Blackboard Gets Better!

After the semester ends this December, we will (finally!) be upgrading our version of Blackboard. Right now, we are seven versions behind on upgrades. This December, we will catch up and be on the April 2014 release of the system.

This is great news! Some phenomenal features have come out since our last upgrade that will really make teaching and learning easier on Blackboard. And please, don’t worry– much of Blackboard will look and work just as you’re used to.

I’m excited to share with you some highlights here. This is not by any means the only updates, but these are the updates and changes to tools instructors use most frequently and (let’s be honest) wish worked a little better. We will be communicating a lot of information about this upgrade over the next few months, so keep your eyes peeled for posts on the topic. If there’s a particular area of Blackboard’s upgrades you would like to learn more about, don’t hesitate to contact us. Remember, this is just an overview, gleaned from Blackboard’s available overview. Our workshops and posts will be more Saint Rose specific.

On to the good news!

In-Line Grading

This is by far the most exciting update! For assignments and other gradable items, you can view, provide comments, and grade student-submitted items without leaving the tool page. You don’t have to download all the Word documents anymore!

While assigning grades, the inline grading sidebar allows you to view information about gradable items, navigate between users and attempts, and view and use associated rubrics inline. The interface has a lot of options which can be a little confusing at first, but believe me– it’s worth learning!

Student Preview

Finally, the Student Preview has been reinvented. As an instructor, you want to be sure that your course is well designed and functions as intended before your students can see it. The new tool lets you view the course, submit work and test tools without logging out and logging back in! The Enter Student Preview function will appear in the top-right corner of your course pages.

Blackboard says it best: “Student preview is different from using Edit Mode. When Edit Mode is ON, you see all the course content and the editing controls for each item. Edit Mode OFF hides the editing controls but still displays any content that would normally be hidden from a student. Also, it doesn’t enable you to see student-only content, such as My Grades.”


A New Calendar Tool

There have been some major improvements on the calendar tool in Blackboard. Now when accessed from the new My Blackboard area, it will display a view of all institution, course, organization, and personal calendar events for you. Calendar events are color coded by course.
When you’re inside of a course, you can use the calendar course tool as a method of managing and communicating events and assignments. Calendar supports due dates for gradable items, but only if you set them on assignments. Clicking on calendar items allows you as the instructor to view or edit the item or grade attempts. Students will be able to submit assignments the same way.

Date Management

Related the the updated calendar tool, you can now use the date management tool to easily adjust all content and tool dates in your course (which makes updating those pesky due dates and release dates much, much faster!) Accessed on the Control Panel in the Course Tools section, you can choose to adjust dates automatically or individually from one convenient location.


SafeAssign Integration

SafeAssign is now integrated into regular Blackboard Learn assignments- you don’t have to choose between Assignment and SafeAssignment, and you can change your mind without recreating the item. Finally, almost all of the regular assignment features are available with the SafeAssign service, including rubrics!


Video Everywhere

Some instructors use Camtasia Relay for recording lectures and tidbits for their students to access via Blackboard. Video Everywhere is an alternative to try. As a feature of the content editor, it can access your webcam and, via YouTube, provides the ability for instructors and students to:
  • Record a video on the fly using a webcam and have it seamlessly embedded in course materials, interactions, and feedback through the content editor.
  • Reuse previously recorded videos by choosing from one’s own “library” of videos.