ConnectED Blog

UNMC Ed Tech Newsletter: Spring 2013

University of Nebraska Medical Center

Blackboard Update

UNMC upgraded to the latest version of Blackboard Learn™, Service Pack 10, over Christmas break.  Nearly 640 institutions as well as over 600 educators and nearly 600 students contributed to the development of this latest release of Blackboard.  Many existing features have been improved and some exciting new features added to Blackboard. Here is an overview of tools that you can expect to be using soon:

  • New Content Editor: The new Content Editor vastly improves the user experience for formatting text, pasting content from Microsoft Word, and adding content to all areas of Learn.  Simply bring your course materials to life.  Blackboard has also replaced the old math editor with a new mathML equation editor.
  • Assessment Item Analysis: Now you can easily refine your assessments by evaluating the quality of each question and that question’s ability to discriminate between students who understand the material and those who do not.  Ineffective questions can easily be identified and then quickly corrected with the Automatic Regrade feature.
  • My Blackboard (May not be fully implemented until Mid-January as Blackboard is adding external to campus features that need be made available]: This feature introduces a completely new, modern user experience in Blackboard Learn that consolidates critical information from all your Courses and Organizations as well as your school-wide academic network.  The new tools in My Blackboard – Profile, Posts, Updates, My Grades, and People – were developed to meet the needs of today’s active learner and enhance student engagement. For educators like you, My Blackboard allows you to easily monitor activity across your courses and organizations and rest-assured that your students are up-to-date and engaged in the online learning experience.
  • New Global Navigation Menu: Always present in the top right corner, the new navigation menu is the entry point to My Blackboard and also provides one-click access to your Courses, Organizations, Settings, and Blackboard Help.  Additionally, the new menu will tell you how many items in My Blackboard are new or need your attention, so you never miss a thing.
  • Enterprise Surveys: Enterprise surveys enable you to measure satisfaction levels, community engagement, and other attitudes that impact institutional effectiveness. Surveys provide indirect measurements of student learning by relying on self-reported data and implied success. Enterprise surveys are delivered at the system level. They do not replace course surveys that are available to instructors in their courses. To learn more about course surveys, see About Creating Tests and Surveys. Enterprise surveys collect feedback from specific groups of people. Survey recipients are selected based on their role in the system, their enrollment in courses, or their membership in a department or business unit if your school licenses Community Engagement. You can also upload a list of recipient email addresses to target community members, business leaders, alumni, parents and other stakeholders. Question types available in enterprise surveys include Likert scale, matrix, multiple choice, either/or, and open entry questions. You can add instructions, section breaks, and page breaks, as well as brand your survey with a customized header and footer. You can send your survey out to multiple sets of recipients and analyze the results. Survey results are compared using response periods, which are sets of recipients and a time frame that you specify. You can also compare by enrollments, membership, demographics, or by a specific survey question. You cannot generate reports to compare results from different surveys, only different response periods for the same survey. To analyze results from different surveys, download the survey data and use a third party analysis tool. You need a special user account to access the enterprise survey tool. Your school creates this account for you. From the My Institution tab, select Enterprise Surveys on the Tools panel.
Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series
The Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series (BITS) is a training initiative to help augment an institutions internal training efforts. Harnessing our community of Blackboard users, BITS will share the top strategies and pedagogy for both increasing educator efficiency and improving learning outcomes. BITS is free to Blackboard’s clients and is easy to participate. The program consists of weekly faculty training webinars that are taught by faculty and supported by Blackboard experts.

We have created three tracks to give you guidance on the intended audience for each webinar.

  • Getting Started: Whether you are new to online learning or Blackboard, this track will help you ease into e-Learning with the basic fundamentals and best practices.
  • Collaboration: Learn how to effectively communicate with your learners and keep them engaged through a variety of mediums ranging from text messages to discussion boards.
  • Assessing Learners: Assessment is essential for improving student outcomes. Learn how to accurately and effectively assess your students.


Additional Resources to Help

To ensure you can familiarize yourself with these new features of Blackboard Learn and be ready to integrate them in your instruction, links are provided above.   Additional resources are listed below:

If you have questions or concerns about these upcoming changes, please let me know

We expect to complete the upgrade and regular system maintenance within a 2 hour window, during which the system will be unavailable. More details including update time frames and release notes will be available in the next 2 weeks. If you have any questions, please contact your account manager, Margaret, for more information.

CampusPack Update

This release includes connector updates, hosting improvements, and a number of bug fixes. What you can expect in this release:

  • Enhanced and revised Moodle integration via LTI and web services
  • Updated Blackboard connector with SP10 compatibility
  • Enhanced subscriptions and following for content and groups (sponsored functionality)
  • Move to Amazon S3 for attachments
  • Improves download performance
  • Improves availability, reliability, and scalability
  • Many bug fixes
  • All of the updates from the monthly patches

Smartboard Orientation Fix

Over the past 12 months there have been issues in some of the classrooms with Sympodium panels that require frequent reorientation.  This has exhibited itself in multiple ways including every time someone would log into the workstation or just the first time someone logs into the workstation during the semester.  After testing and working with Smart Technology support, the only solution found is to replace the sympodium themselves.  We are working with Smart to replace the desktop sympodium in the lecture halls in Sorrell starting with 3001 and 3002.  Working with the primary users of these and other affected classrooms, the wide-screen sympodium units will be replaced this spring and summer .  These newer units work better with both the latest Smart Technology software and Microsoft Windows.

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