Blackboard News

Bb Update - Ver. 9.1 Q2 2017 Release
January 4th, 2018

Over the holiday break the Blackboard system was updated to version 9.1 Q2 2017 Release. This update begins to move the Bb Learn product in a direction following the Bb Inc. product development roadmap. Below are highlights of some of the changes made to the system.

Ver. 9.1 Q2 2017 Release

  • Browser Support:
    The Microsoft Edge browser is now supported. To review a complete description of Blackboard supported browser technology visit the Blackboard ‘Browser Support’ web page.

  • New Box View replaces Crocodoc for Inline Grading of Assignments
    Instructors who perform inline grading of Bb assignments need to be aware that the current inline grading tool, ‘Crocodoc’, will soon be replaced with a new inline grading tool call ‘New Box View’ (NBV). Crocodoc/NBV are 3rd party tools owned by the Box company. Additional history on Crocodoc is available on the web.

    In November of 2016 Box company announced that the Crocodoc product will be retired on January 15th, 2018. Since Crocodoc is integrated into the Blackboard system Bb Inc. has been working with Box company to develop and deploy an alternative solution to the inline grader, NBV. The switch to the new online grader will be part of the Bb system upgrade scheduled for December 29-30th of this year.

    There will be subtle changes to the user interface. Users will find that over 100 different file types are now supported for annotations. In addition videos and images will now be displayed. Annotation options will be limited to point-based comments and highlighting. Assignments with annotations made by the instructor will not be included in the download of a student’s assignment. A print function is now available within the inline grader.

  • Assignment Submission Receipts
    Students submitting a Bb assignment will receive email confirmations for submitted work. Students will also have access to a submission receipt documenting the assignment submittal. Students can access their submission receipts at any time. The receipts can be found in My Grades or My Blackboard in the Submissions area. Like the instructor view, the receipts are always present even if an attempt or assignment has been deleted from the courses.

  • Drag-and-Drop Feature
    When instructors create content items, assignments, and web links, they can drag files from their computers to the "hot spot" in the Attach Files area. Students can also drag files to upload when they submit assignments. This feature is also supported in these areas:

    1. Content Collection – file upload page
    2. Content Editor – embed attachment
    3. Blog – Create Entry
    4. Journal – Create Entry
  • Action Buttons (Save, Submit, OK)
    In the previous Bb version these buttons resided at the bottom or in some cases also at the top of the screen display. An inconvenience if your page display is very long. Now these action buttons are always available at the bottom of the screen.

  • Bb Learn Theme (Overall Look and Feel)
    In this latest version Bb Inc. continues to make progress in changing its overall look and functionality. These changes address the following objectives:
    • Improvements towards meeting the Amercians with Disabilities Act guidelines
    • Synchronizing the user experience between desktop platform systems and mobile device platform systems
    • Improving the user's experience in terms of efficiency

    The overall look will be obvious as changes can be seen in:

    • The use of standardized colors throughout the experience.
    • A change in the font used within the system.
    • The behavior of the display as the browser width is varied.
    • The display of data within tables, e.g. the grade center, has been adjusted.
    • Course themes have been retired.

    Some of these changes may not necessarily be improvements but as Blackboard Inc. receives feedback, hopefully improvements will be made in the future.

  • Issues
    Some issues users may encounter include:
    • The course navigation menu color scheme makes it difficult to read the menu items. For course menus, the default background color is 'dark faded red' (990000). The default text color is 'white' (ffffff). Courses that are rolled over may bring over a different color scheme, especially if buttons are used for the course menu. Instructors can resolve these issues by following the guidance provided in the 'How to Fix a "Blacked Out" Menu' tutorial.
    • When attempting to create a new course menu item a blank popup screen appears when it should be displaying the different type of menu items that can be created. This is a known bug that should be resolved soon. Until then the work-around is to mouse over the empty box. Options will appear as you mouse over different areas of the popup window.
    • In the past, empty content areas listed in the course navigation menu would display an icon indicating that there are no materials in this content area. The icon is now missing. Another known bug that should be resolve soon. For now, the instructor will have to open each content area to inspect it for content.
    • The overall display of the Bb Learn system is now dynamic, varying with the width of the browser screen. Increasing/decreasing the width of the browser screen will change the display.
    • Some content areas within Bb courses may transition to a different background color (dark gray) if the items are particularly lengthy. This is still being investigated.
    • Users may have issues adjusting the order of items, whether it is the grade columns, content items, course navigation menu items, etc... This problem seems to be happening less and less. If instructors encounter this issue try a different browser.
VoiceThread Update
January 4th, 2018

VoiceThread’s transition away from Flash has been an ongoing project over the last four years. Their work has been completed. The new HTML5 version looks and feels the same as the current VoiceThread while offering new features like adjustable playback speed, streamlined audio/video recording, and increased security. To experience the full functionality of the HTML5 version of VoiceThread users (Mac and Windows OS users) will need to use either the Chrome or the Firefox browsers. Other browsers can be used but they will not support the audio or video recording capabilities.

Additional Information on the Inline Grading Tool Upgrade
January 11th, 2018

The following comparison information between the old inline grading tool (Crocodoc) and the new inline grading tool (New Box Version) is provided. Both students and instructors will have access to previously graded work performed using the Crocodoc inline grading tool. Access will be limited to pdf files with the comments 'burned' into the document.

The following table compares the two inline grading tool services.

Functions and Details

Crocodoc

New Box View

File types for annotations

PDF, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, DOC, and DOCX

Over 100 different file types

File Types and Fonts Supported in Box Content Preview

Videos and images displayed

No

Yes

Course areas

Original assignments, Ultra assignments, and in Ultra tests' additional submission area

Original assignments, Ultra assignments, and in Ultra tests' additional submission area

Annotation types

Text- and point-based comments, highlighting, and drawing

Point-based comments and highlighting

Download

Users download a copy of a student file with the option to download in the original format or in a PDF version that includes the annotations

Users can download a copy of a student file, but annotations won’t appear

Print function

No

Yes

Students

Can’t add annotations to documents

Can’t add annotations to documents



Working with annotations in New Box View

Instructors and roles with grading privileges

  • Must assign grades, and in the Ultra Course View, post the grades, before students can view annotations.
  • Can’t edit or remove existing Crocodoc annotations in New Box View as the annotations are “burned” into a PDF during migration.
  • Can add or edit New Box View annotations after a grade is assigned. However, when delegated grading is enabled, only instructors can add or edit annotations in New Box View after grades are assigned.

Delegated grading is enabled and no grades are assigned

  • Graders who aren’t allowed to view other graders’ annotations, won’t see any annotations—even their own—after the migration to New Box View. Graders see students’ original documents. The “hidden annotations” are necessary because graders shouldn’t see other grader or instructor annotations that existed before the migration.

Delegated grading is enabled and grades are assigned

  • After grades are assigned in Learn, graders can view all annotations made in Crocodoc and New Box View.
  • Students may be able to see all annotations based on the Provisional Grades setting within the Delegated Grading capabilities.

More about Crocodoc and New Box View annotations use cases

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