Welcome back faculty members (if, in fact, you took off the summer at all) to the fall 2011 semester. We have been quite busy and are starting to feel growing pains with our systems. It also seems as though no matter how much time we have to do things, we always need about two more weeks. I bet most of you are feeling the same way about the semester about to begin.
We have upgraded the Blackboard system over the summer to version 9.1, Service Pack 6. New features include Interactive Rubrics, an enhancement to the Needs Grading tool, an intuitive Timed Assessments enhancement, and better SCORM integration. bug fixes include various IE8 issues with the grade center and item copy fixes. We do not anticipate having to upgrade again until after the end of the fall semester.
There will be a new training approach for Blackboard this semester. We are moving our Blackboard training online, so those who intend to teach Blackboard can experience it (and practice with it) during their training. The first of 4 6-hour workshops, “Teaching with Blackboard: Getting Ready for Day One,” begins August 18 at the pre-plenary event. The three subsequent workshops will be held as follows:
Teaching with Blackboard: Building Your Course
September 23 – October 7
Meets online. Six hours of self-arranged time between Sept. 23 and Oct. 7
Sign-up deadline with PD: Sept. 21
Teaching with Blackboard: Evaluating Learning
October 14 – 28
Meets online. Six hours of self-arranged time between Oct. 14 – 28
Sign-up deadline with PD: Oct. 13
Teaching with Blackboard: Communicating with Your Students
November 4– 18
Meets online. Six hours of self-arranged time between Nov. 4 – 18
Sign-up deadline with PD: Nov. 3
Our full training schedule can be found here.
We have implemented a new version of WordPress (this blog) on Palomar servers. It has run very smoothly all summer, until now. In the last week for reasons we are trying to discover it has slowed to a crawl. If that has been your experience in accessing this blog, sorry. We feel fairly confident that we can fix it, one way or another (it”s a really complicated story), but in the mean time please be patient. If you absolutely have to get a non-Blackboard blog up and running we suggest you use the free WordPress.com site, and then when our implementation is running smoothly export your .com site and import it here. As I say, it is a complicated story and we have a few fixes we need to work through, but it all takes time and this is crunch time for many more critical systems. (Where, o where, is that extra two weeks we need?)
The other system that we face challenges with—and this is a more serious matter—is our streaming media storage system. We have encoded and streamed many video and audio files for faculty members under the authority of the TEACH Act, fair use, and by permission of the copyright holder. So many, in fact, that the storage we originally had allocated is now full. Actually, we initially asked for more storage than we got, but that”s another matter. Until our friends in the IS department solve the storage issue, we will not be able to accept any more videos or audios for encoding. If you have brought in a video or audio that you no longer use, please let us know so that we can delete it from the file structure.
This is another problem we expect to be solved, but probably later than sooner. IS is working on a long term storage solution (i.e., 6-12 months out). Whether they can solve our short term need is an open question. We will be meeting with them soon to discuss the matter.
If you visit our web site you will notice we have upgraded our Help System. You now have the option to Live Chat with one of our techs (when the Live Chat button says “ONLINE”). This is the absolute quickest way to get help. The second fastest way to get help is to create a Help Request Ticket using the Help system. Before you submit your ticket, however, try searching our Knowledgbase. Your problem may have a simple solution that you can read about, rather than waiting for our techs to respond. You can also send us email or call us. If you have to leave us a message, your voice message will automatically create a job ticket. Same with emails. They go straight to the ticketing system. Please provide as much information as you can when asking for help. For instance, what kind of computer you are using, what operating system, what browser and what version of the browser.