Dev Diaries #4: New Features

Welcome to the fourth post in our Dev Diaries series. Today i want to introduce Blackboard Ally, a new accessibility tool for My Dundee that we’re planning to introduce next summer. I also want to highlight a few new features that will be introduced as part of the upcoming upgrade.

Change of dates

Before that, a wee reminder that we have changed the dates of the migration so that it will now be performed over the winter closure (20th Dec – 7th January). If you missed this announcement, you can read more in this previous post.

Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally is a tool that plugs into My Dundee to help instructors ensure that their content is accessible to to the diverse community of students they support. It automatically scans content as it is uploaded to your module or organisation, performing a series of steps to make your content more accessible. Here’s a video introduction to help explain:

We’re currently working to publish a full roadmap for My Dundee and our other digital learning services and we’re currently looking to start introducing Ally next summer. You can read more via the following links:

New features coming in january

The upcoming upgrade of My Dundee is not simply about moving our VLE to the cloud, we’ll also be jumping forward an entire years worth of feature updates. Many of these updates and features are small, niche or simply bug fixes, but here’s a few we wanted to highlight.

Announcements and Push Notifications

Thousands of students are making use of the Blackboard Mobile App to access their modules each day. A particular question we’ve had is whether making an announcement in your module will alert your students through the mobile app. With this update you will not only be able to send messages this way, but your students will be able to enable push-notifications. This means they will get a pop-up on their phone or device just as if they were getting a text message. This pop-up works in addition seeing the course announcement through the app itself or when logging on to My Dundee on the web.

Note that students can edit their notification preferences.

Add Files from Cloud Storage

This one has been asked for for a while – you will be able add files to your module content areas from most common cloud storage services such as Box, OneDrive and Google Drive. When you go to attach a file to a module, you will still see the options to ‘Browse My Computer’ and ‘Browse Course’, but now you will also get a ‘Browse Cloud Storage’ option in some areas. Be warned – this isn’t yet a universal feature yet, so the option won’t appear in every situation. Student will also be able to add assignments (Blackboard Assignments, not Turnitin) from cloud storage. You can read more about it in this support post.
Also note that the future move to the new Ultra user interface will bring additional support for Cloud Storage.

Audio feedback (Blackboard Assignments)

Turnitin has supported audio feedback for assignments and now Blackboard Assignments will support this too. An instructor or grader can create personalised feedback recordings for individual assessment attempts or manual gradebook items. Each recording can be up to 5 minutes long and can be both video and audio. The option appears in the third row of the Content Editor as a microphone icon. You can read more about it in this support post.

Delegated grading (Blackboard Assignments)

When an instructor uses delegated grading, they can reconcile grades and settle on final scores after the graders have completed their assigned submissions. In this release, instructors can grant this permission to graders. The Can reconcile gradesoption appears when the instructor delegates grading. Instructors can choose to grant the permission to any or all graders who are delegated submissions. You can read more about it in this support post.

Ultra Roadmap

In a previous Dev diary, we’d spoken about the brand new Ultra Experience, which is a completely redesigned user interface from Blackboard. We can now confirm that we will be working to adopt this next summer 2019. We’re planning a wide campaign of engagement with staff and students over Semester 2 2019 so look out for more information in the new year.

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