For those that have used Blackboard in earlier iterations, this would have been called the Grade Book. Now, in version 9, it is called Grade Center.
There are some serious improvements to this version. Up until this past summer, Ryerson was running on version 7.3. One of the big improvements is that you can edit grades right in the grade center by clicking into the cell that you want to change. It operates much more like Excel now, but depending on your connection, it can be slow to enter grades directly into this interface. It’s good for a mark or two, but I wouldn’t recommend entering an entire classful of grades through this interface. You’re better off downloading the grade center and then doing it in Excel.
Downloading the Grade Center is just as easy as before, and then some. One of the new features is something called Smart Views. This allows you to customize what you see in the Grade Center and can be based upon a query. Now here’s the great part: you can download the Smart View! So if I don’t want to download all of the test scores, and assignments, and…and…and, I can simply select the Smart View and download by Smart View. This gives me the records and columns that I want, nothing more. Obviously, I don’t recommend downloading this without things like Student name or number.
Let me give you a great case for this: You have a number of TA’s that are assisting with marking. At Ryerson, we divide our classes by section number. You could be taking ITM102 at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson along with 1500 other students. So how do you know which day you attend lectures and which day you attend your even smaller tutorials? By section number. Let’s say that one lecture has 500 students in it, but they all have different tutorials. The lecture section number could be 011 and the tutorial would be 012. In the lecture you could have 12 different sections and 4 TA’s. You can set up a Smart View to have just the sections that a particular TA is responsible for (sections 011, 021, 031 and 041) which will list just those records and then have an assignment for which they are entering grades (10 mark assignment). Set up the Smart View by the TA’s name, and then they don’t enter anything they aren’t supposed to. Even better, you simply download that spreadsheet and send it to them. Have them fill in the blanks (with no formulas!) and then upload it back into the Grade Center. If you download the column from the Grade Center and the TA fills in the blanks, the header of the column has a unique identifier that Blackboard will recognize when you upload it. During the upload, Blackboard will ask you which column to upload. Keep in mind, to upload back into the Grade Center, you need to save the .xls or .xlsx file as a .csv!
There’s your first lesson. How did you do? How did I do? Let me know and what you would like to know about Blackboard.