University of Houston - Clear Lake
Blackboard Updates and Tips Blog

Post-Disaster Blackboard Resources

Posted on September 8th, 2017

By Amanda Bruce, September 8, 2017, 7:39 am

As we get the new semester underway, UCT’s Course Development & Support Team has been asked to provide documentation for faculty about (1) how to get set up in Blackboard if they are not already a user of the system, and (2) how to deploy “the basics” for faculty who have been trained and have Blackboard courses, but have not used them significantly in the past. The PDF files referenced below address both of these needs:

Faculty who have questions about Blackboard and OPALS (course requests and provisioning) that are not adequately addressed in these resources are encouraged either to contact their designated Instructional Designer (ID) directly or to contact the Support Center to have their inquiries routed to their designated ID. You may contact the Support Center either by email (SupportCenter@uhcl.edu) or by telephone (281-283-2828).


An Alternative for Blackboard Known Issue: Display issue prevents dragging and dropping of content area items

Posted on August 23rd, 2017

By Amanda Bruce, August 23, 2017, 8:57 am

There is a known issue in UHCL’s version of Blackboard across multiple browsers that prevents dragging and dropping of content area items. When trying to move a content item by clicking and dragging it down the page (drag-and-drop feature), the items infinitely scroll down the browser window well below the end of the content items extending the page. Please see the official Known Issues document released by Blackboard. At this time, no fix is slated for implementation.

As an alternative to drag and drop, we recommend using the Reorder Content tool as seen below. When viewing your content items, click the double arrow in the upper-right hand corner of the screen to bring up the Reorder Content tool:

Next, click on the item you want to move (1). After you’ve selected the item you want to move, click either the up or down arrow (2) to move the item in your preferred order. Next, click “Submit” (3):

Please don’t hesitate to contact your designated instructional designer or the Support Center if you have further issues with the Reorder Content tool.


Preparing for Fall 2017

Posted on August 1st, 2017

By Amanda Bruce, August 1, 2017, 3:32 pm

UCT has tentatively planned to take Blackboard offline on August 17 and 18, 2017 to perform critical upgrades to Blackboard Learn.  Because of this unusual summer upgrade window, we strongly recommend that faculty provision their FA17 Blackboard courses at their earliest convenience to avoid delays surrounding the upgrade.

Faculty are encouraged to prepare for the end of Summer 2017 and the start of the upcoming fall term.

Below is a list of Blackboard-related tasks that should be completed at your earliest convenience:

  1. Submit course requests for new web-supported and/or partially online courses, if needed. Log into OPALS (Online Provisioning & Approvals for Learning Systems) and complete a new course request. You are also welcome to contact your school’s/program’s designated instructional designer for course request and provisioning assistance. → NOTE: Any faculty or staff member with an active UHCL computer account can request a course for themselves in OPALS; however, your course will not be created until you have completed Blackboard training at UHCL. For Blackboard training information, please visit our Faculty Blackboard and Provisioning Training web page.
  1. Provision Fall 2017 offerings and begin updating and editing them.
    Log into OPALS  and provision your courses for the Fall 2017 semester. Review the instructions on Provisioning your course using OPALS
    → NOTE: For information on when courses become available and unavailable to students, please see the Fall 2017 Session Dates.
  1. We highly recommend that faculty export Grade Center data from Blackboard to an Excel spreadsheet and archive their Spring 2017 Blackboard courses once you have finished grading and posting grades
  1. All users are advised to use the Student Preview tool to check their courses for any problems after provisioning and before the semester begins.
  1.  HTML/Flash users are advised to review the blog post on options for HTML/Flash-based Blackboard courses that was published last fall for reminders specific to their courses.
  1. If your course is using online course evaluations (If you are unsure, please contact your college’s secretary), please add this link to your Blackboard course: https://apps.uhcl.edu/OnlineEvals
    Log into this link to find the online course evaluation deadlines. NOTE: only students will see a list of courses in which they are enrolled; instructors will only see online course evaluation availability dates (Currently, the summer 2017 deadlines are posted; fall 2017 dates should be posted after the start of the semester). The fall 2017 online course evaluation deadlines can also be found here. NOTE: College of Business courses do not use a link for access to their IDEA surveys. Students will receive emails from IDEA when it is time for them to complete course evaluations.

Summer 2017 courses will be made unavailable to students at 12:01am on September 13, 2017. If you have any Summer 2017 incompletes, please notify the Support Center via email no later than 5pm on Thursday, September 7, 2017, so that we can keep those courses open for students to resolve their incompletes.  Include the names of the students who received incompletes and the course rubrics (e.g. ACCT3331.01) so the courses are available only to those students. The Support Center can be reached via email at supportcenter@uhcl.edu.


Blackboard Integration with Pearson Revel Materials Now Available

Posted on July 26th, 2017

By Amanda Bruce, July 26, 2017, 2:55 pm

UHCL’s Blackboard Learn system has been updated to include integration with publisher-provided contents from Pearson’s Revel system. For more information about Pearson Revel, faculty should visit Person’s Getting Started web site.

As a reminder, UCT personnel do not have access to external systems that are operated by textbook publishers; therefore, our support for those systems is limited to ensuring that they are configured to work with our Blackboard system Neither the Learning Technology Administrators (LTAs) or Instructional Designers (IDs) can provide end-user support for deploying publisher-based contents from those sites or elated technical support for faculty and students. Additional blog posts about publisher-based integrations, including cautions include the following:

Using Publisher Building Blocks in Blackboard
Blackboard Building Block (B2) Evaluation Process
Update – About Publisher Building Blocks (B2s) in Blackboard
Building Block Support Resources


Fall 2017 Online Course Evaluation Dates

Posted on July 25th, 2017

By Amanda Bruce, July 25, 2017, 6:13 pm

  Term

  Session Begin

  Session End

  Begin Online

  End Online

  Eight Week – First   8/28/2017   10/21/2017   10/7/2017   10/21/2017
  Regular Academic Session   8/28/2017   12/16/2017   11/25/2017   12/16/2017
  Eight Week – Second   10/23/2017   12/16/2017   12/2/2017   12/16/2017


Fall 2017 Session dates

Posted on July 25th, 2017

By Amanda Bruce, July 25, 2017, 5:49 pm

Official closing date of Fall 2017 is December 16, 2017

15-Week August 28, 2017 – December 16, 2017 Courses will be made available at 12:01am on August 26, 2017
(PeopleSoft Grades due December 19, 2017)
1st 8-Week August 28, 2017 – October 21, 2017 Courses will be made available at 12:01am on August 26, 2017 (PeopleSoft Grades due October 26, 2017)
2nd 8-Week October 23, 2017 – December 16, 2017 Courses will be made available at 12:01am on October 21, 2017 (PeopleSoft Grades due December 19, 2017)

Summer 2017 courses will be available to students in Blackboard UNTIL 12:01am on September 13, 2017


Video Tutorials Now Available in OPALS

Posted on July 18th, 2017

By Amanda Bruce, July 18, 2017, 12:32 pm

As announced in a previous blog post, our team has created two short video tutorials about OPALS. This post is to announce that you may now access those videos directly from OPALS, either on the login page (https://apps.uhcl.edu/OPALS/) or from within OPALS via the “Help!” link.

Our team is always seeking topics for additional support videos. If you have an idea for a short OPALS- or Blackboard-related video tutorial, please contact your designated Instructional Designer (ID) directly or contact the Support Center at SupportCenter@uhcl.edu or 281-283-2828.


Using Test Availability Exceptions Handout

Posted on July 14th, 2017

By Amanda Bruce, July 14, 2017, 9:23 am

Blackboard’s test tool, used by many instructors to deliver online quizzes, tests, and exams includes an option that enables faculty to extend time limits and/or make a test available on a different date for one or more specific students. Known as the Test Availability Exceptions option, this feature is extremely useful when making time limit accommodations when you receive requests from Disability Services for such an accommodation.

A step-by-step PDF document on Using Test Availability Exceptions is now available on our team’s Faculty Blackboard Support page.

If you need further assistance with Test Availability Exceptions, feel free to contact your designated Instructional Designer (ID) directly or contact the Support Center to have your inquiry routed to the appropriate member of our team.


OPALS Tutorials

Posted on July 13th, 2017

By Amanda Bruce, July 13, 2017, 9:19 am

As we approach the start of a new academic year, we are entering a peak period for instructors to use the OPALS system to provision their FA17 courses. In response to some common questions that we often receive about provisioning, the Course Development and Support Team has created and posted the following two video tutorials:

Provisioning Tip – Dealing with Multiple Sections

Intended for faculty who use Blackboard to teach two or more sections of the same course, or who teach cross-listed courses, this video covers the use of OPALS’ “separate” or “combined” option during provisioning.

Relationship Between Master Courses and Semester Offerings

Employing UCT’s new light board tool, this video demonstrates how provisioning from a previous semester offering impacts the future availability of that offering and its associated master course.

We’ll be creating additional tutorials in the near future, so keep checking the Blackboard Updates and Tips Blog for future releases. If you have questions about OPALS, course requests, and provisioning, feel free to contact your designated Instructional Designer (ID) directly or contact the Support Center to have your inquiry routed to the appropriate member of our team.


Changing/Editing a Web Link on the Course Menu

Posted on June 12th, 2017

By Amanda Bruce, June 12, 2017, 12:30 pm

Given the change in UHCL’s web site that took place in Spring 2017, faculty and students may notice that links on their course menus that point to UHCL web pages are no longer functioning. A good example are links that many instructors have in their Blackboard courses called Blackboard Support, Blackboard Help, and similar names and that are intended to direct students to UHCL’s Blackboard Support page. In this handout, we demonstrate how to update or correct any broken web link on the course menu.

Please contact your designated instructional designer or the Support Center for more information or help.