August 17th was a big day for us here in Distance Education. From 8 AM to 5 PM, I was busy backing up, updating, and configuring the Blackboard server for the Blackboard Learn 9.1 Service Pack 6. Blackboard has an even/odd strategy for service packs in which the odd numbered service packs are mostly bug fixes, but the evens focus on new features. Since this was an even numbered service pack, they released three big new features, but there was also a staggering 259 known issues addressed in this service pack as well! The list is a bit extensive, so I won't post it here. Instead, here are the main features that are new and/or expanded upon in Service Pack 6:
- Auto-Submit for timed tests. When this option is selected, the test or quiz is submitted automatically when the timer runs out. No longer will you see students taking three hours to complete a test you intended for them to finish in only two!
- Interactive Grading Rubrics. In Service Pack 6, Blackboard has greatly improved upon this tool for grading assignments. Here are the Blackboard OnDemand videos on Creating a rubric and Grading with rubrics
- New SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) Engine. Before SP6, the SCORM engine in Blackboard was virtually unusable, but that has changed. Blackboard teamed up with Rustici Software, one of the leading developers of SCORM software, to integrate a new SCORM engine into Blackboard Learn. SoftChalk can upload pages and activities as SCORM directly into your course using the Publish feature. For the adventurous, there are a number of SCORM content creation software packages available for free online. The Moodle Docs wiki has a useful page on this topic: Creating SCORM content.