Is it just me or does the beginning of the fall term feel like a dust storm rolling in, a haboob, if you will? Thanks to the fact that the Plainview campus schedule and the external campus schedule collide for the start of the fall term, the Virtual Campus gets stretched just a little thin this time of year. But the good news is, now that we’re past the census date, the dust is settling.
Since that last time I wrote to you, we have taken a number of steps to help improve our online courses including an update to Blackboard, a reorganization of our faculty resources, and a complete redesign of our online term schedule. In this newsletter, you’ll find links and information about all three of these developments.
In my column this term, I wanted to draw your attention to some of the new features that are now available in Blackboard Learn thanks to our recent update and give you glimpse of some exciting things on the horizon.
The New SafeAssign Feature
If you’ve read any of the blog posts or emails from me, you know that the most exciting new feature in Blackboard was the integration of SafeAssign into the Assignment Tool. What this means for the instructor is that plagiarism detection is now available with the check of a box in the Assignment Tool. More importantly, this means that inline grading can be done on assignments that have been checked for plagiarism. In the past, to do both, instructors needed to create two different assignments but now it’s all in one. Dr. Trish Trifilo, our distance learning specialist, has prepared step-by-step instructions to incorporate this feature into your course.
The New Student Preview Feature
Another great new feature is the Student Preview. With a single click, instructors can now enter their course as a student and see what their students see. At the top right of the screen in your courses, next to the Edit Mode switch, is an “eye” that allows you to switch from instructor view to a student view. When you click that “eye,” Blackboard creates a student account for you, logs you out as an instructor, logs you back in as student, and the takes you to that same place in the course. This is all done at once with one click! Woohoohoo!
To return to the view as an instructor, just click the eye again. You’ll be asked if you want to keep the data you generated as a student. You may elect to do this if you want to keep, say, an exam attempt in the grade center. Otherwise, you can use the default and delete all your records that you created when you were a student in the course.
Coming Soon: Grading App and a new Collaborate
There are a couple of developments out on the horizon that I would just like to mention because I have been asked many times about these over the last couple years. The first is an app for iOS and eventually for Android that will be designed specifically for the instructor to use to grade coursework in Blackboard. The Grading app is coming sometime this fall so keep your eyes and ears open for more information.
The other development that is a little further down the road is a complete redesign of the Blackboard Collaborate tool. In the future, there won’t be a need to download and execute a large Java file to conduct class meetings. The new tool will also have significant design improvements. We expect this to arrive sometime next year.
As always, if you have any questions or need assistance from the Virtual Campus, please contact us:
Dr. Scott R. Franklin
Director of the Virtual Campus