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March 23, 2011 / dlitgroup

Weekly Updates – March 11 and 18

The following updates for the the Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies Department for the weeks ending March 11th and the 18th.

DEPARTMENTAL – This category includes general tasks, ongoing maintenance, issue tracking, faculty support, and other duties related to the department’s operations.

  • Faculty Support Tickets – In the past week, DLIT responded to 30 requests for assistance regarding Blackboard and other instructional technologies. Time spent over the week is estimated at: 6 hours
  • Bb 9.1 Bug Squad – GRCC participated in the Bb 9.1 Bug Squad.  This webinar and use of “uservoice” provides the college with the opportunity to help shape future service packs and to target and recommend the highest priority fixes for issues with the Blackboard system that have been uncovered.
  • Starfish & Oracle Updates – The Building Block for Starfish Early Alert was upgraded along with an increase in Oracle Memory allocation from 8G to 12G.
  • Update to GRCC Android and iPhone Apps – Szymon Machajewski provided some enhancements to our mobile apps.  The Android app had some issues on smaller phones.  While iPhone is of standard size, Androids come in many “shapes”.  So modifications were applied using a new method of programming the apps called Titanium and this enabled the application to better scale across various screen sizes.  The updated Android app features the two additions in functionality: Classfinder, and a Twitter feed for @grcc.  The iPhone app was also updated.  The iPhone app contained no functional changes, but the foundation of the code was updated.  In addition, the icons will update to the GRCC Works schema.
  • ISIS Update – Garry Brand provided a DLIT report for the ISIS update.  The report covered answers to the following questions:
    1. What should your ISIS colleagues know about your work over the past month?
    2. Is your work progressing as planned?
    3. What has worked well?
    4. What has not worked?
    5. What problems/issues are you encountering?
    6. In what ways could your ISIS colleagues help you? What other help or support do you need to accomplish your work?
  • Blackboard Single Signon BbSSO – Symon Machajewski created a Drupal single sign on module for drupal:
  • DLIT Web Site – Modifications and updates were added to the new Drupal CMS.  This will require ongoing work as moving content and updating pages requires a significant investment in time and resources.

ACCESS – GRCC minimizes the barriers of time, place, cost, and educational preparation levels so that all members of the community have an opportunity to participate in college programs.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH – GRCC enriches the community through educational and civic programming and partnerships.

  • GRCC Featured in Blackboard Spotlight Newsletter – GRCC was featured in a Blackboard newsletter for the use of NBC content in Blackboard.  Here is the newsletter.
  • Teaching, Learning, and Technology Showcase – Presenters have been selected for the 5th annual event.  Ferris State will be represented.  The TLT Showcase Team met and discussed layout for the event that will be held on the 3rd floor main in the CTE.  “Promo Coasters” have been ordered as well to promote resources for Blackboard and where to get support. The website for this event is located here:
  • Update to LoginAs Building Block – Szymon updated the LoginAs Block to work with SP4.  The new version of LoginAs supports 9.1 sp4 and all the previous features: restricting access by system or institutional role, by course membership, and allowing the setting to restrict access to system accounts (to prevent privilege escalation).
  • miBUG (Michigan Blackboard Users Group) Meeting and GVSU Teaching with Technology Symposium – This event was held at GVSU’s downtown campus on the 18th.  Garry Brand and Mursalata Muhammad presented at this event.  This was a great opportunity for faculty to make connections and learn from each other about how faculty are using technology in teaching.  More information and registration is available here: Brand and Mursalata Muhammad from GRCC presented on the following topics:

    Using Tools that Students Use
    Students use social media, video, search and mobile technologies to learn. Too often, we take them out of that environment and “deliver content” through a “learning management system.” When is the last time you saw a student using a discussion board outside Blackboard? Join us as we explore how the latest version of Blackboard integrates blogs, wikis, journals, YouTube, instant messaging, mobile and other emerging technologies into the learning process. – Garret Brand, GRCC Business Professor

    Partnerships Through the Using Blackboard Technology
    This break out shares an example for how technology is useful in creating unique learning environments where community partners can serve as co-educators in classrooms that emphasize civically engaged curriculum like service-learning. – Mursalata Muhammad, GRCC English Professor

    miBUG attendees were also invited to the GVSU Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium.

    Nearly 80 participants from 28 institutions came together to exchange information and to learn ways of engaging students and further our use of Blackboard and the partner products.  Photos are available here.

  • miBUG Blackboard Building Block – Szymon Machajewski assisted in authoring a Blackboard Building Block.  This can display Frequently-Asked Questions on Blackboard. This is a feed module which defaults (but the URL can be modified in settings) to the FAQ.  YouTube video is used as avatar in the display.  The direct link to the Blackboard Extensions area is:
  • miBUG Mobile APP – Szymon Machajewski created an application was created and presented at the miBUG event.  There is an Android version and an iPhone.  The apps includes RSS from mibug, twitter for miBUG, twitter for dlitgroup, and a link to a full site.

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