Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bb Upgrade: Deeper SafeAssign Integration - Assignments & Safe Assignments Merge into One Great Tool



Remember when Safe Assignments and Assignments were two different Bb tools?  Well, remember no more.  Starting with our upgrade on July 2nd, Safe Assign has merged with the Assignment Tool.  As the video above points out, this means you have more options for distributing and grading -- not available in the old Safe Assign Tool.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Blackboard Upgrade July 2, 2014

Our last upgrade was about two years ago -- since then, Bb has done a lot of work to get Bb Learn more responsive to users' needs and desires.  We'll be upgrading on July 2, 2014 --  starting at 2 AM until (approximately) July 3, 2014 - 1:00 PM. Blackboard will be unavailable during the upgrade.

Enhancements & New Features:
  • Achievements- Badges and Certificates: The Achievements tool allows instructors and course designers to designate criteria for issuing rewards to students in the form of both Badges and Certificates.
  • Course Messages Notifications: Course messages are private and secure text-based communication that occurs within a course and among course members. Although similar to email, you must be logged into a course to read and send course messages.
  • Date Management: After instructors have copied a course, they can speed up the transition of old dates to new ones relevant for the new course using Date Management. From Date Management, instructors can adjust all availability dates, due dates, and adaptive release dates.  Watch a Tutorial Here.
  • Groups Management: Blackboard has improved the management of groups within the course site.
  • Inline Grading: Instructors have a consistent grading sidebar within assignments, blogs, discussions, journals, and wikis. This grading sidebar allows them to grade a submission, post, and entry without leaving the page.
  • Test IP Address Filtering: As a way to prevent cheating and secure high stakes tests, Blackboard Learn Service Pack 14 is introducing Test IP address filtering to enforce location restrictions specified by administrators to correspond to specified IP addresses or IP ranges. This can limit the computers that have access to certain tests to a testing lab for example or other location that can be monitored or proctored.

Check out the Features Showcase:  http://www.blackboard.com/Platforms/Learn/Products/Blackboard-Learn/Features.aspx

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bb Organization Mgmt: Global Email - Limit Students' Ability to Send Email to All



Many faculty and staff are leaders of Bb Organizations  -- Blackboard sites, not associated with a CRN number.  There are Orgs for all majors on campus, as well as for various committees and working groups.  Occasionally, an organization leader or course instructor may want to control and limit who can send out email to all of the organization members or students.

The following procedure limits the ability of students enrolled in courses, or participants enrolled in Bb organizations, from sending a "global email" to all other students/members. Instructor or Org Leaders are not impacted by these limitations.

From the Control Panel, click Customization
Select Tool Availability
Scroll down until you see the listing for Email
Click the Drop Menu for the Email listing and select Email Settings,

You will see a list of "groups" that email can be sent to -- for example, "all participants" "all users" etc.

In the left column, you will see the "groups" with in the Org/Course that can receive email. Note the "Available"column on the right side of the screen.  Students have permission to contact groups marked with a check-mark.  Therefore, click to remove the check-mark for groups you want to limit students' permission to contact via email.  In the image below, you can see that "Participant Users" has been un-checked. Therefore, students are not permitted to send email to "Participant Users" -- i.e. all other students or participants in the Org/course.


Click Submit when finished.


Changing these settings does NOT change your ability as the organization leader to send email.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Boosting Grades

Midterms are finally behind us, and at this point, it seems the semester starts to really fly!  But, at least for now, we're not in the that final stretch just yet.  This is good news for students who need that extra push to get them back into gear!  How can you help your students boost those grades?  Of course, Bb has some tools to help you see what's going on, and communicate the good or bad news to students.

How can I see who is falling behind, not performing well or not engaging in the course -- and notify them?


The Bb Retention Center:  
Watch this video tutorial for an overview of the Retention Center

The Retention Center  lets you glance at a visual list of students at risk, specific items and students you are monitoring and your course activity.  The alters feature graphs and visual indicators to alert you to students who fall into the following categories of "risk"
1. Missed Deadlines
2.Grade Alerts
3. Course Activity Alert
4.Course Access Alerts

You can use the Retention Center lists to notify students who fall into the categories above, or for any "rule" you create within the four categories.



I'd like to offer Extra Credit - How do I add that to the Bb Grade Center?


You can add a column to the Bb Full Grade Center to reflect extra credit points for students.  It's a matter of adding a new column, and setting the points possible to 0.  Bb will add any points you enter to the total column, without penalizing students who do not earn extra credit.
Please view instructions here.


My Students need HELP -- how can they get tutoring?

Smarthinking is 24/7 online tutoring in most academic subjects, as well as an online Writing Center to which students can submit written work for critique.  You can find additional information here, and sign up for a faculty demo account as well.  Students access Smarthinking via Bb.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Mid Term Mania

March 17th is approaching -- almost Mid-Term season. So, you may be asking, what can I do to get ready for Mid-Terms on Bb?  Here are some tips and tricks to get you and your students ready to go!

 Practice, practice, practice!  Creating tests on Bb is a simple process -- but a process you'll want to be comfortable with.  So, why not give a few "practice" tests or quizzes so that students can check their knowledge and you can get experience creating and launching tests?

Jump into the Pool -- the water's fine!  Do you use a publishers test bank? Well, in Bb these are known as "Question Pools!"  Think of a Question Pool as a set of test questions.  Ask your publisher in there's a test bank for your book --- it will save you tons of time because you won't have to type in test questions.  You can import a "Test Bank" and use the questions from it to create Bb tests/quizzes.  You can also create your own Question Pool right in Bb.

Feedback!  Bb tests that contain objective questions (multiple choice, multiple answer, T&F, matching) are graded automatically!  Student get their test scores right away, and you don't have to grade them.  Grades are automatically entered into the Bb grade center.

Many faculty ask how they can minimize cheating on online tests.  Here are a few suggestions that help (nothing is 100% foolproof):

  • Create several Question Pools (question sets), for example, one Pool for each chapter, and use a random number of questions from each pool on your test.  Each student will end up w/ a different set of questions on their test.
  • Randomize the order of the test answer items for multiple choice questions.
  • Randomize the order of the test questions.
  • Use Respondus Lockdown Browser to launch your test.
Want to learn more about creating a test or a question pool?  Learn more here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Removing Students from your BB course

You hate to see them go!   As the add/drop season continues, you'll want to make sure your BB roster is up to date.  Bb will take care of adding students to your courses automatically (as they register); however, you must manually drop students.  Your WebSIS roster is always the official source of who's in and who's not.

How do I remove Students from my Bb Course?

From the Bb course Control Panel, click Users/Groups, then Users.
You should see a list of all students currently enrolled.
Click the check mart next to the student you need to remove.
Click the "Remove User" button.
Click Submit

Here's a link to our help website w/ images of this process

Why doesn't Bb remove students who have dropped?

The Bb/Banner integration will drop students automatically up until the first day of classes.  After that, we've noticed that many students are dropped due to "financial holds" on their accounts.  Usually, most students resolve their holds and re-register for the course.  Meanwhile, faculty want students to stay in their Bb course in order to stay up to date with announcements, content etc.  

Take a look at your WebSIS roster, and remove students from Bb who you know have really dropped your course.  For others, you may want to wait to see if they are coming back.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bb Calendar Helps Students (and you) Stay Organized

There's a new, improved calendar tool in Blackboard!  Now you can see due dates/events from all courses on ONE calendar.  Whenever you set a "due date" on a Bb Assignment, Test or other item, it automatically populates the Bb Calendar!

How do I access my Course Calendar?

Via Global Navigation

You can access the course calendar via the Global Navigation panel -- on the upper right side of your Bb screen next to you user name.  Select the Drop Menu, then the Calendar tool.





From the Course Home Page: 

From the course Home Page, click Course Calendar -- click More Events to see the full calendar.

Via the Tools/Communication menu area, select Course Calendar.  



How do I add Events to my Calendar?

When Using a Bb Tools - Assignments, Tests, Discussions, Journals etc.

When you create a Bb Assignment, Test, Discussion Forum (or use any of the other Bb Tools), you will be prompted to add a Due Date:
When you add a Due Date, the calendar will automatically update with a listing of the assignment, test, etc.

Via the Full Grade Center

You can also add Due Dates via the Full Grade Center.  Click on a column heading for any item in the Full Grade Center, select "Edit Column Information," scroll down and enter a due date.  Click Submit when finished.

How to Manually Add Calendar Events

Access the Full Calendar from Global Navigation, or from within a course (see above).
Click on a date.
Enter the Event details - including which course the event is for.
Click Save