Browsing articles in "Blackboard"

New Update to Blackboard Mobile Learn

Aug 27, 2013   //   by Jeffrey Fouts   //   Blackboard  //  Comments Off on New Update to Blackboard Mobile Learn

There has been a new update to the Blackboard Mobile Learn App that you are able to download from all app stores. Some of the new features include:

Maintaining Security on Blackboard Exams

Jun 19, 2013   //   by Brooke Winckelmann   //   Blackboard  //  No Comments

October 19, 2012   Purdue University
By Brett Creech

Blackboard Learn offers the ability for faculty to provide tests and quizzes that students can complete outside of normal class hours, or in the case of online or blended courses, the tests and quizzes given on Blackboard can replace those normally given in a traditional classroom.  However, there can be concerns with regards to the security of Blackboard-based quizzes and exams.  While it may not be possible to completely safeguard exams outside of having those taken by students with a proctor present, instructors can use tools and settings to provide as many safeguards as possible for their exams.

Restrict Feedback

When setting up the options on a quiz or exam, one of the ways to protect information on the assessment is to restrict the amount of feedback presented to the student.  Simply displaying the score will only show the score or grade the student earned.  There are additional feedback options however that may reveal more information than an instructor may want students to view.  The Submitted Answers feedback option will display to the students the answers they provided and if the answer was correct or incorrect.  The Correct Answers feedback option will display the question and the correct answer for the question.  The Feedback option will give feedback that are created by the instructor for the students.

For the most security it may be best to not turn on the Correct Answers option, as it will list all questions on the exam plus the correct answers for each question.

Randomize Your Questions and Question Answers

Blackboard can randomize the presentation order of the questions on assessments, so that each individual student is presented with the questions in a different order.  When editing test options, in the Test Presentation area, click the Randomize Questions option.

Randomizing can also be done within the answer options on individual questions. What this means is that on a multiple choice question where the correct answer is “orange”, one student may see it as option A, another student as option C.  To display answers in random order, when creating or editing individual questions, under the Options area click Show Answers in Random Order, if that option is available for that question type.

Utilize Test Pools and Random Blocks

Using the Test Pool tool in Blackboard can create questions that can be used over and over in quizzes and exams.  When combined with Random Block questions, students can all have their own unique exam.

To access the Test Pool tool in Learn, in the Control Panel click Course Tools, and then click Tests, Surveys, and Pools.  Then, click the Pools link.  Instructors can then build a new pool and add questions to that pool, or import a pool from another course or from a test generation program that may be supplied with a textbook or other resource.

To use a Random Block, when creating an exam question, select Reuse Question, and then click Create Random Block.  Then you can specify what pool questions come from, and then how many questions are wanted from that specific block.  It is possible to add more random block questions to your exam from different test pools within the course.

While students may have the some of the same questions on their exams, each student will have a different mix of questions.  If only one test pool is being used with a random block question, it is important to make sure the test pool has more questions than would be asked to ensure that few, if any, students will have the same exact questions on their exams.

Setting Timer and Auto-Submit

Instructors have the option to enable a timer on a quiz or exam, and students can view how much time they have remaining on that assessment.  When a student exceeds the time limit, by default the student will not receive a grade and the result is noted as “Needs Grading” in the Grade Center; instructors have the ability to either accept the grade as-is or to provide a penalty for going over time if needed.

Blackboard Learn does have a feature called Auto-Submit, which will automatically submit the student’s exam when time runs out on the time, whether the student has completed the assessment or not.  However, students who need additional time due to a documented disability may need to have an alternate exam created.

What About Force Completion?

Force completion requires a student to stay in a quiz or exam once they’ve started.  However, if a student is using an unstable connection to the Internet (wi-fi, cellular broadband, dialup, etc), even a momentary loss of connection while taking an assessment that has force completion turned on will force the student out of the exam or quiz.  It is recommended this not be turned on; when Force Completion is not turned on, the student will be able to re-enter the quiz or exam and pick up on the question where they left off.

Proctored Exams

For high-stakes exams, such as mid-terms and finals, it may be desirable to have the test proctored, meaning that the student’s exam is supervised.  To ensure the security of proctored exams, instructors may place a password on the assessment and only provide the password to the exam proctor.  Using a password will prevent students who are not taking the exam through a proctor from taking the assessment.

Final Thoughts

Instructors cede a lot of control over the environment a student takes a Blackboard-based assessment in.  However, there are steps that can be taken to control security over those assessments.

Summer Institute for Technology Enhanced Teaching and Learning – 2013

Mar 18, 2013   //   by Jeffrey Fouts   //   Blackboard, OLS, OLS Blogs, Social Media, Topics on Technology, Web 2.0 Tools  //  No Comments

Information Technology Services (ITS) at Syracuse University announces the 2013 Summer Institute for Technology-enhanced Teaching & Learning scheduled in two separate week-long sessions in order to accommodate different schedules. The two sessions are planned for May 20-24 and June 3-7. The Institute is designed as an intensive experience for SU faculty members who plan to teach an online course or who want to make significant revisions in a face-to-face course to incorporate technology for teaching and learning. This unique program will include presentations and hands-on workshops focused on current topics and technologies, as well as strategies and pedagogies to support online and technology-infused courses. The Summer Institute is co-sponsored by Online Learning Services, University College and the Office of Faculty Development. For more information, including an online application form, see the Summer Institute web site at . Contact: Michael Morrison Email: Phone: 315-443-1806

Bb File Manager Makes for a Better Workflow…

Feb 2, 2012   //   by Thomas Downes   //   Blackboard  //  No Comments

We have just moved to Blackboard 9.1 and the new ways in which you can manage your files in Blackboard is well worth considering and introduces the opportunity to change instructor's work flow when managing their content in Blackboard. Just look for a "Files" link at the top of the control panel.

Rather than just uploading files to a content area as has been the case, you can now upload a file or multiple files to your course and then decide in which content area you want to place them. Consider it a course folder for all the content in one area of your course where you can get a great amount of detail about each item. You can also download all the content to your local drive in one swift action. 


More importantly, when you update the files in the course content folder the file is replaced and updated anywhere it has been deployed in your course. This is Blackboard's way of giving you a taste of their content system that allows for sharing of documents across the entire system. Right now you only have a course content folder with each course but there's no link between them – still a major improvement from the previous version.

The other feature I like but am unsure how many users will actually take advantage of is the webdav folder that you can setup for each course. This is a shared location that you can easily create on your local computer that when files are placed into it, they are copied to your course content folder. Think of it as a "dropbox" that is directly connected to your course folders. This kind of technology has been around some time, but now it's easy to setup with each Blackboard course you teach. I also like the fact that the instructions are embedded right in blackboard for all major operation systems.

Once you are in the Course Content area, just look for the "set up shared location" link or the "set up shared folder" link depending upon which OS you are using.

Designing a Creative and Interactive Blackboard Course

Jul 13, 2011   //   by Jeffrey Fouts   //   Blackboard  //  No Comments

Designing a blackboard course will be unique to each individual but there are different design tips that can be applied to create an interactive and well-crafted course that will appeal to your users. When you are creating your Blackboard course you want to consider the design of the following: the content, assessments, communication, group & user management and integrating library resources. These tips have been collected from DePaul University Instructional Technology & Support and personal experience. Content: Strategies on planning, organizing, and formatting your content for electronic use. -Make sure your purpose is clear when posting materials. For example: Is it an assignment? Is it for review? Or is it a required reading? -Select appropriate names for your content. For example: “assignments”, “syllabus”, “quiz”. -Be consistent. Assessments: Strategies on designing, implementing and managing quizzes & surveys. -Surveys are designed the same as quizzes except that the identity of the student is hidden from the instructor. -Instructors can use the “start” date and an “until” date to be a period of days allowing students to work on the item any number of times. -Types of assessment tools: Multiple Choice, True/False, Multiple Answer, Matching Questions, Ordering, Essay, Short Answer, Calculated Formula, Calculated Numeric Response, File Response, Hot Spot, Fill In Multiple Blanks, Jumbled Sentence, Opinion Scale/Likert, Either/Or, Quiz Bowl, Random Block. Communication: Strategies on incorporating communication tools such as discussion board, e-mail and virtual classroom. -Announcements: Instructors can post important messages to their users. -Discussion Board: Is designed for asynchronous use and student conversations are logged and organized. -E-mail: Instructors and students can send e-mail to one another enrolled in the same course. -Virtual Classroom: Instructors and students can participate in real time lessons and discussions. -Other: Course calendar, tasks, my grades, and faculty/information page. Groups & User Management: Strategies for controlling group projects or for peer review. -Peer Critique: Group members work on individual assignments but also critique the work of their group members. – Project-based Work: Members can collaborate to research a topic for papers and presentations. -Other: Case-based Learning, Reflective Practice, Role-play or Simulation, Study or Self-Help Groups Integrating Library Resources: Strategies on integrating electronic library resources such as e-reserves, databases, and journal articles. -Links to Library Resources: Instructors can link to additional research resources to their course site. For example: Journal articles or databases. -Linking directly to the library E-Reserves: Instructions can be given on how to use the library’s electronic reserves service. -Linking directly to full text article: Instructors can provide direct access to articles. Make your Blackboard course your own and unique. Your users will appreciate the individuality and time you put into it. DePaul Instructional Technology & Support

Blackboard World 2010

Oct 13, 2010   //   by Jeffrey Fouts   //   Blackboard  //  No Comments

The annual Blackboard World conference is being held in Orlando this week and, having never attended it before, it's proving to be a learning experience. The dialogue among university instructors, administrators and staff and the presentations allow them to face challenges together and to share how to approach the dynamics of educational technologies. BUT the keynote this morning by Greg Mortenson reminded us of the importance of concepts beyond technology – that being literacy. Mr. Mortenson's story and the development of education and literacy programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan serves as a reality check against the barrage of war-torn stories we read and hear about daily. He serves to motivate purely by example and reminds us that technology doesn't transform but rather that literacy does…. On the technical side, the recent news of Blackboard's acquisition of Wimba and Elluminate should prove to make the platform truly collaborative and should allow clients to meet online and share resources in real time. Given that all the details are yet to be worked out, it's hard to guess the impact but after speaking to a Wimba representative today, he seemed to think that it's a good and logical integration. Michael Chasen, CEO, outlined 5 areas of focus for Blackboard: 1. Social Learning 2. Integrating the best features of Web CT and Angel into Blackboard NG 3. Content Integration 4. Collaboration 5. Mobile technology The "mashup tools" in the latest release of Blackboard integrates NBC video archives, YouTube videos and slideshare content. Agreements with Barnes & Noble and the Follet Corporation will increase the content that will be available through Blackboard. Collaboration has been addressed through the previously mentioned alignment with Wimba and Elluminate. Regardless of what Blackboard does, instructors have access to all kinds of web tools that can allow them to reach out to their students in real time but this may make it a bit more inviting and easier to teach online without leaving the confines and security of an LMS. Instructors will soon have the option of working in Blackboard to have a "rich media" and collaborative environment and if for any reason they prefer, the greater web continually offers even more powerful tools for those willing to investigate. It's only the creativity that needs to be developed these days!


Thank you so much for the wonderful presentation!  It was so helpful and useful – not only for the FLTAs but for all of us in attendance.  You covered much material that we will all be able to use.  I appreciate all the time and effort that went into the planning of the session and the creation of the Blackboard site – it will be very useful and convenient for everyone.

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