By Pilar Abuin
November 6, 2012
By now, you have probably heard that Blackboard is being replaced by NYU Classes, and that the entire University will be switched over to the new learning management system by August 15, 2013. With such a major change, you may have questions about how this transition will affect your work, where your existing course data will live, and what you’ll need to do in preparation. Students, faculty, and staff are going to be impacted in different ways by this change, and this article will help explain which services you will need to access to get through this transition period.
In preparation for this transition, the NYU Classes team collected feature requests and usability feedback from pilot users throughout the spring and summer. Based on this input, we made adjustments to improve the interface and added requested functionality. This fall, over 6,500 faculty and students began using the improved NYU Classes service in over 700 courses, primarily from the Liberal Studies program, the Silver School of Social Work, and the recently-opened NYU Academic Centers in Sydney, Australia, and Washington, D.C.
Megan Carrigy, the Assistant Director of Academics from NYU Sydney, has been helping her faculty hit the ground running with NYU Classes for the past few months:
So far, I have found NYU Classes very simple and easy to use, especially in terms of creating and organising resources for students. We put all of our course readings on NYU Classes rather than collate printed Course Readers. Faculty have also been using the Announcements function regularly for sending out e-mails to their students. Faculty have been able to learn how to use these functions very easily, and some have started using other areas, such as the Forum, for students to share information and class work among themselves.
Carrigy also mentioned that NYU Sydney had only begun to explore the new features of the Assignments tool. One new enhancement is the integration of the “originality reporting” capability of TurnItIn, allowing faculty to easily check assignments submitted through TurnItIn for signs of plagiarism. In addition, pilot participant feedback has led to new organizational and collaborative functionality for the Lessons and Blogs tools, which will be available for spring 2013:
To access NYU Classes, visit the NYUHome Academics tab (home.nyu.edu/academics). In the “Course Sites” channel, you’ll see a button to log into NYU Classes. Faculty interested in using these new features can create their own course site for spring 2013 in NYU Classes. In just three steps, course sites can be created and ready to use, with course ID, title, and description automatically pulled from Albert. Note that faculty who will be teaching with NYU Classes in the spring and want to create a course site for a January term course will need to activate a Blackboard course site one last time (see the Course Site Request Form).
We recognize that many University community members have been using Blackboard for years and have important data stored there that they would like to retain. For faculty, NYU Blackboard course sites from summer 2011 through fall 2012 will automatically be archived and imported into NYU Classes. If faculty have course sites from the spring 2011 semester or earlier that they wish to bring into the new system, they can also request to have those sites migrated before Blackboard is retired on August 15, 2013. To do so, e-mail AskITS@nyu.edu with the complete course IDs (including term) of the sites you are requesting. Faculty or staff using Blackboard Organizational Sites can also migrate their content into NYU Classes as “Project Sites.” To do so, please send the course ID of the Blackboard Organizational Site you wish to have transitioned to the IT Service Desk at AskITS@nyu.edu.
After logging in, instructors should see their transitioned content from course sites from 2011 and 2012 listed under “My Active Sites.” These sites contain the resources, tests, and quizzes from previous Blackboard course sites. Anyone with the “instructor” role in the Blackboard course site will also have access to these resources in NYU Classes. However, the enrollment data for these sites will not be included, so students and TAs will not automatically have access to the site. Additionally, students will need to log into Blackboard to view any of their past content, such as discussion board posts and graded materials. Faculty will have the option to publish and add additional participants to these sites if they wish to share access with other people. These sites will also remain in Blackboard until August 15, 2013.
For many students, fall 2012 courses will be in Blackboard, and spring 2013 courses will be in NYU Classes. While you will have access to your past courses in Blackboard until August 15, 2013, any prior content submitted to Blackboard sites will not be migrated to NYU Classes. This means you will need to log into Blackboard to get access to your past submitted assignments, completed tests and quizzes, unofficial grades in the Grade Center, and discussion posts. It also means that your access to the materials posted by instructors (e.g., syllabi, posted readings, and lecture notes) will only be available from within Blackboard. If you wish to download and save any of these materials, you must do so before Blackboard becomes unavailable on August 15, 2013.
We understand that switching to NYU Classes is a major change for the NYU community. Tazuko Shibusawa, Associate Dean & Director of the MSW Program, shared her thoughts on the process after participating in the Silver School of Social Work’s transition this fall semester:
A change of this significance is no easy matter, and there’s always cause for concern, especially as an early adopter of any new technology. (The NYU Classes Project Team) were consummate professionals during this process, and with their guidance, this transition was a success. Our support staff, faculty members, and students were well prepared thanks to the excellent training and resources (they) provided. During the process, it was clear that our concerns and feedback were being heard.
Rest assured that there are resources available to make this process as smooth as possible. Review the NYU Classes Training and Support Wiki for details about self-paced online training modules, instructor-led workshops and consultations, and support documentation (as well as additional information for faculty and staff at Global locations). You can also find solutions to many questions regarding NYU Classes by searching the Ask ITS knowledgebase. In-person assistance is also available at the Digital Studio in New York (Bobst Library, fifth floor) and in the Digital Studio in Ahu Dhabi (NYUAD Library, second floor). If you experience any problems or have any questions, please send e-mail to AskITS@nyu.edu.
Pilar Abuin is a Senior Academic Technology Specialist within ITS Academic Technology Services.