Blackboard 9.1: What's New?

Users will enjoy not only a new look in Blackboard 9.1, but advanced user interface functionality such as drag and drop, inline edit capabilities and consolidated page layouts.  Instead of separate receipt pages, inline confirmations are used throughout the system for more seamless workflows and fewer clicks necessary to complete tasks.

For more information, visit the Tutorials page.

Blackboard 9.1 also includes several innovations that are grouped in the following categories:
  • Groups of students can work on and submit assignments together, as well as individually.
  • Instructors have the ability to assign a single grade to all of the students in the group but they may also override an individual's grade if necessary.
  • Instructors have the ability to permit multiple attempts of the same assignment, allowing students to edit, add to, and improve their original effort and instructors to provide a grade and feedback for each submission.
  • NOTE: The functions of the new Assignment tool made the Digital Drop Box obsolete. The workflows in the new Assignment tool enable users to accomplish the same tasks as the Digital Drop Box.
  • Individual Journals allow students to record their course experiences and what they are learning. These thoughts can be a private communication between a student and the instructor or shared with everyone in the course. Journal entries can be commented on by the author and the instructor. Others are able to read public Journals, but they cannot comment on them.
  • Group Journals allow groups of students to reflect collaboratively on their course work and comment on their fellow group members' findings. To maintain privacy, Journal entries may be added anonymously by group members.
  • Individual Blogs provide each student with his or her own area to publicly share thoughts and work with others in the course and to receive comments and feedback on entries. Avatars added by students will be displayed in their public space to help personalize the page.
  • Course Blogs allow all users in the course to share their thoughts and work in one common area that everyone can read and comment on. All entries are posted to the same page to help promote collaboration among all course members. Users can add entries and comment on entries anonymously to maintain privacy.
  • Group Blogs allow groups of students to collaboratively post thoughts and comment on each others’ work while all other users in the course can view and comment on their entry.
  • NOTE: The functions of the new Blog and Journal tools make Student Homepages obsolete. 
  • The new Wiki tool allows instructors to create Wikis for courses, organizations, and groups to host collaborative content and group projects.
  • The Group creation options allow instructors to easily create and enroll students into any number of groups at one time.
  • Instructors also can empower students to create their own groups so that they can take advantage of the robust group tools available in the absence of instructor participation or if they wish to create their own study groups.
Course Files
  • The new Course Files feature gives instructors the ability to upload a file once and use it in multiple areas of the course.
  • Previously, when an instructor attached a file to a course content item, that file would be placed in a "hidden" file system on the server that was invisible to the instructor.  The Course Files area allows instructors to view and manage all files related to their course content.
Grade Center
  • Grade Blogs and Journals: Instructors can enter grades and feedback for Blogs and Journals for individuals and for Groups within the Blog and Journal areas without having to navigate to the Grade Center, or they can enter them directly in the Grade Center. This enables instructors to enter grades within the Blog or Journal so that the grading process is completed in context. All grade entries made within the Blog and Journal areas are automatically added to the Grade Center.
  • Rubrics: Instructors can create a Rubric to provide guidelines for grading an item. Instructors can associate the Rubric to a grading column and view the Rubric while assigning a grade. The Rubric needs to include how many entries will be required, the minimum length of entries, and the grading criteria. (This feature is accessed through the Course Tools menu).
  • Anonymous Grading: Instructors can grade assignment and test attempts while information identifying the student remains concealed. Only after the grade for the attempt has been submitted will the identity of the student be exposed.
  • Grade by Question Attempt: Question-by-question grading accommodates instructors whose preferred workflow for assignments and assessments is to enter grades by question for all students as opposed to by all questions by student. For example, an instructor may want to gain an overall feel for how the class has answered an essay question by moving through all of the students' attempts at that question before moving to the next question. Question attempt grading also provides great efficiency for the grading process by enabling instructors to immediately start grading without having to open each assessment or assignment.
Learning Modules
  • Learning Modules (previously known as Learning Units) allow instructors a way to select how material is presented and how students proceed through the material.
  • The new Table of Contents View allows instructors to choose whether to present the content contained in the Learning Module in a hierarchical, outline-style format. Using this view, a student will be able to navigate through the Learning Module in the manner prescribed by the instructor. If the Table of Contents is selected, the Instructor can also select the numbering or lettering format to be used in the Table of Contents.
  • Instructors may create folders and sub-folders within Learning Modules and populate them with content. As the Learning Module is populated, the Table of Contents will be created accordingly and numbered or lettered automatically in the format selected by the instructor. New content items, such as Mashups and Lesson Plans, can be incorporated into Learning Modules.
Lesson Plans
  • The Lesson Plan feature enables instructors to create a structured unit plan with distinct and customizable sections that provide a means of documenting information such as description, learning level, delivery instructions, and so on. Lesson Plans also include content designed for an individual unit using any type of content or tool enabled in the course.
  • The term "Mashup" refers to displaying data from one third-party application in another application.  This ability to consume and re-use external content offers the opportunity for instructors and students to incorporate content generated and hosted elsewhere (such as YouTube, Flickr and SlideShare) into course activities.
Tests, Surveys and Question Pools
  • Question Finder: Instructors can create Tests, Surveys, and Pools by reusing questions that have been collected in the Question Finder repository. The list of questions available under “Find Questions” can be filtered by Test, Survey, or Pool, or by such attributes as question type, category, topic, or level of difficulty. As the user selects these attributes, the list of questions updates dynamically. The filtering capability is further enhanced by a search capability, which allows the user to refine the filtered list.
  • Link to Questions: Instructors can choose to link to or copy questions from any Test, Survey, or Pool within a course. Linking to a question ensures that any changes to the original question are reflected in all links. Copying a question creates a separate question that is not affected by changes to the original question. Questions can be copied between courses, but they cannot be linked across courses.
  • A new button is available in a Content Area that enables Instructors to add a textbook to a course. Instructors can manually add textbook information to the course, or they can locate textbooks in an external source, searching by title, author, subject, and ISBN.