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In this article by William Rice the author of the book Blackboard Essentials for Teachers, we will discuss how to create assignments where the student must submit or upload a material for the instructor to review. You will learn how to review and respond to the files that students submit.
An assignment is essentially an activity where the instructor tells the student, "Go do this, and then submit proof that you've done it". Optional features enable the instructor to supply the student with a file, to upload a file, and to submit both feedback and comments. Blackboard will create a link in the assignment, for the student to upload material to the instructor.
Every assignment must have instructions and a student submission. The instructions are entered by the instructor when (s)he creates the assignment. The student submission can be material that the student types directly into the assignment-feedback form, or something that the student uploads (such as a word document or picture).
The instructor can give a student feedback on the student's submission. In return, the student can give the instructor feedback on the assignment. Instructors can also allow multiple submissions, so the student has multiple tries to get it right. No matter how many trials the student takes, or how many files the student uploads, the instructor will give only one grade to the student.
Adding an assignment
To add an assignment to a Content Page, follow these steps:
- Select the Content Page to which you want to add an assignment.
- Select Create Assessment | Assignment. The Create Assignment page is displayed.
- Both the Name and the Instructions fields that you enter will be displayed on the page with the assignment, as shown in the following screenshot:
- Under Attached Files, you can add any files that you want the student to download and use in the assignment (this is optional). These can be files that you want the student to modify and then upload (such as a form to fill out), or files that contain instructions for an activity (such as instructions for performing an experiment), or source files that the student will use to create something (such as some raw video footage).
If the student will complete the assignment while (s)he is online, enter the instructions into the Instructions area as shown earlier. If the student will complete the assignment while (s)he is offline, consider supplying the student with printer-friendly instructions that (s)he can download.
Blackboard will allow the student to upload files up to 100 MB in size.
- The Grading and Availability sections contain standard options.
- If you enter Due Date for the assignment, it will not appear on the Content Page (see the preceding screenshot). However, it will appear in several other places. When the student enters the assignment, the due date will appear on the assignment page:
The due date will also appear in the student's To Do block. Usually, the To Do block is added to the course's home page, and also to the student's home page. In the following screenshot, you can see the assignment in the To Do block of the course's home page. Because it was recently added, you can also see the assignment in the What's New block:
And finally, Due Date will appear on the student's My Grades page:
- Under Recipients, determine if this assignment will be graded individually for each student, or for a group.
- Click on Submit to save your work.
In the preceding example, the instructor tells the student to download a file. You might want to remind the students to create a folder on their computers to hold all the material that they download from the course.
The due date has no effect on the availability of the assignment, or the student's grade. It is for informational purposes only. If you want Blackboard to limit the time period for which students can submit an assignment, use the Availability setting to make the assignment available only during a specified time.
The assignment is added to the course. You don't need to do anything to make the assignment appear within the Assignments page and the To Do block. And, you can create a link to the assignment on the pages of your course.
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Responding to an assignment
Most of this book is written from the course creator's and instructor's point of view. But in this section, we will see an assignment from the student's point of view. This will enable you to determine how the choices you make while creating the assignment will affect your students' experience.
Not all assignments will require the student to download or upload files. However, these instructions include these steps so that you can see a more complete example of a student's experience:
- Select the assignment. You might select it from Content Page that the assignment appears on; or select it from the To Do block, or the What's New block.
- The student sees Name, Instructions, Due Date, Points Possible (if any), and Assignment Files (if any).
- In our example, the student clicks on the assignment file. Note that the way in which the download happens will vary, based on the student's browser. For example, Internet Explorer will usually launch a pop-up window showing the download's progress, while Google Chrome will usually add a tab at the bottom of the browser window, showing the download's progress:
- The student will usually work on the file outside of Blackboard. To make it easier for the student, include the instructions for using that file in another file; that is, when the student downloads the file, (s)he should also be downloading the instructions for using the file:
- In our example, the student will modify the file, and then upload it to the assignment. Note that the student can also include notes with the submission:
- Student submissions appear in the instructor's Grade Center, under Needs Grading:
- When the instructor clicks on the student's name, the grading page for that assignment is displayed. In this window, the instructor can offer feedback on that submission. Near the bottom of the page, there is an Instructor Notes section, where the instructor can enter notes that are visible only to the instructors of this course:
- The Grade section for the student appears in the Instructor Feedback area of the assignment:
Note that at this point, the student can start a new submission for the assignment. This is because, when the instructor created the assignment, (s)he allowed multiple submissions on the Creating Assignment page:
As you can see, an assignment that allows multiple submissions gives the instructor and student a chance to collaborate on the student's success. Allowing multiple attempts also enables the student to resubmit in case (s)he uploads the wrong file the first time.
If you allow only a single attempt, and the student needs to resubmit the assignment, you must find the original attempt in the gradebook and clear that attempt. First, find the assignment in Grade Center and click on the icon next to Attempt:
- From this pop-up menu, select View Grade Details. In our example, there is no grade for the attempt, but we still select View Grade Details. This brings up a window where all the attempts for this assignment are listed:
- Click on the Clear Attempt button to delete the attempt from the record.
If the assignment has files that the student must download, consider mentioning this explicitly in the instructions, asking the student to click on the file to download it. Then there will be no doubt that the student knows how to start the assignment.
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About the Author :
William Rice is an e-learning professional who lives, works, and plays in New York City. He is the author of books on Moodle, Blackboard, Magento, and software training.
He especially enjoys building e-learning solutions for small and mid-sized businesses. His greatest professional satisfaction is when one of his courses enables students to do something that makes their work easier and more productive.
His indoor hobbies include writing books and spending way too much time reading slashdot.org. His outdoor hobbies include orienteering and practicing archery within sight of JFK Airport.
William is fascinated by the relationship between technology and society: how we create our tools, and how our tools in turn shape us. He is married to an incredible woman who encourages his writing pursuits, and has two amazing sons.
You can reach William through his website at http://williamrice.com.