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
II Blackboard 9 Feature Focus: BlogsBlackboard 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. 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 JShareJShare 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. 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
IV New Options for Instructional Video Streaming @ HomewoodWith 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. 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?