The link to the tool is under the the Build Content menu – Mashups – Wentworth VoiceThread.

If you’re interested in learning more about the tool, VoiceThread is offering several workshops in January: