Blackboard is About to Change

Over the weekend of May 12-13 Blackboard will be unavailable for an extended period (roughly 7 PM Saturday to around 2 PM Sunday) while we upgrade it from 9.0 to 9.1. It’s important that you know this is happening because when you open Blackboard after that it will look really different. Don’t be alarmed, though. Pretty much everything you need is in the same place as it always was, just a different color and a cleaner look:

New Blackboard Look
View of the announcements page of my (just completed) American Dialects Course.

But under the hood, it will look behave quite differently. Almost everything will require fewer clicks. For example, adding items to a content area involves a single click and you can add not only files but YouTube, Flickr and SlideShare links, which play directly inside Blackboard. You can add textbook information which connects directly to the publisher’s website, simply by typing or pasting in the ISBN number. Here’s how you insert YouTube videos:

Add YouTube
Screen showing how you choose YouTube videos
A set of YouTube videos after searching for ‘SR-71’

And here’s what the textbook facility looks like:

Textbook Display
Inserting your textbook information by typing in the ISBN number


There is now provision for wikis, which are gradable, and, for those who need them, you can establish grading rubrics which can be called up when grading an assignment.
The grade book is much easier to navigate, and you can color-code grades (by, say, percentage or some other criterion). Smartviews have been enhanced as well.
You can temporarily view the site as a student views it.
The Visual Text Box Editor now has many more buttons for inserting stuff (videos, audio files, as well as an equation editor). But, for many of us, the biggest advantage is that you can paste directly from a Word file without losing any of the formatting. Here’s the ‘Create Item’ form:

New Textbox Editor for 'Create Item'
For those interested in foreign languages, Blackboard can be set to display in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Arabic, Japanese, and two varieties of Chinese.
You can learn more by looking at the newly installed 9.1 tab on your Blackboard page. I also recommend you attend some of the training sessions being offered at OTL over the next couple of weeks and additionally spread throughout the summer. Here is a list of those already planned:
Tuesday, May 1, 2:45-4:15PM 238 P/K Library
Thursday, May 3 3:15-4:45 PM 150 P/K Library
Friday, May 4 9:30-11:00 AM 238 P/K Library

Wednesday, May 9 1:00-3:00 PM 150 P/K Library

Friday, May 11 1:00-2:00 PM Webinar (Archived)

Monday, May 14 10:00-12:00 PM 150 P/K Library
Thursday, May 17 2:00-4:00 PM 150 P/K Library
Tuesday, May 22 9:30-11:30 AM 150 P/K Library
Friday, May 25 11:00-12:00 PM Webinar (Archived)


You can register for them through Pipeline, and watch for announcements of more, some elsewhere on both the Main and Medical campuses over the next couple of months.

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