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We’re looking for college and university instructors who teach using Blackboard Learn Ultra to participate in a remote usability test. Sessions will take place on Friday, October 25, and last approximately 45 minutes. Participants will receive $75 as a token of appreciation for their time.


Please visit this link to learn more and sign up. And don’t hesitate to share with colleagues who may be interested! (


Getting to Know You

Posted by mtalalay Oct 21, 2019

You are not going to be able to get that song out of your head today.  Apologies.


Many instructors ask me how to get to know students when they don't see them in a classroom.  I pondered this, did a bit of research, and wanted to ask this question to the community.


Some suggestions:

  • Definitely encourage students to add an avatar.  I dislike that it is called an avatar because that means students like to upload pop culture icons instead of their photo.  The photo helps to connect name and face for the instructor.  Give the students 10 points or some incentive to upload a recent photo.
  • Inventory of you.  To practice using the assignment tool, throw the students some points and ask them to upload answers to a list of questions you provide.  Bonus points if they name the document correctly (such as Lastname_Inventory). 
  • Use video tools for assignments and presentations - instead of all paper-based submissions, have the students give you an intro or overview of their paper topic while walking through campus (pausing to show his/her/their face). 
  • Office hours - don't make office hours mandatory, but give incentives to show up (maybe a freebie on an exam).  I find students are hesitant to bother an instructor so make it an expectation that you will connect throughout the term.  Prior to an exam or big assignment, have sign-ups for office hours (extend your times).
  • Linger.  If you have weekly live sessions, hang out before or after the session and invite students to gather.  Some of the best discussions occur after the session is over.

Happy fall!

November 12th UPDATE:  The Rustici SCORM patch will be included in SaaS version 3700.16, Q2 2019 Cumulative Update 5 (3700.0.5), 9.1 Q4 2018 Cumulative Update 9 (3500.0.9) and 9.1 Q2 2018 Cumulative Update 14 (3400.0.14).  All three Cumulative Updates are targeted for general release on Thursday, November 14th.  Flexible Deployment Option clients will receive Q2 2019 Cumulative Update 5 to Test/Stage environments on Wednesday, November 20th and Production on Wednesday, December 4th. 


October 10th UPDATE: The Google Chrome team is postponing the changes until version 80.   There isn't a release date for version 80 yet but based on their release cadence, it could be available in January. 


On October 22, 2019, Google Chrome will release version 78 of Chrome to users which removes key functions that may impact a user’s ability to complete SCORM-related Assignments and Assessments.  Google Chrome 78 (and later versions) may block the completion of the course when users exit the course by closing or navigating away from the window containing the SCORM player. Relevant details such as completion, success, score, and duration would remain in an incomplete status even though the user completed the course.


Rustici has provided a patch that uses other mechanisms that are not blocked in Google Chrome version 78 (or later versions).  Blackboard is quickly working to include the fix in a Learn SaaS release as well as Cumulative Updates for Learn 9.1, Q2 2019, Q4 2018 and Q2 2018.  In the meantime, Rustici has provided a workaround for end users.


Users can disable the new behavior in Google Chrome version 78.  Workaround details provided from Rustici include:


1. Chrome has a flag that can be modified to change this behavior in a user's browser. The user can navigate to chrome://flags/#allow-sync-xhr-in-page-dismissal in the browser and enable it.
     Note: in Chrome 77, there is a preview setting #enable-forbid-sync-xhr-in-page-dismissal that can be used to test the behavior before the release goes out.


2. This flag can also be set using the AllowSyncXHRInPageDismissal enterprise policy flag, if that's something being used by your organization.


3. There is also a temporary opt-out available via GoogleOrigin Trial "Allow Sync XHR In Page Dismissal". This feature allows you to register your domain for a token that you can then include in a header when serving the player files, and it will trigger Chrome to enable the synchronous requests during page dismissal. More details about enabling and using this method are outlined in this Google page.


This workaround is planned to be available until Google Chrome version 82 which is planned to be released in April 2020.


You can read more about the Chrome 78 issue on Rustic’s knowledge base page.

We are happy to announce the availability of our new and improved Blackboard Partner Catalog! We transitioned the Extensions Catalog to now exist solely on our Blackboard Community site. 


Why did we create the new Partner Catalog? 

  • To provide an improved experience for our partners and clients
  • To engage with the 15,000+ current members of the Blackboard Community Site 
  • To inform our clients about our partners across our entire portfolio of solutions (not just Blackboard Learn)
  • To enable clients to communicate directly with our partners and facilitate discussion


The Partner Catalog features nearly 200 Blackboard partners and their integrations with Blackboard solutions. The catalog is an ecosystem where partners and users may interact in order to get questions answered or simply join in the conversation. This new, more collaborative, and easy-to-use catalog allows you to more easily find and activate integrations in for Blackboard solutions. 


The catalog also features an all new directory that allows you to filter through partner integrations by solution or product type. From there you may browse, discover, and learn more about the wide variety of integrations that will help you extend the functionality of the Blackboard solutions you utilize today. For those of you who are that are currently using or exploring Blackboard Learn’s Ultra course view, we incorporated a filter option to search integrations that are Ultra compatible. 


Take a moment to browse the Partner Catalog ( We also encourage you to become a member of the Blackboard Community Site if you are not already. This allows you to engage with various Blackboard Community groups including our partners.  

Have you heard about Google Course Kit?  How about Google Classroom?  Yes! Google has been working hard to help teachers and students to use technology well.  Now it the time you can adopt Google technology in Blackboard Learn through LTI and make it part of any Learn course.


Save time grading.

Provide feedback that counts.

Quickly and securely create, analyze, and grade coursework, while helping students learn more effectively.


Google Course Kit is now Google Assignments.  In Blackboard it allows you to create Google Classroom Assignments, grade with Google tools, and get the grade sent to the Blackboard Grade Center automatically.  Sweet!


Course Assignments is a suite of tools developed by Google that provides integration between Google Drive and learning management systems like Canvas and Blackboard. The following are currently available:

  • Google Assignments: Facilitates the workflow for submitting, reviewing, and grading assignment submissions in native Google format (for example, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, etc.) as well as almost any file type stored in Google Drive (including files produced by connected apps like LucidChart,, and others)
  • Google Drive: Allows instructors and students to embed any file stored in Google Drive.


Would you like to try it?  Sign up for the Google beta program:

Assignments | Google for Education 


What does it look in Original view courses?



How about in Ultra courses?



Want to know more?  Take a look.

Create and share coursework with ease

Generate new assignments using Docs and Drive, and provide each student with a unique copy. You can organize coursework by class, date, and student, as well as adapt existing work for new courses. Help prepare students for the workforce by using Google tools chosen by millions of businesses – from small companies to those on the Fortune 500 list.


Help students develop authentic work

Generate originality reports using the power of Search. Assignments scans student submissions for matching text on the web, right in your grading interface – no more logging into a different program. And students can run their own reports before submitting to help cite and strengthen their work. Beta users get unlimited free originality reports.


Simplify grading and provide rich feedback – all in one place

Pull up frequently used feedback from your comment bank when engaging students with in-line edits and two-way commenting. You can also apply rubrics to keep grading transparent. Assignments makes it easy and secure to accept Docs and Drive files by automatically adjusting permissions to prevent student editing during grading.


Provide students with tools that support active learning

G Suite for Education provides capabilities that can help students improve their writing skills, work more efficiently and turn in stronger assignments.


Complement your learning management system

Once the beta goes live later this semester, you’ll be able to access Assignments right from the tools menu within your G Suite for Education account. Assignments is also available as a Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) add-on, so it’s compatible with any learning management system (LMS).


Expect high security standards

We’re as serious about security and privacy as you are about engaging your students to learn. We build products that help protect student and teacher privacy, while also providing best-in-class security. We never assume ownership of your data – that belongs to you and your students. Our responsibility is to keep it more secure. And because Assignments was built for education, it meets rigorous compliance standards, including:


  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
  • Student Privacy Pledge introduced by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)
  • ISO/IEC 27018:2014

Explore more details in our Privacy & Security Center. Also take a look at our contracts under “8.1 Intellectual Property Rights” to see details on your data ownership rights.


You can ask questions and find resources on the Google Assignments Help Community system:


google assignments

Oracle has changed their approach to supporting older Java releases. Details of Oracle’s updated policies can be found here:


With the removal of some desktop technologies within Java after version 8, these changes significantly impact users of the Original Experience of Blackboard Collaborate.


After December 2020, users without a commercial license agreement with Oracle should remove Java 8 from their desktop in order to protect themselves from security vulnerabilities. Doing so will reduce the functionality in Collaborate Original available for those users. This includes:


  • Access to administration functionality in SAS
  • Utilization of the Plan and Publish applications
  • Launching sessions and viewing native recordings on Linux operating systems


Launching Original sessions and viewing recordings will continue to be covered with security updates via the Collaborate Launcher on Windows and Mac operating systems.


Users of Collaborate Ultra are not impacted by the changes to Oracle’s support of Java.


Details are provided below.


Collaborate Original use of Java on Desktop Clients


For many years, Java was a cutting-edge technology that enabled cross-platform support of desktop applications. Collaborate Original relies on Java Applet technology to administer the system in SAS, and on Java Web Start technology for session launching and native recording playback. These technologies are not present in any version of Java past version 8 and are not available in any of the open-source variants. Java desktop runtimes are also required for utilizing applications such as Plan and Publish.


In order to shield many users from the requirement of installing Java on the desktop for general use, Collaborate currently supports the Collaborate Launcher, which bundles the Java runtime for use with Collaborate Original for launching sessions and viewing recordings on Windows and Mac operating systems. The Launcher does not make the runtime available for general use on the desktop, so it cannot enable support for Java Applets for SAS or provide the runtime required for Plan and Publish. (The desktop runtime is also required for session launching and recording playback on Linux.)


Oracle has announced that they will stop updating Java 8 for personal use at the end of 2020. Commercial access can be negotiated with Oracle directly to continue to receive support beyond this timeframe. Blackboard has already ensured that the Collaborate Launcher is covered under a bundled commercial license agreement with Oracle so that the Launcher can be distributed with any required security updates. We are unable to extend those security updates to general desktop use.


As a result, by January 2021, Collaborate users should remove Java 8 runtimes from their desktop systems, unless they have negotiated a commercial support agreement separately with Oracle. By doing so, users will not be able to manage their users and accounts via SAS, or utilize other Java desktop applications such as Plan or Publish.


Collaborate Ultra uses 100% Web Standards


For users of Collaborate Ultra, all user access is through web browsers and standard web APIs, including WebRTC for audio, video, and appshare access. Collaborate does not require or install any additional technologies or runtimes that allow for the possibility of any unique security vulnerabilities. To stay up-to-date with security support, users simply need keep their supported web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge) up to date.


Collaborate Ultra will continue to be unaffected by the licensing and support changes by Oracle, and we strongly recommend clients make plans to transition to Collaborate Ultra and away from Collaborate Original before Oracle drops public support for Java 8 in December 2020.


BbWorld 2019 UX Lab

Posted by stolleb Jul 11, 2019

Will you attend BbWorld 2019 in Austin?Don’t forget to stop by the UX Lab to help define what’s next for Blackboard. You’ll find us in the Community LIVE area, near the Exhibit Hall.  


Here, you can meet the Design Team and shape the Blackboard products you use. You’ll have opportunities to explore and test designs for upcoming features, share your experiences as an education professional, and give feedback on potential future directions for Blackboard.  


Each day offers different research opportunities, including topics like these: 

  • Blackboard Data 
  • Feedback in Ultra (including a possible replacement for Box view!) 
  • Course curriculum structure 
  • Learn integrations 
  • Blackboard Help content 
  • Future Blackboard products and services 


We can’t wait to see you! 


Not attending BbWorld but still want to explore, test, and provide feedback on Blackboard features and products remotely? Sign up for the Design Research Participant Panel.

What is the largest course you have seen on your system? - please let us now in the comments!


weight lossStorage always grows, but here are just a few reasons for instructors and administrators to manage it:

  1. Smaller course copies, exports/imports, backup recoveries are quicker and more reliable
  2. Video delivered through media servers takes less bandwidth and has more features such as captioning, streaming, viewer collaboration.  Students typically use less cellular data when streaming
  3. Old files with inaccurate information do not surface in newer versions of courses through unintended consequences
  4. Performance of Blackboard web servers is improved


Much has already been communicated about storage, this is a summary of new and existing resources.


Instructors play an important role in keeping storage manageable in Blackboard courses.  Periodically instructors can review old or unlinked files in their own courses.  Here is how old and unused files can be removed:



Course sizes can be reduced by focus on these areas:


1. Video assignments:

Blackboard servers are "web servers" not "media servers" (Back to School webinar).  If possible, video content should be deployed to media servers and services such as Panopto, Kaltura, YouTube, etc.


Blackboard support recommendation is to deploy only small files to Blackboard courses, less than 50MB.



A common practice is to request that students submit video assignments through Blackboard in assignment attachments.  This can quickly add up.  Each student submits a 100MB mp4 video, that's 30 x 100MB, which makes about 3GB.  If more than one assignment is provided or videos are larger, the course becomes very large, very quickly.  Instead, services like Panopto allow for  an assignment link, which collects video content and gives faculty more functionality to comment on the video and process it.


Administrators can locate courses with large student video assignments by looking for courses with a large set of protected files. 



To find protected files navigate to the Admin Tools, go to System Reporting -> Disk Usage.




Sample report, which identifies courses with large assignment submissions, most often video content.  The image below had the course name and id fields removed for privacy.




2. Course copy problems:

Course copies can sometimes generate nested folders or carry over files, which are no longer needed in the course.  Typically instructors are the appropriate authorities on deciding if a file can be removed from course storage.  It is possible to identify, which files are no longer linked or used in the course, but there may be exceptions why instructors keep files in the content system.


A related bug: #49579 (Nested Imported Content Folder Occurs when GUI copying from SIS created course into existing SIS courses) Issue Description: When performing a GUI based copy from an SIS created Course shell into an existing SIS created Course shell, a nested ImportedContent folder condition occurs.

This video can help instructors review their courses and remove files, which are no longer needed.


Administrators can locate courses with large set of files, that could indicate the course copy problem. 




A sample report identifying large courses due to files uploaded by the instructor:



To reduce the course storage size of Course Files, instructors can remove files no longer needed or move their video content to a media service.


3. Additional resources

Recorded Sessions of Previously Held Webinars about Storage



Blackboard blog about storage in the Learn system:

What’s happening?   

As changes in web technology mature and evolve we are constantly looking at ways to adopt new technologies that can improve the experience for our users.  


When we first released Collaborate with the Ultra experience, we adopted technologies that brought to market HD audio and video sharing for meetings and sessions directly in your web browser without plugin downloads.  All you needed to do was click the link, enter your name, and voila!  You were in a Collaborate Ultra session.  With the release of the Blackboard and Blackboard Instructor apps we integrated Collaborate with the Ultra experience directly into the apps to allow users to join Collaborate sessions on the go, anywhere, anytime.  


And earlier this year we started beta testing an all new mobile experience that allowed users to join Collaborate Ultra sessions directly from their mobile device’s browsers.   This change allowed users to join sessions without needing to download a mobile app.  


Joining a Collaborate session on mobileMobile browser experience for Collaborate Ultra


We’ve received a tremendous amount of feedback about the beta that’s helped us refine the experience over the past few months and are now looking to make the web experience the default experience while joining a Collaborate Ultra session on mobile devices.  


What does this mean for my institution, students, and faculty? 

It means:  

  • Additional features are available to mobile users (e.g. polling and moderator capabilities)  
  • Consistent user experience for users moving between their desktop and mobile devices  
  • New features are available at the same time for desktop and mobile users  
  • The mobile apps will not be needed to join Collaborate Ultra sessions  


Polling using the mobile browser experienceChat using the mobile browser experience 


When’s this happening?

Today, you can continue to access Collaborate sessions from the Blackboard and Blackboard Instructor apps and try out the beta mobile browser experience by joining any session using Safari (on iOS) or Chrome (on Android) while on your mobile device.    


Note:  If you're not seeing the join from browser option make sure you're opening the session in a full web browser Safari (on iOS) or Chrome (on Android).  When opening a session from within another app (e.g. Slack) the join from browser option is not available.  You'll need to copy / "open with" the session in the web browser


In June, we’ll be making the mobile browser experience more prominent when users try to join from their mobile device.  Users joining from a link will still be able to open a session in the Blackboard and Blackboard Instructor apps and sessions accessed from Learn will still be launched from the Blackboard and Blackboard Instructor apps. 



Updated mobile browser session joining coming in June 


In July, we’re targeting an update that will make the mobile browser the default experience when joining sessions on your mobile device.  The mobile apps will continue to display any existing or newly created Collaborate sessions from within courses, but when a user tries to access the session, they will be redirected to their devices mobile browser to join the session.  


If you have any questions or comments, please let us know! 





Update July 18th, 2019

Hi everyone, 


A quick update on the upcoming Collaborate changes for mobile.  On July 22nd we're planning a set of updates to Collaborate and our mobile apps that will transition the mobile experience from the Blackboard and Blackboard Instructor mobile apps to mobile browsers.


This video demonstrates the experience changes for users accessing a Collaborate session from within a Learn course.  



Please note: Users will need to have the latest version of the app installed on their devices to use the new experience.  Users on older versions of the mobile apps will continue to be able to access sessions from the app for some period.




If you have any questions let us know!




- Dan





Update July 22nd, 2019

Hi everyone, 


The updates to Collaborate and the mobile apps are now available in all regions.  If you have any further questions please let us know.




- Dan


Designers Resource Outpost

Posted by lt0079872 May 6, 2019

I would very much like to start a repository/outpost of design ideas for folks to try out/recommend/review, etc.


Da Button Factory: web button maker  - An incredibly simple way to make custom buttons! - An amazing free resource, but can be affordably scaled to meet much of your design and publishing needs. A LOT of free content, images, templates, all downloadable.


Odincons 1.0 by Nhat Anh | Dribbble | Dribbble - This is 100% free shape icons


Icons - Material Design  - "Material icons are delightful, beautifully crafted symbols for common actions and items. Download on desktop to use them in your digital products for Android, iOS, and web."


Cheatsheet | Font Awesome - "After you're set up on the desktop or in code, quickly copy and paste the glyph, name, or unicode value of any icon."

So I just headed over to the Community area. This came after spending several minutes on the home page typing a plethora of variations into the search engine, with no results to answer my predicament.


I began asking my question to you, luminaries, far and wide (no, that's not a fat joke). I began pasting screenshots, workflow issues, and carefully formulating my query as to why Blackboard didn't know what I wanted it to do.


I am sincerely glad I went to such lengths, because as I tried to ever-so-thoroughly build my case, I solved my own problem


Can I get an amen??

Presentation Slides & Notes:

[BITS] Gamification and Game-Based Learning -- Presentation Slides


Questions from the webinar:



Question: <v John Thompson>What happens if a student ignores the course agreement?

Answer: The agreement changes the button from yellow to green. It is a Mark Review button with CSS. This means that Adaptive Release can be applied. As a result, the Pearson link and Discussion Board are hidden until the agreement is confirmed. See the gif below.




Question: <v Maureen Larsen>Where can we find more information on training about advanced adaptive release and how to use it in the way you suggest?


Answer: Maureen, you're right, we should have a deep dive into adaptive release at BbWorld and a good recording. For now, here are some links:

How-to Set Adaptive Release in Blackboard - YouTube

Advanced Adaptive Release in Blackboard - YouTube



Question: <v Cris Wildermuth>Many of us are dealing with low budgets. What ideas do you have for low cost or free gamification tools?

<v Cris Wildermuth>Please, please, mention the question on low cost or free tools? Budget is a huge issue for many of us.

Answer: A few of free gamification tools for classroom activities are:

1. Kahoot Quiz for Medical Science - YouTube

2. Quizlet Live Classroom and Learning Game | Quizlet


Question: <v Pat Rennie>I'm a beginner. What is the best place to start?

Answer: I would recommend these videos:

1. Gaming can make a better world | Jane McGonigal - YouTube

2. Karl Kaap on Course 1 | Course 2

Karin Hutchinson, Teaching Complex Topics



Question: <v Debra Mascott>Has anyone seen eLearning Brothers (games can be created in Storyline, Captivate, Lectora).


00:54:18.000 --> 00:54:18.900

<v Cris Wildermuth>@Debra, eLearning Brothers is great and offers also free PowerPoint templates that can be gamified, as well as templates for other pricier tools. Camtasia is a one-time purchase and very good.


Answer: Free eLearning Stuff - eLearning Brothers

Also free graphics site:


Question: <v Nagaraj Neerchal>I am very happy to hear your last comment regarding balance. Games may end up focusing too much on the rules rather than learning. (student often do not submit a late HW bcz there is penalty for late submission). your comments?


Answer: Negraj, this is a great observation. Late assignments or 2nd try assignments encourage learning and help students to cope with failure. Often they are approved by professors based on personal opinion. Instead, in my game system students earn the permission to turn in late assignments by collecting XP and paying with them.

More about late assignments and the game system for introductory courses here:


Question: <v Thomas Clemons>I teach graduate students of all ages. How do they respond to this type of learning?

Answer: Some courses may need gamification. Especially courses with fewer than 10 students or advanced courses where the excitement of the topics engages everyone. It doesn't mean that gamification cannot be helpful. Gamification allows for creating new habits and encouraging behaviors. You see this in credit card reward point systems, Nike sports tracking, and other adult gamification projects. I think the biggest bang for the buck for universities is generating engagement in large enrollment introductory courses.


Here is a book of gamification benefits in business and other areas beyond school:


Question: <v Joanne Mathiasen>Is most of this only available in Bb Ultra?

Answer: All of the features are available in Original courses.


Question: <v Manuel Fernandez>Did you address another way to show progress that might not require comparisons between students?

Answer: Manuel, leaderboards should be used cautiously. Comparison between students can be damaging. I wrote up some details about it in the case study for gamification in a STEM course. I'm including a few quotes from that paper below. The bottom line, I let some students see progress of others, their avatars do not show their real name, the leaderboard is called Experience Ranking. It is not necessary to compare students to each other, however, some "player personalities" are motivated by scoring more points than others.


Quotes taken from the case study:

ERIC - ED574876 - Application of Gamification in a College STEM Introductory Course: A Case Study, Online Submission, 20…


While many studies report benefits of gamification in education and other fields (Dicheva, Dichev, Agre, & Angelova, 2015), Gartner warned in 2012 that 80% of gamification projects would fail in the next two years due to poor understanding of effective design in gamification (Gartner, 2012). The successful studies in education focus on problem-solving skills, exploration, and discovery as project outcomes (Lee & Hammer, 2011;Kapp, 2012;Sitzmann, 2011). Studies that report negative impacts of gamification cite decreases in motivation, empowerment, and satisfaction due to ongoing comparisons between students in leaderboards (Hanus & Fox, 2015). Faiella and Ricciardi (2016)suggest that more work needs to be done to experimentally establish the learning benefits of gamification in education.
Leaderboards help students to make a self-assessment as to the mastery of their own ability and provide a necessary reference point (Hoorens & Van Damme, 2012). When leaderboards provide an overview of the entire class performance,they point to opportunities for upward and downward comparisons (Christy & Fox, 2014). Leaderboards, as motivational tools, may pose a risk for some students by applying too much pressure despite any positive influence of superiority for those on top of such listing (Wells & Skowronski, 2012). Frequent comparison of academic performance on gamification electronic leaderboardsled in some gamified classrooms to lower exam scores and a decrease in motivation(Hanus & Fox, 2015). Further, competition has the potential to diminish performance, cooperation, and problem solving, and to increase cheating (Orosz, Farkas & Roland-Levy, 2013).

Leaderboards may motivate in participation but may decrease intrinsic motivation toward the course objectives. Some learners may be motivated through social context of games to fulfill needs of relatedness, while others may require achievement opportunities to address needs of competence. The goal for practitioners should be to find ways to support all of the basic psychological needs of learners in order to increase motivation and yield the desired outcomes.Stott and Neustaedters (2013) performed an analysis of gamification in education and came up with four concepts that appear to make gamification projects in education more successful. These concepts areas follows:

1.Freedom to fail

2.Rapid feedback



Instead of calling a student grade menu “My Grades” in the Blackboard Learn LMS, it was renamed to My Progress. Instead of calling the ranking screen “Leaderboard”, it was called “Experience Ranking”. This screen in the mobile app was accessible through the “Progress” tab, which listed missions completed most recently by students and missions completed most often. This data was displayed on a moving gallery, which promoted the concept of ongoing activity. The leaderboard was further optimized to only display 10 neighboring players with an option to see the top 30 overall players. A full ranking of all players was not available.


Webinar recording:

Gamification and Game-Based Learning - Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series BITS - YouTube


Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.50.08 PM.png



Links in slides:


Industry Facts - The Entertainment Software Association

Gaming The Classroom – The Art And Science Of GBL: Game Based Learning - e-Learning Infographics


What is Gamification? How Does Gamification Work? | Bunchball


Full game example:

Bob - Convert to Freeform


Other examples:

40+ Gamification Examples in E-Learning #102

What will you create? |


Time quiz game:

More examples:


More tools:

Gamification: Course Leaderboard ver 2 | Blackboard Community

Blackboard Learn: Adaptive Release - Blackboard Help for Staff - University of Reading


Focus on progress:

Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve | TED Talk


Gamification in Introduction to Computing at Grand Valley State University

Move over, Mario - Professor invents game to engage students in learning - Grand Valley Magazine

ERIC - ED575007 - Gamification in Blackboard Learn, Online Submission, 2017-Jul-25



GradeCraft – Academic Innovation


Karl Kaap: Gamification of Learning

Gamification for Interactive Learning

Karin Hutchinson, Teaching Complex Topics



Hey, teach! Is the force with you? Evaluate how strong is gamification in your course.

atedxgvsu.pngPlaying games is a very popular activity practiced by young and old. Gamification, as a way to introduce game elements to non-game environments, focuses on tracking activities and providing immersive feedback. Providing such feedback nurtures engagement and growth mindset. Ancient Greeks viewed failure as a life condition affecting good people despite their talents or best intentions. Later meritocracy made it clear: we are the architects of our own misery. Games help us to experience that failure is a part of learning, a precondition for success. In games we feel joy as we escape failure by learning new skills. In contrast to so many areas of life, we seek out failure in games. Games help us to improve our relationship with failure to learn more.




Patent: Educational gamification system and gameful teaching process:

Getting Comfortable with Failure and Vulnerability to Facilitate Learning and Innovation in the Game of School:

The Short and Long Game Theory for Academic Courses:

Gamification in Blackboard Learn:

Gamification Strategies in a Hybrid Exemplary College Course:

Application of Gamification in a College STEM Introductory Course: A Case Study: Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Report:






TedxGVSU: On well-played games & simulations - YouTube

Article originally published on E-Learn Magazine on March 13, 2018.


Teachers and professors are often working hard to guarantee students make the most out of their classes. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is one way to maximize learning for pupils. By following UDL’s three principles – Recognition, Action & Expression and Engagement – along with a diverse set of practices, there’s a better chance at student success.


Have you ever watched a film with subtitles? Even if you haven’t, have you ever thought of how many people benefit from them? Closed captions help many viewers globally to easily follow a storyline and understand dialogue.  Subtitles are often used in the following scenarios: watching a film in a foreign language, for the hard of hearing, to watch a movie quietly so as not to disturb others, used in public spaces where TV is transmitted without sound, among others.

Universal Design for Learning is similar to closed captioning in that it applies the same principle:  it addresses the needs of different types of people. UDL is an approach to curriculum that minimizes barriers and maximizes learning for all students.[i]


According to the National Center on Universal Design for Learning, UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development that gives all individuals equal opportunities to learn. It also provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone, instead of a one-size-fits all solution. Rather, it is a flexible approach that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.[ii] It is also closely related to academic effectiveness as UDL empowers excellence in teaching and learning.


To go deeper into the meaning of UDL, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) provided a definition in 2008, which goes as follows:


The term Universal Design for Learning means a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that:

(A) Provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and

(B) Reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient.[iii]


Why universal? It relates to classes that can be understood by everyone regardless of culture, background, strengths,

needs and interests. Most importantly, the curriculum should provide genuine learning opportunities for every student.


Why design? Effective design encourages student engagement and their desire to learn every day.


The Three Universal Design for Learning Principles


For UDL to work, teachers must put it into practice. That’s where the three Universal Design for Learning Principles come in.


1 – Representation: showing information in different ways. Teachers and professors must present content and information to students using multiple types of media, graphics and animation. Highlighting critical features and activating background knowledge is also an important recommendation.

2 – Action & Expression:  allowing students to approach learning tasks and demonstrating what they know in different ways. Teachers and professors must provide students with options to express their knowledge and provide constant feedback and support, according to proficiency level.

3 – Engagement: offering students with learning opportunities that keeps them engaged and sustains their interest long-term. What inspires one student might not inspire another. By providing them with options they can choose what best meets their interests.


Putting UDL Principles into Practice


When thinking about the different ways to present content to students, technology often plays a big role in grabbing students’ attention. This, unfortunately, involves a level of investment most schools simply cannot afford. However, for James Cressey, assistant professor of education at Framingham State University, in Framingham, United States, gadgets are not always necessary to apply UDL principles, or more specifically, the principle of Representation.

“If students are reading an article, that is great, but that could be a barrier for some of them, because of a visual impairment, or a learning disability. If we can allow an audio format, then the students can listen to that,” Cressey says. “If the technology to do so is not available, a teacher or classmate reading that article out loud to the other student works in the same way”, he adds.


The same is true for Engagement. According to Cressey, especially when teaching children, breaking up students into small groups in order to design a learning activity that involves sharing with the rest of the class and to keep students interested in the content, and the use of Lego building blocks or even musical instruments to present class subjects, are some examples of interactive activities that can enable engagement. “In my experience, such activities really got them much more engaged,” Cressey says. “There were some students who told me that they enjoy having a short lecture where the professors are presenting information clearly, but pairing that with something interactive and ‘hands-on,’ with movement and interpersonal skills that provided other means of engagement. But of course, there were other students who preferred the quiet reflective grading activities that they would normally do,” he adds.

In terms of the Action & Expression principle, Cressey says producing a CD, presenting content for parents and friends (and not just classmates), or even going on-air at a local radio station to talk about a subject they learned about in school, are some ideas that can be useful and produce interesting results.


The Main Challenge: Finding the Time to Implement New Ideas

Cressey believes that implementing a new approach like UDL on a larger scale is very challenging, especially within a public school system. “Having been a classroom teacher myself, I know that teachers often see trends that come and go because of poor implementation. If a new approach is not introduced well – often with not enough training for teachers – then it is not sustainable overtime,” believes Cressey.

Ongoing coaching and professional development, therefore, is one of the challenges of a UDL high scale implementation. Therefore, using the first year to plan and prepare the best approach is essential.


5 Tips When Implementing UDL

  1. Determine goals to help students know what they’re working towards and to stay on track.
  2. Offer students different ways to complete their assignments.
  3. Build flexible workspaces where students can either work individually or engage in group activities.
  4. Provide students with constant feedback on their performance. If possible, on a daily basis.
  5. Allow the use of different mediums, including print, digital and audio materials.[5]


[i] U. (2010, January 06). Retrieved January 17, 2018, from

[ii] What is Universal Design for Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved January 17, 2018, from

[iii] How Has UDL Been Defined? (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2018, from

[iv] Universal Design for Learning: A Concise Introduction [PDF]. (2011). ACCESS Project, Colorado State University.

[5] CAST, U. F. (n.d.). 5 Examples of Universal Design for Learning in the Classroom. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from

Article originally published on E-Learn Magazine on November 22, 2017.


More autonomous learners, capable of developing an active role in educational processes: that’s what student-centered learning is all about. However, there are educators who believe a more teacher-driven method is still the best way to go.

The student-centered learning (SCL) theory sheds a light on a different way to approach day-to-day classroom life –with the learner, not the teacher, at the center of all classes. “In a student-centered class, students don’t depend on their teacher all the time; waiting for instructions, words of approval, correction, advice, or praise,” says Leo Jones in his book The Student-Centered Classroom.[1]


Based on psychologist Carl Rogers’ theories such as person-centered approach, which defended that answers to patients’ questions were within the patient and not the therapist, as well as contributions by theorists like Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky and Paulo Freire, among others, student-centered learning remains a challenge for both educators and students in the search for better results in the process of absorbing knowledge.[2]

Critics of the traditional learning approach – where the teacher imparts knowledge onto the students who sit quietly and learn – say it’s an authoritarian and hierarchical method,[3]which often promotes memorization without an actual understanding of what’s being taught. When students become the center of the process, they automatically make a connection between new knowledge with what they already know, making classes and class content, much more useful and productive in their lives.


According to the research study Overview on Student-Centered Learning in Higher Education in Europe,[4] by the European Student’s Union, the massive student protests against the elitism of universities in 1968 and the need for them to open their doors to all parts of society, also led to the development of the student-centered learning concept. However, educators in the United States have used the terms “teacher-centered” and “student-centered” at least since the 1930s. [5]


Teacher vs. Student Centered Learning: What Are the Main Differences?


A teacher-centered classroom has many, if not all, of the following characteristics: a teacher who controls the material, the way in which students study and the pace they learn at; the teacher being the most active person in the classroom (be it by lecturing, reading aloud or other activities); students remain seated down for most of the class, taking notes or participating briefly, only when demanded by the teacher; desks are arranged in rows facing the teacher.

In contrast, a student-centered class is much different: students often have the opportunity to lead educational activities; design their projects; participate in debates; desks are arranged in a circle; many learning experiences happen outside of the classroom; travel or other kinds of explorations are arranged; the teaching and learning experience is personalized (and can still take place in a group setting).


SCL Around the Globe: Challenges and Results


Student-centered learning seems to be far from being a common practice among educators around the world, even having been studied and researched for many years. Actually, there is a considerable amount of resistance to the method, with interesting points of view about it, such as SCL leading to brain overload and preventing learning from being stored in long-term memory.


Educator Paul A. Kirschner emphasizes that studies in the past 50 years show how minimally guided instruction is less effective and less efficient, than instructional approaches that do guide students throughout the learning process.[6]However, some experiences do prove that the method can work if applied the right way.

A study published in 2014 by Stanford University, titled Student-Centered Schools: Closing the Opportunity Gap, documented the practices and outcomes of four urban high schools in the United States that prepared their students through SCL, to be successful in college and in their professional careers.

The results were clear: The analysis showed all schools outperformed other educational institutions with similar characteristics in their areas, especially considering African American, Latino, low-income students and English language learners.


“The student-centered schools in this study have designed their curriculum purposefully to provide students with not only the kinds of academic skills they need to do college-level academic work, but also the fortitude to persist through challenges and to be successful in their chosen careers as well. Beyond enrolling in college, the quality of students’ high school preparation influences their persistence rate in college,” the study informs. In one of the schools, 97% of students were still enrolled in college in their 4th year, a rate that far exceeds the national average. [7]


In Europe, there has been a perception among students, that SCL has been put into practice in recent years. Overall, 90% of surveyed students in the Overview on Student-Centered Learning in Higher Education in Europe believe that, when it comes to the implementation of SCL in higher education institutions, there has been some progress in recent years. Half of them see this progress as slow, and the other half believes that despite action is taking place, SCL still hasn’t been presented to students in a proper way – with all of its characteristics and opportunities.

Latin America has also been dealing with the challenges of this proposed change in classroom dynamics. One of the initiatives that has been encouraged in countries such as Chile, Brazil and Costa Rica, is peer institution (PI), a student-centered learning method developed by the Eric Mazur Group at Harvard University in the ‘90s, which elevates the role of the student as a crucial participant in the educational process.


How does it work? Before attending each class, students have to self-study material so that when class time comes around, they can answer “warm-up questions” related to the materials reviewed, in order for the teacher to gage what they’ve learned, and where there might be some gaps about the subject at hand. Afterwards, the following learning process takes place:


1. The teacher provides a set of questions to the class

2. Students write down their answers

3. The teacher reviews their responses out loud

4. The teacher then encourages peer discussion on their responses

5. Students answer the same set of questions once again based on their previous group discussion


Classes become more interesting because student participation and interaction is demanded, putting them at the “epicenter” of the classroom.

In the article Turning Traditional Education Models Upside Down, published on ReVista – Harvard Review of Latin American in 2012, both of the professors interviewed said PI worked for them, making students more motivated than ever.[8]


In Asia, the SCL scenario also seems to be challenging, but with considerable opportunities for growth. In Transforming Teaching and Learning in Asia and the Pacific study, edited by UNESCO Bangkok in 2015,[9]it is suggested that many educators are moving towards a more “learner-centered” methodology: “The most commonly cited are project-based activities, problem and theme-based integrated learning, experiential learning, and activities that involve action research, debate, teamwork, group discussions and presentations.”


The Learner-Centered Psychological Principles


There are 14 principles defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) that must be considered as the basis for SCL. The focus is on psychological factors that are both related to the learner and the external environment.[10]


Cognitive and Metacognitive Factors


1 – Nature of the Learning Process

The learning of complex subject matter is most effective when it is an intentional process of constructing meaning from information and experience.


2 – Goals of the Learning Process

The successful learner, over time and with support and instructional guidance, can create meaningful, coherent representations of knowledge.


3 – Construction of Knowledge

The successful learner can link new information with existing knowledge in meaningful ways.


4 –Strategic Thinking

The successful learner can create and use a repertoire of thinking and reasoning strategies to achieve complex learning goals.


5 – Thinking About Thinking

Higher order strategies for selecting and monitoring mental operations facilitate creative and critical thinking.


6 – Context of Learning

Learning is influenced by environmental factors, including culture, technology, and instructional practices.


Motivational and Affective Factors


7 – Motivational and Emotional Influences on Learning

What and how much is learned is influenced by motivation. Motivation to learn, in turn, is influenced by the individual’s emotional states, beliefs, interests and goals, and habits of thinking.


8 – Intrinsic Motivation to Learn

The learner's creativity, higher order thinking, and natural curiosity all contribute to motivation to learn. Intrinsic motivation is stimulated by tasks of optimal novelty and difficulty, relevant to personal interests, and providing for personal choice and control.

9 – Effects of Motivation on Effort

Acquisition of complex knowledge and skills requires extended learner effort and guided practice. Without learners' motivation to learn, the willingness to exert this effort is unlikely without coercion.


Developmental and Social Factors


10 – Developmental Influences on Learning

As individuals develop, there are different opportunities and constraints for learning. Learning is most effective when differential development within and across physical, intellectual, emotional, and social domains is taken into account.


11 – Social Influences on Learning

Learning is influenced by social interactions, interpersonal relations, and communication with others.


Individual Differences Factors


12 – Individual Differences in Learning

Learners have different strategies, approaches, and capabilities for learning that are a function of prior experience and heredity.


13 – Learning and Diversity

Learning is most effective when differences in learners' linguistic, cultural, and social backgrounds are taken into account.


14 – Standards and Assessment

Setting appropriately high and challenging standards and assessing the learner as well as learning progress – including diagnostic, process, and outcome assessment – are integral parts of the learning process.



[1]Jones, L. (2007). The student-centered classroom. New York: Cambridge University Press.


[2]Arnold, K. (2014). Behind the mirror: Reflective listening and its Tain in the work of Carl Rogers. The Humanistic Psychologist,42(4), 354-369. doi:10.1080/08873267.2014.913247


[3]Do learner-centred approaches work in every culture? (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2017, from


[4]Todorovski, B., Nordal, E., &Isoski, T. (2015, March). Overview on Student Centred Learning in Higher Education in Europe [PDF]. Brussels: European Students' Union ESU.


[5]Concepts, L. (2014, May 07).Student-Centered Learning Definition. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from


[6]Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.doi:10.1207/s15326985ep4102_1


[7]Friedlaender, D., Burns, D., Lewis-Charp, H., Cook-Harvey, C., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2014, June). Student-Centered Schools: Closing the Opportunity Gap [PDF]. Stanford, CA: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.


[8]Student-Centered University Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2017, from


[9]Hau-Fai Law, E., & Miura, U. (2015). Transforming Teaching and Learning in Asia and the Pacific [PDF]. Bangkok: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO Bangkok.


[10]Learner-Centered Psychological Principles: A Framework for School Reform & Redesign [PDF]. (1997, November). Learner-Centered Principles Work Group for the American Psychological Association's Board of Educational Affairs (BEA).


[11]O Método. (2017, May 21). Retrieved September 19, 2017, from


[12]Educação, P. C. (2013, February 06). Portal Educação - Artigo. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from