Blackboard: New Student-centric Release

bb.jpgBlackboard Inc. announced a new release of its learning management system (LMS). New functionality focuses on student retention and outcomes.

The release introduces Retention Center, an embedded feature that unveils student performance and engagement. Instructors can recognize risk factors such as missed deadlines and poor grades. Consequently, professors may identify those students that need extra help to improve their performance. Furthermore, instructors have the option to define risk factors on top of the pre-loaded ones.

Other updates include:

  • Inline Assignment Grading: Instructors can view, edit, and grade assignments without having to download or upload files. These tasks can be performed from within the LMS.

  • Updated Calendar: Users are able to drag and drop due dates and appointments. Also items can be exported and synchronized into other calendars like Google and Microsoft Outlook.

  • Improved Discussion boards: With a new social learning feature, "Post First," students have to provide a written post before being able to see what other colleagues posted.

  • Improved features for assistive technologies: Students with special needs can access course content with the help of improved navigation for sighted keyboard-only users and those that use screen readers.

Today's expectations from students and educators are reflecting a clear interest in using social technologies and analytics to help underperformers as well as to encourage free and critical thinking. Moreover, the increasing demand for online courses—and higher education being dominated and held to a standard set by Harvard—is pushing LMS vendors to improve their virtual learning environments.
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