Blackboard Wants to Know – How Do You Find Help When Using Software?

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hands typing on laptopThe Blackboard User Experience team wants to know how you prefer to find and use help materials for software, apps, or websites. Their goal is to redesign and improve the way you find help for all Blackboard products. The survey should take 2-3 minutes to complete. After completing the survey, you may be requested to join a more in-depth focus group or interview. Blackboard appreciates your feedback, which ensures they can provide the best and most convenient access to help in using all of the Blackboard products.

Who: Faculty, Students and System Administrators. The more the better! Feel free to forward this survey to others who might be interested.

What: Complete the survey at:

When: The survey will remain open until Thursday, November 6th at 5:00 PM Eastern

If you have any questions, please contact Marissa Dimino from Blackboard Community Programs at

Opportunity to Shape the Future of Blackboard (and Earn an Amazon Gift Card!)

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Laptop keyboardBlackboard is conducting a series of user research studies as they design the next generation of Blackboard Learn, and are looking for feedback from faculty and students. They are partnering with TecEd, an independent research firm, to conduct usability tests with some new features.

What: You will try some features of the redesigned Blackboard Learn and tell them your thoughts

Where: At your own computer, speaking on the phone with a researcher during the one-to-one research session. Sessions will last 30 or 60 minutes for students, and 45 or 90 minutes for faculty

When: Sessions will take place July 11 – August 29, 2014

What else: Participants who complete a session will receive an Amazon gift card to thank them for their time and input. The card value will range from $50 to $150, depending on the session length

To apply to participate, please go to

If you meet the study criteria, TecEd will contact you to schedule a research session. Please note that the gift cards are not provided by NIU or the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, and we have no control or input on who is selected to participate in the research study.

What do you use to teach? Blackboard wants to know!

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hands typing on laptopWe all use a variety of content types, sources, and tools to teach our students, and Blackboard wants to make it easier to use content in their learning management system. To do that, they would like your feedback: How do you present information to students? What does your course reuse process look like? Do you make your own course materials, use Open Educational Resources (OER), or use content from the textbook publisher?

Blackboard is looking for instructors and instructional designers who are especially interested in course content, sharing content, and the reuse of content. If that sounds like you, please complete the survey at It consists of 12 questions, some multiple choice and some open-ended. Depending on how detailed your answers are, it should take between 10 and 20 minutes to complete the survey.

Spring 2012 Campuswide Survey

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filling out a survey formThe programs, resources, and services offered by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center are assessed on a regular basis. The Center’s assessment plan uses various mechanisms such as program evaluations by participants, six-month follow-up program evaluations, resource usage, consultations, program attendance, mentoring feedback, development grant reports, and unsolicited feedback from the Center’s clientele. As part of the Center’s assessment plan, the Center conducts a campuswide survey of faculty and academic supportive professional staff (SPS) every four years to assess the overall impact that the Center’s programs, resources, and services have on faculty and SPS.

During spring 2012, the Center designed and emailed a survey to nearly 1,890 NIU faculty and SPS. Data collected were analyzed the by the Director, Program Coordinator, and other staff to identify the Center’s programs and services that are effectively supporting its mission as well as opportunities for improving programs, resources, and services. The Center used the following process to create and distribute the survey: Step 1: In 2008, the survey was emailed to all faculty and staff; as a result, we received superfluous feedback from non-academic staff. Therefore, the Center created an email list of only teaching faculty, instructors and academic SPS which garnered more reliable data. Step 2: In 2008, some respondents indicated that they did not remember having attended any Center programs or used any services. In response to this issue, the survey was redesigned to allow respondents to self-identify as having attended a program or not having attended a program. Step 3: The survey was sent out via email listserv. Step 4: Data were collected and analyzed.

The results from the campuswide survey have helped Center staff to continue the programs and activities that were working well and to identify opportunities for improvement. Tables 1 – 3 are samples of findings on what is working well.

Table 1 lists modes of program delivery and participants’ preference. Participants were allowed to select all that applied. A significant result is that 89.1% of respondents indicated that they prefer face-to-face program delivery.

Table 1. Preferred mode of program delivery

I would prefer to attend programs offered by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center (select all that apply):



Online, real-time


Online, recorded (on-demand)


Mobile, recorded podcast



Table 2 lists a sample of significant results from the campuswide survey conducted in spring 2008 and spring 2012, and the percentage responses indicate “strongly agree” or “agree” to a sample of significant statements in the survey.

Table 2. Comparison of Significant results conducted in spring 2008 and spring 2012

Significant Statements from the Campuswide Survey

2008 % of Strongly Agree or Agree

2012 % of Strongly Agree or Agree

The concepts/techniques covered in Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center programs are applicable in my teaching and teaching-related activities.



My participation in Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center programs has potential benefit to students.



I have found Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center’s teaching-related consultations, classroom observations, and referral services to be useful.




Table 3 lists a sample of additional feedback from individual responses of participants to the campuswide survey conducted in spring 2012.

Table 3. Additional feedback from the spring 2012 Campuswide Survey

“There is a great selection of trainings offered every year. Really satisfied with the professional development opportunities right here on campus for staff.”
“The programs cover timely topics that are beneficial to both faculty and students. You are responsive to adding new topics and developing special programs for colleges and departments. Thank you.”
“The variety of options available are appreciated. I count on Faculty Development programs to keep me up to date with technology!”
“Each of the teaching-related workshops that I participated in helped make me a more effective teacher. I value the various teaching ideas that were presented.”
“The staff at the FDIDC are very knowledgeable regarding the most current instructional technology. They are available and willing to assist faculty on an individual basis when needed. They provide a valuable service to faculty and, in turn, their students who benefit from more effective teaching.”
“Every Faculty Development program I’ve attended has been planned and executed in an outstanding way. These programs add tremendous expertise to our faculty and staff and enhance our educational offerings to students.”
“The transition to Blackboard was incredible. I have learned new teaching techniques and how to use new technology.”
“The new faculty workshops were wonderful. The multicultural institute was useful to me as a teacher and researcher and also beneficial to my students.”
“All the workshops I have attended are very helpful indeed, both for me and for students.”


The spring 2012 campuswide survey was instrumental in identifying opportunities for improvement. The following items identify opportunities for improvement:

    1. Some respondents suggested they did not know the Center offers almost the same workshops to Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) as to faculty. In response to this finding, the Center plans to send program announcements to department chairs and graduate directors to raise awareness of the Center’s GTA program offerings. GTA programs are listed at:


  • Some faculty who have not attended workshops (according to the Center’s records) indicated they had attended; they may have confused participation in ITS, HRS, and Center workshops. In response, the Center plans to clarify between Center’s programs and programs offered by other departments.



  • Forty percent of respondents indicated that they would like more workshops delivered on mobile devices when appropriate, and so Center staff plan to offer more programs on mobile devices.


The Center currently has three levels of assessment of initial reaction to the new information, how they used the new information, and following up to inquire if participants believe the newly learned information has impacted their teaching and teaching-related duties and impacted their students. A fourth level of assessment will also include how participants used the new information (i.e., shared it with colleagues, students performed better because of it). The fourth level of assessment would also gather information if participants were unable to use the new information and why (i.e., not enough time, did not have the skills to do it, did not fit in with their courses, etc.).

During the summer of 2012, the Center held a staff retreat to further analyze data and to identify opportunities for continuous improvement. The next campuswide survey of faculty and supportive professional staff is scheduled for spring 2016.