“Upgrade” time, again?

We’ll be updating our Blackboard system between Summer and Fall terms. On Friday, August 24th, 2018 starting at 8 PM Blackboard will upgrade our Blackboard Learn instance to the latest patch set for our version. We anticipate a major version upgrade over Winter Break.

What to expect from the update? No functionality has changed. Bugs have been fixed. Most of the bugs that were fixed impacted the system administration only one impacted users. When downloading the grade center to work offline the download was sometimes incomplete. This function has been fixed.

Other than the minor fixes, Blackboard will work as before. We’ll keep you posted about changes in the December upgrade. There are much anticipated features coming! (Hint: Instructors will have the ability to delete multiple columns from the grade center – easier clean up after a course copy!).

New Grading System for Fall 2018: How does this affect grading in Blackboard?

On July 13, 2018 Academic Affairs announced a revision to the undergraduate grading system. While this affects everyone, if you use Blackboard, you may wonder how the changes affect grading within the system. We’ll explain how the new schema is translated in Bb courses and your ability to make changes.

In case you missed it, the revised grading system is as follows:

New Grading System Fall 2018

New Grading System Fall 2018










The change in the grading system causes some problems with Blackboard. First, the ranges are different. This is an easy problem to solve. A more difficult problem is the gaps in the ranges between the letter grades. For Blackboard to translate a numeric score to a Letter grade it needs the “bins” to be continuous between 0 and 100.  With gaps, Blackboard can’t determine how to treat a score of 92.5. The Academic Policy subcommittee purposely included the gaps because departments and even individual faculty vary in how they round grades. (FYI, Blackboard calculates grades out to 5 decimal places. Rounding is well beyond what most instructors use.)  To try to accommodate everyone we have changed the WIT Undergraduate Letter schema in Blackboard to the following and are providing assistance in accommodating different approaches to handle the scores that fall in the gaps:

New WIT Undergrad Letter Schema in Blackboard

New WIT Undergrad Letter Schema in Blackboard













This may not agree with how you round grades.  If not, there are two ways to accommodate differences. First, if you only use the WIT Undergrad Letter schema for midterm and final grades, you can manually override those grades when submitting grades to Banner, either through the Banner Grade Submit functions in Blackboard or through LeopardWeb.

If you use the WIT Undergrad Letter schema more widely, then you can directly edit the schema in your courses to reflect your grading practices. To do that, enter the full Grade Center and locate the Manage button. Click the Manage button and select “Grading Schemas”. On the Grading Schemas page you’ll be able to select the schema to edit. General instructions are available on the Blackboard Help site:
https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Grade/Customize_Grading_Interface/Grading_Schemas. In addition, LIT has developed detailed instructions for altering the schema.

NOTE: Fall courses on Bb were updated with the new undergraduate grading schema on July 26, 2018, overriding the schema that was there.

Enhance Student Success with Transparency: purpose, task, criteria

At the International Conference for Educational Development in June 2018, Mary-Ann Winkelmes shared a template that can be used as a guide for developing, explaining, and discussing class activities and out-of-class assignments. She shared that “Making these aspects of each course activity or assignment explicitly clear to students has demonstrably enhanced students’ learning in a national study1.”

The Transparency in Teaching and Learning Project (TILT Higher Ed) advocates for a Transparency Framework for academic work and offers examples and resources that explicitly describes purpose, task, and criteria based on an AAC&U study (2-14-2016) on Transparency and Problem-centered Learning. The Transparent Assignment Template generously offers a guide for developing or revising assignments. Mary-Ann invites faculty to translate one of their assignments into this template and see how students respond. This Self-Guided Checklist provides great questions to help you transform your assignment. Use Assignment Cues, aligned with Bloom’s Taxonomy, to make assignments more transparent and relevant for students.

Try modifying an assignment using the Transparency Framework and let us know if it made a difference in your course!

1 Winkelmes, Mary-Ann. “Transparency in Teaching: Faculty Share Data and Improve Students’ Learning.” Liberal Education 99,2 (Spring 2013); Wilkelmes et al, “A Teaching Intervention that Increases Underserved College Students’ Success.” Peer Review 18,1/2 (Winter/Spring 2016).

Panopto – Enterprise Video Platform Update

As of July 1 we are an official Panopto customer.  We signed a 3-year contract that will extend Panopto as our enterprise video platform through 2021.

We are in the process of working with the Panopto team on many fronts, including:

  • Copy existing Kaltura and Echo 360 content to the Panopto system.  (in progress.)
  • Set up the backend Blackboard LTI Integration so that you will see Panopto as a drop down menu option in Blackboard when we “flip the switch” (in progress)
  • Set up Single Sign on authentication across the institution for direct login to Panopto using Wentworth credentials (in progress)
  • Branding our Panopto site with Wentworth logos (completed)

As a reminder, we have also made arrangements with Echo 360 and Kaltura to extend our current license and use through the end of 2018 Summer II term.  After that time, both Echo and Kaltura will no longer be accessible.  Please do not use either Echo 360 or Kaltura AFTER the conclusion of Summer II term.  In fact, we will remove the LTI links from appearing in Blackboard upon completion of the Summer II term.

We are also working with the Panopto training team to begin scheduling training.  The first training that we will coordinate is Administrator training, so that we can learn more about the backend of the system.

Following that, as well as the completion of content transfer, we will schedule our initial “user” training in early August with more training in early Fall.  Training sessions will be recorded.  We will also plan to participate in a “train the trainer” session where we (LIT and CPCE colleagues) will learn everything there is to know about the platform and schedule individual and departmental training sessions based on Instructional Designer alignments.

We are very excited about our new video platform.  Please let us know if you have any questions.  As always, we want to keep the channels of communication completely open and transparent.

Engineering: Students Learning vs. Professors Teaching

Are your students’ learning styles compatible with your teaching style? “To teach is to engage students in learning.” Quote, from Education for Judgment by Christensen et al, [1]. For engineering faculty, the real challenge is not covering the material, but making sure students understand the material. It’s important to know that while presenting your content to your students, there must be time set aside for student to reflect on that content.  This creates an opportunity to incorporate student-to-student engagement, Also known as,  cooperative learning. “This is an instructional model that allows for small groups of students to work together to maximize thelr learning. Student need to engage with the content incorporating instructional methods such as peer discussions, small team problem-based learning as illustrated by Woods [2], who contrasted it with subject-based learning (Figure 2).

“Breaking up lectures with short cooperative processing times results in slightly less lecture time, but re-engages the students. During lecturing and direct teaching, the instructor ensures that students do the intellectual work of organizing material, explaining it, summarizing it, and integrating it into existing conceptual networks. Common information cooperative learning techniques include “focused discussions” before and after the lecture (bookends) and interspersing turn-to-your-partner discussions throughout the lecture.” (Smith, Sheppard, Johnson, D, Johnson, R, 2005).

Read More http://www.shsu.edu/academics/cce/documents/Pedagogies_of_engagement_Classroom-based_practices.pdf


[1] Christensen, C.R,, Garvin, D,A,, and Sweet, A,, Education for
Judgment: Tbe Artistry of Discussion Leadership, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
Business School, 1991.

[2] Woods, D.R., Problem-Based Learning: How to Gain the Most from
PBL, Waterdown, Ontario: Donald R, Woods, 1994.

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