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Blackboard: New Look and New Features

We have upgraded Blackboard to the most recent version and added a number of new, exciting features and enhancements contained in four new modules to help instructors and students better manage their courses and provide a more interactive and engaging learning environment. The modules were included in the upgrade, but not all features are available immediately. KU IT will work with the Blackboard steering committee—comprised of faculty, staff and students—to plan and introduce all new features over the next several months.

As the new features are rolled out, faculty, students and staff will be able to engage in online collaboration and communication across courses, departments and campus groups. This will facilitate the building of relationships and enhance the academic experience at KU. Following is information about the four new modules. You can also get more information as it is updated on the KU IT Blackboard Support site at blackboard.ku.edu.

Community Engagement
The new design of Blackboard presents more information upfront when you login, and provides you quicker access to the information you need. The first change you’ll see is on the Blackboard login page, which now has a more KU-centric design and improved layout to help you get announcements and other news more quickly. When you log in, you’ll have access to new features:

  • My Blackboard tab — This customizable dashboard shows you content specifically for you, including alerts and notifications, calendars, courses, etc.
  • Student Resources tab — A number of resources for students have been identified and collected in one convenient location. (Instructors have this tab so they can exactly what their students see, which makes it easier for them to tell students where to find information in Blackboard.)
  • Instructor Resources tab — A number of resources for instructors have been identified and collected in one convenient location (students do not have this tab).

Collaborate
Collaborate is a communication platform that uses desktop conferencing technology to enrich interaction in classes. Collaborate will facilitate online classroom interaction and engagement through polls, breakout groups, application sharing, whiteboards and more. Instructors will also be able to hold virtual office hours, and synchronous, online class discussions and tutoring sessions.

Content Management
Blackboard now has a robust file management and storage system for educational materials, so instructors and students can store documents, images and other files inside of Blackboard, making them easy to find and re-use as needed. You can access documents and other resources by clicking on the “Content Collection” module on your “My Blackboard” tab. With this new feature, instructors can upload a document one time and connect it to multiple courses so any updates to the document will be applied to all courses in which it is used. Additional features include personal and academic ePortfolios for students to showcase achievements and experiences.

Outcomes Assessment
When fully utilized, this module will give instructors, academic departments and the University the ability to gather more information about student performance and progress. They’ll be able to collect evidence of student learning, connect coursework to common core goals, answer key questions for strategic planning and use the data for program development and to gauge and better support student success.

Just a Start
The four new modules comprise an expansive suite of new features. Many students, faculty and staff have already provided feedback on the initial implementation of these modules. We will continue to work with the faculty, staff and students on the newly formed Blackboard steering committee to prioritize and introduce the features in a thoughtful and strategic way over the next several months. You will see some features immediately, while others will be introduced over the coming semesters. Look for more information throughout the fall semester regarding the new features and training resources and opportunities.

 


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