Embedding ‘cloud’ content into Bb Vista – Caveat Emptor

Flickr , Slideshow, Google Sites, YouTube, Google Calendar, Twitter, De.li.cious, Poll Everywhere, Odeo Podcasts, Wikispaces … the list goes on.

Yes, this and other embeddable content can form a part of a well-constructed course. And display inside your course management system’s coursesite too. As though the content originated there.

What you should know before hand are these points, so that, when, after all consideration, you choose to embed this content, you understand, especially if you teach at the University of Notre Dame, you may not get the kind of troubleshooting support you would hope for. This is strictly due to the level of support staffing here at Notre Dame, and at many other institutions, not because we course management administrators are evil or unwilling!

Three considerations:

1). Do you intend on moving (copying or transferring) your content from one semester’s course shell to a new semesters’ course shell?

    • Here at Notre Dame most Instructors using Concourse do just that. Embedded content may have to be removed before the course will even transfer (and our administrators may need to be involved).
    • Therefore embedded content may have to be re-embedded each term.
    • Bottom Line: Allow plenty of time to before the semester starts to transfer and/or redo the embedding process.

2). Does the site/content/application you wish to embed require some level of permission management other than making content public or private? Or does the kind of content you wish to create in and of itself require that permissions be managed to abide by FERPA for privacy considerations for your students?

    • The Instructor will need to create and maintain permissions on the embedded site. For example, to embed a Google calendar that all your students can see, you would either need to make it a public calendar or ensure that all of your students have google accounts and manually add their permissions to the calendar.
    • Content intended to grow as each successive class contributes to it almost has to be public, otherwise the Instructor ends up having to manage permissions for students at the website from which the embedded content originates.

3). Display and treatment of embedded content is subject to change from course management service patch level to patch level. From what I glean from other institutions as well as our practice here at Notre Dame, it isn’t uncommon for a course management system to be patched two to three times a year, usually after a semester is over, but sometimes even at midterms.

    • Embedded content most likely to be altered or rendered undisplayable would be that using framesets (such as inside a learning module when it doesn’t open in a new window) or that embedded using javascript code rather than straight html.

Please comment on your experience utilizing embedded content in your Blackboard Vista or CE course.

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One response to “Embedding ‘cloud’ content into Bb Vista – Caveat Emptor

  1. Another recommendation: Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. Where possible keep originals or use exports to keep a copy of anything posted online.
    http://ma.gnolia.com/ (service like Delicious mentioned in the post) has a message up right now explaining they lost everyone’s data. It could have been Delicious.
    Similarly, video sites like
    Youtube take down content whenever they get a copyright violation notice without asking the user who posted it first.

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