Blackboard upgrade coming spring semester

December 6, 2012 | UToday
By Staff

Over the past year, Blackboard has released two upgrades to its Blackboard 9.1 learning system platform: Service Packs 8 and 9.

Service Pack 8 introduced a number of new features, while Service Pack 9 corrected a number of problems introduced in previous versions.

“Since their initial release, Learning Ventures has monitored other schools as they’ve upgraded to Service Packs 8 and 9, and we’re now confident that we safely can take advantage of the many new features and enhancements that these upgrades offer,” said Dr. Jeff Jablonski, senior educational technologist in Learning Ventures. “We will roll out Service Packs 8 and 9 for spring semester.”

The upgrade will take place Thursday, Dec. 27, starting at 2 a.m. During the upgrade process, Blackboard will be unavailable for most of that day.

“Faculty members can rest assured that all of their existing course materials and development work on our current version of Blackboard 9.1 will be carried over to the upgraded version,” Jablonski said.

He pointed out some of the new features the upgrade will offer:

• Enhanced user interface: The upgraded version of Blackboard will include an interface that’s both new and familiar to users while providing a cleaner, more modern interface with easier navigation for faculty and students.

• Themes: There’s a new default theme as well as more than 50 new professionally designed themes to choose from so that you can match your course to your subject matter and color preferences. Applying a theme does not affect course content and can be changed at any time.

• Quick setup guide: The quick setup guide (or wizard) provides an easy way to choose an appropriate theme and structure for your course while providing support for most popular pedagogical methods.

• Automated re-grading: One of the most requested features in Blackboard has been automated re-grading of tests and quizzes. With automated re-grading, faculty can drop, give full credit, change point values or change which answer is marked correct for any question and the system instantly will re-grade all submitted assessments.

• Negative marking: This feature will allow faculty to apply negative point values to certain incorrect answers to discourage students from guessing or choosing egregiously wrong answers on multiple-choice tests.

• Task-based navigation: This feature will allow faculty members to easily jump from one course to another so that they can perform similar tasks across multiple courses.

• Standards and goals alignment: This is a new set of tools that enables direct editing, creation, alignment and reporting on standards, objectives and goals. Faculty will be able to measure student performance against standards taught and gain greater insight in to the achievement of specified learning outcomes.

• Activity and performance reporting: Standards reporting includes student views against standards, as well as a standard-centric view of aggregated student performance.

• Course-embedded assessment: There will be more types of reports available for rubric-based assessment.

• Enhanced standards support: Blackboard has increased its commitment to open standards so that materials can be shared more easily across different platforms.

Those who would like to learn more about the new features introduced in Service Pack 8 should watch the webinar titled “What’s New in Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1 SP8 for Higher Ed Educators” here.

Or see the Service Pack 8 at a glance summary.

For questions or more information, contact Learning Ventures at or call 419.530.8835 and ask to speak with one of the instructional designers or educational technologists.

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