Category Archives: Blackboard

Students Taking Online Courses Graduate at 50% Higher Rates

In this morning’s edition of “The More You Know” we explore Tri-C’s data behind success rates for students who take online courses.

Did you know that students who take online courses have a 50% higher graduation rate?

This data was taken from the three-year graduation data of Tri-C students who started in years 2010, 2011, and 2012 through our Office of Evidence and Inquiry.  And yes – that was 50% higher!

What about students who take online courses only?

You would think there’s a gap, right?  You would be right!  Interestingly there is a .6 point difference between students who take online only courses and all students – .6 points lower for students who take online only.  But for non-IPEDs students (that is students who are not first-time, full-time students,) students who take online only courses actually are UP .6 points in graduation rates.

So what does all of this mean?

We can’t say it’s causational – the mere taking of online courses or online only programs doesn’t mean you will learn better in order to graduate sooner and in greater percentages.  It could be that students who take online courses take them because they need them, because they otherwise would not be able to complete their degrees.

Non-traditional and post-traditional students often can’t make it to campus.  Access was one of the core reasons for expanding online education back in the 1990s, and indeed the entire history of distance education demonstrates this access mission.  Correspondence courses and radio and televised courses enabled students who otherwise would not have access to higher education the ability to gain credentials and improve their lives and the lives of their families.

So how can we improve graduation rates, gain and support more post-traditional students, and improve access (and equity) in alignment with our mission?  Do online better of course!

Happy to share the raw data!  #TheMoreYouKnow #MissionDriven


Interested in learning more about the history of distance education?  Check out this great interactive timeline one of my students created for the course I teach at Kent State University – “The Guide to Everything eLearning for the Higher Education Administrator.”

If you want to get your eLearning geek on and explore the perceptual differences between distance education, eLearning, online learning and the corresponding craze of spellings, check out this examination from the journal The Internet and Higher Education.

Blackboard Feature Focus: the Student Preview Tool

There is a new tool for faculty called the Student Preview now available in Blackboard.

Faculty who want to view their course sites as students can now do so using Student Preview without having to log out or use a separate browser session. Student Preview provides an easy way to view your course, take a test, view grades, or make sure that content is appearing when and as it should exactly how your students would see it. To enter Student Preview mode, click on the icon/button to the left of Edit Mode on your Blackboard course site:

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The top of your course site will show a message that Student Preview mode is ON:

You can now navigate your course as a student. When you are done, you can exit the Student Preview by clicking the Exit Preview button at the top of the page.

When exiting Student Preview you have some options (see image below). For example, if you wanted to see how a test or other feature would work as a student, but would not want the results remaining in the class (e.g., showing in the Grade Center), you have the option to delete the user data YOU as the student user created. If you wanted to keep a record of that information, you can instead keep the preview user data you created in your student preview for future viewing as an Instructor. Finally, you can have Blackboard remember your choice and not ask again.

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Some faculty are currently using faculty-as-student accounts to view their course sites from the student perspective. The Student Preview tool provides the same experience, but with an additional benefit: the best part about the student preview mode is that faculty can use it anytime. You do not have to wait until the course starts to view your course as a student with Student Preview!

For more information, visit

Special Issue of American Journal of Distance Education focused on Quality Matters

Check out the great articles on the research behind QM!

Great article The Impact of Findability on on  Student Motivation, Self-Efficacy, and Perceptions of Online Course Quality! 


“Findability” is a component of “usability,” whereby students can find essential course components.  Results included that courses with low findability reported lower levels of self-efficacy and motivation.

Interested in learning more about how you can get more involved with Quality Matters at Tri-C and improve findability in your course?  Contact


Blackboard Important Updates for Faculty – Start of Term

A few important updates for the beginning of the new summer term are below.  If you use Blackboard for any modality (online, blended/hybrid or as a supplement to your F2F course) please read the entire post as it may greatly assist your Fall setup.

  • YouTube Videos: As you may have been aware, this summer there was a national problem with YouTube videos that were added to Blackboard using the Mashup tool.  Blackboard recently released a fix which we tested and then implemented in our system.  YouTube videos that have been added to courses through the Mashup tool should now work!
  • On the public Tri-C website we now have updated resources for faculty in a by-technology format.  Find that here:  It includes help documentation and how-tos on:  Blackboard, Softchalk, Adobe Connect, Respondus, Camtasia Relay, publisher information, and Sharestream (still in a relatively Beta rollout.)
  • You will now find links to these faculty tools after logging into Blackboard now that the Blackboard Tab is no longer on My Tri-C Space.  These links are located in the left-hand channel:
    • Course Site Request (courses are not created automatically, you need to request their creation)
    • Cartridge Load Request Form
    • Blackboard Incompletes Tool
    • Manage Blackboard Support Users
    • Bb Server Status Log
    • Respondus & Studymate Author Download
    • We encourage you to watch the brief video about Global Navigation located just above those resources as it greatly improves how you can manage your courses including filtering discussion board posts from multiple courses and notifications when students submit assignments.
  • Questions Re: TFOL Faculty Training: If you have questions for TFOL (Teaching for Online Learning aka Blackboard) training for Fall 2015, please contact Dr. Charles Dull at:
  • ITS, TechNow, and Blackboard Help: ITS is now running Blackboard help, branded TechNow in combination with other college technology support.  You can still contact help for Blackboard at the same number:  (216) 987-4257.
  • In related news, you may have noticed that the company Blackboard may be exploring a sale.  Blackboard has been sold before, most recently in 2011. An acquisition would impact them at a corporate and structural level and should not change your day-to-day experience.  All of your files and content will be maintained in the same way.

As always, please “Follow” us by entering your email into the field on the left-hand sidebar of the eLi blog at (picture on left.)  You’ll receive automatic emails when news and upgrade notices are posted.

Have a great start of term!  – Sasha

New Blackboard Organization from My Tri-C Space

Beginning July 13, 2015, how you interact with Blackboard from My Tri-C Space will change.  

My Tri-C Space is being upgraded, and we’re upgrading how you access your critical Blackboard resources (both faculty and students.)  Now all the core features you needed from the Blackboard tab will be within My Blackboard, which is the page you “land” on immediately after logging into Blackboard.

Check out our fantastic before and after pics below.

Before 😦

My Blackboard Page - Before


Screenshot of Blackboard module page after changes
You can find your core faculty resources in the left-hand “channel,” help is in your upper right-hand corner, your updates are right in the middle, and your courses haven’t moved.  There’s a library module and, in the upper left-hand corner, we’ll show you how to access Blackboard using “Global Navigation.”  It lets you easily find your grades and discussion board posts across courses, and lets you customize alerts you want to receive for due dates or assessments.


What’s New in Blackboard? (In Summer 2015)

With the recent Blackboard update, several new functions were added or significantly updated for faculty. Here are four tools that are new or improved in Blackboard this summer. A link to more information from Blackboard Help is available at the end of each paragraph:

Anonymous Grading​New!  With the new Anonymous Grading function, instructors can hide student names from submitted Assignments for anonymous grading. This new option is only for use with new or existing Blackboard Assignments and is set up from the Assignment Grading Options area. Instructors still have the ability in the Grade Center to “Grade with User Names Hidden” for Assignments and Tests/Quizzes.  Learn more about Anonymous Grading from Blackboard Help.

Delegated GradingNew!  The new Delegated Grading option enables instructors to assign specific Instructors, TAs, or Graders in a course to grade a particular set of student Blackboard Assignments. This is helpful for courses with multiple instructors, and can be used in combination with Anonymous Grading. Learn more about Delegated Grading from Blackboard Help.

SafeAssignUpdated!  SafeAssign is now a part of regular Blackboard Learn Assignments. You can choose to use SafeAssign by selecting Submission Details and selecting ” Check submissions for plagiarism using SafeAssign” for any new or existing Blackboard Assignment. Note that SafeAssign reports do not appear for Anonymously graded assignments until all grades are submitted and student identities are revealed. Learn more about the new version of SafeAssign from Blackboard Help.

Student PreviewNew!  Instructors can now view their course as a student in their course site by using the Student Preview tool. This lets instructors see the course from the student perspective without logging out and logging in again with their faculty-as-student accounts. Faculty can use the Student Preview to submit assignments and tests, to create blog, discussion, and journal posts, and to view the My Grades area from the student perspective. Faculty can also choose whether to keep or discard the preview user and its data when exiting the Student Preview view of the course. Learn more about the Student Preview tool in your Blackboard course sites from Blackboard Help.

As always, some aspects of Blackboard may not work as they should. Visit the Known Issues page for a current list of Blackboard issues. If you are experiencing an issue and don’t see it listed on the Known Issues page, please contact us at or (216) 987-4257.

Summer 2015 Blackboard Updates – Coming on May 15

Now that the Spring semester is coming to an end, it is time to do some Blackboard updates!

The Office of eLearning & Innovation and Information Technology Services will be applying updates to Blackboard on Friday, May 15. To complete these updates, Blackboard will be unavailable on Friday, May 15 between 4am-12pm.

After the updates, faculty and students will see some new and enhanced Blackboard functionality. These new improvements will include new Anonymous and Delegated Grading options and SafeAssign options that are integrated into all Blackboard Assignments.

Faculty – if you want to know more about these new tools, you can read more in Blackboard’s Help pages:

Watch this blog in the coming weeks for more information about these and other changes to Blackboard at Tri-C!

Over 70% of CAOs Say Online Learning is Critical to Their Long-Term Strategy

The new Babson Study – Tracking Online Education in the United States, indicates that over 70% of Chief Academic Officers say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy.  Even more, 74.1%, rated learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to face-to-face courses.

Online is still growing at a much greater rate than face-to-face college enrollments.  There was a 3.7% increase in the number of distance education students, which accounts for almost 75% of all enrollment growth in higher education in the US.  That includes in the average a 7.9% decrease in online enrollments at for profit colleges.  At public colleges, the percentage of growth is even higher – 4.6%.

What concerns remain?  Only 28% of academic leaders believe that their faculty accept the “value and legitimacy” of online education.

Retention and success metrics remain a persistent challenge, though many studies including the US DOE’s own research, has concluded that online courses are as effective as face-to-face courses.  Community College students face specific challenges in online courses, with retention rates lower across the board.

Tri-C students who take one or more online course graduate in greater percentages than those who do not, a trend that has been widening over the past few years.

Find the full Babson report here:

Find the accompanying infographic here:

What’s New In Blackboard SP14!

We are now running Service Pack 14 on Blackboard Learn.  Here are some of the new features that are available to faculty and students.

  • Faculty and Students can view Course Messages notifications on the Update page of the Global navigation menu, or via email. Use this link to view and modify your Notifications settings.course messages recieved
  • Faculty can adjust the uppermost value on Grading Schema. schema_mapping                             and,
  • Students can re-order items in My Grades and sort the display by due date and last activity.                             my_grades_sp14

Have questions?  Drop us an email at and we will be happy to answer your question.

We are working on improved Blackboard mobile functionality so watch the blog for more updates!