Internal Training for Staff for Blackboard Content System Management

person using laptop
  • Responsibilities: Instructional Design, Educational Technology
  • Target Audience: Staff
  • Tools Used: Zoom
  • Budget: N/A, internal project
  • Client: University of Illinois College of Medicine
  • Year: 2021

Overview

At the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), we use the learning management system, Blackboard. The university pays for storage space. I am on the LMS Governance Board for the university and we have deduced that many people across the university do not know how to use the content system that is built into Blackboard. I completed a comprehensive and systematic review of all of the courses for the college of medicine to determine overall course file size. Unfortunately, the college of med courses were some of the largest at the university. It turned out that many coordinators and faculty did not understand or know that there is a content system within Blackboard. What they would do is re-upload documents over and over, which ultimately made the course sites massive in file size. There were situations also when they assumed when the unlinked a document within the system, it was deleted from the back end, which is not how it works.

Process

The file linked below will give you a visual representation of the process of selecting files within the Blackboard content system to recycle. It is in .tiff format. Therefore, the size of the file is around 7 mb and scales up and down more efficiently.

Action Map

Initially, I worked with the UIC Teaching Solutions group to determine the amount of space the content in our college tends to use. Once we had a good idea of how much space each course used, I went through each one and used the 360º tool within Blackboard, to remove files that has been duplicated (sometimes many times) to reduce the size of our courses. In turn, this helped the university keep overall costs down.

I did some training sessions for our staff at UIC College of Medicine (UICOM) in spring 2021 on how to use the content storage system within Blackboard more effectively. By doing this, they are able to help us keep our sizes down to an acceptable limit. This ~45 minute meeting recording explains how we took action to reduce our storage to a more manageable level.

Results and Takeaways

Even after doing this training with our coordinators, it is still up to me in my role as director of instructional design for the college to ensure we are maintaining a reasonable content system size. The staff is overwhelmed and we are chronically understaffed. Otherwise I would have requested that they keep up with the content system and weeding unused files. After sharing with Technology Solutions what we have been doing to reduce the size of our courses, they were very appreciative.

This project is important for a lot of reasons. One of the main reasons is to help the university keep costs low and to help our internal staff understand how to use the content system so they avoid re-uploading content which causes bloat.

Explaining How to Use Adobe Spark

This is an example of using Camtasia to record and edit a short video tutorial for staff and faculty on how to use Adobe Spark as a presentation tool alternative to PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides, or other presentation software.

  • Responsibilities: Instructional Design, multimedia design
  • Target Audience: Faculty and staff at UICOM
  • Tools Used: Adobe Spark, Camtasia
  • Budget: N/A (internal project).
  • Client: University of Illinois College of Medicine
  • Year: 2020

Osmosis

  • Responsibilities: Instructional Design, eLearning Development, Learning Innovation
  • Target Audience: Students and faculty
  • Tools Used: Osmosis
  • Budget: N/A, internal project
  • Client: Students, Faculty, Staff
  • Year: 2014-present

Overview

At the University of Illinois College of Medicine (UICOM), we subscribe to a self-paced study tool called Osmosis for student and faculty use. Essentially, it is a web-based and mobile application that makes medical education more efficient for learners. Content, such as Word, PPTX, & PDFs, etc. from UICOM courses is uploaded to the Osmosis system by staff or sometimes even students who volunteer to do it. The Osmosis system scans the readable text on these uploaded documents and links to relevant educational content like videos, USMLE-style practice questions, and references to First Aid for students to use while studying. 

I oversee Osmosis for all three campuses and analyze weekly usage statistics such as the number of videos viewed and flashcards/questions created or used. I also analyze student usage in order to help them maximize their time on the site and to use the study plans features effectively.

Each of the three campuses has their own ‘workspace’ for each class. So, for example, the class of 2023 would have three different workspaces for Chicago, Peoria, and Rockford. Students are encouraged to ‘join’ each workspace but it is not required. Because curricular content at each campus is for the most part as similar as possible, each workspace should have the same content uploaded to the Osmosis system.

Faculty are also strongly encouraged to use the Osmosis system. There are hundreds of short videos on various basic science, organ systems, and clinical reasoning that the faculty can assign to students as preparatory work for active learning sessions. Osmosis has recently introduced video playlists. As a pilot, we have been creating weekly video playlists and will query students and faculty on the efficacy and usability of these playlists.