Thursday, March 12, 2015

Midterm Mania!

Midterms --- always a relaxing week here on campus! Your midterms are ready to launch, all questions accounted for, and the test options are just right.  We all know Murphy's Law may strike, no matter how prepared or how perfect our test options are.  So, when that call from your student comes in, will you be prepared? The answer is YES!

Test Exceptions to the Rescue!

Test exceptions allow you to set various options for selected students.  For example, let's say you have a student who is permitted extra time on the test.  You can use the test exceptions to grant extra time to just that one student.  You can also use the exceptions to allow users to have additional attempts on the test.

Test Exceptions are found on the Test Options screen.  
How to Set Test Exceptions

Please Note:  Our instructional technology staff WILL NOT grant students exceptions on any test. We WILL be happy to guide you through the process.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

NBC Videos in Bb

Blackboard & NBC  

What are NBC Learn Videos?
Find out about NBC Learn Videos on our Web Site
For more than 80 years, NBC News has been documenting the people, places, and events that have shaped our world. Now, for the first time, NBC Learn is making these historic and current events resources available to faculty, instructional technologists, course designers, librarians, and students.  NBC Learn HigherEd includes:
  • Over 10,000 resources - short 2 to 5 minute videos are engaging, relevant and inspiring, help connect real-world applications to course materials.
  • In class and online use - great for research, in-class debate or discussion, or embed into Learning Management Systems for Distance Learning.
  • Aligned to 28 Higher Ed courses - topics range from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, U.S. History, Global Studies, Health & Nursing, Psychology, Business, Marketing, Journalism, Sociology, and more.
  • Personal playlists - keep resources organized or share them with others.
  • Reliable and trustworthy - each resource is selected to be educationally appropriate, and held to the highest NBC News Standards and Practices.
  • Interactive CueCard - patent pending media player makes downloading, annotating, citing and embedding resources fun and easy.
  • Emmy award-winning original video - NBC Learn series including "Science of NFL Football," "Science of the Olympic Winter Games," "Chemistry NOW!" and "Finishing the Dream: Learning from the Civil Rights Era."
  • Search by topic, keyword, or date - advanced search technology enables a variety of compound searches.

NBC Learn Videos in Blackboard

You embed NBC Learn videos directly into your Bb course in two ways:
1. Add the video from within the Text Editor
2. As it's own 'stand-alone' object

 From within any Text-Box Editor.  

The editor is present when you create an Item, Discussion Forum, Assignment, Test, Journal, Blog or Wiki.

Click the Mashup tools, then select NBC Learn Videos.  You will find the "mashup" tool within any Text Box Editor.

Search for your video and select Embed to add it to the text box.

After you have embedded the video, you can continue to enter text etc. into the Text Box.
Click Submit when finished.

Stand alone Object

Access any Bb content area, such as Course Material
Click the Build Item button
Select NBC Learn Videos from the menu

Select your video and click Embed (as shown above)
Your video will be added directly to the content area. You will not have the opportunity to add additional text around the video.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's LOVE! Assignments & Safe Assignments

OIT  & Bb
are proud to announce the marriage of 
Bb Assignments 
Bb Safe Assignments

At long last, Blackboard Assignments and Safe Assignments have finally joined together as ONE Bb tool (called Assignment).

That's right -- now you can use all of the fantastic features of Assignments and conduct a Safe Assign plagiarism check at the same time!  So, what are these features, you ask?

Assignment Features Include:
Multiple Attempts
Distribution to Groups or Individuals
File Attachments
Due Dates
Associate a Rubric and use it for Grading
In-line Grading (view student's document and add comments directly)

How to Create an Assignment:

Access a content area within your Bb Course
Click the Assessment button, and select Assignment
Name the Assignment
Add any instructions and, if needed, attach any files needed to complete the assignment.
Enter the Points Possible

Click Submission Details, and select the options needed.  You can also select Plagiarism Check here as well.

Continue to scroll down, and set any other options needed (full details are here).  Click Submit when finished.

How to Grade an Assignment with Safe Assign

Check out our web support page -- all about Assignments -- and celebrate this happy merger of two great Bb tools.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Student Preview

 Have you wondered what your course looks and feels like from your students' perspective?  You can use the Student Preview tool to experience your course exactly like your students do.  You can complete assignments, tests, discussion posts just as your students would.  You'll have the option to save your work when you exit the Student Preview mode.

To enter Student Preview click the Student Preview tool at the top of your course.

When you're in Student Preview mode, notice you no longer have the Control Panel or any of the contextual menus you have in instructor mode.  The Home Page also has all student data, such as the due dates and alerts that your students would see.  Click on any menu area to see your course material, discussion boards, assignments or tests.  You can even click on Tools/Communication and view the My Grade area to see how your students experience their grade report in Bb.

The image below shows a course in Student Preview mode.  Notice the "due date" showing on the home Page -- this would not appear in instructor mode.

To exit Student Preview, click the Exit Preview button at the top right.  You will be prompted to save or delete your data.  If you've submitted assignments,  taken tests, or contributed to the discussion board as a "student' you may want to "keep the preview user and all data" in order to see how it appears in the grade center.

If you have submitted work in student mode, you can access the Needs Grading area in order to see your assignment.  

Back in instructor mode, the image below shows the "preview student's" assignment in the Needs Grading area.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mastering the Grade Center: Feedback

Providing timely feedback is one of the "Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" (Chickering and Gamson).  Fortunately, you can use the Blackboard Full Grade Center to make the feedback process efficient and easy.

Email within the Full Grade Center

Click on the check-box next to a student's name, then select the Email button, and "Send to Selected Users."

You can select as many users from the list as needed.

General Feedback:

You can easily send email to students who are at risk by first Sorting various columns, or grouping columns into Smartviews.  Once you've arranged the columns, use the Email tool to send a general notice to all students who meet your "at risk" criteria.

Quick Comments:

Use the Quick Comment option to send feedback to specific students.  From the Full Grade Center, find the student and the specific grade (cell) you would like to add comments. Hover your mouse over the cell and select "Quick Comment."

Add your comments to the Feedback to User field.  This information will appear in the student's "My Grades" area (accessed via the Tools/Communication menu area).

Text in the Grading Notes field are for your eyes only. Students do no see information in the Grading Notes field.


Reports are a great tool to use when a student comes to your office.  You can printout (or even email) a grade report that's formatted in an easy to understand format for the student.  It allows you to keep grades and information of other students private when you're working with one individual.

To access Reports, click the Report button on the Full Grade Center toolbar.

Click "Create Report."

Header Information appears at the top of the printed Report.

Name the Report -- the name can be anything that describes this report.  For example, if I'm working with Jane -- I could entitle this report "Grades for Jane Smith."

Select any other Heading Information you would like to display.

Scroll Down.

 From the Users selection area -- select All Users if you want to generate individual reports for each of your students.  Use the "Select Users" option to create individual reports for specific users.

Scroll Down

From the User Information area, select the student information you want to appear on the report -- such as their fist and last name.

The Columns setting allows you to select which grade center columns will be included in the report.  Select "Columns currently displayed" or one of the other options in the list.

Click the Submit or Preview button at the bottom of the screen.

The Grade Report will appear.  You can now use your browser's Print feature to print out the report for your student.  Right click on the report to print up your browser's print option.

Email, Comments and Reports are three great Grade Center tools available for your to provide feedback and to keep in touch with students.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mastering the Grade Center: Smartviews & Sorting

This is the second post in the Grade Center Series -- see the first post here!

We all know and love the full Grade Center spreadsheet, with its long horizontal layout, right? Well, not always.  Sometimes we need an efficient way to gather data (or enter data) from the Grade Center. Once you've got this easily accessible information, you can easily communicate with students.  This post will review Smartviews and Column Sorting -- two techniques you can use to master the Grade Center.


Smartviews are simply filters -- they enable you to see specific grade center information based on criteria you designate.

Blackboard has some default Smartviews already added to the system.  Have a look at your Control Panel under Full Grade Center.  Ever wonder what the Assignments and Tests links were?  They're Smartviews.  

Clicking Assignments will show you all columns in the "Assignment"  category, and tests will show you all columns in the "Test" category.  The reason these are listed on the Control Panel is that they are marked as Favorite Smartviews.

Hang On..... you need some background information here!

What's a category?  Bb creates a category for each of its tools. When you create an Assignment, Test, Journal, Blog, Wiki or Discussion Board -- Bb will automatically add it to its category. So, Bb Assignments are all added to the Assignment Category etc.  

And Now....Back to Smartviews: View a Smartview

There are three ways to access Smartviews!

1. You can click a favorite Smartview from the Control Panel.


2.  Access the Full Grade Center, and click the Manage button. From the menu, select Smartviews.  Click on a Smartview to open it.


3.  Click the Filter button on the right side of Full Grade Center.  Use the "Current View" drop menu to select the Smartview you would like to see.  This is also the way to get back to the Full Grade Center view when you're finished viewing.

The Smartviews List

Notice some Smartviews are marked as "System" -- these are the ones that Bb generates for each of its tools. Other Smartviews are maked as "Custom." These are smartviews you create.  Finally, notice the "star" icon in the column on the far right.  You can click on a Smartview to make it a favorite. Favorites show up on the Control Panel!  From the Smartviews screen, click on a Smartview to open it.

From the Smartviews screen you can Create a new Smartview, delete a Smartview, or "Favorite" a Smartview.  Hover your mouse over a specific Smartview and access the drop menu in order to edit or copy the Smartview.

Let's take a look at the Assignment Smartview:

Here, I can see all of the Assignment columns for all of my students.  With just these columns visible, it's easier to add grades or to sort the columns to see who has completed assignments etc., (more on sorting later in this post). 

How to Create a Custom Smartview:

From the Smartviews listing, click Create Smartview.  Name your Smartview, and determine if you want it to be a favorite.  Next, set up the "Criteria" for your new smartview.  Smartviews may be set up based on Groups, Performance, Users, Category/Status or Custom.  

For Example:
I'd like to see grades of students who score a 7 or below the Report5 assignment.  The image below shows the Smartview options I've selected.

 Once the Smartview has been created, I can click on the Report5 link on the Control Panel.  Now, the Report5 column for students who have scoreed below a 7 on this assignment appears.  I can easily send these students an email notifying them of their performance.  

Take me Back!

To go back to viewing the Full Grade Center, click the Filter button on the right side of Full Grade Center.  Use the "Current View" drop menu to select Full Grade Center.

Sorting your Grade Center Columns

Sorting your grade center columns allows you to order or re-order the information in a column.  Simply clicking on a column heading will sort the column. Any column in the Full Grade Center can be sorted.

For example, let's sort  the Last Name column.  Now students will appear in alphabetical order:

The yellow triangle at the top of the column indicates if I'm sorting in an Ascending or Descending fashion. Click the Column Heading to change between the Ascending and Descending views.

You can sort ANY column in the Full Grade Center this way.  

For example, let's sort one of the Assignment columns:

The image below shows the WK3 Assignment scores arranged from highest  to lowest.  The bottom of the column shows students who have no score at all.

And the Next Step -- Communication:

Send email to students via the Grade Center's email tool. Simply check the students to whom you would like to send an email, and click the "Email" button at the top of the Grade Center spread sheet, select "Email Selected Users."  Type your message and click Submit.

Mix and Match:

This post has reviewed Smartviews and Column Sorting.  You can combine both techniques to better see and understand Grade Center information.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mastering the Bb Grade Center: Get Organized

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.