Using the New Blackboard
Our Blackboard courseweb has been upgraded to version 9.1. The new Blackboard contains a new interface that will make many operations more convenient for both instructors and students. For orientation, see the Library's "Information and FAQ about the Blackboard Upgrade" and "Getting Started" documentation and our own “Top 10 Things You Need to Know about Blackboard”. See the rest of this story for tips and more details.
Features in the New Blackboard
The main difference most people will notice in the new system is that many features have been made more accessible. For example, instructors can rearrange menu buttons by dragging and dropping them. Students can collapse the navigation menu if they wish to make more room for content. Instructors can modify and configure their sites in an Edit Mode that replaces much of the previous Control Panel. Each course site can have a home page, on which various new modules such as "What's New" and "Report Card" can be placed.
Two points will be helpful for instructors to know as they begin to use the new Blackboard.
First, in order to make changes in your site, you'll need to turn Edit Mode on. Look in the upper right of your window. If you see that Edit Mode is off, click it to turn it on.
Click to change it to . This will put you in Edit Mode.
Second, once you are in Edit Mode, contextual menus allow you to edit, modify, or remove many of the items. The contextual menu for an item is marked by a double-down-arrow () to its right.
Hiding and Showing the Menu Buttons
Blackboard's ability to hide the navigation menu has caused a lot of confusion. If you can't see the menu buttons, click on the ">" arrowhead at the far left of the window. Doing so will show the navigation menu buttons. Here's a video describing the process.
How to List All Students
One of features that has changed is the way that an instructor can list the students in the class. Use Control Panel > Users and Groups > Users. Here's the tricky part... To see all of the students, enter a percentage sign ("%") in the blank. Alternatively, pull down the second menu (the one that reads, "Starts with" or "Contains") and choose "Not blank". Then click the "Go" button. The system will list everyone in the site. (In Blackboard 9.1, "Not blank" is now the default choice.)
Digital Dropbox and the Assignment Tool
The new version of Blackboard does not have a Digital Dropbox. That feature is not coming back. Instructors will want to download any content from Digital Dropboxes before May 18. Instructors will still be able to access files located in the dropboxes of your existing sites, but it will require a special web address to do so.
Instructors who have used the Digital Dropbox will be able to use the Assignment tool instead. The past few versions of Blackboard have included the Assignment tool, which provides significantly more flexibility than the Digital Dropbox (see instructions).
- The Assignment tool is linked to your Grade Center so that it is instantly organized (by student and by assignment) in the Grade Center.
- Instructors can allow multiple submission attempts for the same assignment, and each attempt can be graded individually
- Instructors can deploy assignments to all students individually or to groups of students, which allows assigning a single grade to all group members.
- Each file will be automatically renamed including the assignment’s name, the student’s username, and the filename the student originally submitted
- You can download student submissions in a single zip file.
The new version of Blackboard does not have the "bb- login" button. The Library is making alternative arrangements for people who need the kind of access provided by a Blackboard-only account.
Other New Features
Drag-and-Drop feature. Easily manage your course items.
- Reposition items on a course home page (e.g., My Announcements, What’s New, To Do, which are now called Modules)
- Change the order of Navigation buttons, Announcements, and questions in a test or survey.
No separate Control Panel. All Control Panel options are available from the main course menu.
- Course content creation and editing tools are embedded throughout the course
- Items that are acted upon by a user have an associated Contextual Menu available throughout a course site. Clicking the menu icon (double arrowheads pointing down) displays options that are available to the user for that item.
Automatic hide & show of Course Menu items. Empty Course Menu Items (e.g. Course Information) are automatically made hidden to students; once content is added, the Course Menu item will be automatically made visible to students.
Group creation is easier and more flexible.
- Instructors can create any number of groups at one time
- Different ways of grouping students: manual enroll (instructor manually assign students to groups), self-enroll (students sign up for a group), and random-enroll (randomly assignments to groups)
Tools area. Course Tools and Communication Tools are now combined into a single space called Tools.
The Library has made detailed "Getting Started" documentation available for the new version. For more general information about the transition, check out their "Information and FAQ about the Blackboard Upgrade." Also we strongly recommend the following orientations from the Blackboard Company.
- “Your Course Environment”: a video that introduces the new interface (3 minutes, 25 seconds in length)
- “Getting Started with the Course Environment”: a print guide (PDF file, 3 pages in length, 5.3 megabytes in size)
- “The Top 10 Things You Need to Know about Blackboard”