Category: Instructional Technology News

Instructional Tech News – Jan. 12

Zoom updates, Blackboard tutorials and beginning of the semester reminders.

Perform Zoom updates.
Before your first Zoom appointment of the semester, be sure to update your Zoom client. Zoom regularly publishes updates to keep the software secure. Zoom’s website offers instructions on how to update the software. Some recent updates include enhanced nonverbal feedback, raise hand for host and co-host, poll reports available during live session, and improved grouping of security options when scheduling.

Make course readings active with Hypothesis.
Have you seen Hypothesis in the “build content” menu of your Blackboard courses? Setting up readings with Hypothesis allows you to host student discussions right on top of your course content (and grade them, too!). Add images, links and videos into the margins of your content. To learn more, please contact Nathan Loewen or schedule a meeting with the Hypothesis team.

Provision Panopto.

Before using Panopto, make sure it is connected to your course. To get started, click on the Course Videos link in the course menu of Blackboard Learn. If you receive a message that says your course is not provisioned, follow the prompts to configure your course. For more information on Panopto, visit the CIT website.

Need a refresher on Blackboard basics? Visit our “Getting Started” resources.

A few more helpful Blackboard Learn tutorials:

Book an Appointment
Have questions about setting up your course? The CIT is here to help. Book an appointment to meet with us online.

Instructional Tech News – Dec. 7

Importing Final Grades

Final grades must be entered by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, Dec. 15.  In case you need a refresher, we’ve got step-by-step instructions for importing grades into myBama from Blackboard.

Save a Copy of Grade Center

As always, CIT recommends saving a copy of your course’s Grade Center as a backup for your records. Blackboard Learn offers step-by-step guidance.

Panopto Maintenance

Panopto Cloud will be updated with new features and improvements on Saturday, Dec. 19. Panopto will be unavailable from 8pm – 11pm during the maintenance window.

January Blackboard Learn Update

Blackboard Learn will undergo a 24-hour update beginning Thursday, Jan. 7 at 5pm through Friday, Jan. 8 at 5pm. Blackboard Learn will be unavailable during this maintenance window.

Spring Semester Blackboard Courses

OK, ok, if you choose not to read this until January – we understand! However, for all the planners out there… we want to let you know that your courses will be enabled in Blackboard automatically, ready for your content! Want to reuse material from previous semesters? Check out our website for guidance on copying content from existing Blackboard courses.  Teaching cross-listed or duplicate sections? Find out more about Blackboard supersections before you start building content.

Instructional Tech News – Nov. 30

The semester is nearly complete! Here are a few instructional tech reminders as you wrap up.

Final Exam Proctoring Options

Instructors have a few options for final exam proctoring.

  • Respondus Lockdown Browser:  Respondus Lockdown Browser is an internet browser that establishes a secure testing environment within Blackboard.  While taking an exam in Respondus, students are not able to access any other functions or applications on the computer until the exam is complete. Learn more on the CIT website.
  • Respondus Monitor:  Respondus Monitor is an add-on feature for Lockdown Browser that uses a student’s computer webcam to record exam sessions, flagging suspicious behavior. More information about Respondus Monitor is available on the CIT website.
  • Examity: Through CARES funding, the College of Continues Studies was able to make a limited amount of online test proctoring through Examity available for final exams. Examity is an online proctoring service that offers live test proctoring. Learn more about Examity on the Bama by Distance website.

Importing Final Grades

Tasks you don’t do regularly (like importing final grades) are easy to forget.  Good news – we’ve got step-by-step instructions (with screenshots) for importing grades into myBama from Blackboard.

Looking Ahead, Blackboard Learn Update

Blackboard Learn will undergo a 24-hour update beginning Thursday, Jan. 7 at 5pm through Friday, Jan. 8 at 5pm. Blackboard Learn will be unavailable during this maintenance window. We’ll send plenty of reminders closer to the upgrade.

Book an Appointment

Let our team review your exam settings in Blackboard to help ensure a smooth exam experience for you and your students. The CIT is here to help. Book an appointment to meet with us online.

Instructional Tech News – Nov. 16

It’s here – the final week of on-campus instruction. Below are a few tips that can assist you in wrapping up in the classroom and transitioning to finish the semester remotely.

Final Exam Proctoring

Through CARES funding, the College of Continues Studies was able to make a limited amount of online test proctoring available for final exams. Learn more on the Bama by Distance website.

Panopto Assignments for Students 

Many faculty members have dubbed Panopto as their favorite tech tool of 2020, but did you realize that students can record assignments with Panopto too? This week Panopto will host a discussion on how to allow students to record and upload videos in Panopto folders. Learn more, and register for the webinar, on Panopto’s website.

UA Libraries Sanford Media Center

If students need to make a recording outside of a Panopto assignment, encourage them to use Zoom or Adobe Creative Cloud software. Did you know that an area exists on campus to assist students with these digital tools? The Samford Media Center in Gorgas Library helps students with creative technologies for presentations and projects. Check it out, and make sure your students are aware too!

TurningPoint Web

Were clickers your go-to for student engagement and participation in face-to-face classes? Good news, TurningPoint Web offers the same “clicker” technology for virtual and hybrid classes. Here’s a quick video of TurningPoint tips.

Looking Ahead, Blackboard Learn Update

Blackboard Learn will undergo a 24-hour update beginning Thursday, Jan. 7 at 5pm through Friday, Jan. 8 at 5pm. Blackboard Learn will be unavailable during this maintenance window. We’ll send plenty of reminders closer to the upgrade.

Best of luck to you all as you finish the semester. Remember, we’re here to help.

Instructional Tech News – Nov. 10

Gradescope License Renewed

UA’s license for Gradescope will be renewed for the upcoming year, thanks to all who submitted feedback. If you haven’t used Gradescope yet, check it out! Gradescope is an ideal tool for assessing hand-written work. Below is an example of how Gradescope can be used to grade a math equation. Learn more on the CIT website. 

example of gradescope being used to solve math equation

Consider Alternative Assignments using Adobe Creative Cloud

Did you know that all UA students and faculty have access to Adobe Creative Cloud software? This includes Spark, Audition, Photoshop, InDesign and others. Consider developing alternative and creative assignments (podcasts, timelines, videos) for your students. Visit the Adobe Education Exchange for inspiration.

Reminder – Respondus Webinars

Many instructors may be planning to use Respondus for final exams. Make plans to attend one of Repondus’ upcoming webinars that offer comprehensive training for using Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor for online exams 

Reminder – Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Maintenance

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra will undergo scheduled maintenance Nov. 12 from 1:00 a.m. until 5:00 a.m. Collaborate Ultra users will experience intermittent availability of the service during the scheduled maintenance window

We’re here to help.

Want someone to look over your test settings in preparation for final exams? We can do that – and more. Book an appointment to meet virtually with CIT today!

Instructional Tech News – Nov. 3

Only a few short weeks remain for in-person instruction on campus. Review the information below to make the most of remaining class time, and be prepared for finals.

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Maintenance
Heads up! Blackboard Collaborate Ultra will undergo scheduled maintenance Nov. 6 and Nov. 12 from 1:00 a.m. until 5:00 a.m. Collaborate Ultra users will experience intermittent availability of the service during the scheduled maintenance window.

Blackboard Course Retention Policy
CIT is implementing our LMS Course Retention policy. Over the next few months, Blackboard users may notice that courses prior to Spring 2018 will no longer appear in their course lists. Have course content you want to keep? No problem. We have several methods available for backing up Blackboard content. Check out our website for more information and step-by-step guides.

Final Presentation – Tech Options
Does your course require students to give final presentations? We have tech tools that can help. Review our website to learn more about VoiceThread Assignments and Zoom Spotlighting for student presentations.

Respondus LockDown Browser & Respondus Monitor Online Training
Throughout November Respondus is offering comprehensive training webinars for instructors who plan to use LockDown Browser and/or Respondus Monitor with online exams. Review the training opportunities, and register, on the Respondus website to become more familiar with these tools.

Request a Practice Course
Want to try out some new features/content in your Blackboard course, but not yet ready to implement this semester? Request a non-integrated Blackboard course. Consider this your sandbox to play with new features and develop course content. Practice makes perfect, right? Request a course by reaching out to cit@ua.edu.

As always, we’re here to help. Book an appointment for a virtual meeting with CIT.

Instructional Tech News – Oct. 19

Engaging Students Online

Looking to increase student engagement and collaboration in your Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate environment? Visit the CIT YouTube Channel to see Jennifer Roth-Burnette, Director of Academic Support at the Capstone Center for Student Success, share advice for engaging students online. Dr. Roth-Burnette provides simple tactics you can implement in your courses to increase participation and interaction.

Texthelp Change

UA’s enterprise license agreement for the Texthelp suite of tools will not be renewed in FY21.  After conversations with campus partners, we determined that we did not have a user basis to justify an enterprise-level agreement for the product. However, Texthelp offers free premium subscriptions of Read&Write and EquatIO for educators on the Texthelp website. Additionally, one alternative to the Texthelp suite of tools are the Learning Tools offered by Microsoft 365. If you, or users in your area, have any need beyond the scope of the free tools, please let us know.

Gradescope Usage Survey

UA is evaluating if the license for Gradescope should be renewed for FY21. If you are a current Gradescope user, please complete a quick survey about your use of this tool and your opinion about its renewal. We will keep you updated on survey feedback and our next steps.

VoiceThread New Assignments

Exciting news, VoiceThread has a new assignments feature! Starting today, instructors can start opting their courses in to the new assignment features. VoiceThread assignments provide a major overhaul and redesign of the entire user experience with many new features and streamlined workflows. Instructors are not required to update to the new assignments features. Courses can be updated individually, giving instructors the opportunity to test out new features on a small scale.

Check out the VoiceThread website for detailed instructions on how to enable the new assignment feature. Once the new assignments feature have been activated, visit the VoiceThread site again for step-by-step user guides.

Reach Out for Help

As always, we’re here to help. Book an appointment to meet with CIT. It’s not too early for us to help you prep for final exams!

Instructional Tech News – Oct. 12

Testing Tips

We receive many questions from instructors regarding how to best secure tests in Blackboard. Blackboard offers settings that can easily be enabled to increase the security of online exams. Check out our Testing Tips for Instructors video to learn how to implement random answers and questions, timers, test availability and more.

Respondus Lockdown Browser – Troubleshooting Tips

A reliable internet connection is key to success with Respondus Lockdown Browser. Wired internet connections are available in most on-campus residences. If students are connected via WIFI and experience issues with Respondus Lockdown Browser, we have a few troubleshooting tips available on our website.

Respondus Virtual Training

Respondus is hosting several upcoming virtual webinars free for all instructors. Sessions will provide detailed demonstrations of both Respondus and Respondus Monitor, including recent enhancements that make Respondus Monitor even more effective and easy to use. Learn more, and register, on the Respondus website.

Encourage Engagement with Virtual Office Hours

Instructors have reported an increase of students attending virtual office hours. Additionally, students have shared with us that they enjoy the opportunity to chat online with their instructors. Keep up the classroom engagement and conversations with students via virtual office hours through Blackboard CollaborateZoom or Microsoft Teams.

Technology Need Application

Please remember that loaner hotspots, web cams and laptops are available for students in need. Students may submit a Technology Need Application on the Student Care and Well-Being website.

Meet with CIT

Book an appointment for a virtual meeting with CIT. Visit our website, and click “Virtual Help Session” to book an appointment. Select the technology you’d like to discuss, pick your date and time, then add it to your calendar! We’ll see you then.

Instructional Tech News – Oct. 6

Midterm grade reminders, student technology needs, and a new way to book an appointment with CIT.

Midterm Grade Reminder

Can you believe it’s already October? Time to enter midterm grades! Remember we have helpful resources on the CIT website, including instructions for entering Midterm Grades in Blackboard Grade Center. We also have guidance on importing Midterm Grades from Blackboard into MyBama.

Technology Need Application

The Division of Student Life, Office of Information Technology and University Libraries are partnering to provide students with necessary technology tools. Hotspots, web cameras and laptops are available for lease to students in need. Students may submit a Technology Need Application on the Student Care and Well-Being website.

UA Libraries Respondus-Ready Computers

Many computers in UA Libraries are equipped with Respondus LockDown Browser and web cameras for Respondus Monitor. Students may reserve a Respondus-ready computer through the UA Libraries website.

Book an Appointment with CIT

You can now book an appointment for a virtual meeting with CIT. Select the technology you’d like to discuss, pick your date and time, then add it to your calendar! We’re also available to meet with instructors for Blackboard settings check. Visit our website, and click “Virtual Help Session” to book an appointment.

Instructional Tech News – Sept. 28

Gradescope Workshop

Looking for a tool to streamline your grading process? Join us tomorrow, Sept. 29 at 1pm for a virtual workshop hosted by Gradescope. Gradescope is a feedback and assessment tool that streamlines grading while providing grading consistency. You can find details, and a link to register, on the CIT website.

Blackboard Calendar

Juggling competing assignments and due dates can be a challenge. The Blackboard Calendar can help students keep track of upcoming assignments, events and other due dates. Instructors can add due dates to gradable items in Blackboard. Learn more about capabilities of Blackboard Calendar in our latest YouTube Video.

Zoom Features

Along with midterm testing, many courses feature the opportunity for student presentations. If you’re hosting student presentations in your course, check out these new Zoom features including multi-spotlight, multi-pin and video recording.

Settings Checks

Did you know that CIT can offer guidance by reviewing your Blackboard settings? Before offering an exam, invite us to take a look at your course and exam settings to optimize your exam for effective functionality.

We’re here to help – both students and instructors. Please remind students that they can click the red “Support ?” button at the top of Blackboard for tech help 24/7.