Build Content >File is an easy way to add content to your course. Files may include Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, or PDF documents. A more detailed explanation of how to add these documents can be found here.
When using Build Content > File, there is an option to have the attached file open in a new window. Always use the option to Open in New Window.
If you choose to not open in a new window, an install plugin message will appear on the screen when the students try to open the file. This plugin is not currently available and the students will have a difficult time opening the file.
Choosing to open the files in a new window should help save you and your students’ time by avoiding unnecessary steps while trying to access the content of the course.
If you are interested in a more detailed tutorial of how to add a file in a content area, click here and choose from one of the various PDFs on building content.
Walker Teaching Resource Center
I am so excited to be able to welcome you to Fall 2012 at UTC. It’s a new year full of excitement, expectation, fresh faces (mine included), and a new twist on online and distance learning for UTC with the new Center for Online and Distance Learning. We are in full swing and ready to support you with your online and distance learning endeavors.
For faculty, the Center for Online and Distance Learning is your one-stop shop for all of your online and distance learning needs including the administration, training and support for lecture capture, videoconferencing, Blackboard and UTC Online. In addition to enhancing your technical skills associated with teaching at a distance, we can assist you with pedagogy and best practices for distance learning.
The Center for Online and Distance Learning is here and ready to assist you. Here’s how to find us:
We’ve arrived at the end of the semester. Let the mad dash to the semester finish line begin! Over the next few days many exams will be given and many final grades will be recorded. If you are considering giving your final exam in UTC Online (Blackboard) below are some practices and test settings to consider before exam day.
Creating a test:
Use Questions Sets and Blocks to randomize exam questions from student to student.
Create questions that require students to use higher order thinking skills (evaluation, analysis, application).
Deploy a test: (test settings and options)
Make the exam available and use Display After and Until to make the exam available to students
Use the Timer and Auto Submit to keep students honest. In exams with one attempt and Timer and Auto Submit turned on, students will have a set time to complete the test. The student can log-out or loose their connection and the timer will continue to count down. The student can log back in and start their exam from where they left off. Auto Submit will automatically submit the student’s attempt when the timer runs out.
Display questions All at Once. This setting will limit the possibility of students using their browser navigation tools, which can cause problems. However, keep exams short. Consider breaking longer exams into two shorter tests. Create a separate test for essays.
Avoid using Force Submit and Prohibit Backtracking settings.
Following the above recommendations will help faculty avoid the pitfalls of online testing. You can find additional information and recommendations on Ian’s Blackboard Blog.
Have you had success with online exams? What practices and policies have worked for you? Please share your experience in the comments below.
Senior Instructional Designer
Center for Online/Distance Learning
423.425.5677 | email
Starting Monday you may notice a security warning in UTC Online (Blackboard) when you attempt to access certain materials or tools. This warning is due to an expired Java certificate. Please follow the steps below to resolve the user issue.
When the security warning appears, check “Always trust content from this publisher” and then Run.
The UTC Online support team will apply patches to the Blackboard system later this month, which will renew the Java certificate system wide. In the mean time, following the steps above poses no security threat to your computer and will stop the security warning pop-ups.
Getting bored with the same look of your online class? Spice things up by adding a customized banner to your course!
How do I create the banner? Though there is no required size or shape for a banner, keep in mind that different sized monitors will display it differently. A banner that fills the whole screen on a large monitor, may not fully display on a smaller monitor. Generally, a good shape to make your banner is a long rectangle that will fill the space above your course’s landing page (the banner will only appear on the landing page). You can create your own photo, or you can use an image offline and add text to it by using Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, or a more advanced image-editing program.
Check out this video on how to upload a Blackboard banner into Blackboard.
How do I upload the banner? Once you have created and saved your image, click on the Customization in the Control Panel of your course. From the list of options that appear, select Style. This area allows you to customize the color, buttons, and entry point of your course as well as add a banner. Scroll down toward the bottom of the page where there is an option to select or add a banner, click Browse My Computer, locate your saved image, and click ok. If it has uploaded properly, the image should appear on the page. If you are satisfied with your banner, click Submit. Be sure to return to your landing page to make sure you are satisfied with your banners appearance. You always have the option of enlarging or shrinking your photo and re-uploading it.
Walker Teaching Resource Center
Hopefully Spring Break brought some time to log-off and relax from a busy spring semester. The rejuvenating effects of a nice long break may have you feeling on top of your to do list and looking ahead to the end of the semester and the busy summer sessions to come.
If you’re teaching this summer you might have noticed that your summer courses are already available in UTC Online. If you’re raring to get a jump-start on your summer sessions, read on to learn how to customize the look of your course menu. This will help you and your students differentiate one course from another. Stay tuned for Part II on this topic, which will discuss adding an attractive course banner.
To customize a course menu, go to the course’s Control Panel and select Customization and then Style. The course menu can appear as “text,” which is selected in your course by default, or you can choose to use “buttons” in your course menu (seen above). You have the option to change both the background and text color for a “text” menu or choose from a variety of button types and colors for a “button” menu. When choosing font and background color combinations, keep in mind the following rules for readability:
Avoid colors that clash (i.e. appear to vibrate)
Choose colors with enough contrast
Avoid a busy background (e.g. patterned backgrounds)
You can test basic color combinations for readability here.
A preview of your course menu with your selections will appear at the top of the style screen. After you are satisfied with your menu color and design selections, click Submit.
Download step-by-step instructions on Customizing your Course Menu here.
Remember to check back in a few weeks for design tips on adding a customized banner to your UTC Online Course. Or follow UTC Online for daily tweets about Blackboard, online instruction, UTC and more.
Senior Instructional Designer
Walker Center for Teaching and Learning
Before your test begins you should make sure all pop-up blockers (any software or application that disables a pop-up) are turned off and close any other software you may be running. Give yourself plenty of time to take the test, accounting for any technical difficulties you may have. Make sure you follow directions from start to finish and be sure not to close out of your test before submitting your attempt.
When taking an online test in UTC Online a student should pay special attention to the test instructions, time limit, and other settings the instructor has implemented. To access a test, click on the title of the test then press begin. If a timer is enabled on your test it will appear underneath the instructions. Each test question will then appear underneath the instructions and timer. Blackboard has an auto-save feature, which will automatically save your answer when you move to the next question. However, if your browser experiences a long period of inactivity (no clicks within the window; checking answers does not count as a click) it may time-out and kick you out of the test. To avoid this click SAVE at the top or bottom of your screen ever couple minutes. Do not hit SUBMIT until you have completed the test.
During your test let the questions load before beginning to answer them. Do not navigate to other Internet sites while in the process of taking your test or use your browser’s navigation buttons to go back or forward in your test. Instead, single click the arrows within the Blackboard test environment to navigate through the questions. Finally, don’t forget to press the SUBMIT button once you are finished!
Blackboard’s Blog tool has many uses, but it can be intimidating to use an unfamiliar technology with students in a hybrid or online course. So start out small and slow; give yourself a chance to become comfortable with the technology.
Why not try an instructor blog to get started. Share weekly or bimonthly articles with your students and ask them to respond to the article using comments.
Once you feel comfortable and your students have also had the opportunity to experience blogging, you might open up the course blog to students and ask them to share articles of interest to them in a round-robin fashion.
After you’ve gotten your feet wet with blogging, you may find all kinds of uses for blogs in your online course.
Already using Blackboard’s Blog tool? Share how you’re using the Blog tool within your course in a comment below.
Senior Instructional Designer
Walker Center for Teaching and Learning
Using online discussion forums can add a whole new dimension to your classroom. Students learn and remember material better when they continue to engage with it and each other between class periods. Depending on how you choose to set up your forum, however, it can either be a helpful addition or a frustration to both you and your students.
Whether you decide to have each student create their own thread, or create threads to which students can reply, make sure you choose an option that meets your objectives. Instructor created threads can be useful if you are looking for students to add their observations to topics or questions of the instructor’s choosing. Student created threads on the other hand, are useful in forums where the objective is to have multiple student-directed conversations on a topic. Once you have decided the best layout for a particular assignment, remember to provide your students with instructions that outline exactly how you want them to respond as well as your expectations for their participation.
Participation in a discussion will likely increase if you encourage (or require) students to make their first post by a certain date. Setting due dates and frequency for responses to other students’ post in a forum may also stimulate more activity in early course forums. If a forum is open for a week, many students may, unfortunately, not look at it until the day before it closes. If this happens, the discussion quickly turns into a forum full of individual statements with no one interacting with each other. By telling students to make their first post by a certain day and respond to two classmates before a later date, the amount of time they have to interact with each other’s comments and insights increases.
Frequent posts by the instructor can also stimulate more activity within a discussion forum. However, it is not necessary for the instructor to comment on every student response. Instead an instructor should pepper discussions with feedback and questions that guide the discussion – keeping it active and on topic.
Discussions are a great tool for classrooms if used the right way…don’t let them become a headache for you AND your students!
Click here to review documentation on Blackboard discussions for step by step instructions on creating a Discussion Forum in your UTC Online course.
Walker Teacher Resource Center
As you tidy your desk and organize files before heading home for winter break, take the time to archive and export your online courses as well.
A course archive will retain all course information including student activity. It is recommended that you save an archive of every course you teach. Blackboard will create a zip folder containing your course archive. Do not unzip this file; should you need to restore your course contact the Blackboard Administrator.
You will also want to export your UTC Online courses. You will determine during the export, what parts of your course you would like to save and reuse (please read recommendations). Course exports can retain all course content, but will not save any student information or activity. Exports are used to recreate courses in a new course shell. Similar to an archive, Blackboard will create a zip file for each exported course. Do not unzip this file. Import the zip file into Blackboard using Import Package.