Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles

September 30, 2008

Adventures in Stupidity – part 1

Filed under: How it works,What the...? — Kaddee @ 9:57 am


I am frequently amazed to find that my “technical expertise” is substantially beyond that of others in my field (although the empirical evidence is vast), however I usually assume that the IT/ACT/Tech people know more about the systems and software than myself. I have been proven wrong.

The university has changed its “Classroom Management System” from, the now defunct, WebCT® to Blackboard®. (While moving to a new campus, etc, etc, etc – just to make life that much more fun for faculty, staff and students) This has been a VERY STEEP learning curve for everyone, aided by the fact that none of us were given access to Bb or our courses until after the semester began. So here we are with new technology that we know nothing about, no FM to use even if we WANT to, and a heavy reliance by many of us on the technology for delivery of content and presentation within our courses. Sounds like a winning combo! LOL

Having used Bb prior to coming to Egypt, I have an ever-so-slight advantage. However the product has gone through many upgrades since I last used it.

I am managing a 20 section class (although not teaching in it) and asked the Bb specialist to make me a “designer” on the class site. This seemed like a reasonable request, it was eventually granted, and I busily removed much of the outdated information and simplified the exceedingly laborious pathways (4 or 5 “clicks”) to access files. I had been doing this for over a week, thinking that it was being seen by all parties in the course. I WAS WRONG. Only instructors could see the changes, and only in an “instructors only” course that no-one looks at.

So I went to the Bb specialist and asked why this was happening. I explained that I wanted to be able to post “Global” content that would go out to all sections. All I received in return was a blank stare, and the response, “That is not possible.”

After 30 minutes, 3 phone calls to higher and higher levels within the tech support office, and the incessant repetition of “That is not possible”, my head nearly exploded. The final result was that I was told that there is no technology to support what I want to do and given a look that said I must be smoking crack.

My final effort was to go to the Blackboard webpage to see what I could find. On the front page of their Higher Education section was a banner, “Streamline multiple sections for large courses”. HMMMMMMMM how interesting. When I clicked on that banner I got:

The Blackboard Content System streamlines managing multiple sections of a large course. For example, an instructor may create a learning object for use in 15 different sections of a large course. On most campuses today, that would mean creating 15 different files, one for each section. With the Blackboard Content System, the learning object is created and stored just once. The instructor then simply links to it from all 15 course sections. The result: more effective use of the instructor’s time. When the instructor wants to update the learning object, he or she does it in one place and only one time.

I don’t know if this is going to work – or if I can get the techies to believe it, but I’ve gotta try.


  1. If you can’t get the linky thing to work, you can do work-arounds by creating groups within one huge section, OR you can copy any one item to multiple sections — one at a time, but still. You can also copy an entire course and its info to other courses, if you have to set up a separate course per section. That’s what I do with my surveys — two sections, same course. I create one section (usually by copying from the previous year and then tweaking), then copy that to a second course.

    So other than the crazy, how are you guys?

    Comment by Hofmann, Julie — September 30, 2008 @ 2:12 pm

  2. Oh — also, don’t freak out at the new grade book. It’s more complicated to set up, but entering the grades is easier.

    Comment by Hofmann, Julie — September 30, 2008 @ 2:19 pm

  3. You know what you have to do…”stop smoking crack!” Tee hee and huge grins as I both nod ‘yes, I know what you are experiencing with IT’ and feel terrible that you have to experience the complete ineptitude of a poorly run IT program. Just think of all the stories you *now* have to tell about egypt. Not only have you lived there, learned to speak arabic and been able to travel from the epicenter of civilization…. you can talk for HOURS on the new campus too. I really like the book idea.

    Comment by evil twin — October 4, 2008 @ 6:28 am

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