Blackboard Upgrade – December 2018

During Winter Break we will be upgrading Blackboard to a new release. LIT has tested Blackboard’s Q2 2018 release and has scheduled an upgrade starting at 8 PM December 20th. As in the past, this upgrade is expected to take 12 hours and LIT staff will test the system when it becomes available on the 21st.

Why upgrade? As we move forward with our LMS review one issue is apparent, all current LMS’s are cloud hosted in SaaS (Software as a Service) environments that permit frequent upgrades with no downtime. Upgrading during each break to a recent release will help the community get comfortable with the increasing pace of change which for some LMS providers is monthly. The rapid pace of change in the LMS space is no different than the changes that occur on our Office 365 implementation or other web-based tools we use.

So what will change? Many of the changes in this release of Blackboard are behind the scenes and include enhancements to the integration tools allowing us to plug tools into Blackboard. Others are visible but cosmetic, such as new branding and theme options, and better presentation of content in the mobile apps.

Other changes have more effects on  students and instructors facing such as:

  • The ability of students to clear selections from multiple choice questions to avoid a penalty if there are negative points associated with an incorrect answer choice.
  • The ability of instructors to allow additional attempts when a prior attempt can’t be cleared due to an anonymous grading state.
  • The ability for students and instructors to copy files from cloud storage solutions to Blackboard.
  • The ability to create audio/video recordings for the feedback in assignments, tests, graded discussions, wikis, blogs, and journals and also as feedback to manually graded grade center columns.
  • The ability for instructors to delete multiple grade center columns at once.

Starting in January we will begin testing the latest release of Blackboard, Q4 2018, for the upgrade at the end of April 2019.

Innovating Education to Educate Innovators with Dr. Mazur

Learning Innovation & Technology was delighted to host Dr. Eric Mazur for a workshop on “Innovating Education to Educate Innovators” on November 20th, 3:30-5:00. Dr. Mazur is well known for the pedagogical Peer Instruction approach that enhances the use of polling in large classes.

picture of Dr Eric MazurDr. Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics and Dean of Applied Physics at Harvard University, Member of the Faculty of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Past President of the Optical Society.

Mazur is a leading speaker on optics and on education. His motivational lectures on interactive teaching, educational technology, and assessment have inspired people around the world to change their approach to teaching.

Eric also joined several faculty members for an informal dialogue on teaching and learning over lunch. Not to worry if you missed him, you can access a video of “Innovating Education to Educate Innovators”.

faculty members attending lunch with Dr. Eric Mazur faculty members attending lunch with Dr. Eric Mazur faculty members attending lunch with Dr. Eric Mazur

Thanks for the Memories Kaltura and Echo360

On September 30, our extended licenses with Kaltura and Echo 360 concluded.  This means that we no longer have access to either Kaltura or Echo 360.

As previously announced, the Video at Wentworth working group – part of the LIT Advisory Committee – selected a new enterprise video platform called Panopto.  LIT worked closely with the team at Panopto to migrate all Kaltura and Echo360 content to our new system.

If you need help re-linking the videos in your course from either Kaltura or Echo using the new Panopto platform, please do not hesitate to contact us at

We are here to assist you and ensure a smooth transition to our new platform. Learn more about the new LIT Panopto support site!

Accessible Digital Content Ally

Wentworth is committed to continuous progress towards digital accessibility.  This fall begins the implementation of Ally, a tool in Bb Learn that scans content, provides feedback on how accessible the content is, gives tips on how to make improvements, and allows users to download more accessible versions of the content. A pilot with test courses begins this fall, partnering with the Accessible Digital Content Committee, LIT Advisory, Facilities and Equipment, and Wentworth Student Government to pilot Ally with test courses. Rollout continues in the Spring with live courses. The goal is continuous progress and to support that fall activities include:

  • September/October: Ally Overview and Institutional Reporting training for the Digital Accessibility Committee
  • Training workshop and materials for pilot participants – October
  • October: Workshop for academic coordinators on how to make word documents accessible
  • October-December: Experiment with Ally on test courses and live courses on request
  • Fall: Launch website
  • Spring: extend use, demonstrations by pilot participants, turn on for all courses, provide training to community on how to make electronic content accessible
  • Ongoing: Education, communication, demonstrations, workshops … progress not perfection!

Interested in participating in this important work? Join in and get involved!



Your Voice and the LMS Taskforce!

The time is right to launch a Task Force to re-assess important features and uses of a learning management system (LMS) at Wentworth and choose the best system to meet our needs in the future. This is based on campus feedback and the Bettering Learner Engagement Study. Data showed both mixed satisfaction with Blackboard Learn (our current LMS), positive impacts on student learning with targeted usage of the LMS when aligned with pedagogical practices, and students’ desire for instructors to use the LMS in their courses.

The goal of the LMS Task Force is to explore and document uses, needs, and requirements of Wentworth’s LMS, assess solutions to meet those needs, and decide the future LMS. The Task Force will also explore and recommend course template and use of the LMS to foster student success. Ideally, the LMS choice would be made by end of Spring 2019 term, or early Fall 2019 if additional time is needed. After the decision, implementation planning begins.

The LMS Taskforce includes members of the LIT Advisory Committee, the Facilities and Equipment Senate Sub-Committee, and Wentworth Student Government.

Your voice is critical so please participate as we collect feedback on important LMS features, uses, and requirements:

  • October: student poll questions in Bb and open forums (face to face and virtual)
  • October/November: a faculty survey during your department meeting
  • December/January: faculty open forum
  • November: academic leadership discussion at Dean/Chair meeting
  • November: staff open forums

Please feel free to reach out to LMS Taskforce colleagues with questions, concerns, and input. This work is very much a shared governance, open and transparent process.

For more insight into Bb use from the student perspective, read the Blackboard Student Experience at Wentworth.

For insight into how faculty implement Bb tools in their courses to support classroom delivery and student learning, read the analyzing data from Blackboard blog.