System Maintenance – Feb 19, 2018

Computer Services will be doing routine system maintenance on Monday, February 19 from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.

BLACKBOARD WILL BE AVAILABLE all day! Yay!

What will not be available:

  • college WWW site
  • Library resources
  • faculty/staff email
  • Banner access
  • remote access to P drives

Work will be done on the firewall and other internal infrastructure; internal access to resources may be affected, if you were considering coming on campus to work.

A formal notice will be sent closer to the actual date. Students will also be notified closer to the actual date as well as a message posted on the front of Genesis.

If you have questions, please feel free to ask!

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Box View in Assignments

Over the winter break, a mandatory update was performed in Blackboard to switch the document management tool in Assignments from Croc-o-Doc to Box. Croc-o-Doc was being phased out by the publisher, and Blackboard found Box as the closest substitution.

But it is different. There are many things Box does not do that CoD did do. Two major changes, as examples:

  • downloaded files do not have any of your annotations
  • you cannot draw on a document (useful in math or other courses)

The good news is that Box will manage more file types than before, so that the student who wants to submit documents in *.odt format can safely do that.

But if you miss some of those previous capabilities, there’s a place for your voice to be heard.

Go to the Blackboard Community site here: https://community.blackboard.com/community/ideas Create a free account and vote! Vote for any feature that was take away that you’d like back! Vote for a feature you didn’t even know you wanted until you saw it on the list.

Blackboard watches this site closely and is aware of the general unhappiness with Box. They were pushed into a corner and had to do something, and they are trying to make it better. There will most likely be changes coming out during the Spring semester.

But if you’re missing a feature that was there before, go and vote on it!

Organizing your Course List

Question came up about organizing the course list by sorting out courses and removing older/not needed courses.

Which prompted me to write some help desk documentation!

You can find that here: http://hd.genesee.edu/organizing-your-course-listing/ 

If you are both teaching and taking courses, the sections you teach will appear above the sections you are taking.

Otherwise, this information is useful to both instructors and students! Feel free to share!

Assignment Tool Update

Scheduled for Wednesday, December 20 between midnight and 7:00 am, SUNY will be updating our Blackboard system. Blackboard will not be available during that time.

The major component that will be updated will be in the Assignment Tool. Croc-o-doc, the system that allows for online grading of assignments, is being replace by Box.

Information on the upgrade can be found here:   https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Assignments/Grade_Assignments/Crocodoc_to_New_Box_View There is a summary of the major differences on that page.

This is a good news/bad news sort of upgrade. There will be a few additional features, and there’s a chance that something you liked will be going away.

This is a required upgrade since Croc-o-doc is being de-commissioned and will not be available at all after January 15, 2018.

 

 

 

“Answer any 3 questions” — how to

There are times that you’d like to offer a quiz to your students where they can answer — as an example — 3 of the 5 presented essay questions. Or, maybe, 5 of 7 short answer questions. You’d like to allow the student to skip over some of the questions.

Turns out, that’s kinda easy to do in Blackboard.

First of all, set up your quiz as you normally do. And this will work with question sets, as an additional bonus.

Deploy your quiz in your course.

Now that it’s deployed, you have a column in the grade center. Go to that column and select “Edit Column Information”.

Look for the “Points Possible” section. If you included five 2 point short answer, there would be an automatic 10 in that area.

points

Tick the box for “Manually override the calculated total” — that will let you set the total grade to any number you want.

 

So if you want to have the students answer 3 of the 5 questions, you can enter a 6 in the box.

You do have to decide what to do when (not if!) a student answers 5 out of 5 questions. Is it extra credit? Do you take the 3 ‘best’ answers and ignore 2 wrong answers? Do you ignore the last 2 questions? You have a number of options, but you should make a decision about what you will be comfortable with, and include that as part of the instructions, right up front. It’s easier to do that grading, if you know what you will be doing with those extra answers.

Preferred Name in Blackboard

Over the past couple of years, there have been students who have requested that the first name that shows in Blackboard be different from their legal name.

However, the Records Office needs to maintain the official identity of the student for legal and reporting purposes, and had no simple way to deal with these requests.

Student have all sorts of good reasons to request this, which I’m not going to deal with; that’s not the goal of this discussion. My focus is on how this update affects Blackboard.

Banner, luckily, has worked out a location to store what is called a “preferred” first name, and the process that moves information into Blackboard from Banner now pulls from that preferred first name field, if it is populated.

What that means to faculty:

  • The names in your Blackboard grade book may not exactly match the names in your Banner Self Service class list. Since this is a “first name only” change, the last names in both locations will be the same.
  • The number of folk who have a preferred first name is relatively finite at the moment, but may increase now that the system will accommodate it.
  • Students cannot enter their own preferred first name into the system; this currently must be done in the Records Office or through a staff member at a campus center. Students will need to show picture ID to the staff in the Records Office before their information will be updated.

If you are not sure that you have matched up names correctly, you can reach out to the Records Office or the Help Desk for assistance.

There will be expanded use of the preferred first name when the college upgrades Banner to Banner 9, which will happen in the next 18 months. With Banner 9, the class list in Banner Self Service will be able to use the preferred first name, which will eliminate the confusion.

If you have questions, do feel free to ask!

Moving Stuff Around!

Fix one thing, break another… sigh. There was a Blackboard update during Spring Break last week… it was snowing, so no one really saw it go in! 🙂

There’s a new uptick in a known problem, being able to move folders or items by drop-and-drag within a menu. You drag things around, finally get everything looking fine and figure you’re done.

You go to another page and then come back and it’s a mess again! It may go back to the original order, or — even worse — a semi-random order.

KeyboardOne solution is to use the “Keyboard Accessible Reordering” option. I’ve put together a 1 page outline on how to do that… click here for the PDF: Moving Folders (even though it’s titled “folders” it’s really about moving anything in a list that should be movable).

Something you should try first is, of course, browser specific.

In Firefox, your browser may need to updates — update to the latest version. Also, clear cache (instructions here), as always. If that doesn’t work, reset Firefox back to its default settings (reset instructions here).

In Chrome, start with clearing cache (instructions here) and, again, if that doesn’t work, you need to reset the browser (reset instructions here).

We keep Firefox and Chrome reasonably up-to-date in your office, but it’s not necessarily the fully latest release. So start with the clearing cache option first before you do anything drastic.

The Keyboard Accessible Reordering will work, it’s just not as pretty as the drag-and-drop options.

Hopefully, this will be fixed in the next Blackboard update…