Welcome to the first week of the semester. The students are back and the fun begins. It is said that the start of the semester is the busiest time of the year for online faculty, while the end of the semester is the busiest time for traditional classroom instructors.
By this time, you should have your classes moved over for the new semester and all the updating complete, but your duties have not ended. Week One activities are just beginning.
During the First Week of Class Online Instructors need too…
- Provide online classes with a self-introduction discussion.
- Introducing yourself to the class and ask students to post an introduction. It is a good way to break the ice and build a sense of community. This is also a great way for the instructor to get a feel for students, who they are and what experience they bring to the class.
- Review the personal introductions that students post and respond to each, this shows students that a live person is present and teaching the class. It helps build community.
- Check the class roster often, that first week is typically a drop/add period. You do not want to leave anyone behind nor allow students to continue when they are not enrolled. Some students may be unaware of their enrollment status in the class so send private emails if you see a potential problem.
- Contact students who have not yet accessed the class. You can easily see who has, and has not, accessed your class in the Grade Center. If a student has not accessed the class, there may be a problem that needs your attention. You can use the send email tool to contact students outside of blackboard. Early intervention helps prevent larger problems down the road.
- Have at least one graded activity for the students to complete. Since you cannot physically see students, attendance is harder to take. We do not use last login date as proof of attendance. Attendance is determined by last activity performed by students. (You may use the self-introduction discussion as the graded activity.)
- Take attendance in all online classes and report those to the Registrar via the MyBridge account. The Registrar will note the absence and contact the students. Any student who has not attended class by the end of the fourth week of the class will be notified of their unsatisfactory progress and provided directions on how to withdraw from the class and/or institution. (For more information see Operating Policy D-OP-6-14)
- First date for verification of attendance check is at end of the 1st week of a term. Any student that has not attended classes will have their record flagged with a grade of NGR (no grade reported).
- Financial aid will not be paid until students can provide proof of attendance for all classes. Students reported as not attending must have all instructors sign a proof of attendance form indicating that the student has begun attendance.
In addition to the first week start up activities, you may want to check out the post Daily Activities at Daily Activities and Weekly Activities at Weekly Activities. These post will help get you on track to have a fantastic semester.
Today I am interrupting the Grade Center Series to focus on the semester start up process. The Grade Center Series will continue as soon as the semester gets under way.
For preparation of students return to campus, online faculty need to get their courses ready. If you have not already done so, content from the old semester needs to be copied to the current term shell and updated. Check out my handy “Startup Checklist” at Startup Checklist. This document contains all the instructions to copy content from semester to semester and the things you need to address in the new course like due dates and syllabus.
In addition, you will want to check out the “One Week before Class Starts” post located at One Week before Class Starts. This posting addresses a vital commutation you should have with your students prior to the the first day of class.
Welcome back faculty, I hope you have a great year!
A question I am often asked is how to delete specific columns from the grade book. There are basically two things you need to keep in mind when trying to clean up the grade center and eliminate unwanted columns.
First, you cannot delete the default user columns and the external grade column. If you set a grade or calculated column as the external grade column, you must select another column as the external grade column before you can delete the first one.
To check to see if the column is an external grade, go to the full grade center, if there is a green checkmark to the left of the column header it means the column is an external grade column. You can also click the action link beside the column header and select Quick Column Information to see the column properties.
If the column is External, you must change it before you can delete the column. To change the column for External you just need to mark a new column External. Select a new column and click the action link beside the header column. Click Set as External Grade. The previous external column will no longer be external and can be deleted. The new column will be marked as external.
The second thing you need to know is the Grade book automatically creates columns in the Grade Center when you use some of the tools within blackboard. Some of the tools that automatically creates columns include:
- Self and Peer Assessments
The only way to delete these auto-created grade columns from the grade center is to delete the gradable items or make that item not gradable. As you can see from the image below, the Word Discussion column is associated with the tool. When you select the action link and look at the menu, you can only hide the column. In the second image, Participation, there is a delete option. This means the column is not associated with a tool and can be deleted.
In order to delete the Word Discussion, you must first disassociate it from the tool. Unfortunately clicking on the Edit Column Information in the grade center will not permit you to disassociate the column. The Edit Column Information link in the grade center is a scaled down version of the discussion edit function. You must go and edit the discussion from the discussion tool.
Click on Course Tools> Discussion Board> and find the correct forum. From the action link beside the forum name click Edit. In the Forum Settings section, select No Grading in Forum.
When you select submit, to save the changes, you will receive a warning message letting you know the grades will be deleted.
When you return to the Full Grade Center the Column will be gone.
Not all tools will allow you to disassociate a column; things like Assignments and Test are set automatically with grades. With these tools, you must either delete the assignment or make it unavailable. If you make the assignment or quiz unavailable to the students, it will not show in the student grade book, but it will show on the grade center page.
To make it disappear from your view, from the full grade center click the action link beside the column header and select Hide from Instructor View.
The column will still exist but you cannot see it. To access it in the future from the full grade center click Manage> Column Organization.
You will see the column is marked Hidden. You will just need to select the column and click Show/Hide to bring the column back to your view.
If you know you will never use the assignment or test again you can delete it, but keep in mind once it is deleted it is gone forever.
Always use caution when deleting gradable content in your course; you must carefully consider what the ramifications may be. Student work, such as test and assignment submissions, is deleted along with the deletion of the content item in your course. The action is final.
To assign letter grades to column in the grade book you can use Grading Schemas. A grading schema takes the actual points scored and compares it to the total points possible for a percentage. Once defined the percentage will show up as a letter grade. For example A = 90-100%, B= 80-90%, C= 70-80% and so on.
This is a two-step process, first you must create the Grading Schema, and then you must apply it to a column.
Creating a Grading Schema
From the any grade center view click Manage> Grading Schemas.
From the Grading Schemas Page you can copy an existing schema by clicking on the action link beside the Schema Title and selecting Copy from the pop up menu.
The new schema will appear with a number following. Click the action link beside the new schema and click Edit. On the Schema page, edit the Name and Schema Mapping.
- You must provide a name for the copied schema.
- Modify the percentages.
- You can delete rows clicking on the Delete Row Button
- You can insert rows by clicking the insert button. Click Submit when finished.
Creating a New Schema
You can create a new schema by clicking the Create Grading Schema Button on the Grading Schemas Page. By default, the new schema will be similar to the copied schema in the name and description aspects, but the Schema Mapping will only contain two rows.
Rows can be inserted and deleted the same way you do in the copied schema. The will Calculate as column is for grades entered manually. If an instructor types in the letter A for a student’s grade, the student would receive a 95% (or whatever you determine) for their grade. In the example below, I have created a grading schema for a standard 10% scale.
Once your schema is complete, you will need to add it to individual columns in the grade center. Go to the full grade center, click the action link beside the column title, and select Edit Column Information.
On the Edit Column Information page scroll down to the Secondary Display Option and choose the name of the schema, in this case it is Letter Grade for Final.
Once you have selected the secondary display option click, submit. The points will appear with the letter grade as a secondary display.
If you had chosen the letter grade as the primary display the column in the grade book would appear with just the letter grade.
Adding color rules to the Grade Center provides visual indicators to help interpret information quickly. The Instructor can assign colors to work that is in progress, needs grading, or exempt as well as within preferred grade range criteria.
Color-coding is not enabled by default and must be enabled by the Instructor. Color-coding can be enabled in any Grade Center view. Once applied the color coding rules applies to all views. This setting will persist for Course Copy and Restore.
Adding Color Coding to the Grade Center Display
To access Color Coding from any view in the Grade Center click Manage> Grading Color Codes.
On the Grading Color Codes Page you must first enable Grading color Codes.
- On the Grading Color Codes page, select the check box for Enable Grading Color Codes.
- In the Color Coding Options section click the Action Link for the Background Color for each Grading Status.
- In the Grade Ranges area, click Add Criteria to add a color rule.
- In the Criteria drop-down, select Between, More Than, or Less Than. Type the percentage in the text box or boxes. Click the Action Link for the Background Color and Text Color, select a color, and click Apply to save it.
- Click Submit.
The Grade Center page appears and you will see the color coding appear.
A smart view is a focused look at the Grade Center. It shows only the columns that match a set of criteria, and the view is saved for continued use. Several smart views are available by default, but you can create your own. With smart views, you can view the progress of the following items:
- Student performance for a particular item
- Individual students
- Category and status of items
- Custom combination of attributes
Creating Smart Views
To create a Smart View go to Control Panel> Grade Center> Full Grade Center> Manage> Smart Views.
- Shows the title of the Smart Views you have by default. As you see the one view shows all the assignments available, another all the Blogs, and another for
- The Green Stars represent your favorite views. When you first go to the Grade Center, you will see a list of Smart Views. These Smart Views are appear because they are added as favorites on the Smart View Page. You can simply click the Star to add or remove from the Smart View Favorite List.
- Finally, you have the button to create a new Smart View. Once you click the button you will go to the Create Smart View Page where you can create the view.
Create a Smart View to Tracking Low Scores
You create a smart view to track students with low scores to quickly see which students need help.
- Fill in the name of the view.
- Fill out a description of the view (Optional)
- If you click, add as Favorite the view will be a quick link in the Control Panel Grade Center.
- You have for options for the Criteria
- Performance will show user based on the column criteria you use.
- User allows you to select certain individuals only. (This would be great for classes being taught with co-teachers.)
- Category and Status views items by Users (Certain users or all) and by Category such as Needs Grading or Not Attempt.
- Custom allows you to build a custom Criteria list. In the above example, we are building a smart view based on students’ scores in two separate columns.
- The purpose of my Smart View is to identify students who have failed to complete the SOOL course. My custom build looks at the Final Exam Score and the Test Out Score to see if less than 40 points were scored. If so, the students will be identified in this View.
- Clicking the Add User Criteria button allows me to add multiple criteria for the view.
- The Formula Editor box shows your formula. In the above example will only be displayed if both conditions are met, which means the student must score less than 40 on both the Final and Test Out. We need to change the formula from 1 AND 2 (representing both sets of criteria) to 1 OR 2.
- To change the formula click the Manually Edit button and click inside the Formula Editor box and change the AND to OR. You may need to play around with the formula to get it right.
- Click the Submit button.
View Smart Views in the Control Panel
In the Grade Center section of the Control Panel, favorite smart views appear in alphabetical order as an indented list in the Full Grade Center section. In a new course, the Assignments and Tests smart views appear in the list by default.
When you click the Assignments link, the Grade Center page opens and only assignment columns appear in the grid. When you click the Full Grade Center link, all the columns appear in the grid.
If you have marked a Smart View as a favorite it will appear in the Control Panel with the other Smart Views.
How to Access the Smart Views List
Each smart view allows you to access a set of columns in the Grade Center grid. For example, when you access the Tests smart view, only test columns appear in the grid. There are 3 ways to access the smart views.
- In the Full Grade Center, point to Manage on the action bar and click Smart Views. On the Smart Views page, the list of smart views appears. Click a smart view title to open the Grade Center with the appropriate columns in the grid.
- Smart Views can be accessed through the quick link in the Control Panel Grade Center, if the Smart View has been marked as a Favorite.
- Smart Views can be accessed from the full grade center by clicking Filter> Current View> Select the desired Smart View. (Clicking the Save button to the right of the Current View will make whichever view you are on the default view)
On the Column Organization page, you can perform the following tasks:
- Move one or more columns to a category
- Show and hide columns in the Grade Center
- Change the order of grading period tables and columns
To access Column Organization go to the Full Grade Center> Mange> Column Organization
From the organized page, you will see the column name, grading period, category, due date, date created, and points possible.
You will also be able to Hide/Show Columns, Change Categories, and Change Grading Period.
To Hide Columns, select the columns you want hidden as in the example below. Select Show/Hide> Click Hide Selected Columns.
You will now see the Student ID and Avalability grayed out in the column listing. It is still there but hidden from view in the grade center.
To Move Columns Grading Periods Categories
To move the various categories such as Mid-Term Grading Period, move your mouse over the left side of the category until you see a 4-headed arrow. Hold your left mouse button down and drag the category up or down to the desired location.
Change the order of Columns
To change the order of individual columns, move your mouse over the black 4-headed arrow until it becomes a white 4-headed arrow. Click and hold the left mouse button and drag the item to the new location.
The tool used to make the item automatically assigns the Category of an item, but you can create new categories as desired. For example, if you would like to change a Test to an Exam you can. You must create the category prior to changing it here in the Column Organization page. I will talk about that later, for now to change the category of an item Select the Item> Click Change Category to…> Select the new Category
You will now see the new category assigned to the Column.
Change Grading Period
To change the Grading Period make sure you created the Grading Period prior to this exercise. Select the items you want in the new category> Select Change Grading Periods> Select the new Grading Period
Selected columns will now appear in the Mid-Term Grade period.
Once you have modified your Column Organization Page click Submit to apply the changes.
Grading periods are used to organize Grade Center data. For instance, it can be used to automatically calculate mid-term grades.
When setting up grading periods, columns can be automatically associated with a period or the instructor can manually associate the columns. Any column can be associate with a grading period except for user columns. A column can only be associated with one grading period at a time.
By default, the Grade Center has no grading periods established. You can use grading periods to perform the following tasks:
- Filter your view of the Grade Center
- Calculate grades
- Create a report
To begin working with Grading Periods go to Control Panel> Grade Center> Full Grade Center> Manage> Grading Periods.
Create Grading Period
On the Grading Period page click Create Grading Period and fill out the form.
- Type a name for the grading period.
- Type a Description (Optional)
- In the date area you can choose between None (You must manually add the columns), Range (to associate existing columns that have a due date within that range), and check Associated Columns. After your columns are associated click Submit.
The grading period will now appear on the Grading Periods page.
Associate Grading Period Columns Manually
You can also associate a column with a grading period, a different grading period, or no grading period by editing the column’s settings from the Grade Center grid.
In the Grade Center, access the appropriate column header’s contextual menu> Click Edit Column Information.
On the Edit Column page, select Grading Period from the drop-down list in the Dates section.
Associating Multiple Grading Period Columns Manually
You can associate multiple column manually, to do so go to the Full Grade Center> Manage> Column Organization
Select the columns you want to include in the association
When you select the new grading period, the columns will appear under the grading period.
Click Submit to return to the full grade center.
Filter a Grading Period
Filtering a Grading Period will allow you to see only the columns associated with that grading period.
View of the Filtered Grade Center
Create Grading Period Total Column
In the full grade center select Create Calculated Column> Total Column
- Give the Column a name.
- Assign it a Grading Period.
- Select the Grading Period columns.
Create Grading Period Weighted Total
In the full grade center select Create Calculated Column> Weighted Column
- Give the Column a name.
- Assign it a Grading Period.
- Select columns you want in the grading period calculation.
- Assign percentage points for each activity ( It must total to 100 percent)
* Remember, when calculating grades all graded columns must contain a value. If the faculty fails to put a 0 in a column where students failed to complete the work, the grade center will base the final grade on total points attempted for that students, not total points available.
We have been working with the grade center; so far, we have worked with existing Categories. By default, the following categories are in the Grade Center:
- Self and Peer
When you create a gradable item from any tool in blackboard, a grade column is created for the item. The column is automatically associated to the appropriate category.
You can create as many categories as needed to organize your Grade Center data. The Categories page in the Grade Center displays the default categories and any you create. Each category’s row displays an optional description and the grade columns associated with that particular category.
With categories, you can perform the following tasks:
- Filter your view of the Grade Center
- Calculate grades
- Create a smart view
- Create a report
How to Create Categories
Go into the course> Control Panel> Grade Center> Full Grade Center> Manage> Categories
- On the Categories page, click Create Category on the action bar.
- In this example you can see the Test category and all the columns associated with it.
Once you click the Create Category button you will be taken to a Create Category page
- Name the Category, in this example I called it Homework
- Fill in the description
- Click Submit
The new category “Homework” will appear on the Categories page.
Assign a Category to a Column
To assign an existing column to the category, go to the full grade center and identify the column that you wish to change. Click the Action Button to the right of the column header and select Edit Column Information.
When the edit column page appears:
- Scroll down to Category
- Click the down arrow to the right of the category. This example shows No Category because a category had not been assigned when the column was created, but your category may be already assigned if you used a tool to create the column. You can change a category once a tool has assigned the category. For instance changing a “Test” category to “Homework” would only change the category in which the column resides, not the tool.
- Select the appropriate category
Once complete click Submit.
Veiw a list of all Categories and Associated Columns
From the full grade center click Manage> Column Organization. You will see a list of all the columns and information about each column, such as Name, Grading Period, Category, Due Date, Date Created, and Points Possible.
Filter by Categories
- From the Full Grade Center, click the Filter Button
- Change the Category Column to the desired Category. Only the User information columns and the appropriate category columns will appear in the grade center.
Sort Columns by Category
- In the full grade center, click the down arrow beside the Layout Position
- Select the Categories position. All the columns will now be arranged by category.
To drop the lowest score for each test, you will need to set up a calculated column. The column will drop the lowest score and provide a final Test score for the Test category. This is a two-part process; first, you will need to setup a calculated column to drop the lowest Test score and then remove all Test scores from the existing Totals column.
Create Calculated Column to Drop Lowest Test Score
Go into the course> Control Panel> Grade Center> Full Grade Center> Create Calculated Column> Total Column.
In the Create Total Column screen, enter a name such as “Drop Lowest Test Score.”
For Description (optional), enter “Drop lowest test score.”
Select Score for Primary Display.
In the Select Columns, section select “Selected Columns and Categories.” This will make all the columns in the grade book visible.
Under Categories to Select click Test and then the arrow button to move the category into the Selected Columns box.
The category Test will appear on the right side of the screen with options. For Drop Grades, enter the number of scores you want to drop. In the example below, the instructor will drop 1 low test score.
For Calculate as Running Total, select No.
For Include this Column in Grade Center Calculations, select Yes.
For Show this Column to Students you may select either Yes or No.
For Show Statistics (average and median) for this column to Students in My Grades, select No.
The Total Test Scores column now shows the total of the entire Test, and the Lowest Test Dropped shows the total with the lowest score dropped.
Notice how the Total Test column grade is not the same as the Lowest Test Dropped column.
Modify Original Totals Column
The final step is to modify the Total column for all columns to remove the original test scores. If this step were skipped, the test scores would be calculated multiple times in the totals column
Go into the course> Control Panel> Grade Center> Full Grade Center> Find the Total column and click the column action menu> Select Edit Column Information.
Scroll down to Selected Columns and you will see All Grade Columns are included in the totals.
Click on Selected Columns and Categories. Select the columns you want to include in the calculation. Make sure to leave out the test scores and the Total Test Scores or these columns will be calculated multiple times.
Click the Arrow to move the columns into the Selected Columns box.
Make sure to include the Lowest Test Dropped in the Selected Columns box.
Once you hit submit the Total column will be updated to calculate only the columns you included in the selected columns box. You will notice a difference between the old Total Score and the new.