CIRT Newsletter Podcast

Cedric Lewis, Accounting & Finance
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spotlightCedric Lewis is an instructor in the Coggin College of Business. In his Principles of Managerial Accounting course, students acquire the conceptual foundation necessary to understand how to use accounting information to make decisions. Lewis holds regular office hours on campus, but found those hours were not always convenient for his working students.  In order to meet all of his student’s needs, he began a conversation with CIRT to discuss tools that could be used to achieve his goal.

Lewis had specific requirements in mind; he wanted to be able to show students PowerPoint and PDF files and be able to demonstrate the use of formulas in Excel. Of the options discussed, Lewis selected Elluminate. Elluminate is a web-conferencing tool that provides voice and/or video over IP, a chat function, and application sharing, among other features. Lewis uses the VoIP, chat, and application sharing to offer extended office hours to students via Elluminate. His ‘virtual’ office hours are typically held from 9 - 10 pm twice a week and accessible via Blackboard. Lewis has received excellent feedback from students, who find this to be a convenient option and appreciate his time and extra help.

 "I wish other professors would use the same thing" --Brian.

Before he implemented virtual office hours in his courses, Lewis spent time in exploring the tool and making decisions about which features he would use. He invited friends to practice sessions and asked for their feedback on the participant experience. Lewis advises that Elluminate may feel complex at first, but by exploring options and whittling down the toolset he needed to ten features, he now finds it easy and convenient to use. Lewis created a checklist that he uses to prepare for his virtual office hours in Elluminate. It lists set up tasks that help keep the sessions running smoothly. He has generously shared that list with CIRT and we have it available here for faculty to adapt for their own use. Students in his course also received a first-time user’s guide created by Lewis based on the resources available on CIRT’s Elluminate page.  He always loads an image slideshow with background music into the session just before it is scheduled to start so that students can test their volume. Lewis reports that he has anywhere from 3-12 students show up for each session. He estimates that about a third use a microphone to ask their questions and the rest use the chat tool to ask questions, but they all use speakers to hear him.

Elluminate is available through Blackboard for courses in the School of Computing, the Coggin College of Business, all graduate courses, and all Distance Learning and Hybrid courses. If you are interested in discussing tools to address a particular need in one of your courses, or in learning more about Elluminate, please stop by and talk with us.

Deb Miller, Director deb.miller@unf.edu
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EDUCAUSELast month I attended the Educause 2010 conference in Anaheim, CA. Educause is nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. This is always a fantastic conference and I was eager to catch up after not being able to attend for the past two years. One of the highlights was Gary Hamel’s keynote speech, “Reinventing Management for a Networked World.” Hamel is a writer and visiting professor of strategic and international management at the London Business School. He talked about the exponential growth of knowledge and technology in the past several years, and the need for institutions – particularly in higher education - to be nimble so they can take advantage of the opportunities this rapid change affords and “stay relevant in a discontinuous world”. Unfortunately, the keynote recording is not available online, but you may want to see the tweets and blog posts related to his remarks here: http://www.educause.edu/E2010/Program/GS01

I also heard an analogy in a pre-conference workshop that I really liked and want to share:
 “Technology is like make-up; it shouldn’t show, and you need to know where you are going to know what to put on.”

The buzz this year was all about rich media, mobile learning, virtualization of campus resources, lecture capture, and learning space design. I’m always interested to see how the hot topics at Educause compare to the discussions on campus at UNF, and these are all items that are being discussed in one form or another on campus, which is good news.

I attended several sessions on learning space design, and there is a vibrant conversation happening at institutions across the country about informal learning spaces, classroom design to support collaborative learning, and a Learning Commons approach to space design. The Learning Commons approach brings together a variety of student services in an informal environment aimed at promoting collaboration and interaction. See UMass at Amherst for a good example: http://www.umass.edu/learningcommons . At the University of Minnesota, they have taken a data-oriented approach to learning space design and include an educational researcher as part of the design team for learning spaces.  They are conducting learning environment research on a regular basis and early findings indicate an improvement in expected student grades in their newly-designed spaces. For more information, visit: http://www.oit.umn.edu/research-evaluation/selected-research/learning-environments

In terms of discussion about mobile learning, schools seems to be moving toward providing access to learning materials as widely as possible via mobile devices such as smart phones, notebooks, and iPads. If you are not already using the Blackboard Mobile Learning app and have an eligible device, I urge you to check it out. The iPad interface is particularly good, and I actually prefer it to web-based Blackboard. The Blackboard Mobile Learn application is available for the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad (using a WiFi connection only) and on Sprint Network Android and BlackBerry mobile devices. More information here: http://www.unf.edu/cirt/bb/bbtools/Tools_-_Blackboard_Mobile_Learn.aspx

Speaking of iPads, we had a great turn out for the “What are you doing with your  iPad?" event last week. You can view the agenda and notes from the discussion on the CIRT Past Events page. CIRT and ITS will continue to schedule these events on a periodic basis to bring the iPad community together to discuss apps, issues, and share best practices. Keep an eye out for the announcement in early spring and let me know if you have any suggested topics or would like to see a demo of something in particular. Users of other mobile devices are also welcome.

Please let me know if you are interested in resources or discussion on any of the topics mentioned above.



  • Grading in Three Acts: Act 3: The Surprise Ending (Hopefully Not!) OFE & CIRT
    Date: Friday, November 19, 2010, 1 pm - 2:30 pm
    Location: Building 58 (Student Union W) Room 3805
    All's well that ends well. At the end of every semester, many faculty members make decisions on grades that must be defensible to grade challenges. Students have multiple life issues that will affect their final grades, and faculty members are required to record grades despite these issues. In this session faculty members will discuss questions in assigning final grades including how to weight grades in Blackboard, how to report final grades, how to deal with incomplete work, and when and how to change grades for students after the semester has ended. Faculty members are encouraged to bring their examples of challenges with assigning final grades to add to the discussion.
    RSVP: ofe@unf.edu

  • Creating and Publishing Faculty Webpages
    Date: Monday, December 13, 1 pm 4 pm
    Location: Building 51 (Social Sciences), Room 1201
    This hands-on session is designed to assist faculty in creating a basic website, which includes their picture, contact information, courses, research interests and favorite links. Participants use Dreamweaver during the session to build and publish their pages based on the UNF template. Advance organization/writing required.
    RSVP to cirtevents@unf.edu 

  • What’s New in Blackboard 9.1?
    This session provides instructors with an overview of the changes and new features in Bb 9.1. UNF will upgrade to this version over the winter break. Bb 9.1 provides a slightly changed interface and several new options for course content. A new Course Files features provides file storage access across courses. Instructors will also find changes in the GradeCenter and new test question types.

Also, check out our past events and handouts, sortable by topic:

Dave Wilson, Coordinator of Educational Media,
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mikeOver the past few semesters, we have seen an increase in the number of people recording audio for their classes.  When I proposed writing this, I thought it would be a good idea to cover the reasons for recording audio and providing it to your students.  As I was researching the topic, I realized that the reasons depend on the situation. There are pros and cons and at the end of this article, I will provide links to further readings. I will say that, as a student, I can think of times when I really would have appreciated having the lectures available for download. I enjoyed the Introduction to Philosophy course I took here at UNF years ago. So much so, that I kept the book and my notes. I occasionally listen to free philosophy lectures available from other universities through services like iTunes U, and they typically are not as good as the lectures my professor gave. If I was able to download those lectures, I would have kept them and listened to them long after completing the class.

So instead of discussing various reasons for recording, I’ve decided to go over the different ways you can record audio and provide it to your students.  The most straightforward way is to record your lectures as you give them in class. You can use a few different devices to make the recording.  CIRT has digital voice recorders available for checkout that work well and are easy to use. A laptop can also work as a recorder as long as it has recording software and a microphone. Other devices that may work include mp3 players and mobile phones.  You can use an iPod, but depending on which model you have, you may need to buy a microphone to use with it.  Once you have the lecture recorded, you then decide if you want to edit it or publish as-is. Editing takes time, but it can make the recordings more useful for students, and may only involve something as simple as trimming a little off the front or end of the lecture. You will definitely want to make sure you didn’t inadvertently record a personal conversation with a student.

Another way you can record audio for your class is to pre-record your lectures, or to record supplemental materials outside of class.  You can use all the devices described above, but typically, you would use a computer. PowerPoint has a narration feature that allows you to record audio for a presentation, and it will sync up the sides to your lecture so they advance at the appropriate times. You could use PowerPoint to record your lectures as you present them in class, but the nice thing about doing it outside of class is that you can change your lecture, and record a slide as many times as you’d like.

After you have the audio recorded, the next step is to make it available to your students. Again, you have a few options. Generally, the best way is to create an iTunes U course in Blackboard and post the recordings to it. This course is only visible to you and your students, and recordings are easy to post to and manage. Students can subscribe to the course, so their iTunes application will automatically download recordings as you post them, and they can have it transfer the recordings to an iPod, iPhone, or iPad.  You can also stream the audio to your students. The main feature streaming has that iTunes U doesn’t is that it allows your students to listen to the recordings, but not to download them. Finally, you can create a podcast. Podcasts are similar to iTunes U for students because they use iTunes to download the recordings.  The creation of a podcast is a bit more difficult than using iTunes U, but you can use a podcast in more than one Blackboard course at a time. That feature is not currently available with iTunes U, and a podcast makes it easier re-use materials from semester to semester. Making narrated PowerPoint presentations available to students is a different procedure. CIRT has an application called Impatica that converts the narrated PowerPoint file into a small, self playing format that’s easy to add to your Blackboard course.

If you have any questions about recording audio, please contact us at cirtlab@unf.edu or x3927.

Further Reading:

Brittain, S., Glowacki, B., VanIttersum,J., & Johnson, L. (2006). Podcasting lectures. EDUCAUSE Quarterly. 29 (3). Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Quarterly/EDUCAUSEQuarterlyMagazineVolum/PodcastingLectures/157413

Hannon, C. (2008). Paper-based computing. EDUCAUSE Quarterly. 31 (4). Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE%2BQuarterly/EDUCAUSEQuarterlyMagazineVolum/PaperBasedComputing/163440

Fernandez, L. (2007, January 5). I upload audio, therefore I teach. The Chronicle of Higher Education. p. B27.

Olsen, F. (2003, August 8). Business school records lectures and lets students review them online. The Chronicle of Higher Education. A28.

Stephens, L. A. (2007). Evolving strategies to support classroom-based content capture. College & University Media Review. 13, p. 15-25.


bbThe Blackboard Exemplary Course Program was born with the goal of identifying and disseminating effective practices for designing engaging online courses.   Using a rubric, instructors and course designers can evaluate how well their own course conforms to effective practices for Course Design, Interaction & Collaboration, Assessment and Learner Support. 

Consider submitting your course for review in the 2011 Blackboard Exemplary Course Program.  The benefits are two-fold.  First, the submission form is a self-evaluation of your course.  It allows you to reflect on the course design, content, and as you do, provide visual and anecdotal evidence to support your self-evaluation.  Second, each course submitted is reviewed by Course Reviewers who volunteer their time and expertise to and provide you with detailed feedback about your course. Courses identified as Exemplary are awarded the Blackboard Catalyst Award for Exemplary Courses, presented at Blackboard’s annual users conference, BbWorld. BbWorld 2011 will be held in Las Vegas, July 2011.

For more information, stop by to see us, or visit this page: http://www.blackboard.com/ecp


Erin Soles, Coordinator of Instructional Design, esoles@unf.edu
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BbDuring the Blackboard Maintenance Window, December 16, - 21, 2010, Blackboard will be upgraded to Blackboard Learn, version 9.1. The latest version of Blackboard offers performance improvements, fixes and enhancements. The interface for adding course content in Blackboard 9.1 changes slightly and includes several new options.  Blackboard now allows instructors to designate the specific type of content to add: Item, File, Audio, Image, Video, URL, Folder, or Mashups.

The Grade Center in Blackboard 9.1 is accessible via a direct link on the Control Panel menu and includes options for anonymous grading, grading by question attempt, and filters for workflow personalization. New assessment options include a question finder, linking questions, batch updates to questions and copy options for single assessments. The Test Canvas page now also displays the total questions and total points in an assessment.

BbBlackboard 9.1 also includes a new Course Files option which provides instructors with file storage accessible from the Control Panel menu of a course. Course File items within a course may be copied to other courses and changes to items stored within Course Files are reflected in all instances where the items are linked.

List of the new features in Blackboard 9.1: http://www.unf.edu/cirt/bb/about/New_Features.aspx  
List of the resolved issues in Blackboard 9.1: http://www.unf.edu/cirt/bb/about/Resolved_Issues.aspx

We are offering multiple sessions for instructors to familiarize themselves with the new features in Blackboard 9.1 - see listings below.


What’s New in Blackboard 9.1?
This session provides instructors with an overview of the changes and new features in Bb 9.1. This version has a slightly changed interface and several new options for course content. A new Course Files features provides file storage access across courses. Instructors will also find changes in the GradeCenter and new test question types.

I have also created a video which provides an overview of the new features.

Office 2010

Windows 7 and Office 2010
Information Technology Services is pleased to announce the release of the Windows 7 client for UNF-owned computers.  It features Office 2010. The Windows 7 client brings improved performance and better security. Office 2010 introduces new features such as Quick Steps in Outlook and an improved ribbon that combines a blend of Office 2003 and Office 2007 functionality.

Faculty interested in having the Windows 7 client installed may contact the ITS Help Desk at ext. 4357 or helpdesk@unf.edu. They may also submit an online ITS-Request at http://help.unf.edu.

Software in Classrooms, GP Lab, and Computer Lab Classrooms for Spring 2011
The (ITS) general purpose computer lab (15/2102), computer lab classroom (15/1104), or technology equipped classrooms and auditoriums managed by ITS will run Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010 beginning the spring 2011 term. In order to provide the best possible performance, ITS is ‘starting from scratch’ with the software titles installed on the classroom and lab computers. For this reason, we ask each instructor to identify the software he or she will use (in the specified labs and classrooms) next term. Please review this list of planned software and if there is a  software title not listed that you need installed in the general purpose computer lab (15/2102), computer lab classroom (15/1104), or technology equipped classrooms and auditoriums managed by ITS, please complete the following steps by Friday, December 3, 2010.  Please respond also if your needed software runs on the Macintosh operating system.  

  1.  Submit an ITS-Request.  
  2.  In the ITS-Request, please give the title of the software, version, vendor, number of licenses you have purchased, operating system/platform (Windows or MacOS X), length of the time that the software will be used, and the course name for which the software will be used.  
  3.  In the ITS-Request, please also indicate the length of time you will need the software to be available (i.e. spring semester, full academic year).  

Questions may be directed to the ITS Help Desk at (904) 620-4357 (HELP) or  helpdesk@unf.edu.


We are thrilled to welcome Julie Carter as our new Instructional Designer. She will join Erin in providing Blackboard support to faculty with a particular focus on online course development.

Julie earned a M.S. in Computer Information Systems and an Online Instructional Development Certification from FSU where she is currently pursuing another graduate degree in Open and Distant Learning.  Previously as an educator, Julie taught a diversity of community college technical courses and has provided instructional design support for higher education hybrid and online courses.  Julie’s instructional technology interests include mobile learning tools and development of effective collaborative learning communities.  During her time off, Julie enjoys traveling in her RV, attending musical and theatrical events, and spending time with her family and friends.



ElluminateThe university's Elluminate licensing was expanded during the fall term. This tool is now available, via Blackboard, for all Distance Learning and Hybrid courses. The tool also remains available to all graduate courses, all courses in the School of Computing, and all courses in the Coggin College of Business.

ElluminateLive! is a collaborative web-conferencing tool that provides a virtual classroom with a number of features including voice and video over IP, a shared whiteboard, interactive polling, breakout rooms for teamwork, and application sharing. It can also be used by instructors to record instructional pieces.

For more information visit CIRT's Elluminate page, or set up an appointment for a tutorial.


This newsletter is a publication of the
Center for Instruction & Research Technology
at the University of North Florida.
Deb Miller, Editor

Please direct any comments or questions to cirtlab@unf.edu

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