Blogboard @ SHSU

The Blackboard Faculty Support Blog at Sam Houston State University

Friday, October 26, 2007

New Blog Subscription How-to posted

You'll remember in our last article we demonstrated how you can Feed your Need by subscribing to the Blackboard and Helpdesk blogs, well now we've posted how-to guides with specifics.

The Adding RSS Feeds to Outlook guides break down both ways in Outlook that you can add feeds and "subscribe" to any particular blog.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Feed Your Need

Did you know there is a great way built in with Office 2007 for you to keep up to date on all the Blogs/Web pages and other RSS feeds you keep tabs on during your day?

No? Then do we have a Blog article for you!

"Feed your need" on the Blackboard and Helpdesk blogs here at SHSU and any other Internet site with RSS Feeds through Outlook 2007. You can accomplish this in two ways:

  1. In your Mail Folders section on the left hand side of your Outlook window right click on your RSS Feeds folder and select Add a New RSS Feed. At this point you need the Feed address or XML file address. For the Blackboard Blog that address is: and for the Helpdesk Blog, that address is: Once you have pasted in the appropriate Feed address, click Add and you are done.

  2. In Outlook 2007 select the Tools pull-down menu and choose Account Settings. Next select the RSS Feeds tab and select the New button. At this point you need the Feed address or XML file address. For the Blackboard Blog that address is: and for the Helpdesk Blog, that address is: Once you have pasted in the appropriate Feed address, click Add and then Close and you are finished.
So find the way that is best for you and stay connected to the news that affects your life here at Sam Houston State University.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Blackboard Downtime 10/22 after 6pm

We have replaced the faulty drive and are back up and running!

Some of you might have noticed a little blip on the Blackboard screen today. One of our drives is going out, which isn't terrible in that we have others that can compensate. We have ordered a new drive that will arrive this afternoon. We will be taking Blackboard down sometime after 6pm today to replace the drive and ensure that it works within our system. We will be down until the drive has been replaced and configured.

The Blackboard Team

Friday, October 19, 2007

KISS the Assignment Manager

Keep It Simple, Silly!

The Assignment Manager, used in lieu of the Digital Dropbox, is a great tool for posting and collecting assignments from your students.

While the ability to collect and download submitted assignments is useful, there's one thing you MUST remember - KISS!

When naming your assignment, keep the assignment name as simple as possible - NO spaces, NO punctuation marks such as ampersands (&), number signs (#), parenthesis, and a "short n' sweet" title.


When you collect and download the submitted assignments, a .zip file is created for you to download, and it is named according to the assignment's title that is given when it is created. The "Download assignments now" link points to that .zip file just the same as any file on the web, and so the .zip file's name is part of the URL. If the file's name has any symbols such as the ones mentioned above, it will truncate the link and any attempt to download the file will result in an error.

Not that the file doesn't exist -- your browser just cannot read it correctly. If you are having that problem now, check the assignment names. All you have to do to fix it, is shorten the name and take out spaces and symbols, then download the assignments to your heart's content!

Friday, October 12, 2007

4 "Best Practices" for giving tests in Blackboard

We receive many e-mails and phone calls on a weekly basis at Blackboard Central. Many of the questions that are asked drive how we put together our Technology Tutorials. Some of the most common types of questions revolve around testing within the Blackboard environment. In an effort to make delivering tests to your student via Blackboard an easy proposition, we have put together a list of "Best Practices" for our Bb Faculty users.

By no means are you obligated to use all of these, but using one or just a few can help make your test creation/giving experience a pleasant one.

Here we go:

  1. Ensure your students know the procedures and expectations for their tests. Have them sign off on a statement of understanding (this would be a great place to utilize the Mark Reviewed button). Here is an example:

    - I will take tests myself, no test by committee or help from other students in answering the questions.

    - You may use your book. However the test is timed, so looking up every question will be impossible.

    - You have X minutes to complete the X question test.

    - If you lose your ability to access the Internet during the test, user your phone to call my office (xxx-xxx-xxxx). If I do not answer, please leave a voicemail.

    Click the Mark Reviewed button to show you understand these procedures and expectations. The test will not show up until you have clicked the Mark Reviewed button.

  2. If your test is in essay format, consider using the Assignment Manager tool instead. It is much easier to collect and grade responses.

  3. If the test counts as a significant portion of the students' grades, use pools and random blocks to ensure that no two student get the same exam...

  4. ...Otherwise make the test worth cheating for rather than spending a lot of energy trying to manage test security (e.g., it should have low mark value and encourage review and open book searching for answers).

Friday, October 5, 2007

Assessment Attempt Statistics

Did you know that you could get statistics on how each question was answered for your exams in Blackboard? Not only that, you can get an average score per question in your exam. All of this is available via your Assessment Attempt Details page in Blackboard.

Finding this page is a snap. Simply access your course(s) in Blackboard and go to the Control Panel. Use the link at the top of the Column that is the name of your Exam/Quiz. This will take you to the Item Options page for that Exam/Quiz. On the Item Options page is a link entitled Assessment Attempt Details. Click on this link.

Voila! You are now on the page that gives you detailed assessment attempt statistics for each question.