Service Pack 11 | Service Pack 13


Gloucester County College will be moving to Blackboard Learn 9.1 Service Pack 13 (SP13) on Friday, August 30th, 2013. This move is important because it solves a lot of issues on the back end, which should allow us to implement real-time integration rather than having to rely on manually running files multiple times a day to keep enrollment up-to-date. SP13 also offers some important enhancements that we are sure you, as faculty, will appreciate greatly.

Keep reading for more information about the new feature enhancements.

Test Availability Exceptions
Availability Exceptions are now here! Those who have been wrestling with Adaptive Release now have a much better way to release a test one way to most users in their course and then create exceptions for specific users (or groups of users). For instance, the majority of students in the course will get 1 hour to complete a test and will be allowed only 1 attempt, but one or more specific students can have additional time and attempts. There is no longer a need to create duplicate tests! Additionally, if a student misses an exam and the instructor allows the student to make it up outside of the previously assigned availability dates, this new feature will allow an instructor to easily release the exam to the student during a new set of dates without the worry of accidentally releasing it to students who have not been permitted a re-take.

Test Avalability Screenshot
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Test Feedback Automatically Released
Feedback for tests can be set to automatically release under specified conditions. Currently, faculty members have to go back into the test options for a test in order to allow students to see submitted and correct answers after all students have taken the test. With this new feature an instructor can choose to allow students to view only their grade after submitting the test, but have additional feedback (such as submitted and correct answers) released to students once the Due Date for the test has passed, once all students’ attempts have been graded, or on a certain date. There are other options as well which should meet your needs.

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Test Access Log
A Test Access Log that will allow instructors to see whether a student ran into any problems while taking a test is now available. The access log shows a detailed list of every interaction that students engage in when taking a test. If a student claims to have started a test, the log will show the time has started. If a network or internet disruption occurred during the test, for example, the log would show an unusual gap in the time. This log is accessible via the Attempts page of a test.


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Gloucester County College moved to Blackboard Learn 9.1 Service Pack 11 (SP11) on Sunday, May 19th, 2013. Those who taught during the summer semester have already experienced and enjoyed the new features, but for many of you who are returning after a summer away, these features will be new to you.

Below you will find information on the most important and impactful new features introduced in SP11.

My Blackboard Top RightMy Blackboard

The first thing you might notice upon logging into eLearning is the My Blackboard area. You can access this area by clicking on your name in the top right corner of the screen. This new area is used to keep faculty and students up to speed with what’s going on in their corner of eLearning. Users receive notifications when new discussion board posts are made, when tests are made available, and for a whole host of other important items.

Q. Will I get an alert when I receive a new message?
A. Unfortunately Blackboard has still not worked alerts in for messages. All users will still need to visit each individual course’s inbox to see if they have any new messages.

Q. I’m getting too many alerts. How can I change what I get alerts for?
A. Click on your name and then at the bottom of the new window, choose the SETTINGS and then select Edit Notification Settings. This page will allow you to set notifications for each course you’re associated with. You can also do this from the Notifications Page accessible via the left side of the My Blackboard menu (click the icon that looks like an alarm clock).

My Blackboard Post
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The Calendar tool has gotten a much-needed facelift! Whereas the SP8 calendar was entirely static and did not pull assignments, tests, discussion boards, etc. onto the calendar automatically, this new calendar does! The new Calendar tool uses Due Dates to add items to the course calendar automatically, so any items where you can assign a Due Date can benefit from this feature.

Remember:  Due Dates do not affect the availability of an item; you must set availability dates to restrict access to an item. If you don’t use availability dates but use a Due Date of May 20th, the item will remain available to students after May 20th. The best practice would be to make the Due Date the same as the Available Until date for each item if you want to prevent students from submitting after the deadline.

Every user (faculty and students) will have access to multiple calendars from anywhere the Calendar tool exists. What this means is that users will have the ability to display items from all of their courses on a single calendar, or they can pick and choose which events show up on their calendar.

Q. What if I had content on the old calendar?
A. Don’t worry! All content that you have manually input using the old Calendar tool will still be there. If you added dates to the old calendar to signify when a test or assignment was due, these calendar items will not link to the test or assignment (the way new calendar entries do), but they will still be listed on the calendar.

Q. What if I have Due Dates on items already, but I didn’t add them to the old calendar?
A. Any item in your course that has a Due Date will automatically be sucked into the new Calendar tool! This means you don’t have to go back and edit anything. If you haven’t assigned Due Dates to anything in your course, however, you will need to do that to get the items to automatically appear on the new calendar.


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The Discussion Board tool has been redesigned to allow interaction to take place on a single page. Once a student or faculty member enters a thread posted in a forum (the Thread Detail page), he or she will be able to reply to posts without leaving the page. The most exciting part of this new feature is that students and faculty will be able to see the text in the post they’re replying to, as when the “Reply” button is clicked, a box will load directly under the original post.

Another handy feature is that when a student is creating a new thread in a forum, the forum’s description (where instructions are usually typed) will appear at the top of the page.

You also now have the option of forcing a student to create their own thread before they’re allowed to read or interact on other threads. This encourages students to create their own, original content rather than borrow ideas from classmates.

Q. What happens to all the discussion posts I made in courses before the upgrade?
A. All discussion boards, threads, and replies have remained intact through the upgrade. Everything that was there before will be there now.

Q. When I get to the Thread Details page, things seem to load slowly. Is that normal?
A. The initial load of the page may take a little longer than it used to, but once the initial page is loaded everything should react much more quickly for the remainder of your session.


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Inline Grading for Assignments

Now faculty can grade student assignments without downloading the file to their own computer! The Inline Grading tool allows faculty to view a student’s paper within their browser window where they are able to add comments and feedback to the paper directly. When the paper is graded and returned to the student for viewing, the student will be able to view the feedback left for them so they can better understand their grade.

Q. Is inline grading available for SafeAssignments?
A. Not currently.


A few other things you may notice in SP11:

  • The content editor (sometimes called the text editor) has gotten an overhaul. Copying and pasting from Word works great now!
  • You’re now able to record video directly in your course, anywhere you see the content editor. Just click the small camera icon all the way on the left of the bottom row of editing icons and you will be prompted to log into your YouTube account. Without ever leaving eLearning you can now record, upload, and then post a video.
  • The collapsible course menu should now cause less confusion. When the side menu is collapsed, a small tab appears when a user puts their mouse over it. Also, if the course menu is collapsed, the next time the user logs in it will be expanded again. In SP8 the collapsed menu would persist through all subsequent logins.