Blackboard LogoAt the end of the 2011 fall semester we will upgrade our Blackboard system from Blackboard 9.1 Service Pack 4 to Backboard 9.1 Service Pack 6. Fear not, this Blackboard release primarily fixes bugs and functionality behind the scenes; you may not even notice the change! Continue to prepare your courses in UTC Online for the spring as usual.

However, there are some useful new features to bring to your attention.

  1. Interactive Rubrics
    Rubrics are not new to Blackboard; the previous version of rubrics in Blackboard could be used as a reference tool for instructors when grading assessments. Rubrics could be attached to assessments in the Grade Center and viewed by the instructor while grading. Service Pack 6 provides the same rubric tool but now allows both students and instructors access to rubrics, in addition to interactivity during grading.

    The new interactive rubrics can be attached to Blackboard Assessments and viewed by students prior to an assignment due date, ensuring your requirements and expectations are clear. Additionally, the instructor can use rubrics as a grading mechanism to provide consistent grading and specific criterion based feedback to students. Completed rubrics can be attached to a student’s returned grade and made available to students in their My Grades area. Rubrics are available from the Control Panel > Course Tools > Rubrics or while creating an assessment. Learn more about using Interactive Rubrics here.

  2. Grading Enhancement for Blogs, Journals, Discussions and Wikis
    Instructors can now grade these interactive course tools based on their own participation criteria. This enhancement allows the instructor to control when a student’s graded blog, journal, and discussion or wiki participation shows up as “Needs Grading” in the Grade Center by setting a number for the Needs Grading status. For example, students’ work within a discussion forum, with a Needs Grading status requirement of 3 posts, will not show up in the Grade Center with a status of Needs Grading until a student has posted to the discussion forum at least 3 times. Learn more about Blackboards interactive tools here.
  3. Timed Assessment Enhancement
    In previous versions of Blackboard instructors could set a test timer. However, students were allowed to continue taking a test after exceeding the time limit. The latest version of Blackboard gives instructors more options. Instructors can now check the option to Auto Submit student exams once the allotted test time expires. Auto submitted tests save completed questions and give zero points for incomplete questions. An auto submitted tests then appears in the grade center like any other test. Learn more about Blackboard tests and surveys here.

SavedService Pack 6 also includes Auto Save for test and survey questions. Question responses are automatically saved when students moves on to the next question on a test or survey. It is no longer necessary for students to manually save their answers during a test; answers are automatically saved after each question is answered.


Over the summer UTC Online transitioned from Blackboard 8 to Blackboard 9. Blackboard 9 offers a host of new tools and features that were not available on 8. Mash-ups (You Tube Videos, Flickr Photos), wikis, and journals are just a few of the new features. To learn more about what’s new in Blackboard 9 visit the recent post UTC Online Upgrade: Blackboard Switch Made.

Visit WTRC to learn more about what’s new with UTC Online and to register for upcoming seminars on instructional technology. Follow UTC Online on Twitter to get daily updates, tips and tools.


Erin Noseworthy
Senior Instructional Designer
Walker Teacher Resource Center