On Course Strategy

On the first day of each learning plan in class, provide students with a list of topics/key words to know (or assign ahead of class time). In my case it was medication information for nursing pharmacology. Have students start with different sets of meds so they are not all working on the same. Have half the class be an Eagle, the other half Hawks. Pair students up into an Eagle-Hawk team. Continue reading

Snipping Tool trick for grading purposes


I often use Microsoft’s Snipping Tool to make grading with rubrics easier and quicker. With your rubric and a few key strokes, you can grade clearly and efficiently. See the accompanying short Camtasia video for specifics. I apologize for the gravelly voice and background hum.


Snipping Tool shortcut

Due Date Banner

I have been finding a lot of ways to use the Snipping Tool lately.  If you click on the Start button on the bottom left corner of your computer screen and type snipping tool in the search box, you can access the tool or pin it to your taskbar, which I do for quick access.  The tool copies the image on your screen for the area that you want to capture.  You can save the image or just copy it into an e-mail or document.  For my online class I am starting to capture the week or two we are on from the course calendar, saving the image, and then making it the banner for the course.  So, when students enter the course they will see the due dates for that week or upcoming weeks.  To set a banner in Blackboard, once the image is saved with the snipping tool, you would click on Customization, then Teaching Style, and insert the image in the Select Banner section.  I hope my online students all look at the calendar on a normal basis along with keeping up with my reminder e-mails, but this is just another way they can visualize what they should be doing that week and make things a little clearer for them.  Below is an example of what it ends up looking like.

Due dates banner

Grading Rubrics and Blackboard

I have always used grading rubrics in the discussion board and for written assignments. However, using them during grading was a very cumbersome, manual process. I recently started using the the rubric tool in Blackboard. This awesome feature allows me to build rubrics and attach them to discussion board forums, Blackboard assignments or grade center columns. In Blackboard, rubrics are made up of rows and columns. The rows explain the various criteria of an assignment. The columns correspond to the score assigned to each criterion. A description and point value for each cell in the rubric defines the evaluation and score of an assignment. You can allow students to view the rubric(s) ahead of time so they know exactly how an item will be scored. When assessing student work with the online rubric, you simply select the appropriate level of accomplishment (score, percentage, etc.) for each criteria. The best part is you can add comments to provide much more feedback to the student. Students can then view the assigned score and your comments for their work. If you use the same rubric in more than one class, you can use the copy function in Blackboard to send it to another course. So far, student feedback has been excellent AND it saves me the time of manually attaching a .pdf version of the grading rubric to the Grade Center when grading. A win-win for us all!

Bb – Retention Center

This past week I was having a conversation with one of the Bb gurus to inquire if there was some method to quickly identify whether a student(s) submitted assignments after the deadline and the number of late assignments as it potentially impacts their grade. I know in the Grade Center, assignments submitted beyond the deadline, would be tagged as ‘late’ but I wanted the a summary without having to manually track each individual student.

To my delight, I learned about the Retention Center!  The Retention Center provides a snapshot of students’ engagement and participation for a particular course in a visual manner. It helps to identify students at risk whether it is late assignments or general activity within the course. So instead of reviewing individual components in the Grade Center, Performance Dashboard, etc., I have the ability to see a summary of all activity.

I only started exploring the Retention Center tool but expect it will be quite beneficial.  Any tool (especially those that are easy to use!) that assists me in supporting student success is priceless.

Here are a couple of links to learn more about the Retention Center:

Using the Retention Center

Retention Center Guide 

Cool Tools You Can Integrate With Blackboard Learn 9.1

Here is a link to an article from Behind The Scenes Technology that shares several “embeddable” items you can add to Blackboard Learn.  One caution: at least one these, Voki.com, requires editing the embed code to use https:// rather than http:// for website references.


Steve Sinclair
Instructional Technology Innovation Specialist
Learning Solutions