Exporting Collaborate Archives as Video Files

If you’ve tried exporting an archive file from Bb Collaborate recently, you may have noticed it takes an exceedingly long time for the file to finish converting. Unreasonably long, one might say. When you click the CONVERT link on Knowledge, you’re actually ordering a process that takes place at Blackboard, alongside every other CONVERT link clicked by every other faculty person at every other institution that uses Blackboard Collaborate. There are quite a few of those. As a result, these conversions take quite a lot of time. Fortunately, there’s a shortcut.

You can use Collaborate Publish (confusingly branded as Elluminate Publish when you get it installed on your desktop) to do the conversion work on your own machine. It’s still pretty time consuming (it may take you longer to publish the file than it took you to record it), but you’ll still probably be done quicker than if you waited for Blackboard to do the work for you.

Here’s how you do it:

First, you need to download and install Collaborate / Elluminate Publish. Go to the Publish web page. If you’re on Windows 8, we recommend installing the 32 bit version (the one that says “Download for Windows XP/Vista/7 (32-bit)”). You may have problems with the 64 bit version finding Java.

The Publish software will probably run as soon as you finish the install. You can leave it open, but set it aside for now. First you need to save that JNLP file you usually just RUN when launching a Collaborate session. Go to your course on Knowledge, find the archive file you want to convert, and launch the session. When you’re prompted whether you’d like to download or save PLAY.JNLP, choose SAVE instead of RUN. If your computer doesn’t ask you where you want to save, it’ll go to your downloads folder. Otherwise, pick someplace obvious (like the desktop). You’ll need it in a minute.

Downloading that PLAY.JNLP file won’t take a minute. Now bring back up the Publish software. If you closed it, hit your Windows button and start typing “elluminate publish”. It will likely show up before you finish typing.

The top line of the Publish window is RECORDING. Click the BROWSE button to the right of that line and locate your PLAY.JNLP file. If you didn’t pick a spot for it to be saved, look in DOWNLOADS.

The default options are probably fine for your publication. We recommend using the OPTIMIZE FOR MOBILE size — it’ll be a better experience for a broader range of users. Feel free to re-publish at desktop resolution if you have the time (or if you decide the smaller version just doesn’t have the level of detail you need).

Click CONVERT. It will ask you where you want to save the file. Select a location that makes sense, hit CONVERT, and be patient. Eventually, you’ll have a video and an audio file you can load up to Blackboard for your students to download and view at their leisure.

Remember, while Collaborate is convenient, it’s not the best tool for pre-recording content for your students. The Instructional Design Studio recommends using Camtasia Studio to create pre-recorded content. It’s easy to use, IDS even has laptops you can check out with the software installed, and a designer would be glad to publish your recordings and put them on your course site for you.

IDS Updates: Webinars, Wimba, Academic Integrity, Rubrics

Stay sharp

Whether you’re heading out or staying on campus, keep your online education skill up to snuff this summer with archived webinars from our partners.

UDM is a member of the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Group. The TLT has a deep archive of webinars on a huge variety of topics related to effective use of technology in teaching. Sample topics include active teaching/learning activities, using apps, social networking, copyright, strategies getting resistant students engaged in learning, and much, much more. If you’d like access to the archive, email Russell Davidson (davidsor@udmercy.edu) to get a username and password.

If you’d like more Knowledge-specific instruction, the Blackboard’s YouTube channel provides a number of webinar recordings and tutorials on teaching with Blackboard’s tools. (Note, UDM may not have access to some tools or content covered in these tutorials.)


If you’d rather focus on UDM-provided instruction, check out the Instructional Design Studio blog for text and video walkthroughs of Blackboard tools and tips from the designers on using online tools in your teaching.


Still using Wimba archives? Export those archives before it’s too late!

Wimba will no longer be available in the Fall. If you’ve been having your students watch lectures recorded in and provided through Wimba, you’ll need to download video (MP4) versions of these archives, then upload these files to the relevant courses. Need help with the process? Check out this tutorial, or give IDS a call!


Academic Integrity, Testing, and Blackboard

Considering offering online testing as a part of your traditional or online course? We’ve put together a few simple strategies you can employ that will discourage collaboration and research during an online test.



Rubrics are an excellent tool for both standardizing how you grade an assessment AND to communicating your expectations to your students. You are likely already using one or more rubrics in your courses – perhaps you’re providing students with a Word or Excel rubric file. Blackboard has a built-in rubric tool which is both pretty powerful and easy to use. We’ve put together a couple videos to help you create and apply rubrics.


Don’t forget to make your courses available

Teaching this summer? Remember, until you make your course site available your students won’t be able to access the online content you’ve created. Don’t remember how to make your site available? Follow the link below:


The Instructional Design Studio
313 578-0580

Academic Integrity, Testing, and Blackboard

More and more courses are being taught online or at least have an online component in the course work. Testing is often a part of online courses, just like it is in traditional, face-to-face courses. When administering an online test, there are a few strategies you can employ that will encourage honesty.

Random Questions, Random Answers

The first and most effective strategy is to provide students with a randomized test. IDS recommends putting your test questions into one or more question pools. When you create the test, use the REUSE QUESTION item to create a RANDOM BLOCK of questions. You should consider putting more questions in your pool than the students will have on the actual test. For example, if your test is 25 questions, consider drawing those questions from a pool of 30-35 questions. This way, not only will each test have the questions in a random order, each test will actually have different questions. If you want everyone’s test to include a handful of specific questions, you can still add individual questions alongside random blocks.

Tips for using Question Pools effectively:

  • Remember, when adding random blocks, you can only use a question pool once per test. You can re-use the pool in a different test (say, adding questions from the Quiz 1 pool into a cumulative Midterm Exam).
  • If you want to make sure there are a certain number of questions on a given topic, create a separate question pool that topic (e.g., a Chapter 1 pool may have 12 questions on chapter 1, 10 of which will be pulled into the Midterm Exam).
  • Similarly, if you want to make sure there are a certain number of question types (true/false questions vs multiple choice questions vs multiple answer questions), put each question type into a separate pool.
  • If you have multiple questions that depend on a single figure or example make sure you include that figure or example with each question. Alternatively, you can create a pool with just questions that relate to that example. When you’re building the test, add a first question that includes the diagram, then the a random block of questions after it. For example, if I want 5 questions on Figure A, I’ll create an 8 question “Midterm-Figure A” pool. When I’m building the Midterm Exam, I’ll add 1 multiple choice question that starts with Figure A, then I’ll add a random block of 4 questions from the “Midterm-Figure A” pool.

In addition to randomizing the order of the questions, you can also randomize the answers. In the options for Multiple Choice / Multiple Answer question types, you’ll notice a checkbox for “Show answers in a random order.” If you select this, then not only will the questions be randomized, but the answers will be randomized as well. So while two students may have the same question text, answer A will not be the same for both students.

If you’re particularly concerned that your students may be collaborating on a test, you may also want to include answer numbering (or lettering) option. By including numbering with the answers, you provide students with a short-hand for sharing answers that doesn’t actually work. For example, a student may make a note that for this particular question the correct answer is b and pass that information on to a peer, not realizing that on another student’s test the answer option they saw as b could easily be any other letter.

Narrowing the Options

The TEST OPTIONS page contains a number of features that can make it significantly more difficult for students to look up answers in a book or their notes or collaborate on answers. Under the TEST AVAILABILITY heading, make sure you check FORCE COMPLETION. This will ensure that a student has to complete the test in a single sitting. Once a test is opened, your students must submit the test. They cannot save their work, go have a sandwich (and flip through their notes), then return to finish the test.

Setting a timer is also an important way to discourage students from collaborating or researching answers. Consider roughly much time a student should need to read, consider, and answer each question, then set the timer accordingly. You’ll notice that you also have the option to AUTO-SUBMIT an exam when time expires. By default, tests do not close when time expires. The timer continues to run, and students can continue to work on a test. For these situations, IDS recommends you establish a standard scale for point loss after the time expires. You may tell your students: if you’re 30 seconds over the time limit there will be not penalty, but for every 15 seconds over the 30 second mark, you’ll lose 10 points. Alternatively, you could set the exam to Auto-Submit when the time expires.

Most faculty provide students with a window of at least a few days to complete an online exam. The ability to schedule their exam around work, day-care, or other responsibilities is one of the advantages of online testing (and online courses more generally). However, this also means that some students will be seeing the test (and finding out how well they did) before others. For this reason, consider limiting the feedback on an exam to score while the test is open. After the test window has closed, you may return to the options page and allow students to see their answers and even the correct answers.

TEST PRESENTATION can also help limit a student’s ability to research answers and share information. Providing the test in a question-at-a-time format that prohibits backtracking (the student sees question one, provides an answer, then advances to question two) makes it impossible for students to skim through a test, answering the questions they know and leaving time with an set amount of time to research more difficult questions. Obviously, this presentation style will not work for questions that share resources (as in the Figure A example above). Unfortunately, this presentation style also makes it impossible for students to answer the easier questions first, then give more consideration to the more difficult questions without doing any outside research.

Finally, selecting the RANDOMIZE QUESTIONS box on the test options page will shuffle all the questions in your test. If you’ve used a single random block to create a test, then this option is redundant. However, if you’ve created the test from multiple random blocks, selecting this option will mix up the questions from the blocks (so your questions from the Chapter 1 Pool and the Chapter 2 Pool will be mixed together).

The Alternative: Proctored Exams

If none of the above options are sufficient and you are teaching a course that contains a same-time, same-place element, you may consider giving a proctored test. To run a proctored test, you will need to schedule a date and time for the exam with your students. You will also need to reserve a computer lab in which the students will take the exam (or a classroom, if you plan to give the students a traditional pen-and-paper exam). Then you or a Teaching Assistant will need to be present to observe the students’ test taking. Depending on your students’ availability, you may need to provide multiple time slots for your students.

Remember, if you are teaching a fully online course, offering a proctored on-campus exam is not an option. It is not reasonable to expect students to drive in from across the state to take an exam. Also, please remember that proctoring these exams is your responsibility. At this time, the University does not provide test proctoring services for online or hybrid students.

Additional Resources:

Creating tests using pools

Creating tests or pools in Blackboard using Respondus

Deploying a test

Avoiding locked out students in proctored Blackboard tests

Adding user permissions in Lime Survey

There may come a time when you would like to share your survey with someone to help assist in the editing/data gathering process such as a colleague, assistant etc. To do so, you may want to give that user their own set of permissions to the survey. Permissions can be tailored to whatever you, the survey creator decides they need access to. More on that in a minute…


Once you are signed in, select the survey from the drop down menu that you wish to give your peer (or whomever) permissions to. NOTE: You need to have a survey created in order to add user permissions to a survey.

You should see a new row of icons. The third from the left is a piece of paper with a pencil, put your mouse over that icon “Survey Properties”, then select “Survey Permissions”.

You should then see a drop down menu next to “User:”. Select the person you wish to add from the list, then click the “Add User” button.
NOTE: The user you wish to add must have already signed into Lime Survey in order for you to add the user to your survey. If you can not find someone, have them first sign into the site to activate their Lime Survey account.

You will be prompted with a “User Added” message. Next, click the “Set survey permissions” button.

From there, you will pick the permissions you wish to give to your user, then click “Save Now” to save the permissions you just set for that user.

This is fully customizable to however you see fit so you may set the permissions for each user you wish to share your data with.

You may repeat this process to add as many folks as you wish.

How to Create a Youtube Slideshow

Before you begin, create a Youtube account (see youtube site for instructions).

After signing into your Youtube account, follow these steps to create your project using photographs.

1. Click the arrow next to the account icon.  (A section at the top will open which will display all videos loaded and viewed with this account.  You don’t have to open this section to upload, but it’s nice to have a full display.)

2. Click “upload” as indicated here.

3. Choose this link to create your slideshow (a series of photographs is called a “slideshow” even if it’s displayed as a video in YouTube).  (Be sure to use your own photographs.  Do not copy photographs from the web.)

4. Select “upload photos” at the window that displays next.

5. Select the photos you want to use for your slideshow (in this example, I’ve selected 10 photos at once by highlighted the ones I wanted to use).

6. At the page that follows, click and drag the images into place to arrange them as you’d like to see them.  Then click “Next” at the lower right of the page to go to the next step.

7. Adjust the final version of your slideshow by choosing:  1) the duration of each slide presented to viewers,   2) any effect you’d like to add (such as “pan & zoom”),  3) the type of transition you’d like to see between photos (I usually use “crossfade”), and  4) any music you’d like to add (select music based on style and length to match the images displayed).

8. Once you’ve edited the settings, click “upload” in the lower right corner to complete and publish your slideshow movie.

NOTE: You can add privacy settings on the final page, along with tags, description, and other settings.

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