Center for Educational Resources and Technology at DSU

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Brief Blackboard Outage

Hello Everyone, 

We will be experiencing a brief Blackboard outage from 3:30am to 4am on Sunday, February 16th 2020 as updates will be run to improve functionality of the system. Please do not attempt to access Blackboard during this timeframe as you will be kicked out of the system. 

Instructors: Please instruct your students not to submit assignments or take quizzes or tests during this time period. 

Students: Please do not attempt to submit assignments or takes quizzes or tests during this time period. 

If you have any questions, Please contact the Helpdesk at helpdesk@desales.edu or x4357. 

Internet Explorer and Blackboard, not so perfect together

Internet Explorer logo with no symbolA number of issues have been identified with Blackboard Learn when using the Internet Explorer browser. Recent issues include:

  • Problems with hyperlinks in Blackboard Portfolios
  • Intermittent issues with the inline grading tool
  • Images and fonts change in Modules when using the Back button
  • Problems uploading files to assignments

The DEIT team would like to remind everyone that Internet Explorer is not a supported browser when using Blackboard (support ended in Q4, 2018). Please use a different browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge.

Additional information

Microsoft is no longer actively developing Internet Explorer and has recommended it not be your default web browser – https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Windows-IT-Pro-Blog/The-perils-of-using-Internet-Explorer-as-your-default-browser/ba-p/331732.

A security exploit was found in March 2019 with Internet Explorer that “allows hackers to spy on you and steal personal data from your PC” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2019/04/15/warning-internet-explorer-just-became-a-silent-but-serious-threat-to-every-windows-user/#7c4c9cb886d8)

Unless needed for a specific site, it may be best to remove Internet Explorer from your computer. The steps outlined by Microsoft to remove Internet Explorer are below.

  • Press the Windows logo key+R to open the Run box.
  • Type appwiz.cpl, and then select OK.
  • In the the Programs and Features item, select Turn Window features on or off.
  • In the Windows Features dialog box, locate the entry for the installed version of Internet Explorer. For example, locate the Internet Explorer 11 entry. Then, clear the check box.
  • Select OK to commit the change.
  • Restart the computer.

April 2019 Training Workshops

Instructor Roundtable and Dinner June 13 – Save the Date

The end of Flash as we know it…

Adobe Flash logoWhat we now know as Adobe Flash was previously a dominant platform for online multimedia content, however, it is slowly being abandoned as Adobe favors a transition to HTML5 due to inherent security flaws and the significant resources required to maintain the Flash platform. In fact, Adobe plans on ending their support of Flash at the end of 2020.

Apple has already restricted the use of Flash on its iOS devices, and major web browser companies are reacting to the announcement. Firefox (https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Plugins/Roadmap), Google (https://www.chromium.org/flash-roadmap), and Microsoft Edge (https://blogs.windows.com/msedgedev/2017/07/25/flash-on-windows-timeline/) indicate Flash will be disabled by default by the middle of 2019 (but there will be an option to enable it), and all support for Flash will end in 2020.

What does this mean for DeSales? The DEIT team has already reviewed most of the major educational platforms in use. Blackboard, Panopto, Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom, and the DeSales streaming media server do not require Adobe Flash to function. The remaining issues could be with other third-party content from textbook publishers, external websites, and any locally stored material.

The main recommendation coming from DEIT is to review the multimedia you use in courses. If you have local media files that end in either .FLV or .SWF you will need to find alternate means of showing the content once Flash is disabled. The DEIT team can help with the conversion of .FLV files.

The other step faculty should take in the near future is to see if a prompt to activate the Flash plugin is received when clicking on web links in Blackboard. (These prompts typically come up with video links or other interactive multimedia content)

Prompt message to activate Flash

Please contact DEIT with any questions or if you suspect some Flash content is in a course. DEIT can help determine if an alternate method of providing the material is available.

Blackboard Quizzes and Exams: Force Completion and Respondus LockDown Browser Password

When administering a quiz or test online via Blackboard, the Distance Education and Instructional Technology (DEIT) department suggests that the Force Completion test option not be selected.

With Force Completion selected, any exit from the quiz or test counts as the student’s attempt – this applies even in the instance of a device malfunction or loss of Internet connectivity (using a wireless internet connection can have common, brief breaks in connectivity). In these instances, students are unable to recover any work they’ve completed on the exam (quizzes and tests cannot be reopened where the student left off). This often leads to a lot of laborious workarounds to get one or two students caught up for a technical error.

Instead, DEIT recommends using the Timer function along with turning the Auto Submit feature ON.

With this setup, a student has exactly as long as you allow from the time they start the exam (the clock is dependent upon the Blackboard server, so if a student starts a test at 1PM with a time limit of 60 minutes, they only have until 2PM to finish – they cannot exit at 1:20PM and then still have 40 minutes to use whenever they so choose). This provides students an opportunity to recover from potential system glitches or loss of Internet.

If you also want to ensure that students cannot close out of the test to check other resources, please activate the Respondus LockDown Browser for quizzes and exams.

*All students have access to the LockDown Browser tab on the navigation menu in each course, which will walk them through the process of downloading, installing, and testing the functionality of the LockDown Browser software prior to attempting a graded assessment with this tool.

If the LockDown Browser is activated for a quiz or exam, Respondus creates a unique string of letters and numbers in the Password field under Test Options to connect to that assessment.

 

 

This password should not be modified or removed (if students are properly using the LockDown Browser, they will not be prompted for it).

In the instance that the password is modified or removed, students will receive a message stating that there is a problem with the test settings and to contact the instructor. To fix the problem, go back to the Respondus LockDown Browser Dashboard (under Course Tools > Respondus LockDown Browser) and click on the Fix It button, which will be located to the right of the quiz/test name.

If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding the Force Completion test option or the password that’s created with the use of the Respondus LockDown Browser, please contact DEIT at deit@desales.edu (or by phone at 610-282-1100 ext. 2290).

Instructors: Deter Cheating with Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor

Respondus LockDown Browser is DeSales University’s official tool for deterring cheating on online exams. Follow the links below to register directly with Respondus. There are sessions covering both basic and more advanced topics.

Questions? Contact DEIT at 610-282-1100 x2290 or deit@desales.edu.

Instructor Training: LockDown Browser Advanced Settings

This in-depth training for LockDown Browser will focus on advanced settings and features – such as how to use external websites, spreadsheets and online calculators with LockDown Browser. The session will also include how students can use LockDown Browser on different devices, such as an iPad, and briefly review the add-on functionality that prevents cheating during non-proctored exams. The webinar will include a Q&A period at the end.

Wednesday, January 23rd at 3 pm ET (12 pm PT)

Thursday, February 14 at 2 pm ET (11 am PT)

Instructor Training for LockDown Browser & Respondus Monitor: Prevent Cheating During Online Exams

This comprehensive training webinar is intended for instructors who plan to use LockDown Browser and/or Respondus Monitor with online exams. The session provides a detailed demonstration of both applications, including new enhancements that make Respondus Monitor even more effective and easy to use.

Wednesday, January 30th at 3 pm ET (12 pm PT)

Thursday, February 7th at 1 pm ET (10 am PT)

DEIT Faculty Staff Christmas Video Game Party – Tuesday, December 18, noon – 4 pm, Dooling Hall Skylight Lounge

10 Tips for Effective Online Discussions (Guest Post: Edwige Simon via EDUCAUSE)

These tips can help educators ensure that online discussions are engaging and beneficial for college students.

View the full post here.

Upcoming Practice Maintenance Event

Maintenance is being performed on the Practice platform on Sunday, December 8th with an 8 hour maintenance window starting at 3:00 AM ET / 8:00 AM UTC. During this time, users will not be able to access or interact with Practice.

The purpose of this event is to significantly upgrade the technology stack supporting Practice. This upgrade will make the service more stable and performant and allow our engineering and professional services teams to innovate upon, extend, and customize the product to better meet customer needs.

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