While the calendar doesn’t show it yet, Spring has sprung! We are in the throes of the last week of registration for our Spring 2013 term in the Virtual Campus. Our professors are wrapping up their grades from the Winter term, putting on the finishing touches on their Spring courses, and getting ready for a whole new term to begin on Monday, February 25, 2013.
In this issue of our newsletter, I wanted to give you a handful of updates to keep you up to speed on what’s going on in the VC. Hopefully, these are not all new to you since we’ve sent out a few of these updates via email over the last term.
Update 1: The Test Student Building Block
Have you ever asked, “What do my students see in my course?”
As an instructor in Blackboard, you have access to the control panel and have different permissions settings for viewing content. Sometimes what you see is not what your students see. Now you can create your very own test student, enroll them in your course, and log in as a student.
To learn more about how to use the “Add a Test Student Tool,” check out the announcement we sent out and posted on our blog: New Blackboard Feature: Add Test Student
NOTE: Because of this new feature, we will be deleting the bbtest account which was previously used as a test student account, shared across the faculty and our support staff. It will be deleted on Monday, February 25.
Update 2: New Course Retention Policy – TWO YEARS!
After updating our contract with Blackboard and Managed Hosting, I’m very proud to announce that we will now be able to extend our course retention policy from the current one year to TWO years. You’ve been asking for it and we have finally been able to make it happen. Many of our courses are taught on a two year rotation, particularly at the Plainview campus but elsewhere, as well. Effective immediately, courses will now remain in the system for two years.
Up to this point, we have been removing courses from one year prior. For example, during the Winter 2012 term, we removed courses from the Winter 2011 term. For the next year we will not be removing courses. When we reach the Spring 2014 term, we will begin removing courses that have been in the system for two years (i.e., courses from Spring 2012).
Update 3: Courses Unavailable by Default
Beginning in the Winter 2012 term, the Virtual Campus instituted a new policy that all courses are set as unavailable to students by default during registration, prior to the first day of the term. This is to allow instructors to complete the design of their courses prior to students accessing their content. This policy only affects online courses. All VC courses will be made available at midnight (CST) on the first day of the term: Monday, February 25, 2013.
If you are an instructor in an online course, you may elect to make your course available prior to the first day of the term. In order to do this, you can click on “Customization” in your Control Panel and then select “Properties.” On Number 3, choose “Yes” to make your course available. Then click “Submit” at the top or bottom of the page (see below).
Update 4: Campus affiliation now appears in Grade Center
We have had a number of instructors provide feedback over the last year regarding our form for the Report of Unsatisfactory Progress (ROUP). One of the most common problems with the form is that faculty were not aware of a student’s campus affiliation. We’ve modified our “Snapshot process,” which pulls in data from PowerCampus, so that you will now see a student’s official campus affiliation as a column in your Grade Center. Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean this is where the student is located, but this is the record that appears in PowerCampus.
Update 5: Spring Schedule for Virtual Campus
I just wanted to remind everyone that you will find a list of all important dates for the Spring term available in the instructor portal (where you sign your contracts): http://www.wbu.edu/academics/online_programs/instructors/.
The Spring 2013 term begins on Monday, February 25, and ends on Saturday, May 18.
The Virtual Campus holidays for the Spring term are listed below:
- Spring Break: March 11 – 15
- Easter Break: March 29 – April 1 (Good Friday and Easter Monday are both holidays)
Please do not schedule any assignments on these days.
NOTE: The Spring Break holiday may differ from the one at your campus but all online courses must follow this schedule. You are advised to make this clear to your students.
Update 6: Blackboard Issue with Course-to-Course Navigation
I just wanted to provide an update to our entire faculty about a new issue that has come up in Blackboard. During a recent update, a new feature was added to Blackboard called Course-to-Course Navigation. At this time, this feature is not working correctly and we are aware of the problem.
For more details and an update on the progress of this issue, visit our blog: Blackboard Issue: Course-to-Course Navigation
One last reminder: If you are teaching for the Spring 2013 term, you MUST have your syllabus and welcome announcement posted by the first day of the term (Monday, February 25). You are also STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to have the first three weeks of content and coursework available.
Thank you for your strong support of the Virtual Campus. If you have any questions or issues, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.