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The Course Menu appears on the left side of a Course and contains links to materials and tools within the Course. All Blackboard courses are created with a default course menu (e.g. text links on a green background and default content areas.) You can structure your course menu to fit your needs. You can personalize your course menu with your own wording, order, colors and styles.

Follow these steps to do it.
From the [Control Panel] select [Manage Course Menu] under [Course Options]. You should see a list of the items that appear on your course menu. To reorder the items, click on the dropdown arrow and select the desired order. To remove an item from the course menu, click on the remove button for that item. To modify a course menu item, click on the modify button and make the changes on the update area page for that item. To add a new area in the course menu, click on the appropriate toolbar button (content area, tool link, course link, or external link) and follow the prompts.

You can change the color and style of the course menu by selecting [Course Design] under [Course Options] in the [Control Panel]. From the [Course Design] screen, select [Course Menu Design]. You will be able to choose buttons or text for your menu style. Both of these can be further customized on the Course Menu Design screen. Click [Submit] when you are done.

You can choose how users can view the course menu by selecting [Course Design] under [Course Options] in the [Control Panel]. From the [Course Design] screen, select [Manage Menu Display Options]. You can choose to make the quick view or detail view available as the default view. You also have the option of making both views available so that users can toggle between them. Click [Submit] when you are done.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

Attentive readers may have noticed some changes to this space recently. We started this blog to promote our podcast, Teaching, Learning, and Everything Else. We used the blog as a handy way to index episodes and provide additional content such as pictures and links, but the main focus remained on the audio conversations.

Then, in the fall semester of 2009, we decided that we here at the Center for the Advancement of Teaching might have more to say on a variety of subjects, and that a blog might be the best way to do it. Thus was born CAT Food (for thought). We could have established it as an entirely separate creature from the podcast, but I thought it made more sense to simply expand the scope of our existing blog rather than maintain two different blogs going forward.

So, essentially, our podcast blog got bigger and changed its name. Teaching, Learning, and Everything Else is still chugging along, but now it's a topic which will be presented alongside such other topics as Blackboard Bits, Bytes, and Nibbles and Sociable Feast. It's my hope that this model best serves our primary readership, namely faculty in higher education. In particular we are dedicated to our faculty here at Xavier, but we believe much of this content may be of general interest to teachers everywhere.

If you were subscribing to the podcast in a feed reader, you probably didn't notice anything different except that the name of the feed may have changed. Now you know why. If you'd like to continue to focus on the podcast only, you needn't do anything. We now are publishing to separate feeds: one for just the podcast, and another that encompasses all the blog topics, including the podcast.

You'll find all the feed options listed in the sidebar from our main page. And if you don't have any idea what a "feed reader" is, don't worry. There's also an option to subscribe by e-mail.

It was some fun watching the Saints dismantle the Patriots last night. And now I'm doing the wave. No, not the audience wave — I'm not that big of a sports fan and I do still have my basic sense of human dignity. I'm talking about Google Wave.

Wave

Google describes Wave as "a personal communication and collaboration tool," and at first glance it seems to be highly flexible and powerful. Whether it will also be useful and successful is another question entirely.

It's a little hard for me to describe Wave, mainly because I haven't had much chance to play around with it yet. It's invitation-only at this point, and I only got mine a couple days ago. (Props to Nola Cherié King for hooking me up.) I hope to spend some time poking around at it and exploring its possibilities, seeing what potential it might have. This is just what I do, who I am, plus it's my job. In particular I'm wondering what application Wave might have in higher education.

Anyhow, I've now got a handful of invites (eight, to be specific) which I can pass on to any interested parties, and we can check this thing out together. I'm reserving at least half of them for people who are here at the University. So if you'd like an invite, use the comment form below, and make sure to put your e-mail address in the appropriate field (no one will see it but me) so I can send you the invitation. Google says the invites may be delayed but I got mine pretty much instantly. I'll send invites on a first-come basis, but you have to promise to do the wave with me at least once.

Cross-posted from b.rox

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You minimize of the number of error messages you and your students receive when accessing files in Blackboard by naming files appropriately.

Follow these steps to do it.
There are several characters that you should avoid when naming files to be used in Blackboard. To reduce the number of errors when uploading and downloading files in Blackboard, follow these naming conventions:

• Use only letters, numbers, underscores, and hyphens in file names
• Do not use spaces, commas, pound signs (#), question marks, equal signs, ampersands (&), asterisks (*), or any other special characters in file names
• Use hyphens or underscores in place of spaces in file names
• Do not use periods in a file name, except before the file extension (e.g. “Research_paper.doc”)
• Keep file names under 60 characters in length

Filenames should be less than 60 characters in order to avoid having the filename unexpectedly truncated when moving between different computer platforms (e.g. moving between Windows and Apple Macintosh computers).

Filenames should include the file type extension so they can be recognized and opened by the appropriate application on another computer. Common extensions are:

.doc or .docx for Microsoft Word documents
.xls or . xlsx for MS Excel files
.ppt or .pptx for MS Powerpoint files
.pdf for files in portable document format (PDF)
.jpg for JPEG images such as photographs
.txt for plain text files

You should recommend to your students that they follow these same naming conventions. This is helpful when you are downloading multiple students’ files all at once (e.g. downloading students’ completed assignments).

Want more information?
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

Yesterday I presented a workshop which I called "Global Immediacy: Using Video Telephony to Bring Distant Guests into Your Classroom." It was designed to get faculty thinking about how they might use applications such as Skype in their teaching. I had a little help from George "Loki" Williams of SocialGumbo, we had a good attendance, and I was pretty happy with the outcome.

I was especially happy that I had a chance to work this fine photo into my presentation:

Taxi Face

Taxi Face by NYCArthur / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

After every workshop, I hear from people who wanted to attend but couldn't. Is there a handout they can have? Is there some online content they can look at? I continue to search for the best way to document and share these sessions. I find my slideshows don't stand on their own very well without my voice providing the narrative. However, this time I remembered to make an audio recording, and so I can offer my first slidecast. Enjoy.

Notes: I'm using SlideShare, which allows me to embed the slideshow here, but I don't like the way it automatically loads the audio. In my opinion it should embed like YouTube, with a poster image only, and require a click before loading the entire media. The audio in this case is a large file (probably higher fidelity than it needs to be) so instead I decided just to link. Also, the hands-on portion of the workshop didn't work as well in this context so I cut it out.

Post scriptum: I did give a handout, but that material is online so I'll just provide a couple more links:

Cross-posted to b.rox

There's a story that's been making the rounds lately. I think the Telegraph might have been the first major media venue to give it coverage: Facebook 'enhances intelligence' but Twitter 'diminishes it', claims psychologist.

But what's the science behind the hype? After scrounging though these articles for data (without success) I went to the presumed source, Tracy Alloway's personal website. Unfortunately the only reference there to either Twitter or Facebook seems to be a collection of links, which point to the articles cited above.

At this point I'm beginning to feel like I'm running in circles.

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.
Go to the [Control Panel] of the course in which has the content you want to copy. Click on the [Course Copy] link under the [Course Options]. Click on the [Copy Course Materials into an Existing Course] link.  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 the [Select] button. The [Destination Course ID] field will be filled in with the destination course you selected. Choose which portions of the course will be copied by clicking on the appropriate content section(s). You can select other course materials like [Announcements], [Grade Center Columns and Settings], [Staff Information], and [Tests, Surveys, and Pools] to copy as well by selecting the appropriate boxes for the items you want to copy. Click the [Submit] button when you are finished making your selections. 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. Note: Double-check to make sure the correct destination course is selected. There is no way to reverse this process once the wrong course is selected and the copy request is submitted.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

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Download Conversation #10

Josh Aronson

A conversation with Dr. Josh Aronson of New York University on teaching, learning, and stereotype threat.

People perform better when they don't feel their intelligence is being evaluated. So in a very broad way, if you can create an environment that takes the heat off of intelligence — and I think different teachers do this in a variety of ways — so if they say, look, I'm here to evaluate not how smart you are, but what I have been able to teach you... Now the onus is on me. Now the bell curve isn't about you. I am being put on a bell curve as your teacher. So you can sort of shift the emphasis from evaluation of your intelligence to evaluation of my ability to teach you. I've had teachers come to me and tell me that when they [do this] the kids do much better, and they aren't vomiting on their exam pages anymore.

Links referenced in this episode:

  • "Stereotypes and the Fragility of Academic Competence, Motivation, and Self-Concept" by Joshua Aronson and Claude M. Steele. From Handbook of Competence and Motivation, 2005. [PDF courtesy of the author]

...continue reading "Conversation #10: Stereotype Threat"

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Course content remains in Blackboard for three semesters before it is removed. This means, for example, courses created for the fall 2008 semester will not be removed until after the start of the spring 2010 semester. You should create an archive of your course before it is scheduled to be removed from the Blackboard system.
Note: The archive will not contain any student grade information. The student grade information should be downloaded separately. Refer to Bb tip #3 for instructions on exporting information from the Grade Center.

Follow these steps to do it.
To archive a course, click on the [Archive] link in the [Control Panel] of the course. Click the [Archive] button and then click on the Submit button. You will receive an email when the archive process has been completed. When you receive the confirmation email, go click on the [Archive] link once again and you will see a link where the archived file can be downloaded to your local computer. This process will create a backup of the course in a compressed zip format. This file can then be imported into another course. Do not modify or edit the contents of the compressed file as this may corrupt the archive.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

2

Student access to courses is removed two weeks after the end of a semester. During this process all gradebook records are deleted. You should download your gradebook to your local computer after you submit your final grades.

Follow these steps to do it.
In order to export the gradebook for a course, you should goto the [Control Panel] for that course and click on the [Grade Center] link. Inside the Grade Center you should point to the [Manage] button on the menu bar and then click on the [Download] link. Under [Data] section, select the [Full Grade Center] option, under the [Options] section, select [Tab] as the delimiter type and [Yes] to include hidden information and then click on the [Submit] button at the bottom of the page. On the next page click on the [Download] button. You should get a dialog box with a request to save the file. Save the file to a location where you can find it later. The file you saved can be opened with Microsoft Excel.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418