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

Blackboard has been upgraded

The upgrade to Blackboard has finished earlier than we expected, which means it’s now available again to everyone.  There are a few new features that we’d like to highlight.

New Icon Set

The look and feel of Blackboard has not changed much in last few years which is why we’re excited about this small change.  The new icons will show up in your content areas and the Tools section.

New Icon Set

New Icon Set

Drag and Drop submissions

This simple tool allows students to drag and drop their assignments onto the submission page.  A black dashed line will show them the hot spot where they can drop it. This will also work when attaching files to content areas for instructors as well.

Hot spot for drag and drop

Hot spot for drag and drop

Submission Receipt ID numbers.

Much like when you buy something online you will get a receipt ID number. Now this option is available to students when they submit an assignment.  At the moment this ID number will only appear when they submit an assignment, students won’t be emailed it.

This is particularly helpful for a student who has submitted an assignment but that hasn’t shown up in the grade centre.

What the students will see when they submit an assignment.

What the students will see when they submit an assignment.

These ID numbers can be found by the instructor in the Grade Centre.  Under the Reports tab, there will be an option of Submission Receipts. Here you can search by username and find the receipt number the student has given you to confirm their submission of an assignment.

Bug Fixes

We’ve also added an array of bug fixes  including:

  • Course Reports should now run as usual
  • Last Access in the Grade Centre is now accurate
  • The course theme and menu’s colours can be changed to be more readable.

 

Blackboard Upgrade over the Easter Break

We would like to announce an upgrade of Blackboard for 2017. We have scheduled the upgrade to happen between 9 am Wednesday, 19 April until 9 am Friday, 21 April. This will mean that there will be no access to Blackboard during this timeframe.

This upgrade to Blackboard includes several behind the scenes improvements including:

  • Submission receipts for students submitting an assignment.
  • Drag and drop files for some areas, including students submitting assignments.
  • New Icons for items in Blackboard.
  • Many bug fixes including repairing reliability of the Last Access functionality.

You can keep up-to-date with news about this update by following the ITS Service Desk notices (http://www.otago.ac.nz/its/servicenotices/) and here on the eLearning blog (www.otago.ac.nz/elearning).

Easter Blackboard Upgrade

We’ve been working hard in eLearning with testing and preparations for our next Blackboard upgrade, which we plan to implement over the Easter break.

This upgrade is coming about six months or so earlier than we originally anticipated, but we’ve moved it forward to fix a couple of nasty unforeseen problems that came out of our last upgrade in November.  That last upgrade, to Blackboard version Q2 2016 CU3, broke a couple of key statistics and data gathering tools: Course Reporting, and the Last Access column in the Grade Centre.  And in case you’re wondering, dear reader: no, the irony that we have to upgrade in order to fix problems caused by the last upgrade is not lost on us.  With very complex systems such as Blackboard, a few new issues are to be expected after an upgrade, but we have judged that these malfunctions are serious enough to justify moving our schedule forward and suffering a short outage.

The good news is that our testing indicates these problems should be resolved by our new version Q4 2016 CU1, along with many other pesky outstanding bugs (suffice it to say that we will be able to trim down our list of existing known issues.)

The terminally hung Course Reports process message – a Demon soon to be banished.

The even better news is that Q4 2016 CU1 will bring some useful new features.  For lecturers uploading content items, and students uploading assignments, drag and drop functionality has arrived.  Students submitting assignments will now get a unique identifier that serves as proof of submission.  And, as a cute cosmetic touch, we will be using a new icon set that looks better.

Drag and drop functionality within Blackboard – welcome to the world of tomorrow.

It may be an indication of the numbing indoctrination that comes from working in eLearning for six months, that I find these changes very exciting.

So, in sum, please prepare for a Blackboard outage over the Easter break, and brace yourselves for the onslaught of repaired and new functionality that will be delivered by Q4 2016 CU1.