Digital Detours: Solutions

This list contains proactive solutions for keeping distance courses running when Blackboard, Elluminate Live, or email are not functioning properly.  Outages seldom happen for any length of time, but here are some great ideas to consider as you plan your next course.  

Collect external contact information from students at the beginning of the semester. 

  • Create local spreadsheet or email contact group to save your students’ contact info.
  • Create a content folder or menu item in Blackboard (e.g. Start Here or Precourse Activity) that might include:
    • An activity for students to update their UAOnline contact information (phone/email primarily) so you will be able to utilize the Email Class feature in the Faculty section of UAOnline.
    • A Blackboard quiz or form (e.g. Google Docs) to collect student alternative email/cell phone.
    • Create student groups that have each others’ contact info (or a phone tree).

Establish communications expectations and response times.

  • Put a note in your contact info/introduction that lets students know that you will respond to emails within X number of hours (e.g. 24 or 48) and what your preferred method of communication is. That way, when they don’t get a response, they know you didn’t receive their message.
  • Use alternative communication method with students instead of email (e.g. Google Voice, Twitter, Blackboard messages, Blackboard discussion board).
  • Consider group texting to students (e.g. Class Parrot)

Tell students what to do if they can’t get into an eLive class meeting  (i.e. Plan B)

  • Let them know to check their UAA email immediately. If they see an email from you, it is a problem everyone is having. If not, they should try these troubleshooting tips.
    • Try a different browser (Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome).
    • Try a direct connection to the internet (rather than wireless).
    • Try clearing Java cache: Article with directions
    • Try updating your version of Java.
    • Call UAA call center: (907) 786-4646 or Toll Free (877) 633-3888
  • Provide alternate eLive link (or alternate public elive session) to students in an email and encourage students to bookmark it or save the email.
    • Set up an elive session within your Blackboard course: be sure Edit Mode is ON > Click Tools on the menu > Elluminate Live! > find your class meeting link and click Modify on the far right. Without making any changes, click Submit—but before you click OK, click the Send Email link. Send an email to yourself with the subject “link to elive meeting” and the class name. Click submit. Now you can forward that email or just copy the meeting link and provide it to students/guests to get into elive without Blackboard.
    • Set up a public elive session outside of Blackboard. Register and create a public session on UAA's public Elive website.
  • Identify a method to record lectures (e.g. MyBrainShark, Captivate, Camtasia).
  • Identify alternative synchronous meeting space (audio conference, Google Talk, Skype, Google+ Hangouts, Vyew, DimDim, WizIQ, etc.)

Create/Save course materials and assignments outside of Blackboard

  • Create local copies of assignments/weekly tasks (all Bb content) using external documents (PDFs) with weblinks that can be distributed via alternative methods. Or save Blackboard webpages directly in PDF format.
  • Use external webpage/cloud for course materials (e.g. UAA faculty website, Google Docs, Wiggio, Edmodo, Dropbox, Publisher’s textbook companion site)
  • Use Google+, Edmodo, or Facebook to create another connected classroom environment. (Using Facebook article)
  • Save/Share all web resources (websites and videos) using social bookmarking tool (e.g. Diigo).

Find a favorite tech blog (or other resource) that keeps you up-to-date with your current technology habits (e.g., …)

Selected items from literature review

Digital Detours is a subcommittee of the UAA eLearning Working Group, fall 2012