Cleaning up the Course Notifications (adding Faculty Alerts)

One of the best new features of Blackboard Learn is the Notifications module page in our Blackboard courses.   It is generally the first page students see when they enter your course and it acts like a Course Dashboard  letting your students read course Announcements, find out what new postings have been made, and find out what things they need to do and what due dates are upcoming.  There are also 2 other modules that show up by default on your Notifications module page that are really Faculty oriented.  One is the Course Alerts module and the other is the Needs Attention module.

The Course Alerts module keeps track of any Early Warning System rules you have in place, Past Due alerts for late work as well as Activity Alerts for when students haven’t logged in in a while.

The Needs Attention Module will let you know when assignments and tests are submitted, discussions have been post and when it is time to grade something.

The issue with both of these modules is that they will allow your students to see data that that really don’t need to see.  At the end of the day they won’t see students grades, but they will know when a student hasn’t logged in in a while or when an assignment has been submitted.

The answer?  Have 2 separate Module page for Notifications:

  1. Keep your normal notifications page but limit it to the following modules:
    • My Announcments
    • What’s New
    • To Do
  2. Create a hidden Faculty Alerts module page with the following modules:
    • Course Alerts
    • Needs Attention

How do I do it?

  1. Remove the Faculty-Oriented modules from the Student-facing Notifications page.While in Edit Mode, place your mouse on the upper right-hand side of the Course Alerts or Needs Attention module and click the X to remote the module. It will inform you that you are removing the module, click OK.Remove Module
  2. The next step is to create a Faculty Alerts Module page link on your Navigation menu.
    • Faculty AlertsClick the “+Add Menu item button and choose Module Page.
    • Next type Faculty Alerts
    • DO NOT click the Available to Users checkbox.
    • Click Submit.


  3. Finally, add the modules you want to your hidden Faculty Alerts module page.On the Faculty Alerts Module page, click the Add Course Module button.  Search for the Course Alerts and/or Needs Attention modules and click the Add button to place them on your page and you will be finished!

    Add Course Alerts


Check Your Course Before They Wreck Your Course

Jacob SpradlinJacob Spradlin M.Ed.
Assistant Director of Training and Development

Check your CourseBefore you give your students access to your course, go through it with Edit Mode off and/or use the Student View button to make sure all your content and tools are accessible and easy to find.

Note: Use your course’s navigation menu because students can’t navigate via the Control Panel.

A few things you should be looking for are:

  • When a student enters the course do they know where to go and what to do?
  • Are the items in the Nav Menu clear? For instance, ‘Content’ means anything to a new student. It would make more sense to them if it was more specific, like ‘Course Materials’ or ‘Modules’
  • Are all the tools you want the students to use linked from the Nav Menu or a Content Area? An easy way to check is by looking at the Nav Menu in Edit View.
  • Can all the Tests and Assignments be taken and submitted?
  • Do links to other places on the web work?  (YouTube videos can be pulled down in a blink of an eye and web content can disappear at any time).

Other things to check while in Edit Mode:

  • Links to hidden tests and assignments are not broken. Its good practice to re-deploy all your tests (if you’ve copied the course) to ensure that the links are correctly attached to the Grade Center.
  • The Grade Center columns are correctly displayed to students (hidden or revealed) and the weighting and points possible are correct.
  • Be sure due dates on items in your course are correct (these can now be changed easily by dragging and dropping with the Calendar feature in My Blackboard.

Inline Assignment Grading – Grade and Annotate Assignments w/out downloading!

Instructors can view student-submitted files “inline,” i.e. in the web browser, without requiring any plug-ins, applets, or client-side applications. Additionally, annotations tools are available as part of the inline viewer, enabling Instructors to provide feedback – comments, highlights, and even drawing/annotation – directly on the inline view of the document.

Assignment Workflow

  • There are no changes to the workflow for submitting assignments, with the exception for one minor UI change to the field where a user would enter an assignment response via the content editor (as opposed to uploading a file). All of the changes are focused on the Grade Assignment page.
  • The only requirements are the Course Delivery module and a modern browser.
  • When a student views their submitted attempt they see the converted document in an inline viewer (as well as any annotations the instructor may have added). The student cannot edit instructor annotations or add their own annotations.
  • Inline Assignment Grading can convert, display, and annotate Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and PDF file formats. This accounts for well over 95% of submissions to Blackboard Learn Assignments. File formats that cannot be converted are presented for download, as in the past.
  • The conversion retains most formatting for supported file types. There may be some very complex page layouts that don’t render perfectly, but those are uncommon exceptions.

Grade Assignment Attempt

How do I do it?

  • Access your assignments via the grade center through the Assignments or Needs Grading Smart View that drops down when you click Grade Center in your Control Panel.
  • Go to the column for the assignment and use the contextual menu in the cell where you wish to start grading and select the attempt you wish to grade.
  • Add comments, highlights, drawings to annotate as needed and enter the grade then click submit.

Inline Assignment Grading


Blackboard Maintenance Complete – What’s New?

Great news!  Blackboard maintenance completed almost 3 hours early.  SHSU is now running Blackboard 9.1 Service Pack 11. Updating to SP11 will allow the following new features/enhancements to be available to the SHSU Bb community:

New Global Navigation Menu
Always present in the top right corner, the new navigation menu is the entry point to My Blackboard and also provides one-click access to your Courses, Organizations, Settings and Help features.

My Blackboard
A completely new, modern user experience that consolidates critical information from all of your Courses and Organizations. Students can update their profile, respond to discussion posts, see course updates, and view My Grades for all courses in one location.

New Content Editor
The new Content Editor  vastly improves the user experience for entering text, pasting content from Microsoft Word, and adding content to all areas of Blackboard. Simply bring your course materials to life.
Content Editor Instructors – more info
Content Editor Students – more info

Assessment Item Analysis
Educators can now easily refine their assessments by evaluating the quality of each question and that question’s ability to discriminate between students who understand the material and students who do not. Ineffective questions can be easily identified and then quickly corrected with the Automatic re-grade feature.
Item Analysis Instructors – more info

Video Everywhere
Use the content editor in Blackboard to create video using your webcam. Upload your recordings directly to YouTube using your registered Google account and YouTube channel.
Video Everywhere Instructors – more info
Video everywhere Students – more info

The new Calendar feature allows instructors and students to view institution level, course and personal events in a single calendar view.
Calendar Instructors – more info
Calendar Students – more info

Discussion have been updated in two ways: the thread detail page has been redesigned but still maintains current functionality and instructors can now require students first post to a forum before they can view other posts.
Discussions Instructor – more info
Discussion Students – more info

Course Menu
The course menu has been modified. Once collapsed, it will only stay that way during the current session and only in the course that you are currently in.

Rubrics Update
A rubric on Blackboard now includes the Percentage Range along with the Points Range. This allows a single rubric to work for any assignment.

Blackboard Down for Maintenance 3/9/13 2:30am – 2:30pm

System MaintenanceBlackboard will be undergoing maintenance from 2:30am until 2:30pm on Saturday, March 9, 2013(the first Saturday of Spring Break).  Blackboard will be unavailable during this time.  This maintenance will address a security vulnerability and other known issues.

We are posting this announcement now to allow for any changes in due dates and schedules in your course(s). Please do not try to log in or try to do any work during the maintenance window.  During the downtime, please visit the SHSU Online Blog for more information.

E-mail if you have any questions.

The SHSU Online Blackboard Team

March & April 2013 How-to Sessions are Posted

The How-to Sessions For March and April have been posted.  Visit to sign up today.

We’ve added some sessions to the schedule that will help make your transition to Summer 2013 a smooth one.  Here is a sneak peak at some of the sessions we are offering:

Blackboard – Get Ready for Next Semester
Whether your course has been migrated from eCollege or you just wanting to copy from Spring into your Summer shell, this course can help you out.  Get a head start on getting ready for the Summer sessions.

Blackboard Learn – Using the Grade Center
Provide direct feedback for your students with grades, comments (audio and video included).  Learn how to manage, edit and add to your course grade book.

What’s New in Blackboard?
From the new features in your Text Editor to the ability to Export your course due dates to the calendar of your choice come check out the new ways you can enhance the Blackboard experience for you and your students.

Blackboard Collaborate – Lecture Capture and Course Webinars
Get the low-down on this tool in Blackboard that will allow you to capture yourself giving a presentation and record it for your students as well as interact with your student in real time over the internet via audio/video/whiteboard and application sharing.

Blackboard Learn: Course Building
Uploading your content, managing your course menu, communicating with students – all of these things are covered in this 2 hour comprehensive session.

Blackboard Learn: Assessment
This session covers how to add assignment submission tools to your course as well as Rubrics and tests.  Learn how to combat plagiarism with paper submissions and more.

Remember you can get the latest information by visiting and following the SHSU Online Faculty Blog at  Also, Mondays are #BestPracticeMondays! Follow @jspradlin on twitter to get new best practice for teaching online or with Blackboard each Monday.