As the semester begins, students are adjusting to new classes, new professors, new classmates and a new Blackboard, students’ go-to source for class updates and assignments received a makeover during the winter break.
Manager of Instructional Technology Diana Voss said this change was necessary. The old Blackboard was no longer compatible with updated internet browsers and Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLT) was receiving complaints from students who could not access the site.
“We were at the point where they were no longer going to support the version that we had,” Voss said, “and we need to make sure that we have that support because if it goes down, it’s a big deal.”
Students can still see their classes and access their grades on the new Blackboard with some new additions. Discussion board posts, grades and new content are found under the new “My Blackboard” tab.
Unlike previous years, professors can now grade papers without downloading the document to Blackboard. Additionally, students can access the annotated versions of their papers through Blackboard.
Blackboard Support Specialist Jennifer Jaiswal also mentioned a new feature which may not be as obvious as the other changes.
“They added in a new high-contrast version for anybody who has a visual difficulty,” Jaiswal said. “To make the site a little bit easier to navigate.”
Students can choose between the regular Blackboard style or the high-contrast version. This feature can be accessed in the upper right corner in the Log-in screen or in the settings found under the “My Blackboard” menu.
The Blackboard smartphone application has also changed, but unlike the web version, only its appearance is different, not its features. The application also does not give the students the ability to take a test on their phone.
“We kind of keep that a little bit more strict,” Jaiswal said. “For example, we don’t want a student to accidentally click on a link to a test and lose their only time to take it.”
Since the new application is still in the works, access to grades on smartphones is still pending. And if problems with the site arise, Voss greatly encourages students to use a feature also found on the new Blackboard: the Feedback button.
“We need students to tell us,” Voss said. “We’re listening. We just need you guys to speak up more.”
According to Voss, suggestions greatly help improve services provided by the TLT Department. This semester, the library SINC sites have earlier opening times and longer hours. Printers have also been provided in the Javits Lecture Hall, made accessible by the “Print Anywhere” application.
As of now, there will be no more changes to the Blackboard site, except for fixing certain glitches and problems that students may point out.