eLearning Frenzy

eLearning is like a sewer, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.



How to Create Richer Experiences Using Group Work

7/22 at 10am
Research has shown students can benefit from group work in several ways. But not everyone is a fan. In this session, the panel describe effective tools and techniques to enhance the group work experience. The session will outline the chief problems associated with group work along with ways to address them. Faculty and students will also be on hand to discuss how they’ve successfully implemented group work and how it’s evolved over the years.

  • Benefits of Group Work
  • Problems associated with Group Work
  • Potential Solutions
  • Results (instructor perspective)
  • Results (student perspective)

Benefits of Group Work

  • Plays to Human Nature (being social significantly enhances learning)
  • Improved Peer Relationships (once you get past forming/storming)
  • Increases in Engagement (active learning)
  • Sense of independence
  • self-directed learning
  • learn to operate in relationships
  • Collaborative exchange
  • Enhance Problem solving
  • Peer Learning

Problems Associated with Group Work

Why students hate it:

  • Various student skill levels
  • Dealing with dominant/passive personalities
  • self-selecting group issues
  • grading discrepancies and issues
  • unclear purpose
  • undefined student roles
  • unclear instructor expectations
  • Vagueness of accountability and fairness
  • Difficulty with meeting and communication
  • Difficulty using various technologies
  • Difficulty pacing project work
  • Difference in opinion of final product

Potential Solutions

Start of Group work/project

  • Purpose and instructions (importance of group work in real life included)
  • individual contract (have students agree to certain terms – using bb quiz) Students don’t agree it doesn’t open up project.
  • Timing of implementation
    • back half of semester
    • mimic earlier assignment (make it familiar for students)
    • accurate group distribution

During Group work/project

  • Group Contract with Defined Roles
  • Mandated live sessions
  • Documentation of Communication
  • Instructor Presence (feedback along the way is essential)

Grading the Group Work Project

  • Grading based on 60/40 split
    • instructor: grade project 60%
    • Students grade peers 40%
  • Grades adjust from review of documentation
  • Role dependent grade adjustments

Results – Instructor Perspective

  • Started with high anxiety of project
  • High growth and interaction
    • live sessions crucial
  • questions were content focused
  • One one student not involved
  • Projects were very strong
  • Student feedback surprisingly positive

Results – Student Perspective

  • Contract with spelled out exactly ( no one could say I didn’t know)
  • Groups were assigned
  • Knew instructor was paying attention and that did make a difference (recordings of live meetings)
  • Grading yourselves made a difference
  • roles made division of work excellent

What we learned

  • Implement on back half of course
  • Mimic earlier assignment for familiarity
  • Individual/group Contracts
  • Mandate Communication
  • Force student voice in participation

BbWorld20 Session blog – Blackboard Learn Roadmap Session

7/22 6:45am

Updates on Learn and Mobile Apps

1 Blackboard, 2 Experiences, 3 Hosting Methods
330 Clients currently on Ultra

Everyone a teacher, everyone a learner
Enabling leaners and educators to engage in Highly collaborative learning.

Update for content editor for original courses

  • Mobile optimized
  • fully responsive
  • copy and pasting has been improved (original formatting or simplified html) Images also copied and pasted
  • MS HTML is removed!
  • Pasting link from youtube/video automatically embeds video
  • Add button
  • pop-up windows now are overlay bubbles (mobile friendly)
  • ability to enter and format computer code (computer science)
  • accessibility checker
  • available later this year

Updated in-line grading Bb Annotate

  • Marking text (select text and choose markup)
  • removing annotations easy
  • adding own text to document
  • built-in search tool
  • draw with tools or use freehand
  • Add image
  • Side-panel shows preview and quick navigation
  • adding comment where you want
  • Learn SaaS – reusable comment bank

Collaborate Whiteboard – coming soon

  • additional drawing tools
  • new shapes and brushes
  • multiple pages
  • sharing whiteboards to breakout room
  • Exporting annotations

Automated Feedback for Ultra

  • correct and incorrect responses
  • coming soon

Peer Assessment for Learn Ultra

  • coming soon
  • shows in stream for faculty and students
  • instructor sees 360 degree view of peer evaluation process when assessing

Connected and Open

  • deepen LTI implementation
  • growing set of REST APIs
  • become industry standard
  • Premium Ultra APIs – surface apps and tools when an where needed in Bb interface
    • allows integrated tool to communicate security with application
    • app engages with user when and where they need to
    • Eesysoft (context-based help and assistance)
    • Blue by Explorance – course evaluation software (prompting students to evaluate when needed)
    • Qwickly – Attendance pro (self-checking attendance request) Students see checkin option on course main page, no need to go somewhere special to do this.

App Catalog

Bb Data Strategy

Ultra View of Activity as related to grades (marks)

Bb data reporting – available as part of learn SaaS – in one place learn about Collaborate and Learn usage.

Bb Achieve – add-on solution for learner engagement and interaction

  • Content engagement (filter down to department lvl)
  • Performance Dashboards

Access and Equity

  • Ally availability for mobile app.
  • Ally as a service
    • Course content
    • Ally for websites
    • Ally as a service REST API

Personalized Learning Experience

  • Blackboard Assist (Learn SaaS) – helps students where and when they need it with assistance from Bb, institution, and partners. Comes with curated partners (can be turned off)
  • Bb Chatbot (Learn SaaS) Uses Bb Help site originally (no additional charge) future more premium paid version with more options
  • Student List View of Gradebook in Ultra
  • Learning Module Progress indicators (Ultra course View)
  • Offline Content (Bb App) – being able to download course content on mobile device (available now)
  • Messages – Bb and Bb Instructor App (push notifications)
  • Bb Watch OS app for students (view grades, due dates, announcements)

BbWorld20 Session Blog – Streamlining and Improving Instructions for students

7/21 @ 12:45 pm

  • Overview of problem
  • Research on Student ownership/engagement
  • Implementation of triggers
  • Results of implementation
  • Potential future Uses


  • Students not reviewing intro material
  • same questions over and over
  • same mistakes over and over
  • rise of frustration all around


  • Overall Lack of Academic Agency
    (activities not meaningful, no voice in how they are learning)
  • Increase Ownership through
    • Course Contracts (students agree to expectations etc…)
    • Student Choice/Selection

Course contract (ownership and engagement)

  • Share power and authority
  • focus on process and product
  • clearly defines expectations
  • sets up a “pact” mentality

Student Choice

  • share power and authority
  • choose items of interest
  • discussions, PBL, etc… (have 5 readings and choose three of them, propose a topic for discussion)

Adaptive Release

  • Original use – Release dates
  • Evolving use – Rough Drafts
  • Current use – course contracts

Implementation of Contracts

  • course orientation quiz (how to navigate, syllabus, expectations)
  • Needs for something better
  • Need to force students to complete/agree
  • Results and Evolution of Contract

How quiz works

  • 10 mc questions 1 pt a piece Examples:
    • I have read late policy
    • I will not use wikipedia
    • Writing style is APA
  • Have to agree to all 10 in order to proceed.

Beyond Course Orientation

  • Implementation on Individual Assignments
    • Triggers to answer to open access to other part of course
    • column in grade center that delineates where triggers are as opposed to normal course work
  • Implementation Using Graded Videos
  • First Rendition of Choose Your own path
    • get more by watching instructions, assignment template, easter eggs etc.

From Contracts to Choice

  • Focus more on student choice
  • Making it work
  • Possibilities
    • Variety of assignments
    • variety of career options
    • variety of topics
      – Examples: Tech orientation org prior to class registration, which Grade are you teaching opens specific content for students.

BbWorld20 Session Blog – Blackboard Ally Roadmap

7/21 @ 10:45am

Recent Updates & Roadmap

Ally has had 36 product release in just under a year.

Also announcing 5 new major feature additions today/very soon.

Recent additions Reporting

  • usage tab in institutional reporting (student usage) break down alternative format usage, downloads, courses, distribution. instructors, how many fixes, how often feedback was opened..over time.
  • Data is all available in BbData
  • LTI tab – Feature Flags (to release new functionality when we want) eg. translated version alternative format.
  • Dedicated integration with eesysoft (enable flag to capture ally data for eesysoft)

Recent Additions for Instructors

  • improved integration for ultra experience courses
  • feedback flows:
    • PDF’s without title
  • course accessibility report (gives instructor summary at course level)

Recent Additions for Student Facing

  • New alternative formats (BeeLine reader, Translated Version)
  • Alternative formats have become more prominent in UI
  • Beeline Reader – Technology developed for speed reading purposes works with with Dyslexia and ADHD students (uses color gradient to guide eye through text)

Announcements – New for Ally!

  1. Reporting at Departmental Level launching in next few weeks (based on institutional hierarchy) Adds an additional directory tab to institutional report. Can be configured to be available to departmental administrators. (requires latest version of learn SaaS)
  2. Ally launched in Arabic even for Alternative Formats
  3. Ally Alternative Formats soon to be available for content created within the LMS (Original and Ultra)
  4. WYSIWYG Feedback – coming in future
    – provide instructor feedback for WYSIWYG content
    – Feedback directly embedded in content editor
    – live score while editign
    – highlights within the editor
  5. Future (Expand accessibility checklist
    -support for excel
    – text spacing, line spacing
  6. Support for Audio/Video content (future)
    – add support for additional types for video/audio sources
    – tools for instructor to provide captioning
    – integrated with 3rd party
  7. improved audio alternative formats (future)
    – for documents over 100k characters
    – Option to highlight text with audio alternative format
  8. Crowdource Remediation (forward looking)
    – duplicative manual remediation across insitutions
    – ally can facilitate re-use remediation by suggesting improvements elsewhere

Ally for Websites
– check content for issues
– reporting
– alternative format

Define domain/subdomains you want to track over time.

  • Checking for broken links (get a list)
  • Report for each domain or overall report
  • Launch feedback component from report

BbWorld20 Session Blog – Blackboard Collaborate Roadmap: Supporting Online Learning now and into the Future

7/21 10:00am

“Lightyears of progress in weeks.”

Impact of COVID-19 on our roadmap

  • Accelerate some features/shift priorities
  • Performance
  • Server capacity
  • Security

Forward Looking-statement (disclaimer that things may change) Roadmap is plan but may change in future.

Who we are as solution

  • Made for teaching and learning
  • Trustworthy
  • empowering engagement
  • Inclusive
  • Responsive
  • Easy to adopt
  • Measurable

EOS of Collaborate original

  • Tech stack made it inevitable
  • collaborate ultra is mature and well adopted
  • more scalable
  • most asked for features: add in ultra roadmap
  • Some original features cant’ make it

Made for teaching and learning

  • Roles, asymmetry and engineered collaboration
  • feeling safe and included
  • part of an ecosystem
  • part of a pedagogic path, not just an event
  • variety of instructors, needs, creativity, teaching methods

First half of 2020

  • Large sessions in scheduler (instructors more autonomous) (allow 250+
  • Poll results download available
  • sharing camera as content
    • document cam
    • mobile cam
    • show experiment/practice

2nd half of 2020 in chronological order

  • Profanity filter 8/6/2020
  • Recording reminder
  • Timer: test and plan
  • 1000 attendees in session


  • stability and robustness – #1 priority
  • Security and privacy as educators
  • Safety and privacy by design

First half of 2020

  • telephony capacity increase
  • scalability improvements
  • Secure by design features deactivating guess access/ recording access from only inside if wanted
  • Review of scalability of 3rd party

2nd half of 2020

  • improved monitoring – to proactive intervention
  • Security compliance adopting industry standards (OWASP)
  • Bulk invitation (early August) from scheduler
  • Recordings bulk management (visibility of your storage use, bulk delete for admins, consider retention policies
  • Waiting Room!!! (end of 2020) Apply to guests only first.

Empowering engagement

  • Teaching is not “meeting:
  • engagement is everything and needs to be engineered by prof
  • empower isntructor

New Whiteboard 8/6

  • Whiteboard and file annotation crucial for pedagogy, collaboration, engagement, complete exercise
  • Formatting (Pencil thickness, fonts, font size shapes with color fill and more
  • usability: copy and reuse elements, paste text, wrapping, eraser, confirmation for clear all
  • Annotation persistence: between slides (laod a blank doc to have multiple white board pages) Between tools (go from files to whiteboard to app sharing and get back to your previous annotations.
  • Breakout groups interaction for file annotations

for 2020 and beyond Whiteboard

  • pointer
  • multiple whiteboard pages
  • who made which annotations
  • sharing breakout whiteboard into main room

Engagement – 2nd half of 2020

  • Chat mentions
  • Video Gallery (highest priority) balance between interaction and focus enhancing the number of video feeds that can be seen at once (more faces) students with lower bandwidth don’t get penalized…let students choose

Balance Engagement and Focus (2021)

2nd half of 2020

  • Video Gallery (just video grid only when speaking not sharing content – yet) you can zoom and pagination.
  • Add templates and gallery when sharing
  • Pinning Videos

Leveraging for pedagogical uses 2021

Looking towards 2021

  • Recording pause and resume
  • more options for sharing recordings
  • More whiteboard/chat improvements


  • LMS (Learn) (calendar, groups as breakout groups, course content)
  • Live captioning (finding right parnter)
  • partnership with 3-play media

Session Preparation

  • groups, polls, etc

Secure and Inclusive engagement and collaboraiton

  • chat moderation
  • students can’t delete others annotations

Data powered

  • integrate with bb data
  • engagement score during session
  • engagement coaching via data
  • gallery view powered by predict

BbWorld20 Sesion Blog: Ways to Empower Faculty to Create a More Inclusive Environment

7/21/2020: 9:15am

Goal for Digital Accessibility and Inclusive Education TAMUCC

Create a more inclusive digital academic environment

  • Culture of Awareness and support
  • Positive and open mindset

Strategy for Success


  • finding stakeholders and partnerships
    • Departments (disability service office, HR, faculty excellence, and others)
    • Governance (support from administration, faculty senate, committees, SGA)

Discovering strategy and vision

  • learning the lessons (technically ready, but buy-in and culture wasn’t there)
  • moving forward (training, support, accessibility website)
  • building awareness
    • Digital accessibility day (content remediation)
    • one-on-ones with IDs/Trainers
    • Accessibility simulation lab

Making Strides by Empowering Faculty

Engagement, professional development and embracing the current situation.

  • Community of Practice
    Talking about UDL, accessibility standards and introducing Bb Ally.
  • Leveraging Quality Assurance
  • Effective Communication
  • Supporting the Transition

Ally turned on for all courses – Communication around Ally went out via Dept newsletter, faculty advocate and other communication resources, Bb Org, Certification etc…

Worked Students into communications – alternate formats (from department, training resources and instructors)

Importance of the Virtual Office


In face-to-face courses, students have the luxury of benefiting from questions asked while in the classroom or the ability to stop by your office to discuss an issue they might be having.  In both cases they get the chance to interact with you and possibly some of their fellow classmates.

Sometimes, students find it challenging to find that same connection in an online, hybrid or web-enhanced environment.  The good news is that with Blackboard and other learning management systems, you can create a virtual space where your students can experience the same kind of connection and feedback they receive in their brick-and-mortar classrooms.

Using a virtual office in your online/hybrid/web-enhanced courses provides many benefits. For the purpose of this blog post, we will focus on three.  Using a virtual office:

  • puts the instructor in the course
  • cleans up email inboxes
  • promotes the use of Blackboard (the LMS or Learning Management System)

The virtual office puts the instructor in the course

Placing a photo of yourself, your contact information and a little biographical info can go a long way toward helping your student see you as a person and not some synthetic-robot version of yourself.   If you want to go the extra mile, replace the photo with a quick Intro or Welcome video that can bring out your personality and help the students get to know you.

By subscribing to your own virtual office discussion forum you will receive prompts when questions are posted.  These prompts will help you engage with your students in a timely fashion and make the students feel like you are in the course.

The virtual office cleans up e-mail inboxes

Let’s face it, we all “misplace” e-mail.  For some of us, our inbox receives a hundred new messages or more each day.  Why not make life easier on you and your students by reserving course-oriented email for things of a personal or private nature.  Have your students post general course questions to the virtual office discussion forumWhen you answer questions via e-mail the only people that see that correspondence are you and the student. If a question is answered in a public space like the virtual office, everyone benefits.

You may have to use the first week of the course as a “training week” where you ensure you point your students to the virtual office for answers to course questions.  Make it a requirement in your syllabus, an expectation on your course expectations page and a question on your Syllabus quiz to ensure students know where to go.

BONUS:  The virtual office builds a course FAQ over the course of a semester that you can then use as part of your next semester’s course.

The virtual office promotes the use of Blackboard (the LMS)

The more time a student is spending in your course, the more connected they are to what is happening.  When your students establish the habit of checking the course regularly, they will be more engaged and more successful.

Encouraging your students to check the virtual office daily will get them in your course and connect them to the information and activities they need to conquer course objectives.

When you Pack Your Bags for BbWorld18…

When we think of thought-leading eLearning conferences that we attend like Blackboard World, we often think of them in terms of things we will come back with. There is good reason for this, as there are so many takeaways that a conference like Blackboard World provides. For the purposes of this blog post however, we will be focusing on what we should bring with us to Blackboard World 2018.

So when you pack your bags for BbWorld….

…..Pack a way to share what you learn:

For every oSharing Gadgetsne of us who are fortunate enough to attend this tremendous eLearning event, there are many, many more of us who cannot be at BbWorld. Since we all know that “sharing is caring,” bring a way to share what you’ve learned with your coworkers back home and your colleagues across the world. Whether you are live tweeting by phone or mobile device, live-blogging from your tablet or laptop, or maybe just taking notes to present, blog, or post later, you will be helping your coworkers at home and your peers across academia benefit from what you are picking up from colleagues, professionals and thought leaders.  Remember the hashtag: #BbWorld18

…..Pack a charger (Mobile or otherwise):

Portable ChargerIf indeed you are sharing your experience, or just trying to stay in touch with events back at home, you will definitely need a charger. I would suggest bringing one of the mobile chargers that you can keep in your pocket/purse/backpack. During the hectic schedule, you may not get a chance to go back to your room, and you may not find an open plug where you can “juice-up”. *As an addendum to this packing tip, bringing a small power strip is also beneficial as you can share one plug with a number of your peers.

…..Pack a desire to meet people and make connections:

Make ConnectionsPossibly the biggest benefit to being at Blackboard World is the ability to meet your peers and form connections that you will maintain and use throughout your professional career. At your home institution you may be the only person who does what you do, but at Blackboard World you are a small fish in a big pond. There will literally be hundreds of people with your same type of job. What better way to pick up best practices and learn what is working and not working for your colleagues, so that you aren’t stumbling around on your own when it comes to your learning management system or eLearning in general.

…..Pack some tennis shoes or at least comfy dress shoes:

ShoesBbWorld has possibly the largest population of slacks/skirts and Nikes in the eLearning universe. For a conference this large, you may be walking a quarter of a mile just to get to your next session. You also have vendors to see and colleagues to touch base with, so comfortable footwear is a must. Some of you may even spend time at Hogwarts working on your patronus, so you will most assuredly  need shoes for your journey!

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

BbWorld16 Session Blog – The Blackboard Portfolio Tool

portfolio-iconJuly 14, 2016
9:30 – 10:20am
Titian 2205

Features, Uses and Campus Wide Implementation process

Jason Rhode and Stephanie Richter
Northern Illinois University – Faculty Development & Instructional Design Center

  • Background Info
  • Bb Portfolios: Features and Examples
  • Campus-wide implementation process
  • Portfolio Usage across campus
  • Considerations

Building Portfolios

  • Add artifacts from files or from prior Blackboard assignment submissions
  • Embed media directly in the page
  • customize and preview features
  • Manage multiple portfolios for different purposes
  • Use templates for standardized portfolios

Grading Portfolios

  • Faculty can create an assignment with portfolio submission enabled
  • If Portfolio submission is enabled, student can only submit a portfolio
  • Faculty can grade and provide feedback as usual in the grade center

Sharing Portfolios

  • Share snapshots internally with institution users
  • Share snapshots externally with people outside institution (grad school/employers)
  • Download entire portfolio as a zip file (HTML) for future use and portability

Portfolio Examples



Campus-wide Implementation Process

  • Identify key stakeholders
  • Raise Awareness
  • Test Portfolio Tool
  • Develop Support Resources
  • Train Users

Key Stakeholders

  • Provost’s Office
  • Assessment Office
  • IT
  • Faculty Development Center
  • FYE

Raise Awareness

  • ePortfolio symposium
  • University Tech conference
  • e-mail newsletters etc..


  • Staffing (support, development technical)
  • Implementation time (1 year)
  • Support Resources (robust and multi-format, samples)
  • Establish policies (who gets template? naming, who approves template format? How long are student accounts active and portfolios accessible?)


  • Implementing portfolios is a campus wide process involving multiple stakeholders
  • Consider how portfolios will be used for teaching and assessment as you plan your implementation
  • Students will need most support, but faculty need to be comfortable so that students can be successful.

There is a Bb Portfolio Users group on






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