Distance Learning Enhancements Coming to Blackbaud’s LMS

April 3, 2020 Jackie Christensen

We hear you. In response to requests from our K–12 school community for enhancements to aid distance learning, we're rolling out a series of updates to help teachers better handle remote Assessments and improve communication around Assignment and Graded Discussion due dates. We're all learning together in this, and we're committed to helping our schools during this challenging time.

The litmus test for what we’re working on is pretty straightforward—is it something that we can implement quickly to have a positive impact on the here and now without being too disruptive? 

We’ve got a good list of new features that pass the test, the following of which are Assessment focused:

  • The ability to set assessment time limits for individual students
  • Adding an HTML text editor to question answers, which will enable math and science teachers to create multiple-choice answer options with equations in them
  • Adding a save-and-continue-working button as a safeguard against internet/bandwidth issues during essay-type assessments
  • Instituting an auto-save on assessments that reach the time limit but haven’t been submitted
  • Providing teachers the ability to see students’ answers on unsubmitted assessments, giving them the ability to grade on the work that was completed if the assessment doesn’t get submitted

We also have a handful of improvements that aren’t tied to Assessments:

  • Adding a time option for when Assignments and Graded Discussions are due (students will see the times in their assignment list along with the due dates)
  • Adding publish times to topics
  • Displaying the individual student’s assignment status in the Gradebook so teachers can easily see the work that’s still in progress when bulk grading
  • Including Topics in Athletic Groups as a way for coaches to connect with players during this time apart

Another request we've been getting is to freeze major code releases that would impact teachers. We agree, and as a result, we're postponing the release of our much-anticipated competency-based education (CBE) functionality until late June. However, if your school would like to implement the new CBE functionality sooner than June, please contact your account executive and we can work with you to accommodate the request.

Keep an eye on our release notes over the coming weeks for details on the availability of these new features. While we’ve prioritized updates that we can release quickly without a lengthy discovery, prototyping, and early adopter process, our goal is to continue providing improvements that teachers can benefit from in the remaining months of the school year. Please keep sharing your ideas in our K–12 Community.

About the Author

Jackie Christensen

Currently serving as a product management manager, Jackie Christensen has been a member of Blackbaud K–12's product development team since the inception of the education management solutions. In fact, she was on site with the first school to launch our LMS and SIS. She loves the journey of working with schools and our UX and technical team to bring ideas to life. Jackie lives in New Hampshire with her husband Mark and three boys. Depending on the season, you’ll either find them at the lake or skiing.

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