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- The Blackboard Feature of the
"Dude, Where's My Gradebook?"
- Teaching with Technology:
"Beginning the Semester Well"
Tech Talk Topic:
"What's New in Academic Technology"
- For more, see
podcast notes for
Technology & Download News Briefs
Blackboard has been updated to version 8. New
in version 8 are, most significantly, the Grade
Center. For an overview video on the Grade
here for a Blackboard Corp. video,
here for our own PDF summary, and
here for a quick reference document (PDF).
Also new in version 8 is a critical thinking tool
that enables peer review of assignments.
Click here for a video overview.
Academic Technology will be conducting in-person
training on the new Grade Center Thursday, August
21, from 3-5pm at a part-time faculty pre-plenary
session in room LL-104, and on Friday, August 29
from 10am-12pm, also in room LL-104.
All faculty members and staff have accounts in
Blackboard and are pre-enrolled in a course titled
"Academic Technology Training." Find it listed
in the My Courses area of Blackboard under "Courses
in which I am enrolled." The course contains
much of the training materials and resources used in
the ongoing Academic Technology workshops.
Amazon's Kindle, the sleek new e-reader, is a
runaway success. It will sell an estimated
380,000 units this year, double what most analysts
had predicted, and account for $1.1 billion in
sales, 4% of Amazon's business. This is the
same order of magnitude of sales that Apple's iPod
enjoyed in its first year of availability (2001).
For more, see the
Podcasting News article... We reviewed the
Kindle in episodes
82. If you want to see one in the flesh
before buying, come by to see Chris Norcross in room
LL-110 for a demo.
Apps are now available for the iPod Touch and the
iPhone. The software that makes it possible to
run apps on these handhelds has been available for
just over a month (free to iPhone owners, $10.00 for
Touch owners). In the first 30 days of
availability, Apple made $30,000,000.00 on apps at
iTunes Apps store (where most of the apps are
free - see
ars technica). Steve Jobs speculated
that the App store alone has the potential to be a
$1 billion marketplace (Wall
On Patch Tuesday for August Microsoft
issued a record number of patches to address 26
security vulnerabilities, 17 of which were rated as
critical. It is important to install the
patches since several address known and prevalent
vulnerabilities being exploited actively in the
Microsoft has also updated Office 2008 for Mac to
version 12.1.2. Start one of the Office
programs and click the Software Update menu entry to
find out if you need it.
Click here for a description of the update
(Microsoft website). It "...contains several
changes that improve stability and
performance...[and] includes fixes for
vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to
overwrite the contents of a computer's memory by
using malicious code."
An undisclosed systems failure has prevented DVD
Netflix from shipping discs on Tuesday through
Thursday of this week. Netflix responded by
sending apologetic emails to all customers, and
updating customer interfaces with information about
the outage. Updates can be found on the
Netflix community blog. Customers can
still edit their queues and watch streaming videos
from the Netflix site.
Physicist David Deutsch discusses our place in the
universe and the application of knowledge to our
inevitable problems, including the pressing problem
of global warming.
Click here to view Dr. Deutsch's TED video
presentation. Dr. Deutsch's exposition is one
of hundreds of available
Several Google alumni have fled the mother ship (NY
Times) and, from the relative insecurity of
their escape pod, developed their own Search engine.
Cuil is the name of the new product. It
was off to a rocky, and disappointing start, but
seems to have improved over the last month, though
the name is remarkably dumb. It has a hard
competitive row to hoe in view of the limited
success of Microsoft and Yahoo vis-à-vis Google.
And speaking of Google, the search giant continues
its market dominance, reflecting a continuing
decline in use of Microsoft and Yahoo search
Click here for the ars technica article
that provides other market indicators. These
findings are supplemented by a recent Pew
Internet and American Life study that
indicates that "The percentage of internet users who
use search engines on a typical day has been
steadily rising from about one-third of all users in
2002, to a new high of just under onehalf (49%)."
Click here for the PDF version of the Pew
Safari Tech Book Online:
Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great
Presentations, by Nancy Duarte. "Presentation
software is one of the few tools that requires
professionals to think visually on an almost daily
basis. But unlike verbal skills, effective visual
expression is not easy, natural, or actively taught
in schools or business training programs.
slide:ology fills that void. Written by Nancy
Duarte, President and CEO of Duarte Design, the firm
that created the presentation for Al Gore's
Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, this book
is full of practical approaches to visual story
development that can be applied by anyone. The book
combines conceptual thinking and inspirational
design, with insightful case studies from the
world's leading brands." Palomar maintains a subscription to Tech Books
Online, and the books can be accessed from any
computer on the campus network without as login, or
with your Palomar login and password from anywhere
in the world.
Click here for more information about off-campus
- Academic Technology Workshops
Academic Technology training schedule for fall
2008 has been published and is available on the web.
- We will be conducting the following workshops
over the next two weeks:
- On Thursday, Aug.21, 3-5pm (part-time faculty
pre-plenary training) in room LL-109 Chris Norcross
will be presenting Blackboard Essentials.
- Also on Thursday, Aug. 21, 3-5pm in room LL-104
David Gray will be presenting The Blackboard 8 Grade
- Also, in the evening of Aug. 21 as a part-time
faculty breakout session Terry Gray will be
presnting "What's New in Academic Technology" from
7:15-9pm in room LL-109.
- On Friday, Aug. 22 for the full-time faculty
plenary breakout Terry Gray will be once again
presenting "What's New in Academic Technology" in
- On Friday, Aug. 29 from 10am-12pm David Gray
will be conducting a workshop on "The Blackboard 8
- Elluminate Training
- Elluminate is our new econferencing system.
There are many excellent training resources
available through the
Elluminate training center. Live,
instructor led training seminars--conducted through
the Elluminate interface--occur regularly and
may be scheduled through their web site.
Feature of the Week - David Gray.
Dude, Where’s My Gradebook?
Now that everyone’s back and ready for
Fall, it’s time to pull out the old “Common Pre-Semester
Blackboard Tasks” list, covering such topics as course copy,
date/time updates, and that most significant of Blackboard
tasks: Making your course available to students. (Recall
that, until the instructor manually makes the course
available, students are unable to access the Blackboard
course site.) For those who have been away for the summer,
please take note that in late June the Blackboard system was
upgraded to version 8, which added some functionality and
completely changed the way grades are handled in Blackboard.
Did everyone catch that last bit? The
Gradebook in Blackboard is no more. A new (and completely
different) Grade Center has replaced the grade functionality
within your Blackboard courses. We have created a “What’s
New” Grade Center write-up, detailing many of the common
tasks that must be done differently in the Grade Center
compared to how they were done in the old Gradebook.
Technically, both those items have been
posted before, since we’ve been talking about the Grade
Center since February and the Pre-Semester Tasks list comes
up… every start of the semester. To make sure everyone has
something new to work with though, there is also a detailed
instruction sheet on how to include Extra Credit columns in
the new Grade Center. The process is a bit different from
what was required in the Gradebook, but was far too long to
include in the What’s New guide.
For anyone interested in on-campus
training on using the Blackboard Grade Center, there is a
two-hour workshop (cleverly named “Using the Blackboard
Grade Center”) being offered on Thursday, August 21st from 3
until 5 p.m. in room LL-104, and a repeat of that workshop
again on Friday, August 29th from 10 a.m. until noon, also
in LL-104. Contact the Professional Development office to
Oh, and did I mention that the Gradebook
Teaching with Technology -
Dr. Haydn Davis
Teaching Conferences - Report 2: Beginning the
Of the four conferences I attended this
year (2007-2008) some or most of the presentations focused
on online teaching and learning. Every institution
represented at these conferences were heavily invested in
providing their students with a quality online learning
experience. In this second report about useful or
interesting ideas I picked up from the conferences, I would
like to discuss some ways the online instructor can make it
more likely the semester will start out well.
As all of us who teach online know, the
first couple of weeks or so are extremely influential in
determining the outcome of the online class. While this is
true for on-campus classes as well, I think the way a class
begins is even more critical in the online world. Therefore,
let me present some of the tips and suggestions I picked up
from recent conferences, along with some helpful links.
Is Your Online Course Ready For Prime
This was the question Dr. Andrea Henne
posed at a recent @One sponsored conference. She cited
problems online students encounter more frequently than they
should such as:
- Students log into the online class
but there is no welcome message and it's unclear what to
- students click on the syllabus link
and the link requires them to open up a Word document
which can be problematic on some computers, even worse,
the syllabus has last semester's date;
- students directed to URLs in the
class discover Page Not Found messages;
- the first chapter quiz states that it
is "not available."
To address these and other possible
problems, Dr. Henne presented a Course Readiness Checklist
(see Resources section below for the document) to help
instructors ensure that their courses are in fact ready for
prime time. This checklist is similar to others that I've
reported on in the past such as the Quality Matters rubric
but this one seemed more direct and easy to use than some of
the others. The checklist is divided into seven main areas:
1. Instructional Design,
3. Pedagogical Effectiveness,
4. Accessibility and Usability,
5. Copyright Compliance,
6. Technology, and
The checklist is best used as a formative
evaluation instrument that allows an instructor to compare
his or her class to a recognized set of criteria that define
a "good" online class.
Creative Use Of A Blackboard Tool
Dr. Kathy Grove in the Palomar Behavioral
Sciences Department wanted to provide her students with a
group of readings. But it was important that the students
assimilated some course information first. So, to ensure
that happened, she used Blackboard's Adaptive Release tool.
What she did was to place all the readings in a folder
called Readings and then created a quiz that would test
students' knowledge of the information she wanted them to
learn before accessing the readings. Then, here's the
critical part - she set it up so that students had to score
18 or higher on the quiz before the readings folder would
become visible. Students could take the quiz as many times
as they needed to but the readings folder remained hidden to
them until had achieved a score of 18, only then did the
readings folder become available. It's easy to see many
possible applications of this general approach.
F2F Classes: Using Clickers To Break
Most faculty have their favorite
ice-breaker activities that they use at the beginning of the
semester to get students to open up and to set the stage for
an interactive class. Since this podcast series is about
using technology I'll mention one idea that has worked
really well for me and others who have tried it. At the
first class I pass out a clicker (the small personal
response units we check out at the Academic Technology
Resource Center) to each student. The hand held units are
very easy to use and allow students to vote or indicate
their opinion about questions posed by the instructor. Since
the students' answers, which are displayed in the front from
the class data projector, are anonymous, students don't
hesitate to record their opinions. Contrast this with posing
a question in class and asking for students to vote by
raising their hands - most, at least early on, won't. While
all sorts of questions can be used to elicit student
responses, I have found that topical or controversial issues
produce the best animated discussion. I have included a few
questions I've used with good success in the resources
section of this podcast. Once students record their opinion,
I display the results for all of us to see and, once
students see that others have the same opinion as
themselves, a fuller discussion of the topics becomes much
easier. Students have consistently told me that they have
enjoyed being able to use the clickers to express their
opinion and that it made voicing their views much less
threatening. Instructors have used the clicker technology
throughout the semester for all sorts of purposes and those
who use the clickers consistently have reported good
Tech-Talk-Topic - Terry
What's New in Academic Technology for Fall
It's time for the annual laundry list of new
features, products and services from the Academic
Technology Resource Center as you prepare for the
We begin with the update to Blackboard and new
features in Blackboard.
- Blackboard Grade Center - a new, Excel-like
interface that gives professors many more
abilities to work with student grades.
- Blackboard peer review - a new critical
thinking tool that permits peer review of
- Blackboard Timeline Tool - enables the
ability to create simple timelines in a
Blackboard content area.
- StudyMate Class Server - a simpler version
of StudyMate (a tool used to create Flash-based
learning tools and activities) adapted for
Blackboard that permits groups to build
class-project learning activities together.
- TurnItIn - a new interface to the TurnItIn
anti-plagiarism service which, at Palomar, is
deployed through the Blackboard system.
addition to the new features, we have a new
simplified web interface to Blackboard.
Click here to access it.
Note especially the new, integrated help
ticketing system (featuring our new system administrator,
YouCan the Toucan, pictured at left). The primary
means of obtaining technical assistance with Blackboard, or
any Academic Technology issue, for that matter, is now
through this help system.
Click here to access the help system. We are
building an extensive
Knowledge Base into the system, and it might be
worthwhile to search it first, before submitting a help
ticket. We will address technical support requests
received in the following order:
- First: Requests via the help
- second: requests received via email
- third: requests received by phone or
voice mail (760-744-1150 ext. 2862).
For the promptest response, therefore, and
to assist us in building a complete knowledge base, please
submit help requests via the new help ticketing system.
StudyMate and Respondus
We also have new versions of StudyMate
Author (a tool
that permits creation of ten different Flash-based
learning activities, such as flash cards,
fill-in-the-blank and matching activities, multiple
choice quizzes, crossword puzzles and quiz games)
and Respondus (a test creation tool for Blackboard).
If you have a currently installed version of
StudyMate or Respondus, you will need to re-license
it for use during the current academic year.
Click here to
download the program (login required),
here to find out
CPS (Classroom Performance System =
We have purchased 42 new radio frequency
"clickers" to add to the 64 we already own and check
out for faculty use. The clickers are a great
way to engage students in classroom discussions and
verify teaching success by polling students in a fun
and interesting way on the fly.
Click here to
find out more about the clickers, download the
software and access CPS resources (login requried),
here to get general information from
Hardware for Checkout
Audio recorders. We have new Olympus
WS311M Digital Audio recorders for semester-length
checkout, along with Olympus ME-15 microphones.
We have developed several resources to help you with
using these devices:
Click here to apply to checkout a WS311 audio
cameras. New this semester we have several
cameras which can be checked out by faculty
members for their own or for student projects.
Check out is for one week with a one week renewal
period if necessary. Cameras can be checked
out at the lab help desk, room LL-103 on the ground
floor of the library on the San Marcos campus.
For more information, contact Terry Gray,
email@example.com, phone ext. 2877.
Video Streaming Services
The TEACH Act modified the US copyright laws to
harmonize the rights of distance education teachers
with classroom teachers, generally with respect to
displaying media (audio or video). If you want
us to stream media for your class, we have a new
TEACH Act checklist
procedure which must be followed with requests for
creation of streaming media content (either audio or
video). Click here to read the general
TEACH Act guidelines, or
here for our list of copyright informational
New also this semester is the video window size
at which we are encoding. Video streams now
will contain a near-DVD quality 640x480 windows (the
same size used for iTunes movies). This
improved resolution yields a much more satisfactory
viewer experience for streamed videos.
Captured Video on DVD
If you do not wish to play video over the web,
but want a custom DVD made of various snippets of
video for classroom use, we can do this also.
Terry Gray for more information.
Click here for our Fall 2008 schedule of
technology training workshops
This semester, in addition to traditional
workshops, we are offering:
Our other training resources include
Subscribe to our newsletter
Computer Lab Improvements
We have all new computers (146 of them) in the
Academic Technology Resource Center computer labs on
the ground floor of the San Marcos Campus Library.
We maintain two 30-workstation classroom labs in
rooms LL-104 and LL-109, and a large, student-only
lab in LL-103. The computers are Dell Optiplex
755, with 4GB RAM and 19" LCD monitors. We
also have 30 new Dell Latitude D830 laptops, also
with 4GB RAM available for delivery to classrooms or
checkout to students in our mobile, wireless labs.
Click here for more information on our computer
labs, including checkout of the mobile, wireless
New this semester is a policy change: The
labs on the ground floor of the library are for
students only. Public patrons will be directed
to use the computers available on the second floor
of the library.
New also this semester is an account-based pay-for-print system.
It is the same GoPrint printing solution that we
have had in place over the last year, but we no
longer will be using a cash machine attached to the
printer release station, but rather are asking
students to add value to individual accounts at a
GoPrint "Add Value Station" located near the
entrance of room LL-109. The "Add Value
Station" requires login using standard student
account information (the same login students use at
eServices and Blackboard), as does the printer
release station. The "Add Value Station"
accepts only bills ($1, $5, or $10), and does not
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