Thursday, September 18, 2008

blackboard training

JP Dunn gave us a training workshop last Friday, as we are putting CESL onto the blackboard system. It was a long workshop, and it was very possible that I missed a few details, given the demands of the week. However I thought he did a good job showing it to us, and I learned quite a bit, as I will share if possible. Forgive me if this is more a notepad than anything else. Some of this information I didn't want to lose.

Blackboard bought WebCT about 18 months ago, and is merging the BB system with the WebCT system, so will surely change again soon. At the moment, all users must have a network ID, and this causes big headaches for them & Mr. Dunn. When the Banner system comes online (next fall - maybe?) student names will appear on the roster immediately after registering for a course, but now they don't; he has to have a marathon name-entering session though it's now down to 4 hours to cover 1800 students (I later heard that there were 1800 classes now on notes now make me doubt what I heard).

Mr. Dunn recommends Firefox. IE has problems. We soon found out that Firefox (on mac) had problems also, some of which were solved when we were on Safari. Some versions of Safari work, he said. FF3 is working fine (but I assume he was referring to PC's). If you have a pop-up blocker you need to remove it so that it will function properly. No network ID? Forgot your PIN? Go to Woody Hall. Some of this reflects his ongoing nightmares.

As a teacher, you can sign on to be an instructor AND designer; be sure to ask for both if you want them. Instructors can control TA access. In some departments, instructors want TA's doing everything.

In BB, tests are ungraded. Quizes are graded. It's counterintuitive. Get used to it. HTML & PDF work best, not word documents. When you import an html document, and you want to see it, go into the TEACH mode; AVOID the back button, especially when developing. Use the bread crumbs (little buttons).

Mr. Dunn has received 25,000 misdirected e-mails; all have gone straight into the trash. This raised my eyebrow a little. Is he getting hate mail? Are people sending notes to their teachers? Did they think the teacher got the note?

Most of us were using Firefox on macs (except for me, a kind of habitual safari user). FF didn't have enable html creator, but safari had it, under EDIT HEADER. There's always problems, he said. You should see U of I, where the lab is in an old church, and the macs are all in the cry room. I kid you not. There was more to this story but I missed it.

pdf- they need functioning Adobe Acrobat, which some people don't have; the machine in our LMC didn't have it, because we used another kind of pdf reader. ppt. files require the user to have ppt installed, whereas pps files don't require the user to have it; that's the difference.

In the Dental Hygiene school all the students make webpages (right on the spot I went looking for them, but couldn't find them).

Don't make 12:00 the deadline for an assignment, or you'll get into eternal wrangling with your students over what exactly is 12:00 pm.

SIUC is on its second $250 000 server and will probably need a third; it's considering outsourcing webmail to Google, where g-mail will do everything webmail does but for free. The expense of the webmail software is outrageous; nobody can believe that g-mail will work or do it for free; it awaits board approval, but, basically, that's what they concluded. Why not save the money?

That's all for now; catch you on the upswing.

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