Missouri State University
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Blackboard News & Info

Working with Grade Center Columns

You’re able to create a variety of  columns in Blackboard’s Grade Center, but it’s not always necessary. That’s because if you utilize any of Blackboard’s built in assessment tools (Assignments, Tests, Discussion Boards, Blogs, Journals, etc…) and assign a grade to that work, that column is created for you! Along with creating columns for an assignment, there are several “total” columns that can be created as well. You can use these columns to:

  • Calculate the total grade.
  • Weight grades by column, category, or both.
  • Calculate the average grade.
  • Calculate a minimum or maximum grade.

If you’d like to learn about working with assignment or total columns in Blackboard, register for the upcoming “Blackboard Learn: Monitoring Student Activity and Performance” class through My Learning Connection or check out these articles in Experts. If you need assistance using the Grade Center, please don’t hesitate to contact the Computer Services Help Desk.

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Collaborate Resources and Training

If you are wanting to know more about the Collaborate web conferencing platform and how to incorporate Collaborate sessions in your course, Computer Services provides many resources and training opportunities. In fact, training sessions are offered year-round, and include in-person, virtual classroom, and self-paced video course formats.

Check for upcoming dates on the University Calendar and the Computer Services Help Desk website. And just contact us with any questions, or to set up a demonstration or customized training for your department or group.

Here are some of the upcoming opportunities to learn about Collaborate:

Blackboard and Collaborate: Enhancing Communications (2 hrs)
  • Tuesday, April 28th  10:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Meyer Library 205 Technology Training Center
  • Friday, May 1st  10:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Online Session via Collaborate
Green Belt Bootcamp (3 hrs)
  • Tuesday, April 14th  9:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Meyer Library 205 Technology Training Center
  • Wednesday, April 15th  2:00 – 5:00 pm
    Meyer Library 205 Technology Training Center
Collaborate Video Course (self-paced)

This is a convenient option for those who may not be able to attend a live in-person or virtual session, or who may prefer to go through the material at their own pace. Contact the Help Desk to request access.

See more Collaborate Training and Resources on the Computer Service Help Desk website, including:
Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning

Instructional designers at the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL) are available to assist faculty with creative ways to use Collaborate and other tools in their courses. To make an appointment with an FCTL instructional designer, call 6-3059 or email FCTL.

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Edit Mode and Item Availability

If you’ve ever logged onto Blackboard and have found that you’re unable to add content or work as you’re used to, it’s likely that your Edit Mode button is Off. To turn Edit Mode back on, just click the button on the top right hand corner of your course. Full instructions can be found here.

Another common issue instructors face is emails from students stating that they can’t see a particular item in Blackboard. The settings to check are in the Edit function of the particular content that the students can’t access. In that menu, check to make sure that the item is Available (or the Permit Users to View This Content is Yes) and ensure that the Date and Time Restrictions are appropriate. An example can be found here.

If you have any issues with Edit Mode or Item Availability in Blackboard, please contact the Computer Services Help Desk.

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Online Testing With Blackboard

In Blackboard, a Test is a multi-question assessment. A Test doesn’t have to be given as a unit or chapter ending exam, either. A Test can even be excluded from the Grade Center so that it functions as a review for students. To learn how to utilize Tests in Blackboard, visit this page in Experts. If you have any questions about Tests in Blackboard or need any assistance, don’t hesitate to contact the Computer Services Help Desk!

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The Retention Center

Blackboard’s built in performance monitoring tool, the Retention Center, provides an easy way for you to discover which students in your course are at risk. You can communicate with struggling students and help them take immediate action for improvement. You can also keep track of patterns over time. For more information about the Retention Center, check out this article in Experts.

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Using Assignments to Accept Student’s Submissions

The Assignment feature is an easy way to accept your student’s submissions online. When you create an Assignment, Blackboard automatically creates a column in your Grade Center and gives students the opportunity to submit their digital file, which you can then grade online with the Inline Grading feature. Once you’ve graded the assignment, students can view their grades and your feedback instantly on Blackboard. An added advantage to using this feature is that you’re able to eliminate paper from your assignments. For more information about the assignment feature in Blackboard, check out these articles in Experts.

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Respondus Webinars

respondus logo


Computer Services is proud to present the following webinars from our technology partner, Respondus:

Respondus 4.0: Create & Manage Exam Content
Learn how to save time by creating and managing your online exams with Respondus 4, including importing test questions from Word files, using official publisher test banks, and more.
February 12th, 2:00 pm

StudyMate: Engage Students with Learning Activities and Games
Learn how to engage students with course content by quickly and easily creating learning activities and self-assessments.
February 18th, 2:00 pm

LockDown Browser & Respondus Monitor: Prevent Cheating During Exams
This comprehensive training webinar is intended for instructors who plan to use LockDown Browser and/or Respondus Monitor with online exams.
February 27th, 11:00 am

All three webinars last 45 minutes with a Q&A period afterwards, and will be held in the Meyer Library 205 Technology Training Center. No registration is required. If you have any questions about the Respondus webinars please contact Ryan Spilken, Technical Trainer, at ryanspilken@missouristate.edu.

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Fave Five Online Testing Tips for Instructors


Giving tests through Blackboard? Use these tips to ensure the best experience for both you and your students!

  1. Don’t use Force Completion and a Timer! This combination of settings can cause several issues for students that only the Instructor can resolve. The Help Desk recommends instead of using Force Completion and a Timer,  set the test to allow only one attempt along with a Timer and Auto Submit.
  2. Make sure your students have completely logged out of Blackboard first (using the log-out icon in the top right corner) before logging back into Blackboard to begin an exam. This helps prevent time-out errors which can result in frantic emails and phone calls.
  3. Mozilla’s Firefox & Google Chrome will provide a much better Blackboard experience than Internet Explorer.
  4. Learn how to use Test Availability Exceptions! This will help in providing accommodations to diverse learners’ needs.
  5. Communicate! Make sure to let your students know exactly where the test can be found in your Blackboard Course and when it’ll be available for them to take. Adding a Due Date when deploying the test will ensure that it shows up on the students Blackboard Calendar.

For more testing tips for Instructors, check out this article in Experts. For Student oriented testing tips, refer to this page.

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Blackboard Collaborate Training

Blackboard Collaborate is a web conferencing feature built right into our learning management system. It makes online meetings with your students a breeze, and allows for robust and engaging interaction. If you’d like to learn how to use Blackboard Collaborate in your course, Computer Services offers training both online and in-person. To sign up for in-person training, look for the Blackboard and Collaborate: Enhancing Communication course in My Learning Connection. To sign up to take a video course over the use of Collaborate, head over to this site and look under “Online Live and Video Courses”. If you have questions about Collaborate or our training offerings, please don’t hesitate to contact the Computer Services Help Desk.

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