Users will be relieved to learn the Blackboard upgrade in June does not require relearning the interface, as it did in summer 2010. Instead, old features have been enhanced and new ones added. Among the changes:
- New capabilities for bulk uploading, managing, and using content in a Course are available with the Course Files feature. Course Files can also be used for creating a shared dropbox, which has the advantages over the WebSpace Dropbox of 1) keeping everything right in the Blackboard course site, as opposed to sending users to another application; and 2) allowing users without Princeton IDs to participate.
- New content types include Mashups, which allow you to pull data from YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations, and Flickr photos, and Lesson Plans.
- Paste From Word allows you to paste MS Word files into text boxes without losing formatting.
- The Lesson Plan feature enables Instructors and Course designers to create a structured unit plan with distinct and customizable sections that provide a means of documenting information such as description, learning level, delivery instructions, and so on.
- Now you can keep Priority Announcements at the top of the page by putting them above a repositionable bar.
- Back to the future: Announcement e-mail notifications once again contain the text of the announcement and are sent to course staff, as well as to students.
Grade Center Improvements:
- Smart Views : Grade Center Smart Views allow for more customization and types. Selecting a favorite view links to it directly from the Control Panel.
- Needs Grading Page : For Courses with many enrolled Students and gradable items, the Needs Grading page can help determine which Assignments and Tests need grading first.
- Color Coding : Grades can now be color-coded. Grading Color Codes apply background and text color to items in the Grade Center that meet specified criteria. Colors can be defined for items based on Grade status or based on the score.
- Rubrics : Instructors can create a Rubric to provide guidelines for grading an Assignment, Blog, Wiki, Journal, or Discussion Board. Instructors can associate the Rubric to a grading column and view the Rubric while assigning a grade.
- Anonymous Grading : Instructors can grade assignment and test attempts while information identifying the Student remains concealed.
About the speaker:
Dennis Hood is in his 11th year of managing Blackboard for Princeton. He also uses Blackboard in teaching his speech communications course at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.