Friday, March 25, 2005

Publisher Content in Blackboard

Course cartridges (content from a publisher) are usually delivered in 3 ways:

  1. The publisher sends the instructor a download key. If the publisher sends you a download key you can "install it" yourself into an existing course container.
  2. The publishers sends the instructor instructions for downloading a .zip file. The instructor downloads the .zip file and must send the file to the Blackboard Administrator. An instructor cannot install a .zip file themself. This process must be done to a "new" course container.
  3. The publisher sends the Blackboard administrator a .zip file. The Bb administrator has to begin the process from a "new" course container.

How to install your own download key:

Step 1: Bb administrator creates a course shell for you.
Step 2: You request a download key from your book rep or via the publisher’s website.
Step 3: Once you receive the key do the following:

  • Enter the Download Key and Click Submit.
  • You will get a Receipt: Success and message telling you that you will receive e-mail notification when the Cartridge content has been installed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

FYI- information concerning Directory Services, passwords, use in Blackboard and student email

Issue: Faculty Passwords Changed in Blackboard
SISCOPYID updates—necessary to enable proper security roles in SIS Version 8—triggered the pushing of the password contained in the Directory to Blackboard. This was, more often than not, the old PIN password format. As the SISCOPYID changes have happened, faculty members have found themselves unable to log in to Blackboard, because the Directory password overwrote the password they had previously been assigned by their LSA.

The immediate solution is for users to change their password at and accounts will be synchronized across all systems.

Issue: New Accounts for Students with Multiple Emplids
Many students with multiple SIS Emplid’s have discovered that a new Blackboard and email account was created for them when looking up their username at Their old email and Blackboard accounts are not connected to their DS2 usernames, which means they cannot access their Blackboard or e-mail content through The migration of data to DS2 carried over accounts with the most recent activity for students with multiple emplids. It created new accounts for the less active emplids. VCCS ITS will correct this issue with a batch process on Thursday evening. After the process is run, most students with this problem will have reverted back to their former accounts. There is a subset of these affected students who shared a Blackboard and Email username across their multiple emplids. These students will not have their account reverted to their old username. This is a design issue with DS2 which we are continuing to address.

If students have used their new email account, they will be able to access it directly-, not through My VCCS. These new accounts will be removed from the email system when those students who have used them have been notified by ITS.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Faculty Development Activities – Student Success in Online Learning

Instructional Technology and Distance Learning will fund a few faculty development activities that focus on student success in online learning. The purpose of the activity should address areas that are barriers to student success in online learning. The proposal should include how the effectiveness of the activity will be assessed – higher success rate, increased student retention, or some other measurable outcome related to student success.

Topics of interest: Quality assurance, best practices, course design, interactivty/ communication, academic support, teaching strategies, digital resources, competencies for online students and/or online faculty, information literacy skills, etc.

Average funding support: $3,000 (collaborative projects – if more than one college is involved, up to $5,000 can be requested)

Number of proposals to be funded: up to 10

Deadline for proposals: Proposals may be submitted starting March 21, 2005. Proposals will be reviewed as they come in for feasibility and funding. Last day for submission of proposals is April 20, 2005.

Notification of proposal status: 7 days after proposal is received

If you would like to submit an idea for funding through this initiative, please provide the following information about the activity:

  • Description of the project: (one page); should describe the purpose of the project and how it will be carried out – workshop, seminar, etc. Include dates of the activity.
  • College(s): List all colleges participating in the activity and how many will attend
  • Funds requested: itemize each element and provide cost; indicate any support from the colleges
  • Primary contact for the activity:

College Approvals and contacts: College approvals are required for proposals to be considered. Please be sure you are getting the appropriate approvals for your college. If more than one college is involved, signatures from all institutions are required. Signatures page may be faxed.

  • Immediate supervisor of the primary contact:
  • Academic Vice President:
  • Grants Office: (if applicable)
  • Business Office contact and account where funds should be transferred: (If there is more than one college involved, one of the colleges should be designated as the fiscal agent. All funds for the project will be transferred to the fiscal agent college.)

Evaluation of the activity: Reaction of attendees to the activity should be provided one week after the activity is held. If you are planning a series of activities, evaluations should be provided after each activity.

  • Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria:
  • Focus of the project (student success)
  • Project description (Concise description of what will take place, how it will take place and what the expected outcomes are)
  • Budget description (Itemized; detailed to cover all aspects of the activity)
  • Evaluation of the activity (attendee input is collected and analyzed; e.g., survey at the end of the activity)
  • Assessment of the impact on student success is clearly defined and planned for.
  • Appropriate approvals included

    Submit proposals by April 20, 2005 electronically to: Carole Schultz –

    Questions: Carole Schultz; 804-819-4964

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Macromedia StudioMX 2004

New program bundle ready for checkout from library.

I have 50 copies of Macromedia StudioMX 2004. If you want one you must email me so I can put you on the checkout list. (We still have 20 Acrobat 6 and 2 Camtasia Studio/Snag-It licenses left. Please send separate request.)

What is included:

More Info:

Monday, March 14, 2005

Get Ready for SU05 and FA05

We are now processing requests for SU05 courses. We can no longer use NS99 designations. You must roll over your NS99 course to SU05 or FA05 for migration purposes. Request forms located at:

All SU05 and FA05 courses will automatically roll to the new Bb 6 server. You will need to fill out another migration form for anything other then an active SU05 or FA05 course. More on this later.

If you are currently using an NS99 course for teaching you will need to "roll it" if you are using NS99 for non-teaching purposes.. clubs, info sites (ie adjunct training or course development) you don't need to "roll it".

Fell free to call or email if you have specific questions.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Help with Peoplesoft / Blackboard Logins

  • If you have a Bb login your “My Username” should be your Bb login name. Your initial password is your birth date in 6 digit format (mmddyy)
  • You will need to change your password for security and to add the Blackboard icon to your “My Services”.

After you login you will see the following:

After you change your password you will see that “Blackboard” and “Student Email” will be added as services available to you. The new system generates a student email account for everyone. This will allow you to view the email interface from the student perspective. This link will not provide access to your campus (primary) email account. It should have no impact on how Bb handles your email.

Clicking on this link gives you access to the new SIS:

This is the first thing you will see:

To find your “Class Rosters”, “Class Lists”, and to “Record Grades” click on the following links:

Clicking on this link gives you access to Blackboard:

More directions are available at:

Faculty tutorial for the new SIS are available at:

Login problem or problems with Peoplesoft should be reported to SIShelp

Blackboard Problems should be reported to Ruth Smith

Friday, March 04, 2005

NEW TIMELINE: Blackboard 6 Upgrade


April 7-9-New Horizons – Two days of faculty training

April 12-14 Blackboard Users Conference

April 15-BB6 Train available to faculty and staff

April 22-Course migration lists due (MORE ON THIS LATER)

May 1-Course migration starts

June 1-BB6 Production available to faculty at colleges

August 15-Students go live

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

More info from Dr. Matkin, Vice Chancellor, Information Technology Services

More news on Network Virginia and Blackboard Upgrade planning as developments occur. An overview of Blackboard statistics reveals the growth of this resource over the last few years and underscores the need for careful planning and execution of the upgrade. Please note:

From December 2003 to January 2005, the Course Management System (Blackboard) utilized for many distance learning and on campus classes, has continued to grow in use throughout the system:

· The number of courses on the Blackboard system has increased from 8,800 to 23,702 – an increase of 169%.
· The number of instructor accounts has increased from 2,600 to 4,711 – an increase of 81%.
· The number of “hits” on the online resources in one day has increased from 771,223 to 7,412,742 – an astounding increase of 861%.

This illustrates that this particular system wide tool has grown in the wealth of materials available, adoption by faculty, and use by students. A longer term perspective can be gained by viewing active enrollment trends. From August 2002 to January 2005 active enrollments on the Blackboard system have increased from 20,090 to 167,701 – an increase of 734%. We have not yet conducted studies to determine if Blackboard is statistically significant in influencing or aiding in retention, however, there is some literature that leads us to believe that it can and does play some role in that regard.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Blackboard 6.2 Implementation Delayed to Fall 2005

Subject: Update: February 28, 2005

Blackboard 6.2 Implementation Delayed to Fall 2005

It is with regret that I have to announce that we will not be able to upgrade our Blackboard services to version 6.2 until fall 2005. Originally scheduled for the summer, this upgrade will not happen as scheduled due to equipment delays. Specifically, the Blackboard 6.2 front end production servers were to be available to Blackboard administrators and faculty on March 1, 2005. We are experiencing delays in the arrival of the necessary IBM servers. There were no errors in ordering the necessary equipment and it was ordered well in advance of the anticipated delivery date. We are working with IBM to get a firm date and will communicate developments. One point is that we could have ordered and taken delivery of older equipment that would have sufficed for the short term, however, my judgment is that it is much more prudent to take delivery of the most current equipment possible to extend the life and lower the total cost of ownership over the lifespan of the equipment.

Other components of the Blackboard upgrade process are proceeding well. We were able to put in place a comprehensive week-long training for college Blackboard administrators and organize extensive faculty training at the New Horizons Conference in April. These sessions will continue as scheduled in preparation for the fall upgrade. One other change relayed in an overview to college presidents at the ACOP meeting earlier this month is that because of licensing restrictions, we cannot do a phased implementation and maintain two production servers concurrently without adding dramatically to our costs. The simultaneous upgrade of all colleges will avoid these problems and in that sense, the equipment delay we have experienced may prove to be a blessing.

While we are disappointed by this delay, we will use the extra time and resources to provide colleges with an even better installation of Blackboard than previously planned. When we deploy Blackboard 6, it will include new user tools developed by ITS staff member Matt Lawson to simplify administration and creation of courses on Blackboard. We will continue working with the Academic Services and Research Office to fully implement the Blackboard Content Management System in the spring of 2006. We also plan to develop a process for the evaluation and implementation of Building Blocks to add enhanced Blackboard features and functionality through various add-ons.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Regarding the Blackboard upgrade scheduling, staff will be in touch with all stakeholders and continue the discussion to coordinate this important activity. If you have any questions or concerns on either the PeopleSoft or Blackboard issue, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best regards,


H. Neil Matkin
Vice Chancellor, Information Technology Services
Virginia Community College System
101 N. 14th Street
Richmond, VA 23219