Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mastering the Bb Grade Center

The Bb grade center can help you manage grades, save time grading, monitor student progress and communicate with students.  All this in one spreadsheet?  Yep.  This is the first in a multi-post series designed to help you master the Bb Grade Center!

Quick Grade Center Review!

Control Panel Grade Center
There are two parts to the Bb Grade Center -- "Needs Grading" and the "Full Grade Center."  You can opt to use either or both of these tools to make grading more efficient.

  • Needs Grading is the area into which Assignments, SafeAssignments, Tests, Blogs, Journals and Discussion Board Posts will land, if they have been designated as "graded" when you create them.
  • Full Grade Center is a spread sheet that allows you to manage all grades.
Here's  a peek at the Needs Grading area, showing several assignments that the instructor still needs to grade.  To grade an item, just click on the student's "User Attempt."

Needs Grading Area

And here we see an image of the Full Grade Center. Note the yellow exclamation marks indicates items that need grading.

full grade center

To grade an item in the Full Grade Center, access the contextual menu (by hovering your mouse over the cell)  for the item that needs grading, and click either View Grade Details, or on the "attempt."
full grade center, needs grading icon

Please review these instructions if you need to brush up on navigating or adding columns and grades to the full grade center!

Get Organized!

Have you noticed that whenever you add a column (either manually or when you create an assignment etc.) the new column is always added to the far right side of the spread sheet?  Have you ever wanted to re-arrange the spread sheet display?  Have you wanted to FREEZE some columns so they always display, no matter if you scroll left-right? Say hello to Column Organization!

Click the Manage button on the Grade Center toolbar, and select Column Organization!

WAIT: before you go on... just note the columns on the left side of this image -- namely, Last Name, First Name, User Name....
The Column Organization screen enables you to freeze columns, re-arrange columns, and view important information about the columns as well.  The result will be a perfectly arranged and organized Full Grade Center spread sheet!

Here's a general shot of the Column Organization screen -- showing the columns in a vertical list -- which is easier to read than the horizontal spread sheet.  Columns at the top of the vertical list will appear on the far left side of the grade center spread sheet.

It's Cold in Here!  Freezing Columns

Would you like some columns to stay put?  Frozen.... Not Moving....   You can drag the columns up or down by hovering your mouse over the fancy "plus" icons on the left. Hold you left mouse button down -- and drag.  Drag any of the columns above the gray "Everything above this line...." row, and these columns will always display --- even if you scroll over to the far right side of the spread sheet.  

Do you have a merged course? Why not drag the Child Course ID column into the frozen zone? When you return to the Full Grade Center, you'll quickly be able to tell into which section students are enrolled.

Drag the remaining columns into the order you would like them to appear in the spread sheet.  For example, in the image below, I arranged the columns so that all assignments and all tests are displayed together.

Always click SUBMIT at the top or bottom of the screen when you are finished.

Coming Next Week .... Smartviews & Sorting - Two Great ways to see just what you need.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NBC Learn Videos & Blackboard

Now that mid-term exams are behind us, it's time to focus on the content ahead. What better way to introduce new topics than with interesting videos.  NBC Learn Videos are short, informative and focus on events and trends and how they relate to academic topics.  Check out this video on the Chemistry of Fear and Fright -- just in time for the end of October! There are thousands of videos on NBC Learn.  All videos may be embedded into your Blackboard, or shown offline in your classroom.

There are two ways to access the NBC Learn Videos:1. Via Blackboard.  2. Directly from the NBC Learn web site. 
Via Blackboard: 
Faculty: To access the NBC Learn videos from within Blackboard, simply go to any content area within your course, click Build Content, MashUps, and select NBC Learn Content. You will be prompted to search for a video, and then embed it directly into your course. Only faculty can set up videos within Blackboard.

Watch the Tutorial: http://ondemand.blackboard.com/r91/movies/bb91_course_content_NBC_TOC.htm

Directly from NBC Learn's Web Site:

Faculty and students can also log on directly to the NBC Learn web site to view videos. If you register at this site you will be able to create your own playlists and share them with others. If you would like direct access, you must access the NBC Learn web site from a campus computer; after you register, you may search for or access your videos from any computer, on or off campus. You can access NBC LEARN at: http://highered.nbclearn.com
Play NBC Learn Videos Off-Line:

Want to learn more?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3....

As mid-term season approaches, here are some options for using Bb for your exams.

Q:  Can I create a "Test Bank" within Bb?

A:  Yes, this is known as a Question Pool.  Pools are collections and groups of questions that you can include in tests and surveys. For example, you might have a set of 10 or 20 related questions you want to reuse in several tests or surveys, or even across multiple courses. The advantage of using a pool is you do not have to remember all those questions and manually add them to each test or survey.

How to create a Question Pool

Q:  How do I build a Bb Test?

A:  You can build a test right from within a Bb content area.  Click the Assessment button, and select "Test."  Name your test, and submit -- you'll land on the "Test Canvas" where you'll add questions. You can create new questions, or reuse questions from another test, or from a question pool.

Bb features the most common question types, such as True/False, Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer, Ordering, Matching and Essay; it also includes several "advanced" questions types. 

Instructions for Creating a Test

Q:  How can I copy the tests from one Bb course to another?

A: You can copy tests either all at once, or one a time.

Copy ONE Test to another Bb course
Copy ALL Tests to another Bb course

Q:  How do I schedule an exam, and what options are available for feedback to students?

A:  After you create an exam, you will set the "Test Options" that make the test available and set various feedback options. There are several options for releasing test results and feedback. For example, while the test is available for students to take, set the feedback options to "score only."  Then, after students can no longer take the test, set the options so that students can see their answers as well as the correct answers and any feedback you've added to the test.  The test becomes a learning tool.

 Please view the full Test Option instructions here.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pre Mid-Term Reviews

We're gearing up for midterms!  Wouldn't it be great for your students to review course concepts in a fun and engaging way?  How about having students create their own study questions and activities? But, you say, there's really no time to find the tech tools to do this.....  StudyMate to the rescue.

StudyMate is a Bb tool that helps students "master the basics" of course material through learning activities, self-assessments, and games. It includes a dozen activities – such as flash cards, crosswords and quizzes – that engage students with course content in an individualized way.

Would you like to start using StudyMate in your Bb course right away?  

Enter your Bb Course
Click on Course Materials or any Bb "content area" you'd like to locate your activity.
Click Tools > StudyMate Class

Name your StudyMate activity, select options and click submit.

The StudyMate activity is added to your Bb content area.  Click "Select this Item" to open and begin editing your StudyMate  activity

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Now that the semester has been underway for a few weeks, it's likely that you'll want your students to begin to submit assignments.  Use the Blackboard Assignment Tool to make submitting and grading assignments easy.

There are two types of assignments in Bb -- "Regular Assignments" and "Safe Assignments."  The table below highlights the difference between the two:

 Safe AssignmentRegular Assignment
Grade Center Integrationgreen circle.pnggreen circle.png
Due Datesgreen circle.pnggreen circle.png
Check for Plagiarim
SafeAssign Report
green circle.png 
Attach Files (Instructor)
green circle.png
Multiple Attempts green circle.png
Anonymous Grading green circle.png
Inline Grading green circle.png
Assign to Groups green circle.png
Bb Rubrics green circle.png

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Picture = 1,000 Words

I have two image-related topics for you this week.

Avatars, there's not just for games.  You and students can now add small avatars or pictures to your Bb profile. The image will appear on your profile as well as within blogs, journals, discussions, and notifications modules.  The best image size to upload is 150 x150 pix.

To upload an avatar:
  1. From the global navigation menu, click Settings, and then click Personal Information. You can also accessPersonal Information on the Tools panel.
  2. On the Personal Information page, click Personalize My Settings.
  3. On the Personalize My Settings page, you can add or change your personal avatar. Click Use custom avatar image. You will not see this option if your institution has turned on the profiles feature.
  4. Click Browse My Computer.
  5. Select the avatar image file and click Open.
  6. Click Submit.

Achievements - Badges. Images, but with Meaning!
Badges are quickly becoming a popular way to display skills or achievement that' we've earned.  Blackboard now has both badge and achievement tools that may be used within courses.  Badges may be uploaded to Mozilla Backpack.   This video explains the concept of badges, and how they can be displayed in Mozilla Open Backpack..

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And they're off.....

Start of the Semester Checklist

 Start your semester with a bang by getting your Blackboard courses up and running right away.  Here's your Fall 2014 Checklist!