Blackboard: Customize Posts, Notifications, and Home Page

Many of us, both students and instructors, are enrolled in several, or even dozens of courses. Here are some tips on how to manage the flow of posts, notifications and the courses you see on the home page. To see how you can leverage the post stream from the Dashboard, view the video below. Please note that “@me” option is not enable in the UNE eLearn system.

Additional information about posts and other notifications is also available in this video.

I am including a few screenshots: Under UPDATES: Click on the gear in the top right-hand corner. Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 9.12.14 AM

You can uncheck all the courses you don’t want to see. Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 9.06.01 AM

To change the notification settings, click on “View Notification Settings”. View Notification Settings

This will launch Notification Settings. You may edit General Settings, or Individual Course Settings. Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 9.09.48 AM

For General Settings, choose from the following options. You are not currently part of any organization, so don’t worry about that. Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 9.10.41 AM

For individual course settings, check all that you want to keep, and uncheck all you don’t want to see. Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 9.10.16 AM

To view a video tutorial for this, check this out:

Additional info can also be found here:

How to change what you see on your UNE Blackboard Home:



Using Google Documents to Allow for Inline Commenting

When the Blackboard was updated, many instructors were thrilled to see the inline commenting feature which allowed them to pinpoint their comments to a particular line or even word when grading an assignment. Did you know that Google Docs has a similar feature and it’s one of the best uses of Google Docs for collaboration?

How it can be used:

  1. One idea is to use the Google Docs for commenting on a reading assignment. This is a common task in a number of courses, where students have to express their thoughts on a particular article. This won’t replace the practice of properly citing and critiquing a scholarly article, but can definitely be used for a more engaging, collaborative commenting. See instructions below. It makes sense to unshare the article after the assignment has been completed. Another idea: you can also reuse it in subsequent courses, you can have students revisit their previous comments later in the same course to see if there was a change of heart or deeper understanding of the concepts; or as a sample for others.
  2. The other idea is to use this feature to gather feedback on a paper students are writing – much in the same way you would provide inline commenting while grading. A student would put their paper in Google Docs, and then instead of submitting a Word document as attachment or pasting the whole item into a discussion post, the link to the doc would be provided and students would follow it to comment. My guess is that with inline commenting it will be rather difficult to only give a “nice work!” type of feedback.

These are the obvious uses, but I am sure you can uncover more!

How to make it happen:

First, create an original document (student paper) in Google Docs or copy and paste an article (with proper citations and a note that states that makes it clear it is only for critiquing use under Fair Use Guidelines) into a new Google Doc.

Adjust sharing settings to be as follows:

  1. Under Share, click on Change…Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 8.00.08 AM
  1. In Sharing settings, select “People at University of New England with the link” (especially for someone else’s article). Select “Anyone with the link” if students want to allow non-UNE accounts to access their paper.

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 7.59.43 AM

  1. After you saved the previous setting, change the options to “Can comment”. This will save you a lot of headache, and besides, it is this feature that we are after!

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 8.12.45 AM

  1. Copy and paste the link in either an announcement, discussion forum or some other course shared space for students to access. Each comment will carry the name of the author, so it’s easy to track.
  2. Notifications: In addition, you can have Google Docs email you when there are either replies to your comments or any comments at all. You can also turn off the notifications completely.
Notifications from Google Docs

Access Notifications to select between All, Replies to comments, or None.

Notifications: All, Replies to you. None

I would recommend choosing All for using it in the course. Google Docs will send you a digest rather than each comment separately.

Let me know what you think and if you would like to try it in a course or two. I think the feedback from students will be extremely positive!

The original idea came from the Free Technology for Teachers blog. I would also look into using Google Docs for collaborative writing in small groups, much like Google Sites is used for group projects. Google Docs allows you to revert to previous versions, or to make copies of documents for private use when needed.

Combining A Web Site Project With Rich Multimedia And Collaboration

Online courses life restrictions on tools when it comes to student projects and their impact. In a number of courses, students use Google Sites (a fairly straightforward tool) to create group or individual projects, and to promote awareness among colleagues and community. In several other courses, students create videos, either as a check-in assignment or as oral/visual presentations of their papers.

It appears that Tackk allows one to make both an engaging presentation of content with rich multimedia and invite participation through the commenting feature.

To learn more about sharing and commenting, check out this announcement by Tackk.

I came upon this resource by reading Free Tech For Teachers blog, which is prolific and is mostly geared towards K-12 audience. However, there are all sorts of universal resources one can use in any setting.

Prompts that Are Good to Look At

We all know that a lot of data is often much more digestible and palatable and certainly easier to understand and remember if it’s presented as a story. Visuals are a great source of such stories. Fortunately, there are lots of resources out there on the web which may fit a story you intend to tell or your students intend to tell. These are also a great way to start a conversation.

For example, let’s track the human life cost across countries or throughout several centuries.

Human Cost - A Disturbing Truth

by rhalloran.
Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.


How Much Would You Cost?

Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.