Monday, September 22, 2014

SU Technology Tips and Tricks for Monday, September 22, 2014

Tech Tips and Tricks Brought to You by Institutional Computing.
View this email in your browser
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

Thursday -
Wilkins Building

11:00 - 1:00 - Conference Room
Halpin-Harrison Hall
2:30 - 4:30 - Room 140

Friday -
Health & Life Sciences Building 

10:00 - 12:00 - 2nd Floor
Health Professions Building
1:00 - 3:00 - In Front of Library
Training Website
Google Plus
24/7 Support
BB Info
Give Me a Call

Good Morning!

I hope that you all enjoyed the last weekend of summer! This week's tips include creating custom Google Maps, how to receive daily agendas from Google Calendar, and 6 tips for getting started with Google Now.
As always, if you have any questions about these or anything else tech related, let me know!

SU Tips and Tricks

Create Custom Google Maps
Google has quietly been updating their My Maps section of Google Maps and it is quite interesting.  You now have the ability to create custom maps that you can share with the world. You could plot your bucket list destinations, student hometowns, places to eat around Winchester, and pretty much anything else you can find on a map. Go ahead and click the link and try it for yourself.
Get Your Daily Agenda Via Email
Every morning I wake up, brew some coffee, and then check my email to prepare for the day. Usually the first email I read is summary of my daily agenda that Google sends me at 5am. This is a great way to give yourself a little reminder as to what is on the table for the day!  Check out the link for how to turn on this feature for yourself!
6 Tips to Get Started with Google Now
Google Now is a "personal assistant" that comes prepackaged with the Google Search app on iOS and Android.  Google Now provides a tight integration of all your Google Services in one neat package. For instance, Now will let you know of your upcoming meetings, updates to websites you have recently visited, weather conditions, sports scores, location based reminders, and much more. If you aren't using Google Now to organize yourself & your time, you might want to give it a try.  Click the link for a quick article on how to get started using Google Now.
Copyright © 2014 Shenandoah University, All rights reserved.
Technology Tips and Tricks Email - Brought to you by Institutional Computing

Monday, September 15, 2014




The Virginia Blackboard Users Group (VaBUG) announces its fifth annual conference, to be held at the Holiday Inn at Valley View, on Friday, October 24, 2014! 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 Holiday Inn at Valley View is located just a couple of miles off of Interstate 81 and a short distance from the historic downtown market area. It is also just a short drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where you will be able to enjoy the beautiful fall colors.
The conference will once again have free registration, so that is even more reason to mark your calendar now.

We have reserved a block of rooms for those of you who want to stay the night.
Please make plans to joins us!

We hope you will add this date to your calendars, and that you will share this information with colleagues at your institution!

This year’s theme is:

For more information, please visit our site at  You can also follow us on FACEBOOK.


The VaBUG Conference Committee is now accepting proposals for our 2014 Annual Conference.

The VaBUG conference is a great opportunity for Blackboard users to discover, discuss, learn, and share best practices. In order to afford our members the best possible personal and professional development opportunities, we are asking instructors, administrators, staff members, and any other interested members to submit proposals for concurrent sessions for this year’s conference. What exciting ways have you been utilizing Blackboard in the past year?

Our conference theme this year is "Broadening Educational Horizons", so we are looking for sessions that focus on using Blackboard to better reach learners and expand the reach of learners' knowledge. The concurrent sessions will be scheduled for 50 minutes (this includes time for questions and answers). 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. Students, maybe you could get a group together to present to the attending faculty on what you look for in Blackboard or meet with the Blackboard representatives about your needs from the product. 

We need your help to make this conference a success! For more information, please contact George Hoffman in the Center for Teaching & Learning at 

SU Technology Tips and Tricks

Where I'll Be This Week

Monday -
Bowman Building

11:00 - 1:00 - Room 212

Tuesday -
Feltner Building

9:30 - 11:30 - Third Floor

Wednesday -
Cork Street

11:00 - 1:00 - PT Conference Room

Thursday -
Wilkins Building

11:00 - 1:00 - Conference Room
Halpin-Harrison Hall
2:30 - 4:30 - Room 140

Friday -
Health Professions Building 

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

Good Morning!

This week I've got a great update to Google Forms, information on the iOS 8 release this week, and a security recommendation for your SU Google account.
Any questions, let me know!

SU Tips and Tricks

Custom Themes for Google Forms
At long last, we now have the ability to create custom themes in Google Forms!  This means that your surveys and questionnaires can now be themed to your liking.  Customizations include, headers, background images, fonts, and much more!  Check out the link for a demo of this much requested new feature.
Please Wait to Update to iOS 8
Apple will release iOS 8 on Wednesday September 17th. This new version of iOS includes many great new features. However, it’s also sure to cause some problems (as do most new OS releases). Institutional Computing recommends taking a cautious approach by waiting at least a few weeks before upgrading your device. Waiting lets early adopters identify problems, gives Apple time to fix them, and gives software developers time to update their apps for iOS 8. 
Two-Step Verification for Google Services
Two-step verification is an additional level of security that you can turn on for your SU Google account.  Two-step turns your phone into a secondary authentication device that can thwart outside attempts at logging into your email. When you (or someone else) attempts to log into your account from a computer you don't use a regular basis, Google asks for a code.  These codes can either be generated by a smartphone app OR be sent to you via text.  This is a great way to keep your account safe.  Check out the link for more information on 2-Step Verification.
Copyright © 2014 Shenandoah University, All rights reserved.
Technology Tips and Tricks Email - Brought to you by Institutional Computing

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Blackboard Tidbits

Scroll Wheels and Blackboard

Students using the scroll wheel to move through tests may find that their answers are changed. Scroll wheels are designed to also switch radio button choices – so advise students when test taking NOT to use the scroll wheel on their mouse.

Internet Explorer

Stop using it with Blackboard.  Firefox is the preferred web browser and IE is consistently at the root of many issues.

Mobile Devices

Students are increasingly using their mobile devices to access Blackboard. There is 
a Blackboard App, called Mobile Learn that can be downloaded from any app store. Blackboard (Bb) also seems to run well just using the Safari web browser on iOS devices. However – some tools like journals do not seem to play well with mobile devices. 

Students can view grades using their mobile devices. Students should test their ability to use their mobile device to complete certain assignments and be prepared to get to a computer when needed. Student can test this by going to the Bb student orientation course under the Help & Support button in all courses. 

Faculty currently cannot enter grades using the Bb Mobile Learn app. But soon faculty will be able to use the mobile grader app. It is currently in development at Blackboard Inc. 

Use PDF Files:

Unless there is a reason to post a MSWord or PowerPoint document (such as students 
need to fill in items on it), please consider posting PDF files. These files will open on any computer and will open on mobile devices. 

Native formats (.docx; .pptx, etc) will not readily open and often require the 
program in order to be opened. This is an unnecessary annoyance when all you wanted was for students to read and/or print the document.

In most programs, you can use File>>Save As to change the format to PDF. Be sure to keep the original file for your own use.

Thanks goes out to Dr. Karen Kellison for providing and sharing this Bb information. 

If you have an additional questions about Blackboard at Shenandoah University, please contact the Help Desk at 540-665-5555, submit a Help Ticket at or physically stop by the Help Desk. 

Setting Up the Accessibility Features on the MacBook Pro

These directions are designed to help you write documents with the dictation & speech features of your MacBook Pro. You will also be able to have text read to you when proofreading what you have written. These can also include Web pages when doing research! Just follow these directions to set up your computer.


In the menu bar, click on the Apple icon and choose System Preferences. 

Click on the    that is shown in the fourth line.

Under Dictation, choose On  

Now you will be able to dictate what you want your computer to type for you when you press the fn key twice. Launch Word or any other text-editing program and try it out! Once the words are typed into the document, re-read it and revise/edit. Use the TOOLS option in Word and choose to check your spelling/grammar!


Now go back into the System preferences and choose
 but this time select the Text to Speech option. 

Play with the different system voices and speaking rate and choose what you prefer to hear. Click Play to test it out.  Then click to choose Speak selected text when the key is pressed. Leave the current key to Option + Esc (do not change key).

Now you will be able to highlight any text you have written or text shown in 

Directions created by Dr. Diane D. Painter, SEHD on Sept. 16, 2013

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bb on tour at Towson University - 10/20

Blackboard is going on tour and coming to your area for a free teaching & learning day! This event is an official stop on the national Bb on Tour.

Hosted by Towson University, this event will take place at their Towson, MD campus on Monday, October 20.
With your free registration, you will:
  • Hear from peers about their best practices
  • Get the latest product roadmap details
  • Share feedback and get your questions answered directly by Blackboard experts
  • Network with your Washington, DC-area peers
Register today to connect with your peers and learn new ideas about how Blackboard technologies can help you to transform teaching and learning initiatives in your school or district.
We look forward to seeing you!
The #BbonTour Team
PS - already registered or you're unable to attend? Feel free to pass this invitation along to any interested colleagues!

Created based on email received from Bb Inc. 

"Great opportunity to share with colleagues and learn about upcoming features in Bb.
Hope that these sessions are offered again!"

- From the Never Stop Learning Tour
2013 Attendee Feedback Survey
When: Monday, October 20
Where: Towson University

Watch this short video clip to see what you could be a part of! 

Interested in presenting about your Blackboard best practice? Submit a presentation proposal for consideration by clicking here.

Blackboard xpLor

What if  course content could be changed in one place and then updated with minimal effort across those different platforms (Bb Learn, Angel, or Moodle)? That is exactly what xpLor can do. It is "a master learning object repository in the cloud. It is a rich authoring environment where you can create content just as you can in an LMS (Learning Management System), including high-stakes assessments. It has a powerful search capability to search on metadata, content, or even aligned standards. It has sharing functionality that allows you to control how you share, and with whom. It has built-in copyright protection you can apply to your work." (Bb Inc, 2014).

xpLor was built on open standards to make it work with as many systems as possible (Learn, Moodle, Angel, Sakai, etc)  and to ensure that we can use the largest amount of content currently available.   There are two open standards at the heart of xpLor: Common Cartridge and LTI

Common Cartridge defines the content type. You can import any common cartridge into xpLor, whether it comes from your LMS or from another repository. LTI allows Bb to deliver content to your LMS without import and export. All content lives in xpLor permanently and all you add to your LMS is an LTI link. That link allows the content to be delivered in such a way that it appears as native content.  It also allows for passing grades and completion information to the grade book. LTI also allows Bb to deliver content from other repositories just as if it were native in xpLor. These standards allow  to make it easy for all of you to develop, share, and deliver open educational resources.

xpLor OR Content Management?

Together, xpLor and Content Management create a complete learning content solution that provides personal, course, institutional, and global content management capabilities for all of your learning content.
  • Content Management: File management system for personal, course, and institutional document management, sharing, and reuse.
  • xpLor: Cloud-based, global learning object repository for authoring, copyright, sharing, and discovery of rich educational materials and open educational resources.
When do you put content into Content Management? When do you put content into xpLor?
When you want to...
  • Reuse a file across multiple courses that you teach
  • Make a file available to students for authoring, editing, collaborating, and sharing
  • Share and/or collaborate on a file with colleagues at your institution
  • Share and/or collaborate on a file with others who are outside of your institution, using a pass
  • Manage a file or folder straight from my desktop using Blackboard Drive
  • Provide granular permissions (read, write, manage, remove)
  • Share a file with others based on Blackboard Learn Institution Roles
  • Manage a file using eReserves
  • Create custom metadata schemas
  • Create workflows
When you want to...
  • Reuse a learning object
  • Share a learning object with others who are outside your institution
  • Share a learning object across multiple LMSs
  • Collaborate with others on a learning object
  • Put a Creative Commons license on a learning object
  • Create an Open Educational Resource (OER)
  • Add a learning object to an existing xpLor Collection
  • Publish a learning object to an xpLor Channel

Here are some additional resources on xpLor.

NOTE: Content created from information provided by Blackboard Inc.