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July 21, 2011 / dlitgroup

Weekly Updates – July 15 and 22

The following updates are from the DLIT Department for the week ending July 15th and 22nd.


This area includes international, national, regional, state, and local activities.

  • BbWorld 2011 Conference
    • Grand Rapids Community College participated in the national BbWorld 2011 Blackboard conference at many levels.  The conference provided the ability to:
      • Connect with other users and colleges.
      • Network with peers who share similar interests.
      • Discover best practices and emerging technologies and teaching techniques.
      • Explore and identify new products and services that can advance the servcies we provide at the college.
      • Engage and participate in informal discussions and panel sessions around key themes and topics impacting education.
      • Hear inspiring keynotes from thought leaders on the intersection of technology and education.
      • Learn from innovative speakers and thought leaders that approach the next generation of teaching and learning with technology.
    • This year the conference was held in Las Vegas, from July 12-14 and here are a few highlights:
      1. Eric Kunnen, Garry Brand, Bill Faber, and Szymon Machajewski presented a session at the conference, entitled: “Leveraging Academic Analytics in System Administration, Professional Development, and Course Improvement”  The presentation is available here.
      2. Symon Machajewski and Mark Nordblom attended the Bb Developers Conference and Open Source Day as well.
      3. GRCC attendees included: Kevin O’Halla, Eric Kunnen, Meegan Lillis, Garry Brand, Bill Faber, Szymon Machajewski, Mark Nordblom, Fred Bauman, Diane Sparks, Tricia Siegel, Deb Vilmont, Ann Alexander, and Tim Koets.
      4. The keynotes included authors: Sir Ken Robinson, and Steven Johnson.
      5. Szymon Machajewski was presented the Blackboard Catalyst Award.
      6. Blackboard’s Corporate Keynote includes a wide array of upcoming enhancements to the product including many announcements such as: new partnerships with additional textbook publishers to cover 98% of the market, an additional partner (CourseSmart) in the eTextbook space, a built-in enterprise level campus survey tool that will be included in a future release of Bb, a partnership and integration with Quality Matters, and a series of new solutions that provide analytics capabilities.
      7. There were more than 2,300+ in attendance at the conference from more than 750+ institutions.
    • The GRCC team took notes, blogged, and used Twitter to capture the event and to provide information back to the campus.
      • The GRCC team authored over 46 posts and a complete set of notes gathered at this event, please see:
      • Also, there were more than 4,845 tweets at the conference with the GRCC team (Eric Kunnen, Szymon Machajewski, Meegan Lills, Garry Brand, Fred Bauman, Mark Nordblom, and Bill Faber) providing more than 420 based on data gathered from and  The latest GRCC DLIT tweets are available at:

        GRCC Team at BbWorld

Department Action Projects

This area includes accomplishments or milestones regarding Departmental Action Project(s).

  • Project 1 – Extend DL Program
    • HLC Substantive Change Application for Distance Delivery – Narrative was provided for the HLC application for the the new information security degree being implemented by the Computer Applications Department.  Additional information was requested and is being authored.
  • Project 2 – Enhance Classroom and Instructional Technologies
    • Relay 3.1 – The recorder and the server for version 3.0 is installed and the client is set to be deployed in classrooms.  The new audio wizard will be an improvement for end users.   A Relay 3.1 patch is now available.  We plan to apply this patch at the end of the September.  This patch includes TechSmith Fuse features which provide leveraging the use of Relay on iOS devices such as iPhone, iPads, and iPod touchs.  In addition this patch provides greatly reduced file sizes, and increase in frame rates for better quality recording, and a more optimized recorder that takes less CPU resources.  Meegan Lillis prepared a video tutorial for Relay as well to train faculty on how to install and use the system.
  • Project 3 – Extend Blackboard Learn, Content, Community
    •  Blackboard Support Resource Meeting  – A meeting was held on July 19, 12:00-1:00 pm with Meegan Lillis, Fred Bauman, and Mark Nordblom.  The goal of this meeting was to evaluate, track, identify, consolidate, and streamline the support materials for Bb.  The agenda included:1.    Identify current resources
      2.    Brainstorm a plan for consolidating
      3.    Begin a plan of action for consolidation
      4.    Determine a plan for continuation of meeting/conversation
    • Bb Meeting – The following topics were discussed at the Blackboard Implementation Team Meeting:
      • Service Pack 6 – Oracle 11g upgrade completed.  Discussion and timelines and planning for SP6.  We are scheduled to upgrade production on Aug 1, Monday.  We did plan to start at 7am downtime, however, we wanted to do this with the least interference with classroom activity during the day, and to perform the upgrade before exams, and therefore the timing of the upgrade will be moved from 7am downtime to 9pm.  Eric Kunnen will be sending out a communication with Darcy Swope and Peggy Gorno.  Szymon Machajewski will be working with the infrastructure team to ensure resources are available.  Testing needs to be finalized and the DLIT team will work to execute this.
      • Blackboard Connect – Connect was configured and now working correctly on the test system.  Friday at 10:30am it is planned to be deployed in production.  The Mobile Preferences Building Block will be installed, we will configure Bb Connect and Szymon will copy mobile numbers from Rave to Connect.  We will turn on SMS in Phase 2 during the week of August 1st.  Meegan will be working to record a tutorial for students and faculty.  The Rave Wireless system will be turned off for the Blackboard integration after the SMS component is added.  Also in Phase 2 home numbers will be an option for students.
      • Blackboard IM –  The server end was upgraded on the 16th of July and the client upgrade is coming on the 24th.  Communication will be sent out to students and faculty regarding the upgrade.
      • Respondus – The new password and license key for the Respondus and StudyMate applications was added to the Bb module.  DLIT will need to investigate StudyMate Class as a potential solution or option for deployment to faculty and students.  A communication will be sent to all faculty regarding the Respondus password change.  This communication will be sent out before the 31st when the password will expire.
      • Bb Portal cleanup – The Bb portal will be cleaned up during the week of August 1st.  This is intended to better streamline the display of information.
      • Fall Readiness – Creation of Fall 2011 courses will occur on August 2nd, after the SP6 patch is in place.
      • Starfish Early Alert – Starfish will be contacted with the new data setup for Fall 2011.  The counselor tables will be cleared.  The SIS adapter was evaluated and there is potential for the iStrategy solution that the college is evaluating.

Other Work within Your Department

This area includes accomplishments or milestones within the department.

  • Summer Technology Institute for Faculty – A postcard was finalized and Jose Mora is working with Penni Weninger to provide a mailing to faculty to advertise the event.
  • Planning for Faculty Training  – DLIT (Garry Brand, Meegan Lillis, Tim Koets, Luann Keizer, and Eric Kunnen) and CTE (Ann Alexander and Diane Sparks) will be meeting together to evaluate the new tools in Bb Sp6 for promotion and training and to prepare for the Fall training session needs.
  • Adobe Creative Suite Design Premium – Meegan Lillis will be using the Adobe suite to prepare and work with faculty in courseware development.  This software was purchased out of the new DLIT budget.
  • End of Year Report – A complete, end of the year report was prepared for Patti Trepkowski.  This report is available upon request.

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