Instructional Technology News – August 18 – Welcome to Fall 2021 and Happy #FirstDayUA

First Day UA 2021Dear instructors,

Welcome to the fall 2021 semester at The University of Alabama! Your colleagues here in The Center for Instructional Technology are available to help with your instructional technology and accessibility needs. We provide training, support, workshops, webinars and consultations for  UA’s instructional technologies which include Blackboard Learn, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Flipgrid, Gradescope, Hypothesis, Panopto, People.ua.edu websites, Respondus, Turnitin, Turning mobile responseware and Zoom.

Learn more about each of these technologies on our website. A few noteworthy items to bring to your attention:

Blackboard Learn

In case you missed it, Blackboard Learn recently moved to the cloud! With the move came a new look, Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation. Ultra provides a new way to navigate course content that will save you time and help you stay on top of what’s important. Visit our website to see highlights of Ultra Base Navigation. We ask your continued patience as we continue to work through Known Issues following the recent upgrade.

Panopto

Before a course will appear in your Panopto list of courses, you must provision that course for use with Panopto. You can provision your course by clicking on the “Course Videos” button that appears in your Blackboard course menu and following the setup instructions. We’re happy to share that Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) generated captions are now automatically added to Panopto videos. Accurate captions enhance learning and ensure access for all. Be sure to review and edit captions for accuracy.

Hypothesis

Following a successful pilot, Hypothesis is here to stay! Hypothesis is a collaborative annotation tool. It makes reading active, visible, and social, enabling students to engage with their texts, teachers, ideas, and each other in deeper, more meaningful ways. Visit our website for Hypothesis highlights and resources.

Gradescope

Gradescope is another tool recently adopted after a successful pilot. Gradescope can be used for evaluating handwritten responses, programming, diagrams, formulae, and other coursework that can be challenging to assess virtually. Additional information about Gradescope and steps for adding it to your Blackboard course are available on the CIT website.

Reach out for help.

We’re here to help. You can reach us at cit@ua.edu or 205-348-3532. Join us at an upcoming webinar or schedule a consultation with us.

Want more updates from us? Subscribe to our news updates and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

We wish you all the best this semester!

Instructional Technology News – August 16

Hello instructors,

Melissa here from The Center for Instructional Technology. As you may know, our team recently migrated UA’s instance of Blackboard Learn to the cloud. While the migration was successful, there are a couple of Blackboard-related Known Issues I’d like to make sure you’re aware of. I also ask your patience as your colleagues in CIT work to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.

  1. Certain Banner events – users getting added to or dropped from courses, instructor course assignments, etc. – continue to process. Until this issue is resolved, your Blackboard course and user lists may not reflect the same data that is in myBama.
  2. The Blackboard Learn Section Maintenance tool typically accessible via the Faculty/Academics tab in myBama is not functioning correctly. Until this issue is resolved, instructors wishing to combine two or more Blackboard courses must contact CIT to request the creation of supersections. Please include the course registration number (CRN) of each course you wish to combine in your request.

Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we work to resolve these issues and bring Blackboard Learn back to full functionality.

Melissa

RESOLVED – Known Issue: Banner Event Processing

As of Monday, August 16, at 4:25 PM, CIT is aware that certain Banner events – users getting added to or dropped from courses, instructor course assignments, etc. – continue to process. Until this issue is resolved, your Blackboard course and user lists may not reflect the same data that is in myBama.

RESOLVED – Known Issue: Section Maintenance Tool

Update, Tuesday, August 17 at 4:15 PM:

The Blackboard Learn Section Maintenance tool is now functioning. Instructors wishing to combine two or more Blackboard courses should clear their browser’s cache before using the tool and contact CIT with any remaining questions or issues (please include the course registration number (CRN) of each course you are attempting to combine in your request). Note that there may be a delay in assigning newly created supersections to the correct term.


Update, Monday, August 16 at 4:25 PM:

The Blackboard Learn Section Maintenance tool typically accessible via the Faculty/Academic tab in myBama is not functioning correctly. Until this issue is resolved, instructors wishing to combine two or more Blackboard courses must contact CIT to request the creation of supersections. Please include the course registration number (CRN) of each course you wish to combine in your request.


As of Monday, August 16, at 8:15 AM, CIT is aware of ongoing issues with the section maintenance tool, particularly with the combining of Blackboard Learn sections. Instructors may not be able to combine courses right now. We are working on the issue and will update this notice once the issue is repaired.

Instructional Technology News – August 13

Hello instructors,  

I am pleased to let you know that UA’s instance of Blackboard Learn has successfully moved to the cloud! Blackboard Learn, and the other affected instructional technologies, are now available. Thank you for your understanding and patience as we performed these necessary upgrades! 

Notes and next steps: 

  • I invite you to log into Blackboard Learn and check out the new Ultra Base Navigation. Step-by-step guides and a video introduction of the new Ultra look are available on our website. 
  • If you use digital resources from a third-party in your Blackboard Learn course, please test them and confirm their functionality as soon as possible. If you find that anything is not fully functional, please let us know.  
  • Certain Banner events – users getting added to or dropped from courses, new course and supersection creation, etc. – will continue to process over the weekend. If your course list does not appear as expected on Monday, please contact us after confirming your schedule in myBama. Note that access to some courses, including those supported by The College of Continuing Studies, is not available until the first day of classes. 
  • Panopto users: Before a course will appear in your Panopto list of courses, you must provision that course for use with Panopto. You can provision your course by clicking on the “Course Videos” button that appears in your Blackboard course menu and following the setup instructions. 

Join us next week for a live, virtual “Meet Ultra Base Navigation” workshop where we provide an overview of the new Ultra look. Details about these and other workshops are available on our website. We’ll be in touch next week with more beginning of the semester reminders as we approach First Day UA! 

Thank you,  

Melissa 

Instructional Technology News – August 9

Hello instructors,

Meg here from the Office of Information Technology. While our CIT team is busy migrating Blackboard to the cloud, I want to share a few IT items to help you (and your students) be prepared for the Fall 2021 Semester.

Crimson email is now powered by Microsoft O365.

Early this summer OIT migrated student and alumni Crimson email accounts from Google to Microsoft O365. We did this to increase collaboration among students and faculty/staff by hosting email together in one environment. Hosting student email in O365 allows for students, faculty and staff to be in the same email directory, and it allows for more functionality with tools like Microsoft Teams.

Students can use a variety of methods to access their email. Here’s four options:

  1. Log into myBama.ua.edu and click the Crimson Email link
  2. Visit mail.crimson.ua.edu on the web
  3. Add the account to the Outlook desktop app
  4. Add the account to the Outlook mobile app

Students should be accessing their email regularly to receive important campus updates. If your students have any questions about email, please direct them to the OIT website where we have more information and answers to frequently asked questions – oit.ua.edu/crimson.

Connect to Eduroam wireless internet.

This summer we changed how individuals connect to the Eduroam wireless internet network. Individuals must connect with an email address and myBama password.

For faculty and staff, that’s your myBama username@ua.edu email address. Students can connect with their Crimson email address. Returning students and faculty may need to re-establish a connection upon arrival to campus. More information about campus internet service is available on our website.

Download free software.

OIT offers many software packages to students, faculty and staff. Visit oit.ua.edu/software to download software tools like Adobe Creative Cloud, MATLAB, McAfee Antivirus, Microsoft O365 and more.

Move content from Google Drive to Microsoft OneDrive.

Beginning May 2022, OIT will no longer support Google Drive for Crimson accounts. Students should begin using UA’s preferred cloud storage service, Microsoft OneDrive. Step-by-step guidance is available on our website for moving content out of Google Drive and into Microsoft OneDrive. If you share any materials with students via Google Drive, please make the switch to OneDrive.

We’re here to help.

Visit oit.ua.edu for more information about IT services.  You can also reach us at the IT Service Desk, itservicedesk@ua.edu or 205-348-5555.

Continue learning, even while Blackboard is unavailable.

The CIT team is hard at work updating Blackboard Learn. Melissa will be in touch later this week when Blackboard service resumes. In the meantime, we’ve added several webinars and workshops to our website to encourage students and instructors to continue learning, even while Blackboard Learn is down. I hope to see you in one of the Outlook and OneDrive workshops tomorrow!

Thanks,

Meagan

Continue Learning While Blackboard is Down

Looking for ways to prep for the fall semester while Blackboard is unavailable for scheduled upgrades? Check out the following resources to connect with other instructors and get inspired!

Flipgrid Intro Workshop

Thu. Aug. 5, 10am – 11am

UA is transitioning from VoiceThread to Flipgrid during the Blackboard Learn upgrade. Flipgrid offers a modern, fun and accessible video discussion option for UA instructors and students, ideal for engaging students asynchronously. Learn more about it in this CIT-led webinar.

Webinar information and access

Zoom Basics Webinar

Tues. Aug. 10, 10am – 11am

Learn the basic features for conducting a Zoom meeting in this CIT-led webinar.

Webinar information and access

Panopto Webinar:  Discover the Future of Learning, 31 Million Recordings Later

Tues. Aug. 10, 1:15pm – 1:45pm

The pandemic challenged our understanding of how and when learning takes place and because of that, we can’t simply go back to the way things were. Panopto has gathered millions of data points from over 31 million recordings over the last 18 months and analyzed them to uncover what students and faculty foresee as the future of learning.

Register Now

Outlook + One Drive Workshop

Tues. Aug. 10, 12pm or 4pm

Make plans to join a live webinar for an overview and best practices of both OneDrive and Outlook. UA’s Microsoft partner, Kristi Collins, will be offering two sessions (12pm and 4pm) on Tuesday, August 10.

Learn more and register for the webinar through the UA Events Calendar.

Adobe Digital Literacy Café: Low-lift, High-impact Digital Teaching and Learning

Wed. Aug. 11, 10am – 11:30am

Adobe pros share their insights on easy-to-implement strategies for potentially high-impact digital teaching and learning. They will discuss successes with digital storytelling platforms such as Adobe Spark that have flat learning curves and wide accessibility.

Register Now

Zoom Advanced Webinar

Wed. Aug. 11, 10am – 11am

This CIT-led webinar will cover cloud recording, recurring meetings, breakout rooms, polls, and reports.

Webinar information and access

People.ua.edu Workshop

Thu. Aug. 12, 10am – 11:30am

Create a professional faculty or graduate student website. Pre-registration required at http://people.ua.edu.

Register Now

Blackboard Instructor Webinar Series: Teaching with Blackboard from Basics to Advanced

Various dates and times, August – September

Join or register to receive a recording of one or more sessions in this series of free webinars and “ask the expert” open office hours presented by Blackboard Academy. Note: UA users have the Ultra experience with the Original Course View.

Register Now

LinkedIn Learning Courses via UA LMS

UA LMS provides access to LinkedIn Learning, an online content provider with thousands of courses in software, creative, and business skills, including Lynda.com content. Search for topics of interest or browse categories across the Full LinkedIn Learning Catalog.

UA LMS LinkedIn Learning Catalogs

Our team is hard at work upgrading Blackboard and moving it to the cloud, we’ll be in touch on August 13 when Blackboard Learn service resumes.

Instructional Technology News – August 3

It’s here. After more than one full year of preparation, the CIT is moving Blackboard Learn to the cloud! We’ve been buzzing about this upgrade since April, and we appreciate your patience as we perform the upgrade to make UA’s instance of Blackboard Learn a more flexible, scalable and resilient platform.

Blackboard Learn unavailable Aug 5-13

In case you missed it, Blackboard Learn will be unavailable Aug. 5-13 for a database migration and upgrade. With the upgrade comes an enhanced look known as Ultra Base Navigation. Ultra provides a new way to navigate course content that will save you time and help you stay on top of what’s important. Visit our website to see a preview of Ultra, along with answers to frequently asked questions.

While Blackboard is down, I encourage you to partake in an instructional technology workshop. Meet your new favorite tool: Flipgrid, or refresh your Zoom skills. We hope to see you in a workshop next week.

Our team will be offering a new workshop – Meet Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation, to introduce the new features that come with Ultra. Make plans to attend!

We’ll be in touch next week as we wrap up the migration to the cloud. As always, reach out to us with any questions or concerns. We’re here to help.

Instructional Technology News – July 23

Final grades due, more information about the Blackboard Learn SaaS upgrade, and hello Flipgrid/goodbye VoiceThread. Subscribe to our news updates and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Final Grades due August 3

Did you know you can import your final grades from Blackboard Learn with just a few clicks? Learn how on our website: Importing Grades Into myBama from Blackboard. Grades for all Summer classes must be submitted via myBama no later than 11:59pm on Tuesday, August 3. For additional information on non-attendance grading as well as other grading policies, definitions, and terminology, please visit the University Registrar’s Grade Reporting page. Speaking of “final,” if you administer exams via Blackboard Learn, you might share this resource with your students: Testing Tips for Students

Blackboard Learn unavailable August 5-13

Blackboard Learn and certain tools accessed through Blackboard Learn (Panopto, Collaborate, and Turnitin) will be unavailable from Aug. 5 until Aug. 13 while UA’s instance of Blackboard Learn moves from being hosted in Blackboard’s data centers to being hosted in the cloud, also known as software as a service (SaaS).

Moving UA’s Blackboard Learn instance to SaaS allows for flexibility, scalability, resilience and innovation. The move also allows us to deploy Blackboard Ultra Base navigation, which offers a modern look that is more accessible and fully responsive. If you’ve used Blackboard Collaborate or the Blackboard Learn mobile app before, you’ve seen the Ultra look. Although the look is new, the course features and workflows remain the same, so there is little learning curve for students and instructors. There are, however, some new ways to navigate the Blackboard Learn environment that benefit all users.

We’ve posted more information about the upgrade, answers to frequently asked questions, and guides and tutorials on the CIT website: Blackboard Learn SaaS upgrade information – and a new way to navigate Blackboard Learn

We think these resources are especially helpful for instructors and students:

Base Navigation for Instructors
Base Navigation Video for Instructors
Base Navigation Guide for Instructors (PDF)

Base Navigation for Students
Base Navigation Video for Students
Base Navigation Guide for Students (PDF)

Flipgrid to replace VoiceThread

UA is transitioning from VoiceThread to Flipgrid as our video discussion and collaboration tool. Flipgrid offers a modern, fun and accessible video discussion option for UA instructors and students, ideal for engaging students asynchronously. Learn more on our website, and start using Flipgrid today: Flipgrid to Replace VoiceThread

VoiceThread will be removed during the August 5-13 Blackboard Learn upgrade. If you previously used VoiceThread for recorded lectures, you can export that content and upload into Panopto, then share it as a link in Flipgrid. Step-by-step instructions on how to export VoiceThread content are available on our website:  How to Export VoiceThread Content

We’re here to help! Contact the Center for Instructional Technology for help with instructional technology needs, questions and concerns.

Blackboard Learn SaaS upgrade information – and a new way to navigate Blackboard Learn

Blackboard is moving to the cloud!

August 5 – 13, Blackboard Learn will be unavailable while UA’s instance of Blackboard Learn moves from being hosted in Blackboard’s data centers to being hosted in the cloud, also known as software as a service (SaaS). Moving UA’s Blackboard Learn instance to SaaS allows for flexibility, scalability, resilience and innovation. Moving to SaaS also allows us to deploy Blackboard Ultra Base navigation, a new way to navigate and access your Blackboard Learn course content that will save you time and help you stay on top of what’s most important. Although the look is new, the course features and workflows remain the same. You can learn more about the move on the CIT website: Blackboard Learn SaaS.

Here is some additional information about the move to Blackboard Learn SaaS and Blackboard Ultra Base navigation.

Why is Blackboard Learn SaaS being integrated so close to the start of the semester? Was an earlier time not doable for CIT?

The Blackboard Learn upgrade is occurring August 5 – 13. Because courses are offered throughout the summer, there are very few time windows that allow for system downtime, maintenance and upgrades.

If you take a look at the Academic Calendar, you’ll see that spring 2021 courses ended May 4 with the final grade entry deadline at 11:59pm. Also, the Interim session began on May 3. There was no available time in the month of May where students and instructors were not using the Blackboard Learn system for active courses. Courses run through the summer, then the final grade entry for summer courses is August 3 at 11:59pm.

We certainly understand that there is no good time to bring down a critical system like Blackboard Learn, and we only plan for such downtime when the system is not in use for active courses.

Our teams will begin the upgrade on August 5 and work as efficiently as possible to bring the system back up by August 13 at the latest. The good news is that with this move to SaaS, the Blackboard Learn system will feature less long-term downtimes for maintenance and upgrades thanks to it being hosted in the cloud.

It looks like Blackboard will have a new UI with the update. Will this require professors/admin/users to be retrained with the new system?

Ultra navigation > click into a course
Ultra Base Navigation—navigation outside of courses

Moving to Blackboard SaaS allows for our team to implement Blackboard’s Ultra Base Navigation. This offers a modern look that is more accessible and fully responsive. If you’ve used Blackboard Collaborate or the Blackboard Learn mobile app before, you’ve seen the Ultra look. Although the look is new, the course features and workflows remain the same, so there is little learning curve for instructors. There are, however, some new ways to navigate the Blackboard Learn environment that benefit both students and instructors.

Was UA involved in any of the new features? Is there anything being added that users have been asking for?

By surfacing information from all your courses in one place, Ultra provides a new way to navigate course content that will save you time and help you stay on top of what’s important. The personalized interface enables quick access to relevant information. It highlights what’s new, what’s due and offers insights into performance. Base Navigation works on your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone, so your learning experience will be consistent across devices. The ability to access information across courses and a fully responsive, more accessible design are much-anticipated features that UA and other colleges and universities have been requesting for some time.

One of the new features is the ability to balance load. Were there ever any Blackboard outages last year due to overload?

We did not have load-related outages in the past year, largely because Blackboard doubled the number of servers allocated for UA’s use when we moved to remote operations in March 2020. The move to SaaS hosting means that the vendor can manage server resources more dynamically without additional ongoing cost to UA.

What kind of new tutorials and guides will be released? When should we expect them?

Guides and tutorials are already available on the CIT website. We think these are especially helpful for instructors and students:

Base Navigation for Instructors
Base Navigation Video for Instructors
Base Navigation Guide for Instructors (PDF)

Base Navigation for Students
Base Navigation Video for Students
Base Navigation Guide for Students (PDF)

As we approach the August upgrade, we’ll share additional information here and via our Blackboard Instructors and other mailing lists. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our news updates and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, where we regularly share updates and resources.

Have questions?