Monday, January 31, 2011

SoftChalk / PowerPoint Webinar

Campus Technology and SoftChalk present:

FREE webinar:
Migrating from PowerPoint: Make Online Teaching More Engaging and Interactive

February 17, 2011 @ 11AM PT/2PM ET

Register Now:

Sandy Cook Update 1/31

Here's another update from Sandy C. that offers more information about fixes for Blackboard and improving the online bookstore:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

SoftChalk Webinars

In addition to the Innovators series below, SoftChalk also offers several one hour trainings on various aspects of SoftChalk and best of all, they are FREE. Register at

Win $500 by Submitting to the SoftChalk Lesson Challenge

Read more about the SoftChalk Lesson Challenge:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Troubleshooting Common Blackboard Problems

Is Blackboard not behaving the way it should?  Here are some easy fixes to try before contacting tech support:

  1. Switch to a different browser.  Most users find that Mozilla's Firefox provides the best Bb experience.  But if something isn't working properly, try using a different browser such as MS Internet Explorer (Windows OS) or Safari (MAC OS)
  2. Exit your browser and then restart.  Close down all your browsers and then restart one.
  3. Restart your PC.  This is a great fix for many, common computing ills.  Simply restart your computer. *Remember to save your work*
If none of that works, contact the Blackboard Help Desk:

Bb Updates from Sandy Cook

Many of you have asked about  Bb reliability and steps to improve

See this update from Sandy Cook in the System Office.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gradebook Access and Other Bb Problems

I havre recieved reports from faculty at other colleges who report access denied errors in the gradebook, but they were using Internet Explorer.  Switching to a different browser such as Firefox was the fix.  In general, a good fix for many Bb problems is:

  • Switch to a different browser
  • Restart your browser
  • Restart your PC
If none of that works, alert ITS--and alert me as well.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to Run a Report on Student Access of your Bb Courseshell

Ever needed to know how much time your students are spending inside Blackboard?  Even needed to verify when a student was online in your course?  You can get such a report from Blackboard.  Here are the directions:

Visit Control Panel>Evaluation>Course Reports
Choose Overall Summary of User Activity and then choose the user.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

bl_ios discussion forum

Own an iPad, iPhone or other IOS device?  Join the distribution list to share your favorite apps and troubleshoot problems.  Email to be put on the list.

Revised Instrument for Student Evaluation of Instruction

The BCTC Faculty Performance Review Committee has been hard at work on creating a new instrument for student evaluation of instruction.  Here's the most recent draft:

Does it adequately address the needs of online instruction?  Should there be a separate section dealing with online issues?  Or should there be a single instrument that can is written such that it can be used for either online or on-ground classes?

Proposed Rubric

One idea in the KCTCS Distance Learning Peer Team that is really getting traction is a rubric for scoring courses offered via KCTCS Learn by Term (what we now call BW classes--basically any class that offered to the entire KCTCS online community).  The proposals stipulates that all Learn by Term would have to receive a satisfactory grade on the rubric.

You can view a draft version here:

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1/12 Peer Team Meeting

The KCTCS Distance Learning Peer Team met this afternoon.  You can see the full agenda here.  A couple items struck me as significant:
  • Blackboard has purchased Presidium, the company that KCTCS currently contracts with for Bb support.  Click here for more information.  Maybe this will mean better support for students and instructors needing Bb assistance?
  • The Online Barnes and Noble Bookstore (housed at Ashland) cotinues to make improvements.   Better commuucniation with KCTCS Financial Aid has reduced delays in processing vouchers.   B&N has a new facility at Ashland which is a significant difference and orders are going out much more quickly.  I know that on my end, I'm hearing fewer complaints about textbooks--but that doesn't mean I'm not hearing anything.  If you have students with difficulties getting textbooks, please let me know.
  • There was a System firewall was interrupting some Wimba functionality at the start of the semester; that has been fixed.
  • If a student is not in Bb but is in PeopleSoft, 99% of the time their PeopleSoft record is incorrect. . . so the fix is on the PS side.  Usually waiting a day until PS reloads info into Bb solves everything but ocassionally data in PS needs to be edited.  
  • Pearson Open Access Initiative. The idea here is seamless access to content--namely, the MyLab products offered by Pearson. The plan is to have Pearson provide students with days of free access to the materials at the start of the semester. Students have a period of time to purchase the materials and will lose access unless they pay.

Questions/Comments? Use the link below to send feedback or email me directly.

Network Upgrades

In the wake of the Blackboard failures during finals week last Fall, there has been a lot of discussion about providing a more secure and dependable network. In the Academic Leadership Team, Faculty Council and the KCTCS Distance Learning Peer Team, I hear many voices stressing the importance of reliable access to Blackboard and other services.

Well, it's good to know that steps are being taken. See this update from Ren Bates:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dr. C

Ask Dr. C is a resource to ask “how to” questions about uses and functionality of Blackboard. Stumped about a Bb problem? Click

Call for Proposals--Convergences

May 23-25, 2011 will see the first the first Kentucky Conference on Converging Trends in Teaching & Learning. This conference is a blend of the three established conferences: Convergence / CPE’s KYSoTL / Teacher Quality Summit. "One conference, one trip, and a wide array of information, ideas, and updates!"

The conference takes place in the NKU METS Center in Erlanger, KY.

Proposals are due February 7, 2011

To submit a proposal:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Make Bb Available to Students

In order to make your Blackboard web site available to your students, you must change Blackboard settings.  From the Bb Control Panel, click customization then properties. Under “Set Availability” have “Make Course Available” read “yes”.

Bb Technical Help

Where to direct students who need help with Blackboard?

Here is the link to the Blackboard Technical Help Desk:

This link provides other “help” information for KCTCS areas including PeopleSoft, check grades, charges/fees, catalog:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How to Log In As a Student

It is good practice to examine your course in a student mode.  We used to do this by logging in with a User ID plus the letters 'stu'.  That option has been replaced.  From eLearning Services:

KCTCS eLearning Services has installed a new building block in Blackboard that allows instructors to add/remove a Test Student account to courses at any time. Instructor instructions for using the Add Test Student tool can be found at

Since this tool allows instructors to enroll a test student account at any time, KCTCS eLearning Services will no longer add instructor student accounts to courses in a batch process.