This week I have been having a look at making the grade centre easier to read and navigate by applying colours. The grade centre can be a rather complicated beast, particularly when you have large numbers of students and various assignment points within a module. Searching and finding students work can be tricky, students who do not submit can be missed and those students at risk may fall through the net. By applying colour coding to the grade centre columns you can highlight various stages in the grading process including, ‘Needs Grading’, G grades and assessments that have not yet been attempted and let’s face it- a little bit of colour can go a long way!
Colour coding your grade centre can be useful for:
Quickly highlighting at risk students
A traffic light system to highlight various grades in the grade centre
Quickly see students who have not submitted any work and those pieces that need grading
Highlighting marks within a specific range, for example A grade students
Spotting students work ‘In Progress’ (usually online tests or online submissions)
Quickly being able to see student development (when traffic light system is employed)
To apply colour coding to the grade centre you can follow these quick instructions:
Go to ‘Full Grade Centre’.
Click ‘Manage’ and choose ‘Grading Colour Codes’.
You will now see the Grading Colour Codes page. Select the box to allow you to add ‘Grading Colour Codes’.
If you want to colour code items that are In Progress, Needs Marking or Exempt, click to change the Background Colour to your chosen colour (keep in mind accessibility issues).
If you want to colour code ranges of marks, click the ‘Add Criteria’ button. Select the criteria for highlighting:
‘Between’ two grades, ‘More than’ a grade or ‘Less than’ a grade.
Choose a Background Colour and a colour for the Text.
If you want to add more criteria, click ‘Add Criteria’ again.
Click ‘Submit’ to apply the colour coding to the Grade Centre.
This will apply all of these settings across the entire module for all assessments (which means you only need to set up your criteria once). You can copy over these settings to other sites when you do a site copy highlighting the ‘Grade centre columns and settings’ option.
For a short video on how to do this follow this link: http://ondemand.blackboard.com/r91/movies/bb91_grade_center_color_code.htm
Go on give it a whirl- and let me know what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org
The day was split into two main parts – an update on the roadmap and two case studies from Turnitin users:
December 2011 – Blackboard Direct to be released. This will be an enhanced version of Turnitin for Blackboard users
Spring 2012 – Ability to grant extensions, expanded rubric, audio comments (record and playback on pc and tablets)
Summer 2012 – Better Analytics and reporting
Winter 2012 – Translated matching – checks matching over languages – online grading for iPad and android devices.
iParadigms offer a range a training sessions to support users of their tools the full list is available at: http://www.plagiarismadvice.org/advice
Question and Answer Session with iParadigms
For interest, Barry Calvert noted that Wikipedia had the highest number of matches from all systems – 12% of all matches.
Multiple access for groups in Grademark is planned but no release date yet
There was a question over the single quote marks being included – this seems to be a UK issue and we need to vote for this on the feedback forum
Non numeric grade scales also appear to be a UK issue only and can also be voted for in the feedback forum.
Case Study 1 – Efficacy of turnitin in support for an institutional policy – Simon Starr – Canterbury Christ Church
Simon suggested the following guidelines for Turnitin use:
- Educate first – punish second
- All information should be up front
- Use in a formative manner first to allow for time on rich feedback after this the policy at CCC indicates that it may be used summatively.
From his research he noted that students mainly feel that Turnitin is about detection and policy rather than about education. Some students felt that the use of Turnitin separates students who try to write and reference correctly and those who do not.
Simon noted that students still had problems interpreting originality reports. He noted that Oxford Brookes have created some good videos which may be of use – noted that these are currently being updated at https://mw.brookes.ac.uk/display/ce6/Turnitin+help.
He noted that most student information comes from the tutors rather than any central guidance. This shows the importance of tutors having correct and up to date knowledge of the tools.
Case Study 2 – Implementing Grademark – Lessons from Cardiff University – Nathan Roberts and Judy Cousins
Cardiff have about 50,000 papers submitted per year
Grademark is being used to address NSS scores at Cardiff (Assessment Matters project)
The project has shown how a technologist and an academic working together can achieve more than either alone.
They had to provide many training sessions for the assessors on Grademark – these worked best when the actual assessment was due. If the training was done too early then information was not retained. It was noted that the technologist role was crucial at this point.
Each school developed their own rubrics within Grademark – these were checked through the quality committees.
It was found that students liked Grademark – finding it equitable and clear
Cardiff had technical problems with Internet Explorer / Grademark – they advised staff to use firefox !!
Students liked the annotation facility – however they did not like comments such as good/bad without further feedback.
Assessors were all very positive about grademark – it was noted that this could save up to 30% in time with better feedback. Some technical problems slowed this down E.g. NHS assessor had problems access the Grademark tool.
The team noted that modertation and second marking is a problem – they do not have a solution yet. It was also noted that assessors wanted a spell check facility.
Despite the reservations listed above it was stressed that Grademark generally works well and was valued by staff and students.
Tablets seem to be the new ‘must have’ device, and a few staff have been asking us for our thoughts on these. While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend a particular device, we do have a couple you can try out, and the thoughts below might be of some help.
What are they good at?
Tablets are great for carrying around. They’re small, and lightweight, and as a general rule, start-up time and battery life are both much better than a laptop. They are great for on-the-go tasks, like checking email and browsing the web. The point to remember though, is that they usually use a mobile (cut-down) version of the operating system, similar to that used in smartphones, which means that they can’t run the same type of software as a laptop or desktop computer. The software usually comes in the form of ‘apps’, which have different functionality to their desktop counterparts.
What are they bad at?
This varies between models. They usually have a mobile (cut-down) web browser installed by default, which can struggle with web pages that are not designed for mobile use. Famously, the iPad won’t play any Flash content in the default web browser (Safari), so watching video content on the web can be tricky unless there is “an app for that” (for example, there are native apps for Youtube and BBC iPlayer). It can also be tricky to transfer files between your desktop computer and your tablet, unless (for the iPad) you are an expert iTunes user, or (for Android) you use other ‘cloud’ applications to store your work online (such as Google docs).
A quick note about browsers: if you have a tablet, you don’t have to use the default browser that is already installed. Other browsers are available to download, although they may not be free.
Common tasks for University staff
We put some of our tablets through their paces to see if they could support some of the common tasks staff carry out using technology. The findings are below. If there are some more key tasks that you would like us to try out for you, please add your suggestions as comments on this post.
|Task||iPad (Apple)||Motorola Xoom (Android)|
|Syncing work email (Exchange)||Works fine, including calendars and contacts. New appointments can be added but can’t be set to private.||Email, calendars and contacts all work fine.|
|Editing documents||Has a basic Notes app already installed, that allows you to type text and email it to yourself.
The iWork suite of apps allows you to work with Word, Powerpoint/Keynote and Excel, and document transfer is done via iTunes or cloud storage services.
Google docs can be accessed via the app or the browser, although editing is fiddly.
|Doesn’t come with a basic note-taking app, although Freenote is a good one you can download, that also saves handwritten notes.
Documents, spreadsheets etc. can be imported/exported via Google docs, although disappointingly the editing functionality in the browser/app is not much better than in the Apple app.
|Using NILE* (Blackboard 9.1)||NILE can be accessed through the browser, but editing and adding new items is fiddly as it can only be done with the Visual Editor switched off.||Box pages display slightly strangely in the browser. You can add and edit items, and type using the Visual Editor, but it struggles applying settings from pop-up menus (e.g. text colours).|
|Using Turnitin and GradeMark||Originality reports can be viewed, but navigation doesn’t always work properly. Commenting in GradeMark does not work.||As with the iPad.|
|Presenting||The iPad 2 supports video output, so as long as you have the right connector, you can plug it in to the VGA lead on a lectern (as you would with a laptop), or the HDMI lead for your HD TV, and demo whatever you like.
The iPad 1 only supports video output from certain apps, like Keynote.
|Motorola haven’t as yet produced a VGA connector for the Xoom, although it does have HDMI output via the mini-HDMI socket. Apparently it is possible to adapt this to VGA output – see this forum on the Motorola site for more.|
|Adding blog posts (WordPress)||Works in the browser, but better in the (free) app, even though it does display the HTML version rather than WYSIWYG.||Slow and clumsy in the browser – again better in the app.|
|Reading e-books & journals**||Online journals: the Metalib search pages work fine, although the fact that it opens everything in a new window can mean you run out of browser windows quickly (you can only have 9 open at a time). Other useful apps include EBSCOhost, iBase (searches open access repositories, arXiv (e-prints for science subjects) and iScholarReader (Google Scholar app).
Library eBooks: Dawsonera – read online works fine, but it doesn’t seem to want to download for reading later. Safari Tech books online works fine, although watch it for it locking you out as the browser has trouble with session IDs. Netlibrary books also work for online reading, although these will soon be moving to EBSCOhost.
Other eBooks/files: The iBooks app (already installed) allows you to download from the iTunes bookstore, and EPUB/PDF files can be transferred via iTunes. There is also a free Kindle app available.
|Online journals: Metalib works fine, and opens new tabs, which is more manageable than the iPad browser. There are also Android apps for arXiv and gScholarReader (Google Scholar).
Library eBooks: Dawsonera books do not display in the browser (blank pages), and the download option doesn’t seem to work either. Safari Tech books load ok, but scrolling is tricky. The Netlibrary reader also displays as a blank page.
Other eBooks/files: The Xoom can read EPUB & PDF files, using an eBook reader app such as Aldiko (files can be transferred via USB). There is also a Kindle app available.
|Watching video||Major video streaming sites Youtube and Vimeo will play in the browser, however Flash-based video (on sites like the BBC and the University’s Video Library Server) will not.
A number of apps are available for streaming, including BBC iPlayer.
Video files can be transferred and played using the VLC app.
|Plays Flash-based video, so BBC video and the University VLS work fine, as do Youtube and Vimeo.
Video files can be transferred directly via USB. As yet there isn’t an official VLC app, but QQPlayer seems to handle most file types ok.
|Taking Photos/Video***||The iPad 2 comes with a camera that takes VGA quality stills (0.69MP). There are two options for video, with VGA quality on the front camera, or HD (720p) on the back.
There is an iMovie app but it’s only for the iPad 2, and costs £2.99.
|The Xoom has a 5MP still camera, which will take better photos than the iPad, although they don’t always look as clear on the screen.
Also shoots 720p video, and comes with an editing app (Film Studio).
*more information on accessing NILE on mobile devices will be coming soon, watch this space for more details…
**we also have a Kindle available for loan – if all you want to do is read, then this might be more suitable for you (and cheaper). You may also be interested in the Web Tools for Researchers guide.
- Blackboard Assist now available in NILE
- Are you considering using third party tools with students?
- Digital tools for Active Distance Learning (ADL) and Active Blended Learning (ABL) from the Education Team
- House-keeping and managing your Xerte account
- The New Blackboard Content Editor
- Student reflections on online learning (groupwork, interactivity and cameras)
- Mark Allenby shares reflections on teaching without PowerPoint
- New Kaltura Help Centre
- NILE is Changing! Blackboard Learn Ultra is Coming!
- Student reflections on Hyflex
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