Instructors who are teaching courses on Blackboard in the Fall 2019 semester will notice some important changes to the structure of the course template, reflected in the revised navigation menu. At first this change may appear cosmetic, but actually the changes are in response to the structure of Blackboard courses that are considered to be “exemplary” by both Blackboard’s and the Bronx EdTech Showcase’s Exemplary Course programs. In addition, results of surveys of CUNY students conducted by CUNY Central on what they would like to see in Blackboard as well as a presentation by students from New York City College of Technology to the CUNY Blackboard Management Council helped provide a direction for designing a course that would fulfill the requirements for both students and faculty and enhances interaction, collaboration, assessment and learner support.
The Fall 2019 Blackboard courses include:
A new color theme The menu is now Hostos blue instead of Hostos orange. This change isn’t just for cosmetic purposes. This was to improve contrast between the background color and the color of the buttons on mouseover, improving accessibility.
Navigation menu structure The section and tool buttons are grouped into 3 sections separated by rules. The top section (Course Setup through Calendar) is devoted to course administration; the second section (Course Content through Tools deals with the actual course material and tools used in teaching/learning; the third section has links for campus-wide resources and policies.
Course Dashboard This is identical to the Home Page of previous courses. The new name better fits its function, with modules for Announcements and alerts for assignments due and retention center notifications. A new module has been added – “Hostos Course Announcement to Faculty”. Only visible to instructors, it allows us at EdTech to send out messages and alerts to instructors at any time concerning Blackboard courses.
Calendar The Calendar link allows students and instructors to access the course calendar from the menu. Instructor can use the course calendar to provide students with dates for course-related events. Entries can include upcoming tests, due dates for assignments, or special lectures. Setting due dates for course items will cause them to appear automatically in the calendar. Instructors of exemplary courses depend on the calendar to manage their course, and students responded favorably to the course calendar in surveys
Grades The new Grades button in the navigation menu links to the students’ My Grades tool.The use of the Grade Center by the instructor is another favorite of students and exemplary course instructors. Grades for all various gradable items like tests and assignments entered into the grade columns appear in students’ My Grades tool in real time. By using the Grade Center, students are kept informed of their progress throughout the semester, and students can also receive alerts and comments on their grades.