Blackboard is changing…
In May 2013 we will be upgrading Blackboard from version 9.1 Service Pack 6 to one of the new service packs. We’re hedging on the exact service pack release because Blackboard has recently changed the release schedule. There are at least two more service packs that will be released before we make a final determination about which service pack to install.
We do know that we will upgrade to at least service pack 8. We are currently evaluating service pack 10 and that is a promising candidate. Service pack 11 will be released in December and the early buzz is that a new calendar tool with much greater functionality will be integrated into that release. and we will be carefully evaluating that release when it becomes available. Service pack 12 is expected in February. That will be the last service pack we will have time to test before making a decision about which release to install in May.
What does this mean for the Assumption community? Starting with Service Pack 8 Blackboard has committed to making very significant changes in the user interface. The new releases have a cleaner more modern look and feel. Some users will immediately adapt to the new interface, others will need some time to adjust. There are more navigation options that can streamline user’s workflows. Course themes bring an updated look to your course sites with coordinated color schemes and backgrounds. The content editor has been rewritten and allows users to paste text from Word documents once again without bringing along unwanted formatting codes.
There are also some new features being released. My Blackboard provides a quick stop navigation and communication hub. Users can quickly link to posts, grades, and announcements. In My Posts users can see new posts across the discussion boards, blogs, and wikis of all their active courses. My grades updates the student gradebook interface, permitting students to see a listing of all new grade activity or to view grades course by course. Finally, course can be grouped by “Terms” in the My Courses module and the Courses tab. This new feature is especially useful for faculty who often teach the same course each year or semester.
New Tools for instructors include automatic regrading, negative grading, new quick setup guide for new users, course menu options to reflect different pedagogical approaches, optional sample content, and item analysis for tests. The automatic regrading feature permits instructors the ability to correct a problem in a test that impacts grading. Once the item has been edited Blackboard will recalculate all the grades of the students who have completed the assessment. Instructors no longer have to manually update all the grades. Negative grading allows instructors to assign negative point values to incorrect responses thus discouraging students from guessing when they are uncertain of the correct answer. The new quick setup guide helps instructors new to Blackboard to set up their course site. A wizard guides new instructors through the process of selecting a menu structure to reflect how they teach their course and also provides optional sample content to suggest what to include in a Blackboard site. Finally, Blackboard has introduced item analysis in the testing system. Now instructors can analyse any Blackboard test and determine whether any questions need revision for future use and to see how difficult each question is.
As we evaluate the new service packs we’ll post more information about new features or changes in the system.
Please join us for an information session about the upgrades and get a sneak peek at the new version. We’ll be announcing sessions starting in February.