Monday, June 04, 2007

Breaking Free from Blackboard

If, as some members of our cadre have expressed, you are less than pleased that it is impossible to show people outside the Emory community the amazing Blackboard sites that you have constructed, fret no more. With bFree, a java program developed by UNC's Information Technology Services, you can liberate all of the teaching materials locked away behind Blackboard's iron curtain. All you need is to export or archive your Blackboard course, then use bFree to open up the .zip file created through that process. Once that is done, you are given the option to extract this file as a series of files and folders, or as a web site. Either way retains the same hierarchical organization as the original Blackboard site, and the web option even applies a nice little style sheet to make things more presentable. For an example of the kind of web site you will get, click here to see a translation of the Blackboard site for the 181 class I taught this past semester. I just uploaded all of the files created by bFree to my WebDrive space. There isn't much depth to the site because we didn't use it very often. (I'll finally get around to making a post about how I used Blogger as an alternative to Blackboard sometime soon.)

Of course, you have to be careful about the kinds of things that you publish on the web in this way because of copyright issues. The nice thing about bFree is that it lets you select each individual level of organization that you want to extract, so you can keep copyrighted materials out of the extraction process altogether. Alternatively, you can just not upload the individual files that are subject to copyright, which is what I chose to do. This is why some of the links under "Readings" appear to be broken.

I think that this could be a very useful tool for showing off specific parts of your Blackboard sites to people who don't have access to Emory's Blackboard system, and for easily organizing your teaching materials on your own computer.


Blogger sap said...

Good find, Shawn. I think this is very good news...

9:19 PM  
Blogger Jenni Brady said...

I agree with Sarah: this is great.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Awesome find, Shawn. A really good way to showcase all of the work that we have going on behind the locked doors.

6:52 PM  

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