Saturday, November 12, 2011

College Life, Part Three--Using Black Board

This post also comes from my recent College Day program. One of my wise TVIs pointed out to me that a lot of our students don't know what Black Board is, how it works, why they need to know about it, etc. I realized this was also something valuable that I could pre-teach about so I hit up our rehab technologist and my good friend who is an adjunct professor at a community college and compiled some resources. I thought I would share with all of you, too!  Below you can read up on what Black Board is and some helpful tips for using it with JAWS. Our rehab technologist, Dennis, didn't write all of this up. Rather, he's been collecting useful tips and what not for using it. He compiled it all in a helpful handout and I asked for permission to share so please note that these tips are from a few different resources. It's a pretty long list of information so this one is one loooooonnnngggg post.... Enjoy :)

Black Board in a Nutshell
by Corina Lopes,
Adjunct Professor, Tunxis Community College
What's Black Board? 
When in college, you might hear your professors talk a lot about it. Basically, it's course content online management system.
Wait, what?
Think of it like your class' online filing cabinet. Some professors use it more than others, but the following are its most common uses:
  • Finding the course policy and syllabus
  • Accessing and submitting homework
  • Participating in and starting discussion threads
  • Accessing your grade
  • Email 
  • Receiving important class announcements
How do I get Black Board?
If your school uses the Black Board system, then you are automatically enrolled in Black Board since you are already enrolled for the course. To access it, check with the IT Help desk of your school (usually found in the computer lab or library). However, you will most likely need to type in your student ID and a password each time you want to log-in to Black Board.

Is it a challenging system to navigate?
No, but like anything else, can take a couple of tries to get a feel for it. The "home page" of Black Board, once you log-in, will populate all the courses for which you are enrolled. You just need to click on a course to access that course's specific Black Board page. For the most part, all course pages will look and feel the same. On the left hand side is a tool bar with labeled tabs. The most important ones for you to know are:
  • Course Documents
  • Announcements
  • Assignments
  • Discussion
  • Homework Dropbox
  • My Grades
  • Email
Is that it?
Yup, as far as the system itself goes. Remember, it is a great tool for academic success. It keeps things neat and organized, plus is a great way for you to take responsibility and be on top of your own academic goals. Check it often, even if your professor doesn't remind you. Many times, I have to change something in an assignment or add something to a lecture that I forgot to mention in class, and I use Black Board as a way to reach my students so they are prepared for the next class meeting. Excuses like, "I forgot to check" or "You didn't say we needed to check" don't work. You know Black Board is part of the course, and so is keeping up with it. Honestly, Black Board is nothing to be afraid of. It gives you more control over your classroom participation, and in the end, that is a very good thing.

Using Blackboard with a Screen Reader
Information compiled by Dennis Gallant
Logging In
To log in to Blackboard, you will need your Blackboard ID and Password. Information about your Blackboard ID and Password are available on the log in page.
Once you log in, it is possible that JAWS may discontinue reading.  This is most likely an indication that you are getting a security warning.  If you hit “Enter” you will be able to go on through, but it will pop up again next time you log in again.  Tabbing twice should get you to a check box that, if reading properly, will say “Always trust content from this publisher.”  If you select that box by hitting enter, then the message should not reappear.
My Blackboard
The first page you come to once you have logged in, is the “My Blackboard” page.  This contains a list of all of your online courses that are in Blackboard.  Using Insert + F7, you should get the list of courses and can choose which course to enter.  You will also get feedback from this page, following each course link, about new content that has been added, but it is not recommended that you utilize this feature in JAWS because the icons read out multiple times and JAWS also reads the HTML code of inactive icons.
Changing Your Blackboard Settings
Certain settings may enhance your experience with JAWS.  You can review your current settings and change them by selecting “My Settings” and then “My Tool Options.”  The changes to the default settings that you may want to consider are:

  • Discussions
    • Mark my own posts as “read”
    • View “threaded”
    • Show “unread only”
  • HTML Creator
    • Make sure “Start the HTML Creator by Default” is unchecked
  • Mail
    • Consider checking the “Forward Messages to Email Address in My Profile” if navigating the Mail Tool is a problem
    • Show “Unread Only”
  • Paging
    • Consider increasing the default number to a higher number (i.e. 30) so that more messages appear on a single page.
  • Who’s online
    • Unless you have spent time learning how to navigate and make sure the chat tool does not interfere with your activity in the course, you may want to consider making your online status “Invisible”.  This prevents other students from sending you messages while you are online.
Reducing Your Channels and Adjusting Layout
You can reduce what appears on the My Blackboard page in order to simplify navigation.  You can always add these items back if you learn that it will be helpful to you in keeping up with course content.  To do this:

  • Select the “Channels” link.
  • Deselect any boxes of items you do not expect to use.
  • Some that might be removed are “To Do List”, “Who’s Online”, and “Personal Bookmarks.”
  • Select the “Save” button at the bottom of the page.
  • Next choose the link called “Layout.”
  • Select the “My Grades” radio button.
  • Select the “Move right” link.
  • Use “B” to move to “Save Button“.  Select “Save“.
  • This will reduce the number of columns and the first thing on the page will be the list of courses.
Adjusting Your JAWS Settings
It is recommended that you change your JAWS settings to ignore inline frames when using Blackboard. To do this:

  • Press Insert +F2, select “Configuration Manager,” and press Enter
  • From the Set Options menu, choose HTML Options
  • Press CTRL+Tab until you move to the Headings and Frames tab
  • Press ALT+N to move to and check the Ignore Inline Frames check box
  • Close Configuration Manager and save your changes
Professors are able to choose a setting that causes their announcements to open up in a new window.  This may occur each time you enter the course.  Once you have read the announcements, you can choose “Close this Window” to return to the main screen.  If you lose focus in the announcement window, use Alt + Tab to find it and re-open.  The window’s titled “View Announcements”.  You can read all past and current announcements by selecting the “Announcement” Tool.
There are a variety of ways to approach the Discussion Board.  You can select all of the new messages and read through them quickly and determine to which you would like to reply or you can scroll through the posts by title and open only those that are relevant to you.  Directions for both approaches follow.
Reading Multiple Messages in the Discussion Board
Before this tip is helpful, you must first set your Blackboard settings to show only unread items by default.

  • Insert + F7 and then “D” for Discussions (or if that does not work, press “N” for New items Discussion)
  • Select the name of the discussion you would like to enter
  • (Note:  Different courses have different names for the discussions so you may have to read the main content area to become familiar with the discussions that have been started.)
  • Once you enter a specific discussion area, follow these steps for a quick way to catch up on reading and replying to messages.
  • Press F to move to form element that reads  “select all/none check box not checked“
  • Press the Space Bar to select that check box
  • Press Insert + F7 and then press C to go to “Create Printable View“
  • Press the Enter key to open that view in new window
  • Read each message and reply as needed.
Warning:  When you close this window, these messages will all be marked as “read”.  In order to read them again you will have to select “All”.  If you simply minimize that window you can continue to read them as long as you are logged into Blackboard.
Selecting Specific Messages to Read from Discussion Board

  • Press Insert + F7 and then choose “D” for Discussions (or if that does not work, then “N” for New items Discussion)
  • Select the name of the discussion you would like to enter
  • (Note:  Different courses have different names for the discussions so you may have to read the main content area to become familiar with the discussions that have been started.)
  • Once you enter a specific discussion area, make sure your links list is set to read in the order of items on the page.
  • Press Insert + F7 and select “S” to get to “Sorted in descending order click to reverse order“
  • Then when you scroll down in the links list the next item will be the first post on the discussion board
  • From there you can scroll down to hear the titles of all the messages and choose to read the ones you want.
  • When you scroll through you will hear the following for each message:
    • Message title
    • Message author
    • “View People Link Options for this User” (This link allows you to send a message privately to the author of the message.)
  • Once you select message you would like to read, it will open in a new window.
  • You can then use Insert + F7 to choose either:
    • Replay (R)
    • Forward (F): You may only forward this message to people who are listed in the class roster using their Bb identity name.
    • Display complete Thread (D): shows all replies to this message
    • Close this Window (C)
Posting Messages to the Discussion
  • Enter the discussion area where you want to post a message
  • Using Insert + F7, select “Create Message“
  • A Compose Message window will open in a new window.
  • Tab to Subject field and enter forms mode to write your subject
  • Tab again to message body field and type your text
  • Use “B” to navigate to “Post” button and select.
  • Warning: If you use “B” there is a “Preview” button that reads as “Preview” but if you tab, it reads as “Opens in New Window button”
  • Other options available are “Add Attachments”.  To “Add Attachments” follow directions for uploading an assignment below.
Mail Tool
If you are taking more than one course, the easiest way to check your Blackboard mail, may be to use the “Global Mail” tool.  This is available when you first log into Blackboard on the page that has your course list.  Here is a quick way to navigate through your mail from this view:

  • Press Insert + F7 to list links.
  • Press “M” for Mail and space bar to select that item.
  • Press Insert + F7 again for links list.
  • Press “M” again until you find “Mail Account” followed by the course you want to select.
  • Press the space bar to select that item.
  • Press Insert + F7 to hear links again.
  • Press “S” for “Sorted in descending order”
  • Press Alt + M to move to that item.
  • Tab once to the check box for the first mail item.
  • Tab again to the link to the first mail item.  (Warning:  They read exactly the same.)
  • Use Shift + Application Key to open context menu.
  • Select “O” for Open (Opens in new browser window.)
Once in the message, you have lots of options.  Select Insert + F7 and scroll through links to hear all options.  Once you are finished reading this message, it is suggested that you use Insert + F7 and select “N” for Next.  You can move through all of your messages this way while still in this new window.  Once you have read them all, the “Previous” link will no longer be active.
Assignments Tool
Uploading Assignments

  • Once you get into your course, press Insert + F7.
  • Hit “A” until you find “Assignments Assignments”.
  • If that does not come up, try “N” for “New Items Found Assignments Assignments”.
  • Press “H” to navigate to the heading “Assignments”.
  • Tab through the “Submitted”, “Graded”, and “Published” links.
  • The next link will be your first assignment.
  • Hit Enter.  Use “H” to navigate to “Instructions” and “Submission”
  • Once you are ready to submit, tab to the text box that follows “Enable HTML Editor”
  • This is an editable area which is designed to offer a space to enter your assignment.  However, if you prefer to upload your assignment as an attachment, you have that option.
  • You have to type something in the box, such as “Attached is my assignment for module 1″.  Select “Enter” to turn forms mode on.  Type your text.
  • Tab twice to “Add attachments link”.
  • Hit Enter.
  • A new window will open.  Use links list to find “My Computer“.  (Warning:  Do not select “My Files”.)
  • Tab again to “Open File Manager in New Window“
  • Hit Enter.
  • Tab one time and you will be in an editable box where you could type the location of the file on your computer, but if you are like most people you will want to tab again to the “Browse” button.  But they read the same.
  • Hit space bar.
  • The “choose file” dialog window should open
  • Navigate to the file you want to upload.  Tab to the “Open” button and select “enter“
  • There are several of those browse buttons in a row so to save tabbing through all of them, use “Control + End” to go to the bottom of the page, then “shift + tab” until you get to the “OK Button”.  (Warning:  something unexpected occurs when you tab backwards from the end, before getting to the “Cancel” button you will hear a single “Browse” Button.  This is out of the expected order and different from what is visually on the screen.)
  • Select “Enter” and that window should close.
  • It should read out your file as a link on the page you were on before.
  • Tab until you get to the “Submit” Button.
  • Select enter.
  • A dialog button should opening asking you if you are sure you want to submit it.
  • Select “OK“
  • You will be directed to a page that lets you know that you have submitted the assignment successfully.
  • If you return to the assignments page, you can now go to the “Submitted” link and it should list your assignment there.
Using the Quiz Tool
  • Quizzes and exams are posted in under Assessments, so using links list type A or N for Assessments or New Items Added Assessments.
  • The numbers for each question are set up as Level 2 Headings, so you can use “H” key to move from question to question or to find your place if you lose focus.
  • You have the option to save answers as you go, or to “save all” at the end of the quiz.  It is recommended that you save as you go since crashes do occur on occasion.
  • Students using screen reader or magnification software can request extended time ( up to double the normal time) on timed quizzes.
    • Your professor will be the one to make this adjustment. 
  • Each time you complete a question, the focus changes to another frame briefly and then moves back to the quiz frame.  If you try to go quickly through the questions, JAWS may lose focus.
    • The “Finish” link is positioned before the “save all” link so it would be easy to select “finish” and expect that the quiz was completed successfully.  So users should make sure that they either save answers as they go, or tab past the finish link and select “Save All” before choosing “Finish”.

No comments :

Post a Comment