Blackboard Learn™, Release 9.1 – New Features
Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1, focuses on fostering student engagement and supporting educator efficiency in a number of exciting new ways.

Fostering Student Engagement

In Blackboard Learn™, Release 9.1, there are exciting new social learning and teaching tools that foster more logical, visually impactful, and active learning opportunities for students, helping them stay connected to their educational experience 24 hours a day.     

Wikis: Promote Active Collaboration
Wikis enable active collaboration around course content and group projects. Users collaborate on a document using only a web browser. Educators can see the process and evolution of the work and even participate. Furthermore, educators can see each participant’s contributions and grade accordingly.

Mashups: Integrate Visually Engaging Content
Easily integrate rich media learning content using Web 2.0 resources from Youtube, Slideshare, and Flickr. Faculty can deliver more engaging course content in a convenient and powerful way by searching, finding, and inserting in a few clicks. Blackboard has added an accessible wrap around the YouTube player to make it accessible to everyone.

Blackboard Connect: Keep Students Connected
The integration of the Blackboard Connect platform provides students the alerts and notifications they need to better manage academic priorities and course deadlines. Students can stay informed of vital course-specific updates and deadlines through the familiar Blackboard Learn interface.
Note: this feature requires licensing an additional product.

Accessibility: Increase Accessibility
Blackboard is committed to delivering software that is accessible to everyone. Release 9.1 includes advanced accessibility options that are Gold Level certified by the National Federation of the Blind for Non-Visual Accessibility. Blackboard has improved accessibility to enable a blind person to interact more effectively with the application.

Blackboard Learn Toolbar: Aid in Powerful and Relevant Searches
The Blackboard Learn Toolbar for Internet Explorer and Firefox enhances the browsing experience for learners. It facilitates research using context aware decision support information rather than raw search results. Learners can use the toolbar to discover resources using the Microsoft Bing Decision Engine. Combined with this new way to search are notifications your students use every day from the Blackboard Learn software. Reach students with course updates where they already are – browsing on the web.  Any time their web browser is open they are connected to your institution and getting notifications from classes.
Note: this feature requires activation by the institution.

Instant Messaging Powered by Wimba: Connect Students Within the Learning Environment
Blackboard has partnered with Wimba to provide an instant messaging solution designed for education. Wimba Pronto Basic enriches collaboration amongst educators and students. Wimba Pronto Basic is now fully integrated with the Blackboard Learn™ platform. Wimba pre-populates the application with classmates so there is no need for students to collect IM addresses on the first day of class.
Note: this feature requires activation by the institution.

Echo 360: Allow Instant Access to Lectures and Learning Material
Blackboard has partnered with Echo 360 to provide a lecture capture solution for instructors to record and publish their lectures right in their course. Instructors can also create supplemental instruction, tutorials, and other communications using this solution. Personal Lecture Capture from Echo360 enables students to access published recordings of lecture materials in their Blackboard course. Since students can view lectures captured during classroom time on-demand, they can concentrate on understanding the topic and not taking down notes.
Note: this feature requires activation by the institution.

NBC News Archives: Bring Real Events into Course Instruction
NBC News Archives On-Demand enables educators to fully engage students by bringing historical and current events directly into course material and classroom discussions. NBC News Archives on Demand is now integrated with the Course Delivery and Community Modules of Blackboard Learn. Educators can access 12,000+ pieces of professionally created educational multimedia content archived in dynamic collections, then download video clips and embed them directly in the Blackboard course environment. Search the archives in multiple ways, including by subject area, related topic, or keyword.  Play videos at full-screen when used in the classroom. Read full text transcripts. The archives contain news footage of historic and current events, critical analysis and mini-documentaries covering topics from early American history to the modern day.
Note: this feature requires activation by the institution.

Supporting Educator Efficiency

In Release 9.1, Blackboard has made great strides in supporting educator efficiency. By continually improving the course workflow, Blackboard enables educators to minimize the time they spend on course building and delivery tasks, freeing up their time and energy to focus on student success, achievement, and retention.

Course Files: Manage Content at the Course Level
Course files eliminate redundancy and simplify the management of content updates. An in-course file storage structure makes it easier to keep track of documents used in courses, similar to the type of file and folder structure that is used on your PC. The new table of contents allows students to see and navigate the organization of the set of content on the same page as the materials.  A new thumbnail view and drag and drop upload applet make it quick and easy to get files into Blackboard and to view the image files.

Improved Grading: Grade in Context with More Options
Grading in Blackboard is more flexible and consistent, enabling grading to be done in line with the review process. You no longer need to go to the grade center to enter the grade. Now you can enter wiki, blog, and journal grades directly in the assignment and grade question by question or anonymously. Overall, Blackboard has enhanced the Grade Center and made the management of grading easier so you can grade the way that works best for you.

Save Grading Preferences: Efficiently Manage Grading
Educators with courses that contain a large numbers of students with many grade item columns in the Grade Center are faced with managing a high volume of data and information. Educators need ways to efficiently manage grading in Blackboard without having to scroll or multi-click their way to the task at hand. In Release 9.1, any Smart View can be designated as a “favorite” which makes it instantly accessible from the class’s front page. Imagine a scenario of an educator creating a Smart View that displays students who are falling under a certain grade threshold. By designating that Smart View as a favorite, the educator can access it from the front page Control Panel and instantly view those students and immediately take the appropriate action.

Customize Your Grading View: Develop a Personalized Workflow
The Grade Center has been enhanced in Release 9.1 to include a dynamic filter that enables an educator to instantly view grade data by selecting a category and status criteria. Using the filters, an educator can easily change the Grade Center view to show all tests that need to be graded, for example. With just a few clicks, the educator can switch to view of all complete assignments. The filters are designed to enable an educator to instantly view the Grade Center data they need.

Assessment Manager: Create Assessments in Less Time
The Assessment Manager now includes improved search, which reduces the amount of time needed to create assessments. The Assessment Manager includes new filtering and search features, multi-question selection, and a ‘staging area’ to easily peruse what questions have already been selected to streamline the assessment creation process. Random blocks have been updated to display all of the questions that can potentially be shown to test takers so that assessment designers can better anticipate the student experience.

Learning Modules: Provide Intuitive Online Structure
Learning Modules offer a simple and intuitive means for instructors to organize and structure course content with hierarchical organization so students can navigate through content in a logical, sequential way. Overall, it is a great tool for both designers and students because it offers new ways to structure and navigate content.

Content Management: Ease Management of Learning Content
Release 9.1 includes content management module enhancements that enable you to easily upload and manage content across courses and organizations.

Student Identity Verification: Ensure Academic Integrity with Acxiom Identify-X
Blackboard has partnered with Acxiom to offer its Identify-X solution for institutions that require advanced student identity verification mechanisms. Identify-X allows you to confirm student identity in advance of high-stakes and other course assessments.
Note: this feature requires activation by the institution.

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