eLearning Now Accessible

eLearning was brought back up at approximately 1am this morning. It has been rolled back to a backup point from Tuesday (May 22) evening. Thank you for your patience; we apologize for any issues this outage caused. If you have any questions, please contact elearning@utdallas.edu.

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UPDATE: eLearning Outage

The eLearning restore process is taking longer than expected. We are waiting on a new time estimate from Blackboard for when eLearning will be back up.  Once we get this information, we will forward to users.  Thank you for your patience as we work to get this resolved.

Reevaluating Your Course

Reevaluating Your Course

The upcoming semester is set to start in a few days, and both UTD professors and Instructional Designers are putting the finishing touches on their online courses. Many professors will copy over their previous course offering, building off of the course’s previous success. Sometimes, however, a course requires some adjustments and changes.

To ensure that each semester’s course provides the best possible learning experience for your students, the UTD eLearning team recommends that professors reevaluate their offered courses before the start of term and see if any changes need to be made. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you prepare your course for the upcoming semester.

 

Is my material up-to-date?

Many topics change and evolve at a fast rate. What was true six months ago may no longer be, so it’s important that your students have access to the latest and most accurate information.

Go through your materials and establish what items need to be changed or updated. If you recorded lectures for your course, consider rerecording the videos. If it’s too late in the development process to refresh the videos, create a plan to update them during the semester so that they are ready for the following offering.

You should also explore all the links you’ve included in your course to see if they still direct students to the correct sources. Websites sometimes undergo changes, which can break old links.

 

Is my course organized? Is there a logical structure to my course?

If done well, a course’s organizational structure can make navigation easy and fluid. The opposite can be said if a course’s structure isn’t thought out.

For example, instead of storing individual assignments on the Course Homepage with other materials and items, you can create a Content Area for those individual assignments. This way, students can easily navigate towards the assignments when necessary without having to hunt for them.

Take a look at the following image pulled from an upcoming summer course displaying the left-hand sidebar found in all eLearning courses.

examplestructure-1

The sidebar is broken up into relevant and important sections. There’s a space for the Course Homepage (which contains general course material), a Learning Modules section, an Exams section, and so on. The student doesn’t need to search through folders to find the link to the course syllabus or the midterm exam. The course is structured so that the students can easily find to appropriate sections with minimal clicks, allowing them to focus on the course instead of navigating through it.

 

What did my students say in the previous offering?

At the end of the day, your course is for the students, and their feedback is invaluable. Review your course evaluation from the previous offering and make note of what your students had to say after completing your course. Also review any comments or complaints your students may have made about the course during the semester and see if there are any trends or similarities between them. Student comments can help you identify what your online course might need to improve.

 

As always, please feel free to reach out to eLearning@utdallas.edu with your questions.

 

Merging Your Courses in eLearning

What is a merged course?

A merged course refers to a single main course in eLearning where instructors can manage multiple individual courses. The following terms are important to keep in mind:

  • Parent course – the main master course, where the instructor keeps the content and grades
  • Child course – the individual courses that combine to form the Parent course

 

Why would I need a merged course?

If you teach multiple sections of the same course, managing a merged course can make things much easier than having to deal with a number of different shells. For example, if you teach BIOL 2312.001, .002, and .003, you can have them merged into one course. This way, you only need to focus on one course (the merged Parent course) in eLearning instead of having to navigate between various sections.

 

How can I merge my courses?

The eLearning system will automatically merge courses that are cross-listed in Orion (i.e. CS/SE 1301.001 or ACCT/BA 1301.001). You can see if the system did this when those courses show up in your My eLearning page.

If you would like to manually merge your courses together, eLearning has a Merge Course Tool available for instructors to merge their courses together. When available, you can find this tool at the bottom of your My eLearning page. Click here to view the Merge Course Tool tutorial.

Please note: Only instructors can merge courses together. If you are not the instructor of the course, you will not be able to complete a merge.

 

When can I manually merge my courses?

The Merge Course Tool becomes available about one month prior to the semester start, and the tool remains available to faculty until the end of the first week of the semester.

 

What if I want to merge my course after the semester starts?

While the Merge Course Tool is available up to one week after the semester, it is important to remember that any student activity completed in the course (i.e. discussion posts, test submissions, grades) is no longer accessible after the course merge.  For this reason, it is important to do the merge as early as possible in that first week as possible – ideally, before the semester start.

 

What if I have questions?

Feel free to contact us at elearning@utdallas.edu with any of your questions.

Preparing Your Online Exam for the Testing Center

With UTD entering Finals period, the eLearning Team wanted to provide instructors with a checklist to follow when setting up and reviewing their course exams. While not all items may apply to each exam, reviewing the following points can help prevent any issues on exam day.

1) Is Your Exam Available?

Link Availability

A deployed exam in eLearning is unavailable by default, as seen in the picture below.

not_available_border

Professors will need to manually change the setting so that students can access the exam on exam day. To do this, follow the instructions below:

  1. Navigate to your deployed test in eLearning.
  2. Click the gray arrow to the right of the exam name.
  3. Click Edit the Test Options.
  4. Select “Yes” for the option Make the link available under the Test Availability section.

 

Date/Time Availability

eLearning also offers settings to open and close exams on certain days and times. Outside of those set periods, students cannot access the exam.

Before the scheduled start of your exam, go back into your exam’s settings and check the information in the Test Availability section of the settings, specifically the Display After and Display Until values.

dates and times

To find this information, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to your deployed exam in eLearning.
  2. Click the gray arrow to the right of the exam name.
  3. Click Edit the Test Options.
  4. Scroll down to the section labeled Test Availability.

If the information does not match when your students are supposed to take the exam, make sure to update the values so that students are able to access their exams during the proper times. Use the fields provided to select open/close days and start/end times for the exam.

 

2) Is Your Password Set?

To ensure students take a proctored exam, professors will often set an exam password, then provide the password to the Testing Center staff to administer during exam periods. This way, students must visit the Testing Center (or, if the student is not in the Dallas area, a Testing Center close to them) to take the exam. Without this password, the Testing Center staff cannot administer the exam.

Make sure you double-check your exam’s password so that the Testing Center can quickly and easily open your exam for your students. Your password is case-sensitive, so the password you enter into the system will need to exactly match the password you provide to the Testing Center.

password 1

To find this information, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to your deployed test in eLearning.
  2. Click the gray arrow to the right of the exam name.
  3. Click Edit the Test Options.
  4. Scroll down to the section labeled Test Availability.
  5. Enter a password in the field to the right of the word Password.
  6. Select the checkbox to the left of the word Password.
  7. Click Submit.

 

Respondus LockDown Browser

If you plan to use Respondus LockDown Browser, you will need to add a password through the LockDown Browser’s settings.

respondus

To access the settings, follow these instructions after your test is deployed in eLearning:

  1. Click on the Course Tools section on the left-hand side of your course’s screen.
  2. Click on Respondus LockDown Browser.
  3. Click the gray arrow to the left of your exam’s name.
  4. Click Modify Settings.
  5. Select Require Respondus LockDown Browser for this exam.
  6. After completing Step 5, a new option for a password will appear. Enter your password, then select Save and Close at the bottom right of the setting box to confirm the setup.

Please note: If you set a password using LockDown Browser, the system will automatically generate a string of letters and numbers to fill the Password section in the actual eLearning test. It will look something like this:

password

This is normal and can be ignored, but do not delete this password. It exists so that LockDown Browser can function. The password you entered by following the above steps is the only password you need to provide the Testing Center.

 

3) Are Your Exceptions Set?

If you have a student who requires certain accommodations (such as taking the exam on another day or for a longer period than the rest of the class), you will need to set up a Test Availability Exception for the student.

exception

To set an exception for a student, follow these steps:

  1. Find your deployed test in eLearning.
  2. Click the gray arrow to the right of the exam name.
  3. Click Edit the Test Options.
  4. Scroll down to the section labeled Test Availability Exceptions.
  5. Click Add User or Group.
  6. Select the student in question.
  7. Select the number of attempts and the availability.

You can do this for as many students as necessary.

 

If you have any questions, or if you would like someone from the eLearning team to review your exam’s settings, please contact eLearning@utdallas.edu. If you have any questions about the Testing Center, please visit their website here.

Emergency Datacenter Maintenance – Possible eLearning Service Interruption – Fri April 27 1-5 am

We just got a notification from Blackboard that they will perform emergency datacenter maintenance early tomorrow morning, April 27th (Friday) from 1-5am CDT. While they anticipate no interruption in eLearning service, we cannot entirely rule out brief periods of intermittent connectivity. We strongly recommend that students NOT take tests during this maintenance window. We apologize for the late notice. If you have any questions, please contact elearning@utdallas.edu.

New in eLearning – Blackboard Upgrade (Q2 2017)

Over the holiday break, UTD’s Blackboard (eLearning) server was successfully upgraded to Q2 2017. Below are highlights of some of the new/improved functionality.

Drag and Drop Files

When instructors create content items, assignments, and web links, they can now drag files from their computers to the “hot spot” in the Attach Files area. Students can also drag files to upload when they submit assignments. The drag-and-drop feature has been added to the Content Collection, Content Editor, Blank Page, Blogs, Journals, and Portfolios. If the browser allows, you can drag a folder of files and the files uploads individually.

drag-and-drop

Submission Confirmation Receipts

Students can receive a notification email for each assignment attempt with information about the submission including attached files. A submission receipt is captured at the time of submission and includes information such as attached file information, date, time, etc. This feature provides evidence for academic disputes, giving students assurance about their work. A receipt is generated for each group member when a student submits on behalf of the group, and the anonymous state of an assignment is respected. For assignments with multiple attempts, students receive a different number for each submission.

submission-receipt

Reminders

Faculty can send email reminders from Grade Center columns to students and members of groups who have missing coursework. Students receive a system-generated email that lists the course, coursework, and the due date if included.  Faculty can also send reminders for assignments with anonymous or delegated grading enabled. To protect anonymity, students’ names and attempt statuses aren’t revealed.

send-reminder

Fewer Needs Grading Items

When multiple-attempt assessments are set to calculate using the first or last attempt, there are potentially numerous other attempts that will never be used for the grade calculation. This can be particularly problematic in anonymous or delegated grading scenarios where it can be difficult to determine which attempts are associated with students and therefore require grading. A new filter is now available both in the Needs Grading workflow as well as within the Grade Center to show or hide these attempts. Attempts that won’t calculate towards the assessment grade are now indicated with an icon.

Course Activity Reports

The Course Activity Overview report has been updated to improve the experience for larger enrollment courses. Instructors can filter the report and break down the calculations of student activity by course groups.