At the end of the semester, Blackboard will be upgraded to a new version (9.1). As a result, some of the features in Blackboard will be changing. The basic functions will remain the same, but implementation of those functions will work a little differently.
It is important that any instructor who uses the features below learn about the upcoming changes!
EdTech will be more than happy to provide assistance with using the changed features. Contact EdTech for more information and assistance.
Here are the features that will be changed:
- Wimba Live Classroom – This feature is a virtual classroom environment. It is being replaced by Blackboard Collaborate, which has most of the same functionality. To learn more about Blackboard Collaborate, or participate in the current pilot program, contact EdTech.
- The 1-800 number that was available for Wimba sessions will NO LONGER BE AVAILABLE. Students (and Instructors) who wish to add their voices in order to participate in a Collaborate session will need to purchase a webcam/microphone or a separate microphone. These are very cheap and easy to obtain either online (e.g. Amazon.com) or through a local retailer (e.g. Walmart, Best Buy, Radio Shack, etc.).
- Other Wimba tools (Voice Authoring, Voice Board, Voice Email, Voice Presentation, Voice Podcaster) will still be available.
- Blackboard purchased Wimba some time ago (along with Elluminate, which is the foundation for Collaborate), thus all of the tools provided by Wimba now belong to Blackboard. The best features of Wimba and Elluminate were combined into Collaborate. The other Wimba tools appear to have been left alone for the most part.
- The functionality of the Voice tools hasn’t changed in the new Blackboard 9.1 environment.
- Blogs and Wikis (Learning Objects plug-in) – In the current version of Blackboard (9.0), blog and wiki tools are provided by a third-party vendor plug-in (Learning Objects). In the new version of Blackboard (9.1), these functions will be provided by Blackboard’s built-in blog and wiki tools.
- Blackboard also has a journal tool, which is similar to both a blog and a wiki. The journal tool is similar to a blog in that it can be configured to allow only one contributor (a student) and to be viewable only to the student and the instructor. Or it can be set to be an open journal visible to all students. Journals can also be collaborative (much like a wiki), allowing for multiple contributors. Groups can use the journal tool to record important information for various projects and assignments.
- Blackboard’s built-in tools integrate directly into the Grade Center much better than Learning Objects’ tools, and are also compatible with other Blackboard features such as the grading rubrics.
EdTech will be providing more information about the transition to Blackboard 9.1 over the next several weeks, through the end of the semester. EdTech will also be offering opportunities to learn more about these and other features through on-campus workshops. Stay tuned for updates!