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The Grade Center is more than just a way to record students' grades. It's a dynamic and interactive tool, allowing instructors to record data, calculate grades, and monitor student progress. In addition to being able to record grades, instructors can track student work and share private comments and feedback with students throughout the semester.

image showing Grade Center

The Grade Center is integrated with gradable items such as tests, assignments, discussion boards, blogs, journals, wikis, and ungraded items, such as surveys and self-assessments. Instructors can create Grade Center columns for activities and/or requirements done outside of Blackboard, such as exams given on paper, oral presentations, and participation.

Students also benefit when their instructor uses the Grade Center. Students have the opportunity to adjust their approach to learning to improve their performance when they see their grades and instructor feedback.

Follow these steps to do it.

Listed below are links to previous Bb tips on using the Grade Center:

Want more information?

Working with the Grade Center
Try these Blackboard How-To documents
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center
Visit our Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

One feature missing from Blackboard is the ability to get a word count for discussion board threads, blogs, wikis, and journals. Currently, most professors get a word count by copying text from Blackboard, pasting it into Microsoft Word and then getting a word count inside MS Word. The "Word Count" Add-on for the Firefox web browser skips this whole process and gives you the ability to get a word count for discussion board threads, blogs, wikis, and journals while on the respective page in Blackboard.

image showing word count

Follow these steps to do it.

First download and install the Add-on:
Liberty University Word Count Add-on for Firefox
To get a word count in Blackboard:

When on the Blackboard page (i.e., discussion boards, blogs, wikis, or journals), you will see a button labeled ‘Word Count’ at the top and bottom of the page. Highlight the text you would like to count and click the Word Count button. A count of the number of highlighted words will be displayed in the box next to the Word Count button.

Want more information?

Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
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

image showing various disasters

Course delivery is vulnerable to unplanned events. Potential interruptions to class activities include but are not limited to natural disasters, widespread illness, acts of violence, planned or unexpected construction-related closures, severe weather conditions, and medical emergencies.

Here are a few things you can do in Blackboard to help you prepare should the need arise.

Additionally, you should consider developing an instructional continuity plan to help you to be ready to continue teaching with minimal interruption. More information about instructional continuity plans can be found on our Instructional Continuity web page. There you will find planning guides, resources, and a link to our September 2015 Instructional Continuity workshop presentation.

Want more information?

Get more information about instructional continuity plans.
Sign up for Blackboard workshops or request one-on-one help.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Visit our Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Blackboard announced the retirement of the Bb Mobile Learn app effective August 31, 2017. The Instructor and Blackboard apps will replace Bb Mobile Learn.

Instructor App

Instructor app icon
Instructor App

The Instructor app was designed to be used by instructors and enables instructors to view course content and connect with their students. The app is available on iOS and Android mobile devices.

Video: Introducing Blackboard Instructor

Note: For mobile grading functionality, instructors should use the Bb Grader iPad app.

Blackboard App

Blackboard app icon
Blackboard App

The Bb Student app was renamed and is now the Blackboard app. The Blackboard app is used by students and is designed especially for students to view content and participate in courses. The Blackboard app is available on iOS, Android, and Windows mobile devices.

Video: Introducing the Blackboard app

Want more information?

About the Instructor and Blackboard apps
Bb Tip #154: Bb Grader
Design mobile friendly courses
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
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.

checklist

As you prepare for the start of the semester, it is a good time to get started setting up your Blackboard courses. Blackboard courses are automatically created using the course information in Banner a few weeks before the start of the semester. You can post your syllabus, course documents, and announcements to your Blackboard courses. You can also customize your course menu and/or add a course banner.

If you teach a course that is cross listed you will have a Blackboard course for each cross listing. You can combine the cross listed courses into one Blackboard course so that you can post course materials and grades to one combined Blackboard course. Combining courses may also work for you if you are teaching different sections of the same course and would like to have the different sections combined into one Blackboard course so that you can post course documents and grades in the one combined course. The beginning of the semester is the best time to combine your Blackboard courses before you add course material or grades to the courses.

NOTE: Currently, the section merge tool is no longer available. A system administrator will have to merge your courses. Send an email to Yamlak Tsega (ytsega@xula.edu) if you want to merge courses. You should include the course ID (including CRN) for all the courses you want merged together. The course merge process requires that a brand new empty Blackboard course be created that will serve as the primary course for all the merged sections. If you have any course content that needs to be retained in one of the courses to be merged, it will have to be exported and then imported into the newly created combined course. Please include that information with your request to merge courses.

Follow these steps to do it.

Listed below are links with instructions for

Want more information?

Attend a drop-in session to get one-on-one help.
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
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.

classroom with empty chairs

As we approach the end of the semester there are a few things you can do in Blackboard to wrap up for the semester.

Download your gradebook

Student access to courses is removed two weeks after the end of a semester. During this process all grade book records are deleted. You should download your gradebook to your local computer after you submit your final grades.

Create a master copy of your course

Courses remain on the Blackboard system for three semesters before they are removed. You can request a Master Course Shell that you can use to develop and maintain your course materials. Master Course Shells will not be removed from the Blackboard system.

Hide old courses from view

When you login to Blackboard you will see your courses for previous semesters listed along with the courses you are currently teaching on the Xavier University and Courses tabs. If you do not want to see older courses in the list, you can hide them from view.

Follow these steps to do it.

Instructions are available in previous Bb tips for downloading your grade book, requesting master course shells, and hiding old courses from view.

Want more information?

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.

Photo Credit: Classroom/Lecture Hall | CC0

extra credit

Instructors can setup the Grade Center to calculate extra credit points. Adding an extra credit column to the Grade Center works well if you use total points to calculate grades. The information to add an extra credit column in this Blackboard tip will NOT work if you weight grades.

Follow these steps to do it.

To create an extra credit column:

  1. In the Control Panel, click on [Grade Center] and then select [Full Grade Center].
  2. Click on [Create Column].
  3. On the Create Grade Column page, enter a name for the column (e.g., Extra Credit).
  4. Select [Score] from the Primary Display menu.
  5. Enter 0 for Points Possible.
  6. Select the [Yes] radio button for Include this Column in Grade Center Calculations.
  7. Click [Submit].

NOTE: The method described above does not work with weighted grades because weighted grades are based on a 100% total. Generally, if extra credit is available in class with a weighted grade total, the extra credit must be manually calculated.

Want more information?

Extra Credit Columns
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center
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.

By J. Todd

One of the challenges of team-teaching is the grading. Grading is always a problem, as far as many of us are concerned, but it creates unique issues when more than one faculty member is teaching the class. When you look at the literature about better practices for team-teaching, always included is the very strong advice that grading practices and grading responsibilities be clearly agreed upon and established early on — before the class ever meets. Blackboard has made this challenge more manageable with their new Delegated Grading option. ...continue reading "Team-teaching Means Team-grading"

keep calm it's a known issue

After our recent Blackboard system upgrade, instructors began to receive an "Access Denied" error message when attempting to access an unavailable discussion board forum. If an instructor choses the option to make the discussion board unavailable and/or once the display until date/time has past, the instructor will receive an “Access Denied” error message when attempting to access the discussion board.

This is a known issue and will be corrected with the next Blackboard system upgrade. Upgrades to our Blackboard system are normally done between semesters because the system has to be taken down to do the upgrade. Our next upgrade is scheduled to happen in between the spring and summer semesters.

In the meantime, you can use the following workaround if you use discussion boards AND set them up with availability restrictions. The assumption for applying date/time restrictions is that after a certain day and time, the instructor does not want the students to have access to the discussion board. If this your goal, then the workaround to add a link to the discussion board forum and set the availability restrictions on the link should work for you.

Note: Locking discussion threads will let students read posts once the date restriction has past but not be able to submit new posts. The assumption for locking discussion threads is that the discussion board is setup so that students cannot create new threads. The instructor creates the forum and the threads and then students reply to the threads. If you think this may be an option for you, read my blog post for more information on how to lock discussion threads.

Follow these steps to do it.

To add a link to a discussion board forum in a content area:

  1. Turn Edit Mode ON.
  2. Access the content area that you want to add the discussion board forum link to.
  3. On the menu bar, roll your mouse over [Tools] then click on [Discussion Board].
  4. Click on the “Select a Discussion Board Forum” radio button and then select the discussion board forum from the list.
  5. Click [Next].
  6. Enter assignment instructions and select your availability options for the link.
  7. Click [Submit].

Note: The steps above set restrictions on the link to the discussion board forum, not the discussion board forum itself. The discussion board forum that you are linking to should be made available with no date/time restrictions. Therefore, you must remove the availability restrictions from the discussion board forum in order for this workaround to work. The restrictions set in the forum link will determine when students see the link to the discussion board forum. It also determines whether they see the discussion board forum when they access the discussions tool.

Want more information?

Add Discussion Board Forum Link to Content Area (PDF)
Lock Discussion Threads
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center
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.