Companies tend to say “new” a lot, even when there is not a lot new or different in their product. To me, it is a bit like the boy crying wolf. Blackboard’s new innovation plan is quite new, however. Instead of building new features that would help administrators, teachers, and students 2x/year, we are now doing it every month. That way we can get you what you need faster.

There are several new features in Learn SP10 that are particularly exciting for me as I think about how our K-12 clients are using Learn.

Assessment Improvements – First, the Fill in the Blank question type is significantly improved. Instead of having to think of every possible response your students might type in for the answer key, we have put in “contains” and “pattern match” logic so that the grading system automatically checks for plurals, common misspellings, and common abbreviations, etc. This will save teachers a lot of time creating accurate answer keys. Further, Item Analysis is now built into the assessment tool. Teachers will be able to ensure they are using effective, valid questions in their assessments.

Social Learning – Schools and districts can now enable teachers and/or students to participate in a social network across all Blackboard clients. This means that your biology teachers can find and brainstorm with other biology teachers in your state, or even nationwide. At a time when resources are thin and the common core standards are coming for many, sharing materials and ideas will be critical.

Content Editor – The content editor has been completely replaced. You can now easily create math problems using symbols such as square root and exponents. There is also a new HTML editor so pages created in Dreamweaver will render correctly, and the Paste-from-Word function is operational!

And I will give you a sneak preview of one of my favorite new features coming out soon, the calendar! The new calendar is coming in a future release. All course items are automatically consolidated on one calendar, you can add personal events, and you can filter to show only the desired mix of course and personal events. Plus, you can easily export to other calendars like Google and Outlook.

I encourage you to check these great new features out for yourself at www.blackboardlearn.com/new or register for a What’s New Webinar, and keep checking back with us monthly to hear about more new tools to help you achieve your teaching and learning goals more effectively and efficiently!

If you have ideas for tools that you would like to see in Blackboard Learn, please let us know. One of the best ways to make an impact on product planning and development is to join the Blackboard Idea Exchange (BIE). Here you’ll be connected with peers at institutions around the world, participate in survey and focus groups, and even get the chance to beta test Blackboard products. For more information, visit blackboard.com/BIE.

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