As you know from my recent announcement, we are moving to the Enterprise version of Blackboard in the Fall 2011 term. Here is a list and more detailed explanation of the features available in the new version of Blackboard than I provided in the announcement.
I will be scheduling training sessions during the weeks of May 16 and 23 to demonstrate using the new features. I will email the dates and times of the sessions as well as post them on this site sometime this week. Additional training dates will be offered during the last two weeks of August before the start of the term. As always, you can call me to schedule an individual training session.
Blackboard Mobile Learn
An app is available for iOS devices that allows users to access the college’s Blackboard site from their iPhone, iPad or Sprint Android devices. Go the the Apple App Store or Android Market to download this free app.
Building Blocks and Extensions
Building blocks and extensions are applications that can be installed in Blackboard to increase the system functionality. There are hundreds of these applications available. You can browse the list of available extensions and building blocks at Blackboard Building Blocks.
Language Packs present Blackboard Learn using language and cultural norms matched to different audiences. Language Pack preferences are defined at the system level, the Course or Organization level, and finally at the user level.
At the system level, the Administrator defines one language pack as the system default. This is the language pack that appears when no other language pack is specified at the Course level or at the user level.
At the Course level, the Instructor can set a language pack and enforce it. Enforcing a language pack means that all users will view the language pack. If the language pack is not enforced, and a user has a preferred language pack associated with their account, the user’s language pack will override the Course language pack.
At the user level, individuals may select their preferred language pack.
Note: The default names in the system are translated and appear differently in each language pack. Customized names, such as changing the name of a tool, are not changed with the language pack. These values stay the same through all language packs. The following languages are available.
Adaptive Release Content
Adaptive Release controls the release of content to users based on a set of rules created by the Instructor. The rules may be related to availability, date and time, individual users, group membership, scores or attempts on any Grade Center item, calculated columns in Grade Center, or review status of an item in the Course.
The following options are available:
* Adaptive Release: Create basic rules for an item. Only one rule per item can be created, but the rule can have multiple criteria, all of which must be met.
* Adaptive Release Advanced: Create sophisticated combinations of release rules by adding multiple rules with multiple criteria to a single content item. Users must meet all the criteria of one of the rules to gain access.
* User Progress: View the details on an item for all users in a Course. This page includes information about whether the item is visible to the user and whether the user has marked the item as reviewed.
Adaptive Release Rules and Criteria
A Basic Adaptive Release rule consists of a set of criteria that defines the visibility of a content item to users. If a rule has multiple criteria, the user must meet all criteria before the item is available. Advanced Adaptive Release enables Instructors to create multiple rules for a single content item, and each rule can consist of multiple criteria.
For example, the Instructor adds a rule for an assignment to allow users in Group A to view the assignment after a specific date. This rule would consist of Membership criteria and Date criteria. Another rule for this assignment can allow all users in Group B to view the assignment once they had completed Homework #1. This rule would consist of Membership criteria and Grade Center criteria.
Note: Only one Membership criterion and one Date criterion can be created for each rule. Multiple Grade Center criteria and Review Status criteria can be added to each rule.
Adaptive Release Rules During Course Copy, Archive, and Export
Adaptive Release rules and user progress information are only included during a full Course Copy with users and during archive and restore operations. Rules and user progress information are not saved during a copy of Course materials into a new Course or during a copy of Course materials into an existing Course. They are also not saved during export and import operations.
Enable and Disable the Adaptive Release Feature
The System Administrator controls the availability of the Adaptive Release feature. If this feature is made available, Course developers can add basic or advanced Adaptive Release Rules.
If the Adaptive Release tool is disabled by the Administrator, all rules that have been created will disappear. Also, Adaptive Release related links on the Manage page will no longer appear. If the tool is later re-enabled, the links on the Manage page will reappear and any data associated with Adaptive Release (such as the rules) will be saved. Any Adaptive Release rules that had previously been set also re-appear.
Visibility of Items with Adaptive Release Rules
Once any Adaptive Release rules have been established for an item, visibility of that item is restricted to those users who meet the criteria of those rules.
For example, the Instructor creates a content item called “Introduction” in a Content Area. At this point, all Course users would be able to see Introduction. The Instructor then creates a rule restricting the item to Group A users. Now, only members of Group A can see Introduction—all other Course users do not see Introduction. Next, the Instructor adds another criterion to this rule, restricting it to Group A members who have received at least 80 points on Test #1. Now, only members of Group A who have also scored 80 or greater on Test #1 will see Introduction. All other users, including Group A members who scored less than an 80 on the Pre-Test, will not see Introduction.
If no Adaptive Release Rules have been created, the item is available to all users in the Course depending on the item availability and date restrictions set during item creation or editing.
IMPORTANT! If an adaptive release rule is created, but no criteria for it are defined, the content will display to all users. This is true even if there are other rules associated with the item. One blank criterion will allow the content display to all users.
View Availability of an Item on User Progress Page
Instructors can create one or more Adaptive Release rules to narrow the availability of a content item. It may be difficult to remember which users may access each piece of content. The User progress page displays details on the visibility of a content item and the Adaptive Release rules pertaining to it on a user-by-user basis. If Review Status is enabled for the item, an icon is displayed to show if the user has reviewed the item along with a date and time stamp for when the review was registered for that user.
If no Adaptive Release rules have been created for that item, the visibility column is based simply on availability of the item itself. For example, if the item is available, the Visible icon is displayed for all users.
Differences Between Basic Adaptive Release and Advanced Adaptive Release
Basic Adaptive Release enables Instructors to create one rule for a single item. That rule can contain multiple criteria. Advanced Adaptive Release enables Instructors to create multiple rules for a single item. If an Instructor wants to create different criteria for different users on the same item, more than one rule is needed. For example, the Instructor can set up a rule for Group A that enables these users to view Test 1 after completing Assignment A. The Instructor can set up a separate rule for Group B that enables them to see Test 1 after completing Assignment B.
Unavailable Items and Adaptive Release Rules
Item availability set on the Add Item page supersedes all Adaptive Release rules. If the item is unavailable, it is unavailable to all users regardless of any rules established. This allows Course developers to build out their rules and only make items available when they are finished with rule creation.
View Content with Rules Through the Course
If Instructors view Content Areas through the Course as a student would with Edit Mode set to OFF, their view is based on item availability and Adaptive Release rules. For example, if Adaptive Release is used to make an item available to a Group, and they are not a member of the Group, they will not see the item if they access it through the Course Menu. The same is true for unavailable items. If an item is added to a Course, but is not made available, the Instructor will not see it when they access the Content Area through the Course Menu.
Messages are private and secure text-based communication that occurs within a course and among course members. Although similar to email, you must be logged into the course to read and send messages. Using the Messages tool instead of the Email tool can also be more reliable. Problems with incorrect or out-of-date student email addresses will not affect course communication.
Students are not notified if they receive a new message, so advise them to make routine checks for new messages. Both incoming and outgoing messages are saved in the Messages tool.
Messages are organized in folders, marked as Read or Unread, moved to other folders, or deleted. The Messages area has two folders, Inbox and Sent that cannot be deleted or renamed.
The Performance Dashboard provides Instructors with a window into all types of user activity in a Course or Organization. All users enrolled in the Course are listed, with pertinent information about that user’s progress and activity in the Course.
View the Performance Dashboard
The Performance Dashboard is accessed through the Evaluation area of the Control Panel. This page shows the following information
* Last Name
* First Name
* Last Course Access
* Days Since Last Course Access
* Review Status: Displayed only if this tool is enabled. Displays how many items have been reviewed; a detailed view of items may be opened in a new window.
* Adaptive Release: Displayed only if this tool is enabled. An overview of the Student path may be opened in a new window.
* Discussion Board: Displayed only if this tool is enabled. Provides links to the Discussion Board comments.
* Early Warning System: Shows the number of warnings and the number of total rules that may trigger a warning. Clicking on the data in this column will open the Early Warning System. The Early Warning System column will only display if the tool is turned on in the Course.
* View Grades: Displayed only if the Grade Center is enabled. Provides links to the Grade Center: User grade List page for that user.
Users can click Print to open the page in a new window in a printer-friendly format. All applicable columns may be sorted.
Understanding the Review Status Indicator
The numbers provided in the Review Status column of the Performance Dashboard indicate the number of items that the Student has marked as Reviewed.
Using Adaptive Release rules in a Course creates multiple tracks for Students to progress through. This allows for the possibility that each Student will have a different requirement for marking certain items in a Course as Reviewed. At any time in a Course, items in a Student’s track may or may not be visible to them. The Performance Dashboard provides an at-this-moment view of the item availability and the Student’s progress on reviewing items.
The Review Status indicator links to a list of the items that the user sees as Reviewed and Mark Reviewed in the Course.
The Review Status column is only visible if Review Status has been enabled for the Course.
Link to Adaptive Release
The Adaptive Release indicator in the Performance Dashboard for each user opens the Course Menu, showing every possible item in the Course. Icons beside each item in the Course Map indicate the visibility of an item to that Course user, and the review status of any items with a review requirement, if applicable.
Adaptive Release and Review Status icons:
Visible icon Visible: This item is visible to that Course user.
Invisible icon Invisible: This item is not visible to that Course user.
Reviewed icon Reviewed: This item has been marked as Reviewed by the Course user.
Mark Reviewed icon Mark Reviewed: This item is displayed as Mark Reviewed to the Course user.
SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against a set of academic papers to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works. Safe Assign is used to prevent plagiarism and to create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase. SafeAssign is effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool.
How SafeAssignments Work
SafeAssign is based on a unique text matching algorithm capable of detecting exact and inexact matching between a paper and source material. SafeAssignments are compared against several different databases, including:
* Internet: Comprehensive index of documents available for public access on the Internet
* ProQuest ABI/Inform database: More than 1,100 publication titles and about 2.6 million articles from 1990s to present time, updated weekly (exclusive access)
* Institutional document archives: Contains all papers submitted to SafeAssign by users in their respective institutions
* Global Reference Database: Contains papers that were volunteered by students from Blackboard client institutions to help prevent cross-institutional plagiarism
Global Reference Database
Blackboard’s Global Reference Database is a separate database where students voluntarily donate copies of their papers to help prevent plagiarism. It is separated from each institution’s internal database, where all papers are stored by each corresponding institution, and students are free to select the option to check their papers without submitting them to the Global Reference Database. Students submit their papers to the database voluntarily and agree not to delete papers in the future. Submissions to the Global Reference Database are extra copies that are given voluntarily for the purpose of helping with plagiarism prevention. Blackboard does not claim ownership of submitted papers.
SafeAssign Originality Reports
After a paper has been processed, a report will be available detailing the percentage of text in the submitted paper that matches existing sources. It also shows the suspected sources of each section of the submitted paper that returns a match. Instructors can delete matching sources from the report and process it again. This may be useful if the paper is a continuation of a previously submitted work by the same student.
Because SafeAssign identifies all matching blocks of text, it is important to read the report carefully and investigate whether or not the block of text is properly attributed.
Interpreting SafeAssign Scores
Sentence matching scores represent the percentage probability that two phrases have the same meaning. This number can also be interpreted as the reciprocal to the probability that these two phrases are similar by chance. For example, a score of 90 percent means that there is a 90 percent probability that these two phrases are the same and a 10 percent probability that they are similar by chance and not because the submitted paper includes content from the existing source (whether or not it is appropriately attributed).
Overall score is an indicator of what percentage of the submitted paper matches existing sources. This score is a warning indicator only and papers should be reviewed to see if the matches are properly attributed.
* Scores below 15 percent: These papers typical include some quotes and few common phrases or blocks of text that match other documents. These papers typically do not require further analysis, as there is no evidence of the possibility of plagiarism in these papers.
* Scores between 15 percent and 40 percent: These papers include extensive quoted or paraphrased material or they may include plagiarism. These papers should be reviewed to determine if the matching content is properly attributed.
* Scores over 40 percent: There is a very high probability that text in this paper was copied from other sources. These papers include quoted or paraphrased text in excess and should be reviewed for plagiarism.
Grade Center Integration (more…)