What's New - June 2014
The integration of Google Apps at Princeton with Blackboard enables instructors to collaborate with Princeton students via the students' "@princeton.edu" accounts. Instructors create Documents and Sites within the Google Drive environment. Once created and linked within a Blackboard course site, this Google Drive content is shared automatically with all Princeton students enrolled in the course. The share settings for Documents and Sites by default assign the “collaborator” role for all students, allowing the students to edit and add to the linked Documents and Sites, though instructors can, if they wish, limit student privileges to only viewing the content.
Group experiences are critical for fostering a more personal and engaging student experience in courses and organizations. Whether you have a large number of groups with many students or just a few small groups, creating and managing those groups in Blackboard Learn is easier than ever.
It’s simple to create groups in Courses and Organizations. With a new “Add Users” interface, Blackboard made it very easy to choose the students you want to add to a group as well as distinguish among students by viewing their picture and Profile Card. Once a group is created, adding and removing members is just as easy.
Grade Center Smart Views
When you create a group, you can now simply click a button to create a Smart View in the Grade Center that corresponds to that group. A Smart View is a focused look at the Grade Center that is saved for continued use. You can also create and access a group’s Smart View directly from the “All Groups” management page.
One Place to Manage Your Groups
The “All Groups” management page is a one-stop-shop for managing your groups. It provides bulk actions for deleting groups and creating Smart Views, quick actions on individual groups, and sortable columns. You can also view and manage tool availability for each group right from this page.
On the “All Users” management page you have a complete picture of group membership across all of your students. You can easily search and sort students to quickly view and manage their group memberships. You can view which groups each student belongs to, add users to groups, and delete users from groups – all from this page.
Importing and Exporting Groups
You can now also import and export groups and group memberships as well as view a history of import and export actions. For example, you can export a CSV (comma-separated value) file containing your existing groups and group members, reorganize as needed offline, and then import them. Or you may want to export groups from one course and import them into another course to replicate the same structure.
Date Management is a new utility that allows instructors to have the system automatically “shift” content and tool dates in a course in a highly efficient way. After the system makes this shift, the instructor is able to see all the dates in one place – due dates, adaptive release dates, test dates – they’re all pre-populated based on your previous course setup. And of course you’ll be able to validate and tweak dates using a single user interface.
And what if you decide to add a new lesson that will shift everything in your course? No problem. With the bulk move option, you can push the dates of multiple items at once.
Instructors spend so much in the Grade Center, and critical it is critical that your workflow be as easy and seamless as possible. Therefore, several improvements have been made to the Grade Center in this release.
My Grades Ordering & Design Update
Based on instructor feedback, Blackboard redesigned the My Grades page for students. Now you can control the presentation of scores – by last activity, due date or Grade Center alignment. Other improvements make this view easy on the eyes and easy to comprehend including:
New “Order By” option in the top-right.
The “All,” “Graded,” “Upcoming,” and “Submitted” filters allow the student to narrow down the number of rows they see.
The text size and row spacing have been reduced, resulting in more information being displayed on the page at once.
Feedback is included right in-line, so the student doesn’t need to click on anything to view it – it just shows up on the page.
Test total points adjustment
You have more control over Grade Center fields that are auto-summed from test. Instructors can adjust the total points possible while maintaining the integrity of the exam.
Grading Schemas greater than 100%
Previously, the grading schema in the Grade Center had a maximum value of 100%. This is no longer the case and percentages can be greater than 100%.
Define “Score Attempts Using” setting from the “Options” page
This is a basic workflow improvement to ensure that instructors know about and can easily find this setting for tools that support multiple attempts.
Test and survey options allow instructors to edit the name and description of a test or survey. Options control the availability, presentation, and feedback. These options are available only after a test or survey is added to a content area. When instructors add a test or survey to a content area, it is "deployed."
To edit options for a deployed test or survey, access a test or survey's contextual menu and select Edit the Test Options or Edit the Survey Options.
Test Availability Exceptions
New settings—called Test Availability Exceptions—have been added to the Test/Survey Options page, available only after the test or survey is added to a content area. The new settings allow instructors to select one or more groups of students and make a number of exceptions to the already established availability settings. Instructors can use exceptions to provide an accommodation to a disabled student, or provide accommodations for technology and language differences.
Instructors can change these settings at any time, even after the test has been attempted by some students. If conflicts in rules occur, the most permissive settings for that user or group of users is granted. For example, the students would receive the greatest number of attempts, longest availability time, and so on. Individual exceptions override group exceptions when an exception is explicitly added for an individual user, even though that user belongs to one or more groups that have exceptions.
Instructors can create exceptions for:
Number of attempts.
Time of test.
Auto submit on or off.
Availability of test using start and end dates.
Force completion on or off.
Show Test Results and Feedback to Students
After they complete a test, results and feedback are available to students. By setting up rules, instructors can set the release of progressive feedback to keep test results secure and prevent cheating. Rules occur in the order they appear.
For example, you can choose After Submission to present Score, All Answers, Correct, Submitted, Feedback and Show Incorrect Answers to show students their scores along with all answer options. Student also see their submitted answers marked as correct or incorrect and any feedback provided.
Test Begin Page
The first page students see before a test includes several changes that clarify taking the test, including:
The test description, when provided by the instructor.
The test instructions, when provided by the instructor.
Forced completion and timer setting descriptions.
If students have already completed an attempt, they see a test previously taken page. From here they can:
See previous completion information, and the number of attempts remaining if any.
Go back to their courses.
View previous attempts.
Take the test again, if permitted.
Adding Questions to a Test or Survey
New questions added to a test or survey no longer appear at the bottom of the test, and then requiring dragging them into the proper order. On the test or survey canvas, instructors can add new questions exactly where they want them. Click the plus sign before or after another question and choose a question type.
Due Date and Late Submissions
A new setting lets instructors decide whether or not to allow a student to take a test after the due date has passed. If students are not allowed to take a test after the due date has passed, they will receive a message telling them the test cannot be completed because the due date has passed.
When late submissions are allowed, they are clearly marked on the Needs Grading page, the View All Attempts page, the Review Test Submission page, and the Grade Details page.
The Quick Links tool will help significantly improve the navigation experience for sighted, keyboard-only users. This tool can be quickly accessed on any page using a link at the very top of the page or a keyboard shortcut (Control+Alt+L). It will aggregate a list of all of the landmarks and headings on a page and allow a user to select one and jump directly to that location within the page. It will also collect and highlight any keyboard shortcuts that exist for the current page or tool, providing another method for quickly completing key tasks within the application.
Discontinued: Wimba Voice Tools
Launching Wimba tools has become more and more problematic and frustrating, especially for students. The company is aware of the issues, but is no longer putting resources into developing and modernizing the product, and informs us they have no plans to do so, as their efforts are being channeled into developing their more feature-rich (and exponentially more expensive) Web-conferencing tool. While we are investigating Web-conferencing tools that can be integrated with Blackboard, a decision on adopting one is still in the future.
Our suggestion for a substitute for Wimba is using Audacity, the free open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds. Some of our language courses are already using it successfully. It can be downloaded at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/. Instructors and students can record their voices, then save the file to be uploaded to Blackboard Discussion Boards, Blogs, Assignments, tests, and email. Using the Blackboard discussion boards will give you the closest approximation to the Wimba Voice Boards.