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In this course, Patrick Crispen teaches the ins and outs of Blackboard 9 so that educators and trainers can get up to speed in the system quickly—even if they've never used Blackboard before. The course explores customizing a course site, managing users, and adding and organizing content, including multimedia. It also shows how to perform student assessments in the Grade Center, as well as how to communicate with students and encourage participation and collaboration.
Now, earlier in this chapter, we looked at ways to upload files to Blackboard. These files required students to actually interact with them. For a student to open up this Excel file, they have to click on this link. Same thing for the PowerPoint Presentations and this Word Document. What if rather than having the students download a file or click on it, you'd rather embed a sound file or a movie or a picture right into your Blackboard course? Well, one way to do this is to go to Build Content and click on Item. Or if you are on Blackboard 9, just click the Create Item button.
So let me click on Item and we are back in the text editor, and this time we're not going to attach any files. We are actually going to enter information directly. Let me just do something here called Sound file. And on the last row of the text editor I'm not going to attach. In this case, I've got buttons for me to attach an image, to add an MPEG, to add QuickTime content, to add audio content--that's actually what I am going to click on, but I want you to notice that I can also add Flash/Shockwave, and I can even add a Mashup.
We will talk about Mashups a little later. In this case, I am going to click on Add Audio Content. That's actually going to open up a pop-up window, and it's going to ask me, okay well if you are going to add an audio file, where is the file? I am going to browse My Computer, and on the Desktop, in the Exercise Files folder, there's a file here called JAWS_citylights. It's an MP3. I am going to click on Open. If you don't have these files, that's fine. You can use any audio file. In fact, Blackboard will support AIFF, ASF, MP3, MIDI, MOV, WAV, WMA.
If you've got a file format that's an audio file, it should be able to upload here. I am going to click on Open. Now, it's going to ask me do I want to put in alt text? I am not going to do that here, but the alt text is usually for people who are visually impaired or blind, and it will read that to them. In this case, it's an audio file, so we should be okay. It's also going to ask me, do I want to AutoStart, in other words start playing immediately? I am going to say no. Do I want it to loop? Nope. And I am going to have the full controls. Now when I click on Submit, I'm not actually done yet. It's going to give me a preview.
In fact, it's going to open up QuickTime and show me what this thing is going to look like when I submit it onto the page. In this case, I am going to click on Submit, but I could right now click Play and hear what it sounds like. (Text-to-speech reader: Welcome to citylights.) Yup, that sounds like a text-to- speech reader, so I am going to click on Submit, and there it is. I've now added this to my text editor, and I can put text before it or after it. In this case, I'm just going to scroll down, turn on Track Number of Views. I'm not going to change the Date and Time Restrictions. I am going to click on Submit and if I scroll down, now this JAWS_citylights was actually a file that we attached.
We went to Build Content and we chose File. But I want you to see that in this case we actually embedded it here. I am going to click on Play. (Text-to-speech reader: Welcome to citylights.) And I've now embedded this within my Blackboard course. So unlike adding a file where the students have to download it, I can actually embed a multimedia file. So we did it one way by going into Build Content and then creating an item, or in Blackboard 9.0 just going and clicking the Create Item button.
I want to show you something new that's actually built into Blackboard 9.1, is Audio. So under Build Content, I am going to click on Audio, and I'm actually going to go find that file again. I will browse my files, and I will go to JAWS_citylights, and I am going to type in a new name for this, Sound File 2. I have the ability to change the color of the words Sound File 2. It's completely up to me. And notice that I have the ability to include a text transcript.
They didn't have that earlier. Its a really helpful feature if you have students who have hearing difficulties, or who are going to view your movie in a really, really loud environment and won't be able to hear their computer speakers. Having a text transcript is actually a really good idea. You have the ability to have this thing start playing when the page loads--usually a bad idea-- have it loop and play over and over again, no. Permit Users to View this Content, in other words will students be able to see this right now? The answer is sure, why not? If I set it to No, I have to come back and set it to Yes later.
I can track the number of views, and I almost always do. And then I can choose the Date and Time Restrictions. I can have this show up at a certain date, disappear at a certain date. Remember, always do these in pairs. If you are going to set a Display After, set a Display Until sometime in the future. I am not going to do that here. I am just going to click on Submit. Notice that I don't have to click Submit a second time. What it does is it adds it at the very, very bottom of the page. And the difference between the two -- remember this is where I went in to Item, but if I go and choose Build Content > Audio, it not only embeds it, but gives the students a link to download that file.
I also want you to notice that to the left, I have got this up-and-down arrow. That means I can rearrange this and move it to someplace else on the page. If I want, I can drag it up and down. In this case, I am not going to. And to the right, I've got the button with the two downward-facing chevrons. What does that mean? Remember, always means edit or more. If I ever need to go back, I can always edit this. So we have added an audio file. Let's now go and add an image. I am going to click on Build Content and choose an Image. It's going to ask me to find the file. In this case I've got a picture of the Hollywood sign, which doesn't have a lot to do with educational technology, but it's a picture.
And I am going to type in Hollywood Sign. So the alt text box here is where I would add in extra text. In this case, I want to do that. If I have students in my course who are visually disabled, I want their computers to be able to read back to them what I type in this box. So I can have 'Photograph of the Hollywood Sign' here. If this were a really complex picture, I might want to enter in a long description. If you ever listen the PBS, there is a descriptive audio channel, and you might hear it where it says, "Queen Elizabeth is standing at the top of the stairway. She's wearing a blue dress and tiara on her head and she's now descending the stairway." That's what the long description is its just extra text.
In this case, Photograph of a Hollywood sign is fine. And then under Image options, I have two choices. I can have this display at the original size, or I can choose a custom size. If it's a custom size, I have to choose the width and height that I want it to display on the screen. When you're uploading images, you don't want your images more than 600 pixels wide, or the students are going to have to scroll off to the right-hand side of the page to view it. So if it's big, resize it--choose Custom; if not, Original is fine. Do you want to put a border around this? None, you can choose 1 pixel, 2 pixel. I'll choose None.
I can also make it where the students can click on this picture and be taken to a web page. I am not going to do that here, but in that case, I would choose whether or not I want that web page to open within Blackboard or open up a new pop-up window. And then finally, we are back to our Standard Options. Do I want the students to be able to see this right now? Yes. Do I want to track the number of views? Sure. Do I want to do date and time restrictions? No, I do not. So what sort of images can you add to a Blackboard course? Well, you can GIFs, JPEGs, PINGs, TIFFs, and WMFs.
So, let me click on Submit, and you'll scroll down and at the very bottom of the page, you'll see a picture of the Hollywood sign, taken from the Griffith Park Observatory. Two down, one to go. We are going to click on Build Content and we are going to add a video. It's going to ask me, where is the video, and again I am going to browse my computer. I've got a picture here of the Normandy American Cemetery. I can type in Normandy American Cemetery. I can change the color of the name. By the way, if I just made a mistake and I didn't actually want to upload this video file, I can select a different file. What sort of video formats does Blackboard support? Well, it does MPEG or AVI, QuickTime or Flash.
In this case, MP4 is perfectly fine. So I am going to scroll down. Again, just like with the pictures, I have the ability to change the dimensions. I can choose Original or Custom, and again, AutoStart or Loop. I am going to say No for both of those. Do I want my students to be able to see this at this very moment? Yes. Do I want to track the number of views? Sure. Do I want to set date and time restrictions? Nope. Click on Submit and that will now upload the video, and that will be at the very, very bottom of the page. Remember, if I ever need to edit anything, if I made a mistake here, I can click on Edit to the right, that button with the two downward-facing chevrons.
I can also click the up-and-down arrow to left of any of these things to move them to a new location. Let me also show you what this looks like from a student's point of view. So I am going to turn the Edit mode off, and we are now in Student Mode. So this is what the students would see. I'm going to scroll down. We've got this in-line, or embedded, sound file that we put in by going into Item, and then we've got a sound file that we went by clicking on Build Content > Audio, Build Content > Image, and then Build Content > Video.
Now, one word of warning: your institution may actually limit the size of individual files you upload to Blackboard, and some institutions may even limit the size of your course. Keep your course files small. When in doubt, post the file somewhere else, like a video server, and then link to it. Contact your help desk for more information about for institution's individual file-size and course-size limits.
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