I started at Blackboard one week prior to the launch of Blackboard Learn, 9.1.  My first week was filled with a buzz that I couldn’t quite understand.  All of my colleagues assured me that 9.1 contained some great new features, especially for K-12.  As I learned more about the lesson plans and standards alignment and interactive tools that were a part of 9.1, I realized that the product changes really could make a difference to teachers and students.

This week, as details emerged about Learn 9.1, SP8, it took me no time at all to realize how exciting this release is for K-12 educators.  From the moment you open a course, small but powerful differences catch your eye.

Course Structures and Themes – These features allow teachers to get a little quick assistance when setting up a course.  Teachers can use a Course Wizard to identify the right structure (lab, discussion, etc) and then can select a theme to match.  Themes transform the look of a course so teachers can make it their own.  The frames range from striking green frogs to colorful math symbols.  What really got me excited was the ability to add sample content into the new course.  This provides a quick jumpstart on building pedagogically sound online learning activities.

Reporting – There are two key additions to the reporting capabilities in SP8.  Now, teachers and administrators can report on student performance against aligned standards, providing greater visibility into the achievement of learning outcomes.  Also, Course and Student Activity Reports now allow administrators and teachers to see how students are using online course materials and tracking student time on various learning activities.

Automatic Regrading – Simple features can save a lot of valuable time.  Now, if a teacher realizes there is an error in a test key, he/she can correct the response in the key, and then automatically regrade all responses associated with that key.

And then finally there is just the modern, clean look.  All of the same information and tools that you are used to, but easier for both teachers and students to use and work with.

Interested in learning what’s new in SP8 for K-12? Webinars begin on February 16. Please register here. http://bit.ly/zzCOHU

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