Blackboard to get boost on May 19

The latest release of the Blackboard Learn Suite, Blackboard 9.1, will take place on Sunday, May 19 and include upgrades and a few changes based on the feedback provided by nearly 1,200 students and educators at 640 schools.

The upgrade will take place during the University’s normal maintenance window from 12:01 a.m. to 7 a.m., according to the learning systems manager, Amy Phillips.

Phillips said there are many important factors and reasons that make upgrades important to the system. Upgrades are part of every software program and are intended to provide new functionality as well as offering solutions to current issues and problems with the software.

“Upgrades provide the opportunity to enhance, improve, address issues and solve problems that currently exist with one of the key teaching and learning systems we have on campus,” Phillips said.

The upgrade will not majorly affect the look and feel of Blackboard, according to Phillips.

There will be several changes. The color scheme as well as key places to navigate to different areas of the site, such as courses and organizations, will change, Phillips said.

Phillips also said there are several features, known as a service pack, that are planned to help improve the system.

Expanded accessibility will include the ability to skip links to My Blackboard and My Grades as well as enhancements in the accessibility of tests.

For My Blackboard and Global Navigation, there will be a new profile tool that includes avatar support for blogs, journals, wikis and the discussion board, according to Phillips

She said a new calendar will allow iCal support and drag-and-drop functionality.

There are also improvements for faculty use. The first is the enhanced item analysis, which provides additional statistics on test performance and individual test questions, Phillips said

Faculty will also have enhanced assignment-grading features in order to be able to grade and annotate online.

She added another improvement for faculty use is the pattern matching fill-in-the blank. This will allow fill-in-the-blank questions to be automatically scored using a pattern-matching feature

Phillips said that the changes will not only improve the overall performance of the software but will also enhance the entire user interface to make it easier to use and more intuitive.

Madelyn Abdalla can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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