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Edition 3: 21st November 2011


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<B>Welcome to the third edition of the Blackboard Bulletin</B>

This third edition of the Blackboard Bulletin is based on the theme of assessment and feedback .
Top tips with workarounds for known issues and user statistics are also included below.



UPDATE: Semester 2 modules are now available

Semester 2 modules for this academic year (2011/12) are now available to request via the Module Access Request System. Once you have access to your Semester 2 11/12 modules, you can prepare them for teaching in January 2012. Support resources are available to help you prepare your migrated modules.

Useful Tools


Online Assessment and Feedback Course Support Areas

The online Assessment and Feedback Support course aligns Blackboard Learn tools to the newly adopted Ulster Principles of Assessment and Feedback for Learning. This course shows how the various tools could be applied to embed the principles into practice.

The online Blackboard Learn Staff Orientation Course ( Assessment link on left menu) provides information on each assessment and feedback tool, including a demo/sample of the tool and relevant support resources.

All staff are enrolled on the Assessment and Feedback Support and Blackboard Learn Staff Orientation Course - which are both available from your Course list within Blackboard Learn.


Self and Peer Assessment Tool

The new Self and Peer Assessment tool allows you to set up questions and criteria for students to complete. The students can then evaluate themselves and their peers, justifying their evaluation based on criteria (e.g. rubrics or model answers). You can then view the student submissions and evaluations and grade the activity appropriately. This tool could be particularly useful for managing self and peer assessment in large group teaching.

Self and peer assessment and feedback has been shown to foster critical thinking and judgement, encourage independent and self-regulated learners and develop communities of learning.


Using the Self and Peer Assessment Tool

You can set up the Self and Peer Assessment Tool via the Create Assessment link from the Action Bar Menu at the top of a Content Area within Blackboard Learn. You can view submissions and evaluations via the Control Panel > Course Tools > Self and Peer Assessment link.

If the Self and Peer Assessment link is not available in your module area, you can switch it on via the Control Panel > Customisation > Tool Availability link.


Turnitin Assignments

Turnitin Assignments improve the student writing cycle by preventing plagiarism and providing rich feedback to students. It consists of three tools - OriginalityCheck, GradeMark and PeerMark.


The OriginalityCheck tool ensures original work by checking submitted papers against 14 billion web pages, 150 million student papers and leading library databases and publications. Learn more


The GradeMark tool saves time and improves feedback through online grading where standard and customised comments can be added directly to the student's paper online. Learn more


PeerMark Assignments allow student to read, review, grade and evaluate one or many papers submitted by their classmates. At the end of the assignment, the papers are distributed so that all students are able to read the comments left on their work. This can be anonymous or attributed. Learn more


Using Turnitin

You can set up a Turnitin assignment via the Create Assessment link from the Action Bar Menu at the top of a Content Area within Blackboard Learn. You can manage submissions via the Assignment Inbox available from the Control Panel > Course Tools > TurnitinUK Assignments link.


Manage Grading and Feedback: Grade Centre and My Grades

You can use the Grade Centre to manage your student grades and feedback in one central location, which are automatic distributed to your students via My Grades.

The Grade Centre is a dynamic and interactive tool, allowing you to record data, calculate grades and monitor student progress. You can manage individual student grades for Assignments, Tests, Blogs, Journals, Wikis and Discussion Boards. You can also create grade columns for any activities or requirements you want to grade, such as lab tests and field trip activities.

Students can access their grades and feedback via My Grades, providing a location for all their grades and feedback to be kept securely.


Accessing the Grade Centre and My Grades

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.


Assessment Workflows

Assessment Workflow

Formative Assessment and Feedback Opportunities

Assignment (pdf)

Multiple attempts; formative feedback

Group Assignment (pdf)

Collaboration; multiple attempts; group, peer and general feedback; evidence of individual contribution

Tests (pdf)

Multiple attempts; automatic, formative and general feedback

Survey (pdf)

Get feedback from students

Self and Peer Assessment (pdf)

Self and peer evaluation


Gradable Communication Tools: Blog, Journal, Wiki & Discussion Board

You can use communication tools (Blog, Journal, Wiki & Discussion Board) to set up low-stakes regular formative tasks for students to complete. This encourages time and effort on task and provides opportunities for formative, general and peer feedback.

Grading is available directly from within the communication tools, with grades being automatically submitted to the Grade Centre.

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


How to Grade Assignments

Assignments can be graded from the Grade Centre - available via the Control Panel > Grade Centre. Click on Needs Marking, Full Grade Centre or the Assignments link. From these links you can access submitted assignments, grade assignments and provide feedback to your students.


Grading Assignments

Needs Marking: Click the Grade All button to the top left, or select Grade All Users or Grade Anonymously from the Action Menu link.

Full Grade Centre/Assignments: Left click the Action Menu at the top of the required assignment column and select either Grade Attempts, Grade Anonymously or Assignment File Download.


Use the Add Test Student to Check you Assessment Workflow

A Test Student is now available to add to your course/module. You can use the Add Test Student functionality to test the workflow of assessments in Blackboard Learn.


Add Test Student

The Add Test Student is available via the Control Panel > Course Tools > Add Test Student link.


Assessments: Check Due Dates and Availability Settings

Check the due date and availability of your assessments, to ensure that students can successfully access and submit assessments. You can check this via the Action Link menu. Select Edit to change the due date (date and time ) and availability settings.

How to Grade with a Rubric

A Rubric lists evaluation criteria for an assignment. Rubrics can be used for grading an assessment and providing feedback to students. Using a grading Rubric can help to explain your evaluations to your students.

How to Reset a Test Attempt

It is recommended that the Force Completion option is NOT selected in a Test. You can check that the Force Completion option is NOT selected on Tests which have been migrated from WebCT.

If the Force Completion has been enabled and students encounter a problem with their test, for whatever reason, you will need to reset the student’s attempt so that they can take the test again.

How to Hide the Total Column in the Grade Centre

To hide a Total Column in the Grade Centre, click on the Action Link at the top of the relevant Column and select Edit Column Information. Go to the section 3 option - Show this column to Students and select No.

How to Tidy Up the Left Menu in your Modules

It is recommended that you tidy up the left menu and homepage of your migrated modules, so that students can easily navigate your content.

User Statistics

Blackboard Learn usage statistics (6th November 2011 - 19th November 2011)

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<TABLE id="table1">
<TR height="35px" style="background:#bae3ef; style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% rgb(186, 227, 239);">
  <TD style="padding-left:8px;padding-right:8px;">Active sessions (average per day)</TD>
 <TD style="padding-left:8px;padding-right:8px;"><B>14,963</B></TD>
 <TR height="35px" height="35px" style="background:#bae3ef;" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% rgb(186, 227, 239);">
   <TD style="padding-left:8px;padding-right:8px;">Unique users (average per day)</TD>
 <TD style="padding-left:8px;padding-right:8px;"><B>10,270</B></TD>
 <TR height="35px" height="35px" style="background:#bae3ef;" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% rgb(186, 227, 239);">
  <TD style="padding-left:8px;padding-right:8px;">Peak usage (concurrent users per hour)</TD>
 <TD style="padding-left:8px;padding-right:8px;"><B>1,750</B></TD>
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