May 2017 Issue




Go Paperless: Blackboard Assignments and Inline Grading


Are you sick of collecting reports, essays, assignments, and dragging them home? Is it painful to see that stack sitting on your desk staring back at you as you slowly mark each paper? You sit there evaluating and writing copious notes always wondering what will be read and where that assignment will end its days. When you get to the bottom of the pile, do you find that some of those papers seem to have taken on another life with their coffee stains and paw prints? Well, there is a magical elixir to all this-- Blackboard assignment tool and inline grading where you can view, comment and grade student-submitted assignment files without leaving the Grade Assignment page!


I first discovered the assignment tool when teaching online. What was once a pile of paper taunting me became online assignments that needed no printing or taking place to place. Accessing the Needs grading function in Blackboard allowed me to  open each assignment with the inline grading tool, use menu items to write notes, circle things, use colours and write everything. All my comments would always be there on that assignment with not a coffee stain or paw print in sight!


There seemed a bit of magic in this, so I’m surprised it took me longer to realize I could do the same for in class courses. Last year, I started using the assignment tools for face-to-face classes. My life is better. But it’s not just me who is better for it. My students get notice when a grade is posted; they can click and see every detail of the feedback. The assignment cannot be lost, there is a constant online reference for me and the student. I haven’t had to hand it back and wonder where it ended its days-it’s all in there, just in case.


Karen Hamilton

Professor/Online Coordinator

School of Liberal Arts and Sciences



Discussions: Creating community, critical thinking, time management and eco-friendliness


Blackboard’s Discussion board is the most frequently used teaching tool in my online and in-class courses. Because discussion forums provide the ability for asynchronous discussion to occur over a period of time, they afford flexibility of self-reflection as well as peer review and engagement.  Students are able to reflect, research, and compose their ideas before sharing them with the class, leading to more in-depth learning.  Discussion board also fosters learning by allowing students to view and respond to the work of their peers creating a classroom community-centred focus.


All discussion board postings have a time stamp allowing students and a teacher to monitor and comment on timely Module submissions. It is an essential tool in fostering students time management skills.  Discussion board is also a valuable tool to cultivate critical thinking and student leadership skills by giving students a voice. It is an extremely helpful tool for a teacher to foster participation of students who may otherwise be shy or more reserved in a “bricks and mortar” conventional classroom. I also love using Discussion board as it’s environmentally-friendly yet leaves a digital record that can be re-visited or re-assessed easily.


Irena Bourke


School of Liberal Arts & Sciences






Dear eLTI


Q. How do you grade an assignment or assessment using Grade Centre?


A. For assignments or assessments that will be submitted online, a grade Center Column is added as soon as the online assignment or assessment is created. All the online assignments or assessments waiting to be graded will be available under Grade Center - Needs Grading. For assignments or assessments submitted in-class, you will need to manually create a column for that grade in Grade Centre. Go to Full Grade Center and add a column manually by selecting Create Column.






Tech Tips


Digi Know

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Discussion Board

  • Discussion forums can be graded or non-graded.  To grade the forum, select Grade Discussion Forum under the FORUM SETTINGS. Select a number in the Points Possible field. To record the grade, use the forum chevron. Select Grade, click the Grade button on the right.  Type the grade and any feedback you may have, then select Submit. The grade will be added to your grade centre column.


    If you wish to use the Discussion forum as non-graded, select No Grading in Forum under the FORUM SETTINGS when creating the forum.





Here is a great read on innovation trends, technology adoption and change in Higher Education from the New Media Horizon Report 2017: Higher Education Edition.


If you’re in need of some inspiration as this busy semester winds down, watch Sal Khan’s TED Talk,Let’s use video to reinvent education.”






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