Clean Up Your Bb Course List

January 31, 2013 in BB Tutorials, BB Tutorials, Distance Learning, Faculty, Student


I don’t know about you but my Blackboard course list can get quickly out-of-control. Thanks to some improvements in Bb, we now have the option to organize all our courses by term. This makes it much easier to find things and turn off courses in past terms. Another great thing is this option is available for both faculty and students.

Watch the video or follow the directions to learn more:


Step 1: Go to your “My Blackboard Courses” module.

Step 2: Click the gear wheel icon in the upper right hand corner of the module. You must hover over the corner for the icon to appear.

Step 3: Go to Item 1 “Terms” and click the “Group by Term” checkbox.

 Step 4: Make your selections for how you would like your terms to appear.

Step 5: Click  the Submit Button

Now, your courses should be organized by term in Blackboard. You can even use the arrows to the left of each term to expand or collapse the list.

The Challenge of Creating Art

January 30, 2013 in Distance Learning, Faculty, Inspire

An artist created a facsimile of the Mona Lisa by stacking thousands of thread spools and combined them with a glass ball for viewing. (Photo taken by me at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, VA)

My radical thought of the day is:

“We are all ARTISTS and our duty is to share our ART and to improve our ART.”

As educators, we should bring our passion and unique talents to our teaching everyday in both face-2-face and online classes. This is our ART and to not deliver, ship, or share our art with others is to fail at our highest calling. If you never share your ART openly with others… you are not an ARTIST.

How are you improving and sharing your ART?

What kind of ART will you CREATE today?

Fixing Text Box Issues in Bb Tests

April 4, 2012 in BB Tutorials, BB Tutorials, Distance Learning, Faculty, Student, Uncategorized

photo credit: Hernan Vargas

I have received recent reports of students having trouble with text boxes within Bb tests and quizzes. A few students have reported that they can type their answer for item 1, but they are unable to enter text for any of the following test items using text boxes.

This is caused by an incompatibility problem between Bb 9.0 and the latest release of Microsoft Internet Explorer (9) and Mozilla Firefox (11) web browsers. Students using older versions of these browsers will not experience any text box issues in their tests.

There are two possible solutions:

1. Students may turn off the text editor feature in Bb. This is easily done. Please watch the video at this link for directions:


2. Students may download Google’s Chrome browser. Then, use the Chrome browser to open Bb and take the test.

This incompatibility problem will be fixed when we move to Bb 9.1 on May 12th.


Ken Fairbanks
Director of Distance & Distributed Learning
Wytheville Community College

The Best YouTube Channels for Education

March 29, 2012 in Discovery Fridays, Distance Learning, Inspire

Boy with 1950's TelevisionPhoto Credit: John Atherton

This is a guest post from Nick Narodny and Tom Samph of, a field guide to the Internet where users can learn everything from Facebook Pages to how to use Twitter.

When a new website is born, it goes through growing pains and changes just like any other living thing.

YouTube, still a fresh 6 years old, has already been through a number of image changes and has grown to become not only a place to watch viral homemade music videos and cute puppies, but an massive library of educational resources as well.

While distance learning is no new concept, the multimedia content and educational resources we use to supplement distance learning is constantly improving: YouTube channels are an ever-evolving resource for distance learners.

So take a break from Double Rainbow sing-alongs and save Rebecca Black for Fridays, and check out some of the ways you can use YouTube channels for education and learning.

Best for Current Events:
The Associated Press (AP) News Channel is a great way to stay up on your current events. AP posts one minute-long ‘Top Stories’ videos of the current headlines, daily feature reports and its raw video series of other current events around the world.

Best for Philosophy:
Justice with Michael Sandel began as a hugely popular introductory course at Harvard. Since then, Sandel and Harvard decided to put the course online to open it to all Internet users. Using YouTube to distribute the videos, Justice became Harvard’s first free online program. Now, you can take the class alongside Harvard students and participate in the conversation.

Best for Science Experiments
The tagline of NurdRage videos, which are hosted by an intimidatingly anonymous voice, is A Channel Run by Science Nerds for Science Nerds. Don’t let it fool you; the content is an incredible resource for questions about science and the place to go to watch exploding, melting, fiery science experiments.

Best for Mind-Blowing Concepts and Self-Improvement
TED was originally founded in 1984, but didn’t take its current form until 2006 when videos were made available to watch online. Since then, it’s been a common feat for TED videos to get millions of online views, and last year it was estimated that TED rounded up about 500 million video views. With a tagline of Ideas Worth Sharing, TED continues to be a destination for online enlightenment.

Learn from the Experts is the best place to watch unedited interviews, debates and live events. Compelling and intelligent videos from a variety of sources that speak to a wide range of topics, is the best source of raw content from experts.


Disrupting Education: The Collision of Emerging Technology, Education and Economy

March 12, 2012 in Discovery Fridays, Distance Learning, Inspire, Uncategorized

Photo credit: José Manuel Suárez

Distance learning, cloud computing, social networking, desktop virtualization, augmented reality, smartphones, tablets and the arrival of the post PC era… this all sounds a little scary, huh? Welcome to the world we live in. A world impossible to predict. A world characterized by disruptive technological, social and economic change. How do we prepare ourselves, our employees and children for the future?

The answer is…

This is part of a guest blogpost I recently wrote for a company specializing in personal branding and social media. To read the rest of this post please visit the Marketing Mel site: