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Archive for May 2016

Blackboard 9 Grade Center Series: Creating Columns

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Creating Columns

When you create gradable items in your course, grade columns are created automatically in the Grade Center. For instance if you create an assignment using the Assignment Tool. To create a column in a tool, go

to a Content Area> Assessments (or Tools)> Assignment (or Test).

ColumnAssessment

 

CreateAssignment

  1. Name and Color title will become the name of the column in the Grade Center.
  2. The label for the grade section of the assignment tool.
  3. When you fill in the Points Possible or add a gradable rubric, a column will be created the grade center.
  4. This section will determine how the score is displayed, if the score is to be included in the total calculations, if students can see it, and if you want students to see the column stats.

A new Grade Column can be added to the Grade Center in the full grade center by clicking Create Column. Creating a column in this fashion allows you to create columns for things like attendance, participation, and external assignments. To access the Full Grade Center go into your course and go to Control Panel> Grade Center> Full Grade Center> Create Column

The Create Grade Column form will appear. Under Column Information you will need to fill out the Column Name. If you would like a different name to appear in the grade center, fill out the Grade center name. This function is handy to use if you want short column headings in the grade center. Instead of using Module 1 Assignment 1, the title can be abbreviated to M1A1. This will save space and allow more columns to appear on page.

CreateColumn

The next section will allow you to determine how you want the grades to appear, by Score, Letter, Text, Percentage, or Complete/Incomplete. The secondary Display will permit you to display two types of scores in one column such as Score/Percentage, it would be displays as follows: 10 (100%). Points Possible and Rubrics can also be added in this section.

Display

The Category section allows you to identify the type of assessment. Below is listed the default categories, but new ones can be added. We will discuss categories later in the series. The important thing you need to know about categories right now is that when you use categories, life will be easier for you when you attempt to do weighted totals. For instance, you could create a Homework category and identify the column as homework. When you attempt to calculate final grades, your calculations might look like Homework 10%, Assignments 25%, Quizzes 25%, and Final 40%. Using a weighed column, you would simply put each category with the percentage in the calculation box, and blackboard would calculate the results for you.

Category

Dates and Options

These section allow you to set due dates and options of how you want the columns to display. It is similar to the options used when creating a column from a tool.

DatesOptions

Calculated Columns

The Blackboard Grade Center allows you to create columns that will display a total based on the numeric content of other columns. Calculated columns contains the following type of columns:

  • Average Columns
  • Minimum/Maximum Columns
  • Total Column
  • Weighted Column

calcol

The Average Column – The average column is a type of calculated column that displays the average for all or a selected number of columns.  The Create Average columns works the same as creating columns, you just need to fill out the form. You will see a new section called Select Columns. This section will allow you to choose the columns you want to include in the Average.

selectcolumns

Using All Grade Columns will create a formula similar to the one below.

(Column 1%) + (Column 2%) + (Column 3%) + (Column 4%) = % earned divided by 4 columns = Average percentage score.

Selecting the Selected Columns and Categories will open additional options:

selectcategory

  1. Select the Categories you want included in the Average.
  2. Select the Arrow button to move the item into the Selected Column
  3. You can now drop the highest and/or lowest grade in that category, weigh equally or proportionally, or use only the highest or lowest to calculate the grade.

Using the Selected Columns and Categories option, you do not have to use the categories list. Instead you can manually select the columns you want to include in the calculation.

You also have the option to Calculate as a Running Total.

runningtotal

It is important to know Running totals exempt cells that do not contain data. If you are using this option you will need to make sure you put a 0 in all scores missed by the student, if you do not grades will appear artificially high for the column. This is because scores are based on only completed work not all the work that is due. On the other hand, answering No to running totals will make grades seem artificially low, because calculation are based on total points possible overall, not to date.

Minimum/Maximum Column – The minimum/maximum column is a type of calculated column that displays either the minimum or maximum grade for a selection of columns. It is similar to the Average in the setup, but you choose Minimum or Maximum. This calculation can be used to determine what content your students may be struggling with.

Total Column – The total column is a type of calculated column that generates a grade based on the cumulative points earned, related to the points allowed. You can select which columns and categories are included in a total column’s calculation.

Weighted Column – The weighted column is a type of calculated column that generates a grade based on the result of selected columns and categories, and their respective percentages. By default, a Weighted Column is in every course. You can select individual columns or Columns by Category. Following is a typical formula used when calculating based on category. The instructor will have control of the categories used and the percentage of each category.

(Tests = 40%) + (Assignments = 40%) + (Participation = 20%) = (Final Grade)

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Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

May 30, 2016 at 9:00 am

Blackboard 9 Grade Center Series: Full Grade Center

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Accessing the Grade Center

The Grade Center is accessed from the Control Panel in any Blackboard course.

Control Panel> Grade Center> Full Grade Center

Full Grade Center

Full Grade Center

  1. Action Bar
  2. Course Roster
  3. Column Menu
  4. Icon Legend
  5. Edit Rows Displayed
  6. Sort
  7. Filter
  8. Work Offline

The Grade Center will be set up with the default columns of Last Name, First Name, User Name, Student ID, Last Access, Availability, Total, and Weighted Total. As you add assignment in the course content, the various tools such as Quizzes, Assignments, and Discussions will automatically create additional columns in the Grade Center.

Depending on the options you choose as you use the various tools determines how they work in the Grade Center. For instance, if you create an assignment using the Assignment Tool and choose to include the column in the Grade Center Calculations, the column will be added to the Total Column. If you select No to not include it in the assignment in the Total Column, the grade for that assignment will not be totaled in the overall grade points. We will get more into that when we reach creating columns.

Action Bar

Action Bar

Action Bar

The action bar is used to manage your grade center. From the action bar you can create columns, manage the available columns, and create reports. These features will be covered in greater detail in future post.

Course Roster

Roster

Roster

The course roster is made of user information. It contains names of your students and other relevant information such as last access and usernames. The square box to the left of the first column is the select box. Clicking this box will select all users in the roster. The round circle with a downward pointing arrow to the right of each column header is called the action button. When click the action button will reveal a contextual menu.

Column Menu

Column Menu

Column Menu

 

 

 

The column menu is a horizontal list all the available grade columns in your grade book. The name (header) of each column is displayed. By default, the names of the columns are displayed by creation date, but as we will learn in future posting the order of these columns can be modified. Often there will be to many columns to display on one page so the horizontal scroll bar at the bottom of the columns can be used to navigate the columns. Some or all of the default user columns may be locked to help you keep the users and grades associated. This feature can be modified.

The round circle with a downward pointing arrow to the right of each column header is called the action button. This button reveal the contextual menu. The contextual menu displays various information about each individual column and allows you to perform various functions to each column. Those function can include viewing column stats, grading student attempts, editing column information and many more.

 

 

 

 

 

Icon Legend

 

Icon LegendThe grade book contains a number of icons to represent various task, such as needs grading and in progress. The Icon Legend displays a list of symbols used in the grade center to keep you up to date on student performance and instructor task.

 

 

 

 

Edit Rows Displayed

Edit Row

The Edit Rows Displayed button allows you to see the number of students displayed on each page of the gradebook. Rows displayed can range from 5 to 50.

Sort

The grade center columns can be sorted on any column by simply clicking on any column header. In this case the Grade Center is sorted by Last name from A to Z.  Clicking on the header a second time reverses the sort to Z through A.

Name Sort

Additional sorting options are available at the top right of the grade center. The sort feature allows you to sort and layout the column information in various ways.

Sort

Columns can also be sorted by Layout Position, Categories, Due Date, Date Created, Points Possible, and Display name in both Ascending and Descending order.

Layout

Filter

Filter

The filter allows you to filter or show only certain columns without deleting the unwanted columns.

Work Offline

Work Offline

The work offline button permits you to download the grade center into an excel spreadsheet. We will go more into this feature later.

Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

May 23, 2016 at 9:00 am

Blackboard 9 Grade Center Series

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Grade Book

Grade Center

Over the next few weeks, I will be exploring the Blackboard Grading Center. The Grade Center is more than just a way to record students’ grades. It is a dynamic interactive tool allowing you to record data, calculate grades, monitor student progress, and much more.  In the Grade Center, three types of columns appear; user, grade and calculated.

User Columns

User columns automatically appear in your gradebook and you cannot delete or edit default user columns. You can hide all but the first user column in the grid. If you need to hide the first column, you can rearrange the user columns on the Column Organization page, but at least one user column must show. You can also freeze user columns so they remain in place as you scroll in the grid.

User Columns include the following:

  • Last Name
  • First Name
  • Username
  • Student ID
  • Last Access
  • Availability

Grade Columns

When you create gradable items in your course, grade columns are created automatically in the Grade Center. A new Grade Column can be added to the Grade Center in several ways:

  • External Grades
  • Tool Created Grade Column
  • Instructor Created Grade Column

Calculated Columns

The Blackboard Grade Center allows you to create columns that will display a total based on the numeric content of other columns. Calculated columns contains the following type of columns:

  • Average Columns
  • Minimum/Maximum Columns
  • Total Column
  • Weighted Column

This series will cover everything from the contextual menu to extra credit and dropping the lowest score. The following is a list of topics planned in this series, although new ones may be added as needed:

  • Full Grade Center
  • Contextual Menu
  • Sort a column
  • Edit Grade Center Columns
  • Deleting Grade Center Columns
  • Create Columns
  • The External Grade Column
  • Total Column
  • Weight Column
  • Drop Lowest Score
  • Send Email
  • Download Grade Center
  • Calculated Columns
  • Grading Periods
  • Grading Schemas
  • Color Codes
  • Categories
  • Extra Credit
  • Smart Views
  • Needs Grading

Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

May 16, 2016 at 9:00 am

Blackboard 9 End of the Semester Checklist

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Export/Archive Course

Export/Archive Course

As the end of the semester grows near it is time to start thinking about closing down your course. The system will automatically deny students access to the course based on a pre-determined date, but that is just part of the shutdown process. In order to save storage space, many institutions will remove inactive course from the server to make room for the next semester courses. They will keep an archive of your course along will all the other courses offered by the institution in a backup file off site. The timeframe for this will vary with each institution, but usually takes in consideration things like grade appeal, incompletes, and other factors that may require a course to remain on the server for an extended timeframe.

As instructor, you will want to have information such as the gradebook available at all times. You will also need access to course content and student work for accreditation reports. There are ways to accomplish this and it needs to be done at the end of each semester for each course.

Extending Course Life

One issue you may encounter it the need to extend the amount of time a course is available to students. As much as you discourage it, you may occasionally have a student that has an incomplete. It is your responsibility to inform the Blackboard Administrator of any course that needs to remain open past the standard close date. You will need to tell the Administrator the course CRN, year, and term, plus the new closing date of the class.

If you want to deny other students access to the course you will need to deny them access. To do this go to Control Panel> Users and Groups> Users > Select the action button beside each user and select Change User’s Availability in Course> Available (This course only) No> Submit

Download Grade Center

In order to have a copy of your gradebook on hand, complete the following steps for each course.

  • Go to Control Panel> Grade Center> Full Grade Center
  • Click Work Offline> Download
  • On the Download Grades page select date to download Full Grade Center, Delimiter Type Comma, Download Location My Computer. Click Submit.
  • Click Download Grades
  • The file should download to the Downloads folder (or wherever you have downloads directed). Copy the file to a safe location so you can have access to the information as needed.

Archived Course

Although the Administrator will save copies of your course, it can be costly and time consuming to retrieve it from hundreds of other courses. To assure speedy recovery of previous archived courses complete the following steps.

  • Go into the course and go to Control Panel> Packages and Utilities> Export/Archive Course
  • At the top right of the screen you will see two buttons, export package and archive course
    • Export package – this function saves only course content
    • Archive Course – this function saves all content and student information
  • Click Archive Course> leave system default setting> Click Submit
  • After a few minutes you can refresh you screen and see the archived file
  • Click on the archive file name and download to your computer. Copy the file to a safe location so you can have access to the file.

This type of file cannot be opened outside the blackboard environment. If you ever need to access the information, give the file to your system administrator to restore to the system.

Export Package

The export package feature allows you to keep a copy of the course content without student data. This package is used to move material from on server to another, sharing content with colleagues, or any number of other reasons.

  • Go into the course and go to Control Panel> Packages and Utilities> Export/Archive Course
  • Click Export Package> under file attachments leave system default setting> under Select Course Materials click Select All> Click Submit
  • After a few minutes you can refresh you screen and see the export file
  • Click on the export file name and download to your computer. Copy the file to a safe location so you can have access to the file.

This type of file cannot be opened outside the blackboard environment. The file can be opened by going into a new course shell and doing an import of the file.

Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

May 9, 2016 at 9:00 am

Final Exams

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Final Exams

Final Exams

It is that time of year again for finals. Students are reaching their anxiety peak. Tempers are short and time is even shorter. Those all-important final grades will be coming out soon and students will learn if all their hard work has morphed into a passing grade. In the mean time they are doing everything within their power to assure it does. Some will burn the late night oil; others will steal moments at every opportunity to cram, while others will be looking for short cuts. Short cuts are the topic of this posting.

In the world of online testing how do you protect against cheating and how do you verify the person taking the exam is the real student? These are certainly huge questions with ever-changing answers. The simple answer is there is no 100 percent way to stop cheating, not in an online or traditional classroom, but there are some steps to take to reduce the risk in the online environment.

Lockdown Browser

  • A secure browser that shuts down everything on your computer except the exam delivery system. If anyone tries to open another program, or keep a program running in the background, the test is shut down.
  • It has the additional security feature on locking the ability to print, copy, paste, switch tasks, access other applications, or take a screen shot.

Plagiarism Detection Software

  • One of the most well-known tools, Turnitin, scans vast amounts of Web content to determine whether a student’s work matches existing material.
  • Another popular package known as SafeAssign, comes with the Blackboard LMS and works similarly to Turnitin.

Proctored Exams

Proctored exams are used by the institution to assure the integrity of the online program and can be administered three ways: Online, Institution proctored, and Private proctored. Since online students cannot be required to come to campus, they can choose which way they prefer to take online exams.

  • Online – Online proctoring is a method of proctoring involving a third party vendor using remote online monitoring. Students are responsible for the cost of the proctoring. They must also have a working camera with sound, which allows the proctor to listen to and monitor their activities during the exam.
  • Institution Proctored – The Student Success Center (SSC) has set aside proctoring space on campus for online students to take exams. Students, who choose this method, must work out the arrangements ahead of time. They must let the instructor know they will be coming to campus, and must word with the SSC to set up a time for the exam. The instructor provides the SSC with the access code for the exam, list of expectations (such as open-book, time limits, etc), and a list of students who are eligible to take the exam. When students appear for the exam, they must provide a valid ID to the Proctor.
  • Private Proctor – This method is similar to the Institution Proctored in rules, but in this scenario, the student is responsible for finding a private proctor. The proctor cannot be a friend or relative, they must be a professional of some sort. Faculty checks out the proctor and has final approval rights. The rest is according to the same rules as the Institutional Proctor.

Although these processes are in place to ensure the program/institution integrity, nothing is fool proof. A simple google search reveals several methods of beating the system. Everything from simple crib notes to elaborate dual monitor setups are out there waiting for students to discover. In the end the game continues, instructors continue to look for foolproof methods and students look for ways to fool the system. In the end, it is up to the integrity of the student to walk the right path.

Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

May 2, 2016 at 12:33 pm

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