Update from Committee A–Your Blackboard Site May Be Viewable

Amanda forwarded an update from FC4 Secretary Julius Nadas about the most recent Committee A meeting (for anyone who doesn’t know–FC4 is the abbreviation for the full name of the District Wide Faculty Council (there are 4 C’s in it) and Committee A is the Curriculum/Academics committee of FC4.).

Someone on the committee noticed that there is a new area that shows up when you log into Blackboard. It is in different places depending on whether you are looking at the “Course” page or the “My Blackboard” page, but either way the space is called “Catalog” and you’ll see it on the top of the right side column or down toward the bottom on the left. There you’ll see a listing of the different colleges, Center for Distance Learning, District Office (sorry Art–they need a reminder about the Central Office thing), and one for Faculty Council (FC4), too. (The FC4 site has their minutes and Constitution and Presidential addresses to the board and information about syllabi development and more. Check it out when you get the chance. Julius did a really nice job of putting together helpful (and historical) information going back years.)

If you click on the link for Harold Washington College, a list of every course offered comes up. Upon clicking on any of them, you are able to see the Announcements for the course and they Syllabus (at minimum, it seems). The rest of the viewability is dependent on whether and what you made your course available for viewing by guests when you set it up. I usually click on the “Make available to Guests” button when I’m setting it up because I figured the only people who would be poking around (and know how to) were either instructors or administrators and I had no problem with either of them seeing what I was doing. Now, though, I need to rethink that.

For example, if you were to click on one of my classes, you’d be able to see my students discussion boards, where they introduce themselves and argue philosophical positions and the like. I don’t want those available for viewing to other students for all kinds of reasons, and so, I’m going to reset those right now.

You might want to check or change yours, too.

Option A: If you’d like to cut off all access to your course, go to the your course and click on Control Panel. Down toward the bottom, you’ll find a button that says “Settings.” Click on that and you’ll see a menu–the third listing is “Guest Access.” Click on that and choose “No” and your course will show up on the list but not be viewable. You should know, though, that I think we are now required by academic policy to make our syllabi (at minimum) available. Maybe not, though. We are definitely required to POST them, but I’m not sure what the policy says about being required to make it viewable. Caveat emptor.

Option B): If you’d like to leave parts of your course viewable, but not others, then you should go the Control Panel for each of your courses and click on “Manage Course Menu.” You’ll see a listing of items–Announcements, Discussion Board, etc. Click on “Modify” to check the settings for each and check or uncheck the box for Guest (and Observer) access as you prefer.

For now, I’m just going to make all of mine unavailable (Option A) until I have a chance to go through them section by section (Option B). With that said, I think it’s important to remember–A) these are available for perusal to people who can log into Blackboard, not the general public, so don’t completely freak out; B) it’s a little surprising that there was no notice given of this; C) I don’t think it’s a terrible thing from the standpoint of pedagogy and peer review and the rest that our syllabi be available for viewing and review to each other and prospective students. I know that last one will be somewhat controversial, but I kind of like it, frankly.

And you can bet I’ll be spending some time looking at the syllabi for the CDL philosophy courses and the reading lists and approaches taken at other schools for the classes I’m teaching at HW…just as soon as I get my Midterm grading done, that is…so December.