Category Archives: update

Blackboard Scheduled Maintenance

Our next scheduled maintenance window will be on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 beginning at 1:00 am and estimated completion by  7:00  am.

In an effort to increase performance, stability and security for Blackboard the normally scheduled maintenance window for will need to be extended for a few hours. Recent security concerns have driven Blackboard to release this update ahead of the normal release schedule and is strongly urged to apply this update at our earliest convenience. We acknowledge the shutdown length poses an inconvenience for many, but it is crucial to address the concerns.

Along with the important Security updates this particular update will also resolve a few of our issues that have just recently become an annoyance with faculty and OLAT. We acknowledge the fact that these workarounds are not perfect. These workarounds will not be needed after the shutdown.

In the interim, when dealing with the discussion board issue, faculty have a few options:

Issue 1: Involves an access denied error when attempting to access an unavailable discussion board.

1.)           Make the discussion board available, make your changes, then make it unavailable again (if desired).

2.)           If you don’t want the students to post yet or no longer want the forum to be available for students to post to, use the manage option from the pull down menu and make all of your students readers instead of participants. This will limit the students from making any new postings, while leaving the discussion board available for them to read, review, and learn from their peer’s posts.

3.)           If grading an unavailable discussion board, grade using the option in the pull down menu or proceed with the previous step making the students readers instead of participants. You will then be able to read all the postings in context.

In the interim, when dealing with the Grade Center issue faculty can:

Issue 2: Involves the Grade Center and navigating away from a grading attempt. The “Exit” and “Save and Exit” buttons are not functioning correctly. In addition, when moving through the student’s tests, you are presented with a leave or stay on the page message.

1.)           Completely exit one student’s quiz and get back to Grade Center by clicking a button completely out of Grade Center (such as Announcements or Lesson Button) or the Grade Center breadcrumb and then return to the Grade Center

2.)           When grading an attempt and you have the option of leaving or staying on the page instead of saving and submitting, choose leave. The grade will be recorded and one can move on to the next student’s attempt.

We appreciate your patience during this longer than normal, but very important update. A reminder abridged E-mail will follow closer to scheduled date.

**** Students will be notified via a separate E-mail ****

When the winds of change blow…

So, here’s one final blog post from yours truly before I head off to New Hampshire!

Couple quick things:

  • Even though some folks are moving around, eLi is still here!  Tri-C will be hiring a new Assistant Dean to lead eLi and fill the open positions in the department in the coming months.
  • If you have inquiries of a technical nature, please route them through eLifacultysupport@tri-c.edu or by calling 216-987-4257.  This includes requests for extensions for training for faculty to teach online, course combinations, etc.
  • If you have departmental questions, our own Dr. Holly Craider is serving in an interim capacity in addition to her primary role as Director of Curriculum, and can be reached at her Tri-C email.

A big giant thank you to everyone at Tri-C who I’ve had the pleasure and honor of working with.  Our common mission is close to my heart.  I truly believe that we have, together, improved success for our students online through implementing quality design and innovative learning models.  Please always feel welcome to reach me – I am sashatberr on just about everything, and at gmail.  You can also find me at www.edusasha.com.

One of my favorite quotes these past few years has been this one (generically labeled “Chinese Proverb”):

“When the wind of change blows, some people build walls, others build windmills.”

Let’s continue to build windmills together.

Always,

Sasha

 

2015 Recap of Online Learning: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

2015 has seen some interesting developments in online learning.  Here is a recap of some key trends, as well as critical components for higher education to consider in innovating online learning to improve student success in online programs and courses.

Some large surveys have revealed important data about student preferences and perceptions, as well as that of faculty and administrators.  There is a strange symmetry in these results. 

What Students Want Online

An important answer for any institution to know is if students would come to an on-campus class if their program wasn’t available online.  Of online learners, 30% said they would probably or definitely would not attend face-to-face.  Also important to note is that online learning is growing at a much higher rate than higher education overall – the IPEDS data release recently for Fall 2014 indicated that overall enrollments in colleges and universities were down 2.2% over the previous 2 years.  However, online learning enrollments continued to grow, with a 6.6% increase in enrollments over the same time period.

The enrollment growth aligns with the perceptions of Chief Academic Officers, 70.8% of whom agree that “online education is critical to the long-term strategy of their institution.”

Though the demographic of online students has largely been attributed to post-traditional students (a population that continues to grow in higher education,) 34% of undergraduate online students are 18-24, and the next highest percentage was 17% for 25 – 29 year olds.  That same survey found that 44% of these undergraduate students were employed full-time, and 24% were employed part-time.

Opportunity:  Follow the growth.  An important need is being revealed as the demographic of online learners expands and continues to grow:  a contemporary, knowledge-based economy requires continual, flexible learning.  Cohesive, well-designed and streamlined online programs can provide those to students regardless of their age.  Student supports need to be available online as well as face-to-face because an increasingly diverse population of online learners will have varied needs for support.

Who Are These Students Anyway?

Perhaps counterintuitively, most online students are still local.  65% of online students live within 100 miles of their institution, of those 50% live within 50 miles.  However, that still means that 35% of online students live outside of that 100 mile radius.  What institutions are they going to?  Is there a closer institution that they are not attending because the online program that they want is not available?

2014 IPEDS data reveals that one in seven of college students is enrolled exclusively at a distance.  The same data reveals that this growth is entirely in the non-profit sector, with 9% of it coming from public institutions, and 22% of the growth coming from private non-profit institutions.

Opportunity:  Public institutions could consider innovating faster and creating more agile processes for program development.  It could be that the availability of programs offered by more nimble, private institutions are luring away potential students from local, public institutions.  The opportunity for private non-profits, of course, is to continue to innovate at this pace and lure away!

Student Perception of Quality and Faculty Buy-In to Online Learning

According to the 2015 Online College Students:  Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences report by Learninghouse and Aslianian, 21% of students reported “inconsistent/poor contact and communication with instructors” and 17% reported that they had concerns about “inconsistent/poor quality of instruction.”  The 2015 Grade Level:  Tracking Online Education in the United States by the Babson Survey Research Group, revealed that only 28% of academic leaders indicated that their faculty accept the “value and legitimacy of online education.”

Though one can’t make definitive conclusions based on this data, it would seem that faculty perceptions of the value of online education could be impacting the quality of the student experience.  The same report indicated that 56.7% of academic leaders rated faculty acceptance of the value of online learning as an “important or very important” barrier to the growth of online education.

Opportunity:  Investing in faculty professional development and quality improvement processes (like Quality Matters) can improve the quality of online courses and thereby transform the culture of an institution and the perception of the value of online learning.

What Research Says Is Important to Student Success Online

Because I’d like to avoid “duplication of effort,” check out this blog post on what matters for student success in online learning entitled “Does Online Learning Work.”  As a brief recap, some important components are:

  1. Online engagement (which has that strange symmetry with student perception about faculty communication as above), including social engagement
  2. Instructional design (see Quality Matters, eCampusAlberta and Universal Design for Learning’s Research)
  3. Student preparation (interestingly, most often an issue of student attributes rather than technology skills)

Opportunity:  Institutions should build into faculty professional development an emphasis instructional design of courses including designing for increased social learning, and develop online programs that maximize opportunities to build student resilience, through strategies like gamification.

Deep Thoughts

Regardless of what type of institution you are at, investing in online learning follows the growth of enrollments in higher education.  Finding ways to improve quality will both increase faculty perceptions of the value of online learning and then hopefully student perceptions of the quality of online learning leading to increased student success.

There is now quite a bit that we know about what works online.  Now it’s time to drive the change that will support students to succeed in individual courses and graduate from online programs.

#StudentSuccess

What’s New in Blackboard after the Update?

The May 2014 Blackboard update added the following features and improvements.

  • Date Management
  • Improved Grading for Blogs, Wikis & Journals

Using Due Dates was a little challenging.  But now with the new Date Management tool changing dates on all the tests, assignments and course materials can be completed in the matter of a few clicks. Ever think of how nice it would be to get the Inline grading features of Blackboard Assignments when using Blogs and Wikis? Well now you can.   Blackboard heard so many good reviews on Inline grading capability that it was also added to Blogs, Wikis and Journals. Here are a couple of videos so you can see how the changes appear in Blackboard.

Due Date Management
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Improved Inline Grading
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Post Edited: We got a little excited about the update and incorrectly listed Integrated Safe Assignments as one of the updated features. Streamlining Safe Assignments and native Blackboard Assignments is coming, but not yet.  In the meantime Safe Assign and Safe Assignments are still available.