New developments for Blackboard
I mentioned in an earlier post that Blackboard are becoming more responsive to their local markets. The ugly phrase they used to describe this is ‘countrification’. As a result of this several new features and changes to design were unveiled at the Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference in Dublin. Here are a few of them:
At the moment you can switch off Edit Mode and get an idea of what the student sees. However, the new feature will be a full student view. You will be able to submit work, complete tests and surveys, and see what it looks like from the point of view of the student.
Drag and drop into content areas
You can already drag and drop files into the Content Collection, but this is now being extended to content areas.
Delegated, anonymous and double marking
At the moment we use Turnitin products for plagiarism detection and online marking (GradeMark). Blackboard has its own built in online marking and plagiarism software, which we have chosen not to switch on for various reasons (usability, data protection issues, for example), and this feature now caters for anonymous and double marking of texts. You can choose a lead instructor who will then be able to delegate marking to other markers form a list. We would have to switch from Turnitin to Blackboard in order to use this feature, so if we do decide to do this it will be a while before it becomes available.
The mobile app is being developed so that it is more consistent with Blackboard Learn.
Improved look and responsive design
Blackboard will be responsive to whatever device it is being viewed on. And the interface will have a much more modern feel. This is still in the testing stage at Blackboard.
Also in the testing stage are improvements to the way Grade Centre looks and works. It will have a much more user-friendly interface, and will have improved functionality such as a search feature, and the ability to change multiple grades.
So, there are many improvements to Blackboard coming up, and some of these features will be available in the April 2014 release. However, these may take a couple of years at least to become available – some are still in the development phase, and some will need to be tested by us to see if they work properly, and that there are no potential data protection issues.
Social learning and profiles
These features have been available to us for a while, but not switched on. One of the objections was that students were automatically added to the social profile, which can be seen by students at this and other universities. Blackboard have now made this an ‘opt-in’. They have also enabled profiles to be completely deleted, and the Terms and Conditions can be edited at the institutional level.