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Blackboard Service Pack 11

Learn More about What's Better


Blackboard 9.1 Service Pack 11

Service Pack 11 for the Blackboard Learn platform delivers exciting innovations as well as deep improvements to core capabilities, resulting in a product that is more intuitive, engaging, and focused on you. Nearly 640 schools and over 1,800 individuals – including educators, students, instructional designers, and administrators – contributed to the development of Service Pack 11 and have made Blackboard Learn simply better.

Purpose of this Document

The purpose of this document is to provide educators and students with an overview of the new features and enhancements that are part of Service Pack 11.

My Blackboard

New Feature-Set for All Users

Students and educators told us that they don’t want to go to multiple places to stay up-to-date on what’s going on across all their Courses in Blackboard Learn.  That’s why we developed My Blackboard.  Now, the critical information you need to know from across all of Learn is consolidated in a simple, modern, easily consumable way.

New My Blackboard Example

My Blackboard is about making the lives of students and educators easier.  How?  Through five new tools that make up My Blackboard – Profile, Posts, Updates, My Grades, and People.  We will discuss each tool in detail in this document.  But first, let’s discuss how you access My Blackboard.

New Global Navigation Menu

Global Navigation Menu Expanded

New Feature for All Users

The entry point to My Blackboard is a new Global Navigation Menu.   This new menu is available all the time in the top right corner of the Learn interface and provides one-click access to your Courses, Organizations, Settings, Blackboard Help, and the new My Blackboard tools.   You can see the new My Blackboard tools going down the left-hand side of the menu in the screenshot below.   And the numbers in red tell you if there’s something that’s new or needs your attention – so you never have to worry about missing anything.   With this new Global Navigation menu, you can access everything you need quickly and easily, from wherever you are in the Blackboard Learn platform.

My Blackboard: Profile & Profile Card

New Feature for All Users

You now have an identity in Blackboard Learn, a profile, so you can share academic information about yourself with others at your school.  Your profile includes your picture, your area of study or focus, and an “about me” description.  The “about me” description can be used to share anything you want about yourself – for example, the activities you’re involved in at school, future career goals, where you’re going to be studying for the Chemistry midterm coming up, or a status update.

When you create your profile, you have the option to start by pulling in information from Facebook or Twitter – like your profile picture or the “about me” description.

Profiles also have privacy options, so you can keep your profile hidden, make it available to just the people who are in your Courses and Organizations with you, or make it available to everyone at your school.

Blackboard Profile Page

Once you complete your profile, your profile picture will appear in multiple places throughout the Blackboard Learn platform where your name appears: in the new People tool (see the next section), the Roster, the User Directory, Discussion Boards, Blogs, Journals, and Wikis.  Plus, when you hover over someone’s profile picture, a profile card automatically pops up so you can see their profile information and learn more about them (see an example profile card below).  With profiles in Blackboard Learn, the online learning experience is much more social.

Reporting Profile screenshot

One additional capability with profiles is the ability to report inappropriate content that you may come across when viewing profiles.  All you have to do is simply click on the gray flag you see in the bottom right corner of every profile card and choose what content you’re reporting and why.

My Blackboard: People

New Feature for All Users

Now that you have a Profile in Blackboard, the People tool enables you to discover others in your academic network.  This is where you can see who is in each of your Courses and Organizations as well as everyone across your entire school that has made their profile visible school-wide.

With the People tool, you can search for people in your network and view their profile cards to learn more about them (by simply hovering over their picture).

My Blackboard People Screenschot

My Blackboard: Posts

My Blackboard Posts Screenshot

New Feature for All Users

The Posts tool in My Blackboard makes it really easy to stay up-to-date and engaged with all the conversations going on across Blackboard Learn.  The Posts tool consolidates posts from all of your courses and organizations – so posts from Discussion Boards, Journals, Wikis, and Blogs – as well as the comments and replies to those posts.  And to make it easy to manage the posts, they’re presented in a familiar, chronological stream interface and there are filter options.  With the different filters, you can look at all posts, just those that directly involve you, or you can choose to only look at posts from one particular Course or Organization.

Additionally, with Journal, Wiki, and Blog posts, you can comment right from within the Posts interface or you can click to see the full context of the post in the course environment.  With Discussion Board posts, you can click right into the interface in the course environment where you can type your reply.  So it’s simple to both stay up-to-date and involved in the conversation.

My Blackboard: Updates

Screenshot of Updates

 New Feature for All Users

The Updates tool in My Blackboard consolidates all of your Notifications from across all your Courses and Organizations, so you never miss a thing.   This tool updates you on course announcements, when new content or assignments are added to a course, when an assignment or assessment is due, and much more.  And educators can also see when assignments and assessments need grading.  To make it easy to manage this information, there are filters so you can look at all Notifications at once, only those from one particular Course or Organization, or just all Course Announcements.  You can also change your notification preferences and pick exactly what you want to show up in this tool.  With these helpful features, you can ensure you’re always up-to-date on important updates from across Blackboard Learn.

My Blackboard: My Grades

My Grades Screenshot

 New Feature for Students

The My Grades tool found in My Blackboard consolidates all your grades from across all your courses into one view.  There’s no need to go in and out of all your courses to check your grades.  You can quickly see a stream of the latest grades you’ve received, so you never miss a new grade that was posted.  When you click on a grade in the stream, you will see additional detail like your instructor’s feedback and the class average if your instructor has made it available.  You can also click into a Course view if you want to see your grades by course.  For each Course, you can see your current overall grade (if your instructor has made it available to you), as well as graded items in the course, submitted items that haven’t been graded yet, and upcoming assignments and assessments.  My Grades is the only place you need to go to check your grades.

New Content Editor

Content Editor Screenshot

 Enhancement for All Users

The new and improved Content Editor enables simple content creation through an easy to use interface.  The editor reads, writes and renders modern HTML – so the content you created in Microsoft Word and the course pages you designed so carefully in Dreamweaver will render with great fidelity within Blackboard Learn.  We’ve made sure that the essential functions you need are there – the ability to resize images, find/replace, and simple icons in the toolbar for everyday tasks.  And you can easily add rich content by pulling in mashups from YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare, and more.  Another great feature of the new Content Editor is that you can expand it for full-frame editing, giving you a lot more real estate to build rich content.  

Additionally, there is a new math editor in Blackboard Learn that simplifies creation and delivery of equations by enabling editing directly from the Content Editor. The new math editor supports saving and copy/paste of equations using mathML.

Item Analysis

New Feature for Educators

The new Item Analysis feature helps you easily refine your tests and quizzes by evaluating the quality and validity of each question and that question’s ability to discriminate between students who understand the material and those who do not.  Ineffective questions can be easily identified and then you can quickly correct them with the Automatic Regrade feature. 

As an educator, you will be able to access an at-a-glance summary of your Blackboard assessments (see below). This summary provides insight into student performance on that assessment and how the question items performed.

And from this summary page, when you scroll down, you can see a list of questions sorted in order of discrimination – with the most ineffective listed on top.  A simple red dot next to a question tells you if the question requires review. 

After examining the question, you can see whether it was poor wording, vague answer choices or some other factor.  If you decide to change or update that question, you can immediately take action right from this page by clicking the “Edit Test” button.  You will be taken directly to the assessment where you can use the automatic regarding feature to either update or delete the question and regrade it – even if students have already completed the assessment.  And the updates flow automatically into the Grade Center.  In summary, with the new Item Analysis feature, you can quickly and easily ensure that your assessments are successful discriminators of student performance.

Fill in the Blank Question Enhancement

Screenshot of a fill in the blank question in Blackboard

 Enhancement for Educators

Educators can now take advantage of using “contains” and “pattern match” logic when grading Fill in the Blank questions.  That means you no longer have to rely upon an exact match for Blackboard Learn to automatically grade these questions.  So you no longer have to enter multiple answer choices when creating a Fill in the Blank question in order for Blackboard to grade the question for you.  For example, let’s say your test question is “Who was the first president of the United States?”  Instead of trying to enter all possible correct answers for the blank (George Washington, Washington, President Washington, President George Washington, etc.), you can simply select “contains” and type Washington.

Integrating External Tools

screenshot of an external tool login screen

 Enhancement for Educators

Blackboard Learn allows you to integrate third-party tools into your course. These tools use the LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) standard to connect Blackboard to the tool. If you use external resources that require logins for activities, such as virtual science experiments, interactive demonstrations, or assessments, you can specify a web link as a Link to a Tool Provider. Depending on configuration, this can then pass user information to the Tool Provider, creating a seamless experience for your students.

Service Pack 11 now allows these Tool Providers to post grades directly to the Blackboard Learn Grade Center, making management of assignments much easier for you. 

Discussion Board Update

Thread Detail Page Updates

The  Thread Detail  page is thoroughly redesigned yet maintains all of its existing functions. All of a thread's posts are now visible at the same time on one page. Larger avatars help you easily identify the author.

New Thread Details screenshot

  1. Expand All  and  Collapse All  manage the visibility of posts on the page. All of the batch actions are still available.
  2. Functions appear when you point to the page - point your mouse anywhere on the  Thread Detail  page, and action bar functions such as  Search  and  Refresh  appear at the top. When you point to a post, the  Reply ,  Quote , and  Expand  or  Collapse  functions appear. This increases the vertical screen space available for viewing posts.
  3. Click the number of unread posts to see a collection of only the unread posts in the thread.
  4. Inline replies provide the content editor on the same page, within the context of the discussion. You are not taken to a new page to post a reply.
  5. Posts made by forum managers and moderators highlight the user’s course role and forum role. If your school has custom roles, they are displayed. Role highlighting is available only in the discussion board; highlighting of discussion board posts within the Bb Stream will be available in a future Learn release.
  6. New  Mark as Read  indicator. The icon is blue when the post is unread and white when it has been read. Posts are marked as read as you scroll down the page, after a slight delay. Only posts that are viewed on-screen and expanded are marked as read, so posts are not automatically marked read by quickly scrolling down the page. You can manually change the status of a message by clicking the  Mark as Read  icon.
  7. Post dates are displayed as relative dates such as "7 days ago." When you point to the relative date, the absolute date of creation or editing and the number of views displays.
  8. Overall Rating  shows the average rating for a post, if the  Rate Posts  feature is turned on by your instructor. When you point to the rating area, it changes to show  Your Rating .
Forum Updates

Forum Descriptions  display when you create a thread and when you encounter a thread that your instructor requires you to post before seeing the posts of others. Forum descriptions are often used as prompts for discussion, so they are now visible where you are posting.

Post First Setting  - instructors can require you to post to a discussion before seeing other students’ posts. When you encounter forums with the post first setting, a message tells you to create a thread before you can view threads added by others.

Calendar Screenshot
  1. View events by day, week, or month.
  2. Navigate between months.
  3. Click the plus (+) to create a new event. You can also click inside a date to create an event. Assign the event to the appropriate calendar, select the date and time and add a description.

    Students cannot create an event on a course and institution calendar. Instructors cannot create an event for institution unless they have administrator privileges.

  4. Click an event to manage it. You can also drag and drop an event to change the date. To learn more, see How to Edit or Delete an Event.
  5. Select the calendars you want to show, such as institution, personal, or course. By default all calendars are visible. Optionally, change the color of each calendar to suit your preference. Using a distinct color for each calendar displays at-a-glance which calendar the event is associated to without opening the event.

    All institution events appear in the Institution calendar. All course events, such as assignments due, appear in the course calendar.

  6. Get an iCal URL for importing your Blackboard Learn calendar into an external calendar application. Once the Learn iCal URL is set up in an external calendar, it is updated dynamically with new Learn calendar events. For example, log in to Google Calendar ane access the  Other Calendar  drop-down list. Select  Add by URL  and paste the iCal URL generated by Blackboard Learn.
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