Category: Tips & Tricks
The Blackboard Content Collection is an area of the blackboard server where files are stored. A unique characteristic of the Content Collection is that the files “saved” and/or “stored” on the server are accessible via the Internet. If you were to upload a file, e.g., a syllabus or a paper that you are writing to the content collection, you would have access to those documents as long as you have access to the Internet. These files can be linked into courses and/or shared by the owner with other users on the system.
Instructors use the Content Collection to store, share, and publish content within personal user folders, course folders, and Institution Folders throughout Courses in Blackboard. In Blackboard Content Collection, you can
• Store content for multiple courses you teach.
• Share content across courses and with other users.
• Students may have access to store or share files.
The Content Collection contains multiple repositories for users and courses to organize and share their content. Detailed information about the about the structure of the Content Collection is addressed in Blackboard Help. If you’d like an in-person consultation on how to do it, you can contact us to ask.
Interested in recording video lectures and other digital content but want higher quality than what you can make on your phone? As BU faculty, you have access to a studio in Mugar Library with high-quality recording equipment and software such as Camtasia. You can learn to use it by signing up for a consultation with an educational technologist. Once you’ve done that, you can book and reserve the room to use it at your convenience.
If you’d like your students to use ePortfolios but you don’t want to go through the setup process for assignments, there’s a simpler way to track what your students did when. Every Digication portfolio has a site map, accessible in the upper right of the portfolio below the BU logo. You can look at this site map to see all the pages in the portfolio, when they were last updated, and which student last updated them.
Are you interested in Turnitin, for academic integrity or the time-saving GradeMark features, but do not want your students’ papers added to the company’s proprietary database? There is a simple way to accomplish this. When creating a Turnitin assignment within Blackboard, press the Optional Settings button, and then select Submit papers to:. Change the drop-down option to no repository and papers will no longer be added to the database.
The EdTech Blog now has a Facebook page as well as our Twitter feed. New posts are now automatically pushed to both these pages, so you can keep up with the blog via your preferred social media site. And you can still get our posts in your email inbox or on an RSS feed, as before. There are now lots of ways to keep up with educational technology at BU.
In addition, we now have Share This options at the bottom of every post, so if you’re excited about a particular new edtech development you can share it on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or by print or email.
The BU Digital Learning Initiative has recently posted helpful guidelines about scripting videos for a MOOC (massive open online course). The guidelines may be of help for any use of prerecorded video in a teaching context, such as a “flipped” classroom. The infographic below identifies the multiple steps of the process.
A group of BU faculty and staff met with students in early May to hear their recommendations on uses of social media in the classroom. The students were all seniors, from COM and Sargent College (previously from CGS). We are summarizing their recommendations here for the wider BU community.
These students recommended not to force particular uses of social media in the class: let students use a closed course Facebook group as they see fit to build community, not grading them on it (or at most grading their participation pass-fail). They also recommended that faculty acknowledge and integrate ongoing current events into their classes, as a way of moving the focus off grades and into applied learning, and that Facebook and Twitter are appropriate platforms for this. For more informal discussions, they preferred closed course Facebook groups to Blackboard discussion forums.
There will likely be another meeting before the summer is out. If you’re interested in attending and have not already been invited to this group, please contact Amod Lele (he can be found via the BU Directory).
Do you currently use the discussion board tool in Blackboard? If so, you may be looking for ways to increase student engagement and participation inside your discussion forums. A common complaint about discussion boards is that unless they are graded or required by the instructor, students do not want to participate. The conversations between students are full of flattery and follow the leader, and often lack the depth that is found in the face-to-face classroom environment.
One possible solution is through the use of YouTube video postings to the discussion board in place of the traditional text responses. To set this up, students will need to create their own YouTube channel using a Google Account. Luckily, anyone can create a Gmail account or for added features, BU students and faculty are also able to set up Google Apps for Education accounts through BU: (http://www.bu.edu/tech/support/google/).
Once a YouTube channel is created, students can upload their video from either a smartphone or computer to their YouTube channel and copy the video’s Share URL into the Blackboard discussion board thread by clicking on the “Insert/Edit Embedded Media” button. Students who are concerned about posting personal information on YouTube have the option of saving videos as “unlisted.”
Digication, BU’s ePortfolio software, now allows Google app documents, including Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, Google Forms and more, to be embedded within an ePortfolio module. Students can create, share, and collaboratively edit a document in Google Docs and have the result be pushed to the portfolio, with the original revision history still available in Google Docs. You can find this function in Digication by pressing Add A Module, selecting the Google option, pressing Add This Module and following the instructions.
There has been a lot of buzz recently about an approach to presenting video content known as “in-video quizzing.” In-video quizzing involves inserting questions into pre-existing videos to periodically check the viewer’s understanding of what is being presented and/or as a more formal approach to assessment using video as the medium. Moreover, integrating quiz questions into videos is a way of creating more interaction between the typically passive viewer and the material, making for a more engaging experience. There are more and more tools appearing on the market that allow this functionality.
One tool that allows free use of their software with only a few features locked for premium subscription users is Zaption. With a free account, you can:
- Watch as many video lessons as you like
- Create your own video lessons using 6 interactive elements with a single video
- Share lessons with your students and colleagues
- Track viewer progress and responses with built-in analytics
- Copy and edit ready-to-use video lessons from the Zaption Gallery
As implied, there are other features available if you become a paying customer including LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) integration into Blackboard, but the free tools allow you to experiment quite a bit. Zaption’s Web-based service requires no installation and their interface is friendly and easy to use. A handful of BU faculty have begun to use Zaption in their online courses, but it is clear that it can be used in any course where students will be asked to watch video content outside of class. In-video quizzing can be a great way to capture students’ feedback or level of understanding of material presented in video form.