Top 5 New Features in Blackboard Learn

In mid-May, Texas Wesleyan upgraded its instance of Blackboard Learn to Service Pack 11. As you prepare for your fall courses, be sure to check out the new features. As with some software upgrades, there will be features that aren’t the extremely beneficial. However, with this latest release, I think you’ll discover a few nice features for both you and students. Here’s my top 5 list of new features for Service Pack 11.

1. My Blackboard: This is a pretty cool feature, particularly for students. While there is more that can be done with this feature, it’s pretty nice in that it consolidates information from all courses. Information such as grades, calendar and posts can be viewed in one place and sorted by course and/or date.

My Blackboard Video

2. New Content Editor: The content editor is the place where you input text, images, links to videos and other content. Practically everything you do in Blackboard involves the editor in some way. One of the things we do when building content is to copy and paste from existing documents. A simple process in most applications that seemed difficult in Blackboard. Improvements to the editor include the ability to paste content from Microsoft Word and maintain the formatting (it’s much better, I tested it!), enhanced formatting options and working support for HTML. The implementation of HTML support in prior releases left a lot to be desired.

Content Editor

3.Video Everywhere:  I’m often asked about other possibilities for giving feedback to students, particularly on graded assignments in Blackboard. This feature provides a pretty cool option for you to record a video on the fly and have it seamlessly embedded in course materials, interactions, and other feedback through the content editor. As part of the new content editor, you’ll see a webcam icon that will interface with your computer’s webcam. So you’re now able to quickly create a video and post it virtually everywhere. By the way, students are provided the same opportunity whenever they need to post content like discussion board post/responses.

Video Everywhere

4. Improved Calendar:  If you’ve tried to implement the calendar in your courses in the past, and given up because it just wasn’t very user friendly, you’ll certainly appreciate this update. You no longer have to manually add assignments and other items with due dates to the calendar. YES! These items are automatically added to the calendar along with a link to the actual item for more details. From My Blackboard mentioned above, the calendar display a consolidated, color coded view of course events. For students, this is awesome as they can optionally view in one window, assignments and other course events for all courses in a single view. You can also create recurring events now with this new and improved calendar.

Improved Calendar

5. Inline Assignment Grading: This feature provides a way for you to view and grade student-submitted files “inline” similar to the grading features of TurnitIn. In other words, gone are the days of having to download the submitted document and then figure out a way to relate your graded comments to the graded item. You can mark the submitted document with comments and other annotation tools. When the student views their graded work, they will see their grade and all annotations.

Inline Grading

There are additional new feature/updates that are worth taking a look at such as the new Social Learning Tools, Retention Center and the Discussion Board’s Post First Setting.

For complete details of these and other new features, follow this link. http://www.blackboard.com/Platforms/Learn/Products/Blackboard-Learn/Features.aspx

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The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Texas Wesleyan University (CETL) promotes a student-centered university by providing resources and professional growth opportunities to faculty on enhancing instructional practice, integrating technology, and promoting essential student skills.

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