“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.

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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…

 

 

Article on ADA Compliance for Online Courses

For anyone that’s truly familiar with ADA compliance, there’s not a lot new here, but it’s a nice summary of some of the things one can do to help make your courses accessible.

The ‘scary’ part of the article is the list of colleges that have received civil rights complaints about inaccessible information. There are some big names there; students are not bashful about ensuring they can get access to the information they are entitled to!

I had a students with a disability in the summer, which forced me to look at some of the elements of my course and to adjust them to make them accessible. I was lucky since I had only a few (okay, and known!) elements that needed attention.

The changes I had to make were good ones, and helpful to all the students in the course.

Before you’re in the position of having to deal with a required accessibility update, you might want to check out this article from Educause.

ADA Compliance for Online Course Design

The list of “20 Tips for Teaching an Accessible Online Course” at the end of the article is useful. Each tip has links to more in-depth information.

The Online Learning Office has staff to assist you in evaluating your course, and can assist you with needed changes. Contact them at GCCOnline@genesee.edu. Or contact the Disability Services office, found in the Center for Academic Progress. There are great staff in both places!

Public Domain Images from the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has recently placed over 200,000 images of the collection in the public domain.

Images designated as “Public Domain” can be used — at no charge and with no paperwork — as you wish. Images can be used for both commercial and non-commercial purposes.

In poking through the collection, it’s several lifetime’s worth of work. Some person (most likely persons) has posed and captured each of the items in the Met’s catalog, whether the item is currently on display or not.

More information an a link to the collection can be found on the Met’s web site: http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-met/policies-and-documents/image-resources

And, my own irreverent use of this new policy!

metpic

Managing Maintenance Days

patienceAs a reminder, Monday, February 20 (Presidents’ Day holiday) is a full maintenance day. All systems will be offline from 7 AM to 7 PM. If you gain access during this time, you may be cut off without warning.

We are planning out on a work-around to allow for Blackboard access during times like this, but that’s not in place yet. Since Blackboard is now hosted at Open SUNY (i.e. off campus), that part of the system is available. The issue is that the authentication (i.e. usernames and passwords) are stored on site in Batavia. As a result, Blackboard is up and running but there’s no way to log in.

By the next major maintenance, which would be October, we’ll have an alternative login site available so that you can log into Blackboard. The Library will still not be available, but just Blackboard being available will be helpful.

It’s useful for faculty to make sure your students have something to ‘do’ on that day. A number of students may have the day off from work and will plan to ‘catch up’ on the work they may be behind on. Help them be prepared for the maintenance so they can be productive.

My list of things you can suggest students do:

  • catch up on reading; point out textbook chapters that should be read
  • set up a reading list of online materials and indicate students should download/print the list (the rest of the internet isn’t going to be closed!)
  • if you have tests/quizzes that are not one-time-only or timed, encourage students to download/print the quiz so they can enter their answers later
  • point out discussion entries that may be due; students can write their responses offline and enter them later
  • point out what part of an upcoming writing assignment can be prepped offline; what non-digital non-Genesee materials will they still have access to
  • students who have their Genesee email set up on a mobile device will still be able to access their Genesee email; but you can’t count on everyone having access to that
  • if you use a publisher web site, can your students access that without Blackboard? If they can, remind them how it can be done

You don’t have to work hard to help your students be productive… just give it some thought!

Date Management

If you’re anything like me, anything that’s important in your course has a date on it. Sometimes just a ‘due’ date, but often availability dates.

The Date Management tool is one way to manage all of your course dates in one place.

In Course Tools go to Date Management. The first time into the tool, you get this Select Date Adjustment Option.

date-management-2

I mostly just select the “list all dates for review” but when you have eager students who will be confused by past-due tests and such, doing the “use course start date” is a good option to move all your dates forward auto-magically. You can then edit dates as you need.

It takes a couple of minutes to run, but then you get a list of all your course dates.

datemanagement

The first date column is “Due Date” the second column is “Availability Starts” and the third column is “Availability Ends” — you can manage all three date options for all your elements that have dates from this one location. The image is for discussions, but this can be on Tests, Assignments, and even Items. If an element has at least one of the three types of dates assigned to it, it shows up in this list.

It’s still faintly tedious. You have to click on the pencil at the end, update the date and time for each element and then submit… but it certainly beats having to go into the multiple sections of your course and “edit” the elements individually. Everything shows up here in one place.

Conversely, if an element does not have a date, it will not show up in this list. You do need to go and put a date on it in the course, but there is an option to “Run Date Management Again” and you’ll get the options on that first image. Just select “list all dates for review” and you’ll be all set!