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August 5, 2010 / dlitgroup

Weekly Updates – August 6

The following updates are from the DLIT department for the week ending August 6th:

  • Bb 9 Course Copy Issue – We are working with Blackboard support to troubleshoot an issue with course copy on the Blackboard 9 system.  This is an important and high priority issue to resolve as faculty are beginning to return and preparing their courses for the Fall semester. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 LoginAs – A new Building Block, written by Szymon Machajewski was installed on our Bb production server.  This tool will empower the IT Help Desk and DLIT to be able to login as another user to help them troubleshoot issues and provide effective how to assistance.  A huge thank you to Szymon for writing this Building Block and also sharing it back with the Blackboard Community.  (More than 21 schools have already downloaded the Building Block to use on their own campuses.) [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 CaféScribe Building Block – The CaféScribe Blackboard Building BlockTM enables professors to assign and students to acquire CaféScribe digital textbooks with a single click within the Blackboard Learn environment. Once there, students and professors can read, highlight, annotate, share notes and perform other activities.  Instructors can also directly point students to a specific section in the digital textbook by setting a link through the Bb integration. This is being tested and evaluated on the test system and has potential impact for sustainability and innovation.  As the Fall semester progresses we will continue to review with perhaps a goal to pilot with a few classes in the Winter semester. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]

    This is screen shot of the Bb integration with CafeScribe, Follett's Digital Textbook Software

  • Bb 9 Readiness Meeting – A meeting with Peggy Gorno, Szymon Machajewski, Garry Brand, and Eric Kunnen was held to review system hardware resources to ensure a successful start.  Suggestions were made to ensure that we start the semester with a database environment that is not sharing 3 database instances.  In addition, Peggy Gorno is assisting with communication and support documents to support students.  Finally, Szymon has requested a copy of our current Bb 9 system to prepare for an upcoming service pack that will be available before the semester start. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 Service Pack 2 – Release notes have been made available around an upcoming service pack that will be available before the semester start.  Service Pack 2 will include a wide array of fixes that are important as we approach our semester start.  Here are just a few of the important fixes coming: [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]

    AS-143411 Journals With the Journal tool, users may add attachments to their Journal entries. The attachments are not visible or accessible to the end user after they are attached. The entries and comments are still available. 1 – Showstopper
    AS-143221 Discussion Board For Discussion Board forums with a large number of threads (reproduced with 9000 threads), the Expand All function is displaying an error.
    AS-143417 Content (Learning System) When creating an Announcement and defining date restrictions, the Display After and Display Until fields default to current date and current date plus one, respectively. Attempting to manually modify the dates by typing valid new start and new end dates in the fields results in an incorrect error “The end date cannot be earlier than the start date”. If the calendar icon is used to modify the dates to valid values rather than manual entry, no error is returned.
    AS-143421 Content (Learning System) When creating a Test and defining date/time restrictions, the Display After and Display Until fields default to current date and current date plus one, respectively. Attempting to manually modify the dates by typing valid new start and new end dates in the fields results in an incorrect error “The end date cannot be earlier than the start date”. If the calendar icon is used to modify the dates to valid values rather than manual entry, no error is returned.
    AS-143423 Content (Learning System) When creating a content item and defining date/time restrictions, the Display After and Display Until fields default to current date and current date plus one, respectively. Attempting to manually modify the dates by typing valid new start and new end dates in the fields results in an incorrect error “The end date cannot be earlier than the start date”. If the calendar icon is used to modify the dates to valid values rather than manual entry, no error is returned.
    AS-143583 Grade Center In the Grade Center, grades that are left blank have a dash sign ( – ). If no grade is entered a student receives a negative grade.
    AS-143985 Reports – System Statistics Overall Summary Usage and Access by Content Area Tracking Reports display inconsistent results for the same user.
    AS-143993 Assessments (Learning System) When selecting Attempts Statistics for a test in the Grade Center, an error is returned if corrupt data is present for submission attempts. The Attempts Statistics report should skip invalid or corrupt data and report the stats based on good submission attempt data.
    AS-143998 Assessments (Learning System) WYSIWYG If a student user toggles the VTBE editor after answering one or more questions, the page is refreshed, unsaved answers are lost, and the test is submitted. If test is configured to force completion and single attempt, the student will not be able to take the test again.
    AS-144003 UI Infrastructure When using the VTBE to edit text, some formatting is not applied to the \<font> tag but to the \<p> tag. This causes the formatting (particularly “style” and “size”) to be ignored.
    AS-145054 Assignments (Learning System) If a user tries to submit a blank assignment they should receive “Warning: The Assignment is blank and no files are attached. Do you still want to submit the Assignment?”
    AS-145506 Discussion Board Previously, when a student posted to a discussion board using the VTBE and included one or more images, the image did not appear to instructors.
    AS-146039 Discussion Board If a user or an instructor attaches a file to a post on the discussion boards and gives it an easy to read link name by completing the “Name of link to file” box. Than if later the user tries to click on the file, the file can be downloaded, but it appears to have been renamed (not restoring the original title) to the name entered in the “Name of link to file” box.
    AS-146371 Discussion Board When the Discussion Board Grade view is selected within a Discussion Board containing a lot of user data, the performance slows to a halt due to a full table scan taking place. The performance of this functionality has been improved to ensure large Discussion Boards may access the grade view.
    AS-144000 Discussion Board Browser Specific (Firefox) – When a user selects the option to maximize all thread details within the Discussion Board, the thread text is jumbled and un-readable.
    AS-144001 Grade Center When using IE 8, the vertical scroll bar does not display in the Grade Center. This prevents moving up and down the list of students and can prevent all users from being visible.
    AS-144008 Assessments (Learning System) When editing a Multiple Choice question, changing the Answer Numbering causes the page to reload. The setting is successfully applied but the user experience is undesirable. This may happen with other types of test questions.
    AS-145177 Assignments (Learning System) If an assignment name has a hash symbol (#) in it, a user will encounter a 404 error when attempting to download submissions from the Grade Center.
    AS-145511 Content System When trying to upload using the multiple file uploader an error is displayed if SSL is enabled and Content Collection is not selected on the SSL Choice page. The best workaround is to have SSL enabled system wide.

  • Blackboard Bug Squad Webinar – DLIT participated in a webinar along with 28 other colleges to review the bug fixes that are planned for Service Pack 3.  Uservoice is being used as a crowdsourcing tool to allow clients to help shape and direct the most significant issues to be fixed in the next release. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 Wimba Pronto – A new Building Block was tested and installed that provides additional features to the Wimba Pronto service.  This includes an invitation system that allows instructors to more easily see and invite (through an email invitation) students that are not using Pronto.  This new feature has potential to increase the usage of the system. In addition, the School tab has been enhanced to be more visible to students when a new help desk/tutorial lab is available. As the college continue to expand and become more scattered, Wimba Pronto could be a valuable tool to connect the campus and provide faculty and staff from Sneden Hall or other remote campuses to connect and collaborate. Campus wide, there is potential for using Wimba for multi-campus meetings to cut down on travel for department meetings, trainings, and administrative meetings. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 Course Export/Archive Fix – Szymon Machajewski applied a custom database script to the Bb 9 system to fix an issue with the Export/Archive Course feature not appearing. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 Pilot Server Issue – Szymon worked with Jesse Fuzi to help resolve an Oracle database issue that was effecting the live pilot server. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 Rave Wireless Building Block – A new Building Block was received from Rave for the new version of Blackboard.  We had to spend some time to work with Rave to troubleshoot this to ensure this feature is working with the new Bb 9 system.  This Building Block enables students to sign up for text messages when faculty post updates in their courses.  Additionally, DLIT served as a reference for Rave Wireless for the Vice President for Educational Technology of San Jacinto College. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 Grade Center Due Dates Building Block – We installed and tested the grade center due dates module by the Idaho Digital Learning Academy.  This adds new capabilities to add/change due dates in the grade center.  Issues were found with this Building Block and therefore it was decided to not install in production.  We plan to review this further and work with Szymon to correct the issues so we can apply this to production. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 Manage Announcements Building Block – We installed and test this feature (written by Malcolm Murray at Durham) that allows faculty to batch delete announcements. We decided to not install this feature into production as concern was expressed that this may cause confusion to have 2 links in the Course Tools menu around announcements. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 Ocelot Podcaster – We installed and tested this feature as a replacement to a paid tool that was licensed in Blackboard 8.  Issues were found and therefore this was not installed into production. Szymon Machajewski will help to correct the issues identified so we can work to place this feature into production. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 Upgrade Mailing – A mailing was created and has been sent to printing services.  This postcard will be snail mailed to all faculty’s home addresses. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]

    Postcard to be snail mailed to GRCC faculty home addresses.

  • Bb 9 SafeAssign Building Block – Installed, debugged, and tested a new version of the SafeAssign Building Block to fix an issue with the time field not appearing in Bb 9.  This new version was applied to production. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb Wimba Voice Tools – A new building block was tested and installed on Bb 9.  This new version provides additional capabilities to allow faculty to use voice tools anywhere in the system, including in blogs, wikis, journal, and even assessments. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 Uprade Meeting – DLIT met with Darcy Swope; Don VanOeveren; Eric J. Kunnen; Frederick Bauman; Garret Brand; Lori Cook; Peggy Gorno; Susan DelRaso; Szymon Machajewski to discuss preparing for student and faculty help desk needs. Eric, Szymon, and Garry shared plans for the upgrade and timeline.  Peggy Gorno mentioned that IT will begin to deploy the Firefox browser to the campus (which is preferred with Blackboard 9), including all labs and faculty/staff PC’s.  As a result of the meeting, Szymon worked on enhancing the “Test Browser” Building Block. Additionally, sample instructor and student accounts were shared with the help desk. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb eCard – Szymon Machajewski and Paulo Teles collaborated to implement the new eCard system.  RaiderCard “My Accounts” was replaced with the eCard service on Blackboard 8.  This new eCard feature provides solutions for PCI compliance. Additionally, as the semester start date begins, the eCard system will need to be added into the Bb 9 environment.  This needs to wait, however, as only 1 instance can be setup at a time to connect to the Blackbaord transact central service. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb 9 My Courses Plus Fixed – Szymon Machajewski fixed the My Courses Plus module in Bb 9.  The module was preventing access to courses by all users using Internet Explorer. Firefox is the preferred browser with Blackboard 9. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Bb Test Browser Building Block – Szymon Machajewski tested, customized, and implemented a browser checker for Blackboard 9. This browser checker was developed by Malcom Murray from Durham University in the UK and shared through the Oscelot Open Source Community for Blackboard.  This will be of benefit to end users and the help desks to help isolate potential browser issues that occur with Blackboard 9. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]

    A screenshot from the browser checker Building Block.

  • Bb 9 Getting Started & Help Tabs – DLIT spent time to configure the “Getting Started” and “Help” tabs in Blackboard to reflect updated manuals and information about the version 9 upgrade. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Laptop Initiative Pilot – Eric Kunnen worked on reviewing the history and establishing a draft of the adjunct laptop initiative pilot.  A huge thank you to Penni Weninger, who provided a rich set of resources that contributed to the narrative.  In a nutshell, the adjunct laptop initiative was created to provide access to adjunct faculty to mobile technology for curriculum and courseware development.
  • Student Congress Election Poll on Bb – Eric Kunnen discussed options available for the student Campus Elections Committee and the Student Senate about the possibility of conducting a student election using Blackboard’s poll feature. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • Summer Technology Institute – Final planning occurred for the summer technology institute with Garry Brand, Melanie Forbes, Bill Faber, and Eric Kunnen.  This 3 day event includes Bb Basics Bootcamp, and Advanced Blackboard Day, and a Project Day.  Penni Weninger sent an email to faculty to advertise the event.  More information about the institute is available at: http://www.grcc.edu/techinstitute
  • OHCC Course – (ADD list of participants) The 3 week o the Online & Hybrid Certification Course continues with Garry Brand, Melanie Forbes, Bill Faber, and Eric Kunnen facilitating. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP and DL CAP]  The following faculty are participating in the OHCC this semester:

    First Name Last Name
    Linda Bramble
    Jonathan Edelman
    Nancy Forrest
    Catherine Green
    Katherine Homer
    Mary Kronkowski
    Bernard Manker
    Andrew McLean
    Michael Miller
    Jason Paulateer
    Charlotte Pease
    Jodi Richhart
    Peggy Schoenborn
    Eve Sidney
    William Sneller
    Lynnell Talbert
    Donald Van Oeveren
    Susan Wallsteadt
  • Bb 9 Faculty Support – Garry Brand and Eric Kunnen responded to more than 61 faculty email requests and drop-ins in support for faculty transitioning to Blackboard 9 for Fall.  A very large volume of requests are expected as the Fall semester approaches.  Additionally, Melanie Forbes announced she will not be able to work with DLIT for Fall, reducing our faculty facilitator support from 3 to 2. Eric will be sending out a faculty email to recruit additional assistance.  This will be a very important need to fill as the Blackboard upgrade will consume and require faculty facilitator support for faculty. [Linked to Extending Bb Learn Platform DAP]
  • DL CAP Update Work – Preparation and work for responding to the August 30th deadline of CAP Updates.  A set of meetings have been scheduled for the DL CAP throughout the year.  Most of the work will begin at the start of the Fall semester. [Linked to the DL CAP]
  • eSchool News & NBC Learn Webinar Recording Posted – As was reported earlier, GRCC was highlighted in it’s pilot and use of NBC Learn in a WebEx Webinar through eSchool News.  There were nearly 1,000 registrations for this event.  To access the recording, visit: http://www.webex.com/web-seminars/view_recording/664881501

    eSchool News, Blackboard, NBC Learn, and GRCC Webinar

  • Bb 9 GRCC Today and Faculty Email – A GRCC Today posting and all faculty email was sent to inform faculty about the Blackboard 9 upgrade.  This included information about how to access the Blackboard 9 server, as well as how to videos and quick start guides to help faculty get started quickly with the new system.  Finally, the email address: dlit@grcc.edu was shard as the key support email (for faculty) to request assistance and support for Blackboard.
  • Bb 8 and 9 Service Maintenance – Friday evening, Blackboard 8 and 9 will be unavailable from 10PM to midnight to perform maintenance on the servers in preparation for Fall.  Szymon Machajewski, Ed Walker, Jesse Fuzi will be performing the work on the database and application servers.
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