Qwickly – Communicate with all your classes at once

Have you ever needed to make a quick announcement or send an email to all of your classes? While not difficult, it can be tedious to go through the process of navigating to each class, copying and pasting the announcement, configuring the settings, and sending it out.

Now, Qwickly allows you to easily and quickly post announcements or send out emails to multiple classes all at once.  The tool is already installed and available in Blackboard.  To find it, look in the Tools module when you first log in to Blackboard.  At the bottom of the list, you’ll find “Qwickly.”   Continue reading

Readspeaker Added to Blackboard

download (1)We have just finished our testing of a new feature within Blackboard which will allow all users to highlight sections of text on their screen and then click a “Listen” or “Play” button to have their computer read the text aloud.  This feature is called ReadSpeaker and you will now see a couple of new options appear on your screen while logged into Blackboard at Wayland.

You will find the ReadSpeaker Icon and control panel in the upper right area of the classroom near the edit button (as an instructor) when you first open your classroom. There is also a small activate/deactivate button in the top center of the page (it is an on or off button).

Activate/deactivate button:
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ReadSpeaker Control Panel:
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The Listen Icon/button is on the small control panel that can be customized by the learner using it. It can also be moved to a different location on the page.

Students wanting text read should highlight the text and click “Listen.”  That’s it. That’s all it takes to use the features.  Students not wanting ReadSpeaker can choose to deactivate it using the toggle switch at the top of the screen.  Turning it off will cause the ReadSpeaker control panel to disappear.

For more details read our ReadSpeaker Faculty Support article.

30 Boxes – an easy to use Course Calendar Tool

30 Boxes is a calendar tool that “supports drag-and-drop capabilities, one-click editing, plain-language event adding, as well as unique features aimed towards social networkers.”[1]  It’s a great tool for Blackboard classrooms because

  • It is easy to use
  • You can embed or share a link to your calendar with anyone
  • Students do not have to be 30boxes users to view your calendar
  • You can schedule multiple terms at one time

Powerful Powerpoints

When students access a PPT file in Blackboard, they have to

  1. download the file
  2. open it in MS Powerpoint (which requires them to also have the program)
  3. then view the file as a show

There are BETTER options for sharing your PowerPoint presentations.

Saving your presentations as a Powerpoint show (PPS) file will eliminate the need to open the file in Powerpoint (but still requires students to download the file).  Students who do not have Powerpoint on their computers, can still view the show through Microsoft’s free Powerpoint viewer.

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For instant access that does not require students to download a file in order to see your PowerPoint Presentation, consider saving it as a pdf file.

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If you are not sure which option is best for you, consider uploading in both formats.

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For optimal Powerpoint viewing, remember to save as a pps or pdf.  PPT is an option that should only be used if you need for students to have the ability to edit and revise the file you are sharing.