Academic Technology Services

Academic Technology Services is a division of Central Piedmont's Information Technology Services. We promote the effective use of technology to enhance the learning experience.

What we do:

  • Research: Monitor developments across the landscape of learning/instructional technology and provide organized access to in-depth and recent information on these topics.
  • Implementation: Administer and analyze the use of new learning technology working with faculty and staff across the college.
  • Communication: Inform the college community about developments in learning technology by various means and act as a liaison between ITS and the Learning Unity.
  • Vision: Work with the leadership of faculty, ITS, Learning Council, and eLearning to develop a vision for the future culture of learning with technology.

Contact Us

Dr. Gary Ritter
Executive Director of Academic Technology Services
History Instructor
gary.ritter@cpcc.edu
704.330.6559

Don Michael, Jr.
Senior Program Coordinator
donald.michael@cpcc.edu
704.330.2722, ext. 3598

Tool Updates

These pages describe recent changes to the learning technologies supported by the college. General information about all available technologies supported by Information Technology Services can be found in the Central Piedmont ITS Service Catalog.

  • Blackboard Learn

    The Learning Management System Used to Deliver Online Learning at Central Piedmont

    Information Technology Services (ITS) recently upgraded to Blackboard Learn version Q2 2018 in order to stay within two versions of the latest offered by Blackboard, which is currently on Q4 2018 and scheduled to release Q2 2019 during the spring 2019 semester. The following are explanations of several new tools and features enhancements.

    Recording Feedback in Blackboard

    Instructors can create audio or video recordings up to five minutes in length for students when using the grade center. Visit the Blackboard Help website for more information on recording feedback. You can find this tool by opening up the text editor from the feedback to students box and clicking on the record feedback icon.

    the Blackboard Feedback box

    Once in the text editor, click on the recorder icon, which looks like a microphone in the lower left corner.

    Blackboard Recorder Icon

    A new recorder window will launch, and you may be prompted to enable audio settings on your browser. The default setting is audio only, so add video if you prefer. Once you click stop, a preview window will appear. You can delete or save. A new window will open allowing you to name the video. Once you submit, an icon will appear in the feedback box for students to see.

    Audio file

    Blackboard Grade Center

    Instructors can enlarge the grade center to full screen mode. Click on the full-screen icon in the upper right corner of the full grade center.

    Blackboard Grade Center full screen

    Blackboard Course Availability Toggle Button

    An icon is available on certain pages within a Blackboard shell, allowing the instructor to toggle the course between available/unavailable. It looks like a padlock. This will not show on all pages within a shell. For instance, it does not appear on the default course homepage. It does appear on any content pages. Shells must be past the term start date in order to be made available.

    Toggle Switch in Blackboard
    Blackboard Grade Center Management

    Instructors can easily clean up their grade books by deleting multiple columns at once. Selected manual and calculated columns are removed completely. Selected columns associated with gradable items are cleared of attempt and grade data but remain in the Grade Center.

    Blackboard Grade Center Standardization

    All grade center columns (online and downloads) and My Grades support up to five decimal points, aren't rounded and are consistent for all display types (score, percentage, letter grade).

    Blackboard Dashboards, Forums, and Threads

    The main Discussion Board page displays a list of available discussion Forums. A Discussion Board can contain one or more Forums. A Forum is an area where a topic or a group of related topics are discussed. For each Forum, the page displays the total number of posts, the number of unread posts, and the total number of participants. A Forum is an area of the discussion board where participants discuss a topic or a group of related topics. Within each forum, users can create multiple Threads. When your instructor creates a forum, they may or may not let you start Threads. Threads are displayed either in Tree View or List View. To enter a Thread to review related responses, click on the Thread name. If your instructor allows, you can create a new Thread by clicking Create Thread.

    Blackboard Discussions: Replies to Me

    Keeping up with large Discussion Board forums is easier by giving participants a count and filter to just look at new replies from others to posts made the participant.

    Image of Post Counter in Blackboard

    Blackboard Discussion Board Locations
    • On the course menu, select Discussions.
    • On the course menu, select Tools and then Discussion Board.

    The main Discussion Board page appears with a list of available discussion forums. On this page, you can perform the following actions:

    • Select a forum title to view the messages. Forum titles in bold contain unread posts.
    • Select a forum to open the thread of posts.
    • Select the number in the Unread Posts column for quick access to a forum's unread messages.
    Blackboard Discussion Board Details
    Default Created Discussions

    The integration of Blackboard Learn and Ellucian Colleague through the Integrated Learning Platform (ILP) has created a situation where both products are auto-creating discussion boards for each new shell. Muting one of these is recommended.

    two dashboard issue in Blackboard

    The extra Discussion Board was created by the Intelligent Learning Platform (ILP). An Intelligent Learning Platform tool is used to make connections between Blackboard and Ellucian Colleague running behind the scenes. Intelligent Learning Platforms have been provisioning and assisting courses since the start of the Summer session.

    It is not clear whether this extra Discussion Board will be used going forward, but it is there in courses created for fall so far.  The Dashboard itself does not cause any particular problem, but the Forum created within the dashboard can be problematic.

    The easy 'temporary solution' or fix is to make that Forum unavailable:

    1. Click into the Discussion Board
    2. Next, click the context menu for the Forum and select “Edit”
    3. You can then select ‘No’ in the “Available” dialogue.

    Students will still be able to get to the Discussion Board, but they cannot create Forums. You can also delete the Forum, but we are not 100% sure that the Intelligent Learning Platform won’t recreate it if you do. At this point, we ask that you do not delete anything, as that creates issues with the integration.

    Improved Rubric Grading in Blackboard

    When grading with rubrics, the grader can save feedback and the content will remain saved when changing the rubric's view from in-line to full screen.

    Blackboard Chemistry Annotations

    Text editors in Blackboard include options in the math editor to reveal a periodic table that can be used to display the symbol for each element.

    Blackboard Math Bar with red circled indicating math button.

    Math WIRIS editing button in Blackboard

    Click the button with the 'Fx' to open the WIRIS editor. Next, select the tab with the Ohm symbol (fourth tab) marked 'A'. Then to open the periodic table move your mouse over the area marked 'B' and look for the skinny button, then click to make the menu appear.

    Location of the Chemistry Symbol Button in Blackboard
    Box View Annotations in Blackboard

    The product roadmap calls for the availability of new features such as downloading annotations, adding Excel annotations, and a summary view. That is the extent of information available at this time, but we will monitor developments and update this space.

    Copying and Pasting Text in Blackboard

    There are some who want the formatting to remain when the copy text then pastes it into Blackboard.

    If you have any questions about Blackboard Learn, please contact the ITS Help Desk.

  • Blackboard Ally

    Ally is a tool integrated into Blackboard Learn to help audit content for accessibility compliance. If you feel that your course does not have Ally, please contact the Help Desk with the course name. You can find in the left column under the Contents section.

    file name found under Content Collection in Blackboard

    Blackboard Ally FAQ

    • Question: Will downloading a file, renaming it, and then uploading the new file make a difference?

      • Answer: First, when you click the "meter" and get the 0% score, there is a button for "How to fix this." The next page suggests re-saving the document under a new name and re-uploading it. You should download the file, re-save it to a different directory without renaming, re-uploaded it from there, and notice the new score. The new save is crucial. If you download it then re-upload it again from the download folder it will still fail. You can also save it with .docx instead of .doc and you can get a higher score. Probably because the newer file format has more compliance features.
    • Question: Will Ally solve all my accessibility issues?
      • Answer: No. Ally is simply one more tool in your ADA compliance toolbox that you can use to improve the overall accessibility of your course.
    • Question: How long has Ally been available?
      • Answer: Blackboard Ally was added to fall 2018 course shells on Monday, July 30, 2018. Older courses are also being onboarded. We will update this answer as the process proceeds.
    • Question: Do teachers need to turn it on?
      • Answer: No. It is already turned on in fall sections.
    • Question: What exactly will I see?
      • Answer: Content items that have been added to assignments or other course work will have a meter next to it.

    icon for content items that have been added to assignments or other coursework in Blackboard Ally

    Blackboard Ally accessibility meter icon key

    • Question: How do the accessibility meters help?

      • Answer: Mouse over the icon to reveal a link. This takes you to a page that scores the document for accessibility. It might look something like the following image. Clicking on the “What this means” and “How to add headings” buttons will reveal further information.

    explanation of Blackboard Ally accessibility meter/score

    • Question: Do all documents need to have a certain score?

      • Answer: No decisions have been made on that yet. Analysis is still being done on how Ally determines scores.
    • Question: What specifically is Ally looking for when scoring content?
    • Question: Why don’t I see the meter next to a content item?
      • Answer: Content items must be uploaded to Blackboard in order to be scored.
    • Question: Does Ally check the compliance of content built using the Blackboard text editor?
      • Answer: Not at this time. This is on the features roadmap for Ally.
    • Question: Does Ally check the accessibility of web pages linked from shells?
      • Answer: Not at this time. This is on the roadmap as a separate service.
    • Question: Why am I seeing different results from the ADA Bootcamps?
      • Answer: Ally is an automated tool that checks your course content. It is very possible that the principles whereby it checks the accessibility of your content are different from what you learned at the ADA Bootcamps. Use the information you get from Ally as a supplemental resource that helps the overall accessibility of your course.
    • Question: Is training available?
      • Answer: Training is still being developed. In fact, Central Piedmont system administrators are still being trained, but we wanted to have it turned on now so faculty could start using the benefits of the system. Blackboard representatives will be on campus in late August for a training workshop. Each division will be notified about possible representation, but space is limited.
    • Question: Where can I find out more information?
    • Question: Where can I go for help?
  • Blackboard Community

    Blackboard Community is a feature of the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) that allows college groups to use a Blackboard shell for non-course purposes. These shells are called "organizations," and they function just like shells used for courses — the Blackboard shell for an organization has identical functionality as the shell used to teach courses. It is not currently possible to migrate content from an existing shell to a new organization shell. ​​​​​​​Faculty and staff can complete the Blackboard Community Request Form to initiate the process to create a shell for an organization.

    Benefits:

    • An organization is not tied to the semester
    • Members can include any students, faculty or staff with a valid Central Piedmont login.
    • Organizations do not interfere with auditing of course shells.
    • Users will notice a new "Organizations" tab in the Blackboard top panel where they can view their organization memberships.

    Any faculty or staff member with supervisory approval can be an organization leader, and an organization can have multiple leaders. Organization leaders can remove users. Students can be members of organizations, but not leaders.

    Resources:

    How to self-enroll into a Blackboard organization:

    1. Have your new members log into Blackboard.
    2. Click the organization tab and look for the "organization search" box in the upper left-hand corner.
    3. Search for your organization by typing in the organization name, then click the ‘go’ button.
    4. The browse organization catalog page will open.
    5. Locate the name of the organization in the search results.
    6. Click the action button (grey circle w/ arrow) and then click enroll.
    7. Input the password provided in the password field, to get access and click the submit button.
  • Webex

    WebEx (cpcc.webex.com) is a communication technology that allows people from different locations to work and meet in a virtual meeting session. WebEx provides tools to collaborate and share ideas using audio, video, and other digital content such as specific documents, applications, or share your desktop with everyone in the session. WebEx can be used for video conferencing or for teaching an online workshop. Any member of Central Piedmont faculty or staff can host a Webex meeting, which can be attended by students, colleagues, and members of the community. Webex works over the web and on most mobile devices using the Webex app. Additional Webex training is available on LearnerWeb. ITS is currently working to integrate Webex with Blackboard Learn.

    Webex upgrades and maintenance:

  • Panopto

    Panopto requirements:

    • attend a brief training session (registration available on LearnerWeb)
    • submit an ITS Help Desk request to have the recording application installed on your office computer

    Panopto Updates for Fall 2018

    • At the end of the spring semester, Panopto was migrated from on-site servers to the cloud. This will allow updates and added features to become available more quickly. It will also make the platform more stable.
    • The latest Panopto Recorder software has been installed on the workstations of all current Panopto users. However, if you use Panopto on a personal laptop or PC, you will need to download the latest version of the Recorder to continue using Panopto. To do so, go to lecturecapture.cpcc.edu, log in, then click the Download Panopto link in the top right corner and select the software version you need.
    • One important change to note is the change of the Panopto web address. The lecturecapture.cpcc.edu address will continue to forward to the new address, centralpiedmont.hosted.panopto.com. Users who have embedded links with the old lecturecapture address do not need to change their embed codes in courses or web pages. These older embed codes will continue to forward to the new address. So no changes need to be made.
    • Users will see a slightly different login than in the past. When users go to lecturecapture.cpcc.edu , they will see “Sign in using Central Piedmont." Users will need to click the green Sign In button here. They will then be taken to a Central Piedmont Sign-In page which should look very familiar, as it is the same sign-in page used for many services at Central Piedmont.
    • ITS will be working during the fall semester to integrate Panopto directly into Blackboard. This will allow for a more streamlined recording experience for users. It will also open up the system for student recordings, quizzes embedded in sessions, and Blackboard gradebook integration. We anticipate this integration will be ready for the spring 2019 semester.
    • New Panopto tutorials will be available in the next couple of weeks. These will serve as review materials that cover a wide range of topics so users can get the most out of the Panopto system. These tutorials will be available by logging into the lecturecapture website and clicking on the Help link in the top right corner.

    Important Note: ITS requests that all videos produced by Central Piedmont faculty and staff, regardless of platform, be stored in Panopto. This will help expedite the process to add closed captioning. For questions, please contact the Help Desk at 704.330.5000 or helpdesk@cpcc.edu.

Accessibility

"Nearly all colleges and universities are subject to the ADA, Section 504, or both. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides broad nondiscrimination protection in employment, public services, and public accommodations (including many areas of colleges and universities), for individuals with disabilities. The ADA is enforced by multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, Department of Labor, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against an otherwise qualified individual with a disability, solely on the basis of the disability, in any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance. Section 504 is enforced by, among others, the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education." Central Piedmont Community College complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to provide support services for students, including services for students with disabilities and other special needs. In addition, the college follows the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WACG 2.0 Level AA) outlined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as recommended by the North Carolina Community College System.

Tech Knowledge Share

  • Attend a Tech Knowledge Share Lunch and Learn

    Tech Knowledge Share is a monthly Lunch and Learn where a member of ITaRS leads an informative session on a topic related to Technology and/or Research..

    • We use Tricider to decide on topics of interest. The ‘tricision’ is made by a system of voting.
    • You can go to LearnerWeb to search for and to sign up for a Tech Knowledge Share session, and get PD credit.
    • Here are some parameters in suggesting or voting on sessions:
      • A session should be 15—20 minutes in length with about 10—15 minutes of discussions and/or Q&A.
      • You may suggest a session that you will present or request a session that you would like to see someone else present.
      • If you volunteer to present a session that someone else suggests, please indicate that in the arguments section.
      • You may also present a session as a team.
      • Upvotes or downvotes do not require reasons, but folks would certainly like to see some feedback.
    • We close Tricisions at 5 p.m. so that presenters have time to prepare.
    • Presentations/sessions do not have to be ultra-professional. Generally speaking, the audience should be very forgiving.
    • New: Invitations to Tech Knowledge Share will also be issued to the college at large, so expect more than your ITaRS colleagues there this time.
    • New: ITaRS leadership has decided that, as recognition, presenters at Tech Knowledge Share will be invited to lunch with our CIO, David Kim.