Blackboard is introducing an improvement to the Assignment tool, which I suspect faculty will be quite pleased with. The Assignment tool, as you hopefully are already aware, is the component which allows students to submit files for the instructor to review, grade, and give feedback to the student. Assignments can take almost any type of file, and
Inline Assignment Grading can convert, display, and annotate Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and PDF file formats.
In fact, between Office documents and PDFs, that’s 95% of all file types submitted via Assignments on Blackboard’s hosted systems, and I strongly suspect it’s the vast majority of file types submitted here at Palomar too. So although you won’t be able to annotate an MP3 or markup a video file, the inline grading is likely to work with most of what students will submit to you.
To give you the factory showroom view of this tool, take a look at the “Quick Hit” video that Blackboard produced about this tool:
Naturally the video they produce looks shiny, but honestly the tool does seem to work quite well in person, too. There is a fairly comprehensive write-up on the use of the grading comment components on the Blackboard Help site, if you’d care to take a look. Inline Assignment Grading is enabled now on the BbSandbox environment, so I urge interested faculty to head over there and try it out. However, if you’re interested in seeing an example on our very own system, take a look at this video where I put the tool through its paces:
As you can see, it doesn’t do everything, but… close. And what it does do, it seems to do quite well.
So when, you may ask, will we get this ability on the production Blackboard environment here at Palomar? Good question. This new tool went live from Blackboard on March 13th, so it’s still very new. However, we technically could enable it on production at any time. The exact timing of when to put this on production is being decided by wiser heads than mine, but at the very latest we will have this new ability starting in June 2013. If you have a feeling one way or the other on having Inline Assignment Grading enabled in the middle of the Spring semester, please let us know your thoughts.