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Using ConnectYard in Your Blackboard Course

 

Click a link below for help with the following topics:

Send a Message (Email) to all Enrolled Users

What is ConnectYard?

The ConnectYard Interface

Configuring ConnectYard

Setting Up and Accessing the Facebook App

Configuring Your Channels

The Notification Settings Page

Editing Your ConnectYard Profile

A Note on Privacy Concerns

New Account Screens

 

Welcome

What is ConnectYard?

ConnectYard is a tool that has been added to your Blackboard course(s) as a way of providing you with secure two-way communication of class announcements and discussion posts through a variety of media.

Before it was implemented, students would need to log in to Blackboard every time they wanted to receive and respond to their course-related messages. However, with ConnectYard, these messages and updates can be delivered to students like yourself via your Facebook and/or Twitter account, text messages, or to an alternate, preferred e-mail address.

Best of all, ConnectYard is simple and easy to set up for all users. Just follow the steps provided in this guide.

Which Courses Use ConnectYard?

Blended courses (those with an online Blackboard component in addition to face-to-face, classroom instruction) at Concordia University can be set up with ConnectYard, though not all of your instructors may choose to use it. When ConnectYard is enabled for a course in which you are enrolled, the first announcement or discussion post made by your instructor will trigger an e-mail sent to the address associated with your Blackboard account (i.e., the one listed for you in My.CU). On your ConnectYard page (discussed in greater detail below), you can view a list of the courses you are enrolled in with ConnectYard enabled.

To view the ConnectYard terms and definitions page, click here.

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Send a Message to all Enrolled Users

Send a Message (Email) to all Enrolled Users

To send an email to your class, click the Course Messaging tool link to open the messaging tool

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Write your message in the 'Post Message' box provided. When you post on the wall of your course, the message is emailed / forwarded to all enrolled students.

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Click the Post button to send the message as an email to all enrolled students.

The message will also remain on the course room wall (main page) so students who have disabled the receive email option can still view the messages you have posted (emailed)

Getting to Know the ConnectYard Interface

The ConnectYard Interface

Before we learn how to configure ConnectYard to best suit your preferred communication needs, let's take a look at the ConnectYard interface. To access your course's ConnectYard page, go to your course page in Blackboard and select the "Messaging" link from the course menu:

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The ConnectYard home page in all of your courses will look like what is shown in this diagram. Note that the first time you use ConnectYard, you will see a different screen, prompting you to configure your ConnectYard settings. This is explained in further detail in the next section. Right now, though, we just want to take a moment to get acclimated with the ConnectYard interface. Each numbered element is explained below:

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1. Yards

Under Yards, you will find a link to each of your courses with a ConnectYard page. You can easily switch from class to class this way.

2. Notices

Notices are basically the same as notifications in Facebook or other social media tools. This is a list of activity in the course yard that has taken place since your last login.

3. Settings Menu (under your first and last name)

Click on your name to access the ConnectYard settings menu. Here, you can update your profile, set up your notification channels, view the FAQ page, and logout.

4. Course E-Mail Address/Twitter Handle

If you opt in for ConnectYard to connect to your e-mail and/or Twitter account, this is where you'll be sending your messages. Don't worry if that's confusing - this is explained in much greater detail in the other sections of this guide.

5. Trending Topics

These are similar to trending topics in Twitter. Users in ConnectYard can add in tags, or topics, using the number sign (or hash mark - #). A list of the most popular tags at any given time will appear in the Trending Topics box.

6. Messages, Replies, and Wall Posts

The Messages page is the main message board or "wall" in your course yard. Replies to messages posted on this main board will appear on the Replies page. Wall Posts are posts that are left on your personal profile's wall, specifically for you (similar to the wall of a Facebook account).

7. Notifications Enabled

This list of symbols implies which alternate channels will notify you with ConnectYard updates. In the example, Facebook, Twitter, and text and e-mail notification are all enabled. The next sections of this guide explain how to customize your notifications.

8. Example Post on Main Message Board

This is what a post to your course's main message board will look like. The top line (blacked out in the diagram) is where the poster's name will appear; beneath that is the message text. The images on the left side of the page are avatars, or profile pictures. You can select a profile picture for yourself using the Edit Profile page under the settings menu (explained further in a later section of this guide).

9. Reply, Like, and Follow

These options are similar to those of Facebook wall posts. If you want to post a reply to a message in a yard, click "Reply." If you want to quickly express that you agree with or enjoy someone's ideas, click "Like." If you are especially interested in the content of a post and want to be able to quickly and easily stay updated when other people reply to or like it, click "Follow."

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How to Customize ConnectYard

Configuring ConnectYard

Now that we've had a chance to look at the ConnectYard interface, let's learn how to customize our notification settings.

To access and configure your ConnectYard settings, go to your course in Blackboard and select "Messaging" from the course menu.

NOTE: If you are currently enrolled in more than one blended course, keep in mind that the settings you first configure for a class are made "global" - that is, the same settings will carry over to all of your other classes with a ConnectYard setup. You can change the settings for individual courses, however - keep reading for instructions.

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The first time you access ConnectYard in Blackboard, you will see this screen prompting you to enter account information for the media channels you intend to connect:

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You can fill out the information for as many - or as few - of these channels as you like. If you don't have a Twitter account, for instance, you don't need to enter anything in the Twitter box. If you know you want to receive ConnectYard notifications via Facebook and text message, link your Facebook account to install the ConnectYard app and enter your cell phone information. You don't have to opt in for alternate e-mail or Twitter notifications as well - the channels you wish to connect are entirely up to you.

If your cell phone carrier is not listed in the dropdown menu, send an e-mail to Greg Close, Blackboard Administrator, at gclose@cu-portland.edu.

If you want to change your "Primary E-Mail" in ConnectYard, this is possible. You will need to start by changing your Blackboard e-mail and will also need to change the e-mail listed for you in My.CU. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the "My Institution" tab in Blackboard, in the top left corner of the screen.
  2. On the left side of the page, you will see a panel labeled "Tools." From this menu, select "Personal Information."
  3. Click the top link, "Edit Personal Information."
  4. Review the e-mail address on file for you and edit it if desired.
  5. Finally, click "Submit" to save your changes.

Now, you will need to log in to My.CU and update your student record to match your new preferred e-mail address. If you do not complete this step, your new preferred e-mail address may be overwritten with the one listed for you in My.CU. These two addresses should always match.

Click here to view the help file for changing your preferred e-mail in My.CU.

When you are done, click "Next" to go to the next step.

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ConnectYard and Facebook

Setting Up and Accessing the Facebook App

Note that when you link your Facebook account to ConnectYard, you will see the following pop-up window:

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You can go to the ConnectYard app now if you like, or access it later via the Apps submenu on your Facebook page:

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Communication Channels

Configuring Your Channels

Next, you'll need to configure the settings for each of the channels you have given ConnectYard permission to access, and which messages you want to receive via those channels. You will see this list of configuration options:

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If you only want one or two of your configured channels to receive ConnectYard messages, use the checkboxes next to the types of media ("Facebook," "Twitter," "Text," and "E-mail") to toggle those off and uncheck the boxes. For example, if you only wanted new messages to be forwarded to you via Facebook and new profile wall messages to be forwarded via Twitter, you should uncheck the boxes for everything but Facebook in the first list, and everything but Twitter in the second:

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New messages are those posted in your course's main wall (the "Messages" page) - this is where the bulk of communication occurs in the class, and where your instructor will most often communicate with you and your fellow students. As explained earlier, your profile wall is your personal message board space, much like a Facebook profile's wall, where your instructor or fellow students can write posts directly to you.

Notice that you can configure the way course posts and replies are sent to you via ConnectYard as well. Using the "Posts" dropdown box (highlighted in yellow above), you can opt to either only receive notifications for messages posted by the admin (your instructor), or to be notified for all new posts (by all users) in the course.

Using the "Replies" dropdown menu (highlighted in green above), you can opt to be forwarded replies for all messages posted in the course ("Notify me for all replies to every message"), all replies to a followed message ("Notify me for all replies to a followed message"), or only admin/instructor replies to a followed message ("Notify me only for admin replies in a followed message").

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Notifications

The Notification Settings Page

As noted earlier, these initial configurations will be applied as defaults to every course you are enrolled in with a ConnectYard component. You can manage these settings, as well as a few more specific settings for your channels, by accessing the "Notification Settings" page in ConnectYard. On the ConnectYard page, you will see your first and last name in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Mouse over it and a dropdown menu appears:

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You'll now see a list that looks like this:

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To access and edit the default setting options you configured earlier, click on "Default Notifications" (highlighted in yellow above). This will bring you to the same menu you saw before:

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To edit the notification settings for your individual courses, click on "Yard Notifications" (highlighted in pink above). You will see a list of your other courses with a ConnectYard component. Click on the name of the course for which you want to edit your notification settings. You now see these options:

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As you can see, these are similar to the configuration options for your default settings. The difference is that you can also receive updates on new members being added to the course. Typically, this is not relevant to you as a student; thus, these default to being turned off.

You can also set up more specific configurations for each of your linked channels. Click on the name of the channel to see these additional options.

E-mail

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Receiving Messages

Here, you can type in or edit your additional e-mail address(es) and change the options listed by toggling the checkboxes. Keep in mind that these do not override your default settings, nor do your default settings override your e-mail settings. This means that you would receive a daily summary of posts in one e-mail if you had that option selected AND that you would also receive e-mail notifications about posts and replies in the course yard throughout the day, if you had specified that in your default settings. Consider what would be most advantageous and convenient for you. If you're concerned with getting a flood of e-mails that may go to your spam folder, maybe the "Send a daily summary in one e-mail" option with no individual notifications would work best.

Sending Messages

You can also use the e-mail address you set up with ConnectYard to post messages to your course's yard via e-mail. To do this, e-mail your message to [ConnectYard Course ID]@connectyard.com (for example, p6234@connectyard.com). The ConnectYard Course ID appears in the upper right corner of the Connect Yard page, along with the course's Twitter ID (highlighted in yellow below):

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You can respond to ConnectYard messages directly from your e-mail client simply by replying to them. If you wish to receive a delivery confirmation for the messages you send, select that option from the e-mail settings ("Send a delivery confirmation"). You can also opt to receive a copy of each message you post as well as your replies to other messages ("Send a copy of each posted message.")

Cell Phone/Text Messaging

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Receiving Messages

The "Send entire message" option will send messages that are longer than 160 characters (the standard limit for text message length) in a series of "chunked" texts. "Send attachment link" will send you an attachment with the whole message (not truncated or chunked).

Sending Messages

"Confirm delivery" will send a delivery confirmation to you if you send a message to the course yard via text. The address you send your texts to is the same as the e-mail address listed for the course in the upper right corner of the ConnectYard screen (see above).

Facebook

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Because the ConnectYard Facebook app interface is basically identical to the course's yard page, there are not specific options to configure with sending and receiving messages - you use it as you would any other wall on Facebook. You can use the Facebook settings to import your profile picture into ConnectYard, or to delink your Facebook account if you see fit. Clicking "Add CY Facebook App" will add the ConnectYard app to your Facebook account, if you haven't added it yet; if it has already been added, it will redirect you to the app page.

Twitter

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Receiving Messages

You will receive new messages from ConnectYard as Tweets under your Twitter mentions (http://twitter.com/#replies). You can also follow ConnectYard (http://twitter.com/connectyard) and the Tweets will appear in your Twitter updates/timeline automatically.

Private messages will not be send to you via Twitter; instead, you will receive a link to view the message within ConnectYard.

Sending Messages

Because Twitter limits the amount of characters in a post to 140 characters, you can enable the "Send entire message" option to automatically chunk your messages into several Tweets.

You can respond to ConnectYard messages directly from the Twitter website, or a Twitter client such as TweetDeck; simply use the message's "Reply" button.

Be sure to check the FAQ page in ConnectYard if you need any further help or information; it can be found in the upper right dropdown menu below "FAQ."

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Profile Settings

Editing Your ConnectYard Profile

Last but not least, we'll take a quick look at how to edit your profile settings in ConnectYard. The Edit Profile page can be found in the settings menu in the upper right corner:

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You will now see these setting options:

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You can change the first and last name displayed for you by typing changes into the box highlighted in yellow. If you need to change your default time zone, use the dropdown menu highlighted in green.

The dropdown menu highlighted in orange lists available profile pictures for you - for example, if you have linked your Facebook account with ConnectYard, you can choose to use your Facebook profile picture as your ConnectYard picture. You can also use the Upload New Picture option (highlighted in blue) to browse your computer for a different profile image.

Lastly, you'll see options to change your password. Do not change your password in ConnectYard. If you wish to change your Blackboard password, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the "My Institution" tab in Blackboard, in the top left corner of the screen.
  2. On the left side of the page, you will see a panel labeled "Tools." From this menu, select "Personal Information."
  3. Click on "Change Password."
  4. Enter the new password in the "Password" box, then retype it in "Verify Password."
  5. Finally, click "Submit" to save your changes.

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Who Can See My Personal Information?

A Note on Privacy Concerns

Using ConnectYard - even if you link it to your Facebook or Twitter accounts - does not reveal any of your personal contact information to other students in the course. It also does not post any of the course messages or related material to your "traditional" Facebook wall, where friends or others might be able to see it.

With ConnectYard, you do not need to actually friend or follow your classmates or your instructor on Facebook or Twitter to be able to stay connected via these platforms. In Facebook, for example, all course communication is kept within a special, private ConnectYard app. Similarly, if you choose to receive text notifications, your phone number is not made available to other people in your class. This information is stored within ConnectYard, but it is not distributed any further than that.

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