Blackboard Upgrades 2014

Blackboard is an ambitious company, releasing updates several times a year. Our most recent Blackboard update took place on January 3rd. While there are some small formatting changes, like the addition of a quick links button to the upper left of the screen, the changes below will probably be the most noticeable.

Test Access Log

Things go wrong during an exam: power cords get kicked out of the wall, Wi-Fi access is lost, and sometimes people just click the close button when they shouldn’t. In the past there hasn’t been a good way to confirm what did or didn’t happen during a test. Now, the Blackboard Test Access Log lets professors see when a student takes a test, when they answer each question, and how long they spent on each question.  If the Wi-Fi is lost or that power cord kicked out, the system will display a long gap in time.  The ‘Access Log’ button is shown under Test Information when you view a student’s attempt, and the log looks like this:

An example Access Log.

An example Access Log.

Inline Assignment Grading Updates

The Inline Grading Tool has been loved and hated since its first release here at WM. It provides a wonderful way to grade files without downloading, making your comments online using tools that mimic a pen. The Inline Assignment Grading Updates are designed to address the problems some of you experienced with screen size and workflow. Screen real estate has been changed so there’s more room to view the document you’re commenting on. Rubrics are now fully integrated, allowing you to click a button to assign a score and add feedback in the same place. Another change allows professors to download the annotated assignment for offline review.

Grade Center Changes

The Grade Center Changes involve the Grade Center itself and the “My Grades” area that students can see.

For students, My Grades now shows an “order by” drop down box that changes the display order. Students can also change the view to show only items that have been graded, upcoming items, or submitted items.

For professors the Grade Center changes include a new “Score Attempts Using” option, which lets you score multiple attempts at a test by choosing the highest grade, the lowest graded attempt, the first graded attempt, the last graded attempt, or even the average of all attempts. Professors can now change the total points possible for a test and can create a grading schema that is greater than 100% (this will come in handy for all our high-scoring, extra-credit-earning W&M students).

A Few More Small Changes

The discussion board’s “Thread Detail” page has been redesigned and a “post first” option is now available, which forces students to post to the discussion board before they can view responses.

The “Groups” tool has been changed to let professors see and modify group membership more easily. The new design allows professors to see which students are in which group as well as students that are not in any groups.

We’ll be hosting a pair of Blackboard classes to help professors use the new tools. The workshops will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., on Monday, 1/13 (at the School of Education) and Tuesday, 1/14 (in Washington 315). The workshops are designed to help professors with grading and the grade center, so please bring your laptop. Register online or just drop in!

More information about the updates to Blackboard is available on the Blackboard help page. As always, if something new or old is causing problems I’m here to help at bbhelp@wm.edu.

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  1. [...] April Lawrence, academic technologist for the School of Education, and Rachel Kleinsorge, our resident Blackboard expert, will be hosting a pair of Blackboard classes to help professors use the new Blackboard tools. [...]