Category: Instructional Technology News

Instructional Tech News – Feb. 23

Customizing the Blackboard Grade Center
Need to align your Grade Center with your course syllabus? Learn how to create columns, weight grades, and adjust your schema with CIT’s Blackboard Advanced: Setting Up the Grade Center YouTube video.

Midterm Grades due March 5 at Midnight

Midterm grades are due 3/5 at 11:59 p.m. Instructors are required to submit midterm grades for all 100- and 200-level courses.  Midterm grading should be used to submit grades assigned for non-attendance.

Helpful Grading Info

Zoom with Closed Captioning and Live Transcripts
Zoom live transcription is now available for UA Zoom accounts! This can be enabled by the host, and any participants can view the captioning as needed. Live transcription only supports English. To enable captioning, sign into the Zoom web portal and edit In Meeting (Advanced) Settings.

Instructional Tech News – Feb. 8

Midterm grading has opened!

Depending on where you are in the process, you might be reaching for the ever handy, How to Upload Grades into myBama webpage, maybe you’re using Gradescope to evaluate handwritten assignments, or perhaps you’re looking into testing tools like Lockdown Browser. If you fall into one of these categories, or somewhere in between, don’t worry, we have the tools and tips you need.

Reporting a non-attendance grade? Find the date the student last accessed your Blackboard course using the Performance Dashboard or by viewing the Last Access column in the Full Grade Center.

Finally, a heads up that Blackboard Collaborate Ultra may experience downtime Thurs. Feb. 11 from 1am – 5am because of scheduled maintenance.

Review our website for more information on each of these topics, and as always, contact us with questions. We’re here to help.

Instructional Tech News – Jan. 25

Using Panopto in Safari Reminder

Safari users may need to make a settings adjustment if prompted to log into Blackboard when accessing a course. We have step-by-step guidance on our website. This setting can also affect other Blackboard content, such as RedShelf or publisher content.

Zoom Airplay Issue

Our teams are investigating an issue where some presenters are unable to connect devices via Airplay when screensharing during a Zoom meeting. Visit the CIT News page for updates as our teams work toward a resolution.

VoiceThread Workshops

Our colleagues at VoiceThread are offering many free webinars in the coming weeks. One that could be particularly beneficial for UA instructors, Using VoiceThread in Blackboard. Learn more about this webinar, and others, on the VoiceThread website.

CIT Workshops

Speaking of workshops, we have our own in-house lineup. Looking ahead I suggest the Feb. 17 workshop, Using Collaborate Ultra in Blackboard. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a superb option for A/V and online classes as the tool is within your Blackboard course. Learn more, and register for the workshop, on our website.

You have questions, we have answers.

Give us a call at 205-348-3532, email us at cit@ua.edu or book an appointment to meet with us online.

Instructional Tech News – Jan. 19

Zoom reminders, new virtual learning spaces list, Respondus guides and webinars.

Zoom Best Practices

Review our Zoom best practices webpage to ensure you set up Zoom meetings that are both secure and accessible.  Remember that attendees are not required to have a Zoom account, so be sure to not check the box requiring all attendees to be authenticated users.

Virtual Learning Spaces

OIT has created a searchable list of virtual learning spaces – areas where students can attend or participate in online classes while on campus. Check out the new list, and please share with your students.

Respondus Tools
If you are using (or thinking of using) LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor for remote exams, these resources will be helpful in your preparation.

  1. Rapid Rollout Guide for Instructors – Essential information for using Respondus Monitor with online exams.
  2. Frequent Training Webinars with Live Q&A – Free, 45-minute training sessions. Each session is followed by an extended Q&A period where questions are answered live.
  3. 24/7 Live Chat – Remember, students can access built-in troubleshooting and live chat from within Respondus Monitor if they encounter a technical problem.

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.

Have questions?