Academic Technology @ Palomar College

New Blackboard Test Deployment Options

New Blackboard Test Deployment Options

With our latest Blackboard upgrade (to version 9.1 SP12, to be specific) the system has some new test deployment options. Now, I know what you’re thinking, the options that already existed were good enough, why does Blackboard have to keep getting more complex, grumble grumble. But I’m here to tell you that these changes are actually for the better, and will address needs that have been unmet but often requested by quite a few faculty over the years.

First off, no test deployment options have been removed. Existing tests will continue to function the way they were originally set up, no worries on that score. You still have the ability to allow unlimited attempts, or to specify a number of attempts allowed, and the default is still to allow only one attempt. You can still set time limits, although the default is to not have a time limit, and you can change the behavior to have Auto Submit end student’s test attempts when the time limit is reached. That’s all just the same as before, and the controls for it all look pretty much the same, too.

So, let’s say you like to use timed tests. Perhaps you allow your students to have 30 minutes to complete a given test. But two of your students are actually allowed to take time-and-a-half to finish, for whatever reasons. What do you do? Now, all you have to do is set an Exception to the deployment options, and allow individual students to have different time limits. Perhaps you give these two students a time limit of 45 minutes instead – no problem – and you can use Auto Submit on everyone’s tests still, too.

Let’s say you want to allow specific students to have an extra attempt at this test, but most folks are restricted to a single attempt. Set up an exception that allows specific people to have a different number of attempts, even an unlimited number. Or force most students to use Auto Submit at the time limit, but don’t require it for one student… no idea when you’d want to do that, but now you CAN do it if you need to.

Now, it is still possible to set a Due Date on a test, but… doesn’t the Due Date function seem fairly weak to you? Sure it causes the To Do module to show when a test is coming up, but that’s the sort of thing Announcements are for. Well now the Due Date on tests has some teeth. When you set a Due Date, you now have the option to prevent students from starting the test after the Due Date has passed. What does this mean, practically? Leave the test link visible to students, but only allow students to start taking the test before the Due Date. Really, you could start leaving test links always visible if you want, without any risk of students sneaking in to take the test after the test review in class.

And speaking of “after the testing period is done,” there’s an advance in the way the Score and Feedback can be displayed. Always before you had to set what students see once they’ve submitted: Score, Given Answer, Correct Answer, Feedback. You can still control that, but there is an additional layer of control now, so that your test could show students only the Score immediately after submitting their test attempts, but once the Due Date passes they can automatically see the correct answers, what they submitted, and the feedback. Basically you can set up your test to do this for you, so you don’t have to remember to modify your test options manually later on.

Sound good? Well you can see all this in action in the video below, or try it out (even on the production system) right now. And, as always, if you run into any problems or have questions, just submit a ticket to our helpdesk system.

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