The Potential of Blackboard Mobile Learn
Blackboard Mobile Learn is an application that you and your students can use to communicate any time, anywhere. While primarily a tool to engage students with course content outside of the class room, You can also use this tool post announcements and communicate with students through various other course tools. Updates that you make to your blackboard Learn course will automatically sync with the blackboard learn application.
Click here for a summary of what you and students can do with mobile Learn. This page provides a summary of the routine types of communications and tasks that can be performed with this app, but there's a flexibility provided by this tool that offers great potential for expanding its use to increase student time on task outside of the classroom, and this is where the greatest benefit for the student lies. While not ideal for first exposure to concepts, it has great potential for facilitating reinforcement of learning in situations where it might not otherwise occur.
Some additional "Don'ts"
As you explore, keep in mind the following when using Blackboard Mobile Learn:
- Don't add new content to a course
- Don't build a test or quiz
- Don't grade assignments
- Don't adjust grade center options
|Click the icon for a demonstration of how the App works on your device
||xxxx||Click here for some additional information on the potential uses of the Mobile Learn App
Android Informational PDF
Blackberry Informational PDF
iPhone, iTouch or iPad Informational PDF
Palm Informational PDF
iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad
Optimize File Size for the Web
Large files require more time to download. This isn't a huge issue when on campus, but off-campus Internet connections for students, faculty, and TAs alike can vary significantly in bandwidth. Low-bandwidth connections can make it very difficult for students to access large files when off-campus. Large files also increase course size and make higher demands on our Blackboard servers (hosted and managed by Blackboard).
How do files get so large?
Video content, audio content, and graphics: A picture is worth a thousand words, but takes up a lot more space than those 1,000 words.
Images, audio, and video content are great tools to use in courses, so to ensure students can access them, please follow these steps when creating your content:
1. Audio and Video files
Have your audio and video converted and streamed from our server. Visit media streaming services and fill out the media request form. This bypasses the need to use Blackboard as repository, and students can stream the content directly from our server. The media will be transferred to our helix or wowza streaming server and the url can be added to your course.
2. Images uploaded directly into Blackboard
Images can be created and manipulated in a variety of software types. When saving your images for upload save them either in .jpg format (for photograph images) or .png format (for diagrams, visio files, etc) to minimize their size.
3. Powerpoint and/or Word files containing images
Powerpoint presentations can be attached to a Blackboard content area in the same way any other file might be attached. If your file is bloated because of images, reduce the size of these files with the following steps:
- Once you have finished creating your presentation, save the file as you normally would.
- Click on any image in the file, This will display PowerPoint Picture Tools at the very top of the window. Click on Format, immediately beneath Picture Tools to open the Picture Toolbar.
- Click on the Compress Pictures icon close to the left-hand side of the Pictures toolbar. This will display the Compress Pictures Dialogue Box.
- Do not check the Apply to selected pictures only .
- Click Options and check the button next to Screen (150ppi), Click OK.
- Click OK once more.
- The images added to your PowerPoint are now compressed and the resolution is set for use of the web. Save this PPT file to your hard drive under a different file name so that you retain your original file and the compressed file. Upload the compressed file to your Blackboard course.
- This same set of steps can be used to compress a Word file with images.
4. Pdfs of scanned documents
Scanned documents can produce very large files, often because of incorrect scanner settings. When scanning documents, make sure the scanner/copier is set up to scan in "black and white" document mode, and not a true color setting.
A consistent naming scheme will help to ensure that you can locate your files and that your students can open and view those files in Blackboard. You name a file when you go to Save, Save As, or if you rename a document manually.
The best approach to naming your files is not very flexible, but it is very easy to remember:
Use letters, numbers, and an underscore and nothing else
This will go a long way toward ensuring that different browser versions and types can read and render your document appropriately.
These rules just restate that last paragraph in a more long-winded manner:
- Use only letters, numbers and underscores (_) in file names.
- Don’t use spaces, commas, the pound sign (#), question marks, equal signs, dashes, at signs (@), or other special characters in your filenames.
- Don’t use periods in the file name unless it’s used before the file extension – i.e. .txt, .ppt, .xls, .doc, etc.
- File names are case sensitive. We recommend that you use all lowercase letters in file names.
- It’s worth repeating: Use only letters, numbers and underscores (_) in file names:
- Appropriate file name:
- coursemodule1 OR
- Problematic file name:
- Course module #1
Some additional tips on good file names
These you can take or leave, but they are generally recognized as sound practice, and can also help you organize content prior to uploading to Blackboard:
- Use lower case - Some operating systems read file titles in a case-sensitive manner
- Make your title Descriptive BUT
- Try to keep you title short
- conflicting advice, right?
- This applies mostly to efficient design for the web, but for blackboard it also helps student navigation. Try to use key words from the document to name your file so that students can quickly identify what's in there (and so you can quickly identify it when you're building your course).
Course File Organization
Online course materials and activities can be organized in a number of different ways. The framework and structure will vary depending upon the educational goals and instructional preferences of the instructor. Some major organizational categories include:
- Chronologically by week.
- By chapters in the textbook being used.
- By units or modules based upon subject-specific concepts or theories
- By complexity of the content or ideas being introduced.
- By some combination of the preceding approaches
The identification of a framework will allow you to organize a course map. Once you've done this, the next step is to create a folder and sub-folder structure on your computer that mirrors the organizing framework you have identified in your course map. The prep work building the course map will help you save time when building your course.
This folder structure will make it easier for you to find and keep track of your content. You can mirror this folder structure in Blackboard Learn's Content Collection area, which will make it easy for you to find and links to your various content files in your course. For example, if you have decided that you will organize and group the content in your course based on lessons organized by week, you should begin by creating a folder on your PC labeled with your course title, then create sub-folders labeled with each weekly lesson title within this folder.
Checking Your Version of Java
What is Java?
Java is a programming language and is critical for running a number of web-based programs and utilities. The java run time environment (which is commonly shortened to JRE, or Java) allows java-based applets to run in your browser.
Why do I need Java
A number of Blackboard tools require java to run: the text editor, collaboration tools such as the chat window and whiteboard, and other tools such as the Wimba live classroom, all run using Java applets. A lot of web-based content that you can link to from your course will also require Java to run.
How to Check your Version of Java
You can check the supported Java version on the same page that identifies Blackboard's supported browsers.
To check the version you have on your computer:
- Click on the Start menu (lower left corner of your screen)
- Click Control panel
- Double-click Java; then click About in the Java control panel.
- Click Close.
How to clear Java Cache
- Close all browser windows.
- Go to Start, then choose the Control Panel.
- Click on the icon named Java. On the General Tab, under the section labeled Temporary Internet Files click the button Delete Files.
- Then choose to delete all the types offered.
- Close the control panel by clicking OK and restart your web browser.
- In Finder search for Java Preferences.
- Open Java Preferences and click on the Network tab.
- Click the Delete Files button.
About Browser History and Caching
A cache is a temporary storage area where frequently accessed data can be retained for rapid loading. A web browser cache holds copies of pages that pass through it - all items you have accessed or downloaded from the Internet, including images, sounds, Web pages, and cookies. These items are stored on your computer, usually in the Temporary Internet Files folder.
Why clear your cache?
You may occasionally encounter an error message, a "Page Not Found" display, a "Momentarily Unavailable Message" etc. This could be due to a problem with the system, maintenance, or a number of other reasons. If you decide to go back to this url later, you may see this same message even though the problem is corrected because your browser has pulled the page from your cache.
How to clear your cache:
- In Internet Explorer:
- Click on the Tools menu, click Internet Options. The Internet Options box should open to the General tab.
- On the General tab, in the Browsing the Internet section, click the Delete button. This will delete all the files that are currently stored in your cache.
- In Firefox:
- Click on Tools, Options, then select the Advanced panel. In the Offline Storage section, click Clear Now.
- In Safari (Mac OS X):
- Click on the Safari menu, select Reset Safari. Select the items that you want to reset, then click Reset.
You can set your browser to automatically clear cache, and you can re-size your cache storage to maintain more cached files to speed up performance; this, however, increases the likelihood that you will access stale content.
How to set your browser to automatically clear cache:
- Click on the Tools menu, click Internet Options. The Internet Options box should open to the General tab.
Checking Your Browser
Browsers change, web content changes, and frequently pages don’t render exactly the way a developer wants them to in different browsers or browser versions.
Blackboard maintains a list of browsers that are supported, compatible and certified.
Here’s how to check your browser version:
1. Open your browser:
2. Click on the following:
- Click Help, then About Internet Explorer, the version number that you are using (e.g. Internet Explorer8) appears in the dialog box
- Click Help, then About Mozilla Firefox, the version number that you are using (e.g. Firefox version 3.6.13) appears in the dialog box.
- Click on Safari in the Safari menu
- Select About Safari from the drop-down menu, the version number (e.g. Safari 5.0.3) appears in the dialog box.
Best Practices for Courses Using Bb Learn
This section offers some simple things you can do to help ensure students can access your content in your courses, and to allow you to use Blackboard Tools (links to the left). It also offers some ideas on extending Blackboard's value as a learning environment.
Just as in the classroom, there are many paths to exchanging ideas that teachers and learners can explore in the online environment. The links below offer some tips from faculty at other institutions on getting the most out of Bb Learn.
Audio and video standards for online content (PDF)
Reviewing a Course Moved from Vista (PDF)
Getting Started with the Course Environment (PDF)
Exploring Tabs (PDF)
Modify Your Course Menu (PDF)
Customize Your Course Environment (PDF)
Tracking Student Activity
This material will show you how to generate reports on activity in your course.
Click on a topic below to learn more:
|Generating Course Reports|
|Run a Report on all User Activity||Report Activity by Forum|
|Save a Course Report||Report Activity by Content Area|
|Report Activity by Group|