I am always thrilled when there is finally a fabulous solution to a long-awaited and persistent annoyance. For as long as I have been involved with learning management systems at Concordia, faculty have consistently asked for a way to view and navigate a course as a student. Instructors would understandably want to know how the course looks and operates from the student perspective.
Blackboard made a small step toward providing faculty with a student view by incorporating the "Edit On/Edit Off" button. This feature gave a pseudo-view of what it was like to be a student navigating a course. However, it didn't necessarily test functionality. Faculty still were not able to test assessments by taking an exam or submitting an assignment. In the past, Instructional Technology has created test student accounts for faculty as a work-around, but this process required a lot of administrative management for both faculty and IT staff.
Finally, a complete solution is now available! Thanks to the developers at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, there is a Blackboard building block that allows instructors to navigate their course as a demo student. Faculty can use the Student View link located in the Course Tools section to completely navigate a course as a student. Having this tool available allows instructors to:
To use the new Student View course tool, login to Blackboard and enter a course.
The Student View link is located under Course Tools in the Course Management area in the left margin.
Clicking Course Tools reveals the sub-menu
To return to Instructor view, click on the Teacher View link located in the left menu.
For those interested in where to find this building block: http://projects.oscelot.org/gf/project/studentview/
Blackboard, Inc. has identified a critical bug in the testing and survey tool in Blackboard Learn. Students may be given an “access denied” message when trying to save an answer or submit a test. A patch has been made available and Instructional Technology will be applying the patch on September 14, 2011 between 5:30 AM and 6:00 AM. The patch application requires Blackboard to be offline.
Below is the CTX Blackboard usage report through August 2011. Usage continues to increase significantly. Despite the increase, Blackboard is still utililized in less than 50% of courses offered at Concordia.
|Greatest 7-day Average|
|2009-2010||April 24 - April 30||8,125|
|2010-2011||April 26 - May 2||36,362|
|2010-2011||August 25 - 31||22,123|
|Greatest Single Day|
|2009-2010||April 28, 2010||11,381|
|2010-2011||April 27, 2011||49,579|
|2011-2012||August 30, 2011||30,361|
|2009-2010||July 1- June 30||4,113|
|2010-2011||July 1- June 30||13,325|
|2011-2012||July 1- June 30||7,981|
ALERT: There is a significant problem with the Blackboard testing feature. Blackboard Support reports a software problem that causes students who are taking tests in Blackboard to be “kicked out” before the test is complete. When this happens, faculty must reset the test and students must start the test over. Blackboard Support is currently creating a patch to resolve the issue. While I expect a patch to be delivered within a week, a specific date has not been given by Blackboard Support.
The problem is currently isolated to students using the Firefox browser and with tests that have Force Completion enabled and Auto-Submit set to “On.” Tests in Blackboard can still be used. However, as illustrated below, instructors are advised to uncheck Force Completion and set Auto-Submit to “Off” in the Test Options until the patch is installed.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at any time. I’ll let you know when the patch is installed and the issue is resolved.
Blessings on your work developing Christian Leaders!
Instructional Technology will be taking Blackboard offline on Thusday, July 21 at 10 PM. Blackboard will remain offline until approximately 8 AM on the morning of Friday, July 22. During this time, improvements will be made to the virtual environment along with the installation of Service Pack 6.
Blackboard release Service Pack 6 on June 29, 2011. The service pack includes several bug fixes and patches. However, there are significant improvements to functionality along with feature enhancments that provide a more robust teaching and learning environment.The most significant improvements and enhancements are given below.
There are other excellent enhancements on the administrative side that will greatly enhance Concordia's Blackboard experience. More information about those will be included in the Blackboard Blog as they are implemented.
Service Pack 6 for Blackboard was released on June 29. This will be a very nice update for those instructors who like to use rubics for grading. Blackboard introduced rubrics into the Blackboard Learn system about a year ago. However, the implementation was so poor that I decided to turn the feature off. Quite frankly, the rubrics were fairly useless. They could not be tied to an assignment easily and you could not use them for grading (the primary purpose for using a rubric). While CTX will not install service pack 6 on its test server until July, several universities across the country began testing right away. Early reports on the improvements to the rubrics is positive. I'm anxious to give them a try. More to come as we begin testing on July 5.
Director, Instructional Technology
Summer activities at Concordia have changed significantly in the six years that I’ve been here. In the past, summertime brought with it the opportunity to take down systems for upgrades, maintenance, and general housekeeping. That’s no longer true. With additional programs, cohorts, classes and activities, there is no “good” time to take a system such as Blackboard down for maintenance or upgrades. Yet the need to do these essential procedures remains. We still anticipate that Blackboard will need to be offline twice during the upcoming weeks for approximately 12-16 hours at a time. We’ll keep everyone informed and make sure that all interested parties are aware of the downtime.
The next scheduled maintenance date is Friday, June 17. Blackboard will be offline starting at 1:00 am and will be offline all day to accommodate changes to the virtual server environment. If you have any questions, please contact the helpdesk at 512-313-4357.
Below is a list of the top 25 faculty users of Blackboard by click-count for the Spring 2011 semester at CTX.