by George Rosa
The Spring 2014 semester sees some big changes to Blackboard 9.1. The changes, brought by the installation of Service Pack 13, or known at CUNY as “Blackboard Enhanced,” includes a new look and some major new features that improve navigation, assessment options, grading workflow and other functionality for faculty.
EdTech has scheduled workshops to introduce faculty to the features of Blackboard Enhanced in addition to Introductory Blackboard, Grade Center, Assessment and other technology-related pedagogical tools. Please visit the EdTech Workshop Page (page 2 in this issue for the workshop schedule. The CUNY Blackboard website has video and pdf user guides covering Blackboard Enhanced features. You can access these by going to www.cuny.edu/blackboard, then go to User Guides under the CUNY Blackboard menu. You can also reach this site by using the Blackboard 9.1 tab in Blackboard. Please explore the new Blackboard Enhanced and see how well it fits your teaching requirements, be they for classroom or online teaching.
An Improved Calendar
With the rebuilt Blackboard calendar users can add personal events, keep track of important course dates, and even export to third party calendars like Outlook or Google Calendar. An item with a due date is automatically added to the calendars of all users in the course. Instructors can also update due dates by simply dragging items to new calendar days.
Global Navigation Menu
A button at the top of the Course page opens up a menu that allows you to access the enhanced Course Calendar, the Retention Center as well as your courses and organizations from within the course. No more having to go back to “My Courses” on the Blackboard page whenever you want to go to another course.
With the improved Discussion Board, al the posts in a thread are shown in one page. Also, a new feature can be implemented that requires students to post an answer to a thread before they can read the other posts.
Improved Test and Survey Options
Now, when using the Test Options for launching a test, Test Availability Exceptions can be defined for students and groups. In addition, when and the kind of results displayed to students can be specified
New Content Editor
The new Content Editor displays an easy to use interface with an improved Math Editor and better retains formatting of Microsoft Word and Dreamweaver documents.
This change, one of the most anticipated, allows the instructor to markup and grade submitted assignment documents online, without needing to download them. Students can view there graded assignments with the markups. The graded documents can be downloaded in pdf format.
The Item Analysis feature provides statistics for tests and student performance on individual questions in exams. Among the data it provides is Discrimination – how well performance on a particular question reflects performance on the entire test) as well as question Difficulty based on student performance.
Formally replacing the Early Warning System, the Retention Center allows the instructor to follow at-risk students’ grades, activities, missed deadlines and course access more easily.