How to Publish from StudyMate to Blackboard

We have written about StudyMate a good deal (see episodes 4, 27, 30, 40, 49, and more).  StudyMate is an authoring tool that allows professors to create 10 different Flash-based activities and games (Fact Cards, Flash Cards, Fill-in-the-Blank activities, Matching, Multiple Choice quizzes, Crossword puzzles, a Jeopardy-like "Challenge" game, etc.) using four simple templates. The Flash activities can be placed on any web server or can be published directly to your Blackboard courses. StudyMate will import items from MS Word files or the Respondus Test Bank Network, making it easy to create interesting, interactive activities from existing content.  Version 2 of the product was new last December, which added a new question template (calculated questions, supporting many math functions and any number of variables), embedded audio in mp3 or wav format, and output for the small screen (i.e., the iPod, PSP, smart phone, PDA, etc. - see our article "Flashcards on the iPod,").

To get a feel for these activities, click here to see them in action on a web page.  This is a very plain web page, but it can be dressed up in any way you wish.

Any Palomar instructor may login to our StudyMate distribution point (using their Palomar login credentials - email address as username, email password as password) and download/install/register the program on their own PC, at work and/or at home.  The number of PCs on which it can legally be installed is not limited, but note that it is ONLY for PC, not the Mac, unfortunately.

Available for training we have a PDF User's Guide (78 pages) and a PDF Quick Start Guide, a set of demo movies, and various How-to guides.  On the whole, StudyMate is indeed very easy to use.  The only thing that becomes slightly confusing is how to publish your StudyMate activities to Blackboard.  There are two ways to do it.  I will describe both below.

Method 1:  Creating a Zip File and "Unpackaging" It In Blackboard

After you have input or imported your StudyMate terms and questions, you will click the Publish tab and enter the Publish Wizard.  On the initial Publish Wizard screen you will choose the types of activities you want StudyMate to generate:

Make your selections and click Next.

Now you will see a screen asking you how you want to publish or export the Flash learning object.  Choose HTML + SWF.

Click Next. 

On the next screen, enter a title for your HTML page, optional text or instructions, a save location, and choose whether to launch the file in a browser after publishing.

Note that clicking the "Save As..." button on this screen does NOT do the actual save, but simply defines a Save location and file name for the resulting saved files.  When you first begin using StudyMate you will probably want to place a check in the "Launch HTML file automatically..." box to see how your work comes out.  Once you grow familiar with the program, however, you will not bother with this.

Now click Finish.  A "creating activities for small screen devices" dialog will appear (if you made this choice) and in a moment the files will have been saved to the location you chose.

If you chose to save files for small screen devices, 5 objects will have been saved:

  1. An HTML file, which acts as the index to all activities and download files.  It will be named "projectname.html."
  2. A javascript file to launch the various activites, named "projectname.js."
  3. A Shockwave file which are the actual Flash activities, named "projectname.swf."
  4. A zipped folder containing the 320x240 images for larger screen devices, like the video iPod, named "projectname_L.zip."
  5. Another zipped folder containing the 176x132 images for smaller screen devices, like the iPod Nano, named "projectname_S.zip.

"Projectname," of course is whatever name you have given to your project.  Note that it cannot contain punctuation, special characters or spaces.

Now, select all of these files (click on each one while holding down the control key).  Right-click your selection, with your cursor over the html file.  Hover your cursor over "Send To," and select "Compressed (zipped) Folder."

The resulting folder will be named "projectname.zip."  This will contain all the other folders and files, and is the only folder you need for the rest of this procedure.

Now, login to Blackboard.  Enter your course and enter the content area where you wish to place these activities.  Click "Edit View" in the upper right of the screen, and then click Add Item.

On the Add item screen, give your item a name (required) and type any instructions you wish.  In the Content area of this page, browse to your zip file, give it a link name, and choose "Unpackage this file" from the Special Action drop-down.

Now click Submit.  Blackboard will respond with a Contents Action page asking you to define the "Entry Point" to your flash activities.  Choose the htm file that you created above:

Note that the only other choice you have to make is whether you want the activities launched in a new window or not.  If you choose No, the links to them will appear in the Blackboard content frame, but when any link is clicked, it will, of course, appear on a separate flash windows on top of the content frame.

Click submit and you're done. 

Method 2: Publishing Directly from Within StudyMate to the Blackboard Server

To publish directly to Blackboard from StudyMate, select "Publish directly to a Course Management System" from the StudyMate Publish Wizard, and choose "Blackboard 6.3-7.x as the type of system.

Click Next.  On the next screen, choose "Standard Upload - HTML and SWF file."  DO NOT choose "SCORM 1.2 package."  The first time you do this, you will not have yet defined settings for an existing server, so  select "add new server" from the Blackboard drop-down.

When you do, another dialog will pop-up saying "Pre-configured server settings may be available for: Palomar College."  they are not.  so click No, then Next.

A "Blackboard Server and Course dialog box will appear.  Follow the instructions to fill our areas 1 and 2 by logging in to Blackboard, pasting the login URL (from the browser address bar) in area 1, then entering your course control panel and pasting the URL into area 2.  Now, click the "Extract >>" button and the remaining "technical" fields in the form will be filled out.

Now all that remains is to fill out a "friendly" name for your server in the Description field and your login information in the fields provided at the bottom of the form.  Check "Remember my User Name and Password" if you work on a private computer.  If anyone else has access to your computer, do not check this box.

Note that you will only have to do this once.  On subsequent Publish operations this data will already be stored in StudyMate for you.

Click Next and enter the course and course area you wish to publish to.

Click Next, and enter any of the discretionary information you wish on the next screen.

Click Next, and the publish will occur.  A status window will inform you when the publish operation is complete.  After you see "Completed" click Finish and you are done.  After you have done this the first time, subsequent publish operations are simple indeed.

Conclusion

So which method is best?  Either will work just fine.  For simplicity, after the initial setup is done the second method is certainly the simplest.  The first method leaves a zip file and supporting files on your hard drive, however, that you can re-purpose, use on other web sites, and save as a backup.  For this reason, I prefer the first method, but it's your call.

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