Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Confusing - READ carefully

To see what I submitted on April 21, 2005 for Migration (Copied to Bb 6 PRODUCTION server):
  • ALL courses that end with 05 will be migrated (even if you asked that it not be migrated). We will clean up unwanted courses after the migration.
  • I could not honor requests to add to our list, courses developed at another college (see next bullet).
  • If we missed a course - DON'T panic! There is one last thing we can do to preserve a course. I will outline the FINAL procedure prior to the Bb 5 servers' demise (before the VCCS pulls the plug!).

Important Dates:

  • May 1-Course migration starts (from the list I submitted). Any changes you make to a Bb 5 course after May 1st will not be reflected in Bb6.
  • June 1-BB6 Production server available to faculty. You will check your migrated courses and "tweak" as needed for Fall 05.
  • After June 2 - there will be a new way to request NEW courses for Fall 05. These procedures are as yet to be defined and will be forthcoming.
  • August 15-Students go live ! Begin teaching with Bb 6.

Note (if it wasn't confusing enough *grin*):
Currently we are running several server environemnts (listed below are the ones that have an impact on faculty):

  • Bb6 Train -
    This is an environment designed to resemble BB6 production. It is available for faculty course development and training. This will have the same look and feel of the production system, but will not be built to the scale necessary for production. Course material developed by faculty through June 7 will be migrated to production the following week. After the August 15 Go Live for the version 6 production system, the Training environment will be used in an ongoing way to introduce faculty to new features and functionality prior to release in the production environment.
  • BB5 Production -
    This is the current production system. On August 15 it will be moved to and will become a “read only” resource for faculty. Student access will be disabled . This environment will be available to faculty until December 31, 2005.
  • BB6 Production -
    This will be the future production system. It will be available to faculty on June 1 and will Go Live for students on August 15.


The new permanent URL for BB6 will be From June 1 through August 15 this will be the only way to get to the system. After August 15, (and will be redirected to This will ensure a seamless transition for students. At the same time, BB5 Production will be moved to will be retired July 1, 2006.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Learn what's new and different in Bb 6.2

What’s New and Different (presentation)
Learn what's new and different in Bb 6.2
Topics Covered:
  1. Course Settings
  2. Content Area and Tools Features
  3. Quizzes and Assessments
  4. The Online Grade book
  5. The Assignment Manager (Replacement to the Digital Drop Box)
  6. The Collaborative Environment

Date: April 27, 2005
Place: Diggs Hall, Room 159

  • 10:00a-10:30a
  • 11:00a-11:30a
  • 12:00p-12:30p
  • 1:00p-1:30p
  • 2:00p-2:30p

To register: email: (indicate in email the time you wish to attend)

Workshops with 0 advanced registrations will not be held.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A first peek at Bb 6

Posted by Matt Lawson on Friday, April 15, 2005 - 5:04 pm:

The ITS Blackboard team is pleased to announce that is available.

The accounts that were loaded on the bbtrain are all of the users from Blackboard 5 who met both of the following two conditions:
  1. They were an instructor in at least one Blackboard 5 course
  2. We were able to tie their Blackboard username to a valid DS2 username

A couple of reminders about the bbtrain environment:

  1. This environment will be shut down on June 1. After it is shutdown, all the courses that are on bbtrain will be migrated to production version of Blackboard 6. After June 1, bbtrain will become an environment were we will be able to show faculty new features and not-yet-implemented features of Blackboard 6.
  2. We want to minimize use of bbtrain. The bbtrain environment is only for faculty who cannot wait until June 1 to start building their Fall 2005 production courses. (If you need this ability contact me - Ruth Smith... However you will have to be able to work independently from documentation.)
  3. If for whatever reason a faculty account does not exist on bbtrain, feel free to create an account for that faculty. Please remember though that in the ultimate production environment, only user names from DS2 will be loaded into Blackboard.
  4. Although we do not anticipate dramatic changes to the bbtrain interface, there may be some changes as we customize the Bb6 interfaceand fine-tune its settings.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Volume 01-03 - April 15, 2005

  • Designing for Performance: Dividing Large Presentations
  • PowerPoint Text Alignment
  • Replace Missing Fonts in PowerPoint

Volume 01-02 - March 31, 2005 ·

  • Impatica Video Settings
  • -imp.jar
  • OnCue Shortcut Keys
  • Custom Install of QuickTime

Volume 01-01 - March 15, 2005

  • Designing for Performance
  • PowerPoint Slide Master
  • LMS Systems · Embedded Sounds

Subscribe to Impatica Tips.

What is Impatica?
Software that converts PowerPoint files to a small, web-frie
ndly format, even if they include narrations and animations. The VCCS has a system-license.

Where do I get Impatica?
Download Impatica from Blackboard.
Login to Blackboard
My Organizations > Faculty Help Site >Impatica

Respondus Test Bank Network

The Respondus Test Bank Network contains test banks for the leading textbooks in higher education. The test banks are in Respondus format and can be downloaded for free by instructors who adopt a participating textbook.
The Respondus-formatted test bank at no charge.

  • Download Respondus from Blackboard.
  • Login to Blackboard
  • My Organizations > Faculty Help Site >Respondus

    The directions on the website are old. You need to email me for the new activation password.

Repsondus is a great way to "archive and create pools" all of your tests in Bb 5 (publisher and even the ones you made up) and have them ready to upload in Bb 6.

I recommend you do this before we migrate to Bb6!

Reminder: I must submit a final (verified) list to the VCCS by April 21st for the migration.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

DDLC Meeting Minutes 03/18/05

Distance and Distributed Learning Committee Meeting
March 18, 2005
Via Distance Learning Technology: Macromedia Breeze

In attendance:
Dr. John Downey (Chairperson; BRCC), Susan Beasley(CVCC), Kristen Kelly (JTCC), Sara Brown (LFCC), SusanKennedy (MECC), Linda Claussen (NRCC), Monica Sasser sitting in forSteve Sachs (NVCC), Carolyn Byrd (PHCC), Mary Clare DiGiacomo (PVCC), Leslie Smith (RCC), Bill Hightower (SSVCC), Stacy Harris (SWCC), Scott Langhorst (TCC), Charles Boiling (VHCC), Inez Farrell (VWCC), and Jaime Shetrone (WCC). From the System Office: Dr. Neil Matkin, Dr. Carole Schultz, Tim Tirrell, Bob Vawter, Ralph Lucia, and Sue Ann Curran. Guest: Blair Potts (SSVCC).

I. Welcome and Introductions
Dr. Downey,Committee Chairperson, welcomed the group to the meeting. He thanked Blair Potts for arranging to host the meeting via Macromedia Breeze.

II. Update from Dr. Neil Matkin, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology Services
Dr. Matkin updatedthe committee on the status of the enterprise system upgrades. He reported that the Peoplesoft 8.0 SIS upgrade was generally progressing as expected andthat the go-live process arrived with relatively minor issues. A few issuesemerged with the simultaneous upgrade of Directory Services 2.0, and the ITstaff at the VCCS was busily working on addressing those. Finally, the upgradeof the Blackboard 6.0 LMS was delayed one semester due to a delay in the delivery of equipment. The LMS upgrade is now scheduled for Summer, 2005.

III. Position Paper
The bulk ofthe meeting time was used to discuss and revise an initial draft (appended tothis document) of a DDLC position paper authored by John Downey. The purposeof the position paper is to identify the state-wide obstacles to thecoordinated implementation of distance and distributed learning objectives listed in the Chancellor’s current goals, Dateline 2009 and the 2001 Strategic Plan for Distance Learning.
The draft was discussed in stages as outlined below.

DDLC Member comments;
  1. Several members made the suggestion that specific goalsfrom the three documents listed (Chancellor’s goals, Dateline 2009 and the Strategic Plan) that are related to distance and distributed education beincorporated directly into the document itself at the end of line 36 in theattached document).
  2. One member suggested making sure the document capturesboth the positives as well as the obstacles to implementing distance learningprograms and courses in the VCCS.

SECTION TWO: Distance Learning VCCS Values:

  1. A suggestion was made to re-order the values listed,with the statement on mission listed first and the statement on quality listedsecond. (See lines 54-59).
  2. Several individuals believed the focus on quality issueswas critically important. Some indicated that issues of student success wereintegrated with the degree of student support provided system-wide.
  3. Some members discussed the quality issue in relation toperceptions of quality assurance in traditional classroom courses, suggesting aneed to focus on quality across all methods of delivery, not just in relationto distance learning delivery.

SECTION THREE: Primary Benefits of Distance Learning:

  1. Members suggested a re-wording of this section toprovide greater clarity. From the perspective of colleges, there are twobenefits to providing access to distance learning in a service area: First, sothat constituents in that service area can access programs and servicesotherwise unavailable at the local college and second, to increase access orprovide greater convenience for constituents to access programs and servicesthat are already provided locally.
  2. Some members suggested also listing benefits tostudents. In particular, distance learning provides access to a variety oflearning styles that may or may not be available in traditional classrooms.

SECTION FOUR: Current Distance LearningMethodologies:

  1. Members suggested re-ordering the methodologies from themost frequently used method (web-delivery) to the least frequently used method(compressed video). See lines 78-85.
  2. Some members advocated adding usage data to this sectionto reflect the preferences of students and faculty for each methodologylisted. Other members advocated adding some reference to hybrid methodology(where distance learning is mixed with some on-campus classroom-based methods)OR other forms of mixed technology delivery methods.
  3. Some discussion centered on whether the increasedreliance of distance learning methodology was attracting new students notpreviously served by the VCCS or whether existing students already served byVCCS colleges were opting for the convenience of distance methodologies. Questions concerning class size and productivity relative to distance learningversus classroom methodologies were also discussed.

SECTION FIVE: Challenges:

  1. The slight modification to the title of this section:“Challenges t the Proliferation of Distance Learning in the VCCS”, was suggested. Specifically a member suggested changing the word proliferation to“Coordination.” See line number 87
  2. Given the purpose of the position paper, most membersconcurred with the four preliminary issues listed. Again, members advocatingre-ordering the list: First, the issues that are perceived to impact thegreatest number of students should be listed, followed by the to the issuesthat are perceived to impact the least number of students.
  3. Several additional issues were suggested to be added tothe list. These include:
    A discussion of obstacles related to registration issues for students desiring to take coursesfrom multiple colleges.

Clarification ofwhich issues the VCCS should be viewed as having the authority to implementstate-wide standards versus issues that VCCS provides guidance for but local colleges have ultimate authority.

  • A statement advocating the joint appointment of faculty members across two or more colleges.
  • A statement regarding the advocacy of a common calendar across colleges for distance learning delivery OR at least a statement addressing the issues that arise for students due to the lack of a common academic calendar.
  • A general statement regarding funding challenges to implementation of an increase in the number of distance learning courses in a system where college-based FTEs regulate funding.
  • A statement advocating minimal staffing for distance learning support, with clearguidelines/job descriptions for those positions.
  • Others?

Process for DRAFT TWO of the PositionPaper

At the conclusion of the meeting, Dr. Downey agreed toconvene a subcommittee of the membership to work on a second draft of the position paper for presentation to the entire DDLC at the in-person meeting on June 3, 2005. That group will be convened inmid to late May.

IV. Next meeting:

The next meeting of the DDLC was scheduled for Friday June 3, 2005.
The June 3 2005 meeting will be an in-person meeting to be held at Blue Ridge Community College, Robert Plecker Workforce Center, in Weyers Cave.
Details will be sent out in early May.

There being no other business, the meeting adjourned a little after 11:00AM.


Saturday, April 02, 2005

I must submit a final (verified) list to the VCCS by April 21st

Please fill out the form(s) located at:
FAQs are located at:

The website consists of the original submission that TNCC sent to the VCCS for migration from Bb 5 to Bb 6. The list also includes courses for all SP05, SU05 and FA05 created on or before 03/28/05.

I must submit a final (verified) list to the VCCS by April 21st

Below is the way the VCCS sent me the file. I apologize for not being able to match courses with instructors but please try to help me verify the submission list. The way to read the course code is as follows:
(example) TNENG211015HSP05

College (TN)
Course (ENG)
Course Number (211)
Section Number (015H)
Semester (SP05)

I really need to hear from all Blackboard Faculty to help ensure a smooth(er) rollover!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Selected Minutes from LSA (Blackboard) Meeting

(I've highlighted in red area of particular interest to faculty - pay particular attention to dates and deadlines)- If you have questions or comments please click on the comment button, email, or call me.

Learning Systems Administrators Audio-Conference
1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Kristy Walker - RCC, Blair Potts - SSVCC, Sadie Hastings - TCC, Jennifer Smith - CVCC, Jeff Burleson – ME, Rebecca Kittelberger – SO, Ginny Scott - GCC, Charles Boling – VHCC, Jamie Shetrone - WCC, Amy Abbott – DCC, Kristen Kelly – JTCC, Ruth Smith – TNCC, Michelle Gee – NVCC, Stacy Harris – SWVCC, David Carter-Tod, Sue Ann Curran, Matt Lawson - ITS, Mary Clare DiGiacomo - PVCC, Adam Bryant - NRCC, Jim Blackburn – BRCC, Sara Brown and George Hoffman – LFCC, Colleen Kehoe – JSRCC, Shelia Hobbs and Zakary Wade - PDCCC.

Blackboard upgrade status (David Carter-Tod and Matt Lawson)

    • Hardware arrival – The IBM Blades, the hardware that will run the BB6 enviroment, arrived last week. They are being installed now and we intend to load the Blackboard software soon.

    • BBTrain clean-up – We want the training and development environment to reflect the production environment. We intend to wipe it clean after the close of business on Friday. This was not a problem for anyone on the call. Only VWCC courses are being developed on that system and we have notified and worked with them separately. BBTrain will be backed up.

    • Bb6 Sandbox availability – this environment will initially be used for experimenting with system settings. We do not intend to experiment with system settings on BBTrain since it is to mirror production. After that, it will be available to LSAs to experiment with and potentially show new features to early adopter faculty. Please be aware that the sandbox will not be backed up.

    • Enrolling of faculty – All faculty teaching accounts from Bb 5 will be moved to Bb 6 Train to reflect production.

    • Course lists will be sent on Friday to BB Admins. David will send out course lists to be migrated on Friday for each admin to review. Please return these lists to XXXXXXX by April 22. The list will consist of the original list that BB Admins sent, as well as all sp05, su05, fa05, and sp06

    • After faculty have access to the training environment, they can develop courses there. We will migrate courses from BBTrain to BB6 production at the end of May. Bb Admins should provide a list of BBTrain courses to migrate in late May to XXXXXXX.

    • Jim asked if there was a way to batch load courses from Blackboard 5 into Blackboard 6. There is not and we do not plan to do this, but BB Admins may do this manually for faculty. Faculty may also do their own export from BB 5.5 and import into BBTrain, as long as they have a course shell already.

Functionality Roll-Out (Sadie Hastings)

Following her post on VCCS Discuss, Sadie Hastings initiated a discussion on the availability of functionality in Bb6. The core question was whether we would use roles and allow LSAs to selectively release functionality to their colleges, e.g. to early adopters, or for training purposes. Also, there was a question of whether specific pieces of functionality, i.e.

messaging and the content system

would be available at the beginning of Fall.

The core answer is that from a technical performance perspective we need to start Fall with a "clean system" so that we can get a benchmark for performance and establish system stability with as few variables as possible. This is so that when we do add features we can see how they affect the system, and if there’s a problem, we can quickly isolate the problem.

Once we’ve established the benchmark, we can move ahead in introducing functionality, and intend to do so aggressively. The recommendation from Blackboard, and other schools who have migrated, is to be conservative when initially moving to version 6.

From a support perspective, getting over the 5.5 to 6 migration first will mean that later we will have more time to support new functionality.

Go Live Date for students: What about courses that are ongoing and courses that have continuous enrollment? They will be in progress when we go live with 6. We will need a consistent Go Live date across the system and will need to work on that.

Colleges will not have access to the Content System at the beginning of the Fall semester.

We are working with Blackboard to create a roll-out plan for the content system, and will work with the workgroup and governance groups in that process.

It was asked that we talk with the Blackboard instructors at New Horizons, so that they could make faculty aware that some of the functionality presented will be rolled out gradually. The Content System is only being shown during demonstrations and not in the workshops.

Blair asked if roles could be more aggressively pursued for the summer, and if advanced functionality could be made available on the training server so that he could work with early adopter faculty on new features. Initially the BBTrain environment will reflect the production environment and it was recommended that LSAs could use the Bb6 Sandbox to work with features that are not yet released to production.

The BBTrain server will become available to faculty by April 15. As of now, the url will still be

, but suggestions for alternatives are welcome. We will continue to use the same course naming conventions.

If faculty want to bring in their own course to BBTrain or BB6 production, they will need to export their course from Bb 5.5. The training server is for faculty who cannot wait until June 1 to start developing courses. If faculty can wait until then it is preferable for them to wait until June 1, because they don’t have to worry about the import/export process from 5 to 6.

Will we have a list of what is and what is not available, so that LSAs know how to develop their training for faculty? Sadie can modify the document to reflect the decisions of the groups.

There followed a discussion about the problem of multiple Emplids still being created and how those would be handled.

There was also a discussion about the change in the Student Email policy recently approved by the Vice-Presidents.

The meeting ended, rather abruptly, at 3:30 when we ran out of time!