The holidays are a great way to bring friends and family together. This holiday season, with the upgrade of Blackboard Learn on December 19-20, 2014, we will also bring together the UIC community. So far, a pilot group of instructors, instructional designers, and students, have joined the Instructional Technology Lab (ITL) in testing all of the functionalities of the 9.1 2014 Release. Community involvement has been great, and we are confident that the upgrade of Blackboard Learn will be a success.

As an instructor, you may be wondering “What’s in this for me?” After the upgrade, when you look at your courses in preparation for the spring semester, you will not notice any significant changes. However, as you navigate your courses, we would like you to pay attention to five new key features. Here are the release highlights coming this holiday season:

  • Your TAs can help with the grading! They can be delegated graders and provide provisional grades for all of your assignments in Blackboard Learn. You can review their grading and determine a final grade or reconcile it. Learn how: go.uic.edu/Delegated_Grading
  • You and your delegated graders can review assignment submissions while hiding the names of the students for a more unbiased grading experience. Your students can also see that their assignments are set to be graded anonymously from their My Grades page. Until anonymity is disabled, graded assignments scores are not included in calculation or actions.
  • Have you been previewing your course as a student? Improvements have been made in this release—your “.bb” account isn’t necessary anymore. A simple click at icon will let you see and do activities as a student. The icon will turn green Icon indicating that your preview user account is available for use. While you are in the course as a student, you can submit assignments, take tests, create blog posts, journals, and wiki entries, and view student tools such as My Grades. Watch a video tutorial to learn more: go.uic.edu/Student_Preview
  • Do you require your students to submit portfolios? There are new behaviors around portfolio authoring, layout, and design. The visual design of the portfolio is much better now. Take a look here: go.uic.edu/My_Portfolios
  • Detecting plagiarism is no longer difficult. A simple Google search gives you insight into work that has been plagiarized, but the integration of SafeAssign into regular Blackboard Learn assignments makes it even easier for you. The best part is the improved SafeAssign Originality Report. You can check out the new look and feel of the report at: go.uic.edu/SafeAssign_Originality_Reports

There are many other features that you might want to explore. For a complete list of new features and improvements in the 9.1 2014 Release visit: go.uic.edu/2014_Whats_New_All_Users or let the ITL staff guide you through these features in a face-to-face or webinar session. To sign up for a webinar, register online now.

See you after the holidays!

The ITL Staff