New Banner to Blackboard Integration

What this change means for you: Blackboard course sites can be created earlier, enrollment changes are updated in real-time,  and grades can be submitted to Banner from Blackboard.

This spring DTS has been working on a project to re-integrate Blackboard and Banner. Our old system permitted us to feed only one term’s worth of data at a time from Banner to Blackboard. That single term feed meant delays in seeing courses appear in Blackboard. In addition, there was no communication back to Banner from Blackboard so that if you used the Blackboard Grade Center to track and calculate grades, you still had to manually enter student grades in Banner.

Using the new Intelligent Learning Platform integration from our Banner vendor we can now feed information from Banner in real-time. So, if a student drops one course and adds another, the change is seen immediately. If instructors are changed, as soon as the information is entered in Banner, the change will be sent to Blackboard. In addition, instructors will be able to submit midterm and final grades to Banner from Blackboard with ease. If you use the Blackboard Grade Center to track and calculate grades, you can submit grades for an entire course with a few  mouse clicks. No rekeying of individual grades needed.

We’ll be sharing more details about this change during Wentworth Opening Week for Summer term.



Top Tips for Posting Course Materials in Blackboard in a Copyright Compliant Manner

Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection granted by the US law to authors of original works, published or not. According to § 102 of the Copyright Act of 1976, these may include:

  • literary works;
  • musical works, including any accompanying words;
  • dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
  • pantomimes and choreographic works;
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  • motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • sound recordings; and
  • architectural works.

To avoid unintentional infringement when posting materials in Blackboard, use the following guidelines:

Check the library online resources first when looking for materials to post in your courses:

  • Many journal articles, e-books and videos are available online through the library’s website.
  • Post citations or persistent links instead of uploading and storing documents in the course.
  • Consult with a librarian to help locate or purchase resources for your course.

When using materials found on the Internet:

  • Use Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Access Journals, which are intentionally made available for academic use.
  • Link directly to reliable Internet sources instead of downloading and uploading into Blackboard
  • Check licensing before downloading and using images
  • When in doubt, contact the author for terms of use

Avoid posting scanned documents and videos of unknown ownership

  • Consider creating course packs (contact the bookstore for more info about XanEdu)
  • Contact the author(s) or publisher for permission.

If MUST use a scanned document without permission, such as in cases of pressing deadlines

  • Use the smallest excerpt possible as needed to convey the point
  • Use only until copyright clearance can be obtained

As with other types of work, when compiling a document based on multiple sources

  • Restate the information in your own words whenever possible
  • Give proper credit to every contributor
  • Use standard citation formats to model good citation practice for students

For more information, watch the following short video, visit LIT Website or contact LIT@WIT.EDU


US Copyright Office (n.d.). Retrieved from


The Evils of Forced Completion on Blackboard Tests

Of all the features in Blackboard, the forced completion setting for test/quizzes causes the most headaches for students, instructors, and system administrators. This seemingly innocent setting can cause problems should anything interrupt the session. In the end it can result in more cheating than it prevents because it provides a plausible reason for needing a test/quiz reset – my computer froze or my Internet connection dropped out.

Forced completion requires students complete a test/quiz in a single session. On the surface this setting seems reasonable. If an assessment is low stakes you may want to prevent students from focusing too much energy on a single item. Or you may want to limit how long the student takes on a longer tests. Although these intentions are good the way the tool works will cause problems if a connection is lost or reset. Leaving the test for any reason ends the student’s session and they can’t get back in to complete the test.

What can you do…

Set a time limit but do not select forced completion. The Blackboard timer does not stop if the student exits and returns to the test. If a student does have a problem they can get right back in. This students time should not exceed the time limit or if it does it might be by a few minutes – the time it took to reconnect. But if a student enters an exam, looks at the questions, exits to find answers, and reenters, the timer still runs and you can see how long the student took from initially clicking the link to the test until they finally submit the test. So if a student clicks on the link for a test with a one hour time limit at 2 PM on Wednesday afternoon and looks at the questions then exits and looks up all the answers and reenters the test at 8 PM to answer the questions and finishes at 8:30 PM, their total elapsed time is 6.5 hours – well over the 1 hour limit. You can now take appropriate action.

Require students to report any problems taking the test to you immediately. Then if a student requests a test reset, you can see from the test access log when the student started the test, how long they spent in the test before the “problem” occurred, what questions they accessed, and which questions were saved. Based on what you see you can  decide whether you will honor the request or if a penalty should be applied. If a student reports a problem and goes over the time limit by only a few minutes, you’ll see evidence to back that claim up.

When setting time limits, there is an option to have the test auto-submit when the time limit is reached. A caution here is that if a student has had a problem, their test will submit when the time from first access is reached and they will not have any additional time to make up for having to reenter the test. This setting can also be a problem for students receiving additional time on tests as an accommodation for a disability. For those students you will need to set up testing exceptions to give them additional time.

Create pools of questions and let students have multiple attempts. You can choose to average the results, or have the highest grade count. Because the test is pulled from a pool or pools of questions, they will see different questions each time they take the test. (See related post on pool size and question repeats.) So even if they look up the answers from the first attempt, because the questions on the second attempt will be different, students don’t gain much by taking the test again.

There are ways to reduce cheating without using forced completion. Take advantage of the tools that can help you manage the normal and reasonable problems students might encounter without being overly restrictive.

How Technology has Influenced the 21st Century Learner

Education is embarking on major changes to students’ learning and knowledge acquisition. Technology has influenced and changed the way students solve problems, research information and learn.  21st century learning is becoming a disruption to traditional education as we know it. No longer are memorization, traditional testing and quizzing a true measure of our students’ knowledge?  Was it ever?

Today, facts and information are ubiquitous. Information is readily current and accessible through the internet. Knowledge sources continue to flood the internet with their expertise, their research studies and finding – It has become our main “go to” source for knowledge and information. With information so easily attainable, educational institutions and their faculty need to begin changing the way they teach students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. These components haven’t changed. Critical thinking and problem solving, for example, have been components of human progress throughout history, however, the way in which we reach these goals today will be different.

So, what’s different, today we test students on their comprehension of facts and knowledge. In the 21st century, we will also need to test students on their competencies and skills as well. Does that mean we no longer need to teach the facts? Of course not. Both are equally important to critical thinking and problem solving. It will be how teachers balance these two.

So, what does the 21st century teacher look like? Advocates of 21st century skills favor student-centered methods—for example, problem-based learning and project-based learning—that allow students to collaborate, work on authentic problems, and engage with the community. These approaches are widely acclaimed and can be found in any pedagogical methods textbook.

According to Andrew J. Rotherham and Daniel Willingham, “to work, the 21st century skills movement will require keen attention to curriculum, teacher quality, and assessment.”

For more information:

Got Something to Say About Digital Learning Environments?

Join the conversation hosted by Educause and the Gates Foundation: Exploring the Next-Generation Digital Learning Environment: Opportunities and Challenges 4/27 and 4/28 noon-3:30 each day.  Check out the details

LIT has booked the Bond Conference room for both days, feel free to join us!

Additional logins to participate are available –let me know if you’d like one, first come first serve.