Moving to Blackboard 9.1

Aston is moving to a new version of Blackboard ready for the 2011/12 academic year. 

Staff will be able to experiment with content and course building from April onwards. The Blackboard User Group has been assisting with recommendations since the beginning of the year. CLIPP and ISA are organising a rolling monthly series of staff development sessions, beginning in May. Please book onto these via the Staff and Graduate Development site.  CLIPP have also been working on a new website: http://tlc.aston.ac.uk which contains a wealth of training resources covering the new version of Blackboard (9.1). All staff are encouraged to visit the new web site and/or attend organised training sessions to learn about the move to the new version of Blackboard. CLIPP and ISA have created a FAQ page on the staff intranet covering more detailed questions of our Blackboard enhancement. We (CLIPP / ISA) will also work with Schools to run more tailored staff development sessions, on request. Please contact Gillian Bishop (ISA) or Kevin Brace (CLIPP) for any more information on Blackboard or the training sessions available.

Benefits of Blackboard 9.1 upgrade


  • New interface incorporates “drag and drop” features for ease of customisation by tutors.

  • Streamlined workflow ensures there are fewer clicks to execute commons tasks.

  • Drag and drop multiple files to add content rapidly to your courses.Easily embed rich media (videos, images, and slideshows) to enhance your course content.

  • New Home page per module provides additional learning management features for students.

  • New tools provides true collaborative and active learning experiences.

  • Refined workflow for aspects of the GradeCentre, improves the assessment process.

  • New Open Standards provides the opportunity for deeper integration of external tools (i.e. Pebblepad).

For more details of the new features of BB 9.1 see also URL: http://www.blackboard.com/resources/learn/Bb_Learn_91_WhatsNew.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. What is new in Blackboard 9.1? 
Please follow this link to access full details of new features.  

 What is TLC?
The Technology and Learning Community (TLC) is a new web site designed for staff and students to learn more about the supported tools here at Aston. The website contains; guides, tutorials (how to), and case studies for each tool (i.e. Blackboard, Turnitin, pebble Pad)

3. When is the launch of TLC (expand) site and exactly what it will contain.
TLC will be officially launched at Easter 2011. It will contain all resources for Aston’s supported teaching and learning tools; BB, Pebblepad, Replay, Endnote, Elluminate , etc.

4. Can I experiment with the new version of 9.1 now?
Yes, we have a test server that is being used for ongoing evaluation purposes.  Please contact Gillian Bishop or Tai Long to gain access.

5. What is the date of when the roll over will occur from BB8 to BB9?
By 8 July 2011 all 2011-12 modules (courses) will exist for staff .

6. Date of when lecturers will be able to make changes to the real content for 2011-12.
By June 2011, staff will be able to update their 2011-12 content.

7. What are the training dates for staff members and who will provide these?
There are eight dates scheduled for May.  More dates will be announced for each month, ensuring all staff have adequate opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new version.  Please book onto these via the  Staff and Graduate Development web page : http://www1.aston.ac.uk/clipp/moving-to-blackboard-9-1/

8. When can students access the new version of BB?
All current and referred students continue access to current version (8) until 6 September 2011. On the following day – 7 September – all students (with a small number of exceptions) will then only have access to BB9.1. We intend a notice on front of BB8 after Easter telling all staff and students we are moving to 9.1 and directions to TLC site.

9. What are the main differences between bb8 and bb9’ for existing users?
There are primarily interface changes, and improved workflow. Although there are some subtle changes (i.e. new blog and wiki tools). See question 1. We see this as an enhancement, in a similar way of moving from Office 2003 to Office 2007.

10. How will the move to BB9.1 affect the course templates? 
2010-2011 templates were based upon the recommended minimum standards to meet student expectations. This year we are revising the template in line with users feedback, and are subsequently consulting Schools for a common design. 

11. Who decided that we were moving to the new version?
A dedicated group of academic, support staff and a representative from the Student Guild – collectively known as the Blackboard Users Group (BUG); supported by ISA and CLIPP.

12. How did BUG arrive at this decision?
Together with CLIPP and ISA, BUG has been evaluating the new version of Blackboard since the beginning of this academic year. A series of structured evaluation sessions and consultations lead us to this democratic decision. The initial decision was passed through established committees, to ensure all stakeholders were fully informed.

13. Are we in danger of being early adopters?
A. No. Many other Universities across the UK moved to version 9 last academic year. CLIPP and ISA have been actively gathering advice from those already using  the new version to ensure our transition is built upon experience across the sector.

BB 9.1  staff training dates for May

Wednesday 4 May, 10am - 12noon
Friday 6 May, 10am - 12noon
Tuesday 10 May, 2 - 4pm
Thursday 12 May, 10am - 12noon
Friday 20 May, 10am - 12noon
Monday 23 May, 2 - 4pm
Tuesday 24 May, 10am - 12noon
Thursday 26 May 2 - 4pm 

Please book onto these via the Staff and Graduate Development web page : http://www1.aston.ac.uk/clipp/moving-to-blackboard-9-1/

Words by Kevin Brace
15 April 2011

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