Blackboard 9.1 is a very powerful new edition of Blackboard that seems to have incorporated a lot of good features from Blackboard and WebCT. Here is a list of my personal favorites:
Generally, the way it now looks. Above everything else, Blackboard 9.1 seems to have emerged from a plastic surgery when compared to Blackboard 8. Maybe some organ transplants too, as I am going to describe below.
Control Panel. The control panel is now in plain sight. You do not have to visit the “control panel” page to dig out the things you need. Control panel items are now located on the left panel and stays there as you work through your course. After using 9.1, going back to find control panel in Blackboard 8 is like stopping your car, open the hood to read the odometer.
Point value of tests. With Blackboard 8, if you make a mistake about the point value for a group of questions, you have to change them one by one, unless you download them to Respondus to fix them. Such small stuff will make you sweat. With Blackboard 9, it is possible to change point values of all questions in a group.
Drag and Drop Menus. With Blackboard 8, you move the position of an item in the list by changing the number that indicates the item’s position. It sometimes work like chess playing, you move 6 to 5, and 4 to 1, etc. Now you can simply drag and drop an item wherever you want it to be.
Wikis. You can use this as a collaborative tool for all students or for a group of students. You no longer needs to sign up for a wiki page elsewhere.
Blogs. This tool will allow you, students or groups of students to blog and comment upon each other’s entries. As a veteran blogger myself, this is a feature that I have been expecting for years.
Journals. Students can use this tool to take notes and write reflections. Only instructors and students can see individual journals, though it is also possible to publish it later on if you choose to do so.
Content Management. You can drag an entire folder of files to Blackboard file folder, which will be very easy for you to pick and use later on in the course. This works best when you changes computers often and you need a place to store files temporarily.
Youtube Mashup. You can safely embed a Youtube video in a course generally without having to worry about copyright violations as an embedded video is simply a link to the original video posted on Youtube. However it used to be very troublesome to embed as you have to go to Youtube, find the Video, copy the Embed codes, add item, change to HTML mode, and then post them in Blackboard. With BB9, you can search and add without having to leave Blackboard.
Groups. Bb 9 allows instructors to create groups in any of the three modalities: manual groups which allows you to manually assign students; self-enrolled groups where students can self-enroll or automatic groups which students can be randomly assigned to groups.
With these improved or new features, Blackboard will be an easier and more powerful tool to use to accomplish your teaching goals.