E-News

Return to all E-News posts


August 2010

I   Blackboard Migration Update
New course management system now available for faculty use

II   Blackboard 9 Feature Focus: Blogs
What faculty need to know for Fall 2010

III   File Sharing Made Easy with JShare
Share files with colleagues without overloading your in-box

IV   New Options for Instructional Video Streaming @ Homewood
Your class could be a candidate for a fall pilot

V   Hopkins Technology Store Opens
Discounted academic pricing on computers and accessories

VI   Increase Visibility of Your Research through JScholarship
Reach new audiences through online library service

VII   IT Technology Recycling
Ecologically sensible computer equipment disposal and secure data destruction

 
I   Blackboard Migration Update Blackboard Logo After a year of planning and testing, the new Blackboard course management system is now available! If you are teaching a fall course for the Homewood full-time programs, you can now log in and begin creating your course site. Login instructions and tips for getting started can be found in the Blackboard Documentation and Reference section of our website: http://bb.cer.jhu.edu. Part-time (AAP/EP) courses will continue to use a different system - Sakai. Please note: If you requested to have a fall course automatically migrated from WebCT, any changes you make to your Blackboard course shell before the migration will be merged with the course content from WebCT. You will be contacted when your course site has been migrated and is available. If you have not yet decided whether you want to migrate your content yourself versus have it done automatically, please recall that automatic migration is not a perfect process and may require significant clean up work afterwards. The CER is offering numerous Blackboard training sessions this summer and fall; these have been posted to our website: http://bb.cer.jhu.edu. Scroll down for descriptions of training sessions and training registration links. (Training sessions are limited to those who are teaching for the full-time Homewood programs.) Links to CER-designed tutorials, FAQs, and other materials are also provided on our website to help you get started. The CER is also planning to have extended office hours (8am-7pm) during the last two weeks in August and the first two weeks in September, to assist faculty with the migration. Please feel free to drop in to our conference room for in-person Blackboard assistance. As a reminder, no courses will be offered this fall in WebCT. Instructors and students will be able to login and download their course material from WebCT until December 31, 2010, when the server will be permanently turned off. Instructions for downloading WebCT content can be found on our website (same link as above). Please feel free to contact the CER (cerweb@jhu.edu) if you have any questions about Blackboard or the course migration in general.
 

II   Blackboard 9 Feature Focus: Blogs

Blackboard 9 includes several new tools, one of which is the blog tool. ‘Blog’ is short for the term ‘web log.’ A web log is a type of website that can be updated regularly with commentary, descriptions of various topics, events, or other materials such as graphics or video. Blackboard Blogs Screen There are two primary types of blogs in Blackboard, which differ in terms of which students can author posts: Course blogs, on which any student in the class can post both entries and comments. These are similar to message boards, in that the authorship of the material posted is a responsibility shared by the entire class. Individual blogs are more like journals, in that they only have one author. Students create their own individual blogs, and compose all content. Other students are able to read the entries and post comments. The blog tool can also be added to groups. Instructors can divide the students into groups within Blackboard – by section, for smaller collaborative projects, or in whatever manner is useful to the course. If the instructor adds the blog tool to a particular group, then that group will have a separate blog, available only to those students who are members of the group. In effect, everyone in Group A, for example, will be able to write entries and comments on Group A’s blog, but students in Groups B and C cannot access Group A’s blog at all. Blogs can be graded by the instructor. When you create a blog in Blackboard, a column for it is automatically added to the Grade Center (Blackboard’s grade book feature). As the instructor grades a blog, the grades are transferred into the Grade Center from the blog interface. Some examples of how to use blogs in a course might include:
  • A course or individual blog requiring students to post their response to the week’s reading, to a field trip, or to a class event.
  • Using a course-wide or group blog as a place for students to post questions when they are having trouble with a homework assignment. Other students and the instructor can then respond with helpful comments.
  • A course blog where students can post links to online newspaper and journal articles relevant to the course material, for other students to read.
 

III   File Sharing Made Easy with JShare

JShare is a web-based file-sharing utility with a personal, easy-to-use interface. This utility enables all students, faculty and staff to upload and download files and share them with users both inside and outside JHU. JShare is a multi-platform application, works with all popular web browsers, and is accessible from any Internet-ready computer, at any time. Five gigabyte graphic JShare includes the following features:
  • 5 gigabytes of file storage space
  • Secure file access
  • Advanced collaboration and document management
  • File sharing ability for users both inside and outside JHU
  • The ability to email files as links to minimize mailbox overload with attachments
  • The ability to create and manage a personal web space
New JShare users should log into the MyJohnsHopkins portal (http://my.johnshopkins.edu) to accept the terms of service and activate their accounts. After logging in, hover with the mouse over the MyApps icon on the left-hand side of the screen. The JShare icon will appear. Click on it to launch the utility and begin sharing files.
 

IV   New Options for Instructional Video Streaming @ Homewood

With over 10,000 titles, the Sheridan Libraries’ collection of videos is a great resource for instructional support. In a typical semester, 300 to 400 videos will be found on course reserve; over 90% of these are feature films. With streaming technology widely used for home viewing, one would think that streaming a library-purchased video would be an ideal solution for course reserves. Unfortunately, streaming a full-length feature film from a library-owned copy is an undefined area of copyright law: there is no case law to support streaming by academic libraries. One solution, piloted by the library during the last academic year, is to license the streaming of feature films from Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. Swank’s film catalog includes thousands of film titles; the company manages the streaming rights with each film producer and streams the content directly from its own equipment. During our pilot program, students in two classes accessed each film through the course reserve component of their BlackBoard account or through MSE Reserve Services’ Course Readings page. Swank Logo Several practical concerns limit the application of this program, starting with cost. With the streaming cost per film per semester hovering around $160.00, our pilot revealed that this technology makes economic sense only for larger classes (over 30 students). Furthermore, the selection of videos available for streaming consists primarily of feature films. Business videos, foreign films, and documentaries are not readily available from Swank, and licensing one studio or distributor at a time is not practical. Finally, instructors using course management software, such as Blackboard, to manage streaming, made the streaming video workflow much more efficient for library staff. Plans are already underway to extend the pilot into the 2010 fall semester with selected classes. If you are wondering whether your class might be a suitable candidate for piloting streaming with the library, beginning in 2011, here are some things to consider:
  • Does the class typically have an enrollment of at least 30 students?
  • Are feature films being viewed in the course?
  • Do students access class materials via course management software, such as Blackboard or Sakai?
  • Does the viewing of a full film on the small screen, or computer monitor, seem like an effective technique for my class?
If you answer yes to these questions, and you think you might be interested in working with the Reserve Services department on streaming video for the spring 2011 semester or in the future, send details about the films you would like to use to Jim Gillispie, Head, Access Services and Government Publications/Maps/Law (jeg@jhu.edu or 410-516-4816). The library will investigate costs and availability.
 

V   Hopkins Technology Store Opens

The Hopkins Technology Store is a new service available to all Hopkins affiliates with a valid Johns Hopkins ID (J-Card, JHU ID, etc.). Located on the Homewood Campus in 160 Krieger Hall, the Technology Store provides discounted academic pricing on selected Apple and Dell laptops, desktops and related accessories for personal purchase and use. A variety of Apple and Dell systems are on display and available for demonstration by knowledgeable student staff. All major credit cards and J-Card/J-Cash are accepted. The Technology Store also serves as an additional service location for the Homewood-based Mobile Computing Program, a partnership with select vendors to enable Hopkins faculty, students, and staff to purchase specially selected mobile systems at very competitive prices.
 

VI   Increase Visibility of your Research through JScholarship

JScholarship (https://jscholarship.library.jhu.edu) is a service provided by the Sheridan Libraries to give JHU scholars a method to disseminate unpublished materials, such as working papers, and increase the visibility of most published research. Faculty can upload research papers, supporting data, and descriptive metadata via a simple web-based interface. The research will then be discoverable through Google Scholar and other search engines, as well as through the JScholarship interface. JScholarship Logo Banner Approximately 3,800 visitors view over 25,000 pages in JScholarship each month, so it is likely that your research will reach new categories of students and researchers. Everything in JScholarship is freely available to everyone, including to independent scholars and those at institutions that cannot afford expensive online journals. The Sheridan Libraries are committed to promoting open access to research and supporting the Johns Hopkins institutional goal of knowledge for the world. For more information about JScholarship, please contact David Reynolds (davidr@jhu.edu or 410-516-7220). He would be happy to answer any questions or to help get you started in submitting your research.
 

VII   IT Technology Recycling

Hopkins IT Recycling Logo The goal of the Johns Hopkins IT Recycling program is to provide secure certified data destruction and ecologically sensible computer equipment disposal for the Homewood Campus area. During scheduled monthly pick-up requests and other special events (such as Earth Day), the IT Recycling team will collect equipment, verify that proper departmental approval has been obtained, and transfer all equipment containing data to a secure location for data destruction processing using a combination of magnetic degaussing and physical hard-drive crushing. This process ensures that all recycled material leaving campus does not contain any sensitive or proprietary data. Once the data have been securely removed, the computer will be designated for refurbishment/resale or transferred to our approved hardware recycling vendor for proper disposal. As of July 2010, departmental administrators will be able to place a request for a scheduled equipment pick-up date (typically at no cost) by visiting http://it.jhu.edu/recycling.