Datacenter Maintenance

On Friday, September 26th, 2014 Blackboard will be performing infrastructure maintenance at the data center hosting our Blackboard system. This maintenance is not expected to affect service but it is possible that users might experience intermittent connectivity for a few minutes during the maintenance window.

Group Courses by Terms

Tired of seeing a long list of courses in Blackboard and struggling to figure out which ones are for the current term? If so, the Group by Terms feature is for you.

Group by terms allows users to have their Blackboard courses display by term. You can specify whether a term should display, whether it should be expanded when displayed, and even which courses will display within the term. Terms may be academic terms or they may be other groupings. So on my account, the My Courses module displays the terms, Blackboard Online Training, Fall 2014, Testing, and No Term Assigned.

My Courses module

My Courses module showing courses grouped by terms.

Any courses not assigned a term will be in the No Term Assigned group, until they are added to a term.

To change your My Courses display, click on the settings icon at the top right corner of the module (that thing that looks like a gear).

Personalize My Courses Page

The Personalize My Courses Page where you can turn on Group by Terms.

Click on the check box next to Group by Terms to activate the feature. Select which terms to display and whether the term should display expanded to show the courses in the term by clicking the appropriate check boxes. In section 2, of the Personalize My Courses page you can further refine what you see in My Courses by selecting the appropriate check boxes for the attributes you want displayed. Once you’ve made your selections, click submit and enjoy an organized My Courses module.

What’s New in the Upgraded Blackboard?

The beginning of any new school year brings many changes. This year brings a change in our LMS, Blackboard. This past weekend we upgraded to a recent release to gain some additional features and improvements.

One of the more anticipated enhancements is the Student View building block. This add-on creates a button on the top of the content screen that instructors can use to see the course as their students will see it. Unlike toggling the edit mode button off, when in Student View instructors can see and interact with every aspect of their course in the role of a student. The tool creates an account that is enrolled in your course as a student. Since there is an actual student account any submissions are recorded. You can see, for example, how the test grades specific responses to partial credit questions.

Group management is enhanced with an “All Users” screen which lists the group membership of each individual enrolled in the course. This enhancement allows more efficient assignment of students to groups. In addition, when you create groups, you will have an option to create a Grade Center Smart View at the same time.

Date Management is a new tool that allows you to adjust dates associated with content items copied from a previous course, all at once. Once the system shifts the dates, you will see and be able to validate the new dates all from a single page.

Grading functionality is improved with the expansion of inline grading to Wikis, Blogs, Journals and Discussion Boards. Workflows for tests have been improved with the shift of “Score Attempts Using” to the Test Options page.

My Grades for students has been update with options to reorder scores by due date, last activity, or Grade Center alignment. The interface has been improved to provide more information in the same window. Instructor feedback is now inline reducing the number of clicks needed to get a complete picture of performance on individual items.

To read more about the enhancements in the upgraded Blackboard check out the Upgrade page on our website.

Final Update on Upgrade Testing

Everything in Blackboard looks OK.

The anomalies observed in the item tracking statistics may not be a error, but could be the system functioning as designed. When running the same reports today, there were statistics from yesterday, suggesting that the reporting tables may be refreshed once per day rather than as activity occurs. We have a case open with Blackboard to investigate our observations and have posed the question as to when we should see activity in the item tracking reports.

We’ve tested across multiple browsers and operating systems and are confident that the system is operating correctly. Please report any errors or unexpected behaviors.

Please note: the grading workflows for a number of items has changed and sometimes finding an associated rubric is not obvious. We are offering a “What’s new in Blackboard” session on September 5th during Opening Days to spread the word about changes. As always, don’t hesitate to contact any of the members of the Learning, Innovation and Technology team with questions and concerns.

Testing going well!

Testing of the upgraded Blackboard system has been overwhelmingly positive. The only problem noted is that item tracking reports within courses are reporting no hits when student users have access the items. If you are unfamiliar with tracking reports – Blackboard allows instructors to track how often and when students access individual content items in courses. The tracking reports should reflect how many hits an item receives and by whom.

Other reports in courses appear to run correctly. The only affected reports are the tracking reports for individual items, and course activity (only item level activity seems affected) and user reports (again item level activity is affected).

We are opening a case with Blackboard to have the issue fully investigated and hopefully resolved before classes start.

We will continue to test throughout the weekend and into next week to ensure we catch any problems and can have them resolved before classes start.

At this point, we feel confident that it is safe to begin adding content to fall term courses.


Upgrade Complete!

Just got the call from Blackboard…They have completed the upgrade and their testing.

We will now begin testing and will update when our testing is complete.

Blackboard Upgrade – nearing completion!

Our Blackboard system has been successfully upgraded! Blackboard is currently testing the system to ensure that all systems are functioning correctly. After we receive the word that all work in complete, WIT staff will conduct our own tests based on the functions we know our faculty and students are using.

More updates as testing proceeds…

Reminder – Blackboard Upgrade Tomorrow!

Just a reminder, Blackboard will not be available tomorrow morning from approximately midnight until noon.

We’ll keep you posted on progress and post-upgrade testing.

See you after the upgrade!

Blackboard has gone MOBILE!

If you’ve wanted to access Wentworth’s Blackboard system from your mobile device, the time has come! We’ve enabled Blackboard Mobile Learn so now you can download the free app from either the Apple App store or Google Play and pay no in app fees to access our Blackboard system.

When to use Blackboard Mobile Learn App:

  • Reading Discussion Board, Blog, Wiki and Journal posts
  • Short posts to Discussion Board, Blogs, Wikis and Journals
  • Checking Grades
  • Checking Announcements
  • Reading Documents
  • Viewing images and videos

Web-based Blackboard Learn is better for:

  • Completing assignments – can only attach image files in the Mobile app
  • Taking tests – not all tests are mobile compatible
  • Creating long Discussion Board, Blog, Wiki and Journal posts

To connect: Search for “Wentworth Institute of Technology” when you first launch the app. Login with your Wentworth Blackboard username and password.

Configure Push Notifications to allow Blackboard to notify you when changes occur in your courses.

Blackboard Upgrade for Fall 2014

The weekend of August 23-24,2014 our Blackboard system will be upgraded to Service Pack 14. The upgrade will begin at midnight on the 23rd and we expect completion of the initial work by noon the same day. During the upgrade the system will be unavailable to all users. After the upgrade, Learning Innovation & Technology (LIT) staff will test the system.

Why did we choose this time to upgrade Blackboard?
The weekend of August 23rd was selected for upgrading the system after consulting with the Learning Innovation & Technology Advisory Committee. Summer 2014 courses are due by noon on Monday, August 18th, and a timeframe during that week was considered. However, there might be cases where grades would be submitted later and continued access to Blackboard might be necessary such as for compiling course binders. The committee advised us that it would be unlikely that many faculty would access the system over the weekend after grades were due.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting some of the new features available in the new version of Blackboard.

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