Fun New Blackboard Features for Spring 2013

Starting in the Spring semester, there will be a few new features in Blackboard that the Instructional Design team is excited about, and we think that you and your students are going to like them too!

These changes include:

  • A new and improved text editor
  • My Blackboard profiles that put a face with user posts
  • A better to way to stay current with Blackboard posts and updates
  • The ability to record video directly to Blackboard
  • Test question analysis
  • A new look for My Grades

The first time that you log into Blackboard this Spring, you will be prompted to set up your account to make use of these new features.

Continue reading this post for screenshots and videos of each of these updates.

Do you want to inform your students about these changes? Click here for a PDF that you can share in your Blackboard courses.

New Text Editor: Say Goodbye to Formatting Problems!

Have you ever composed a flawless announcement in Blackboard only to find that the end result has odd spacing? Have you ever had trouble copying something from Microsoft Word into Blackboard?

This Spring, La Salle’s Blackboard courses will feature a new editor for adding text and multimedia. This new editor promises to alleviate many of the troubles caused by its predecessor.

What can you look forward to?

Better results when copying and pasting from Microsoft Word directly into the editor. (You don’t need to use the Word Mashup anymore!)
Viewing the editing window in full screen mode, which helps with composing new content.
It’s now easier to embed images, audio and video content, size it to your preferred dimensions, and preview it first to make sure it displays properly.

Check out this video for a preview of the editor in action:

My Blackboard Profile

Blackboard has upgraded and more fully integrated its user profile tool so that communications are going to start feeling a little more like the social experience we have come to expect online.

Students and instructors can upload a photo to their My Blackboard profile, add their discipline or major, and write a short bio. Users can also choose to integrate their Twitter and Facebook accounts with their Blackboard profiles and decide who can see their profile using the privacy settings.

Now, whenever you or your students post to discussions, blogs, or wikis, you will see a face with the name! Check out the video to see more about how this tool works:

My Blackboard Posts and Updates

Sometimes it can feel like there are too many places to click in your Blackboard courses to stay up-to-date. As part of the new My Blackboard navigation menu at the top right of the screen, you will now have access to two tools, Posts and Updates, that consolidate this information, so you can quickly find out what needs your attention.

Posts
All of the most recent posts to the discussion board, wikis, blogs, and group tools will now be accessible in one place for your convenience. You can filter posts so that you only see those that directly involve you or those that are related to a particular course.

New posts will be visible here for seven days before they are refreshed with the newest content, but you can always find all of your posts from the entire semester where you are used to finding them in your Blackboard course tools areas. The video below is a quick look at this tool:

Updates
The Updates area lets you know what actions or items require your attention such as when something needs grading. More importantly, this tool can remind your students when work is due in Blackboard or when a new item is posted so that your students can stay up-to-date with your course.

Both you and your students can use the gear icon (see below) to manage the types of notifications that you want to receive.

Recording Video Directly to Blackboard

This is an awesome new feature that makes it extremely easy for you and your students to quickly record and post video content anywhere in Blackboard. This feature is integrated with YouTube, so you will need to have a YouTube or Google account to record video. You’ll also need a webcam. By default, your videos will only be accessible to your students (or those with a direct link to the video), so you won’t have to worry that the videos will be publicly accessible.

If you want to get started right away, consider recording a short intro video welcoming new students to your class and letting them know what to expect on the first day!

This video reviews some of the features of this tool:

Test Question Analysis

Blackboard has added a helpful summary for tests delivered through the system that includes information about student performance and the question items.

You can use this information to address questions that may be problematic, improve your tests, and address common misunderstandings within your class.

Starting in the Spring, you will be able to find this tool in your Full Grade Center under the drop down menu for any test or quiz.

A New Look for My Grades

Blackboard has made some slight changes to the display of the My Grades area where students view their grades. Students’ grades are now separated into the following categories, so they can more easily find their most recent grades:

  • Current [overall] grade
  • Graded items
  • Submitted items that are not yet graded
  • Upcoming items not yet submitted

In the previous version, students could see your feedback to the right of their score, but now they need to click the comments link to see them. You may want to remind your students to check for your feedback for the first few assignments this Spring.

Students can click on their numerical scores to see more detailed results about their graded assignments.

Questions? Comments?

As always, the ID Team is happy to meet with you to go over these changes. Reach out to us at IDTeam@lasalle.edu!

Do you think these are useful updates? Let us know in the comments.

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