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What’s New in Blackboard SP11?

What’s new in Blackboard SP11?  A few things, and all of them good!

MBC will be upgrading to Blackboard SP11 on May 19, 2013.  On May 20, things will look a little different when students and faculty log in to Blackboard, and there will be some useful new functionality.

1) The first time you log on after the upgrade, you may see an introductory screen that looks like this:

You can click around to see an introduction to the new features in Blackboard.  Or you can click on I’ll do it later to make this page go away.

2) It looks a little different.  More modern.  Compare Blackboard SP7 (left) with SP11 (right).  Click to make the image bigger.


3) The editing icons (those down chevrons to the right) are now invisible unless you hover over them.  Here’s how they used to look:

and when you clicked on the down chevrons: 

Now, the chevrons do not show at first, but if you move your mouse so that the cursor is near the item, the item will be highlighted, a triangle will show up.  If you click on the triangle, that will have the same effect as clicking on the down chevrons:

  When you move your cursor over the item, it is highlighted:   When you click on the down triangle, it is similar to when you clicked on the down chevrons before: 

4) You can navigate between open courses directly, without going back to the Courses or MBC Blackboard page.  Just click on My Blackboard (the down triangle to the right of your name at the upper right) and you’ll see the last 5 courses you accessed at the top and the rest of the courses in which you are enrolled below that.

5) My Blackboard.  If you move your cursor to the top right of your screen and click on the little down triangle to the right of your name, the My Blackboard pop-up will appear.  From My Blackboard you an navigate to the wavy note icon – Announcements (from all courses), the alarm clock icon – Updates (from all courses) and the Calendar icon which shows you dated events and assignments from all courses on one page.

6) Calendars.  These are much easier to see and change now, as they are a visual calendar and you can drag and drop an item to change its date.  Courses are color coded, and you can choose which courses to view on the Calendar by clicking on the little box to the left.  Also, instructors can drag and drop an Assignment or Test to change the due date, or click on an entry in the calendar to Edit it, or go from a Calendar entry that is an Assignment or Test straight to the Grade Center for that course.  Students can click on a calendar entry and Go straight to the Assignment or the Test.

7) Discussions:  New Post First Setting – you can set an option requiring students to post to a Discussion Board Forum before they can view the other posts.

8) Video Anywhere.  Look for this new icon whenever you see a Visual Text Box.  Basically, wherever you might have previously typed or attached a file or photo, you can now record a short video.

There is more information about the Visual Text Box and its features here:

In order to record and store a video, you must be signed on to Youtube with your MBC gmail as your ID and your MBC gmail (PIN) as your password.  When Adobe Flash comes up, click on Allow.

The video will be stored in Youtube as Unlisted.  This means it cannot be found if searched for, but if someone has the URL they will be able to view the video.  If you need to keep this video PRIVATE, then you need to go into Youtube, Video Manager, and click on Edit and change the Privacy settings to Private and type in the gmail address of the person who is the only one you want to be able to view it.  In that case, they would not be able to see the video unless they were signed on to Youtube with their MBC gmail credentials.

9)  You may notice that the Paste from Word Mashup is gone.  This is because Blackboard now does a much better job of handling the html when you Paste from Word, so you can just go back to the normal Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V or Edit, Copy then Edit, Paste that you are used to when copying into the Visual Text Box.  Not everything will be copied brilliantly, because Blackboard is not MSWord, but if you save your Word document as an .rtf, you’ll get a pretty good idea of how it will look in Blackboard.

10) Inline Grading.  At last!  The ability to “mark up” an assignment from Word, Powerpoint,  Excel or even a .pdf without downloading it and saving it.  You will be able to Strike Through, Highlight, Draw with your mouse, add Text, and also insert Point, Text and Area Comments.  Then put in the grade and Submit.


If you want to record grade comments using Video Anywhere, click on the little A below the Grader Feedback Text Box and a full Text Box will appear with a Video Anywhere webcam icon.



In order to make the paper you are grading look bigger on the screen, you can temporarily hide the left hand side of your course.  Hover over the gray bar between the Content menu and the Grading pane. A little arrow pointing left will pop up.  Click on it.



To make the left hand side come back again, hover over the gray line at the left again, and when the right pointing arrow comes up click on it.




11) Rubrics.  With rubrics, in addition to the No Rubric, Points, Points Range and Percentage option, there is now a Percentage Range option, providing more flexibility in grading using rubrics.


12) Item Analysis.  This is difficult to visualize until you have students with test grades in your course.  Here is a link to a short video created by Blackboard staff that explains how it will work instead. Link


13) Enterprise Surveys and Course Evaluations.  We can’t try this out until we have upgraded to BB SP11 – but here is a video describing that: Link