Today’s first I-Hate-Blackboard experience: Availability Follies
I have a merged course in BbL. Although about 65 students are enrolled, I have 105 in Blackboard, and they (plus more) will all be there for the rest of the semester, because apparently it’s very difficult to remove them or something. So my gradebook has a pretty poor signal-to-noise ratio.
I’ve been assuming that about 65 of those students were my true enrollees and the rest were irrelevant to the course. The fact that 30 of the students have the course listed as “unavailable” in the gradebook seemed to bear that out. Now I find out that some of the students for whom the course shell is not available are actually enrolled in the course and blocked from participating. I got a helpful email from the online learning tech folks showing me how to make the course available for those students. Here’s the process:
- Go to Users & Groups
- Choose Users
- Find the students whose availability is set (for reasons I still don’t understand) to “No”.
- Note 1: the list, in my case, must be repaginated to display everyone at once–with a predictable increase in page load times–because BbL is incapable of remembering which page of the list I was on, otherwise).
- Note 2: No, of course you can’t just sort the list by the “availability” column and put all the “No” users at the top. That would be crazy.
- One by one, for each name:
- Hover by the name so the little “options” button appears
- Click the button
- Select the option to change availability
- Wait for the new screen (a full screen takeover, not a pop-up) to appear
- Mouse to, and click, the availability selector drop-down
- Select “Yes” and click
- Mouse to the other side of the screen and click <submit>
- Repeat 30 times
- No, you can’t do this to multiple users at once–why would you even ask that?
That’s a lot of picky detail, but believe me–when you spend half an hour doing this, wondering if your repetitive-stress injuries will ever heal, those extra details really add up.
Second experience: Yes, Bb can do that! Oh, I mean no, it can’t.
New quiz: random block of five questions selected from a pool of 20. Question options in pool set to display answers in random order. Test created. Test placed in area visible to students. Question options (general) checked/set again to make sure display answers in random order is enabled. Take test to make sure it worked.
Answers are not in random order.
Much frustration. Then Googling. Then finding that–if I’m not missing some option or something–this has been a known issue since 2010.
I spent the next twenty minutes editing every item in the pool, one by one, to specify random ordering of answers. Of course this involved many clicks per item and the accumulated seconds of all those full-page loads going back and forth between the main page and the item-edit page. Of course there’s no way to do it to multiple items at once. Of course not. Someday I will stop being surprised by this.
Oh, and if my wife is to be believed (she usually is) you apparently can’t delete an entire item pool. WHAT. I’ll have to verify this.