New Blackboard Portfolio Tool: Upgraded Features are Easy to Use

blackboard portfolio sampleThroughout the summer and fall, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center team has been busy working on implementation of the new Blackboard Portfolio tool that was released during the May 2015 Blackboard Learn Upgrade. Over 130 faculty and staff from more than 40 departments across campus, including many instructors for UNIV 101 and First Year Composition courses, have been trained on the portfolio tool. Students in these programs as well as in a variety of other courses will be building their ePortfolios during the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters.

In the new portfolio tool, students can easily create multiple portfolios for different purposes. Students can share their academic, co-curricular, and professional accomplishments in unique ways to tell their stories using the Blackboard Portfolio tool. Faculty and programs can request templates to provide a portfolio structure for students to follow. As students build their portfolios, they can include photos and videos, as well as upload any file as an artifact. Students can also integrate files they have submitted as Blackboard Assignments in any course they have taken at NIU, including the assignment instructions, their file, the grade assigned, and any comments or rubric submitted by their faculty.

When the portfolio is complete, students can submit it to a Portfolio Assignment, so that faculty can review and grade the portfolio in the Grade Center. It is also easy for students to share the portfolios with NIU users as well as people outside of NIU, with only an email address.

Extensive resources and tutorials have been created to support faculty and students who will be using the Blackboard Portfolio. Quick Guides, instructions, and step-by-step video tutorials are available for faculty and students on the Teaching with Blackboard website.  Check out our website at go.niu.edu/portfolios for step-by-step instructions on how to use the new Blackboard Portfolio tools. Contact us at facdev@niu.edu for more information on using the Blackboard Portfolio for your course or departmental ePortfolios!

Blackboard Open Labs, August 24-28

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Blackboard Open LabEvery day next week, from 11am-1pm, August 24 – 28, 2015, 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 24 through Friday, August 28, 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).

Fall 2015 Blackboard Reminders for the Beginning of the Semester

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BlackboardAs many new faculty, teaching staff, and TAs may request course space on Blackboard this week and get ready to develop their courses on Blackboard, the following useful links and reminders are provided 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/start/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/start/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/start/availability.shtml.
  4. Blackboard workshopsFaculty Development and Instructional Design Center Center regularly schedules workshops on using Blackboard for teaching purposes, and the monthly program schedules can be found under Quick Links at http://www.niu.edu/facdev.

For those who are not able to attend a workshop, there is also now a Self-Paced Blackboard I 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 helpdesk at 815-753-8100 or helpdesk@niu.edu and for other teaching-related Blackboard questions, faculty can submit the questions at http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/ask.

Blackboard Learn Upgrade: Memorial Day Weekend 2015

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See What's BetterA significant upgrade is scheduled to be performed to the Blackboard Learn System over Memorial Day weekend. The upgrade will begin at 5:00 AM on Saturday, May 23, 2015, and will complete by 5:00 AM on Sunday, May 24, 2015. The Blackboard Learn system (https://webcourses.niu.edu) will be unavailable during this time.

The latest version of Blackboard Learn, April 2014 Release, will introduce several new and exciting features, including:

  • Portfolios
    A rebuilt Portfolio system aimed at assessing student learning.
  • Anonymous and Delegated Grading
    Grade Assignment submissions anonymously and share grading responsibilities with one or more graders.
  • Student Preview
    The new Student Preview feature provides faculty with the ability to easily see the course exactly how a student would see it.
  • Assignment and SafeAssignment Integration
    SafeAssign is now integrated with the Assignment tool, making it easy to check student submissions for plagiarism by clicking a checkbox when creating an Assignment.
  • New Look and Feel
    New flat color schemes and navigation banner.

To learn more about the upcoming features, please visit http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/upgrade.

The Faculty Development & Instructional Design Center will be holding workshops and hands-on sessions to preview the new features. To sign up for a workshop please visit http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/upgrade/workshops.shtml

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the DoIT Helpdesk at 815-753-8100 or helpdesk@niu.edu.

Learn the Basics of Using Blackboard, At Your Own Pace

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Blackboard I: Introduction to BlackboardThe Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is proud to announce the release of a new online format for the Blackboard I: Introduction to Blackboard workshop. This new self-paced version makes it easier than ever to get started with Blackboard at NIU.

Through a series of video tutorials, you will get an overview of Blackboard’s course layout and navigation, be exposed to various course tools, discover communication and assessment features, and see how to request your own Blackboard courses. By the end, you will be able to:

  • Request a course/shell and make it available to students and other participants
  • Use the features of the Blackboard Control Panel
  • Add, revise, and control availability of content in an online course
  • Structure a course by using folders, customizing the course menu, and adding events to the course calendar
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