First, let me say that I really appreciate Blackboard. It has, in many ways, been a great tool for not only “blended” and fully online courses, but for my in-person classrooms as well. I have enjoyed harnessing it in as many ways as possible.
In addition to many Blackboard assets, I remain stuck on some issues that I think are maybe connected behind the scenes, at the level of their coders development.
I really struggle to use Blackboard for frequent extra credit options, entering zeros for students with no attempts waiting in my grading queue (Needs Grading view), and recognizing higher and more recent point totals than initial zeros.
I must offer all extra credit opportunities worth 0 points, so that the students who do not attempt this extra work are not penalized within their required point totals. It would be superb to have an option for instructors to set (within the assignment creation settings) whether or not the assignment is optional/bonus/not to be used towards point total except in cases of bonus (never decreasing percentage of points gathered).
If there was a setting option that allowed a zero to be automatically entered for any students without an attempt in the instructor’s grading queue by the deadline (for required or extra credit), everyone could see an accurate percentage of points for coursework assigned by due date, without a zero being manually entered into the full grading center view.
As is, in order for each of us to see an accurate percentage of points assigned to due date, a zero must instead be entered manually in the Full Grading Center for students who have not submitted any given assignment.
Once any grade is manually entered into the Full Grade Center gradebook view (so that an accurate point percentage can be seen), that manual grade then takes priority over any more recent and/or higher point totals entered through the grading queue (Needs Grading view), despite the assignment setting being “highest” or “most recent.”
Further, there is no marker in the Full Grading Center view that highlights which grades were once manually entered, with a higher and/or more recent point total achieved via the Needs Grading grading queue. This leaves instructors and students with a lot of high-consequence scouring to do, in order to make sure not only that each is seeing an accurate percentage of points, but that the highest or most recent points given for a submission is the one being used towards the students’ percentage/grade.
I enjoy being pedantic, specific, and detail oriented, so/but this seems very inefficient.
Could some settings available to each instructor be developed that would:
* allow for extra credit to be labeled as optional without being labeled as worth zero points,
* allow zeros to be entered automatically past due date, that would not be considered the priority “manual” zeros,”
* let the selected option for highest or most recent grade from the Needs Grading queue override the “manual” Full Grading Center grade that was lower or older,
* include the highest or most recent settings as “manually” entered, and thus receiving priority per instructor selection, or
* create a Work Not Submitted field wherein the zeros assigned in that view/queue are not considered “manual,” and are easily, automatically overwritten by higher or most recent attempts, per instructor setting.
I am certain none of these change would be super simple, but they would certainly increase the efficiency and satisfaction of Blackboard users, as well as decreasing the likelihood that an instructor and students working in close collaboration could still miss an old zero that shouldn’t be negatively affecting a student’s grade.
If this happened to be achievable while making Blackboard more friendly with regards to web-browsers used outside of Microsoft, better spellcheck functionality, less confusing submission options for students, and maybe even some better file attachment options, I would mail boxes of donuts to the developers and coders.
If there was a per-course-section messenger function, I’ll rent you a bouncy house rated for adult use.
Blackboard’s pretty good, and could be even better. Any chance we can work on any of those?
Beth Mattson Weyl
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