I agree that Bb is a great tool when students use it properly. Having Bb handle the “checks and balances” of assignments takes a lot of pressure off the instructor. For me, it keeps me organized and on task. After I sign in, I immediately check to see what needs to be graded. More importantly, it allows me to see who has been on and who has not, easily.
Recently, I was looking for the Early Warning System on Bb. When the system was upgraded, it was revised and renamed Retention Center. While figuring out the new system,The note was prewritten. It was so easy. After just a few keystrokes, I was able to add the student to the monitor list and send an email. I did not have to toggle between Send Email and Grade Center or Early Warning. Much easier!! I sent one student two notifications less than a minute apart for two separate issues.
I have an assignment much like Susan’s “This is Me” discussion board posting (Db) on Bb. Graduate students (who mostly are in-service classroom teachers) are asked to create a one-page one-sided newsletter telling their students’ parents what to expect this semester in their K-12 classrooms. Requirements for the assignment include a photo of themselves and use of graphics and typesetting of the letter. In the newsletter they inform parents of one or more assessments that will be used in the classroom and planned remediation strategies. They then have to upload the newsletter as a PDF onto Blackboard, read their classmates’ newsletter and comment. The assignment allows me to learn my graduate students’ names more easily by having them post their photos in the newsletter.
Getting students to check the Bb site every few days to post and respond has been challenging until they realize that they are not getting the full credit that they think they deserve. In the past, I have had students who did not want to link their regular email address to Bb because they thought that they would get lots of junk mail from both QC and CUNY. As a result, they missed getting an announcement that I posted online and sent via Bb to their Bb registered email address.
Last year, when it began to snow heavy on the Wednesday following Hurricane Sandy, I set up an announcement which was then emailed to all the students. Several students emailed me from other email accounts, asking whether I was cancelling class. Their emails were sent after I had already sent out the notice from Blackboard!! I sent a short email back Check Blackboard. At the next session, which was held in the I Building, I again suggested that they change their email address. Several went to the help desk nearby to change it. Now at the first session of class, I ask them to check that Bb is connected to the most accessible email account.
I have not used SafeAssign recently. The major assignments, as required by my department, must be uploaded and assessed on Chalk and Wire. I am considering having the students post the major assignment on SafeAssign prior to posting the assignment on Chalk and Wire to check for plagiarism. Most other assignments I want posted on the Discussion Board so that students can learn from each other. As they are each teaching different grade levels and subjects in varied school districts in New York City and surrounding suburbs, it allows them to learn more about challenges faced by others.