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Upgrade Blackboard to Blackboard Learn 9.1 to provide NSU with the latest version of the leading Learning Management System and integrate Wimba (now Blackboard Collaborate) to improve student and faculty online engagement and interaction.
Chris Lofthus, lead system administrator for Bb 9.1 until he left NSU in early September for another job. Evan Linde and Kevin Taylor currently perform most of the system administrator duties; a search is underway to fill Lofthus’ position. Chuck Ziehr directs CTL, and user support is provided by Rick Shelton and Linda Summers (Coordinators of Academic Services) and Jerol Skinner (Online Instruction Designer); this is an on-going daily function. A third Coordinator of Academic Services position is currently being advertised and is hoped to be filled by January 1, 2012.
Preparation for the roll-out of Blackboard Learn 9.1 (an upgrade from Bb 8) began in April 2011. Weekly email announcements and online tutorials were sent to the NSU faculty and staff beginning in May 2011. Face to face demonstrations and workshops were provided by the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) for the faculty and staff beginning in June. Blackboard Learn 9.1 is fully implemented and functional; it could be said to be complete.
Wimba was acquired by Blackboard and was integrated with another acquired-company’s products (Elluminate) to become Blackboard Collaborate. Bb Collaborate provides online engagement and interaction tools for (1) web, video, and audio conferencing (classrooms), (2) instant messaging, and (3) voice authoring. Wimba was incorporated into NSU Blackboard in January 2010; Collaborate was added to Bb 9.1 in July.
More publicity about Collaborate will be provided to the NSU community in November, and CTL will offer a series of workshops for faculty and staff about how to us the instant messaging, voice tools, and videoconferencing capabilities of Collaborate.
The Blackboard LMS (and some CTL personnel costs) are funded through the Electronic Media account which is acquired via the $50 per credit hour fee added to online courses and the $30 per credit hour fee added to blended courses. Other personnel costs are part of the on-going budgets.