By default in Bb Learn, any columns created in its grade center are available (and thus visible) to students. This may present a problem for many instructors - particularly in large enrollment courses - who wish to review all grades before making them visible to students. Some building blocks, particularly McGraw-Hill's Connect building block, adds grades from its homework system to Bb Learn's grade center the same way.
In September 2012, ITaP deployed the IDP Job Requester tool for Learn to allow grades from Scantron sheets to be automatially uploaded to the Bb Learn grade center. Because the process works by creating a new column in the grade center and uploading the grades to that column, the uploaded grades are immediately available to students.
ITaP has submitted an urgent request with Blackboard for a setting that would allow administrators or instructors to make newly-created columns "unavailable" by default.
We have been investigating a series of reports from students and faculty that students are being "dropped" or "kicked out" of Bb Learn quizzes. Based on the experiences of several courses, we have these recommendations:
For All Faculty:
- When creating your quiz, do not select the option for "Force Completion". This has been the most common factor in cases in which students unexpectedly lose access to a quiz. It appears that when the student loses their network connection or bandwidth becomes low, even for just a moment, Learn registers that the student has stopped working on the quiz and will not allow the student to re-enter the quiz where they left off.
- Faculty who have been using "Force Completion" may use other settings instead - for example, an exam timer with the "Auto-Submit" setting turned on. If you are concerned about quiz security in your class, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss other quiz settings that might help in your situation.
- Display questions "one at a time", especially for tests exceeding 60 minutes. This will force the session to refresh (so that it will not become inactive). It will also save the student's progress automatically when they go to the next question, so that regardless of any other factors, their work will be saved. (Note: if you want students to be able to see al questions at the same time for reasons related to your course, this option may not be appropriate for you).
- Do not copy and paste content directly from Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, or other Microsoft product into Blackboard Learn when creating questions or answers to assessments. Paste as plain text instead. We have seen may cases in which questions or answers did not display properly because the instructor used the copy/paste functions from Microsoft.
- Beware of using large (file size) images in the assessments you create. Smaller file sizes means the images will display more quickly, alleviating student concern and confusion during quizzes. Try to limit the file size to 1 MB, or as small as possible without compromising the image quality. Contact email@example.com for assistance in creating smaller image sizes if you believe that might be an issue for your quizzes.
- Encourage your students not to take Bb Learn quizzes on mobile devices, including iPads. The current state of mobile technology and networking does not guarantee a trouble-free experience, and where high stakes activities such as points and grades are concerned, their best bet is to sit at a desktop or laptop computer.
- While Blackboard's browser compatibility site is the definitive resource on what should work well with Bb Learn, there are known issues with using Internet Explorer (8 and 9 specifically). We recommend using Chrome or Firefox for the best quiz or test taking experience, from a desktop or laptop. Blackboard's list of supported Java versions and web browsers is here:http://help.blackboard.com/instructor/Content/_about/about_browsers.htm
Browser issues with Blackboard Learn Assessments
Our instructors have noted some issues when students use certain browsers to complete online assessments created with the assessment tool in Blackboard Learn. The specific issues are listed below:
- Some students may not be able to enter information into text boxes
- Some students may not be able to select multiple choice answers
- Some students may not be able to save their work
- Some students may experience issues with matching questions correctly displaying
- Some students may not be able to save their work
It is recommended that instructors encourage their students to use either Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome for their browser when completing assessments in Blackboard Learn.
Avoid force completion option
- If a student runs into technical issues, force completion makes it impossible for them to log back into the assessment. If a time-restriction is needed, it is recommended that instructors add a timer and turn on the auto-submit option. This will allow students to be able to restart their browser and log back into the assessment while they still have time on the timer.