Thursday, August 28, 2014



The fifth annual conference of the Virginia Blackboard Users Group (VaBUG) will be held at the Holiday Inn at Valley View, in Roanoke, Virginia, on Friday, Oct. 24.

This is a perfect time to enjoy the peak fall foliage in the Roanoke Valley area while you share knowledge and ideas with Blackboard users from across the state. The conference will once again have free registration, so mark your calendar now.

This year’s theme is “Broadening Educational Horizons,” and you can access additional information at You can also follow VaBUG on Facebook.

What exciting ways have you been utilizing Blackboard and other technologies in the past year? The VaBUG conference is a great opportunity for Blackboard users to discover, discuss, learn and share best practices.

In order to afford members the best possible personal and professional development opportunities, VaBUG asks instructors, administrators, staff members and any other interested members to submit proposals for concurrent sessions for this year’s conference.

The group is looking for sessions that focus on using Blackboard and related technologies to better reach learners and expand the reach of learners’ knowledge. Sessions will be organized along the following tracks:

• Blackboard administration
• Instructional design
• Faculty best practices
• K-12 best practices

Please consider participating as a presenter, and pass this message along to someone you feel may be interested in participating.

For more information, please contact George Hoffman in the Center for Teaching and Learning at

Student Tech Buzz By Tristan Plummer

This will be the last blog post by Tristan at SU. He has decided to take a position at another institution. We wish Tristan the best in his new position. 

Sign Up For Emergency Alerts

SU offers an incredibly simple and effective way for all students, staff, and faculty to stay informed in the event of an emergency. If an emergency occurs, and you have signed up, you will receive a text message notifying you of the situation. Sounds great, right? Yup. It is. Sign up. Today.
Signing up is simple, and important.
  • Log into Blackboard and click the "Emergency" tab at the top of your browser.
  • Fill out the "SU Alert System Sign-up" module at the center of the screen.
  • At the bottom read and agree to the terms of service and click "Create Account."  

Blackboard Calendar
Did you know that any assignments or exams that your professor creates and deploys within Blackboard automatically populate into your Blackboard Calendar (providing that your professors have due dates associated with their assignments)?

How do you locate the Bb Calendar? No sweat, it's really easy. 
  • Left-click your name in the top right corner of your screen.
  • On the drop-down menu that appears click the 5th icon on the left-side of the drop-down. It looks like a small calendar. 

Once you're in the Bb calendar, you will notice that each course and organizations have their own independent calendars and colors associated with them so that assignments from different courses are easily distinguishable. 

Feel free to add your own personal calendar so that you can keep track of your own events.

If you'd like this information outside of Bb, export your Bb Calendars to an outside calendaring program by clicking the  "Get External Calendar Link." 


Tech Support @ SU

At Shenandoah University, the Institutional Computing department tries incredibly hard to make sure that everybody receives the best tech support available at the exact moment it is needed the most.

Keep the following resources handy so that when you need help, you will know exactly where to go:

The IC Help Desk
  • General purpose tech support. If you need help, this is a great place to start. Phones are answered 24/7!
Howe Hall 112

IC Web Help Desk
  • Often called "Work Orders" this is the formal ticketing system that times, tracks, and monitors the help you receive. Have a difficult problem. Fill out a work order, and it will get taken care of!
SU Blackboard Support Site
  • SU Specific Blackboard information. Regardless of your role as a Blackboard user, you can find great information here.

SU Bb "Tech Support" tab
  • When you click the "Tech Support" tab you will land on the Help Desk page, and next to that is a link to the IC Web Help Desk but that's not all that is available here. Make sure to check out the Library Passwords, Media Services, and Tech Blog sub-tabs for helpful information. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Collaborate Mobile 2.0 Beta – Testers Wanted!


We are kicking off the Collaborate Mobile 2.0 Beta program next week and are looking for a focused group of participants. Please register here if you would like to participate.

What’s in 2.0
Collaborate Mobile v2.0 will have some added features and a fresh look and feel. Users will be able to:
·        Transmit and Receive Video
·        Participate in a Web Tour
·        Receive Multimedia Library Content (audio and video files pushed by the moderator)
·        Participate in Private and Group Chat

Program Dates
  • What? The Beta program is currently scheduled to kick off on Thursday, September 4th and will conclude Thursday, Oct 9th.  We will only meet during the kickoff, but testing will be continuous with weekly surveys to analyze feedback. Please register through this link-
  • Who? Collaborate users, specifically Faculty and Students. A limited number of both iOS and Android participants will be selected. We will reach out directly to those who are eligible to participate
  • What's the time commitment? Participants are expected to participate in weekly surveys to give feedback on experience
  • Requirements: The Beta programs require signature of a Beta Agreement by the institution. This agreement will be distributed before kickoff.

Additional questions? - Email Blackboard Inc at:

SoftChalk Short Courses now available!

SoftChalk Short Courses - Master SoftChalk in Minutes

Do you want to learn more about specific features of SoftChalk Cloud and Create? Then these Short Courses are perfect for you! These live, one-hour webinars include a presentation and examples, as well as an opportunity for you to ask questions and receive assistance from the instructor. 

no image
Upcoming Short Courses in September
  • An Overview of SoftChalk Cloud
  • An Overview of SoftChalk Create
  • TextPoppers, Images and Hyperlinks
  • Navigation Features and Sidebars
  • Embedded Media
  • Quizzes, Quiz Groups and SoftChalk ScoreCenter
  • Interactive Learning Activities - The Presentation Group
  • Interactive Learning Activities - The Scoring Group
Visit our Short Courses page for details and register today! Register Now
no image We look forward to seeing you in class!
The SoftChalk Team

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Portfolios in Blackboard

Welcome to the New & Improved Hosted Blackboard

We now have Portfolios within our Blackboard system. Below are some key information about the Bb portfolio syste.

  • Portfolios sit "outside" of courses.   This means students and teachers can access Portfolios even if access to a course has been restricted.
  • Portfolios can be submitted by students to teachers using the Assignment Tool.
  • Students can take a regular assignment and convert it into an Artifact to use in a Portfolio
  • Students and teachers can share Portfolios with other individuals or classes using traditional sharing methods.  This includes
      Share Options
    • Other users on the Blackboard Learn Platform
    • Classes / Organizations
    • People that do not have user accounts on the Blackboard Learn Platform
  • Shared Portfolios will be a "snapshot" of the Portfolio as it existed at the time of sharing.   
  • Portfolios can be exported as an HTML package
  • Portfolios can be built as new or based upon a pre-existing template
  • While Portfolios are part of Content Management , they do not require individual access to the My Content area.
  • Files stored in Artifacts do not count against Content Quotas
  • This fall assignments and other Bb activities may be automatically uploaded to your portfolio.
 What exactly is a Portfolio Snapshot? 
Portfolio SnapshotsWhenever a Portfolio author shares a Portfolio with other users, each “sharing event” creates a static snapshot of that Portfolio at that point in time. What is shared is the static Portfolio Snapshot, so even if the Portfolio author makes changes in his Portfolio, the recipient is still looking at the static Portfolio Snapshot of that Portfolio as it existed at the time it was shared.

For example, imagine a common program level Portfolio assessment scenario where a student in a 2-year graduate program must maintain a Portfolio over the course of the program representing his learning activities and reflections. He may be required to submit that Portfolio for evaluation at the end of each semester over the 4 semester program.
At the end of each semester, he shares his Portfolio. Each time he does this, it is a static snapshot of the Portfolio as it existed at that moment.  He can continue to work on the same Portfolio knowing that any changes that he makes does not affect the shared Portfolio.

The Portfolio tool is part of Blackboard Learn Content Management.  While it can be shared with course users or submitted as an assignment within a course, it sits outside of courses.  This means users can see, edit, and share Portfolios outside the constraints of a course.

Global Navigation MenuWhere to Find It
In previous versions, the user had to navigate through several tabs and menus to find the tool.  Now it is part of the Tools section of the Global Navigation Menu that is accessed by clicking one's name in the upper right corner of the screen.  
Portfolio Tool Sections
There are four main sections for the Portfolio Tool interface.
    • Regular Users See These
      • My Portfolios - where the user creates and manages their Portfolios
      • My Artifacts - where the user creates and manages their Artifacts
      • Received Portfolios - where a user accesses Portfolios that have been directly shared with him by other users
    • System Administrator Sees Additionally
      • Portfolio Templates -- where the System Administrator can create templates
Portfolio Menu

Types of Artifacts Artifacts
  • Artifacts are the building blocks of Portfolios.
  • They exist outside of a Portfolio.
  • A single Artifact can be used in several Portfolios.
  • An Artifact can be
    • Generated free-form content created using a Text Box Editor
    • A file (or files) uploaded from the local computer or selected from the Content Collection
    • Both (free-form content + files)

Types of Artifacts
  • Options to use Assignment Artifact
    Personal Artifacts are created as listed above.
  • Assignment Artifacts can be created by students by turning a course Assignment into an Artifact.  Among the options, the student can choose from are
    • Assignment Description
    • Assignment Name
    • Feedback (from instructor)
    • Grade (from instructor)
    • Submission Information

Continue to watch the IT Blog to learn more about Bb Portfolios. In the meantime, if you want assistance with your portfolio contact the Help Desk at 540-665-5555 or submit a work order at  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Welcome Back SU From Devon Taylor

Where I'll Be This Week

Monday -
Bowman Building

11:00 - 1:00 Room 212

Wednesday -
Cork Street

11:00 - 1:00 PT Conference Room

Friday -
Health Professions Building 

11:00 - 1:00 - In Front of Library
Training Website
Google Plus
24/7 Support
BB Info

Welcome Back SU!

Good morning everyone. For this week's tips I've got three handy spreadsheet functions, a reminder about the new Bb, and some information on managing your privacy settings on iOS. If you have any questions about these or anything else tech related, let me know.

Have a great first week of class

SU Tips and Tricks

Excel/Sheets Functions -CountIf/SumIf/AverageIf
CountIf, SumIf and AverageIf are three very useful Excel/Google Sheets functions to know how to use. When used properly, these functions allow you to count/sum/average totals if a certain criteria is met. For instance, if you had a large spreadsheet with Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior Data, you could easily count/sum/average any type of data that is affiliated with each year.  For more information, check out the link for a quick YouTube video showcasing all these formulas.
New Blackboard is Here
Just a reminder...Everyone must access Bb from...

If you encounter someone who says that their password isn't working and they can't login, it is likely that they are attempting to login to the old website.
Also, if you use the Bb Mobile App, you will need to change a setting to reflect the new Bb website for SU.  Here are the steps to get connected.

1.Start the app
2.Click Bb icon in upper left corner
3.In the search box, start typing Shenandoah
4.Select Shenandoah University-hosted
5.Type in username/password
How To Manage Your Privacy Settings on iOS
App permissions are something that we should all pay attention to, but we rarely read the list of permissions or remember what we gave an app permission to access. You can gain valuable insight into what you gave apps permission to by checking out the privacy settings on iOS. Click the link to check out a great article on how to manage your privacy settings in iOS and make sure that you are only giving up the information that you are comfortable sharing!

Monday, August 18, 2014

SU Technology Tips and Tricks by Devon Taylor

Training Website
Google Plus
24/7 Support
BB Info

Good Morning Everyone,

Hope that you all had a great weekend! Today I've got a reminder about the new Blackboard, a great way to view trends in your Google Sheets, and a quick Bb Collaborate User Experience survey.
If you have any questions, let me know!

There will be no scheduled drop-in's this week due to the many various training's and IM Learning distributions that we have  going on this week.

SU Tips and Tricks

Don't Forget, Blackboard Has Moved
Just a quick reminder that everyone should now access Blackboard at not put a www. in front of it) If you haven't done so yet, go ahead and click the link above to go to the sign in page and change your bookmark to reflect the new web address. If you need help with bookmarks, let me know!
Do You Want to See Into the Future?
If you use Blackboard Collaborate for meetings, classes, or anything else, you'll want to take a look at this.  The Blackboard UX Team, who frequent the SU campus often, has provided us with a quick labeling survey that shows off the look and feel of a future version of Collaborate. Click the link and take a few minutes and go through the survey, and in the process see a glimpse of the technology that is coming in the future!
Add a Trendline to a Chart in Google Sheets
Trendlines are a handy feature for seeing patterns in your data. With an update that rolled out last week, we now have the ability to add trendlines to charts in Google Sheets. Check out the link to see how you can start viewing trends in your data by adding trendlines to your charts in Google Sheets.