Blackboard Training DVD

If you do not have time to attend our in-person training, or come in to meet with the Blackboard techs, you can still get excellent beginning Blackboard training by checking out a lynda.com training DVD “Blackboard 9.x EssentiaBlackboard for Instructors Training DVDl Training for Instructors” from the library.

Academic Technology has placed 2 copies of the DVD for faculty/staff only checkout behind the circulation desk on the 2nd floor of the San Marcos campus library.  The DVD contains 6.5 hours of video instruction, produced in an easy-to-follow, screen video format.  Copies circulate for 1 week with a 1 week renewal.

Here is the lynda.com course description:  “In this course, Dr. Patrick Crispen teaches the ins and outs of Blackboard 9 (versions 9.0 and 9.1) so that educators and trainers can get up-to-speed in the system quickly—even if they’ve never used Blackboard before. The course covers customizing a course site, managing users, and adding and organizing content, including multimedia. It also shows how to perform student assessments in the Grade Center, as well as how to communicate with students and encourage participation and collaboration. Exercise files are included in the course.”

To arrange PD credit, adjust your PD contract via the PD web site.

Blackboard with Cream and Sugar

Our Blackboard with Cream and Sugar sessions are returning for the fall semester.  The Blackboard techs, Dave, Shay and Chris, would like to invite you to coffee (or tea) each Wednesday morning from 7:30AM to 10:30AM beginning August 17.

August 17?

Yes.  We know its early, but never too early to begin preparing for the fall semester.  Many of you will have questions related to copying your course materials from your spring 2011 Blackboard courses to the fall 2011 course shells.  The techs will be available to answer any/all questions.  We will even address non-Blackboard issues, so if you have questions you need answered in anticipation of the new semester, come on by.  We’ll provide the coffee or tea, you bring the enthusiasm.

Drop in any time during the 7:30—10:30 window.  You can get PD credit for time spent with the Bb techs (contact the PD Office to arrange this).

Sessions will repeat each Wednesday until about mid-semester.  We’ve discovered that except for abnormal circumstances, like the imminent release of a new Blackboard version or something equally momentour, there is little point in offering training past the mid-semester point, because people just get too busy to attend.

We hope you find these sessions useful.

See you there.

Commencement Day

AT GravitarToday is the last day of our spring 2011 semester, and also commencement day.  Just as the day marks the commencement of our students’ ongoing career and educational journeys, so it marks ours in continuing to support technology enhanced education at Palomar College.

This semester has seen many changes in our systems, both technically, referring to back-end configuration and hardware platforms, and in terms of user interfaces.  The changes have all been for the better and have been implemented successfully.  We made a major change in the Blackboard system beginning this semester.  We adopted both an entirely new version, with a radical change in user interface, and are running it on an entirely new (and different) hardware platform.  The user interface is the much more visual, web 2.0-ish version 9.1.  Controls are now associated directly with the items being controlled, and drag-and-drop is the rule.  In it’s way it is just as successful as the ribbon interface is in Microsoft Office.  There are still a few who opine for the old interface, it’s true, but its like they say, the best interface is always the first one you learn.  We believe that in this case, however, that change has been good.

The hardware changes to the Blackboard system, while being invisible to end users, have been very significant to us.  We are now running on virtualized front-end servers, a SANS storage system, and a clustered SQL back-end.  I know this means little to most people, but it’s a big deal to us.  Before the semester began we had no way of load testing the system so could not be sure we would not have serious problems.  On days one and two of the semester we DID have serious problems, but that is only because we had underestimated the amount of RAM each virtual server would need.  (We didn’t actually underestimate it, we asked for enough but didn’t get it in time, but let that alone).  We quickly discovered that we needed to double the RAM and ever since have not had problems.  We are now poised to double the processors in the front end servers too, after some testing.  We hope this will meet the needs of the students and faculty when fall semester begins.  As with all ongoing efforts, time will tell.  We think it will.  We know for sure, though, that after the initial heavy rush our virtualized environment can adapt and be tuned to meet all the District’s needs.

We have to give kudos to our friends in the IS department for setting up the hardware environment that Blackboard is now running on.  It has long been a dream of mine—not yet even fully realized—to fully centralize the hardware environment for all educational technology systems run on and our friends in the IS department agree.  They have done a fantastic job and have proved very responsive to our needs.  Thanks to Don Sullins, Jose Vargas, David Brown and Mike Dimmick for their work on the new system.  We have enjoyed 100% system up time throughout the semester.

It is not only Blackboard that is running on a new platform.  So are our web services (District and academic web sites) and our streaming media services.  Both these systems have also been virtualized and are running better than they every have, with redundancy and backup built in.  At last our systems are ‘growing up.’

I would like to commend faculty members for bringing their videos in to be re-encoded on our new SmoothStream/Silverlight platform.  It has been an enormous task, but it is now accomplished.  Part of the process has been to add web captioning on the streamed video, and thank you to Sherry Goldsmith for funding and processing all those mp3 files and making our dream of fully captioning our streamed educational collection a reality.  It is not at 100%, but close.  Streaming media is now faster, clearer, and more secure, with built-in redundant servers, backup, and greater security.

The same is true of our web services.  The IS department has set up a new virtualized multi-server IIS front-end structure for us with a SANS back-end and we are in the process of migrating over all existing web content to the new structure.  Our plans have changed, somewhat on this project because of our successful, recent WordPress implementation.  After years of trying to train users to edit web sites with various Microsoft and Adobe products, we have had to recognize that this is just too foreign to most of them to be practical.  Not so WordPress, however.  We love WordPress and think it will be the dominant method for maintaining web sites at Palomar College and, we hope, bring blogging in a significant way to our community.  If you want a WordPress site or blog, please contact our office (ext. 2862) and we’ll tell you how.

Our systems are now redundant, backed up, secure, and efficient.  Technically we have made great strides this semester.

That was the look back, so what’s coming next semester that will be new?

We will emphasize WordPress, as indicated above.  We will upgrade Blackboard to the latest service packs and adding a couple of building blocks:  McGraw-Hill Connect, NBC Learn (for a six month trial).  (There will be an upgrade June 2-3 before the beginning of the summer semester, and August 16-17 before the fall semester).  We will also be upgrading our help ticketing system, adding live chat, remote desktop assistance, and better ticket management features.  That upgrade will also be occurring June 2-3.  Since our funds are limited, we are going to let our StudyMate and Respondus licenses lapse (if you don’t know what those are, you are in the overwhelming majority) and put the money into licenses for Camtasia and, we hope, NBC Learn, if there is sufficient faculty demand.  We will be moving our Blackboard core training online, as it should be.  David offered several highly successful workshops on Blackb0ard in preparation to our 9.1 upgrade and also during the last semester, and now, beginning this coming fall, those workshops will be fully online.  We will also be repeating much of our PD training on evergreen topics, PowerPoint, Web authoring, Google Earth, and the other topics we typically train on.  We are also making good use of our new WordPress implementation, consolidating several of our Academic Technology blogs into this one and streamlining our communications through the blog, Twitter, Facebook and a YouTube Channel.  See our web site for the details.

We hope we have been effective at meeting the needs of the academic community this semester, and hope you will join with us in these new ventures commencing now.

 

Summer Tech Camp 2011

Become Accomplished at Tech CampJoin the Academic Technology staff for the fourth annual Summer Tech Camp, being held this year from August 1–4, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day in room LL-109 on the ground floor of the San Marcos campus library.

Last year’s Tech Camp was “best ever,” until now…  Once again we will model/teach presentation technology based on TED talks—TED talks on steroids, that is.

Have you heard of TED talks? The organizers of TED invite the smartest, most talented people in the world to give short presentations on their best ideas. Your goal for Tech Camp is to create a 15 minute (or less!—we’re going to stick to the time limit this year) talk based on PowerPoint using the technology tools we will teach you during the camp—your topic, our technical assistance.

Learn Technical Skills at Tech CampYou will use projected text, images, audio, video, polls, props,and whatever else you can think of to make your points. We have chosen a set of technology tools to support your talk: PowerPoint,Poll Everywhere, Word, Twitter, graphics tools, Google Search, Wolfram Alpha, Jing, Camtasia, Flip video, Any Video Converter, YouTube, Google Earth, Blackboard, EverNote, Google Public Data Explorer, and others. We will deliver some sample “talks” using many of these tools, showing you how we did it. Then it will be your turn. We will work with you to create your “teaching talk” over the four days of Tech Camp. We will split our time between instruction in the use of technology tools, and creation of your own presentation. Our entire staff will be available to work directly with you. We will use Blackboard by showing you how to place your “talk” into Blackboard, with a corresponding “classroom” handout, but the emphasis of camp is NOT Blackboard.

Meet Peers & Create Common InterestsSkills we will be mastering will include: creating an effective, animated PowerPoint presentation; creating a well formatted document in Word; discovering, saving, organizing, and retrieving images, audios and videos; delivering presentations in the classroom setting and online; using Jing and Camtasia to capture images and video; using YouTube as an educational resource; linking to research database articles; using the basics of Google Earth; using the Flip video camera; using simple online audio tools; transferring learning materials to Blackboard; and several other skills.

To sign up for Tech Camp, send email to the Professional Development office at pdoffice@palomar.edu. The PD office will confirm your registration via email during May. PD credit will apply to your fall 2011 contract. Then, all you will need to do is decide on a topic for your talk—remember, 15 minutes or less.  We will work together to do the rest. The end result will be a polished presentation you can use fall semester, and more importantly, the skills to make many more.

Enjoy the Tech Camp ExperiencePlease note that Tech Camp is limited to 30 participants who will be registered by the PD Office on a first-come-first-served basis, except that priority will be given to faculty members.  After enrollment reaches 30, a waiting list will be established.  The PD Office will send out reminders so that you can confirm your attendance.  If your plans change and you cannot attend please contact the PD Office.  New attendees will be added from the wait list on a first-on-first-off basis.  Please do not sign up unless you intend to attend all four days.

Tech Camp will include catered continental breakfast and full lunch each day, and will feature great technology gifts and prizes. We look forward to a fun and educational time with you.

See you at Tech Camp.

Fall 2011 Training Schedule Announced

We have developed our training schedule for fall 2011.  Descriptions of the workshops—online and in person—can be found at http://www.palomar.edu/atrc/attraining.htm.  A tabular schedule can be found at http://www.palomar.edu/atrc/attrainingschedule.htm.

First, the in-person workshops:  We are bringing back the workshops that have been well attended in the past, or that faculty members have requested.  We have also added a couple of new ones and retired ones that no one seems to care about.  Here are the offerings.

Thursday
August 18
Part-time pre-plenary workshop:
Blackboard Essentials
Thursday
August 18
Part-time pre-plenary workshop:
Teaching with Blackboard: Getting Ready for Day One – This is an orientation for further online work on this topic to be completed by Sep. 2.
Thursday
August 18
Part-time plenary breakout session:
Academic Technology at Palomar College
Friday
August 19
Full-time plenary breakout session:
Using Google Earth: The Quick Tour
Friday
August 19
Full-time plenary breakout session
From PowerPoint to Video: The Quick Tour
Tuesday
August 30
Basic Computer Basic Basics
Thursday
September 1
Basic Internet Basic Basics
Sep. 2 – Sep. 16 Teaching with Blackboard: Building Your Course
Tuesday
September 6
Web Page Development: The Basics
Thursday
September 8
PowerPoint 1: Creating Basic Presentations with PowerPoint 2010
Thursday
September 15
PowerPoint 2: Creating Advanced Presentations with PowerPoint 2010
Sep. 16 – Sep. 30 Teaching with Blackboard: Evaluating Learning
Tuesday
September 20
Web Page Development: Advanced Topics
Thursday
September 22
PowerPoint 3: Narrate and Create Online Video from Your PowerPoint Presentations
Thursday
September 29
Using Windows Movie Maker
Sep. 30 – Oct. 14 Teaching with Blackboard: Communicating with Your Students
Thursday
October 6
Using Google Scholar
Thursday
October 13
Using Google Earth
Wednesday
October 19
Getting Started with Google Reader
Thursday
October 20
Word 1: Creating a Well-formatted Document with Word 2010

Note the absence of dedicated Blackboard workshops, and the move to the online environment of our four-part Blackboard certification process.  This takes a little explaining.

Why no 2-hour in-person Blackboard workshops?  1.  Because we will have a new Academic Technology Coordinator fall 2011, and he/she will need time to get up to speed before offering the workshops Haydn so excelled at; and 2.  we have developed an extensive and growing library of how-to Blackboard videos on our Teaching with Blackboard page that can teach faculty members the essentials of what they need to get started.  Further, David is moving his 4 6-hour workshops to a fully online environment.  Well, almost fully.  There will be a 1-hour in-person orientation meeting for part 1(and more generally, all the parts) on August 18, 4-5pm (see the web sites linked above for details), but after that each of the workshops can be taken together, for a Blackboard certificate, or individually,to hone specific skills.  Here are the descriptions of these workshops.

Teaching with Blackboard: Getting Ready for Day One

Facilitated by: David Gray
Date: Thursday,August 18 (Part-time pre-plenary)
Must attend this orientation to complete the full workshop.
Time: 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: LL-109
Description: Whether needing to get a course site ready at the last minute, or planning ahead for the next semester, there are several things that should be in a Blackboard course before it is ready for Day One with the students. In this workshop we will discuss and create samples of these core elements of a Blackboard course. 

This workshop will begin with a one hour orientation (August 18), and complete the additional five hours of work online.  Participants will be expected to complete the online materials within a two week period, completing the workshop by September 2nd.  This workshop is suitable for faculty of both online classes and on-campus classes using Blackboard. This workshop series does not assume a prior experience with using Blackboard. It is highly recommended that you complete this workshop before any of the other workshops in the Teaching with Blackboard Series.

NOTE: This workshop is limited to 30 participants.

Those who complete all four workshops in the Teaching with Blackboard series will receive a certificate of completion signed by the VP of Instruction.


Teaching with Blackboard: Building Your Course

Facilitated by: David Gray
Date: September 2 – 16
Meets online.  Six hours of self-arranged time between Sept. 2 and Sept. 16
Sign-up deadline with PD: Sept. 2
Location: Online
Description: Handouts, videos, lectures, PowerPoint slides; there are many things which can be distributed to students through your Blackboard course. In this series of workshops we will examine several different best practices for distributing handouts and PowerPoint presentations, and create some samples for uploading into Blackboard. We will also explore the process of adding audio and video content to a Blackboard course, and do hands-on exercises in organizing materials in a Blackboard course into one of several pre-made course templates.
This fully online workshop begins on Friday, September 2nd, and participants will be expected to complete the full six hours of online work by Friday, September 16th. This workshop is suitable for faculty of both online classes and on-campus classes using Blackboard to augment traditional class work. It is highly recommended that you have already completed the “Getting Ready for Day One” workshop in the Teaching with Blackboard Series, or attended similar training in the past. If you are interested in attending this workshop, sign up through the Professional Development office before Friday, September 2nd. 

Those who complete all four workshops in the Teaching with Blackboard series will receive a certificate of completion signed by the VP of Instruction.


Teaching with Blackboard: Evaluating Learning

Facilitated by: David Gray
Date: September 16 – 30
Meets online.  Six hours of self-arranged time between Sept. 16 and Sept. 30
Sign-up deadline with PD: Sept. 16
Location: Online
Description: Blackboard has tools to allow students to turn in work and get assessed. In this workshop we will create samples of several of the tools Blackboard makes available for assessing students, ranging from Surveys and Tests all the way to plagiarism detection of essays. We will also explore the tools for managing grades in the Blackboard Grade Center. 

This fully online workshop begins on Friday, September 16th, and participants will be expected to complete the full six hours of online work by Friday, September 30th. This workshop is suitable for faculty of both online classes and on-campus classes using Blackboard. It is highly recommended that you have already completed the “Getting Ready for Day One” workshop in the Teaching with Blackboard series, or have had similar training in the past. If you are interested in attending this workshop, sign up through the Professional Development office before Friday, September 16th.

Those who complete all four workshops in the Teaching with Blackboard series will receive a certificate of completion signed by the VP of Instruction.


Teaching with Blackboard: Communicating with Your Students

Facilitated by: David Gray
Date: September 30 – October 14
Meets online.  Six hours of self-arranged time between Sept. 30 and Oct. 14
Sign-up deadline with PD: Sept. 30
Location: Online
Description: Synchronous and asynchronous tools, e-mail, chat and discussion boards, even social networking sites; communicating with students can be far more than holding office hours on campus. In this workshop we will explore several of the core communication tools built into Blackboard, then consider the virtues of adding other communication avenues to your course site. 

This fully online workshop begins on Friday, September 30th, and participants will be expected to complete the full six hours of online work by Friday, October 14th. During this online workshop there will be several times (specific times to be determined in consultation with the workshop attendees) when attending a live, scheduled online activity at a specific day and hour would be required.

This workshop is suitable for faculty of both online classes and on-campus classes using Blackboard to augment traditional class work, although many of the topics will be more applicable for online instruction. It is highly recommended that you have already completed the “Getting Ready for Day One” workshop in the Teaching with Blackboard series, or have had similar training in the past. If you are interested in attending this workshop, sign up through the Professional Development office before Friday, September 30th.

Those who complete all four workshops in the Teaching with Blackboard series will receive a certificate of completion signed by the VP of Instruction.

Finally, don’t forget, you can come in any time for tech-related appointments or one-on-one training for which you can claim PD credit.  Click here for our contact information.

AT@PC

Last night my colleagues and I presented our semi-annual plenary break out on Academic Technology at Palomar College. It was well attended, but necessarily by only a small percentage of the enormous number of adjunct professors employed by the college. As a reference for those who did not attend, here is an encapsulated version.

We conducted our workshop using the sandbox AT@PC workshop course we had developed. Each professor at Palomar College has an account on our sandbox system. We set the course up for self-enrollment through the Academic Technology Training course, also on the sandbox system.

One of the features we demonstrated throughout the evening was interactive polls embedded in the PowerPoint we used, and interfaced through web pages linked from the sandbox course.  The polls are a marvel from Poll Everywhere.  A free version is available for up to 30 participants, and for-pay options are available for larger audiences.  Poll Everywhere instant interactive polls can be voted by students using a web interface (which can be placed in a Blackboard course), by cell phone, or via Twitter.  It just works.  Truly, as long as one of these voting methods is available, there is no longer a need for expensive, hardware-based classroom clicker systems.

We began with a myth-buster session on what Academic Technology at our school DOES NOT do.

  • Campus email system
  • eServices student information system
  • Networking and classroom or office computers
  • AV

What we do do is:

  • Administer the Blackboard Enterprise system
  • Provide Streaming media services and encode media
  • Print and Graphic media creation
  • Web page authoring and administration
  • Technology training for faculty
  • Software evaluation and access
  • Hardware checkout
  • The AT computer labs, including the faculty technology center

For details on what we do and access to our tutorials and other training materials,our web site is the heart of our operation.

We then presented a longish segment on the new Blackboard implementation at our school–version 9.1.  Though we have been working hard on publicizing and training on the new version,and in fact have touched record numbers of our faculty members, still a large number need last minute assistance.  Bb 9.1 is live now, and faculty members who use Blackboard have no choice but to learn it.  Consequently, we are repeating the training we offered throughout last semester in a unique 3-part series of four workshops:

Teaching with Blackboard: Getting Ready for Day One (3 parts – sign up for all three)
Facilitated by:     David Gray & Chris Norcross
Dates/Times:     Part 1 of 3: Friday, January 14, 9:00am – 11:00am
Part 2 of 3: Friday, January 21, 8:00am – 10:00am
Part 3 of 3: Friday, January 28, 9:00am – 11:00am
Location:     LL-109

Teaching With Blackboard: Building Your Course (3 parts – sign up for all three)
Facilitated by:     David Gray & Chris Norcross
Dates/Times:     Part 1 of 3: Friday, February 4, 9:00am – 11:00am
Part 2 of 3: Friday, February 11, 9:00am – 11:00am
Part 3 of 3: Friday, February 25, 9:00am – 11:00am
Location:     LL-109

Teaching With Blackboard: Evaluating Learning (3 parts – sign up for all three)
Facilitated by:     David Gray & Chris Norcross
Dates/Times:     Part 1 of 3: Friday, April 1, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Part 2 of 3: Friday, April 8, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Part 3 of 3: Friday, April 15, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Location:     LL-109

Teaching With Blackboard: Communicating with Your Students (3 parts – sign up for all three)
Facilitated by:     David Gray & Chris Norcross
Dates/Times:     Friday, April 22, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Friday, April 29, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Friday, May 6, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Location:     LL-109

As I write, Dave and Chris are busily presented part-1 of the first series to a roomful of rapt (or is that desperation?) faculty members.

In an effort to formalize the informal, we will be continuing this semester with our “Blackboard with Cream & Sugar” sessions.  Drop by room LL-111 Wednesday mornings between 7:30 and 10:30AM.  You bring the questions and ideas, we bring the coffee, tea and (we hope) answers.

The next topic was training.  Haydn described our training pages and in particular the training schedule on the web.  Then we mentioned some of the new and exciting training opportunities that we are making available to faculty members this spring, including workshops on Twitter, the Flip video cameras, web page authoring with Expression Web 4, the Google Public Data Explorer, PowerPoint (with a new one on methods of making a video from your PowerPoint and placing it on the web), Word 2010, Using Google Earth, and, of course, lots more on Blackboard.

We also have an extensive set of tutorials available online for those who like to work in a self-directed manner.

The next topic was streaming media.  The old media server is now turned off, the new Silverlight/SmoothStreaming system is the only one we are using.  If your videos no longer play, that is why.  Contact us for help.

In a discussion of copyright clearance and the TEACH Act in particular, we did make these three important points to remember:

  1. If a DVD exists of the video you want to use, we must use it as our source to copy rather than a VHS version.
  2. We cannot accept “self-recorded” media–that is, video you have recorded off TV–as source media.  It must be a “legally obtained” original.
  3. If we have copied/encoded media for you under the terms of the TEACH Act, you CANNOT use it in a face-to-face class meeting.  It can only be used for distance education.

Finally we spoke about how to obtain low-cost or free software from the FCCC and from our Microsoft Academic Alliance.

We appreciate the time of the professors who joined us last night, and hope this post will share in part the evening we all enjoyed.  Now, have a great semester.