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Edition 4: 12th December 2011


Welcome to the fourth edition of the Blackboard Bulletin

This fourth edition of the Blackboard Bulletin is based on the theme of course management and includes support resources for preparing migrated Semester 2 modules. Top tips with workarounds for known issues and user statistics are also included below. 


REMINDER: Preparing Semester 2 modules

  • Support resources are available to help you prepare your migrated Semester 2 modules for teaching in January 2012.

Useful Tools

Wimba Voice Tools are now available

The Wimba Voice Tools (Voice Board, Voice Direct, Voice Email, Voice Authoring, Voice Presentation and Voice Podcaster) are now available in Blackboard Learn.

Wimba Voice facilitates and promotes vocal instruction, collaboration, coaching, and assessment. Adding voice to a course makes the learning process more interesting and stimulating, thus increasing the rate of learning and knowledge retention.

Wimba Voice Tool Details

Voice Board
Post and listen to voice messages within discussion boards. Add a vocal element to online discussions to actively engage students with course content; and facilitate peer conversations to promote active learning. Note: Wimba Voice Boards can be graded.

Voice Direct
An audio conferencing tool which facilitates online meetings and synchronous discussion, enabling you and your students to converse in real time. Can enhance language study by teaching pronunciation, rhythm, stress, and emphasis, while students can simultaneously speak and read a new language.

Voice Email
Send and listen to voice through email messages. You can send individual or general vocal feedback to students - in a more personal, easier to interpret and quicker to create way.

Voice Authoring
Allows you to create short one-off recorded messages that can be embedded within course content, e.g. to add a vocal welcome to a course, or annotate complex concepts, etc. Adding vocal instruction can significantly reduce barriers of adoption and minimise the learning curve for your students.

Voice Presentation
Adds an online presentation or lecture with vocal comments to a course. Presentation slides can be added along with other materials such as webpages, photos and video. You and your students can annotate and record comments on each slide, which can be useful for collaborative learning.

Voice Podcaster
Create or upload podcasts which your students can subscribe to and download to their own computer or portable listening device. This builds engaging and reusable course content which can make the learning experience more interesting and stimulating.

The Wimba Voice Tools can be accessed from the top action bar menu in a Content Area. All tools are available via the Add Interactive Tool drop down menu, except for Voice Authoring which is available via the Build Content drop down menu.

  • View or download the Wimba Voice Brochure (pdf) to find out more about the different voice tools.
  • View or download the Wimba Voice User Guide (pdf), to find out how to use the tools in Blackboard Learn.
  • Further information is also available on the Wimba Voice website.

Control Panel

All course administration and management functionality is accessed through the links in the Control Panel. This area is not available to students. The Control Panel is beneath the Course Menu and is comprised of the following areas:
Content Collection, Course Tools, Evaluation, Grade Centre, Users and Groups, Customisation, Packages and Utilities and Help.


Performance Dashboard

The Performance Dashboard provides details of various user activity in a course. All students enrolled in the course are listed, with relevant information about student's progress and activity in the course, including Last Course Access, Days Since Last Course Access, Review Status, Adaptive Release, Discussion Board, Early Warning System and View Grades.

The Performance Dashboard is available from the Evaluation link on the Control Panel. Information appears in a table format.
TIP: Click the arrow in the header row of a column to sort the table data in that column (ascendingly or descendingly).


Course Reports

Course Reports provide configurable reports on student activity within your course (configurable by timeframe, students and format). These reports include All User Activity inside Content Areas, User Activity in Forums, User Activity in Groups and Overall Summary of User Activity.

Course Reports are available from the Evaluation link on the Control Panel.


Student Tracking Statistics

You can switch on student tracking for every piece of content that you add to a module area in Blackboard Learn, such as an Item, Folder, Mashup, Blog or Assignment.

You can access the resulting statistics using the contextual Action Menu for that piece of content via the View Statistics Report link.


Grade Centre

You can use the Grade Centre to manage your student grades and feedback in one central location for various assessments including - Assignments, Tests, Blogs, Journals, Wikis and Discussion Boards.

The Grade Centre is available via the Control Panel > Grade Centre > Full Grade Centre link.

Ensure a link to My Grades is available for your students so that they can access their grades and feedback. You can add a link named My Grades to your left menu via Add Menu Item > Create Tool Link.


Staff Orientation Course - Management Tools

The online Blackboard Learn Staff Orientation Course within Blackboard Learn provides information and support about the Management tools that are available, including the Grade Centre, My Grades, Groups, Early Warning System, Performance Dashboard, Course Reports, Content Collection and Adaptive Release. This is accessed via the Management link on the left menu.

Top Tips

This section highlights some of the top issues with regard to using Blackboard Learn with workaround fixes detailed.

The online Ulster Blackboard Learn Helpdesk is available at


Revising your Migrated Semester 2 Modules

Support resources are available to help you prepare your migrated Semester 2 modules.

Grading Assessments and Providing Feedback to Students

Assessments (e.g. Assignments, Tests, etc) can be accessed and graded from the Grade Centre, with feedback provided to your students.

The Grade Centre is available via the Control Panel > Grade Centre. Click on Needs Marking or the Full Grade Centre.

Using the Needs Marking: You can filter the assessments and click the Grade All button at the top left (or select Grade All Users or Grade Anonymously from the Action Menu link) to grade and provide feedback to your students.

Using the Full Grade Centre: Left click the Action Menu at the top of the required assessment column to manage that assessment. This allows you to access functionality such as, view assignments, provide grades and feedback, view test statistics or view individual test submissions, etc.


Tips for Developing a New Course

This pdf provides tips on developing a course in Blackboard Learn. These tips encompass your course presentation, navigation, learning design and course management.

Migrated Modules: Tips for Tidying Up the Left Menu and Homepage

It is recommended that you tidy up the left menu and homepage of migrated module, so that the content is displayed logically to your students. The attached pdf provides some tips on how to achieve this.

Messages Tool v Email Tool

Blackboard Learn integrates with the University of Ulster email system, so that emails can be sent to your students from within your module/course area. This tool is called Email in Blackboard Learn.

The internal Mail tool in WebCT is now called Messages in Blackboard Learn, with similar functionality, i.e. an internal mail tool. It is recommended that you rename any links titled Mail to Messages in migrated modules, to avoid any confusion.

Content Collection: Manage Student Access to Content

In Blackboard Learn, students are able to view the content within a course folder in the Content Collection. This was hidden by default within the File Manager in WebCT. It is recommended that you check what files are in your course folder in the Content Collection, especially if you have a legacy of migrated files. If any files are unsuitable for students to view, you can either move them to your own private area within the Content Collection or change the permissions for that file.

User Statistics

Blackboard Learn usage statistics (20 November 2011 - 3 December 2011)

Active sessions (average per day) 14,180
Unique users (average per day) 9,770
Peak usage (concurrent users per hour) 1,800
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