Friday, July 31, 2015

2015 Faculty Start of Semester Email

Dear BCTC Faculty: 
Welcome to the start of the Fall 2015 semester.  I have some important updates about distance learning and Blackboard to pass along to you. 

Bb Training.  Blackboard, our Learning Management System, is increasingly being used by both online and face-to-face faculty to collect assignments, administer tests, share course information, store grades and more.  Training for these and other Blackboard features is provided by Connie Rine through the IT Support Center and by the Distance Learning Office.  Another excellent resource are the college eMentors (  The eMentors will be lead this Fall by our online facilitator, Clovis Perry.  Training will also be provided on Division Fridays, the College Kick-Off, the February Changing Classroom Cultures Conference and the Spring, end-of-semester Teaching with Technology Workshop.    
*IMPORTANT* We ask that all, new online instructors complete the Blackboard in a Day training session prior to teaching their first online class.  

Verifying Week One Attendance.  It is very important to verify student attendance during the first week of the semester.  Online instructors must require some form of attendance at an academically related activity such as taking a syllabus quiz or participating in a biography discussion form. 

Bb and Syllabi.  Faculty are asked to post their course syllabi in Blackboard.  Directions are available in  PDF and YouTube.  After posting your syllabus, don't forget to make your Bb courseshell available. 

Bb SafeAssign.   If your students submit graded essays of any kind, I encourage you to look at  SafeAssign, a anti-plagiarism solution. 

Bb Gradebook.  I encourage you to keep your grades in the Blackboard Grade Center.  If you have never tried the Bb Gradebook, look into the training mentioned above. 

Bb Student Assistance.  Learning to use Blackboard for the first time can be challenging for both instructors and students.  BCTC Distance Learning has prepared a student Blackboard training tutorial and accompanying quiz (note: the quiz is stored in a Bb TestExport Zip file and can be uploaded into any Bb course).  This is a great assignment that can also serve to verify attendance during Week 1. 

Tutoring and Bb Assistance. The BCTC Tutoring Center will also be providing on-ground Blackboard support during the first weeks of the semester.  Consult their Web page for details. 

Online Syllabus Checklist.  If you are teaching an online class, I encourage you to explore the Online Syllabus Checklist for some excellent tips on preparing your syllabus. 

Proctored Exams.  If you are requiring a proctored exam, please be sure to post exam directions and passwords in the KCTCS Proctor Resource Center.  Information about our testing services appear on the BCTC Proctor Exam page.  Contact Sandra Mullins for assistance. 

DSS and Accessibility.   The multimedia content you make available to your students--video and audio especially--must be subtitled in order to make it accessible to hard-of-hearing and deaf students.  The Distance Learning Office has some (limited) support for captioning.  Contact Ben if you need help/support. 

Starfish.  We begin year two of Starfish this Fall.  The Progress Survey Schedule along with a variety of Starfish tutorials appears on our Starfish Web page (path: Faculty & Staff / Starfish).  New to Starfish this year are improved student groups that will allow different areas of the college (e.g. ESL, Opportunity College) to better track the progress of their students.   

Starfish Attendance.  If you are looking for an electronic solution for recording classroom attendance, I recommend the Starfish Attendance tab.  It's easy to use.   

Archive.  This announcement is archived on the BCTC Distance Learning Blog.  Path: Academics / Distance Learning / Blog 

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