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The names of courses in Blackboard are identical to the names that appear in the Banner system. Instructors have the ability to change the names of the courses to suit their needs. For example, if you teach two sections of English 1010, you can personalize the names to become ENGL1010 – 9 MWF and ENGL1010 – 1:15 TR.

Follow these steps to do it.

To change the name of your Blackboard course, you should:

  1. Go to the [Control Panel] of the course you want to change the name of. Click on the [Customization] link to expand it.
  2. Click on [Properties].
  3. Enter the new name for your course and click [Submit].

Note: Care should be taken to make sure the new name of the course can be easily recognized by the students enrolled.

Want more information?

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

Use Link Checker to check for broken links. Quite often faculty insert links to external web sites into their courses. This makes it convenient for users to get to the external web sites. While the link may be a live link when it's placed in the course, there is no way to automatically know if a link later becomes broken. With Link Checker, you can run a quick scan of your course to determine if any of the web page links are no longer valid.

Follow these steps to do it.

To verify web page links in your course are still valid, you should:

  1. Goto the [Control Panel] for that course and click on the [Course Tools] link to expand it. Click on [Link Checker].
  2. After a few moments, a list of all the web links in your course will appear.
  3. Broken links will have an "X" in the valid column.
  4. You cannot remove a link with Link Checker, but you can make it unavailable by hiding it. Check the Hide box for the link you want to make unavailable.
  5. Click on the [Submit] button when done.

Note: If you do not see Link Checker in your Course Tools, you should verify the Link Checker tool is available in your course. To verify, go to the [Control Panel] click on [Customization] to expand it and click on [Tool Availability]. Make sure there is a check mark in the available box for Link Checker. Click [Submit] to save the changes.

Want more information?

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

Couple taking photos.

Many people believe that the "digital divide" is merely generational but studies have shown disparities according to race, ethnicity, socio-economic level and even between the sexes.  Professor Rey Junco, an associate professor at Purdue University and a faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, refers to this as "digital inequality."  "There's an assumption that all students are equally great with technology," said Professor Junco.

As Xavier University is moving to expand the eLearning initiatives across campus, I believe it's important for us to be mindful of this and to not assume that all of our students are proficient, especially with social media.  As we implement more technology in the classroom and especially online, we must remember to provide detailed instructions for the students as well as adequate technical support and training.

To read a little more about the very interesting studies concerning “digital inequality” and the implications for academic success, please check out this link from the Times Higher Education (THE) site and from an earlier CAT food podcast:

I also invite you to share with the community your experiences and findings concerning "digital inequality"  amongst our students.  Perhaps together we can propose suggestions for helping the students increase their proficiency and ultimately, their chances for success here at Xavier.

Photo credit: "Couple Taking Photos" by iofoto via Yay Image Bank

The beginning of the semester is a good time to get started using Blackboard. 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.

Follow these steps to do it.

Here are links with instructions for

  • Merging courses [Web page]
  • Hiding old courses from view [Web page]
  • Getting started with the course environment [PDF] [Video]
  • Course structures and course themes [Web page] [Video]
  • Changing the display name for your course [Web page]
  • Adding a course banner [Web page]
  • Adding items to the course menu [PDF]
  • Posting announcements [Web page]
  • Copying content into another course [Web page]

Want more information?

Stop by one of the drop-in sessions for 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 email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Do you enjoy email? Do you want to spend more time managing your inbox? Do you look forward to sorting through lots of messages each and every day of your life?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you'll love bacon.


That's right, bacon. You're probably already bringing home plenty of bacon, and the future holds more. Don't worry about a thing, just keep on doing what you do and you'll collect more bacon every day.

If, on the other hand, you find your email inbox cluttered and sort of overwhelming, then you may be interested in learning more about bacon. You may benefit from understanding what it is, why it's so insidious, and what you can do to reduce it.

What is bacon?

Bacon is email you kinda sorta want. At least you thought you wanted it once upon a time, and maybe you still do. Perhaps you signed up for an electronic newsletter from your favorite musical act, or political cause, or health and wellness blog, or the latest social media site. Electronic alerts and notifications of all sorts can be classified as bacon.

It's not spam, not quite. After all, you asked for it.

It's bacon. It's been a round for quite some time, but the term "bacon" originated a few years ago, at Podcamp Pittsburgh in 2007. NPR covered the story then, including speculation that "it won't sizzle for long." Au contraire, mon frere! Check out this Mashable article from March, 2011, and be sure to pay special attention to the accompanying infographic.

The trend has only gotten stronger since then. There's more bacon flying around than ever before. More and more people are putting content out there on the net. More and more people are discovering email messages are a cheap way to reach an audience. The number of electronic newsletters and semi-automated messages is ballooning. The competition for your attention is increasing.

Insidious bacon

Spam filters have become pretty effective. You may not even be aware of how much spam they catch. Personally, I couldn't operate without spam filters.

Bacon is insidious because, unlike spam, you may actually feel a desire, a compulsion, even an obligation to read these messages.

Nevertheless, the amount of bacon you're getting can gradually increase until it's just as overwhelming as unfiltered spam.

At some point, you may need to ask yourself if all this bacon is becoming a problem. Is it distracting you from other tasks? How much time in each day is getting tangled up in bacon?


I recently took stock of my personal and professional email situation. I discovered I was getting about twenty bacon messages per day. I decided to take action.

With any given source — let's call it a baconstream — there are two options available. You can create filters so that you keep receiving the bacon but file it away for future reference. That way you don't see it right now, and it doesn't distract you. You'll read it later, on your own terms, when you get around to it.

Yeah, right.

The other option is what we might call the nuclear option: unsubscribing.

Many people do not unsubscribe because they think it will take too much time or too much effort.

I took some time on a recent Friday afternoon to try it myself. I let the bacon pile up for a day, then I went on an unsub spree. I simply looked for an unsubscribe link at the bottom of each message.

It took me 21 minutes to unsubscribe from 18 baconstreams. That averages just over one minute per unsubscription effort. So yes, it does take a little time. But now that a couple weeks have passed, I can report that it was time well spent. My inbox is less clogged than before.

New tools

Email programs are offering new tools to help you manage your bacon. For example, this summer Gmail has been rolling out a new tabbed inbox which automatically classifies your mail into categories such as Promotions, Social and Updates.

Gmail Inbox Tabs

These tools are pretty handy. Though users have pushed back, and marketers are panicking, some experts believe it's a helpful innovation. By separating messages into defined categories, cognitive overload may be reduced.

In the final analysis, though, it's up to each individual user to decide just how much bacon they want in their lives, to decide what's truly useful and what's a distraction. My recommendation: Develop your own personal policy and enforce it through judicious unsubscription.

It's working for me.

Note: Some services allow more sophisticated tools for managing your bacon; you might be able to tweak some settings and turn a daily notification into a weekly, for instance. But in most cases, it's all or nothing.

Photo credit: Bacon! /

Did you know that over 350 students participated in summer session I online courses? Not one online course had to be canceled this summer due to low enrollment—students enrolled with very minimal on-campus advertising.

Summer online courses give both students and faculty the flexibility and mobility to pursue other projects while still teaching and learning.
If you’re interested in developing and/or teaching an online or hybrid course, we at CAT invite you to:

  1. Discuss your idea with the Distance Education Coordinator (Yours Truly x7692) in CAT who will assist you. Required
  2. Complete the Quality Matters online introductory course. Required
  3. Attend the CAT-sponsored FaCTS Panel presentation on Thursday October 10, 2013 at 12:15pm (lunch included). Recipients of this year’s FaCTS (Mellon foundation) grants will share with you their successes and suggestions for creating and teaching online courses. Optional but recommended
  4. Complete CAT’s Online Faculty Development Course (funded by Mellon FaCTS initiative and available during the fall semester). Optional but recommended
  5. Complete additional Blackboard training offered by CAT. Optional but recommended

Pleaseo contact me for more information—I’m looking forward to meeting and working with Xavier’s excellent faculty and staff!

P.S. "8 Lessons Learned from Teaching Online" is a short video which I hope will give you food for thought.


During the break between summer and fall semesters Blackboard will be upgraded to version 9.1 service pack 13. Upgrading to SP13 gives us a number of exciting new features as well as a few bug fixes. New features include:

1) Global navigation menu: You no longer need to navigate to the XU home page or courses tab to access your courses and organizations. The global navigation menu is the entry point to My Blackboard and also provides one-click access to your courses, organizations, settings and help.

View short video: Global Navigation Menu [3:40]

2) Enhanced content editor: The new content editor improves your ability to enter text, paste from Microsoft Word and add content to all areas of your courses and organizations. Gone is the prior formatting problems of cutting and pasting text from Word. The content editor retains the formatting of the pasted text.

View short video: Enhanced Content Editor [3:59]

3) Video Everywhere: Video Everywhere is a new feature of the content editor that allows you and your students to:

  • Record a YouTube video on the fly using a webcam and have it seamlessly embedded (through the content editor) into your course materials, interactions, and feedback.
  • Reuse previously recorded YouTube videos by choosing from your own "library" of videos.

A Google account and YouTube channel is required to use Video Everywhere.

View short video: Video Everywhere [1:34]

4) Discussion board enhancements: The Discussion Board maintains all of its existing functions but with improved aesthetic and functional design. Discussion board enhancements include:

  • All posts on one page - all of the posts in a thread are now visible at the same time on one page.
  • "Post First" setting – instructors set a requirement for students to post to a forum before they can see other students' posts. This encourages thoughtful first posts and discourages "me too" posts.
  • Inline replies – when you reply to a post, the new content editor appears on the same page, in the context of the discussion, so you can include rich media and formatting in your postings.
  • Role highlighting (especially useful in organizations) - posts made by forum managers and moderators now contain the course role and forum role of the person posting, making it easy to identify the role of the person who is posting.
View short video: Discussion Board Enhancements [1:20]

5) Inline assignment grading: Inline assignment grading enhances the grading experience for instructors. Instead of requiring instructors to download student-submitted files to view or edit those submissions, instructors can now see those files "inline," i.e. in the web browser. Annotation tools also enable instructors to provide feedback -- comments, highlights, and even drawing -- directly on the inline view of the document.

View short video: Inline Assignment Grading [1:53]

6) Test/survey design and deployment enhancements: New enhancements give you more control over the design and give you flexibility over the delivery of assessments. The new enhancements are:

  • Adding questions to a test/survey – When creating/editing a test/survey you can add new questions exactly where you want them on the canvas by clicking the plus sign before or after another question and then choose a question type.
  • Test/survey availability exceptions - New settings have been added to Test and Survey Options pages to allow you to select one or more groups of students and make a number of exceptions to the already established availability settings. For example if you have a student with a disability that needs additional time to take a test, you can set an exception to give that student extra time to complete the test. You can change these settings at any time, even after the test/survey has been attempted by some students.
  • Test/survey results and feedback - After students complete a test/survey, results and feedback are available to them. By setting up rules, you can set the release of progressive feedback to keep test results secure and prevent cheating.
  • Due date and late submissions – This new enhancement allows instructors to decide whether to allow students to take a test/survey after the due date has passed.
View short video: Test/Survey Enhancements [2:07]

7) Test item analysis and automatic regrading: You can evaluate the quality of objective test questions, including each question’s ability to discriminate between students who understand the material and those who do not. Ineffective questions can be easily identified and then quickly corrected with the automatic regrade feature.

View short video: Test Item Analysis and Auto Regrade [5:00]

8) Calendar: The new updated calendar allows you to spend less time organizing your calendar and more time doing what's on it. You can consolidate course items into an easy-to-use personalized view. You can easily add events, drag and drop to change due dates, input course reminders, and export to third-party calendars like Outlook or Google. Events and due dates you add to your course calendar will be seen by all students enrolled in the course.

View short video: Calendar [1:24]

9) Retention Center: The Retention Center enables instructors to identify and give focused attention to students who are at risk of not performing well. From the Retention Center, you can communicate with struggling students and help them take immediate action for improvement. The Retention Center replaces the Early Warning System feature, providing easier workflow while retaining the Early Warning System's data and rules.

View short video: Retention Center [4:30]

Want more information?
Get more information about the new features of Blackboard Learn 9.1.
Sign up for a Blackboard workshop or stop by one of the drop-in sessions for one-on-one help.
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

Greetings from CAT!  I’m Karen Nichols, the new Distance Education Coordinator and I’m so excited to be a part of such a great team and university.  Xavier’s online initiatives these past two summers have been quite successful and I’ve been tasked to assist in making Xavier Online bigger and better.  Fortunately, Xavier has wonderful, creative faculty members who bring a great deal of expertise to the distance education arena.

In addition to the faculty who have already developed and taught online courses, several others have expressed an interest in learning more about hybrid or fully online courses.  So, as my bi-weekly contribution to CAT Food, I’d like to feature an article, video or some bit of news on distance education which I hope will be useful and informative.

For my first entry I recommend a short video about Coursera, Stanford’s MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) project which I find so inspiring.  The sentiments echo my own after being a part of distance education for 22+ years:

Did you watch the video just now?  It always makes me a little misty-eyed.  If you're thinking about teaching online this article from Faculty Focus offers several points to consider.  And even if you're not ready for online teaching, I hope you'll find the "Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher" useful in a face to face class as well.

I look forward to meeting and working with more of the faculty here at Xavier so please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll be happy to get together with you to discuss any projects or ideas you may have.  Wishing you a great week!

Rising Tide 7


Rising Tide NOLA, Inc. will present its 8th annual new media conference centered on the recovery and future of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on Saturday, September 14, 2013 at the University Center of Xavier University of Louisiana.

This year, Rising Tide invites participation from community and university organizations from across New Orleans by issuing this request for proposals for programming, panels, and presentations at the event.  The conference is a one day event with programming presented in a variety of formats including - but not limited to - individual presentations, directed conversations, keynote addresses, and on-stage panel discussions. The space available allows for significant flexibility when it comes to programming proposals.

Successful proposals will address issues relevant to New Orleans and the Gulf South’s ongoing recovery, diverse history, unique culture, or emerging concerns. Additionally, proposals could focus on or incorporate aspects of new or social media, information technology and access, and creative uses of communication. Collaboration between organizations to present programming is encouraged to add multiple and diverse perspectives.  While programming is free to address political topics, Rising Tide maintains a strict non-partisan forum, current elected officials and campaigning candidates for political offices are discouraged from participating in programming.


Proposals should include the following: a brief description of the topic being considered, with an indication of the relevance of the topic to local issues and what the audience should take away from the experience; a list of participants/presenters that describes their roles to the presentation and describes their relationship to or expertise on the topic; and a draft facilitation plan for how the programming will be presented to the audience, and how the audience will be involved in the presentation through questions, participation, discussion, etc.

Please email brief (2 page max) proposals in plain text, word documents, or PDF attachments to Jeffrey Bostick, Katy Monnot, and Patrick Armstrong at


Acceptance notifications will follow within two weeks.


While hosting the event at the Xavier University Center, attendance has averaged more than 300 attendees, media, and volunteer staff annually. The conference content has been live streamed on the web with over 1000 unique viewers during each event, with archives on the Rising Tide website. For this conference, organizers are hoping to coordinate programming for three separate spaces: a large stage-oriented venue with seating for up to 200; a medium venue with seating for between 30 – 40; and a seminar or group discussion venue for seating around 20. Program length can run from a minimum of 30 minutes for presentations or directed conversations in the smaller venues, to hour and a half panel discussion for the stage-oriented space.

Previous conferences featured keynotes by acclaimed local writer Lolis Eric Elie and Tulane University professor of history Lawrence Powell, as well as panel discussions on the status and future of local journalism, changes to the education system, environmental impacts of the oil spill, development of cultural economy, parenting, entrepreneurship, and neighborhood activism. Past speakers have included Treme and The Wire creator David Simon, geographer Richard Campanella, journalist Mac McClelland, entertainer Harry Shearer, and authors David Zirin, John Barry, Christopher Cooper, and Robert Block. The full 2012 conference schedule and list of panelists can be viewed on the Rising Tide website, as well as a list of participating vendors and non-profit organizations.

Conference registration information and publicity will be available online at There will be discounted student admission, lunch is included in the price of admission, and vegetarian options will be available.

More information is available:

Rising Tide 8 is sponsored by The Center for the Advancement of Teaching.

Rising Tide NOLA, Inc. is a non-profit organization formed by New Orleans bloggers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the federally built levees. After the disaster, the internet became a vital connection among dispersed New Orleanians, former New Orleanians, and friends of the city and the Gulf Coast region. A number of new blogs were created, and combined with those that were already online, an online community with a shared interest in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast developed. In the summer of 2006, to mark the anniversary of the flood, the bloggers of New Orleans organized the first Rising Tide Conference, taking their shared interest in technology, the arts, the internet and social media and turning advocacy in the city into action.

CONTACT: Programming Committee
WHO: Rising Tide NOLA
WHAT: 8th Annual Rising Tide New Media Conference
WHEN: Saturday, September 14, 2013, 9am – 6pm
WHERE: University Center, Xavier University of Louisiana