The Snowflakes are Coming! The Snowflakes are Coming!

Bentley Snowflake photographThe last few mornings have been a chilly reminder that winter is coming. With winter comes snow and the possibility of snow days. Early predictions about this winter’s weather vary from NOAA predicting a warmer and wetter winter to Old Farmer’s Almanac predicting a colder and snowier winter. Local forecasters are suggesting a milder early winter with significant snowfalls later in the winter.

In any event, it’s probably a good thing to be prepared for the possibility of snow days or other events that might mean canceling class. If you are using Blackboard to support your course you already have a head start.

Depending on how you teach, how you  prepare will be different. Classes that are more discussion based can transition to online discussions either through the Blackboard Discussion Board tool or using VoiceThread or Piazza discussion tools. More lecture focused classes might be replaced with recorded lectures using either open educational resources (think YouTube, TedTalks, iTunesU content) or by recording your own content.

Blackboard is presenting a webinar on December 1st 11 AM – Noon EST discussing how to use Blackboard to avoid missing class. To register for that session go to and register.

LIT will also present an online training during December and into January where we’ll discuss some strategies to shift some class sessions online and some of the tools you have available to help you. Watch for announcements.

Calculating Grades in Blackboard

The gradebook in Blackboard is called “Grade Center” and is accessible through the Control Panel.

Before attempting to set up the Grade Center you should document how you want the final grade to calculate. We suggest using a very simple grading system where the weighting is based on the points per assignment, test, project, etc. Common grading systems are based on 100 or 1000 total points and the final grade is calculated as the points earned as a percentage of the total possible points. This is an easy system for students to understand and to track their grades.

In this type of grading system the grade for a course might be calculated as follows:

Item Points Points Possible
Exam 1 200
Exam 2 300
Paper 1 100
Paper 2 200
Final Project 200
Final Exam 500
Total Points Possible 1500

Grade is calculated as a percentage of 1500 points possible.

Alternatively, grading can be weighted. Weighting can be by item or category in Blackboard.

Example of weighting by item (column):

Item (Points Earned/Points Points Possible)*Weight Points Toward Final Grade
Exam 1 (200/200)*10 10
Exam 2 (300/300)*15 15
Paper 1 (100/100)*10 10
Paper 2 (200/200)*15 15
Final Project (200/200)*20 20
Final Exam (500/500)*30 30
Total Points Possible for Final Grade 100

Weighting by category can be either proportional or equal weight:

Example of weighting by category:

Category Proportional Weight to Columns Equal Weight to Columns
Exams (200+300+500)/1000*55 = 55 % (((200/200)+(300/300)+(500/500))/3)*55=55%
Papers (100+200)/300*25 = 25 % (((100/100)+(200/200))/2*25=25%
Project (200/200)*20 = 20% (200/200)*20 = 20%

The templates applied to Wentworth courses are set up to total the grade entered in each column set to be included in calculations and display the course grade as a percentage of the total points possible. A column is needed for each gradable paper, exam, quiz, project, etc. When assignments, tests, quizzes, blogs, wikis, journals, and discussions are set up in Bb as gradable with points possible, columns are automatically set up in the Grade Center. Other LTI tools also can create Grade Center columns if the appropriate settings are chosen when created.

Below, we’ve listed documentation and an instructional video showing how to add a column to the Grade Center.

Adding a Column to the Grade Center (PDF| Video)

If you want to use another grading system, please contact the LIT team ( or 617-989-5428) for an appointment to help you set up your gradebook.


Have Spring Courses that need to be put up in Blackboard? Come see us!

Now that fall semester is over and our holiday break is in effect, this is a great time to start thinking about your spring course(s). LIT will be on campus from December 1st through December 23rd to work with you on site or online to assist in getting your materials into Blackboard, as well as consult in the use of best tools to support your course goals. Come see us, we’d love to work with you!

To work with us, just stop by or send us an email at


Take the Blackboard Challenge…

Don’t use Bb because you think it can’t efficiently do what you need? Using Bb and having a frustrating experience? Send your Bb challenge to and we will respond and also post the best way to meet that challenge on our blog. Take the Bb Challenge and you’ll win a prize… Stump LIT and get your name in lights…let the Bb challenge begin…

Faculty Development Opportunities during Wentworth Opening Week

LIT will offer several faculty development opportunities during Wentworth Opening Week. Two focused, facilitated information sessions will take place on January 5th in Beatty 014 (Gilbane Conference Room):

  • Rubrics for Student Engagement (9 am – 10 am)
  • Effective Group Work Tips and Tools (10 am – 11 am)

In addition, several drop-in informal Q/A sessions will be offered that week:

  • January 4th (11 am – 4 pm) in Beatty 014 Conference Room
  • January 5th (11 am – 4 pm) in Beatty 014 Conference Room
  • January 6th (9 am – 4 pm) in Admissions Conference Room WLSTN113
  • January 7th (9 am – 4 pm) in Bond Conference Room IRA Allen 213
  • January 8th (9 am – 4 pm) in Beatty 103 Conference Room

Faculty are invited to bring any questions or ideas on a variety of topics, including but not limited to:

  • Blackboard
  • Improving student participation
  • Integrating technology
  • Snow day options

For more information, please contact LIT@WIT.EDU