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IT Services Technology News

(March 2012) 

Blackboard Learn Update 
Blackboard Learn Logo

The Spring Semester began with a successful launch of all courses in Blackboard Learn 9.1.  


Instructor training has been offered by IT Services since last August, and faculty interest and participation resulted in record enrollment in the classes offered by IT Services through February 2012. Training for the rest of the Spring semester will focus on each instructor's individual needs. A member of the Blackboard Learn faculty support team will meet with any instructor requesting assistance. To request additional training or assistance with Blackboard Learn contact the IT Services Help Desk or use this Special Request Form


New Resources for Instructors    

Recently, IT Services unveiled a collaborative resource for instructors: Novell Vibe (see article below), which contains a designated area for Blackboard Learn LMS.  

Blackboard Learn LMS Resources: 

  •  Blackboard Learn Knowledge Base - with searchable topics for faculty and students
  • Faculty Discussion - Technical Q&A - an area where faculty can pose questions for the Blackboard support team  
  • Blackboard Fellow Wiki - a faculty perspective, and faculty resources contributed by Blackboard Fellow, Steve Carr   
  • Product Enhancement Suggestion Request Form -  direct link to suggestion form

A login with an IPFW account is required to access the Blackboard Learn LMS resource.


Instructors will also notice a new module on the My Blackboard tab after logging into Blackboard Learn. The 'Faculty Resources Links' module provides shortcuts to Helmke Library, CELT, Blackboard Fellow Wiki and IT Services Resources. 


Keeping Up with Blackboard Learn

Prior to the start of the Spring Semester, our Blackboard Learn system was upgraded from version 9.1 SP6 to 9.1 SP7. A second update occurred without interruption of service after the start of the semester to version 9.1 SP7 HF1.


Blackboard Learn version 9.1 SP8 has just been released and is not yet in production.  


The newest version fixes issues reported by users. It will offer the option of using a new and cleaner template. Faculty will be able to configure their course menu more easily with new course customization tools. 


With this updated version, better integration with the student information system (Banner) will be possible. The Banner upgrade/support group and our Blackboard support group are working towards bringing this newest version of Blackboard into production for Summer I, 2012.  


Spring 2012 Late Addition

The Echo 360 Module has been integrated with Blackboard Learn. Faculty with video on the Echo 360 server can now add a link to the media in their class content as an interactive tool.

What is Novell Vibe?
Novell VibeVibe is a Web-based tool for campus collaboration and social networking.  Share spaces with anyone at the university to communicate, manage projects, tasks, and more. Vibe access is for staff, faculty, and students. Vibe has a variety of folders/tools available to use such as: wiki, blog, micro blog, discussion, tasks, calendar, files, guestbook, photo album, survey. Secure team spaces are possible in Vibe. You will be prompted for your IPFW username/password when accessing Vibe at

The campus knowledge base has moved to Vibe because of Vibe's great search-ability. This new knowledge base makes use of Vibe's wiki tool.


Blackboard Learn Resources available in Vibe

A Vibe workspace was the perfect choice for putting together a variety of resources for faculty using wiki and discussion folders. This resource offers instructors a location to ask questions, to suggest product improvement, and to discuss their experiences using Blackboard Learn. 


More Great ideas with Vibe

IT Services Technology News is going Vibe. InfoShare archives and the current InfoShare will be available in Vibe. Between InfoShare publications, look for technology changes and security information that will also be posted.


What can you do with Vibe? A departmental handbook, new employee orientation, director's blog, project or steering committee, student worker tasks, accreditation preparation, meeting minutes, department photo space are just a few of the ways to use Vibe. Sample workspaces demonstrate a few of these ideas.


To request a Vibe demonstration for your department or group, contact Todd Raines,, 260.481.6031.


IT Services is offering Vibe training beginning in March. IT Services March training schedule.

Accessible Web Content - Halfway Mark
Web AccessibilityWeb Accessibility is a term used to describe the guidelines and regulations that Web authors follow so that Web page content is written clearly for all users. Web accessibility considers how content is viewed by assistive technology such as screen readers.
IPFW Web Accessibility policy applies to all official Web pages and associated Web-based services such as Blackboard Learn course content.
Web content must comply by March 15, 2014 and progress must be documented in an annual report.

Reminder - Accessibility Reporting Deadline is March 15, 2012

The top 50% of legacy web pages which are used most frequently must be in compliance with the policy by the deadline, or the submitted reporting form must include an explanation of what steps will be taken to meet the policy goals. Each official IPFW Website must file an updated report yearly, even if the site is not included in the top 50% of most visited sites. The site representative should use the Status Report Form located on the Office of Institutional Equity site for this reporting.    


Faculty are not included in the reporting process at this time, but this half-way milestone offers another opportunity to remind instructors to review all course content with accessibility in mind.


Short Checklist for Instructors:

  • An accessible syllabus (accessible syllabus template
  • Instructional materials purposed for reading should be in accessible PDF format.
  • All other instructional materials that may be needed in an editable format such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoints should be accessible.
  • Attention should be paid to color and contrast.
  • All images should have alternative text.

** See the complete Best Practices and Checklist for Accessible Course Content 

** Get accessibility training 

Security News

VPN Required for Remote Desktop

For those who use remote desktop to connect to an on-campus computer from an off-campus location, a VPN connection is now required, first, in order to connect to campus resources. 

Information on setting up the current PPTP VPN client is found within our IT Services Knowledge Base.


A new SSL VPN is now available. SSL VPN is the preferred VPN connection method. Eventually SSL VPN will replace the current PPTP VPN, but for now both options are allowed: PPTP VPN and SSL VPN.


SSL VPN uses SSL protocol to provide a secure connection between remote users and internal network resources. One of the benefits of SSL VPN is it's ease of use for the user.  Information on setting up SSL VPN connections is available to users in the IT Services Knowledge Base. 


FTP Due to Retire

FTP is a protocol used to transfer files over the internet.  FTP is typically used to connect to network drives from off campus. This method has been around for many years and isn't up to current security standards. Your username, password and files are sent over the internet in clear text and are readable by anyone industrious enough to figure out how to do it. Because of this, IT Services is in the process of retiring FTP services which has allowed faculty, staff and students to upload and download files from their I, O and P drives for years.  If you are using an FTP client like FileZilla, Novell Netdrive, WSFTP; or an FTP enabled program like Dreamweaver to access your files off campus, you will not be able to use these after FTP is retired.

FTP's replacements allow access to your files without the use of additional software. Both Windows and Mac have built in capabilities to access your network storage. Windows users will use a protocol called WebDAV and Mac users can use a protocol called CIFS.  Although Mac users can use WebDAV, access is not native to the Mac OS and additional software would need to be downloaded to use it.  


Faculty, staff and students using WebDAV or CIFS should be able to connect to any of their network drives and will use their IPFW username and password to establish the secure connection. Instructions will be available in the IPFW Knowledge Base once the retirement date is announced.

IPFW is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access University