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.

Review of Classroom Response Systems Complete

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clickersFrom the end of March through mid-April 2016, faculty and staff from Northern Illinois University participated in a review of five classroom response (“clicker”) systems, facilitated by the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center (for an overview of the process, timeline, and the faculty needs assessment, please see this earlier article). The review was undertaken because of intermittent issues with the current officially recognized and supported clicker system, rapidly changing clicker technology, and the recent increase in adoption of multiple competing clicker systems across campus which potentially forces students to buy more than one device.

However, due to low participation in the review process, any change of systems would not represent perspectives of everyone who uses a clicker system across NIU. The faculty who participated in the review recommended not changing systems at this time, and the Faculty Development Advisory Committee (comprised of faculty across all colleges) concurred with the decision. For the 2016-2017 academic year, Turning Technologies will remain the officially-supported clicker system at NIU.

Whenever possible, faculty are encouraged to use the officially-supported clicker system, to reduce costs to students, increase the value of the purchase they make, and take advantage of student familiarity with a common system. However, there are many factors to consider when adopting technology, so faculty are not required to use the officially-supported system.

When choosing a clicker or student-response system, there are a number of alternatives you may consider to minimize cost to students. First, if your purpose is to increase student engagement as opposed to testing, a physical clicker device may be unnecessary. For Turning Technologies’ clickers, the ResponseWare license is cheaper than the clicker remote and students can participate using their mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. In that case, ask the Bookstore to add license cards to the list of recommended materials for your course. Second, if your class is not large, you may be able to use one of several free systems, such as Poll Everywhere (free up to 40 students) or Socrative (free and supports up to 50 students).

If any lingering issues or concerns regarding the use of clickers for instructional purposes arise, please don’t hesitate to contact the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center at facdev@niu.edu or 815-753-0595.

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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