Month: August 2017

Blackboard Instructor – New Mobile App Available!

Blackboard recently announced the availability of a new mobile app, designed specifically for instructors.  The new app, named “Blackboard Instructor”, is compatible with HuskyCT and available for iOS 9.0+ and Android 4.2+.

Blackboard Instructor makes it easy for instructors to collaborate with students on the go!

Currently, the app supports the following features:

  • View courses for available terms
  • Preview course items, assignments, and tests (includes a student preview and major settings – view only)
  • Create and participate in discussions
  • Create a send announcements
  • Interact with your class in Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard plans to update the app continuously via monthly releases.  Some of the upcoming new features planned for release in 2017/18 include:

  • Assignment grading (limited at first), including inline preview and annotations
  • Managing content settings (e.g. Availability, Due Dates, etc.)

For those instructors looking for grading functionality, Blackboard offers the Bb Grader app for iPad devices.

Help References:
Quick Start for Blackboard Instructor
Latest Features and Detailed Product Information
Best Practices for Mobile-Friendly Courses

 

Course Navigation Menu Collapses Unexpectedly

HuskyCT users may notice the course navigation menu is collapsing unexpectedly on some devices and browsers.  A recent software update, intended to address responsive design goals, has resulted in this unintended side-effect.

The described behavior exists under the following conditions:

  • Display resolution is 1024 x 768 (or lower)
  • Web browser window has been minimized to 1024 pixels wide (or less)
  • Mobile browser (including iPad, Smartphone and Tablet)

In the below illustration, the course navigation menu is fully collapsed.  Its contents reduced to a thin vertical line, making it nearly impossible to effectively navigate the course.

course-nav-collapsed

Despite a lack of visual clues, the course navigation menu can be expanded again by hovering your mouse over the collapsed menu (far right edge of the browser window).  The vertical bar’s color will change and a small tab containing a single arrow icon will be visible (illustrated below).  Clicking on the arrow tab will temporarily expand the navigation menu.

course-nav-expand-option

Clicking on a content area from the navigation menu (e.g. Announcements, Course Content, etc.), will result in the menu collapsing again 🙁

We’ve confirmed with Blackboard support that this new responsive feature cannot be disabled.  However, support has acknowledged it as a software defect and we expect they will provide a solution in one of our upcoming updates.

Alas, for most, all is not lost… 

On mobile devices, users can transition to one of HuskyCT’s mobile apps (available here for iOS, Android or Windows).  Mobile browsers have been somewhat effective in the past, however Blackboard has indicated they’re not officially supported.

Assuming the display support it, users on non-mobile devices can try increasing their screen resolution to a value greater than 1024 x 768.  If desktop and application rendering becomes difficult to read, try increasing the browser zoom and/or display icon/font sizes.

We’ll update this post when the issue has been fully resolved by the vendor.

Optimizing Course Lists in HuskyCT

After several semesters in HuskyCT, instructors may find their list of courses has become overwhelming.  In this post, we’ll review two common techniques for organizing the “My HuskyCT Classes” list.

To get started, we’ll first need to access the appropriate settings:

  • On the “My Courses” tab, hover your mouse over the “My HuskyCT Classes” module.  This will reveal a Gear icon in the upper right corner of the module box (shown below).
    initial-course-listing
  • Click on the Gear icon to access the settings page (aka Personalization page).

There are two main sections of the settings page which we’ll focus on in this post; Terms and Edit Course List.  The Terms section is used for organizing/grouping HuskyCT courses based on academic terms.  Below is an illustration of how the module displays courses grouped by term.  Note that a toggle is available to expand/collapse all courses grouped within a specified academic term.

group-by-term-view

The above is accomplished using the following steps:

  • On the module settings page, check the box labeled “Group by Term” (located under the Terms section).
  • All available terms will be listed once the “Group by Term” box is checked.
  • By default, all terms are displayed and the groups fully expanded.  You can optionally choose to deselect specific terms or set them to collapse automatically, by deselecting the appropriate checkbox(s).
  • Click the Submit button when finished.

To further organize the course list, HuskyCT users may elect to hide individual courses altogether or include/exclude additional details (e.g. Course ID, Course Name, Instructor and Announcements).  To do this, follow these steps:

  • Under the section Edit Course List, uncheck the box to the left of each listed course.  This will hide those courses entirely from the course list.  Commonly, instructors choose to do this with child sections of combined courses.
  • The check boxes to the right of course are used to include/exclude additional course information.  Note that enabling any option to the right of the course, will result in the course appearing in the list – even if it was deselected earlier.
  • When finished, click the Submit button.

The “My Non-Class Sites” list can also be organized using the above steps.  The only difference is that some non-class sites do not support academic terms.  Thus, the option for grouping by term is not available.  Still, users can hide non-class sites and/or customize the additional details displayed with the non-class site.