Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Blackboard Feature of the Week: Text Notifications and Video Everywhere

Text Notifications 

Text and text-to-voice notifications are now an option in addition to email and dashboard notifications (for updating students on assignment due dates, unread discussions and blogs, and when grades, new content, and tests are available). Notification options can be updated under the “Notifications Dashboard”.  To receive notifications via text, a mobile phone number must be entered under “Personal Information” in the My eLearning tab under Tools.

Instructions for Faculty and Students can be found here.

Click here for more information on Notifications.

With Video Everywhere, faculty and students can record and post videos in Bb Learn via integration with YouTube. You must have a YouTube account to create a video using Video Everywhere. You can maneuver your webcam via an icon on the Content Editor (see below). You will only see this icon after you have activated (turned on) the feature.

video everywhere icon
Note:  You must turn the feature on in each of your courses in order to use it. Once it is activated, faculty and students will be able to record videos from the content editor. To turn the feature on, make sure you are inside your course (or one of your courses), then choose Control Panel, Customization, and Tool Availability.

Additionally, you must use a webcam or headset to record audio.

With Video Everywhere, faculty and students can:
  • Record a video using a webcam and embed it in course materials, interactions, and feedback.
  • Record video and upload it directly to YouTube.
  • Reuse previously recorded videos by choosing from your own “library” of videos.
Click here for more information on Video Everywhere

Known Issue:
Once you have logged into YouTube, the upload widget will not automatically sign you out. To sign out of YouTube, users must both click sign out from the user interface and go to and click "sign out". This is especially recommended for anyone using a public or shared computer.

By default, all videos are recorded under the "Unlisted" privacy setting. An unlisted video does not appear in searches. Only users who know the link can access the video. This does not, however, guarantee complete privacy. If someone gains access to the link, they can view it.

To avoid this, you have the option of changing your privacy setting to "Private". From the video library, access the clip edit settings in YouTube, and change the setting to private. Once you make a video private, only viewers you specifically include can view it (they must have a Google account). In the Video Everywhere library, private videos will display a lock icon indicating they cannot be viewed by anyone other than the author and specified viewers.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Blackboard Feature of the Week: Inline Assignment Grading and Retention Center

Inline Grading for Assignments

Previously, instructors had to download student-submitted files in order to view, grade or edit assignments. Now, instructors can view, comment on, and grade student-submitted assignment files without leaving the Grade Assignment page.

Additionally, annotation tools are now available via the inline viewer, enabling instructors to provide feedback (e.g. comments, highlights, and annotations) directly on the document. Supported document types that can be graded this way are Word (.doc, .docx), PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx), Excel (.xls, .xlsx), and PDF (.pdf). Once you have saved your feedback, you can download the original (unmarked) assignment file or a marked up version in PDF format. If a student submits an assignment via the Assignment Manager that is not in one of the aforementioned formats, you will have to download their submission and view it using the native application as you did before.

Note:  If you work on grading a student’s assignment for more than 30 minutes without saving, you may receive the following error message and be returned to the Grade Center:
“The requested page could not be displayed. Please try again. If this continues, please contact your system administrator for assistance.”
Your input will be saved and you can resume grading the assignment.

For more information on Inline Grading, click here.

Retention Center

The Retention Center, which replaces the Early Warning System, helps instructors identify which students are at risk of failing a course. Based on both pre-configured and customized rules, students’ engagement and participation are visually displayed, alerting instructors to which students are at risk. From the Retention Center, instructors can communicate with struggling students and help them take immediate action for improvement. The Retention Center is on by default and visible in the "My Blackboard" menu. It is also accessible in the Evaluation section of your course Control Panel. The information in the Retention Center is for instructors only and is not visible to students.

For more information on the Retention Center, click here.

For video on Getting Started with the Retention Center, click here.

For further details and videos on the new Blackboard 9.1 SP13 interface and features, please visit What's New for Faculty - Blackboard 9.1 SP13. Here you will find a list of new features and links related to this new service pack. Please visit this site and get acquainted with the new features available this fall semester.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Blackboard Feature of the Week: Calendar and Verifying Student Activity During a Test


The new Calendar replaces the old calendar tool. Faculty and students can now view institution level, course and personal events in a single calendar view. (note: The PGCC Academic Calendar has been added to the calendar for you.)

  • When accessed from My Blackboard or the Tools menu on the My eLearning tab, the calendar displays a consolidated view of all course, organization, and personal calendar events for a user. Calendar events are color coded to indicate which place they belong.
  • When accessed from a course, instructors and students see the course calendar from the Course Tools page (Quicklinks button). Instructors can use the calendar course tool as a way of managing and communicating the schedule of events and assignments in the course.
  • Calendar supports due dates, if set, for gradable items. Clicking on calendar items allows an instructor to view or edit the item, or grade attempts on the associated item.
  • Students can use filtering options to selectively view only course level items. They can then click on an item to view item details.
  • Users can create recurring events by selecting the Repeat checkbox.

Please Note:  You must update your due dates and assignment dates so they will be displayed on the calendar correctly.

For more information on the Calendar, Click here.

Click here for a tutorial on how to use the calendar.

Tip:  If you cannot open your calendar, please notify eLearning.

Verifying Student Activity During a Test

In previous versions of Blackboard, it was difficult to determine what happens when students encounter problems while taking a test.  As an instructor, it was difficult to tell whether a student actually started the test or how far the student got before encountering a glitch. SP13 provides a detailed Access Log which will provide a more detailed report on student attempts.  Instructors can view the Access Log from the Grade Center to see a detailed list of the student’s interactions with Bb while taking a test. The log will show the time the test was started, and the time of each interaction  (such as saving an answer).

For more information on the Access Log, click here.

For further details and videos on the new Blackboard 9.1 SP13 interface and features, please visit What's New for Faculty - Blackboard 9.1 SP13. Here you will find a list of new features and links related to this new service pack. Please visit this site and get acquainted with the new features available this fall semester.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Blackboard Feature of the Week: Discussion Board Interface

Redesigned Discussion Board Interface

Updated Discussion Board features include:
  • All posts on one page – All of the posts in a thread are now visible simultaneously on the same page.
  • Avatars – user profile avatars are more prominent
  • Conditional highlighting of instructors posts.
  • Inline replies – When replying to a post, the content editor used to write a response appears on the same page, in the context of the discussion.
  • Post First setting – Instructors can use a new forum setting which requires students to post to a forum before they can view other students’ posts.

Tip:  It may be useful to know that the option to switch between the “list” view and “tree” view is still available.  This option is now more difficult to locate on the page, so many users may not know that it still exists. If you look in the upper right corner above the forum name, you will see the “List View” and “Tree View” options.

list view and tree view screenshot
click image to view