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eLearning News
Updates, announcements, and other items of interest from eLearning, Teaching and Learning Facilities (ITS).

Upcoming Blackboard Changes: Fixes to Known Issues

In this final post for our upcoming Blackboard Update we’d like to mention all the issues we believe this update will fix.

As you are probably aware on the Blackboard help site we have a list of Known Issues. Here are the list of items that should be fixed in this update.

  • Bulk edit of notification settings creates an error
  • Hotspot questions malfunctioning in Blackboard Tests
  • Banner image not displaying for everyone
  • Menu text colour is unreadable
  • Discussion Board subscriptions not always working
  • Accessing ‘Needs Marking’ generates an error

This update also contains a set of security fixes for Blackboard.

Key Dates:

  • 22 November 2017 – Blackboard Update.
    • Blackboard will be offline after 5pm

 

Upcoming Blackboard Changes: Goodbye Course Themes

On November 22nd, we’ll be saying goodbye to Course Themes. This means that instructors will no longer have the ability to change the colour of the background of their papers, or to change the style of their menus.  On the other hand, instructors will still be able to set their own banner image on the paper and arrange the menu items according to their preferences.

We are making this change because currently only one theme in the upcoming version of Blackboard is fully mobile compatible.  So, essentially, we were faced with a choice: either we can allow the freedom to choose colour and menu schemes, or we can stick with one theme across the board, which brings the benefit of a greatly improved Blackboard experience on mobile devices.

Mobile Compatibility is something that students have frequently asked for. Our discussions with Student IT and OUSA were pretty unanimous when given the choice of variable Course Themes or the ability to use Blackboard on their phones.  This student feedback significantly influenced our decision.

So what does the new theme look like? Let’s look at a comparison on a desktop computer:

An example paper with a course theme on the current version of Otago Capture

An example paper with a course theme on the current version of Blackboard

The same example paper using the new version of Blackboard

As you can see the general layout stays the same.  The blue colours from the first example are the main thing that changes.

On mobile you have the ability to open and close the menu.  Text will be a bit larger for mobile users and easier to read.

Mobile view of paper with menu closed

Mobile view of paper with menu closed. Click on the arrow to open the menu

Example with the menu open.

Example with the menu open. Click on the arrow to minimize the menu.

These changes have been made with support from the Web Services team.

We’ll have one more blog on the Upcoming Changes to Blackboard dealing with which known issues should be fixed by this update.

Key Dates:

  • 22 November 2017 – Blackboard Update.
    • Blackboard will be offline after 5pm

Upcoming Blackboard Changes: Inline Grading Tool

Currently when you are grading an assignment on Blackboard the service you may be using is the Inline Grading Tool.  This is provided by a company called Crocodocs.  Last year Crocodocs was aquired by Box and as part of a Blackboard update on the 22nd of November we will be setting up to change from Crocodocs to the Box View Tool.

We will be transitioning from Crocodocs during the week before Christmas. So when you come back from the Christmas Break you might notice some changes when grading assignments in Blackboard.

Crocodocs (left) and Box View (Right) Comparison

Crocodocs (left) and Box View (Right) Comparison

As you can see, the two tools are quite quite similar. The transition, however, will bring certain benefits: Box allows more file types than Crocodocs, and can display images and video.

What is affected by this?

  • Grading of assignments within Blackboard
  • Students viewing of pdfs in Blackboard

What is NOT affected by this?

  • SafeAssign
  • Rubrics
  • Offline Grading of Assignments.
  • Feedback to students.

Key Dates to Remember:

  • 22 November 2017 – Blackboard Update
    • Blackboard will be offline this evening
  • 18th December 2017 – Moving fro Crocodocs to Box View
    • Blackboard will still be able to be used during htis transition.