Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blackboard 9

Well, I have been looking at the new Blackboard 9 interface and have to tell you that I really am excited about the new look and feel. But, I have to admit the thing I most like is the lack of the constant “OK” windows and the YES I really want to take this action confirmation screens seem to be gone. I will be able to fend off carpel tunnel syndrome awhile longer!

The change in Blackboard 9 seems abrupt at first glance with a fancy new interface, but it still functions in the same way, with many new options that will make life much easier for the instructor and student. My top pick for the best new feature or actually lack of feature is the Digital Dropbox. It is gone and may it RIP! For many this was a tried and true friend but a very cumbersome and time consuming feature that was upgraded when the Assignment feature came along.

The new feature that intrigues me so far is the “drag and drop” options right in the Menu itself. This feature helps customize your Menu Items without having to go into the Control Panel and then drill into several more layers before you have forgotten what you were doing in the first place. All the Control Panel options can be accessed via “drop down” or “slide out” menus from the actual Menu Items or the Course Management area below the Menu Items.

The Grade Center, formerly known as the Grade Book, has a slick new spreadsheet look that can be accessed and edited directly in a cell while creating a history of the changes automatically. The Grade Center can also create and print various reports. The Smart Views option allows the instructor to categorize students based on criteria; this will be a great help for the courses that have large enrollment and have groups lead by TA’s.

In the Assignment Tool, instructors can now give students multiple attempts or allow an individual student multiple attempts. Also, the instructor can give an individual student or a group an Assignment.

There are too many new features in Blackboard 9 to mention in this single blog, but please feel free to get your Instructional Designer to help you wade through any of the new tools in Blackboard 9 and how they can help improve the teaching and learning experience for you and your students.

Valerie Shapko
Senior Instructional Design Specialist
Houston Center

Tracey Mac Gowan
Instructional Design Specialist
College of Professional Education

Jake McBee
Instructional Design Specialist
College of Arts and Sciences