From the Director’s Desk – Winter 2014

Franklin_2013_squareIt was just over two years ago, the Virtual Campus along with the rest of the Wayland system was celebrating all-time record high enrollments.  Since then, Wayland as well as most of the rest of Higher Education has seen significant decline in numbers, particularly in the non-traditional student population.  In this environment, it pays to stop and evaluate who we are and why we do what we do.

As I’m sure it is with all of our staff and faculty, Wayland’s mission is at the core of everything I try to do for my students and for the university.

Wayland Baptist University exists to educate students in an academically challenging, learning-focused, and distinctively Christian environment for professional success and service to God and humankind.

When it comes to our online programs, I encourage you to see your role as an instructor, advisor, or other service staff to our students, as a way of accomplishing that Christian mission.  For me, that means focusing on what makes Wayland special. Continue reading

Advertisements

Blackboard Grader App for iOS

There is finally an app for Blackboard that has been designed with the online instructors in mind. The Blackboard Grader App is now available and gives instructors an option for reviewing, providing feedback, and grading student submissions to Blackboard Learn Assignments.BbGrader_hero2_tcm21-7049

Continue reading

From the Director’s Desk – Fall 2014

Profile Picture for Dr. Scott R. FranklinIs it just me or does the beginning of the fall term feel like a dust storm rolling in, a haboob, if you will?  Thanks to the fact that the Plainview campus schedule and the external campus schedule collide for the start of the fall term, the Virtual Campus gets stretched just a little thin this time of year.  But the good news is, now that we’re past the census date, the dust is settling.

Since that last time I wrote to you, we have taken a number of steps to help improve our online courses including an update to Blackboard, a reorganization of our faculty resources, and a complete redesign of our online term schedule.  In this newsletter, you’ll find links and information about all three of these developments.

In my column this term, I wanted to draw your attention to some of the new features that are now available in Blackboard Learn thanks to our recent update and give you glimpse of some exciting things on the horizon.

Continue reading

From the Director’s Desk – Summer 2014

One of the great “joys” of my position in the Virtual Campus is to coordinate with each state to make sure that we are authorized to offer our programs to their students. (Yes, read some sarcasm into that.) The good news is we are making great strides towards our goal of providing our programs across the entire nation. I wanted to share one of the great conversations that I had during this process.

Currently, there are several states that only have a handful of students enrolled in our programs. One of those states, which I’ll hold back on naming, has very stringent and expensive requirements to authorize in their state. It was made very clear by the official with whom I spoke that they have those requirements to protect their citizens from predatory institutions that do not have their best interests in mind. In spite of the fact that it is not in our financial best interest to continue offering programs in their state, I did get to explain to the official how we do “online education.” Continue reading

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

New Blackboard Features Rolling Out

bb.jpgIt’s so much easier to remember the bumps in the road rather than the smooth patches.  The Virtual Campus had one of those bumps with the recent upgrade to Service Pack 13 in August.  Many of our online instructors were bitten by a short-lived bug that prevented the deletion of discussion board forums and posts in copied courses.  Fortunately, Blackboard Managed Hosting worked quickly to resolve the issue.  Any piece of software as complex as Blackboard is sure to offer it’s fair share of bugs and glitches.

The good news is that Blackboard continues to innovate and provide advances in major new features to their course management system.  Plus, the Virtual Campus is always looking for new ways to improve the online learning experience of our students.

So, here are just a handful of new features that are either available now, or coming very soon:

Inline Grading (available now)

Now, you can now grade your students’ uploaded documents directly in Blackboard.  For many years, instructors have had to download students’ papers, use Word to provide comments and corrections, then either upload the revision or email the student the feedback.  Now, with Inline Grade, instructors can add their comments, corrections, and even draw annotations on their documents directly through the browser in Blackboard.
Learn More ->

Blackboard Collaborate (available now)

The Blackboard Collaborate feature has received an upgrade.  Every course now has an updated look to the Blackboard Collaborate tool which allows instructors easier workflow for setting up synchronous class meetings.  Plus, every course has a dedicated “Course Room” and each instructor has their own room as well.  Also, Collaborate now features built-in telephony so that participants in your meetings can connect via telephone.
Learn More->

Kaltura Media Hosting (coming soon)

Coming very soon, the Virtual Campus will be announcing a new tool integrated into Blackboard where instructors can upload their videos, record from their webcam and record their screen directly into Blackboard.  The tool will be called Kaltura Media and will provide media hosting embedded in Blackboard for all your online video content. We are in the final stages of testing with a pilot group of instructors and will soon be launching this tool system-wide. Stay tuned for more on this feature!

Date Management (coming soon!)

How would you like to be able change all the due dates and availability dates for your course on the same page? Blackboard has just released a feature called “Date Management” which will analyze your course and find all availability and assignment due dates.  Then, from one master page, you’ll be able to adjust all those dates by a specific number of days or individually review and update them.  This feature is currently being tested on our system and will likely be available in the next few weeks.
Learn More ->

From the Director’s Desk – Winter 2013

Winter - TreeMy, how time flies when you’re having fun! The start of the Winter term has come and gone and here we are more than week into classes. We’re running just a little behind with this newsletter edition, largely due to an extended transition from our previous 24/7 help desk vendor to our new partner, Blackboard Student Services.  We are so happy to announce that as of November 6, we are back up and running with full 24/7 Blackboard support for all our students. Students having trouble with Blackboard can call at 866-547-9192 or visit http://bbhelp.wbu.edu.

It’s been a busy fall, as always.  I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Texas Blackboard Users Group (TBUG) Meeting in San Antonio, where a sizable contingent of instructors, administrators and designers gather to share their successes and struggles with Blackboard. The best part of a meeting like this is the chance to learn you’re not alone!  This year, being in San Antonio, we also had several faculty and adjuncts from our Wayland San Antonio campus attend.  As the Director of the Virtual Campus, I often feel a little too virtual so it was very nice to move our interactions out of the inbox and meet face-to-face.

So, here’s my word of thanks to all who where able to come out at join us:
Linda Flores, David Maltsberger, Tim Parker, Charlene Smith, David Stamper, James Todd, Trish Trifilo, Charles Whitehead, and Ellen Walroth.

Another great advantage of gathering with fellow online instructors is that you accumulate some great new ideas to renovate your online course.  There’s no shortage of new tools becoming available in Blackboard.  Later in the this newsletter, we’re announcing some of these of new features that we’ve been rolling out.

Keep in mind that there are a number of places online instructors can go for more help in using all these features in Blackboard:

  1. Wayland’s Faculty Resource Site: Check out a whole series of just-in-time resources compiled by our own Dr. Trish Trifilo.
  2. VC Toolbox:  All of Wayland’s online instructors are enrolled in a course in Blackboard called the VC Toolbox. There is a lot of good information there about Blackboard and our Effective Design Initiative.
  3. Blackboard Help: Go straight to the source with the Blackboard help site.
  4. On Demand Videos: Blackboard also has an extensive library of videos to explore the new learning tools.

As always, when you run into trouble or need help, be sure to let us know.  We’re standing by to assist you at vcsupport@wbu.edu.

Virtual Campus Welcomes New Personnel

The Virtual Campus is proud to welcome Holly Warren as our new Administrative Assistant.  When you call our offices, the friendly voice on the line will belong to Holly.  We are working diligently to get her up to speed on all things Blackboard and VC related.  If she doesn’t know the answer yet, she knows where to find it.

Holly WarrenMrs. Holly Warren
Administrative Assistant
Virtual Campus
1900 W. 7th Street – CMB 1259
Plainview, TX 79072
(806) 291-3740
FAX: (806) 291-1989
Office: Muncy Building, Plainview Campus
Email: holly.warren@wbu.edu

While I’m at it, let me go ahead and re-introduce another member of our staff. Recently, Mrs. Jennifer Martin moved to a full-time position as our Distance Student Advisor. She has been with us part-time for the last couple of years.  This position was formerly in the External Programs but is now housed within the Virtual Campus.  All of our fully online students will work directly with Jennifer for their advising.  We are very excited to have her expertise in the VC.  She’s been with Wayland since 2006, working primarily for the Altus campus.

Jennifer MartinMrs. Jennifer Martin
Distance Student Advisor
Virtual Campus
Send Mail to:
1900 W. 7th Street – CMB 1259
Plainview, TX 79072
To reach Jennifer, call the VC Office and we will direct your call to her:
(806) 291-3740
Email: martinj@wbu.edu

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.

Image

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.

Image

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

Image

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.

From the Director’s Desk – Summer 2013

DSC_0561.JPG-2_thumb.jpg

Summer time, summer time, sum-sum-summer time!!

For many of our faculty, it’s a time to kick those shoes off, put on those sandals and relax in the sun. For others it’s time to get busy with teaching those summer classes. For those of us that are online instructors, WE GET TO DO BOTH!

So, put on those sandals, grab the laptop, and go sit in the shade, all the while, taking your classes to the next level with new tools in Blackboard.

Thanks to our new update in Blackboard, we’re continuing to improve the tools that make your classes interactive and content-rich. Having upgraded to Service Pack 11, you’ll find that there are improvements to many of the old tools, such as a refreshed layout for viewing threads in the Discussion Board (all posts at once, instead of one at time). Plus, you’ll be able to navigate more easily to your various courses through Global Navigation. One of the more exciting tools is a Retention Center that provides an easy way for instructors to discover which students in their courses are at risk.

I encourage you to explore these new features and read more about some of the other exciting developments in the Virtual Campus throughout our quarterly newsletter.

Thank you for your continued support of the Virtual Campus. If you have any questions or issues, feel free to contact us at vcsupport@wbu.edu.