Winter is Just Around the Corner. So is Blackboard Service Pack 8 Upgrade!

You may have heard that the Blackboard team is preparing to upgrade Blackboard to Service Pack 8 (BB SP8) during the winter break. This upgrade will take place from December 17 thru December 20. It brings much needed feature enhancements to the learning management system. It’s quite comforting to know that the Blackboard functions you have come to know and love will essentially work the same. All existing courses will upgrade to BB SP8. Experience BB SP8 by logging on to our test server.

As I think of possible ways I can assist you, I’ve summarized my thoughts into the following five tips aimed at getting you on your way to a successful experience with BB SP8.

Tip #1 Training – Make plans to take time as early as possible to learn how the new features of BB SP8 can assist you and your students. To attend one of the upgrade workshops, go to our Calendar page.

Tip #2 Spring Clean Your Course – Prior to exporting your courses, do a quick check-up of your courses and remove duplicate and/or obsolete course content. Trust me, this will make your course “lighter” and will greatly improve the back up process.

Tip #3 Backup Courses – It’s always a good idea to back up your courses at the end of the semester. If something goes awry, you’ll rest comfortable knowing that you have a backup safely tucked away and ready to use. To back up your course, go to each specific course and go to Control Panel >Packages and Utilities>Export/Archive Course. An archive file containing your course content will be created.

Tip #4 Save your Gradebook – As part of your end of semester wrap up, be sure to download a copy of your grade book. To download the grade book, go to Control Panel>Grade Center>Full Grade Center. Click the Work Offline button and choose the Download option.

Tip #5 Don’t Panic – The most important tip of them all! We’re here for you and look forward to assisting with this transition.

Greetings from the Director

Hello everyone!  I am Dr. Nakia Pope, the new Director of the CETL here at Texas Wesleyan University.  I wanted to take this opportunity to say hello, tell you a little bit about myself, and use this post as an opportunity to begin our reinvigoration of the CETL blog.

First, let me say I how happy I am to be at Texas Wesleyan and back in Texas.  I’m a big fan of the Lyle Lovett song “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas), as the next line is “Texas wants you anyway” which always makes me feel welcome :).  I lived in Texas from 1997-2000, when I was working on my Master’s degree in philosophy from Texas A&M.  I finished in 1999, but stayed around for another year, doing some adjunct teaching, because I had just started dating a woman who was working on her undergrad degree in Parks and Recreation.  We met at Barnes and Noble.  I am happy to say that time investment has paid off tremendously, as we were married in 2002.   Sarah grew up in Irving; her family still lives in the area.  We’d talked about getting back here one day, so I was very excited when I was offered the opportunity to come to Texas Wesleyan.

Prior to, well, two weeks ago, I was an Associate Professor and Assistant Dean at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  I taught courses in the College of Education, the Honors Program, and the Touchstone Core (our core curriculum program).  I directed the later, training faculty to teach those core courses, which included a freshman seminar and courses in critical thinking, reading, and writing.  I also did lots of fun things like course scheduling and grade appeals (a bit of sarcasm, there).  Winthrop was a great place to work and I am grateful for all the opportunities they gave me.

My academic background is philosophy and philosophy and education.  My Ph.D. is from The University of Virginia and their social foundations in education program.  I’m interested in American Pragmatism, especially John Dewey, aesthetics, popular culture, ethics, and technology.

How’s all this relate to CETL?  The simple reason is I love, and am deeply committed to, educational experience.  I found a nice way to explore that philosophically in Dewey’s work, but also want to tackle classroom challenges in a direct, practical way.  Higher education faces many challenges today — changing student demographics, financing and funding, shifting expectations from students and parents, and rapidly advancing technology.  Many of these challenges are also opportunities for us to reconsider what we’re doing in the classroom, so part of my job is helping us all figure out how to navigate these changes.

But enough about me.  What about you?  My initial goals for CETL involve figuring out what the faculty, students, and administration of Texas Wesleyan need CETL to provide.  What sort of support do you need?  What training sessions do we need to offer?  How can be better schedule and archive our faculty development resources to assist busy faculty?  We’ve got our own ideas — sessions devoted to critical thinking in the disciplines, Blackboard training, and lots of others.  We certainly want to hear from YOU, though.

Stop by the CETL anytime (we’re in the West Library, room 114).  Drop me an email (  Give me a call (6510).  Follow and comment here on the blog.  Follow us on Twitter (@txwescetl).  I’m looking forward to getting to know you all.

About the CETL

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Texas Wesleyan University (CETL) promotes a student-centered university by providing resources and professional growth opportunities to faculty on enhancing instructional practice, integrating technology, and promoting essential student skills.

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