Directory Update Request

English Faculty,

Please check your English faculty directory entry at

Send changes to to let me know if you have any additions or corrections.  (Double-check rank, office, and telephone if you’ve had changes in the past year.)

If you are making changes to the publications, go ahead and give me the entire revised entry in an attached Word document. (This provides me the best format for coding and avoids the occasional weirdness of cut-and-paste issues in an email message body.)

MLA style, please, for publications. Please proof these carefully as I will put them in pages as received, though I will do my best to query you if I spot a problem.

If you want to swap out the image in your entry, provide me with an attached substitute or a link to an online source.

If you want to post a CV (or update your current CV) provide it to me as an attached PDF file.

The first three categories below are requested of everyone; other optional headers in use follow.

Research/Teaching Focus
Recent/Selected Publications


Curriculum Vitae

Web Site(s)
Featured [online press, interviews, etc.]
Student Support Certifications
Selected Design and Production

If you have something you want to link to or display that doesn’t fit these categories, just let me know and we’ll come up with an appropriate header.

Please be sure to remind me of any online press featuring you or your work so that I can add a link under the “Featured” header.

Michael Keller

Using Blackboard to Deliver Google Docs

Many of you may already know that you can park documents on the Blackboard Content Management System and link to them from multiple courses.  If you have a favorite handout or glossary useful across courses, you only need maintain one copy and when you change the linked copy on the Blackboard CMS, students in multiple courses will see the changes next time they access the document.

The Blackboard CMS, however, especially if you do not have it mapped as a drive, can feel cumbersome and slow.  In what I’m hoping will prove a better process  I’m creating documents in Google Docs, opening them up to the “Anyone with this link can read” permission, and posting the URLS of these documents inside of Blackboard for student access.

By using Blackboard to deliver links to Google Docs (which I set to open in a new window or tab), students have ready access to documents, but I manage creation and revision of these handouts and support materials outside of Blackboard through Google Docs.  (Should Blackboard have serious down time, I could email these same Google Docs links as a backup and/or post them to another web site.)

Another avantage of Google docs is that it auto saves and does versioning of documents.  If you draft in Google docs, you are unlikely to lose text, even if you accidentally leave the screen, have a power failure, etc.

That said, if you have a number of existing Word, pdf, Excel, or Powerpoint documents,  the Blackboard Content Mangement System would be preferable to host such files as it wouldn’t  be worth time converting them to Google Docs.  But for new or radically revised materials, I’m going to try out Google Docs as my default

If there is any intererest, I can talk to you about this individually or can set up a demonstration if I get enough calls.

Michael Keller

Faculty Directory Update Request

Summer 2012 Request
for VCU Department of English Faculty

(submit only to

Let me know if there are any changes or additions to your faculty profile.  Send to the email address above so that your information doesn’t get overlooked or misplaced.  Please read guidelines below regarding publication updates and C.V.

  • Name
  • Rank/administrative title
  • Office
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Education
  • Research Teaching Focus or Professional Focus
  • Recent/Selected Publications  [send a Word document by email of entire entry with additions and/or corrections and your previous text will be replaced by new submission; in addition, a colleague asks me to remind everyone to use MLA style for consistency.]  Let me know if you have a preference regarding a thumbnail image of a book or journal cover adjacent to publications.
  • Web Sites or Electronic Publications or Projects
  • C.V. [if you want a C.V. published, attach word or PDF document, PDF preferred. File name convention is lastname_firstinitial_year_cv.filetype.  E.g.


Thanks much.  If you name the C.V. file as above before sending it speeds the process along]

Phishing Scams Identified by VCU

English Faculty, Staff, and Graduate students,

Err on the side of caution if you think an email is a phishing scam.

You can check out a list of scams that have been identified by VCU at the website below.

I have not made this address a live link for the very reason that such links in a phishing email can hide, beneath the surface text, a completely different address, sometimes with an executable action and problems to follow.

You can type, or cut and paste, the VCU phishing site address into your browser to see if the suspect email is already identified by VCU. Save the site address to your Favorites or Bookmarks for handy future reference.

Please do not hesitate to report suspect emails that you do not appear on the list to the VCU helpIT Center (located in VCU’s central Technology Services, *NOT* Humanities and Sciences). The following is quoted from the VCU PhishingNet site.

Remember, VCU will never ask you for your eID or password via email. If you have any concerns about the validity of any email you receive, please contact the VCU helpIT Center (828-2227, for assistance.

Converting Newer MS Word & Office Docs

If you are unable to open the newer MS Office formats (such as docx for Word), visit the link below at Microsoft for information on a free convert you can download for your system.

If you are on a machine for which you do not have administrative access, call the number on the HAStag (the inventory tag) on the top or side of your machine and explain what you need.   A tech from Humanities and Sciences should be able to connect to your remotely and help with the installation of the converters.

EPUB Add-on for Firefox

For any of you whose research sometimes takes you to Epub documents, EPUBReader may be a time saver.

The EPUBReader add-on for Firefox allows you to open Epub documents directly in the Firefox browser window.  The tool has been a help to me in searches of the Internet Archive ( where some digitized texts are available only in an epub format.

Exporting/Archiving Blackboard Courses

Use Archive if your goal is to preserve all aspects of a course along with student interaction (and optionally) the gradebook.

Use Export if your goal is to export select structures and content for the purpose of bringing into a future course.

Find the Export/Archive Course utility
in the Control Panel
under the subhead  Packages and Utilities.

Screenshots and instructions explaining the Archive procedure are available from VCU Technology Services on their “Archive a Course” page.

See also “Difference Between Export/Import, Archive, and Copy” at

Archived Blackboard courses with student and grade information need to be treated as privileged infomation, even in this compressed form.  (Keep your archive files on a password-protected system or in a secure location, not, for instance, on a thumb drive you use daily and might lose.)

Many thanks to Les Harrison for recommending to us the bFree Blackboard Course Content Extractor, available free from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  This utility allows you to quickly uncompress and view the contents of an  archived Blackboard course without having to import the course back into the institution’s Blackboard structure.

General Classroom Support & English Classroom Support

Classrooms scheduled by the university are supported by VCU Technology Services.  (Each of these rooms should have signs with support phone numbers clearly posted.)  On the Monroe Park Campus, “Tech Squad” staff is available for emergency help if you have a problem during class. 

The following information is quoted from “Classroom AV Support.”

Emergency Help Numbers

  • Academic Campus828-1098
  • MCV Campus828-3400

 Other Help Numbers 

  • For help with computers in the centrally controlled classrooms on the Monroe Park Campus, call: TS Help Desk: 828-2227

The following English Computer classroom and production rooms are an exception to the guidelines above: Hibbs 326, 330, 331, 340, 341, and 408.  These rooms are comanaged by English and the College of Humanities and Sciences.  For support, contact

  • Michael Keller | | 78317
  • Patrick Vickers | | 78323
  • Humanities and Sciences Technology Services |  | 86180

Moving Large Files

VCU LotusNotes email has a 25 mb limit for attachments.  If you need to transfer a larger file, VCU FileDrop is probably the quickest option (up to 2 gb).

VCU FileDrop can be found at

Information on VCU email attachment limits and recommendations for other data transfer services may be found at

If you are comfortable using Blackboard’s content management system, you can share with local and external users in Blackboard.  I would be glad to help you with this if you have any questions.  (For VCU users, Blackboard’s content management also allows for password-protected delivery of electronic materials, including web sites.)

Michael Keller