About Janice Florent

Technology Coordinator in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development at Xavier University of Louisiana

extra credit

Instructors can setup the Grade Center to calculate extra credit points. Adding an extra credit column to the Grade Center works well if you use total points to calculate grades. The information to add an extra credit column in this Blackboard tip will NOT work if you weight grades.

Follow these steps to do it.

To create an extra credit column:

  1. In the Control Panel, click on [Grade Center] and then select [Full Grade Center].
  2. Click on [Create Column].
  3. On the Create Grade Column page, enter a name for the column (e.g., Extra Credit).
  4. Select [Score] from the Primary Display menu.
  5. Enter 0 for Points Possible.
  6. Select the [Yes] radio button for Include this Column in Grade Center Calculations.
  7. Click [Submit].

NOTE: The method described above does not work with weighted grades because weighted grades are based on a 100% total. Generally, if extra credit is available in class with a weighted grade total, the extra credit must be manually calculated.

Want more information?

Extra Credit Columns
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center
Try these Blackboard How-To documents
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

zen stones

The demands of teaching an online course doesn’t have to leave you feeling overwhelmed. In an eLearning Industry article, Dr. Liz Hardy suggested a few easy steps to help replace the feeling of constant pressure with a calmer, zen-like mindset that will make teaching online easier and more enjoyable. Dr. Hardy’s suggestions are:

Define “urgent”. As you look through your To Do list, determine which items need your immediate attention and which items can be taken care of further down on the list.

Explain your standard time frames. Set expectations for your students so they know what your communications and assignment turnaround policies are.

Come out of the tunnel. When you’ve spent a long time on a task, take a moment to step away from the task at hand. This can help to rejuvenate and recharge you.

Create a sense of achievement. Your morale gets a boost when you can check items off your To Do list. These time management strategies may be able to help.

Revisit your positive feedback. Revisit compliments and positive comments that you’ve received to help lift your spirits.

For more information, read Dr. Hardy’s article Zen and the Art of Teaching Online.

Photo Credit: Zen Stones | CC0

view of typewriter keys on a manual typewriter

Are you slow at typing? Try dictating using Google’s voice typing.

Voice typing is a feature that is available in Google Docs. Voice typing is available in more than 40 languages. Although the results of the voice dictation is not 100% accurate, it can be a quick and easy way to start a rough draft.

To get started with voice typing, you need Google Chrome web browser and a functioning microphone connected to your computer. Login to your Google account and open an existing Google Doc or start a new one. In the ‘Tools’ menu, select ‘Voice typing’. A small pop-up window will appear to the left of your document with a dark microphone icon inside it. Click on the microphone icon. Once the microphone icon turns red you can start speaking. When you are done dictating, click the microphone icon again to turn off the voice typing service.

Google Docs Voice Typing

If you would like to learn more about the commands you can use with voice typing, refer to this Type with your voice help document or simply say “Voice commands help” when you are voice typing.

Photo credit: Typewriter keys | CC0

keep calm it's a known issue

After our recent Blackboard system upgrade, instructors began to receive an "Access Denied" error message when attempting to access an unavailable discussion board forum. If an instructor choses the option to make the discussion board unavailable and/or once the display until date/time has past, the instructor will receive an “Access Denied” error message when attempting to access the discussion board.

This is a known issue and will be corrected with the next Blackboard system upgrade. Upgrades to our Blackboard system are normally done between semesters because the system has to be taken down to do the upgrade. Our next upgrade is scheduled to happen in between the spring and summer semesters.

In the meantime, you can use the following workaround if you use discussion boards AND set them up with availability restrictions. The assumption for applying date/time restrictions is that after a certain day and time, the instructor does not want the students to have access to the discussion board. If this your goal, then the workaround to add a link to the discussion board forum and set the availability restrictions on the link should work for you.

Note: Locking discussion threads will let students read posts once the date restriction has past but not be able to submit new posts. The assumption for locking discussion threads is that the discussion board is setup so that students cannot create new threads. The instructor creates the forum and the threads and then students reply to the threads. If you think this may be an option for you, read my blog post for more information on how to lock discussion threads.

Follow these steps to do it.

To add a link to a discussion board forum in a content area:

  1. Turn Edit Mode ON.
  2. Access the content area that you want to add the discussion board forum link to.
  3. On the menu bar, roll your mouse over [Tools] then click on [Discussion Board].
  4. Click on the “Select a Discussion Board Forum” radio button and then select the discussion board forum from the list.
  5. Click [Next].
  6. Enter assignment instructions and select your availability options for the link.
  7. Click [Submit].

Note: The steps above set restrictions on the link to the discussion board forum, not the discussion board forum itself. The discussion board forum that you are linking to should be made available with no date/time restrictions. Therefore, you must remove the availability restrictions from the discussion board forum in order for this workaround to work. The restrictions set in the forum link will determine when students see the link to the discussion board forum. It also determines whether they see the discussion board forum when they access the discussions tool.

Want more information?

Add Discussion Board Forum Link to Content Area (PDF)
Lock Discussion Threads
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center
Try these Blackboard How-To documents
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

As we start this new semester students will have a lot of questions. I'm a big fan of setting up your Blackboard course to minimize student questions. A lot of student questions are asked via email. I provided some tips on how you can manage student emails in previous CAT FooD blog post.

For those times when students do need to send email to you, you can give them a one click solution to make it easy for them to send you email from inside your Blackboard course.

Here’s a Bb ninja trick to do the job.

ninja star embedded in a tree

Follow these steps to do it.

To add an “Email the Professor” link to your course menu:

  1. From the [Add Course Menu] option, choose [Course Link].
  2. Click on [Browse] in the Add Course Link window.
  3. Choose [All Instructor Users] from the pop-up window. This can be found in the Tools area under Send Email.
  4. Change the name field to “Email the Professor” and make sure the Available to Users box is checked. Click Submit.

Note: The Tools link must be in your course menu for these instructions to work. Refer to the step-by-step instructions if you need to add the Tools link to your course menu.

Want more information?

Step-by-step instructions are available [Email the Professor (PDF)]
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center
Try these Blackboard How-To documents
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

CAT+FD Online Teaching Resources logo

In a US News and World Report article, Ian Quillen identified six signs of a bad online instructor. The list included things like a syllabus that is unclear, no set timetable for responding to emails, and simply converting print resources used in the face-to-face class. Ian’s article was intended to help students access the quality of an online class and be able to withdraw if necessary. However, this list can also be used to help online/hybrid instructors recognize where their course may be in need of improvement.

Additionally, we have developed an online teaching resource to help faculty develop or improve their online and hybrid courses. Check out our new CAT+FD Online Teaching Resources and let us know what you think.

checklist

As you prepare for the start of the semester, it is a good time to get started setting up your Blackboard courses. Blackboard courses are automatically created using the course information in Banner a few weeks before the start of the semester. You can post your syllabus, course documents, and announcements to your Blackboard courses. You can also customize your course menu and/or add a course banner.

If you teach a course that is cross listed you will have a Blackboard course for each cross listing. You can combine the cross listed courses into one Blackboard course so that you can post course materials and grades to one combined Blackboard course. Combining courses may also work for you if you are teaching different sections of the same course and would like to have the different sections combined into one Blackboard course so that you can post course documents and grades in the one combined course. The beginning of the semester is the best time to combine your Blackboard courses before you add course material or grades to the courses.

NOTE: Currently, the section merge tool is no longer available. A system administrator will have to merge your courses. Send an email to Yamlak Tsega (ytsega@xula.edu) if you want to merge courses. You should include the course ID (including CRN) for all the courses you want merged together. The course merge process requires that a brand new empty Blackboard course be created that will serve as the primary course for all the merged sections. If you have any course content that needs to be retained in one of the courses to be merged, it will have to be exported and then imported into the newly created combined course. Please include that information with your request to merge courses.

Follow these steps to do it.

Listed below are links with instructions for

Want more information?

Attend a drop-in session to get one-on-one help.
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Copy seal

You do not have to start from scratch when creating content for your course. If you created content in one course you can copy that content into another course. For example, if you are teaching multiple sections of a course, you can create all the content in one course section and then copy the content into the other sections. Copying course content is particularly useful at the start of a semester as it allows you to copy content from a previous semester to a newly created empty course. Course content for the previous three semesters will remain in Blackboard before it is removed.

Follow these steps to do it.

  1. Go to the [Control Panel] of the course in which has the content you want to copy.
  2. Click on [Packages and Utilities] to expand it and then select [Course Copy].
  3. Choose [Copy Course Materials into an Existing Course] for the Select Copy type.
  4. Click on the [Browse…] button next to the [Destination Course ID] field. This will bring up a window containing a list of all available courses. Select the appropriate destination course from the list by clicking on appropriate radio button for the destination course and then click [Submit]. The [Destination Course ID] field will be filled in with the destination course you selected.
  5. Choose which portions of the course will be copied by clicking on the appropriate content section(s). You can either select all or select individual content items like [Announcements], [Grade Center Columns and Settings], [Discussion Board], and [Tests, Surveys, and Pools] by selecting the appropriate checkbox for the item.
  6. Choose [Copy links and copies of the content] in the File Attachments section.
  7. Click the [Submit] button when you are done. You should receive a message telling you that the course copy has been queued and that you will get an email when the process is complete.

Important:

Double-check to make sure the correct destination course is selected. There is no way to reverse the copy process once the wrong course is selected and the copy request is submitted.

Care should be taken when selecting content areas with items that have columns which were automatically created in the Grade Center. If you have content areas with items that have columns which were automatically created in the Grade Center, you should include Grade Center Columns and Settings in the copy as well. Failure to include linked items in the course copy will result in broken links in the destination course.

Want more information?

Step-by-step instructions are available [Copy Course Content (PDF)]
Master Copies of Courses
Merging Courses
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center
Try these Blackboard How-To documents
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

1

why merge road sign

Faculty can request to have two or more of their courses combined into a single course. Combining courses can be useful when you are teaching multiple sections of the same course or when you are teaching a course that is cross-listed. Merging courses allows you to have all the students in a single Blackboard course which can be useful for collaborative work. Merging courses reduces the number of courses an instructor has to manage within Blackboard, especially when each section has identical content.

Once your courses are merged, you can upload your course content and assignments into the merged course; communicate with the students in the merged course; setup collaborative course work; and have one gradebook for the merged course. You can create groups within your merged course that correspond to the original course sections. This way you can target a particular course section (group) of students for specific things (e.g. send email to a specific group, make content available to specific group, enter/view gradebook entries for a specific group, etc.)

NOTE: Merging of courses is typically done at the start of the semester before content is added and before students submit course work. You should wait to request your courses be merged if there is a possibility that there will be last minute changes to instructor course section assignments. You can request a Master Course Shell to build your course and then transfer the content into your merged course.

You should carefully consider whether merging courses is right for you. Some disadvantages to merging courses are:

  • Course enrollments for the merged courses will be combined which can make grading student work a challenge. You can use Smart Views to make grading easier.
  • If you decide you want to unmerge courses after students have submitted course work, student work and grades will be lost. Only student enrollments are retained when courses are unmerged.

Follow these steps to do it.

NOTE: Currently, the section merge tool is no longer available.

A system administrator will have to merge your courses. Send an email to Yamlak Tsega (ytsega@xula.edu) if you want to merge courses. You should include the course ID (including CRN) for all the courses you want merged together. The course merge process requires that a brand new empty Blackboard course be created that will serve as the primary course for all the merged sections. If you have any course content that needs to be retained in one of the courses to be merged, it will have to be exported and then imported into the newly created combined course. Please include that information with your request to merge courses.

Want more information?

How to merge courses (PDF).
How to manage merged courses (PDF).
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Check out help for instructors at help.blackboard.com.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.