Oberlin Center for Technologically Enhanced Teaching


New tool presentation

Periodically we will be providing you with new tools to engage students and sessions to explain how to use them.

The particular tool explained in our next session (10 am May 21st, 2018)  is integrated directly with Blackboard and provides the capability to …

  • record lectures and presentations for later distribution.
  • connect to an outside presenter.
  • engage students virtually and to break up the virtual participants intogroups that can collaboratively work on a project.
  • screen share and connect with students on a one-on-one or small group basis e.g. office hours, advising, research.
  • allow students to screen share and connect with each other while working on a project or studying.
  • prerecord lectures in order to flip your instruction.
  • pollthe students during class.
  • provide a virtual way that you, tutors, and/or help desk personnel can assist students remotely.

If you are interested in learning more about this tool and how to use it, please fill out this VERY short form.


Clearing Cache in Safari

The issue with Blackboard not allowing uploads from Safari has been fixed.  The issue stems from a change that Apple implemented which caused Blackboard to change the code it used to upload files from local machines.  HOWEVER, if you tried to upload documents during the period between when Safari was updated and when the fix was applied, Safari will have placed some code in its cache that will need to be removed before you can get back to uploading documents using Safari.

Here is a short video on how you can ’empty your cache’ in Safari. Note that emptying your cache is NOT the same as clearing your history.



Announcing a new and unique opportunity for faculty, staff, students, classes, and organizations (basically EVERYONE) at Oberlin College. CIT/OCTET is sponsoring a ‘portal’ that will live on Wilder Bowl for 2 months starting on Sept 10th.  This portal will connect to other portals in a variety of locations around the world and is curated i.e. there is someone else that will take care of the logistics. You simply need to indicate what location you want to connect with and when. Then just show up and engage!

Some sample engagements that have occurred at Harvard and other locations:

Erbil A musician from the Harsham Camp performs traditional Arabic music for conference attendees.
Berlin Sheila Gallagher, presenting artist at AAR, runs a creative workshop with youth.
Erbil Dialogue: What are you studying? What do you hope to do?
Berlin Comedians and those with a good sense of humor trade jokes and skits from their communities. What humor translates? What gets lost in translation?
Gaza Rappers in Boston and Gaza City Share Music and Stories
Amman World History/World Geography/Contemporary Political Issues Harvard classes
Erbil Responding to poetry prompts, Anne Loyer
Berlin How Design and Technological Innovation Can Help Refugee/IDP Communities
Herat Improving Distance Education for Refugees
Amman Using Architecture to Improve Refugee Camps
Erbil Soccer Tips and Tricks

Portal Locations:

Current Sites

  • Brooklyn, USA – Tech Hub
  • Chicago, USA – Community Center (may not be available)
  • Colorado Springs, USA – Library
  • Milwaukee, USA – Community Center
  • Mexico City, Mexico – Public Park
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras – University
  • Adelaide, Australia – Public Site
  • Astana, Kazakhstan – Public Site
  • Herat, Afghanistan – Girls Coding School
  • Kabul, Afghanistan – University
  • Erbil, Iraq – Camp for Internally Displaced People and Refugees
  • Amman, Jordan – Community Center
  • Gaza, Palestine – Tech Incubator
  • Berlin, Germany – Refugee-Run Tech Hub
  • San Jose, USA – Public School
  • Nairobi, Kenya – University
  • Kigali, Rwanda – Tech Hub


If connecting with someone in any of these countries would be a valuable experience for your students, please fill out this preliminary form. A curator will be in touch to help facilitate your encounter.

more info on Shared Studios website



Collaborate vs Zoom

Video conferencing options at Oberlin College

There are two supported video conferencing options at Oberlin College. One is for course instructors and is fully integrated into all Blackboard courses. The other is available for students, faculty, and staff, independent of Blackboard.


Blackboard Instructors:

Collaborate – Should only be used from within Blackboard courses. Sessions are initiated through the Collaborate tool. Best practices and use cases for teaching and learning can be found on the Collaborate website.  Anyone who is an ‘Instructor’ in a course or ‘Leader’ in an org can initiate a conference. Conferences can include polling and screen sharing/recording options. Users without blackboard accounts can be invited into a Collaborate session via email.


There is an iOS and Android app for Collaborate


For assistance with Collaborate, check out online support or contact Blackboard directly.


All others:

Zoom – Should be used by people needing to connect outside Blackboard. Free accounts are available to everyone and are able to host sessions of two to three participants. Faculty and staff can obtain a license by contacting AV, at av@oberlin.edu, which will enable them to host sessions with more participants.


There is an app for your computer, as well as an iOS and Android app for Zoom.


For assistance with Zoom, check out online support or contact AV.


Using Google Hangouts to give support with a screenshare

Before you start your first video call

  1. Download and install the latest version of the Hangouts plugin for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari browsers.
  2. When asked to use your computer’s camera and microphone, click Allow.

Once both parties have done these steps, the call can be initiated from the assisting office.

Using Google Hangouts to give help

Start by going to https://hangouts.google.com and signing in using your ObieID.

After logging in, click on the Video Call button.

Give your Hangout a name. Once you hit Return, you will enter the video call.

Click on the Invite people button. Enter the email address of the person who needs support. Tell the person you’re supporting to check their email and click on the “Join” link to enter your video call.

Instruct the person you’re supporting to click on the green icon to the left of their window to begin the screenshare.

Instruct the person you’re supporting to select the screen they would like to share and click Start Screenshare.

You will then be able to see the person’s screen and assist them with their problem.

Video Tutorial

Click here to view a video of whole process


Grammarly for everyone

We are running a pilot of the Grammarly Premium product through June 30th, 2018.  Please request a trial version (see below). In late May we will send out a survey to guage interest in continuing our access to the Premium version.

What is it and how does it work?

Grammarly comes in 2 flavors: Free and Premium.  If you sign-up, you will get access to the Premium version.

The free version checks for basic spelling, and some grammar rules (around 150 checks), while the Premium version offers over 400 checks on grammar, style, sentence structure, and vocabulary use. On top of that, you get a plagiarism/citation detection tool. The advanced (premium) checks are highlighted in yellow.  to log into the Premium version we suggest you use the google login and use your ObieID@oberlin.edu and password.
It’s easy to use:
  • Copy and paste any English text into Grammarly’s Editor, or install Grammarly’s free browser extension for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge. Grammarly will help you write correctly on nearly every site on the web.

    Click on the red circle at the bottom of the page.
  • Grammarly’s algorithms flag potential issues in the text and suggest context-specific corrections for grammar, spelling, wordiness, style, punctuation, and even plagiarism. Grammarly explains the reasoning behind each correction, so you can make an informed decision about whether, and how, to correct an issue.
  • Download Grammarly for Microsoft® Office on Windows.

N.B. Unfortunately, it does not work in google docs. However, you can compose in the grammarly.com window and then copy and past into your google doc.

More information about Grammarly can be found on the Grammarly website.

To request an invite to access the premier version via the Oberlin College pilot program, fill out the form below. A survey will be sent out at the end of April to assess this product’s utility in our environment. The pilot runs through June 30th, 2018.  Further access will be determined after assessing usage statistics and feedback from the survey.


Creating a Podcast assignment

Tools for creating podcasts (audio files)

Some suggestions for those interested in creating a ‘podcast’ (audio) assignment for their students. 

Have students create a script (double-spaced, 1 page is about 1 minute)

Easiest tool to use is either Audacity (free download / Garage Band (comes on all Macs). Here are some useful tutorials for using these tools. 

Audacity Podcast Tutorial

Garageband Podcast Tutorial

If your students need any assistance with the assignment, have them contact our media consultants at ocmc@oberlin.edu.  They have drop-in hours Sunday through Thursday from 7-10pm.  The are colocated with the Writing Associates in the back of the first floor of Mudd. Also, if students want to experiment with higher quality audio, A/V has two USB mics that would be ideal. A/V is located on the 4th floor of Mudd.

Submitting and grading the assignment

The best way to have students submit the podcast and script is through Blackboard Journal.  The beauty of this mechanism is that you can quickly go through each one AND the submissions can be made available to the students after everyone has turned in their assignments by simply editing 1 journal setting.

Get into journal settings:


Check the appropriate box so that students can see each other’s work: 



Accounting for extra credit in the Blackboard grade center

A very useful video explaining how to add extra credit to a final grade or exclusively to a set of assignments, and have that update the grade a student sees in the Blackboard grade center.


Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign

Now that Adobe products are available in all labs on campus and for faculty/staff use, people have been asking which product should they use. Specifically, should one use Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign. I recently stumbled across a very easy to follow answer to this question. You can find it here: https://99designs.com/blog/tips/photoshop-vs-illustrator-vs-indesign/



Blackboard at Oberlin 17-18

Blackboard provides member-only and community sites for courses and organizations at Oberlin College.

Finding Blackboard

There are links to Blackboard on multiple sites within the oberlin.edu domain. However, I’ve found that the easiest way to get to is it to simply type ‘blackboard.oberlin.edu’ into the address bar at the top of the browser.  You can also search for ‘blackboard oberlin.’

Logging inBlackboard_logo

Your ObieID and password will get you into Blackboard.  Your ObieID is your first initial, last name (max of 8 characters) e.g. jcalisto.  Using your email address e.g. jcalisto@oberlin.edu or john.calistoga@oberlin.edu as your username will not work.

Getting help

Check out the Need Help tab. Common issues are addressed there. A search box will search Blackboard and relevant postings in our site for the answer to your question.  You can also go directly to HELP on the Blackboard site. Please don’t spend too much time searching for answers. It is very likely that our office (OCTET) has already worked through the issue.  Therefore, we recommend a 10-minute rule: If you can’t get an answer in 10 minutes, call (440 775-8345) or email OCTET (bbhelp@oberlin.edu or octet@oberlin.edu). We highly recommend contacting us if you intend on using the grade center.


Make sure your personal information is correct

you Most information in Blackboard comes from our Student/Employee information system.  Therefore, if it is incorrect in Blackboard, it is probably incorrect in Banner, our information system. If the information you see in Blackboard is incorrect, contact the appropriate office asap. Having incorrect information in Banner can affect many systems.  Students should contact the Registrar (registrar@oberlin.edu). Faculty and Staff should contact Human Resources (human.resources@oberlin.edu).

While most information is changed via contacting the registrar or H.R., your cell phone number (needed to activate txt messages from Bb), a website URL and your personal pronouns can be adjusted directly from within Blackboard.


Make sure you have access to the correct courses and orgs

Faculty should see unavailable AND available course sites as well as organizations corresponding to General Faculty, division (College or Conservatory),  and department. For those that have been here more than a year, sites for any committees they are on and advisees will also be available.  Other miscellaneous organizations may also appear in the My Organizations module.

All students should see any courses made ‘available’ by the instructor AND an advisor and a Class Hub organization. Once a major/minor has been declared, the department org for that major/minor will appear.  Furthermore, when a student is ready to graduate, other organizations will appear.

Set your NOTIFICATION Preferences

Set your notifications and remind your students to do the same.  You can also have Blackboard send txt messages by first adding your cell phone number in your Personal Information settings before going to the Notification Dashboard. There are many ways to get your Personal Information.  The easiest is to click on the ‘Check Info’ option in the My Info module on the landing page (the one with your photo in it).  To get to the Notification Dashboard go to the arrow next to your name in the top right corner, click on Settings and then click on Notification Dashboard (you’ll also see a link to Personal Information in this menu area).

If you wish to receive txt messages, you’ll need to enter your cell phone number in the Personal Information section.


Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 8.24.55 AM Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 10.16.52 AM Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 10.29.02 AM


The interface is customizable and can be different for staff, faculty and students.  Currently, the design presents 5 or 6 tabs:

Blackboard tabs

  • Academic Hub – Announcements will show up at the top. Frequently used tools will be links in the left column. Courses will show up in the center and organizations in the right column.  Your info will show in the left column under the Tools/Quick link module.
  • Survey – this tab only appears for students when it is time for them to evaluate their course.  Faculty/Staff should always have access to this tab.
  • Courses – list of ALL courses as well as info on registering, course locations etc.
  • Community – list of various organizations and tools are collated here including the user directory and classroom information.
  • Content Collection (only faculty/staff) – provides access to documents, images etc. in all your courses and organizations. It also allows for the storage of ‘institutional’ documents. It acts much like a google drive.
  • Need Help? Various request forms can be found here as well as information on how to use specific features.

Don’t forget to check out the subtabs!

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 4.45.17 PM

Additional noteworthy functionality:

Modules in each tab can be  …

  • rearranged drag the module by putting the mouse in the module header and clicking and holding while moving the module.
  • added
    Click on the Add Module button in the top left margin. If you have other information you would like to have access to as a ‘module,’ contact bbhelp@oberlin.edu with your idea and we’ll see what we can do.
    Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 11.17.27 AM

The Content Collection area (faculty/staff only) allows for easier management of documents.  The link titled ‘Content Collection’ at the top of the site will take you to a window where you can search for, modify, delete, or add documents in sites in which you are a member. You can also overwrite files. This will keep the links to the file but show users the new file rather than the old file.  More info

‘Personalize’ your tabs – give them your own color scheme by clicking on the ‘Personalize Page’ option in the top right corner of the site.

Use the Mobile App. Free access to Blackboard mobile app allows the viewing of organization and course materials, the adding of discussion posts, and the ability to have other interactions via a phone and/or tablet. There is a fast grader app for iOS devices that looks interesting and a separate one for students.  More info and links to apps.

Activate text messaging and txt to voice capabilities. This is related to the Notifications section but deserves additional attention. Get announcements and information about changes to your courses or orgs via txt or txt to voice messaging. While faculty and organization leaders will still be able to post announcements and send emails, users can set up additional notification channels by modifying their notification settings.


Specific information for instructors of courses