New in Blackboard: Assignment changes

This article is part of a series of articles explaining the new features and changes that will be introduced as part of the Blackboard upgrade coming up 20-21 July.

The upgrade will be the next step in transitioning the Blackboard online submission tool from SHU Assignments, a custom Sheffield Hallam tool, to the default Assignment tool Blackboard provides. This is being done to ensure that we can take advantage of current and future enhancements to the online submission, grades and feedback features of Blackboard.

During the upgrade, our custom My Grades tool which students use to view their grades and feedback will be changed to the default Blackboard version. This will allow students to access any new rubric feedback that has been created for them, mean they no longer need to reflect on their feedback before seeing their grade, and will provide a consistent release mechanism across all tools for staff to show/hide grades and feedback from students. This change will also allow better integration with other parts of Blackboard, such as the Blackboard mobile product. As part of this change in My Grades, some unreleased grades and feedback may become visible to students.

Some of the features and functionality that you will have access to when using regular Assignments include:

  • grading by group (i.e. automatically provide the same feedback and grade for each group member);
  • allowing individual students or groups an additional attempt, meaning that students can resubmit to the assignment while retaining the original submission, feedback and grade;
  • and following the Blackboard upgrade in July, rubrics will be able to be attached to assignments. These can demonstrate to students what they need to do in order to achieve a particular level when completing their work, and be later used to provide generic statements, individual comments and a weighted grade breakdown as feedback on their submissions.
  • intuitive workflow for the release of feedback and grades to students. Although there will no longer be a separate option that triggers the release of feedback and grades to students from the actual assignment, a more intuitive workflow for their release will be reintroduced. You will need to hide any columns from students where feedback and grades (including calculated and weighted columns) should not be visible immediately. This will provide consistency in behaviour across all Grade Centre columns, and will help reduce problems where grades were sometimes not visible to students.
  • student submission history.  Although email receipts will no longer be sent to students upon submission, students will have access to a submission history (accessed via My Grades and the original submission point) confirming details of their submission.
  • improved workflows for grading attempts. Although batch upload of feedback file attachments will no longer be possible with  the new assignment tool, improved workflows within the Grade Centre (including Smart Views) mean that it can be as quick (if not quicker) to attach feedback files to individual attempts as it was to prepare package files for batch upload. There are fewer clicks too as you don’t need to return to the Grade Centre each time you grade a student’s attempt and move onto the next.

Note that Turnitin Assignments are not affected by the transition and do not require any change in practice.

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