Thursday, 15 May 2008

Blackboard world Europe 2008 (2): Assignment submission

Right then, some more from the past Blackboard conference, as promised...

I attended 2 very interesting talks around a building block developed for Sheffield Hallam University called: 'The Assignment Handler'. It is basically an extention of the gradebook functionallity that already exists within Blackboard.

Sheffield Hallam have decided on a policy that all grades should be fed back to students in a central place, together with feedback. The central place they chose was the Blackboard gradebook. To do that they implemented the following features:
  • A transparent and consistent handling of online exams, online submitted exams and exams submitted through the assignment handling office. All these can be set on Bb, submission is logged on Bb, and results and feedback are published through bb. this creates a central place where student process can be comprehensively managed (by staff and students)
  • Some bulk-upload and download functionality. Assignments are renamed using module codes and student numbers. Feedback and marks can be uploaded in a single archive, which is useful with larger cohorts.
  • The option to withold a mark until the student has reflected on, and responded to, the feedback provided. The University is now researching to what extend this actually motivates students to engage genuinely with their feedback.
  • Generation of confirmation e-mails as receipts of submission
  • Support for group assignments
As we have just started to look into a structural sollution around online submission ourselves, this presentation was brilliantly timed. There was a lot of mumbling in the audience on the non-responsiveness from Blackboard on this issue, as many institutions have requested functionality like this before. and in all fairness, most of it is pretty generic and sensible and should probably have been part of the core product for years. In stead it is now a buildingblock that Blackboard will most likely charge us a nice extra fee for.

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