Online Office Hours

Do you feel like your online class has taken too much of your time this semester?  Consider making a slight change next semester: have online office hours.  Just like you have office hours for face-to-face classes, you can host “online” office hours based on the same concept.  Any questions students have regarding the instruction for that week or other requests can be brought to you during this time.

If students know that every Tuesday from 3-4:30 pm you’re available online, they will often hold on to their questions until then.  This cuts down on your email inbox being constantly full.  This also assures timely response to them from you because you’re able to “meet” together.

There are various free tools available online to meet your preferences for online office hours.  There is also the discussion board and interactive white board in Blackboard that can aid in this attempt.

For more information, check out the book Creating a Sense of Presence in Online Teaching.  The chapter “Activities that Create a Sense of Presence,” section “During the Course,” briefly touches on electronic office hours.  Typing Online Office Hours in a search engine also brings up a plethora of information.  One blog I found useful is at

Copying Content

This semester is quickly coming to a close.  Are you preparing next semester’s classes in Blackboard yet?  Wondering how to copy content from one course to another?

If you need to copy content from a previous semester to an upcoming semester, please use the following instructions:

1. Go to MyUCA, the My Courses tab, access one of your Blackboard classes that has content.

2. In the upper right hand corner of the screen, click on the My Blackboard link

3. You will find your course in the My Blackboard list.  Make sure the term and CRN are correct for the course you want to copy content OUT OF.

4. Each course has what Blackboard calls an Instance Number.  This number will appear underneath the course title and it will look something like this



5. Enter the new course you want to copy the old content into and choose “Copy content from another course”.

6. You will be given a list of Instance Numbers from your courses.  You will want to select the Instance Number you found above for the course that has the content.  Make sure you click the “Select” button.


Did you know breadcrumbs refer not only to the children’s story Hansel and Gretel but also to a link navigation trail on many web pages?   Just like in this beloved childhood story, many webpages (including Blackboard and Tegrity) have a breadcrumb trail at the top of the page to allow you to navigate back to the parent page(s) of the one you are currently viewing.

For example, when you are at the page to edit the properties of a Discussion topic in Blackboard, you probably have a line of text at the top of the page that looks something like this:  Your location: Discussions > Example Topic > Edit Discussion Topic Properties.  If you decide to not edit the properties and want to go back and view that example topic, you can simply click on the “breadcrumb” Example Topic and it will take you back to that parent page.  Or you may decide you want to look at a different topic instead.  To do this, simply click on the “breadcrumb” discussions to view all of the available discussions in your class.  Using your breadcrumb trail can save you a lot of steps in navigating web pages as well as provide a quick view of where you are and how you got there.

We hope this has been a beneficial Tech Tip.  From the Instructional Development Center have a Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Trails!

Reorder Grade Columns for Students

Did you know?  There are two ways to reorder columns in the Blackboard Gradebook?  If you want to reorder the way you, the instructor, view the grade book then simply reorder the columns under the Grades tab.  If you want to reorder the way the student sees their grades, reorder the columns under the View All tab.  Reordering columns under the View All tab does not reorder the columns for you in the Grades tab.  We hope you have enjoyed another technical tip from the Center for Teaching Excellence.  If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact us at or at 501-450-5240.

Date Rollover Function in Blackboard

Is your online course shell prepared for Spring classes?  Blackboard has a function called Date Rollover that allows you to move all of your class dates forward easily.  To learn how, visit the Tech Services portion of the IDC website:

New Discussion Tool Capabilities!

MyUCA Blackboard has recently had an update that now allows for new capabilities in the Discussion and Chat tools.  Available options are for the discussion board tool includes blog and journal topics, a peer review option, and the addition of the All-Topics view and My Posts view.  The new option for the Chat tool is availability for the students to view chat logs (as long as the instructor hasn’t disabled logging).

On the live (production) server, you can create new discussions that are collaborative blogs or that are journal topics.   The journal topic availability allows for students to freely express their ideas without other students viewing their writing.  (This works as long as the private option remains in place under Topic Behavior Options.)  Instructors can choose for students to peer review each others’ discussion posts as well.  This is based on either a grading form or by a scale rating scheme.

For more information on these tools, be watching the IDC Technology Services site for tutorials or call the IDC at 450-5240.

If a student has a "technical glitch" what should they do?

Do you have a policy in place for your online students in case there are technical issues with Blackboard?  If a student is having trouble submitting an assignment in Blackboard, do they have a way to get their assignment to you on time?  Following is a policy used by one UCA faculty:  “If you have trouble submitting the assignment in Blackboard then e-mail me a copy of the assignment BEFORE THE DEADLINE. You must then come to my office on Monday so that I can help you turn the assignment in officially in Blackboard. If you do not show up on Monday then the clock begins and you lose a letter grade per day.”  This policy does not work for every class or every faculty member across the board.  However, I challenge you to create a policy of your own that fits your class needs to allow students another submission method.

".pdf" vs ".doc"

When sending out text documents to students, be certain students are able to access them.  If you want to send say a Word document (.doc), create it and then convert it to a PDF document.  To do this, go to “Save As” and change the document type to PDF.  All .pdf documents can be read using the free Adobe Reader software.  Doing this will ensure that all of your students can see the document and that the document can’t easily be changed.

Online Groupwork

Make online groupwork effective by ensuring it is meaningful to the students and manageable.  Is the assignment truly collaborative?  For more information about effective online groupwork, see the article How to Design Effective Online Groupwork Activities at