Help! Do your students know who to call with technical questions?

Do your students know who to call when they need help with Blackboard or another technology?  Do they know where to find the information they need to get help?

Particularly if you are teaching a fully online delivery course or even if you have a Blackboard component to your face-to-face course, consider making a place on your course home page for technical issues.  It would be beneficial to your students if you would even put a line of text at the very bottom of your homepage that gives students the web address for the help desk.  Remember, students have just as many (if not more) technical glitches as you do.  Give them a place to get help when their technology does not work according to plan.


Technical Issues?  Contact the helpdesk at:

NBC Learn Access

Do you need a short video clip to introduce a topic?  Might you be interested in seeing a handwritten letter from George Washington?

UCA is piloting a new software called NBC Learn: Archives on Demand.  This is a resource for thousands of educational video clips and news reels from the 20s to today.  NBC Learn has also acquired some premier partners that provide newspaper clippings and articles, letters from high ranking officials, and other primary source documents.  This database of videos and primary source documents includes resources for 26 different subject areas and is updated weekly to keep you and your students up to date.

To get started:

1.  Go to  If you are on campus you will see in the top-right corner “Welcome, University of Central Arkansas.” From here you are able to view entire videos and access everything in the database.

2. However, to get full access to everything the site has to offer, click “Register Now” and register with your UCA email address.  This will give you access to download archives to your local computer, save archives to your playlist, take notes, and access the site and your information  from any location.

Note for Off Campus Users: To access the archives, find the Distance Education channel on MyUCA and click the link from within here first.  Once you are in, register using your UCA email address.  Once you are registered you will have full access to the site as well as be able to log in directly to the site without going through MyUCA each time.

If you find you have any questions or concerns regarding this product, please feel free to contact the IDC at 450-5240 or

Announcement Pop-Up

Do you need to get an announcement to your students and ensure that they see it?  Consider using the announcements function in Blackboard.  You can create an announcement for your students, teaching assistant(s), or auditor(s) quickly and easily.  To ensure that the intended recipient will in fact see the announcement, check the last option on the page, “Also deliver as a pop-up message.”   This will make a new window “pop up” when a student logs in with the announcement in it.  A student must move or close this window to see their Blackboard page.  Note: Pop-up blocker settings may need to be changed to receive these messages.  However, these settings should already be set correctly in order to access Blackboard in the first place.

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

Faculty Media Library

Are you thinking about the possibility of teaching an online class?  What about adding an online component to your face-to-face class?  Maybe you just want to be prepared in case you are asked to move a course online some day in the future.

Whatever your circumstance, know that the IDC maintains a Faculty Media Library that includes books and videos to meet your teaching needs and desires.  We have a great collection of the Jossey-Bass Guides to Online Teaching and Learning series books.  We also have a collection of all of the past Starlink videos and other Teaching and Learning videos.  In addition to books and videos about online learning, there is a plethora of books and videos available on good teaching and learning in general.

Anything in the Faculty Media Library can be checked out by faculty by contacting the IDC at or 450-5240.  For a list of available titles, see the Faculty Media Library page on the IDC website.

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.