Skip to content

1

By Jay Todd

Photo of a parking meter that says, FAIL, instead of 0.
"Parking Meter Fail" by Jeramey Jannene / CC BY 2.0

I'll be honest: I can't remember the last time I penalized a student for turning in a late assignment. I used to be very strict about this. I was taught, in fact, to be very strict about deadlines. Make your policy clear in your syllabus and never deviate from it, I was told. Don't let the students take advantage. So I used to deduct one letter grade for each day a major assignment was late. Small assignments couldn't be late at all.

At some point though, I started to wonder about the effectiveness of this approach. Mostly, I started to worry, as a writing teacher, that I was hindering good writing by making the deadline some important. A few times, because of my clearly stated policy, I had to give an A paper -- I mean a truly excellent paper -- a C, simply because it was late.

I still have a policy in my syllabus that says, clearly, that a deadline is a deadline, but I follow that up with a statement that says, "If you anticipate having difficulty meeting a deadline, please speak to me about it." Basically, to an astute reader, I'm negating my policy right there.

Ellen Boucher discusses this a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education: It's Time to Ditch Our Deadlines. Her new policy is that all assignments come with an automatic two-day grace period. If a student needs still more time, all that's required is a meeting. As a result, she says, she's seen higher quality work and less stress from her students. She makes a good argument, especially by focusing on how this helps under-prepared college students.

I should say though that so far, I've only taken this approach with big assignments -- essays and research papers. Daily homework, quizzes, and such still come with fairly rigid deadlines.

Hand holding iPad mini with Bb Grader app screen showing on the screen

The Bb Grader app provides instructors with a mobile solution to grade Blackboard assignments. With Bb Grader, instructors can use their iPads to review, provide feedback, and ultimately grade submitted assignments from within the app. Instructors can view a detailed list of all assignment submissions and can sort submissions based on a category of information.

Key features in the Bb Grader app:

  • Inline viewing of student submissions for PDF, Word, Powerpoint, PNG, and JPEG files
  • Gesture-based interactions for grading and feedback
  • Support for audio and video-based feedback
  • Course and assignment level views
  • Integration with multiple attempts, group assignments, rubrics, and anonymous grading

Note: For unsupported file types, instructors may download the file, view the file on their device (if supported by the device), and still provide grade information via the Bb Grader app.

The Bb Grader app is not intended to replace all grading workflows within Blackboard; rather, it’s meant to complement it with the enhancement of key features that translate best to a mobile device.

Bb Grader requires iOS 7 + and is compatible with iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad 2, 3, or 4.

Want more information?

Bb Grader App
See Bb Grader in action (video [2:42])
Bb Grader Features Guide (PDF)
Download Bb Grader app
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Check out help for instructors at help.blackboard.com.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Use the Assignment Tool to help you set and manage deadlines, unclutter your inbox, and save trees.

email inbox showing there are 99999 unread messages

The Assignment Tool is an efficient way to manage and collect your student's individual and group assignments digitally. Blackboard's Assignment Tool allows instructors to create a secure location for students to submit class assignments.

Instructors use the Grade Center to monitor the submission process, to view and/or download submitted work, to compose and send confidential feedback to students and to grade the assignment. Instructors can download all of a particular assignment’s student submitted files in a single zip file. In the download zip file, each student submitted file will be renamed automatically to include the assignment’s name, the student’s username, as well as the filename the student originally submitted.

A number of options are available when creating an assignment using the Assignment Tool:

  • Assignment Files - allows instructors to attach supplemental information
  • Assignment Availability - allows instructors to create assignments in advance
  • Assignment Submissions (attempts) – allows for multiple or unlimited submissions
  • Date and Time Restrictions - allows instructors to decide when students can access the assignment
  • Individual or Group Assignments – allows instructors to choose who has access to assignment
  • Tracking Statistics - track the number of views and by whom

Want more information?

Getting Started with Assignments (PDF)
Working with Assignments
How to submit assignments (video [2:28])
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Check out help for instructors at help.blackboard.com.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

1

by Janice Florent

image of film strip and clapboard

Traditional writing assignments are appropriate for many types of assessments, but there is no law that says traditional writing assignments are required for all.

In a Faculty Focus article, Dr. John Orlando explains how student videos can be used to demonstrate learning. He writes,

A good video assignment is to put students into small groups with instructions to make a video that teaches a key concept related to class. If done well, the video not only demonstrates students’ understanding of the concept, but also serves as a resource that can be used by others.

Recent technologies have made video creation remarkably easy and video assignments can be shared in Blackboard. However, you should opt to have the students upload their video files to a video sharing site like YouTube and just provide a link to the video inside Blackboard. The reason for this is your Blackboard courses have a 1.25 GB course size limit. This course size limit includes all content the instructor uploads as well as all content uploaded by the students. Most video files are large and you will find that if students attempted to upload their videos into your course you will reach your course size limit rather quickly.

If you are interested in video assignments, you can read more in Dr. Orlando’s “Ask Your Students to Create Videos to Demonstrate Learning” article.

Additionally, I prepared some instructions for recording, uploading, and sharing video on YouTube that you should provide to your students to help them post a link to their video in Blackboard.

The Assignment Tool is an efficient way to manage and collect your student's individual and group assignments digitally. Blackboard's Assignment Tool allows faculty to create a secure location for students to submit class assignments. Faculty use the Grade Center to monitor the submission process, to view and/or download submitted work, to compose and send confidential feedback to students and to grade the assignment. Faculty can download all of a particular assignment’s student submitted files in a single zip file. In the download zip file, each student submitted file will be renamed automatically to include the assignment’s name, the student’s username, as well as the filename the student originally submitted.

A number of options are available when creating an assignment using the Assignment Tool:

  • Assignment Files - allows faculty to attach supplemental information
  • Assignment Availability - allows faculty to create assignments in advance
  • Assignment Submissions (attempts) – allows for multiple or unlimited submissions
  • Date and Time Restrictions - allows faculty to decide when students can access the assignment
  • Individual or Group Assignments – allows faculty to choose who has access to assignment
  • Tracking Statistics - track the number of views and by whom

Use the Assignment Tool to help you set and manage deadlines, unclutter your inbox, and save trees.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available for faculty [PDF].
Step-by-step instructions are available to show students how to submit assignments [Video].
Explore Blackboard's On Demand Learning Center [HTML].
Blackboard How-To documents [HTML]
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

The digital dropbox is not available in Blackboard Learn version 9.1. The digital dropbox was replaced with a more robust Assignment tool. The Assignment tool significantly improves file collection and exchange. Rather than having one large unorganized drop box, the Assignment Tool lets faculty create a secure location for students to submit work for each course assignment. Faculty use the Grade Center to monitor the submission process, to view and/or download submitted work, to compose and send confidential feedback to students, and to grade the assignment. Faculty can download all of a particular assignment’s student submitted files in a single zip file. In the download zip file, each student submitted file will be renamed automatically to include the assignment’s name, the student’s username, as well as the filename the student originally submitted.

Multiple options are available when creating an assignment:

  • Assignment Files - allows faculty to attach supplemental information
  • Assignment Availability - allows faculty to create assignments in advance
  • Date and Time Restrictions - allows faculty to decide when students can access the assignment
  • Individual or Group Assignments – allows faculty to choose who has access to assignment
  • Tracking Statistics - track the number of views and by whom

Want more information?
Getting Started with Assignments - instructors [PDF].
Submitting Assignments - students [Video].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

The Digital Drop Box provides a shared area where students and instructors can store and exchange files. The Assignment feature integrates with the Grade Center and organizes assignments so they are easier to access and grade than those that are submitted via email or the Digital Drop Box.

Faculty should consider using the Digital Drop Box when file exchange is needed between the instructor and one student, a select group of students, or when a project will not be graded. On the other hand, an Assignment may be more effective when a grade will be assigned to student work and the graded project/assignment requires submission of a document.

These scenarios [PDF] present several different examples of how the Digital Drop Box and Assignments may be used separately or together to collect student work.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available for using the
Digital Drop Box [PDF], creating Assignments [PDF],
and viewing/grading Assignments [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional Blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

You can enter grades directly into cells in the Grade Center (Bb Tip # 19). However, when grading assignment submissions, it is best to use Grade Details to grade assignment submissions. Entering assignment grades directly into the cells will cause the student’s view of the assignment in My Grades to display as needs grading. Additionally, entering grades for assignment submissions directly in the cells rather than going through grade details will lead to incorrect calculations in the assignment’s column statistics.

Follow these steps to do it.
From the [Control Panel] select [Grade Center] which is located under Assessments. Inside the Grade Center, find the assignment column for the assignment submissions you want to view/grade. Move your mouse to the right side of the cell of the assignment you want to view/grade. Point to the down arrow and select [Grade Details] from the drop-down menu. Next, click on the [View Attempt] button in the Grade Details screen. Section 2 of the Grade Assignments screen shows the student’s comments as well as any files the student attached. Click on the hyperlink to view the file the student attached. In section 3, enter the student’s grade, your comments, and attach any files you want to send to the student. In Instructor Notes (section 4), enter your notes and attach files that will only be seen by you.

It is possible to download assignment submissions to view offline. To download assignments, move your mouse to the down arrow on the right side of the column heading for the assignment and select [Assignment File Download] from the drop-down menu. Select the assignments to be downloaded and click [Submit]. A zip file with the assignments is created. Click on the link for this zip (packaged) file and save the file on your computer. Navigate to where you saved the zip file and open the file to view the assignments.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional Blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

Using the Assignment feature is an effective way to collect student assignments electronically rather than in paper form. It streamlines the submission and grading of student files. Instructors can create coursework and then manage the grades and feedback for each student separately. After an assignment is created, students can access the assignment, complete it in a separate file, and send it back to the Instructor. The Instructor responds to each student separately, grading their assignment, providing comments on their individual assignment and attaching files, if necessary.

Note: The assignment has to be created in a content area. By default, courses are created with an “Assignment” content area. If you want to create your course assignments in a content area that does not exist, you will have to create it by modifying the course menu. Refer to Bb Tip #7 for instructions on “Customizing the Course Menu”.

Follow these steps to do it.
Assuming the content area you want to place your assignment in is shown, you should click on the link for that content area in the [Control Panel]. Next select [Assignment] from the drop down menu located on the right side of the toolbar and then click the [Go] button. Enter a name for your assignment in the Name field, choose a color for the name, enter the points possible, due date, and instructions for the assignment. Files that you want to be available for the assignment should be attached in the Assignment Files section. Click the [Browse] button to locate the file on your computer. In the “Name of Link to File” box, enter the name that students will have to click on to access the attached file. Under Options choose the appropriate options for content availability, tracking views and any date/time restrictions. Click the [Submit] button when you are done. A column for this assignment will automatically be added to the Grade Center.

Students access the assignment by clicking on the [View/Complete Assignment] link below the assignment name and instructions. Students can then attach their files and click [Submit] to complete the assignment. The completed assignment submissions are then accessed by the Instructor through the Grade Center.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions for creating assignments are available [PDF].
Instructions on how students submit assignments are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional Blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418