Twelve week or “late start” courses began yesterday. The flexibility in our registration calendar offers students another chance to enroll in classes if they missed the regular 16-week semester course registration for a variety of reasons including being dropped for non-payment, forgot to sign up for classes, or encountered another conflict which prohibited them from pursuing their course selections. Yesterday I sent out another round of virtual greetings via video orientations and “Welcome to College of DuPage!”Discussion Board messages to my new students in two 12-week online courses, English 0482 and English 0492.
Before the semester begins, there is a long to-do list to prioritize, manage and complete. Adopting textbooks, coordinating supplemental materials, updating due dates, revising assignments, and checking if hyperlinks are working properly are only a few items of the many items to think about before hitting the “Course Available” link in Blackboard for students to access the course materials online. Preparation and patience are key ingredients during this busy beginning semester time.
Teaching face-to-face and teaching online are both teaching of course, but they are qualitatively different. For example, instead of placing a work order with the Print Center for a color coded stack of collated and stapled 2-sided syllabi, first day icebreakers and homework assignments, I click on the online course that I have developed and review each unit (16, 12 , 8 or 5 units of course material depending on the length of the semester). It is a lengthy process each semester, scrolling through multiple screens. I printed out an entire online course once and it was well over 400 pages. Online courses are rich with content and and it is easy to get buried or overwhelmed because instead of distributing the content a portion at a time during a series of face to face class meetings, an online course is launched and available for students to see in its entirety. It’s the whole apple pie instead of just a slice.
It is our responsibility to have a valve control that intentionally releases content in chunks that are appropriate to meet students where they are at during certain points of the semester. Sometimes this comes in the form of only releasing content one week at a time. Other times, the teacher releases content all at once, but directs students to only focus on certain parts at a time. I tend to break content into segments with a standard template (Overview, Quote, Unit points, Introduction, Reading Assignments, Writing Assignments, Discussion Board) and although my entire online course is available for students to read, I guide them with specific instructions every week, initiating constant contact.
All online faculty receive an e-mail reminder from our Instructional Technology Department regarding the upcoming requirements and responsibilities in copying a course before the new semester begins. Once the course is copied, a congratulatory “Success!” banner appears at the top of the screen, indicating the course copy request is being processed. Shortly after you will receive an e-mail when the process is complete.
Sometimes the course material will not copy seamlessly and changes need to be made. I have experienced this most frequently with hyperlinks and sometimes with Microsoft Word documents. Again, it is important to review your course materials to make sure it is what you would like students to view before you launch the course on Blackboard.
On the College of DuPage Instructional Technology website there is a link to Blackboard Frequently Asked Questions:
- What issues should I keep in mind when copying or exporting Discussion Boards?
An advanced feature in Blackboard is the ability to establish either a Graded Discussion Forum or a Graded Discussion Thread. This allows instructors to review student responses within the forum and to also assign a grade. The grade is then automatically transferred to a corresponding column within the Grade Center.
- Copying or Exporting/Importing Course Materials Containing Graded Discussion Forums/Threads
When course materials containing discussion materials are copied (or exported/imported) to another course, the Forums and any threads in the forum threads are copied to the new course. The author information for the threads is not copied over, so Blackboard assigns “Anonymous” as the author to each thread. In most cases, the instructor plans to remove the threads in the new course anyway, so this designation of “Anonymous” is not a problem. However, some discussion boards are setup with an initial “starter” thread to direct the discussion. The instructor may wish to retain this starter thread for the new course but prefers that the author be displayed as their own posting and not from “Anonymous.”
- Removing “Anonymous” as the Author
If the starter thread is needed, and the author is “Anonymous,” the instructor can easily change the author. Make sure to view the forum in “List view” (option right below the Edit Mode). Mouse over the chevron next to the thread title and choose Change Author. The thread will immediately change to the instructor’s name.
- Remove Old MessagesBe sure to remove any old posts that are not needed. Don’t leave them for your students to click through. Even though the student’s names have been changed to “Anonymous,” the posts themselves may contain names or other personal information.
After copying or importing a course, Delete Old Discussion Posts:
Enter Blackboard and open the course.
Edit Mode – On.
Go to Discussion Board.
Open a forum with posts.
Click the top left checkbox to select all threads.
Optional: Uncheck any posts you want to keep.
Click OK to confirm deletion.
On the next screen, a confirmation message appears in the green bar at the top of the page.
Return to the main page of the Discussion Board. Repeat for every discussion forum.
- What issues should I keep in mind when course copying or exporting Wikis, Blogs, and/or Journals?Wikis. The course copy/export process will remove all wiki content. If you want to re-use wiki instructions or wiki pages, you will need to manually copy and paste into the new wiki.
Blogs will retain the Blog instructions when copying. Student submissions will not copy.
Journals will retain the Journal instructions when copying. Student submissions will not copy.