Monday, November 21, 2011

End of Semester Email -- Fall 2011

This email below was send out over the bctc_faculty distribution list on Monday, 11/21...

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Wee!  The end is in sight!  I hope you are doing well and braced for finals . . .  This email contains some updates and goings on in the world of distance learning.  Since increasingly Blackboard and online learning pertains to us all, I’m send this message out on the  distribution list.  Just prior to this email going out, I sent an email to the members of the list with the word *membership* in the subject heading; if you didn’t get that email and want on that list, please send your name and email address to Bill Davis.


KCTCS will continue to use JCTCS’s SharePoint database through the end of the semester to share pass*words and exam directions for proctored exams.  Directions on uploading this information is maintained here.  If you have not uploaded your exam directions and pass*words, do so now.  If you need assistance call (x6603) or email Karen Dearborn.  Beginning in the Spring, the system will migrate to a new database located on The Point.  The new database is stored on this Team Site: “KCTCS Distance Learning Proctor Resource Center”. If you’re familiar with the Point, you can check it out now.  If not, no worries.  We’ll have directions out in the Spring for how to access it.


There have been reports of problems with the course copy feature.  Some  content may appear to be copied yet remain invisible to students.  The solution is deleting the content and reloading <grumble>.  Given the confusion this can create, I am recommending reloading content to Blackboard.  I also recommend use of your district locker to store content that you may wish to share in multiple classes or over subsequent semesters.   This way you can link to the content and then easily change it in the L:/www folder.  See this tutorial for directions.


We will continue to use our current version of Blackboard through the Spring semester.  We will then migrate to a new version at the start of the summer session.  A test shell for the new version of Bb will be available in the Spring.  It will allow instructors to interact with some of the new features in Bb.  From what I’ve seen of the new Bb upgrade, it will not substantively change the GUI/interface but will add a lot more functionality.  Expect training on the new Bb in the Spring.


Our new Teaching and Learning Center is keeping a list of all kinds of training offered across the college.  I encourage you visit them.  They also link to Technology Training  provided by ITS.  Note: our two week institutional closing will limit access to training.  If there is training that you need, please complete that before you go home for break.  Remember that the college asks all new online (including new hybrid) instructors to complete Blackboard training.   A list of faculty who have completed training is available from the Distance Learning Web page.  So…. If you want to get ready for Spring, make an appointment with Connie Rine now, our resident Bb training expert.

If you are not teaching online or hybrid classes, but are interested in doing so, talk with your program/area coordinator about going online.


I use a blog, BCTC Distance Learning, to share information about goings on in the world of online learning.  I encourage you to subscribe.  For those who don’t subscribe, I will periodically make reminders about  the blog on the bl_onlineinstructors distribution list.  I think this makes a good way for me to share information without unnecessarily cluttering inboxes.  I’m also using the blog, which is fully searchable, to archive important information such as this email.


The DLAC is charged with representing faculty concerns about the direction of online learning and contains representation from each division.  If you have concerns about anything pertaining to distance learning, share them with your DLAC rep.  Of course, you can always direct those concerns to me.


I want to highlight our eMentor program.  The college eMentors provide assistance to new online instructors—and anyone else in the BCTC community who has questions about best practices in online learning.  Their email address is


If you are keeping your gradebook on Blackboard, I strongly recommend that you download a copy of it after turning in your grades.  This is easy to do.  From the control panel, click Grade Center/Full Grade Center.  Then Work Offline/Download.  Click Submit then Download.  Then Save.


KYVC.  If you are teaching classes in a BW mode (meaning your classes is available to all students across KCTCS), be sure to update KYVC with your course information.  Click here for directions on how to do this.  *Tip* this is a great way to let potential students know about your textbook requirements, potential proctored exams and special software needs. 

PeopleSoft.  Make sure next semester classes appear on Faculty “My Schedule” in PeopleSoft; if not, check with your AD or Office Manager.

Bb Availability.  When you are ready to make your class available to your students, remember to change the Blackboard settings.  From the Bb Control Panel, click customization/properties.  Under “Set Availability” have “Make Course Available” read “yes”.

Weather Language.  New syllabi checklists call for language about weather closings –  online classes don’t close—but it might not be a bad idea to state that explicitly on your syllabus.


Thank you for time.  I wish each of you a safe and relaxing holiday and prosperous new year.  And if you’re on the move, safe travels.

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