Blackboard Recommendations

U of T's Learning Management system is a powerful publishing tool, but like any software, it's not perfect.

Our support teams are tracking some persistent issues with features that instructors will want to be aware of and we have recommendations for avoiding difficulties. 

Some are listed at the downtown support site as "Recently Reported Issues", others follow:

Grade Centre Totals Visible to Students By Default

Within Blackboard's Grade Centre, the grading Total column is visible by default to students, on the far right.  This means that when you create additional grading columns and set them hidden to the students, the grade may inadvertently appear to students in Total if that column was included in the grading calculation. 

To fix this problem,

1) click on the Total header context menu, the light gray circle with the arrow pointing down;
2) Select Edit Column Information from the drop down; 
3) Set Show this Column to Students to 'No' and submit.   

Note that Hide from Instructor View only removes the column from the view of the instructor: the Total column will still be visible to students.

Blackboard Screen Shot of hide Grade Totals (click to enlarge)

 

Assessment > Assignment: Grading - Grading Options

The new "grading options" feature on the student assignment electronic submission system has produced some course problems.  Selecting Delegated Grading has resulted in student assignments which were otherwise correctly submitted being lost from the system.

We recommend, therefore, that instructors stick to the conventional grade approval process:

In Assessment > Assignment: Grading - Display of Grades, deselect the box beside  'Show to students in My Grades' to hide student grades initially. 

Then, when the grading staff inform you that assignment marks have been entered, review the column's contents, and make the grade column available to students.

Screen Shot of Blackboard Recommended Assignment Creation (click to enlarge)

 

Assessment > Assignment: Due Date & Availability Restrictions

The Learning Portal's assessment system allows you to configure both a due date for the assignment and availability display after / display until dates for the submission link.

Setting the Assignment: Availability - Limit Availability: Display Until restriction to before the due date will make the submission link disappear before the work is due, resulting in a lot of confusion.

 

Setting the Assignment: Availability - Limit Availability: Display Until to after the due date may impede the student's ability to see feedback on the assignment.

So generally we recommend avoiding the assignment availability restrictions completely in creating Assessment e-submission links.

 

Blank Entries in the Grade Centre

The Grade Centre initially has blank entries for each grade.  If no score is entered, the Grade Centre will calculate the total grade based on weighting the entries which do have value entries.

So if a student has zero, you must enter zero in the cell, for the Grade Centre summation to calculate correctly.  

It's also helpful to manually calculate a few student grades, just to make sure the calculation in Blackboard is set up correctly.
 

With the default settings, whether a student has zero or has not yet submitted for the assignment, you must enter zero in each cell in order for the Grade Centre summation to calculate correctly.

Alternatively, you can edit the column information for the total or weighted total column and ensure the “Calculate as Running Total” option is set to No.

For more information on the Grade Centre, please refer to: https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/technology/grade-center