Blackboard Upgrade

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This article first appeared in the May 2013 Newsletter and has been updated to reflect the completed upgrade.

What's New in Blackboard 2013

By Deborah Reichler

Blackboard Learn was upgraded in late June. This year's version includes a number of new tools and several old favorites which have been rewritten. All contain features which users have been waiting for, so read on and get excited ...

Instructor and User Help: completely reworked and very easy to find what you're looking for in the table of contents, organized by processes and examples, includes videos and PDFs.  The Users' manual is located in any course, Tools area, Blackboard Help for Students.  The Instructors' Manual is located in any course, Control Panel, Help, Blackboard Help for Instructors.

Global Navigation: Global Navigation refers to the set of links that appears at the very top right of the Blackboard Learn frame (expand the panel by clicking your name). This navigation panel quickly connects to different tools in the system. The tools users have access to include Profiles, People, Posts, Calendar, Updates, and the Retention Center (Notification customizations also appear here).

Calendar: Also connected to Global Navigation, it’s a real calendar now – repeating events, different views, iCal export, show/hide multiple calendars, drag-and-drop events (two-way integration with Due Dates, both entering and modifying).

My Grades: completely redone, also part of Global Navigation (when logged in as a student). From My Grades in the Global Navigation panel, all grades appear in reverse chronological order; from within a course, just grades for that course.

New Content Editor: The newly designed Content Editor appears anywhere in Blackboard where text (or other media) may be entered (including email!). The new Content Editor is based on the industry standard TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor and is Java-free. The new Math editor accepts LaTeX.  There are also tools for editing HTML and CSS.

Video Everywhere: The “Record from Webcam” tool is a feature of the Content Editor providing faculty and students with the ability to record and reuse videos in Blackboard Learn. The videos are created and managed through an integration with YouTube.

Discussion Board: completely reworked interface, rearranged tools, all posts of a thread on one page. There is an option that students must create a thread (and enter a post) before viewing others. You will also see better copy options when copying course material forward (can include initial questions but not replies).

Blogs and Journals: Tools have been reworked to eliminate iframes (can embed Google Maps now).

Inline Assignment Grading: Where we used to download assignments to mark up within Word, one can now grade the assignment within Blackboard. This eliminates the uploading and downloading steps; commenting is also much more direct. There is still an option to download, but most common editing tools are present. The student view shows all comments. One can hide user names to grade anonymously. If a rubric was used, it can be displayed.

Come to one of our workshops to explore Blackboard further!

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