Blackboard has now been upgraded to the most recent software release, Q2 2017.
Here’s a quick run-down of some of the changes you’ll notice in the new version.
Drag and Drop files
When you want to attach files to a course content item, the Browse button is still present, but if you prefer you can now drag and drop files from your computer.
This functionality is available in most places you see the Browse button. Students will be able to take advantage of it in blogs, journals and wikis (although not, as yet, in Discussion Forums). It is also available to students when uploading files to a Blackboard assignment.
Users of the Blackboard Fileshare will also find this a boon, as it restores the ability to upload multiple files in the Chrome and Firefox browsers.
Submit button always visible
It’s a small thing, but very useful: you should now find that on any page which is too long to fit onto your screen without scrolling, the Submit button is always visible, at the foot of the screen.
Blackboard Assignment Submission receipts
Last year we paid Blackboard for a custom building block, so that students submitting to a Blackboard assignment would get a submission receipt emailed to them. With the latest release, this has become part of the core functionality.
For every submission to a Blackboard assignment a receipt is generated. This receipt is
- emailed to the student
(on Group assignments, all members of the Group are sent a receipt)
- available for the student to view via My Grades
- available for staff to view via the Grade Centre.
Assignment Submission Reminders
Staff can send email reminders from the Grade Centre to students who have not yet submitted to a specific assignment. Students receive a system-generated email listing the course, coursework, and the assessment due date.
Staff can use this tool to send reminders for assignments even where anonymous marking is enabled. To protect anonymity, students’ names and attempt statuses are not revealed in this situation – so you will not know which students have been sent an email reminder, only how many.
Please note – you have no control over what the reminder email says, The text at present reads as in this example:
You currently don’t have a mark or submission for the following coursework: Title: Anon June 2017 Course: 2016 Q4 Test course 04Apr2017 Course ID: RDDEV_2016Q4_04Apr17 Please log in to review the instructions for this coursework and check the calendar for all due dates.
More on how to send reminders for missing coursework (Blackboard help site)
You can use the Send Reminder feature with Blackboard assignments and Blackboard Tests.
This tool should not be used for Turnitin assignments – especially not for anonymous Turnitin assignments. For Turnitin Assignments please use the Email non-submitters option available in the Turnitin assignment inbox.
Marking Anonymous Blackboard Assignments
On assignments where multiple attempts were allowed, and which were set up to be marked anonymously, staff would previously see all submissions in Needs Marking – even those which had been superseded by a later attempt. That is no longer the case – only the most recent attempt will appear in Needs Marking.
Please note, there are other issues associated with managing anonymous Blackboard assignments, and where anonymous marking is essential, we recommend either that you use Turnitin, or adopt a less rigid approach to anonymity (e.g. “Grade with usernames hidden).
More on grading multiple attempts on the Needs Grading page (Blackboard help site)
Blackboard Instructor app
Following the upgrade, staff will be able to access the new Instructor app.
Initially the app provides limited functionality, but the range of features will increase over the coming months. In this first version you can
- preview course content, including tests and assignments – this could be really useful to check how well students are able to view your course content on a mobile device
- post announcements
- post and reply to discussion forums
- launch Collaborate Ultra sessions
Future releases will allow tablet users to view, mark and provide feedback on assignment submissions.
You can get an idea of what the app can do from this short video
and on the Blackboard Help site: https://help.blackboard.com/Blackboard_App/Instructor