Blackboard Early Warning System

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Early Warning System Rules

The Early Warning System is a Blackboard tool that can be used to monitor student progress in a course and alert faculty to possible performance problems among students. The tool can also be used to communicate those warnings to students themselves to let them know how their performance is being measured. Notification warnings can be generated based on a set of rules that take into account graded performance, late or missing course work, or attendance within the Blackboard course. For example, as shown on the picture below, a rule can be set up to generate a warning if there are any students in the course who scored below a certain percentage on a quiz or if some students have not logged in to the course for several days, or if students’ assignments are past due.

Early Warning Figure 01

The Early Warning System can monitor student activity according to three types of rules that faculty can set up for their course:

  • Grade Rule – This rule is based on the students’ grade for a particular assessment. It can be an automated Blackboard assessment such as a test, a survey, or a safe assignment, or a manually added assessment. Blackboard generates the warning notification based on the score entered into the Gradebook, whether the score is calculated automatically or entered manually.
  • Due Date Rule – This rule generates warning notifications based on specified due dates for assessments that are created and graded through Blackboard. It cannot be applied to manually graded assessments.
  • Last Access Rule – The last access rule generates a warning notification based on when students last accessed the Blackboard course.

Reviewing Alerts and Notifying Users

Once the Early Warning System rules have been created, faculty must check the Early Warning System periodically and click the Refresh button to discover incidents of student performance that trigger warning notifications. The Early Warning System does not continuously monitor the course; it must be done by the faculty.

The Early Warning System consolidates warning notifications based on the rules and allows faculty to easily address problems to students. Faculty can specify which notification warnings they want to communicate to students and they have control over the message each time a warning is sent. Faculty can use the default message generated by Blackboard or they can modify the message to more accurately communicate the seriousness of the situation.

Early Warning Figure 02

As shown in the picture above, Blackboard maintains a Notification Log of all the Early Warning System messages that have been sent to students in the course. The Notification Log, which lists statistics by individual student, is searchable and can be used to verify that a student was alerted to a problem.

The Early Warning System is a helpful feature in Blackboard that allows faculty to monitor student performance proactively based on attendance, student assessment, and assessment due dates. The Early Warning System is an extension of the Blackboard Performance Dashboard and is closely integrated with it. The link to the Early Warning System page can be found in the course Control Panel under Assessment; it also appears as a column in the Performance Dashboard.

For more information on how to create and apply Early Warning System rules in a Blackboard course please refer to the documentation page found at: http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/assessments/earlywarning.shtml

New Features in Blackboard 7.3

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Blackboard is the course management system used campus-wide at NIU that allows faculty to post materials, deliver tests and surveys, hold online discussion and perform many other course-related functions. In December 2008 Blackboard was upgraded from version 7.1 to 7.3. This upgrade includes some subtle new user features and system capabilities that previously have not existed.

The new features in Blackboard 7.3 primarily can be found in three main toolsets: Discussion Board, Assessment and Gradebook, and the Visual Text Box Editor. In addition, the new Early Warning System tool in Blackboard can be used to monitor student progress and alert faculty to possible performance problems.

For more details regarding the new features and tools in Blackboard 7.3, visit http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/resources/version73.shtml

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center offers a wide array of programs each month regarding the principles and practices of teaching with Blackboard. The current Blackboard program schedule and online registration information is always available at http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/workshops

New Blackboard Suggestion Box

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Recommending an enhancement or improvement to a Blackboard product or service has just become easier. One now only needs to drop a simple entry virtually into the Blackboard Suggestion Box, which was highlighted in an article in the December issue of the Blackboard K-12 Bulletin:

“The Suggestion Box is a single place for all client product suggestions, whether the idea originated as an individual client request, as a part of a users group discussion, during a meeting with your client manager or through any other channel. Upon receipt, a Blackboard product manager will review your suggestion to better understand the challenges you or your organization are facing and you’ll be notified via e-mail that your suggestion has been received.”

New Faculty Blackboard Tools

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A new integrated set of tools is now available in Blackboard for NIU faculty to request new Blackboard courses or shells. The new Blackboard Faculty Tools (BFT) replace the former Faculty Blackboard Course Utilities (FBCU) and provide a more robust and easy to use set of tools for faculty to do the following:

  • Request a New Course in which student enrollment is automatically uploaded and refreshed daily.
  • Request a New Shell for course development long before a course is to be offered.
  • Remove a Shell to purge unwanted development courses.

Note: All requests to the BFT go through the processing server, which runs twice daily every weekday throughout the semester. This means that changes will not appear immediately. Requests will be processed by mid-morning of the next business day. If you do not see the result of your request by noon of the following work day, please contact the ITS Call Center at 815-753-8100 for assistance.

A new 5 minute tutorial highlights the steps to using the new Blackboard Faculty Tools. The free QuickTime player is required to view the high resolution tutorial. It is also available on YouTube or as a podcast.

To learn more about the new Blackboard Faculty Tools (BFT), click here.

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