Blackboard 9 launches for summer

New look but (mostly) the same Blackboard

For most instructors, upgrading to Blackboard 9 will be a non-event. The main advantage to the new look and feel of version 9 is that you essentially never leave your course’s main page. The Course Navigation Menu is omnipresent. Previously, to perform many of the main instructor functions you went to the separate Control Panel page which was consolidated but disconnected from the main course page. Now, all of the management features are integrated throughout the Blackboard interface—controlled with the Edit Mode switch in the upper right-hand corner of the page.

The tools (e.g., Grade Center, Discussions) are largely the same. Announcements are still on the homepage, the Discussion Board is still comprised of Forums and Threads, you still have a choice between traditional e-mail (accessing student Mizzou e-mail) and Messages (the internal mail system where messages stay within the course site).

Where did my Modify button go?

Those double drop-down arrows previously seen in the Grade Center now replace many of the action buttons. Using this feature throughout the course, you may Edit, Delete, and access the other management functions in Content Areas, the Discussion Board, Grade Center, etc.

Improvements: There is now a Cancel/Submit button in the upper right-hand corner of pages in addition to the lower. Nice addition! The Assignment Tool (which is still unfortunately buried among the “Evaluate” list of options in a Content Area) now allows for multiple student submissions (draft, final copy, etc.) as well as group assignments.

The Assignment Tool is one of the most useful tools in Blackboard, allowing instructors to create an “Assignment” (essay 1, personal statement, etc.) which provides students the ability to upload a file for grading. That file is submitted to the Grade Center where the instructors accesses, reviews, and grades the submission in addition to providing feedback. If you are using any of the private group features in Blackboard there is also a “Self-Enroll” feature so that students may easily self-select their membership in a particular group.

Best Practices

  • Customize your course menu! Always create a Course Menu that corresponds to the tools and features you plan to use in Blackboard. Plan on using the Discussion board? Create a corresponding button. Avoid empty buttons with no content or even worse, an active tool you don’t plan to use.
  • Check your links! It’s a good policy before the course goes “live” to click around and make sure all of your external (and internal for that matter) links are active and go the intended destination. Especially if you are teaching a course developed in previous semesters, taking some time to do a little quality assurance is well worth the effort.
  • Don’t forget Blogs, Wikis, Tegrity, and WIMBA Classroom! In addition to upgrading to Blackboard 9 we will also be adding WIMBA Classroom. A close cousin to WIMBA Voice tools, this tool allows for “live” (real-time, synchronous) voice and video conferencing. Since fall 2009 we’ve had Blogs (great for student journaling), wikis (collectively editable pages great for student group reports/projects), and Tegrity (lecture capture).
  • Don’t copy text from Microsoft Word into Blackboard! Either input text directly into Blackboard, use a plain text program such as Notepad/WordPad, or turn off the Visual Text Box Editor in the Blackboard interface.

Getting Help

Need to refresh your course, try something new, or make some changes based on student feedback? Give us a holler. We host Open Studio Hours every Thursday from 1-3 pm (Heinkel Building – room 266) in addition to other seminars and events you may find listed on http://etatmo.missouri.edu.