Posts Tagged ‘Blackboard’

House Points for Games Students

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

A little while ago I proposed a little research project to  encourage researchers within CMAT – (GROUPS – Gamifiying Research Outputs Under a Points System – still the acronym / name of a research project I am most impressed with)  – anyway it didn’t go anywhere, but Bobbie and I liked the idea of House Points – so with the aid of my Level 4 Fundamentals of Gameplay students we’ve crafted a house points system and unleashed in on the students. It’s to encourage non academic engagement as opposed to grades.

tariff V1

Submitting proof is easy enough through a blackboard blog and the points are being updated every Friday via Google Docs – I just hope we get some entries…

‘Present Day Nia’ is a little bit angry with ‘Past Nia’

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

I’m usually pretty good and organised but I’ve spent 4 days dealing with more spreadsheets than I care to count splitting up data, moving data around, making sure everything was right and then combing back into an excel spreadsheet to mail merge it and send it out to the students.

There are a few things that didn’t make this an easy task:

SITS outputs the people on the module just fine (although marks pro-formers and class lists output the data slightly differently, but it’s formatting instead of anything else). What SITS doesn’t add to that is e-mail addresses / usernames. Neither of these were available to me in September that I can remember – Septmber does seem a long time ago.

Blackboard does include usernames (that I can turn into e-mail addresses using my newly learned power of ‘Concatenation’ – amazing) but it outputs data in a slight different order from SITS- one sorts by user numbers, the other by surname I’m guessing – which is fine when you have a handful of students, it’s less useful when you have 300. This means I can’t just copy and paste the username data from Blackboard into the data from SITS


I know that’s not how you spell it

Now this is also a super complex module, made up technically of 5 codes worth of students (2 on campus & 2 Distance Learning and one set of students that join in on the module and are marked elsewhere) so for ease of marks inputting the mega list of students is no good and it needs to be split up into 4 separate sheets – one per code. That’s ok, but the work the students are handing in is a group work, and a group document – so they need to be shifted through and the right info put against the right student on the spreadsheet – Ignore the fact there were a dozen different people marking on the module – the actual collection of grades and feedback was pretty pain free and the marks were in on time. We also got together to mark some aspects of the games and another team combed through them for specifics. This however went onto a separate group marks sheet so it didn’t get lost.

This module also has a peer assessment aspect – for which we put our trust in WebPA – we have for years, it works great – and it takes it’s information for the module from Blackboard. Now we had a slight glitch with Blackboard this year – since we use a community to manage this module – and it included in the community for some reason the information for a load of students who had graduated – probably my own fault for being keen to sort out registers etc in September – I’ve learnt that lesson! – anyway it means WebPA had a whole section of junk students – usually fine, tucked away in a group but still there when I run the reports – and obviously still there on the Blackboard community when I outputted the data.

So, I have spent the best part of 2 days with 3 excel spreadsheets open

  1. The data downloaded from Blackboard (because it had the e-mail addresses) – one big list
  2. The Spreadsheet with Feedback on it (that all of the staff added too) – on 4 sheets
  3. The spreadsheet with Final Individual Grades (Including group marks and peer assessment) – on 4 sheets
  4. and also The WebPA groups section to check if a student was a junk student

… and I’ve done a lot of copying and pasting.

I’m sure there must have been an easier way to do this, I know the pitfalls of this year and I’m keen not to repeat them. I’d have just copy and pasted the grades and feedback into Blackboard if the grade center allowed enough characters but it doesn’t. I also don’t mind mail merging it out, but it means it falls on me to deal with complaints and issues when all I did was collate it.

I increasingly find work arounds within the tools I need to do my job efficiently this time of year (excel, word) through things my peers mentioned. If anyone does know of a way I could have done this more efficiently please let me know (or if there’s a way I can get e-mail addresses out of SITS – that would be lovely). I can however rest assured that all 300 people had a provisional grade and some feedback, in their inboxes. I’ve no idea if they will read it – I hope the mail merge didn’t mess up but it’s done, and now it’s onto the next one.

Communicating with Games Tech Students & Social Media

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Trying to streamline the process, and playing with Visio at the same time…