Tidbits, Resources, and Discussion for ELI Faculty

Monday, November 17, 2008

Best Features of the BB8 Grade Center

I just attended a training on the Blackboard 8 Grade Center. I know many of you will be attending the trainings offered tomorrow and Wednesday (and I think there are still some slots available--contact ELI ID Help if you want to check!). Please post in the comments here what you like best about the Grade Center--or things you don't like, if they've made a change for the worse! This'll help us all see more quickly how we can use the Grade Center to our advantage.

I'll start us off with two favorites of mine. One is the obvious one--being able to use freeze pane to keep student names (and other columns, if you want) showing on the left even as you scroll right to see all their grades. It was so difficult to use when scrolling right meant the names disappeared and you had to mouse over the grade to see whose grade it was. What a great improvement!

My other favorite is the option to easily hide a grade column from yourself. I plan to use this when everyone has finished a certain assignment. I can then hide the column and keep the gradebook simpler (as the semester progresses, there will be fewer and fewer columns to scroll through). The grades in the hidden column will still be included in the grade total, and will still appear as normal in "My Grades" for the student, and if I need to see those grades again myself, it's easy to make the column pop back into being visible.

What are your favorite features?


Cindy Miller said...

My favorite feature is that its just easier all around. Most things require less clicks, are more intuitive, easier to see (those frozen columns) and so on. And it seems to load almost as fast as the Bb6 grade book did. I have really missed that!

My not so favorite things are those functions that seem a little harder to use. Seeing each student's grades in a list is a little harder to do--unless I just missed it the only way to do this is to generate a report. And I don't see a way to make a student a guest, and thus hide him from the grade book when he's finished the course.

Jennifer Lerner said...

Actually, you can remove students from your Gradebook in BB8 (without deleting them from your site altogether, which you still should not do)--it just doesn't require making them guests. There is a "show and hide users" feature that does this.

Laura said...

I still need to play around more indepth with this new Grade Center but a couple of changes concern me: I like to PRINT the grade record for individual students but it seems the new way of generating a "report" for printing is complicated (so many choices to make in terms of what to include or not include) as well as more time consuming (it is no longer just a matter of clicking on the student's name and there it is, all set to print. The other thing that concerns me is the ability to enter a grade "override". We can modify a grade with the new system but it does not seem as easy to see the original and override grade side by side. Another issue is with "item view" - not sure the new Grade Center has such a page where we can see JUST grades for ONE item for all students in a nice, simple list. And a FOURTH issue is that we now have a longer WAIT for this more complex Grade Center to load and it does not seem possible to right click so we can work with just one aspect of it in a new window so as to avoid the need to "reload" after each view. To access an individual assignment and leave comments on such, we STILL have to go through several clicks to get where we need to be. I was hoping THAT would be easier/quicker. I DO, however, like that now manually entered assignments can also have comments added (i.e. this is not just limited to assignments posted through the assignment manager). I suppose, with time, I'll get used to the new features, find some "work arounds" and perhaps even come to appreciate some of the new features. But, from what I've seen thus far, I'm happy enough with what we had. They did not fix the current problems and seem to have made more problems as well as made some of my current "word arounds" no longer possible.

Christine Schull said...

I have been using BB8 since May to teach several courses online as an adjunct at another institution. The main glitch I can see is in the gradebook. In Bb 7, you can pull up a column for grading and enter grades for an entire class. For example, you can put the midterm exam grades in all at one time while only hitting tab quickly between. The new approach of entering in grades by cell is tedious. The program loads the grade for each person and it takes a few seconds in between. A few seconds might not sound like a lot, but it really disrupts the rhythm of grade entry and it adds up when you have a large section. From my perspective, it is time-consuming change. It takes substantially longer for me to enter grades. The only workaround I know of is to enter my grades into excel and load the column, but that is an extra step. I really wish they would add a mechanism to load grades by column as we have in Bb 7.

Laura said...

Another drawback to the new grade center I have discovered is that if you are not using a higher resolution in your monitor (more than 600X800) you can't see more than ONE student at a time in the scrolling grade center window. When I tried the new grade center on a campus comupter, at least I could see about 4-6 names but at home I am now going to have to change my screen resolution and I don't really want to have to do this. But even seeing up to 6 names without scrolling is far less than we could see with Bb7 grade book.