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Posts Tagged ‘BB9

The First Week of the Semester

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Week One

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.



Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

August 22, 2016 at 9:00 am

Blackboard 9 Grade Center Series: Letter Grades using Grading Schemas

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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.

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.


  1. You must provide a name for the copied schema.
  2. Modify the percentages.
  3. You can delete rows clicking on the Delete Row Button
  4. 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.



Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

August 1, 2016 at 9:00 am

Blackboard 9 Grade Center Series: Color-Coding

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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.

Color Code

On the Grading Color Codes Page you must first enable Grading color Codes.


  1. On the Grading Color Codes page, select the check box for Enable Grading Color Codes.
  2. In the Color Coding Options section click the Action Link for the Background Color for each Grading Status.
  3. In the Grade Ranges area, click Add Criteria to add a color rule.
  4. 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.
  5. Click Submit.

The Grade Center page appears and you will see the color coding appear.


Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

July 25, 2016 at 9:00 am

Blackboard 9 Grade Center Series: Smart Views

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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.

Create Smart Views

Create Smart Views

Smart Views

Smart Views

  1. 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 forSmart Views

    Discussion Boards.

  2. 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.
  3. 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.


  1. Fill in the name of the view.
  2. Fill out a description of the view (Optional)
  3. If you click, add as Favorite the view will be a quick link in the Control Panel Grade Center.
  4. You have for options for the Criteria
    1. Performance will show user based on the column criteria you use.
    2. User allows you to select certain individuals only. (This would be great for classes being taught with co-teachers.)
    3. Category and Status views items by Users (Certain users or all) and by Category such as Needs Grading or Not Attempt.
    4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Clicking the Add User Criteria button allows me to add multiple criteria for the view.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)



Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

July 18, 2016 at 9:00 am

Blackboard 9 Grade Center Series: Column Organization

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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

Column Organization

Column Organization

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.

Column Organization Column Information

Column Organization Column Information

You will also be able to Hide/Show Columns, Change Categories, and Change Grading Period.

Column Organization Buttons

Column Organization Buttons

To Hide Columns, select the columns you want hidden as in the example below. Select Show/Hide> Click Hide Selected Columns.

Hide Columns

Hide 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.

Hide Column View

Hide Column View

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.

Move Categories

Move Categories

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.

Change Column Order

Change Column Order

Change Category

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

Change Category

Change Category

You will now see the new category assigned to the Column.

Category View

Category View

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

Change Grading Period

Change Grading Period

Selected columns will now appear in the Mid-Term Grade period.

Grading Period View

Grading Period View

Once you have modified your Column Organization Page click Submit to apply the changes.

Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

July 11, 2016 at 9:00 am

Blackboard 9 Grade Center Series: Grading Periods

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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.

Create Grading Period

Create Grading Period

  1. Type a name for the grading period.
  2. Type a Description (Optional)
  3. 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.

Grading Period Page

Grading Period 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.

Associate Columns Manually

Associate Columns Manually

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

Associating Multiple Columns Manually

Associating Multiple Columns Manually

When you select the new grading period, the columns will appear under the grading period.

Grading Period Category

Grading Period Category

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.

Filter Grading Period

Filter Grading Period

View of the Filtered Grade Center

Grade Period Filter View

Grade Period Filter View

Create Grading Period Total Column

In the full grade center select Create Calculated Column> Total Column

Total Column for Grading Period

Total Column for Grading Period

  1. Give the Column a name.
  2. Assign it a Grading Period.
  3. Select the Grading Period columns.
  4. Submit

Create Grading Period Weighted Total

In the full grade center select Create Calculated Column> Weighted Column

Grading Period Weighted Total

Grading Period Weighted Total

  1. Give the Column a name.
  2. Assign it a Grading Period.
  3. Select columns you want in the grading period calculation.
  4. Assign percentage points for each activity ( It must total to 100 percent)
  5. Submit

* 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.


Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

June 27, 2016 at 9:00 am

Blackboard 9 Grade Center Series: Categories

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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:

  • Assignment
  • Blog
  • Discussion
  • Journal
  • Self and Peer
  • Survey
  • Test

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


  1. On the Categories page, click Create Category on the action bar.
  2. 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

  1. Name the Category, in this example I called it Homework
  2. Fill in the description
  3. 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:

  1. Scroll down to Category
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. From the Full Grade Center, click the Filter Button


  2. 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

  1. In the full grade center, click the down arrow beside the Layout Position


  2. Select the Categories position. All the columns will now be arranged by category.

Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

June 20, 2016 at 9:00 am

Blackboard 9 Grade Center Series: Drop Lowest Score

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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.


Click Submit.

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.




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

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