ConnectED Blog

UNMC Ed Tech Newsletter: Fall 2011

University of Nebraska Medical Center

Educational Technology Update 9.21.2011

Classroom Educational Technology

During the past year, UNMC has seen a significant expansion of technology enhanced classrooms with the addition of the Center for Nursing Sciences (10 new classrooms/conference rooms) and the Maurer Center for Public Health (12 new classrooms/conference rooms) buildings.  Additional areas across the multiple campus sites in Nebraska have seen technology upgrades and enhancements, as well.  The two new buildings located on the Omaha campus have added innovative technology enhanced classroom spaces that include Video (IP) conferencing, web conferencing, and a classroom allowing simultaneous multiple group work spaces as well as instructor presentations.  The technology enhanced classrooms range from basic presentation capabilities, large venue presentations and video presentation, to web conferencing and advanced distance education systems with full 2 way video and audio capabilities.

  • Microsoft Windows 7 was installed on classroom and cluster computers during the 2011 summer.
    • As noted in previous updates, Microsoft Windows 7 has been installed except in selected in locations that need to use McKesson software, in those locations the computers are still running Windows XP.  Windows 7 has primarily improved computer performance and changed the look and feel of the computer desktop.
    • Note: One difference that will be noticeable is that the systems will default at the login screen to login into the UNMC campus domain, individuals with a TNMC ID and password will need to change the domain to the Nebraska Medical Center domain.  This is a change in Windows 7 that requires a different way to switch between login networks.
  • CPS – Audience Response System
    • The software to run the CPS audience response system has been installed in requested rooms (MSC1005, MSC 3001, MSC3002, CNS3030 & MCPH2001). Contact classroom support at 402-559-7665 to request the software installation in another location.
  • Classroom computer requests for updates and software installs
    • In general if a computer provides a notification that an update is available, it is recommended to indicate ‘no’ or cancel the request.  If that does not work, one can allow the update to occur and let the classroom technicians know what was requested.
  • The Citrix computer image and streaming system upgrade to the current Citrix supported system from the previous version UNMC was running has continued with the addition of the third computer image server, now giving us a three server system with redundancy to minimize system down time.

Educational Online Systems

UNMC and the other UN campuses utilize Blackboard Learn as course information system.  Each campus maintains individual servers for campus courses and organizations.  At UNMC there are currently 968 courses and 84 organizations or groups on the UNMC Blackboard system.  Currently, two colleges (College of Nursing and College of Public Health) have developed unique college pages that are used for access to courses, as well as College and Departmental information.

Several components and applications are linked together to with Blackboard to create the online learning system at UNMC.  The core system is Blackboard (, UNMC is running version 9.1.6.  The major components of this course information system include:

  • Blackboard Individual course sites for each UNMC class, these sites include areas for
    • Files – embedded in course content and a file repository for easier management and sharing of course files
    • Announcements
    • Assignment creation, posting and submittal
    • Online Testing with over 15 question types, ability to import and export tests, timed and non-timed test taking
    • Course grade book allowing grade calculation and student viewing of their individual course grades
    • Email and notification capabilities
    • Online chat and meeting capabilities
    • Integrated blog and wiki
  • Echo360 is the campus classroom and individual faculty presentation recording system.
    • Over 30 classrooms on the UNMC campuses contain the Echo360 recording device.
    • The system provides scheduled, automatic recording of classes including computer images and video camera input where available.
    • After the session is recorded, individuals can view and listen to the lecture using web enabled viewer that allows one to watch a complete session or jump to particular points in the lecture via a visual or timeline component.
    • Echo360 sessions can be automatically integrated into Blackboard classes.
    • Echo360 Version 4 Software: The most current version has added enhanced support for notebook devices including the IPad system.
      • Mobile use – Echo360 has added additional capabilities to allow viewing of lectures and podcasts while using mobile technology.  This is being explored and tested this fall; if you would like to participate in this review please contact Matt Rutledge at 9-4048 or
      • Media Ingest – The new version of Echo360 also includes the capability to ingest multiple video file types and formats and then present them similar to the way that class recordings are being delivered.  Initial testing of this provides excellent video quality and provides a way to easily incorporate video into classes for student review.
  • Campuspack is a system linked directly to UNMC Blackboard.  This is an external to UNMC hosted system, which provides the capability for private blogs, wiki, discussion groups and portfolios to faculty and students and can be used in any course hosted on the Blackboard system.  An individual can access this system via Blackboard or directly log into the system via
    • Provides password protected individual and group social media space for UNMC faculty, staff, students and courses.
    • Shares functionality with services such as Facebook but provides controlled, private service.
    • The most recent update has provided additional features and opened up the system to allow easier creation of additional functionality.
    • Individuals have unique home page that shows what groups, blogs, wikis, and portfolios that one has access to.
    • This service can be linked to directly from UNMC Blackboard inside of a class or organization.
  • Respondus is a test creation software, UNMC has a campus license until July 2012 for this software that allows the creation of tests, test question libraries and local editing and updating of test questions.  Once a test is created it can be uploaded to Blackboard and then deployed for student to take. This software is available for download via
    • Respondus includes a rudimentary test bank capability and test question editor.
    • Provides similar question types as Blackboard.
    • Tests created in Respondus can be used with most major course information systems if faculties are working with other institutions that do not have Blackboard as their course information system.
  • Virtual Microscopy – UNMC has installed the Aurora virtual microscopy system that allows viewing and zoom functions for most image files. This system is available at
    • A new advanced server running the Aurora software has been installed this year providing greatly enhanced performance for handing the increasingly larger clinical and educational images used in teaching at UNMC.
    • The Aurora system provides both generally viewing, annotations and quiz capabilities for high definition images.
    • This server provides on- and off-campus access for students to course microscopic and other high definition images.

Educational Technology Current Problems and Fixes

  • Blackboard
    • Test Item creation – A test question creation error had been detected and reported to Blackboard for a fix. When one create questions for a test, the first question was added to the test and was visible once submitted. When a second or further questions were added, some individuals were seeing that the question had been added but it was not visible for a short time or not visible until the next day before it can be seen in the test. This was escalated to Blackboard Level 3 support, but no patch has been received yet.  This appears to be corrected as of September 21, 2011.
    • Timed exams – A bug has been reported in using timed exams where students are residing in multiple time zones; the system does not function correctly, and students may be kicked out of exams early or given more than the allotted time if they are in a different time zone than the Blackboard server.  We are awaiting a fix for this problem.
    • Personalization – At the present time, Blackboard personalization has been disabled because it is possible, when personalizing Blackboard for the main Blackboard sections to not display when changes are saved.  Once a fix is released the personalization will be turned back on.
  • Classroom Educational Technology
    • Sorrell 2007 and 4058 projectors have been replaced with new projectors.
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