In December 2008, we will be upgrading Blackboard to v8 (we’re currently on v7.1). The new Grade Centre included in v8 is part of Blackboard’s “Next Generation” product, and is the first such feature to be rolled out before v9 (which is due out in 2009). For this reason, it looks and behaves quite unlike the rest of Blackboard; the interface is newer; and entering, viewing, and changing grades is much less click-intensive.
The many-layers-of-links which are common throughout Blackboard have been largely eliminated in the new Grade centre, and have been mostly replaced with contextual menus. Grades may be changed by clicking on a cell and entering a new value (much like Google documents). Sub-menus are revealed by hovering over a menu item, rather than clicking through multiple layers of navigation. Grade tasks are revealed by hovering over a grade.
In addition to the more interactive interface, there are a number of brand-new features within the Grade Centre itself:
- Smart Views: a filtering feature which let you save any number of preferred views (and make any of them the default). For example, you could create a “smart view” that only contains Surveys and ignores Tests; or one that only includes students in a particular Group (handy if you have a combination paper and want to manage marks separately).
- Column organisation: a drag & drop interface for ordering grade columns.
- Frozen columns: choose which columns remain on the screen at all times regardless of scrolling- handy when you have a large number of columns.
- Reports: generate reports on individual students or Groups, and include any/all of their grades, as well as median grades for each Test/Assignment.
- Grade History: view details about what grade was cleared or attempted, at what time, and by which user.
IT Training will be doing some “What’s New” presentations in November 2008: keep an eye out on the IT Training site for details.