Because of a couple of major additions and improvements to Blackboard, we are planning to upgrade to the latest version of Blackboard Learn™, Service Pack 10 between Christmas and New Years. Nearly 640 institutions as well as over 600 educators and nearly 600 students contributed to the development of this latest release of Blackboard. Normally we do not do an update during the Christmas break but because of the addition of the test item analysis and the new editor in this update, after querying UNMC Colleges and Schools a decision has been made to upgrade between Christmas and New Years. We will either do it the Wednesday or Thursday after Christmas depending on how long the end of semester course backup takes. After the course backups are completed, we will need upto 4 hours to complete the update during which Blackboard will not be available for work. This is the normal time when the UNL campus does their updating also. A separate announcement will be sent out via email prior to the update as soon as the course backups are completed.
Overview of enhancements and new features
Many existing features have been improved and some exciting new features added to Blackboard. Here is an overview of tools that you can expect to be using soon:
- New Content Editor: The new Content Editor vastly improves the user experience for formatting text, pasting content from Microsoft Word, and adding content to all areas of Learn. Simply bring your course materials to life. Blackboard has also replaced the old math editor with a new mathML equation editor.
- Assessment Item Analysis: Now you can easily refine your assessments by evaluating the quality of each question and that question’s ability to discriminate between students who understand the material and those who do not. Ineffective questions can easily be identified and then quickly corrected with the Automatic Regrade feature.
- My Blackboard (May not be fully implemented until Mid-January as Blackboard is adding external to campus features that need be made available]: This feature introduces a completely new, modern user experience in Blackboard Learn that consolidates critical information from all your Courses and Organizations as well as your school-wide academic network. The new tools in My Blackboard – Profile, Posts, Updates, My Grades, and People – were developed to meet the needs of today’s active learner and enhance student engagement. For educators like you, My Blackboard allows you to easily monitor activity across your courses and organizations and rest-assured that your students are up-to-date and engaged in the online learning experience.
- New Global Navigation Menu: Always present in the top right corner, the new navigation menu is the entry point to My Blackboard and also provides one-click access to your Courses, Organizations, Settings, and Blackboard Help. Additionally, the new menu will tell you how many items in My Blackboard are new or need your attention, so you never miss a thing.
Resources to Help
To ensure you can familiarize yourself with these new features of Blackboard Learn and be ready to integrate them in your instruction. Here are a few valuable resources that you may be interested in reviewing which are offered by Blackboard:
- Quick Hit Videos – a set of videos on YouTube that introduce all the new features
- On-Demand Learning Center – free access to video tutorials and getting started guides.
- Feature Showcase – review all of the new features.
- Help.Blackboard.com – assistance using the new Blackboard Learn platform, organized by role.
- Educator Cohort –series of online meetings to familiarize educators with new features
If you have questions or concerns about these upcoming changes, please contact us at email@example.com or call one of the members of the ITS LEIS team.
We expect to complete the upgrade and regular system maintenance within a 4 hour window, during which the system will be unavailable. More details including update time frames and release notes will be available in the next 2 weeks. If you have any questions, please contact your account manager, Margaret, for more information.
The next release of Campus Pack is scheduled for December 31, 2012. This release includes connector updates, hosting improvements, and a number of bug fixes. What you can expect in this release:
- Enhanced and revised Moodle integration via LTI and web services
- Updated Blackboard connector with SP10 compatibility
- Enhanced subscriptions and following for content and groups (sponsored functionality)
- Move to Amazon S3 for attachments
- Improves download performance
- Improves availability, reliability, and scalability
- Many bug fixes
- All of the updates from the monthly patches
Smartboard Orientation Fix
Over the past 12 months there have been issues in some of the classrooms with Sympodium panels that require frequent reorientation. This has exhibited itself in multiple ways including every time someone would log into the workstation or just the first time someone logs into the workstation during the semester. After testing and working with Smart Technology support, the only solution found is to replace the sympodium themselves. We are working with Smart to replace the desktop sympodium in the lecture halls in Sorrell starting with 3001 and 3002. Once the units are received, the existing devices will be replaced. They work the same way but are wide-screen units that match the pc resolution exactly. These newer units work better with both the Smart Technology software released in the last 2 years and the current versions of Microsoft Windows.