I got to attend a development meeting the other day, and got the go-ahead to tell you about some of the things they're working on for My Big Campus. I'm excited about the news, and I hope you will be too.
Late this spring, or early summer, you'll see a newly redesigned My Big Campus website, incorporating features that many of you have requested. I'll have more information and screenshots when we're closer to releasing the update, but here the highlights.
MBC Drive will replace "Your Stuff" and consolidate all your content: Bundles, Schoolwork, Documents, and file uploads.
You'll be able to create folders in your MBC Drive to organize your items.
MBC Library search
Teachers will be able to find published Schoolwork and Bundles in the MBC Library, as well as websites, YouTube videos, and other items.
Search for your own items, items from your school, your district, or shared by the entire MBC community.
Other advanced search types: standard, keyword, item type, and more.
The layout and navigation of the My Big Campus website will adapt for easier interaction on all sizes and types of devices: smartphones, tablets, netbooks, laptops, and desktop computers. You'll get an idea of how this will work by logging into the Parent Portal from your phone, tablet, and computer.
MBC will be easier to navigate for users who require assistive technology or who need to use the website in languages other than English.
The Android and iOS versions of the My Big Campus mobile app will be upgraded to support more of the features currently available only in the website version of MBC.
Schools: Plan ahead for summer training
If you're responsible for staff training, plan to update your training materials so teachers are up to speed on the new interface before school starts again after the summer break. We know you'll have plenty of questions, so join us in MBC Trainers, where we'll have sample training resources ready for you to adapt by the time the update goes live.
Got ideas and suggestions related to the subject of this blog post? Let me know in the comments.
Just before Thanksgiving last year, I briefly mentioned NBC Learn in a blog post. In today's blog, I'd like to explain more about NBC Learn, and what it means to My Big Campus users.
NBC Learn is a collection of more than 14,000 resources for K-12 education. The collection includes NBC News material going back to the 1920s and provides educational content in more than two-dozen subject areas. All resources include captions, downloadable transcripts, and citation information, and are aligned with academic standards.
We've added the entire K-12 collection to the My Big Campus Library. To find and preview NBC Learn content, just add "nbc" to your keyword search (e.g., history nbc). The NBC Learn logo will appear next to items from the collection. Anyone can view NBC Learn videos from the MBC Library (click the video title or thumbnail image). You can also add NBC Learn content to Bundles.
Here's just one example of the great content
NBC Learn, the education arm of NBC News, offers an original video series called “Writers Speak to Kids.” Through interviews with popular and award-winning children’s book authors, this video series reaches out to young readers and writers to inspire and teach. With questions narrated by NBC News correspondent Jenna Bush Hager, the authors featured share their writing process and experiences, helping students to learn more about the craft and techniques of creative writing.
The complete 17-part video series is now available on NBC Learn, featuring a wide variety of authors including Peter Brown, Nick Bruel, Michael Buckley, Doreen Cronin, Douglas Florian and more.
This video explains more about using NBC Learn with My Big Campus:
You can also join one of our scheduled training webinars, presented by MBC staff, to learn more about how to make the most of this valuable content. Click here for signup information, or choose one of these upcoming webinars:
If your school subscribes to NBC Learn, add your subscription information so anyone in your school can play the videos.
An authorization token allows subscribing schools to access the full content directly from My Big Campus. If you're a school or district admin, you can add your school's subscription information on the Administration page: Navigate to Administration > Schools > click on school name > Applications. The following illustration shows the steps.
NBC Learn is another one of the many ways My Big Campus helps you enrich your lessons. I hope you'll take some time to explore this great resource. If you're already using NBC Learn in the classroom, or if you have questions or suggestions, let me know in the comments.
I've got an exciting new feature to talk about today: grade level filtering in the My Big Campus Library. As you'll recall, we made it possible a few months ago to disable the Library for students by editing Policies. This setting removed the Library link from the user's navigation, and removed Library item from search results. With blocking enabled, only items shared by a teacher were available for viewing.
Grade level filtering works a little differently. When enabled by Policy, library items whose minimum grade level is higher than the one you select will be hidden from search results. And, while students can still browse the library, they won't be able to view any item that has a higher grade level than their Policy allows. This also applies to items shared by a teacher in a wall or discussion post, assignment, or group resources -- grade level filtering takes priority.
You can deploy this for an entire school by editing the "all users" policy. Or, to apply it to selected grades, create custom Policies, and assign them to Groups containing students at each grade level -- you can use existing groups for this, or import a SIS file to create and populate a group with all students at a specific grade level or range. This policy setting has no effect on non-student users.
This update is currently in testing, and should be available on the live My Big Campus website later this week.
Best practices for admins and teachers
If you've previously had to disable the Library entirely for your youngest students, this new feature gives you more options, but there are some important things to consider before you consider turning it on:
Before deploying this feature for your school, see if the filtered results are acceptable for your students, teachers, and parents: assign a custom policy to a student account, then log into that account to browse and search the Library.
Although you can specify student grade levels by importing a SIS file, this does not affect library filtering -- you must edit and apply a Policy to enable filtering.
When you upload to the library, make sure the minimum and maximum grade levels you select are are reasonable. Mature subjects such as driver education, substance abuse, relationships, human reproduction, crime, war, or violence may be instructional and appropriate for older students, but the same content may be confusing, upsetting, or scary for younger kids.
The MBC Library contains items submitted by thousands of users – mostly by teachers and other staff, however some schools allow student contributions. Most of this content was uploaded before we implemented grade level filtering, so the grade level information supplied by the contributor may not always be reliable. We've added a category in the "Report Abuse" list for "Inappropriate Grade Level" that will help our staff and recategorize content.
Grade level filtering is not intended as a way to search for curriculum for a particular year or grade. Browse the playlists in the Khan Academy and Other Video Collections for specific concepts, and share those lessons with students who are ready for them.
Depending on the subject area, "Advanced" does not have to mean "Inappropriate." Don't limit students to their own grade level and below -- if they've achieved competence with the standard curriculum, keep them engaged by allowing them to explore content one or two grades ahead.
Take some time with your teachers to update your own Library contributions, and coach them on selecting appropriate grade levels for any new content they add.
How do I enable filtering?
Important: Grade level filtering is only available to schools and districts that have integrated My Big Campus with their Lightspeed web filter. "Freemium" schools won't have access to Policies. If you're a Lightspeed customer who needs help integrating My Big Campus with your filter, contact email@example.com.
Log in as a school or district administrator, then click Administration in the top navigation bar.
From there, click the Policies tab. Select and edit the policies that should have grade-level filtering.
In the Library Item Access box, select the grade level, then save the Policy.
If you're editing the built-in "all students" policy, the new settings will take effect immediately.
If you're editing a custom policy, make sure you add Assignments by users or groups. Adjust the policy priority as needed so the highest level policy takes effect.
We've got a busy summer ahead of us, with lots of exciting new features still to come. If you have suggestions or questions, let me know in the Comments.
My Big Campus offers many different Resource Sharing options.
You can control where you want to share each item:
Your Photos page
The Resource Library
Your Stuff (Personal Files)
To change where your file is shared, click the “gear” icon:
To see where your file’s being used, click the Globe icon:
You can also share items from Your Stuff, Quick Links, MBC Documents and Library Items on your Group Resources page, or, you can upload resources directly from your computer. It’s as easy as “Click,” “Pick,” and “Share.”
We're always looking for ways to improve My Big Campus. Got a question? A suggestion? An Idea? Let me know in the Comments, and I’ll share your feedback with the development team.
Earlier this week, I promised to give you a sneak preview of some new My Big Campus features we'll be releasing in the next few days.
The first update is for everyone: we’ve made search results more relevant. In the latest update to My Big Campus, your groups, school, and district will be ranked higher in the results. This should make it easier to find people, discussions, and items.
The next feature is for teachers. A lot of you have been asking for an easy way to “preview” quizzes and assignments as a student, without the administrative burden of creating test users. You’ll now see a Student View button when you’re creating or editing a quiz or assignment. Click this button to view the schoolwork as a student. Click Your View to resume editing.
The other major new feature affects the Library. We’ve had requests, particularly from elementary schools, for controlled access to the My Big Campus Resource Library. Although we believe that filtering and manual curation makes the MBC Library safe and appropriate for students, we recognize that some school admins want more control over the age appropriateness of the library.
With the latest update to My Big Campus, administrators can enable or disable the Library with user policies. Here’s how it works:
If you disable the Library, users will not see the top-navigation link to the Library, nor will they see Library items in search results.
Users without Library access will only be able to see items shared by their teacher.
Users will still be able to upload and share personal files in Your Stuff, but may not add items to the Library.
We encourage you to use this new option with care, and only in cases where no other appropriate solution will work for your students. For most middle and high schools, it’s not necessary to disable the library completely.
I’m always interested in your ideas and suggestions to improve My Big Campus. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.