Category Archives: Assessment

Blackboard Essential Update – Saturday 16th December 2017

Blackboard Downtime

On Saturday 16th December Blackboard will be unavailable between 8am and 5pm in order to install a critical update.

Why is this necessary?

Bug Fixes

Firstly the update will fix many system bugs including notifications of discussion board posts and a Grade Centre scroll bar fix where the scroll bar obscures a Grade Centre column.

Change to Blackboard Assignment Feature

Blackboard has two assignment handling features: Turnitin and Blackboard assignments. The Blackboard assignment tool uses third party software licensed by Blackboard which enables assignments to be viewed and graded online and this will no longer be available from 15th January 2018. A replacement document viewer and online grading tool will be available following the Blackboard update.

Once the update is completed on the 16th December, you won’t notice any changes to the Blackboard assignment feature. We can make the decision when to change to the new tool up until the 15th January. We plan on moving to the new tool w/c 8th January and we will communicate an exact date prior to then.

Turnitin assignments remain unaffected so if you use Turnitin assignments rather than Blackboard Assignments then this change will not affect you.

What changes can I expect?

When we move to the new document viewer and online marking tool all assignments using Blackboard Assignments will switch over to the new interface. Any annotations carried out using the old grading tool will be burned in to the document and will no longer be editable. You can make additional annotations on the assignments if necessary. New assignments created will use the new viewer and marking interface.

There are some changes in functionality:

  • The new assignment feature will have much better support for file types and fonts
  • It includes the option to print the assignment
  • It no longer supports free hand drawing
  • Assignments can no longer be downloaded with annotations and comments displayed. Blackboard are reviewing this functionality.

We will keep you updated about this over the coming weeks but please note this DOES NOT affect Turnitin assignments.

Any questions about this please contact LTDS@ncl.ac.uk.

Creating web links in Blackboard

Blackboard runs over a secure protocol to protect security (https) so it will  not allow the majority of websites to open within Blackboard itself.

When creating links to webpages, please choose ‘Open in New Window‘.  This is a setting when creating or editing your link  and is in the ‘Web Link Options‘ section.

It is advisable in the description box, to inform students that they will be taken to a new window. This is particularly beneficial to students who require a screen reader.

Why are my tests from last year not showing in my new module?

The tests have been copied over but will need to be re-deployed so that the new intake of students can see them. This is to allow you to control the delivery of your tests. To redeploy the tests:

1. Go to your Module and the area you want the test to be deployed.
2. Ensure Edit Mode is on and hover over Assessments to reveal the menu
3. Choose Test from the list
4. Find your test in the list and click Submit
5. On the next screen, set the settings (timings etc as appropriate).

Your test will now be redeployed.

Amending or deleting a question from a test after it has taken place

We often get queries about whether it’s possible to amend or delete questions from a test in Blackboard when the test has already taken place.  The answer is yes – and if the test uses question types that have automatic grading Blackboard will automatically regrade the test to reflect the changes you make.

That said, there is a bug in Blackboard which on rare occasions can cause problems with students’ test attempts when you amend or delete a question.  To help safeguard against this we recommend that you take the steps below before you make any changes to a test after it has taken place.

Close the test and make sure that there are no attempts in progress

Ensure that the test is no longer available to students, so that there is no danger that they might be taking the test when you make the change.  To check this:

  1. Go to the Content Area where the test is deployed in the module, and hover over the name of the test.  Click on the dropdown arrow that appears, and select Edit test options:Edit test options
  2. EITHER under Test Availability make sure that for Make the link available the No option is selected:         Make link avail No
  3. OR/AND scroll down to the Display Until date, and make sure this is set to a date and time in the past (this can be 5 minutes from the current time):Display Until date & time
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the test options screen and click Submit to save any changes you have made.
  5. Open the Grade Centre by clicking on Control Panel > Grade Centre > Full Grade Centre.
  6. Find the column for the test, and scroll down to check whether there are any attempts in progress, shown with the ‘Attempt in progress’ icon of a blue clock:Attempt in progress icon
  7. If there are any attempts in progress submit them on behalf of the student if appropriate.  See ‘Attempt in progress’ grade centre icon for an explanation and instructions .

Export grade centre

  1. In the module, open the Full Grade Centre.  In menu bar at the top of the screen you’ll see the option Work Offline on the right hand side.  Click the down arrow and select Download:Work Offline
  2. In the Download Grades screen leave the default options selected, and click Submit.
  3. On the next screen click the Download button and save the file to an appropriate location (e.g. your H: drive or shared file space for your school).

Download test results

  1. In the Grade Centre find the column for the test, and click the dropdown arrow to the right of the column name.  Select Download Results from the menu:Download results
  2. In the Download Results screen leave the default options selected.  Click the button to download results, and again save to an appropriate location.

Note: both of these actions produce a .csv file, which you can open and amend in Excel as required.

Amend or delete a test question and regrade attempts

Once you have completed the steps above  you can go ahead and make the required changes to the test.

  1. Open the test canvas.  You can do this via the Control Panel > Tests, Surveys and Pools > Tests, then hover over the name of the exam and click the dropdown arrow.  Select the Edit Test option.
  2. Scroll to the question that you need to amend or delete, and hover over the title.  Click the dropdown arrow that appears:Edit question dropdown
  3. To amend a question select Edit from the dropdown menu.  Make the required changes.  Click Submit and Update Attempts.  Blackboard will display a warning message; click OK, and the test will automatically be regraded:amending question warning
  4. To delete a question select Delete and Regrade from the dropdown menu.  Blackboard will display a warning message.  Click OK, and the test will automatically be regraded:deleting question warning
  5. Once you have amended or deleted all of the required questions, check the Grade Centre column for the test to ensure that the attempts have been automatically graded as expected.

How could Respondus help you to run online exams and tests?

Learning and Teaching Development Service’s Rebecca Gill answers your questions about making this software work for you….

1) What is Respondus for?

Respondus is a piece of software that can be used with Blackboard to help set up online tests or exams. It is widely used by the Online Assessment and Feedback (OLAF) Service, and it can also be very useful to academic and professional services staff who are running their own formative or summative online tests.

2) How might staff be able to use it?

The software converts test questions written in Microsoft Word into Blackboard test questions. Respondus allows staff to quickly and easily create large sets of questions, to build exams or question pools in Blackboard. It works with a range of question types, including multiple choice, multiple answer, matching, jumbled sentence and fill in the blanks questions. Respondus can also be used to download exams from Blackboard to create a Word version, with or without answers.

3) How might it benefit students?

Respondus makes it easy to create large sets of questions in Blackboard, which means that as well as building summative assessments, staff can more easily create practice tests for their students to use in revision. It also has the option to add feedback for correct and incorrect answers to each question, making it easier for staff to provide detailed feedback on exams – this is particularly useful for large group teaching, because the amount of time needed to add the feedback is the same whether you are setting an exam for 20 or 200 students.

4) How might it benefit staff?

Respondus can help save time when setting up Blackboard tests, and streamlines the process of deploying a test with required settings. The ability to download Blackboard tests to Word means that you can edit existing test questions in Word and easily reimport them to Blackboard. Once you have set up a series of test questions they can easily be edited and reused in future years.

The software can also be used to create a paper version of a test without answers, which is a helpful backup if any students have problems logging in when you are running an online test or exam. Some Schools also use Respondus to download a copy of Blackboard test questions with answers, so that it can easily be made available to the external examiner(s).

5) How can I start using Respondus?

Book a workshop on using Respondus to create Blackboard tests.

6) What will the workshops do?

The workshop starts by introducing Blackboard tests and question pools. You will then learn how to create exam questions in Microsoft Word using Respondus format, and will practice importing the questions into Respondus, and uploading them to Blackboard to create a test or question pool. The workshop will also cover using test settings to control availability, question display, and releasing scores and feedback to students. Finally you’ll practice downloading tests from Blackboard to create a copy in Word.

7) Who might/should be interested?

Any member of academic or professional services staff who is responsible for creating Blackboard tests/exams, and would like to learn how Respondus can help. The workshops are suitable for anyone who has general experience of Blackboard.

 

Creating a Turnitin assignment

To create a Turnitin assignment in Blackboard 9.1:

1. Go to the Module or Organisation and then the content area where you want to add the assignment (eg documents or Assignments) by clicking the appropriate link in the course menu
2. Ensure Edit Mode is ‘ON’
3. Click or hover over the ‘Assessments’ menu near the top of the screen
4. Choose Turnitin Assignment

5. Enter a title, a start date (first date students can submit) and an end date (last time for submissions). Ensure the Post date (the date any feedback is released to students) is after the end date
6. Click More Options if you want to set features such as anonymous marking, allowing students to see the Turnitin reports etc
7. Click Submit to create the submission point

Click the title of this post for a full guide in pdf format.

https://turnitin.com/stat…ctor_Manual.pdf

Instructor Video: Creating an Assignment from Turnitin on Vimeo.

Copying an Existing Test

Control Panel - Tests

If you wish to reuse questions in an existing test as the basis for a new test you can easily copy the existing one with a few clicks.

  1. With the Edit mode ON visit the Tools area of your Module/Community
  2. As shown in the image on the left, select the text Tests, Surveys and Pools
  3. On the next screen select Tests
  4. Move your mouse cursor over the name of the test (see image below) and you will see a drop-down cursor appear at the end of the text. Click on this drop-down arrow and select COPY
  5. Your new test will appear in this list with a number appended to the name. It is now ready for editing/amending or reuse
Copy test