Blackboard Learning System - Tilburg University, The Netherlands

Blackboard Learning System - Tilburg University, The Netherlands

Blackboard Learning System (Release 6)Virtual Classroomboarding, class tours, and group Web browsing. Thevirtual classroom enables instructors to lead effective onlinediscussions through the use of the online whiteboard andadvanced group-management tools.Core Functionality• Monitor and lead chats and actively participate indiscussions• Archive discussion board threads for easy retrieval• Sort archived discussions based on relevant criteria suchas topic or dateNew, in Release 6:• Calculate and display letter grades, percentages, and rawscores at the same time• Add and define custom gradebook categoriesAssignment Management• Collect and organize electronic assignments throughgradebook (in addition to existing Digital Drop Boxfunctionality)• Submit assignments through corresponding coursecontent area related to assignment, thereby linking lessonto student deliverables and results• Return and comment on “corrected” files as well as storeprivate notes related to student work in the gradebook• Enhanced management and organization assignmentsthrough bulk download of all student work for oneparticular assignment, bulk download of all ungradedfiles, and bulk deletion of selected filesCollaborationBlackboard’s virtual classroom and discussion board providesa rich, multi-functional environment for both synchronousand asynchronous communications. In release6, the virtual classroom has been completely re-architectedto provide a dynamic environment for interaction amongall course participants, small groups, or on a one-to-onebasis. The new virtual classroom provides free-form chat,chat lectures, question and answer chats, archives, white• Host multiple, simultaneous and concurrentsynchronous sessions• Facilitate small “break-out” synchronous discussions witheither assigned or self-selected groups• View and edit content online during a lecture chat, suchas Microsoft ® PowerPoint presentations• Archive chat logs for future reference and grading• Public and private messaging• Provide class tours for introducing students to the courseenvironment• Online field-trips through the course Web site andexternal Web sites• Complies with Section 508 accessibility regulationsEnterprise System AdministrationSystem administrators and decision-makers at organizationsrunning the Blackboard Learning System must continuallyplan for increasing usage, depth of usage, and load ontheir implementations. Enterprise administration in theBlackboard Learning System is designed to promote platformadoption and usage, and, through a robust environmentfor enterprise-wide system management, ensure thatclients can successfully manage growth by reducing theadministrative overhead required to successfully scale andmanage a mission-critical Blackboard deployment. TheBlackboard Learning System provides administrators with aflexible environment for system administration through thefollowing enterprise functions and capabilities:• Data management for student information, identitymanagement, and authentication systems• System management utilitiesBlackboard Inc.8

Blackboard Learning System (Release 6)System-wide Communications andcalendaringThe Blackboard environment is a primary destination forthousands of students and instructors. Through numerouscalendaring and communications utilities, administratorsmay develop aggregated, personalized, or delegated communicationsfor each of the following functions:• System calendar• System announcements• System-wide emailBlackboard Building Blocks ArchitectureStemming from a commitment to promote an openenvironment for platform customization, flexibility, andinteroperability, Blackboard Building Blocks architectureprovides clients with an e-Education platform that can becustomized to meet unique pedagogical and administrativeneeds and requirements.To support an institution’s unique pedagogical objectives,Blackboard Building Blocks architecture allows administratorsand end users to seamlessly integrate homegrown,open source, or commercially licensed applications andsystem services. In addition, Building blocks technologycan be deployed to facilitate integration between theBlackboard system and an institutions student informationsystems, security, and authentication protocols. This supportableframework for platform customization not onlyprovides flexibility and choice, but also maintains the integrityof Blackboard’s core applications, ensuring seamlessplatform upgrades and cross-application compatibility.At the heart of Building Blocks is the Building BlocksManager , which manages how Blackboard exchangesdata and system services with third party technologies.The Building Blocks Manager enables integration througheither embedded technology or customizable systemextensions and is designed to provide integration with thefollowing technologies:“By integrating the Blackboard LearningSystem with the Bantu instant messenger,Embry Riddle will realize signifi cantpedagogical and administrative advantages—maximizing the value of our BlackboardEnterprise Solution. Since a large segment ofour student population is part-time and offcampus,many of them do not have consistent,reliable e-mail access. The IM feature allowsthem to communicate directly with professorsor classmates, and provides access to sortable,archived communications. This enrichesthe teaching and learning environment andreduces the cumbersome burden on IT staffof creating and maintaining thousands ofshort-term e-mail accounts."Student Information Systems:—Ira StaussSystem AdministratorEmbry-Riddle Aeronautical UniversityThe Building Blocks Manager contains a suite of advanceddata population, integration, and managementtools designed to interact with leading student informationsystems – including Datatel Colleague, PeopleSoftSIS, SCT Banner, and SCT Plus.Network Infrastructure and MiddlewareThe Blackboard Learning System provides pre-configuredBuilding Blocks system extensions for the following, industrystandard network protocols:• Lightweight Directory Authentication protocol (LDAP3.0)• Microsoft Passport® for Windows• Microsoft ® IIS Delegation, including Microsoft ActiveDirectory and NT Domain)• Apache ® Delegation, including Kerberos and Unixpassword• SSL Encryption technologyBlackboard Inc.12

Blackboard Learning System (Release 6)Specialized ApplicationsBuilding Blocks: Dictionary & ThesaurusThrough the Blackboard Building Blocks Program,clients may customize their end-user environment byintegrating tools, content, and commercially licensed, opensource, or homegrown interfaces and extensions. Amongthe many pedagogical and administrative benefits of BuildingBlocks Application infrastructure:• Plan and develop freely distributed or commerciallysupported applications as extensions to the Blackboardplatform• Leverage the Blackboard Developers Network,providing access to documentation and a community ofBlackboard Building Blocks developers• Dynamically extend and enhance the Blackboardteaching and learning environmentFollowing are some examples from more than two dozencurrently available Building Blocks Application Extensions:• Bantu Instant Messenger: This Web-based instantmessenger allows students, instructors, and staff tocommunicate in real-time, and lets instructors extendtheir course Web site by creating self-selected ordesignated groups for online “office hours,” topicaldiscussions, and moderated course discussion.• ArcStream’s Blackboard to Go: Allows Blackboard usersto synchronize announcements, calendar items, andcourse content (homework, books, assignments, syllabus,and more) onto their Palm OS or PocketPC basedhandheld devices. (Insert Handheld Diagram)• Dictionary and Thesaurus: A student extension thatallows the user to highlight any word in a Blackboardcourse and lookup the dictionary or thesaurus entryfor it.• Harvest Road Learning Content Management System:Enables the collection, management and sharingof learning materials used in the delivery of onlinecourses within K-12, Higher Education and CorporateorganizationsSystem ArchitectureThe Blackboard Learning System has been architected todeliver a responsive, highly scalable system that allows forminimal downtime and, when necessary, speedy recoveries.Designed to support a wide range of configurations,ranging from a single server to a farm of application andBuilding Blocks: Blackboard to Godatabase servers, the Blackboard Learning System featuresa modular architecture that can meet a wide diversity ofdeployment and configuration parameters.Tested and designed to support large scale implementationsof tens of thousands of users, the Blackboard LearningSystem offers enterprise-critical technology, includingapplication and database load balancing, fault-tolerant failover, and dozens of additional architectural componentsdesigned to ensure system performance and uptime.The following techniques can be used with BlackboardLearning System (Release 6) in order to optimize systemperformance and reliability:• Increase individual server capacityBlackboard Inc.13

Blackboard Learning System (Release 6)• Load balance (cluster) application servers for improvedperformance and reliability. They must share a networkfile storage area for content.• Deploy the Virtual Classroom on a dedicated server• Deploy statistics and system reporting database ondedicated disk system area/controller• Provide a second database server for automatic fail over(Microsoft SQL Server only)• Deploy virtual installations on dedicated serverNew, in Release 6Virtual InstallationsAvailable as a licensing option for the Blackboard LearningSystem, Virtual Installations allow institutions toprovide uniquely-branded and managed environments formultiple independent user populations on the same systemhardware and 3 rd party licenses. Through virtual installations,administrators can create distinct and customizableBlackboard environments for as many as a dozen entities,while reducing costs and administrative overhead bycentralizing administrative and hardware costs in a clustered,centralized management environment. Each of theadministrative capabilities described above, from creatingusers to setting disk quotas is fully independent for eachvirtual installation.Blackboard is a strong advocate for open industrystandards in the areas of system interoperability throughIMS, SIF, and OKI and content specifications such asIMS, AICC, SCORM and Microsoft’s LRN as well asinteroperating with JASIG, Oracle and Microsoft portaltechnologies. As a result of these initiatives, the BlackboardLearning System is a flexible and reliable platform for thedevelopment of content in multiple formats as well as digitalcontent available via downloadable publisher CourseCartridges. All of Blackboard’s content management andcontent development tools are IMS compliant, ensuringseamless content portability within the Blackboardplatform or externally to other IMS compliant e-Learningapplications.ConclusionThe evolution of the Blackboard Learning System to itsnewest version, Release 6, is the result of a continual effortto enhance and improve the possibilities that exist fore-Education. Blackboard is proud to offer the combinationof proven solutions and new features and functionsdetailed above. Release 6 has been designed to address ourclients’ top priorities for achieving success in e-Educationinitiatives. This system will help you exceed your goals forteaching and learning through ease of use, open architecture,enterprise technology and the ability to maximize thevalue of your combined institutional investments.For more information, please contactBlackboard at 1.800.424.9299 ext. 4(+1 202.463.4860 ext. 4) or visit to StandardsWorldwide Headquarters1899 L Street, NW5th FloorWashington, DC 200361-800-424-9299, ext. 4+1-202-463-4860, ext. 4Phoenix, AZ Campus22601 North 19th AvenueSuite 200Phoenix, AZ 850271-800-528-0465+1-623-476-1400International HeadquartersKeizersgracht 62/641015 CS AMSTERDAMThe Netherlands+31 20 5206884Copyright © 2002. Blackboard Inc. All rights reserved. Blackboard and the Blackboard logo are registered trademarks of Blackboard 14

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