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Blackboard Services

Acquired for on-campus installation and access during the Summer of 2002, the Blackboard product provides a Course Management Software (CMS) environment to the academic community. Consistent with the 01/02 Blackboard Users Group proposal, the following services and responsibility summation is provided. The proposal is available at http://www.muskingum.edu/home/cns/downloads/BbRollout.pdf. Complete documentation of the Blackboard system is kept on local files at http://muskingum.blackboard.com/local/Learn_R91_Documentation.html

System availability

The server and software is made available on a 22 hour, 7 days a week basis. Starting at 3:00 a.m., system backups are taken on a nightly basis and the backup media is stored in a secure and safe manner. For clarity purposes, these system backups are not individual course backups, rather, they are backups taken for disaster, system and/or hardware recovery purposes. Reactive attention to system errors and problems are given high priority. The hardware is under a maintenance contract which guarantees a 4 hour response time.

User account management (NOTE: See separate Account Services section.)

Through the enrollment process, student Blackboard accounts are flagged for generation as soon as an applicant becomes a student or if a student registers for a course without going through the enrollment process. Faculty/instructor accounts are flagged for generation when the Registrar’s office assigns a course to that employee. All Blackboard account names are the same as the person’s email account name. The default password uses the first four letters (lower case) of the last name and either the last 4 digits of the Social Security Number or the last 4 digits of the Colleague/faculty/student ID Number, in that priority. Blackboard accounts are removed at the same time as email accounts are removed, either through graduation, withdrawal, or termination of employment.

Course creation (See Course Export and Removal below) Need more info, read the course creation

Through the online form, faculty submit requests for course creation prior to the beginning of the term needed. As long as the course is available in the institutional data base and has the instructor properly assigned, the online form will generate the course automatically. It is the instructor's responsibility to notify CNS if the automatic process fails to generate the desired course. The course creation process does not load instructional content, it is recommended that course requests occur no later than the final exam period of the preceding term. Unless requested (by you) and approved (by the VPAA or VP-GCS), all courses will retain the existing naming and numbering conventions as used by the Muskingum University Registrar. All variances to the standard procedure must be approved by the appropriate VP in advance. When courses are created, the person making the request is granted instructor status which enables the addition of content as well as the management of student enrollment into that course.

Should a previously developed course exist in the exported course list, it may be selected for use in the online form. The link to the online course request form is: http://www.muskingum.edu/cns/BbForm.html

Course enrollment responsibility

The instructor of each course is responsible for enrolling the student participants. The Blackboard system provides several easy to use methods to accomplish this task. Please refer to Pages 276 and 291 of the Blackboard Instructor Manual. Most faculty prefer to enable and use the student self enrollment option available under the instructor control panel. The version of Blackboard that the university utilizes does not provide a facility for mass course enrollment or integration with our student enrollment database.

Internet Browser, Plug-ins, and Lab Preparation

As of January 2012, Blackboard is supported on Internet Explorer version 8 or higher, Firefox version 3.6 or higher, Google Chrome 10 or higher, and Safari version 4 or higher. [Note: The following are NO longer supported: Internet Explorer 6 and 7, Firefox 1.x 2.x 3.x up to 3.5, Safari 2 and 3, Mac OSX 10.3 10.4 and "Tiger", and Java 5.] The following standard player/plug-ins are supported: Acrobat Reader, Flash, JRE, Shockwave, Media Player, Real Player and QuickTime. All of these are currently installed on all the public laboratory computers. Should you need a unique configuration or installation it is your responsibility to submit a request to CNS at least 30 days in advance.

Instructor training

Per the Blackboard Implementation Proposal, instructor training is accomplished on a peer basis. Members of the original Blackboard User Group are available to assist new instructors in developing the basic skill set associated with Blackboard utilization. A new instructor may wish to start by reviewing the instructor’s manual. CNS will be glad to identify appropriate assistance, whether on-campus, on-line, or from an external source.

Student training

The level of student web and on-line knowledge is left to the instructor to determine. Should it be needed, each faculty is responsible for student training. The original proposal suggested that students would receive an introduction to basic Blackboard features in their First Year Seminar class. CNS and computer lab staff will assist with account, access, and basic feature mentoring, however anything in Blackboard that is course specific shall remain the instructor’s responsibility.

Preserving the “Academic Record”

 See page 285 for a full description of the archive/export process.

Short guide for archiving/exporting courses.

While CNS does utilize the export process to facilitate content re-use, it should be clearly understood that faculty are responsible for the archiving of academic materials, including but not limited to gradebooks, syllabi, course notes, and instructional content. Instructional content is considered to be the intellectual property and responsibility of the course creator. Due to a system limitation, content consisting of large media files may need to be managed separate from the integrated archive/restore process if the combined archive size exceeds 2.5GB.

Course Export and Removal

In order to maintain stability and performance of the server, each term we purge old courses. Faculty receive an advance email that reminds them to archive their courses in order to preserve their “Academic Record”. Six weeks into the successive term, we export all previous term's courses that use the standard naming convention and then remove them from the active system. Courses that have been created for other purposes, as approved by the appropriate VP, do not follow the standard naming convention and thus remain active until no longer needed.