Breakout Groups, Polling, Closed Captioning Added to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

screenshot of blackboard collaborate ultra breakout groupsBlackboard Collaborate Ultra continues to evolve as Blackboard adds new features to improve your teaching and learning experience! Just recently, Blackboard released 2 exciting new features, Breakout Groups and Polling, and a new tutorial on the existing Closed Captioning feature. Check them out!

Stay up-to-date on what’s new in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra by reviewing Blackboard’s What’s New page.

Breakout Groups

To facilitate small group collaboration, you can create breakout groups that are separate from the main room and assign participants to them. Breakout groups have their own private audio, video, whiteboard, application sharing, and chat. You can assign students to specific breakout groups or you can have Collaborate randomly assign them. You can even allow students to switch groups, so they can collaborate outside of their groups, as well.

Note: For now, you must be using version 52 of the Chrome browser to create breakout groups.

Learn more about Breakout Groups.

Polling

Polls are great to engage your participants and keep them interested. You can also use polls to get real-time feedback from your students by asking questions to see how well they understand the content.

Learn more about Polling.

Live Closed Captioning

Blackboard is fully committed to ensuring that all products and services they provide are usable and accessible to all users, regardless of age, ability, or situation. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is developed in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA as well as the Section 508 standards. Learn more about Accessibility in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

One way that Blackboard enables an accessible learning experience in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is through live closed captioning. The closed captioning system provides an integrated way for a captioner to transcribe the audio of the session in real-time so that students who need to can read the content.

Learn more about Live Closed Captioning.

Other New Features

There have been a lot of other great features recently, too.

  • Tour of new features – when joining a new session, go through a brief tour of new features
  • Attendance Reports – moderators can view a report of when and for how long participants were in the session
  • Diversified Emojis – use one of five support skin tones on any human emoji

Upcoming Workshop

NIU faculty who are new to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, or just want a refresher for the fall semester, can attend our upcoming workshop Introduction to Live Online Classes Using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. The workshop will be held on Thursday, August 25, 2016, from 1:30 – 3:30. Register here. You can also email us at facdev@niu.edu for a one-on-one consultation about Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

Blackboard Open Labs, August 22 – 26

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Blackboard Open LabEvery day next week, from 11am-1pm, August 22 – 26, 2016, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center will host a Blackboard Open Lab. This is an excellent opportunity for NIU faculty, staff, and TAs to ask specific questions about how to set up their courses in Blackboard. Whether you want to know how to communicative effectively with students to increase retention, add videos that stream flawlessly, set up your weighted grading formula in the Grade Center, or establish Groups to simplify collaboration, the staff from Faculty Development will be on hand to answer your questions individually.

The Open Lab is available Monday, August 22 through Friday, August 26, from 11 am to 1 pm every day in Adams Hall, Room 323. Feel free to drop in – no registration required! Unfortunately, we cannot provide a general overview of Blackboard at this session, but we will be happy to answer specific questions about using Blackboard.

If you can’t attend an Open Lab session, please complete the Ask a Question form at http://facdev.niu.edu/bbq, and one of our staff will respond within 2 working days (though we strive to respond the same day).

Blackboard-related Reminders for the Beginning of the Semester

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closeup of woman's hands using a laptopAs many new faculty, teaching staff, and TAs are requesting course space on Blackboard this week and get ready to begin the semester teaching their courses using Blackboard, here are a few useful links as reminders for some of the “beginning of the semester” frequently asked questions:

1. Requesting a new course on Blackboard – After logging into http://webcourses.niu.edu click the “Services” tab at the top of the page and then “Blackboard Faculty Tools”. Click “My Courses” and then follow the links on the displayed window. Instructions and step-by-step tutorials can be found at: http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/manage/request.shtml. In order to request a Blackboard course, individuals must be the “instructor of record” for the course in the MyNIU system.

Course space requests take 1 working day to be processed by the automated process in DoIT. It takes an additional day for someone newly assigned as instructor of record in MyNIU to have permission to request the course in Blackboard.

2. Combining course sections – Those teaching dual level courses (e.g. 400 and 500 or cross-listed courses) or multiple sections may want to combine their sections into one master course. Information about doing that can also be found at http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/manage/multiplesections.shtml.

“Course combine requests” also take 1 working day to be processed. Individuals requesting master courses must be instructor of record in both sections to be combined.

3. Making courses “available” to students – After creating and posting documents on a Blackboard courses, faculty should make those courses “available” to students. Otherwise, students will not be able to see the courses. The instructions for making courses “available” to students can be found at http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/manage/availability.shtml.

4. Blackboard workshops – Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center regularly schedules workshops on using Blackboard for teaching purposes, and the monthly program schedules can be found at http://www.niu.edu/facdev.

For those who are not able to attend a workshop, there is also now a Self-Paced Introduction to Blackboard online workshop consisting of short video demonstrations, available at http://facdev.niu.edu/selfpacedbb1.

Answers to other Frequently Asked Blackboard-related questions can be found at http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/faq and Blackboard-related help information can be found at http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/atoz.

For login and password-related questions, please refer faculty to the DoIT service desk at 815-753-8100 or servicedesk@niu.edu and for other teaching-related Blackboard questions, faculty can submit the questions at https://ssl.niu.edu/blackboard/ask/index.asp.

Summer/Fall 2016 Courses Ready to be Requested in Blackboard

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Student sitting at computerFaculty can now request their Blackboard courses for the Summer and Fall 2016 semesters. Please see the information below for instructions on the request process.

Note: course requests take approximately 24 hours to be processed. The processing server runs twice daily.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. After logging in to Blackboard, click Services
2. Click Blackboard Faculty Tools
3. Click My Courses to request a course
4. Select the Semester and click the Submit button
5. Select the course(s) you would like to request and click Request Single Section(s) (for master courses select Combine Sections)
6. Click the Submit button

 

Resources

For more information, check out our Getting Started Quick Guide, or full details on Requesting Courses. If you are teaching a cross-listed course, you may want to try combining multiple course sections into a Master Course.

Finally, you can watch this video tutorial that demonstrates the steps for requesting a course.

 

Trends in Blackboard Tool Usage at NIU

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Blackboard Learn, the primary course management system used by faculty, staff, teaching assistants, and students at NIU, continues to be an important platform for facilitating teaching and learning at NIU with over 96% of students and 92% of teaching faculty using the system during Fall 2015.  To gain even more insight into how NIU is using Blackboard, the Division of Information Technology has implemented custom reporting capabilities within Blackboard that extends the built-in statistics tracking features for recording individual tool usage by course. As a result, we have an even better understanding of overall Blackboard adoption and tool use at NIU, and have the ability to track usage trends over time.

Here are some notable trends in Blackboard tool usage at NIU (also available for download here):

niu-bb-stats-2015

 

A few noteworthy usage trends as of Fall 2015 include:

  • Overall Blackboard use stayed the same (96% of students using, 92% of faculty) between fall 2014 and fall 2015
  • Recently, Blackboard adoption by teaching faculty made a significant jump from 82% (2013) to 92% (2014) which was maintained in 2015
  • Blackboard tool use generally declined over the Summer and Fall 2015 semesters
  • Most course instructors make use of Blackboard for posting announcement and content items (e.g., PowerPoint Slides, PDFs, Images, etc.), as well as for posting grades
  • Assignments, tests, and Collaborate web conferencing continued their trend of increased use during the summer semester

Thank you to the Division of Information Technology for providing these usage statistics, as they have been useful in identifying what tools are being used most in Blackboard as well as recognizing trends usage over time.

For more information about Teaching with Blackboard at Northern Illinois University, visit http://www.niu.edu/blackboard.

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