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In this course, Patrick Crispen teaches the ins and outs of Blackboard 9 so that educators and trainers can get up to speed in the system quickly—even if they've never used Blackboard before. The course explores customizing a course site, managing users, and adding and organizing content, including multimedia. It also shows how to perform student assessments in the Grade Center, as well as how to communicate with students and encourage participation and collaboration.
To download a copy of Blackboard's Grade Center to your computer access your Grade Center and then in the top right- corner click Work Offline and then choose Download, and you can follow the on-screen prompts. Before I do that, let me tell you a few things that you need to keep in mind. When you're doing this you're downloading a copy of your students' grades. Those grades are considered to be non-directory information. They're actually protected here in the United States under a federal law called FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
You need to make sure that you are a good data steward for that file. You don't want to be posting it online or posting it in a place where somebody kind of get into it and see it. Student grades are considered to be private privileged information. You need to be very careful if you download this file to your computer. One of the benefits still of downloading your Grade Center is it's really easy for you to enter your grades inside that file and then upload it again. You can open up the file in Excel.
My recommendation is before you do this create the score columns in Blackboard. Don't try to create the score columns in Excel. What ends up happening is the file you're about to download is a text file with unique identifiers and these columns, if you create a column in Excel and try to upload it, it's going to upload not as a score column, but as a text column worth zero points. In other words, it's not going to count. You can edit that after you upload it, but why waste your time? Let's actually go through and download this.
I've got my score columns already. I am ready to work offline. I've got a whole bunch of student grades I want to enter. So I am going to click on Work Offline and click Download. Realistically, I usually just take the full Grade Center. I don't want to take part of it, but I could choose just grades for a particular grading period or particular column or just user information. I am going to scroll down. By default this is going to download it as a tab-delimited file. This is actually something that Blackboard recommends and the reason why is, well, the technical reason is that the tab doesn't need the quote signs in the delimited file.
Don't worry about that. The easiest way to think about this is tab-delimited almost always works straight out of box with Microsoft Excel. You could have problems with comma. So use tab. And do I want to include hidden information? In other words, if I've hidden columns from me or my students do I want them to show up here? Sure. Actually, I do in this case. Now I've got to choose where I want to download this. This gets a little confusing, because I might say, okay, well. I want to download this to my computer. Let's browse to where I want to save it.
That's not the Browse button to save it to your computer. That's the Browse button to save it to the course files or the content collection area of your course. If you click on Browse it is going to open a pop-up menu and say, okay, where in your course do you want to save this? That's actually a bad idea. In fact, it's kind of a dangerous idea, because some people might actually be able to see the grades who don't have reason or rights to see that. So click My Computer, but don't click Browse yet. We will do that on the next screen. Now it's going to say okay, we are now ready to save the file.
I am going to click on the Download button and Microsoft Internet Explorer or whatever web browser you're using is saying, okay, what do you want to do? Do you want to open the file? Do you want to save it? in this case, I am going to save it. I am going to save it to my desktop. There it is. So now I can go to my desktop and there is the Excel file. It's a big long list of characters in the name. And it's actually an XLS file, but not really.
I can double-click on it. It will open up a Microsoft Excel, but Microsoft Excel is going to kind of warn me that hey, this doesn't look like an Excel file. Remember, we are downloading it is a tab-delimited file and that's what's causing Microsoft to say, "Wait this doesn't look like an .xls file ,"and it's like yeah, you are right. It's a tab-delimited file. We knew that. I am going to click Yes and now I've got my Grade Center here on my screen. I can actually scroll over in no longer see the student IDs in scientific notation.
I want you to notice now in this first row, I've got Last Name, I've got the First Name, Username, Student ID, but once I start getting into the score columns, I've got the name of the colums and I've got these special characters. It's a pipe and the number 7. The header for each score column contains the column's name, a horizontal line called a pipe, and some sort of column identifier.
This is new to Blackboard 9. It wasn't there in previous versions. The pipe and the column identifier are absolutely required if you intend to upload this back to Blackboard sometime in the future. My recommendation is leave this first row alone. Don't change anything here. Don't change a word. Don't change a number. Don't remove the pipe in the number. Leave that. You need it. The other thing is, and I mentioned this earlier, you really want to create your score columns inside of Blackboard.
The reason why is when you do that it gets the unique identifier. If you go in right now and create a score column, a new column, when you try to upload that from here to Blackboard, Blackboard is actually going to take that column and upload it not as numbers, but as text. You can then go in and actually edit that after you upload, but why waste of time? Before you download it, go and create the column in Blackboard. One last thing I want to show you. Now this isn't actually doing it here, but in some cases, I've got in this case four or five Joneses in my course.
It's a common last name. I want to talk about something called the dual sword issue. Sometimes when Blackboard downloads its Grade Book it's going to show the students' name here alphabetically, but it's not going to the second sort here. So I might actually have Anthony Jones show up above Aiden Jones here. That can cause some confusion. So if you are working offline and you're entering grades, don't just rely on the last name.
Make sure that you're entering the name for the right student as well. This is a known issue in Blackboard that sometimes with common last names-- you get lots of students with the same last names, Jones, Smith, Garcia, Dwayne-- you might see this not ordered properly or the student's first name might not show up exactly in the order that you're expecting. So this could cause you to accidentally give somebody the wrong grades. So let's say on Quiz 1 Aiden actually got a 50 and Anthony got 100, but if I'm not paying attention or if this is not sorted properly, I could actually go and accidentally give Aiden 100 and Anthony a 50.
I could actually enter the wrong scores. So you've got to be really careful. When you enter scores in your Blackboard Grade Center, make sure that you're looking not just at the last name, but the first name and the first name may not actually be in the order that you think it's going to be. Let's get back to Blackboard. I just want to show you one last time to go and download your Grades from your Blackboard Grade Center. Access the Grade Center top right-hand corner, click on Work Offline, and click Download, and then follow the on-screen prompts.
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