Blackboard Debuts Bb Grader App, Teacher Reviews Mixed


Blackboard Inc. has released an app for its software called Bb Grader that allows teachers to use phones and tablets for classroom management.

Education technology company Blackboard says that it partners with higher education institutions, K-12 schools, businesses and government agencies across the globe in an effort to “help every learner achieve their full potential,” and as mobile devices become more powerful and less expensive, management tools must address that presence.

Blackboard reports that the app, which is designed for teacher use, will help to “improve faculty workflow around assignments and easily track student submissions” in addition to Blackboard Learn rather than as a replacement.

“Through Bb Grader®, teachers and faculty can easily track, sort, and grade student assignments across multiple courses directly from their iOS® tablets,” the release said. “They can also offer text, audio and video feedback on submissions, creating more personalized and engaging responses on projects and tasks.”

Bb Grader includes multiple features, including the ability to view and sort student submissions by a variety of categories including by name, attempt number, date submitted, and grade status; integration with Blackboard Learn; the capability to view the activity of any student through a “slide out” feature located on every submission listing page; and the ability to include audio and/or visual feedback on student feedback.

The app also allows teachers to view organize assignments by “to do” and “completed,” as well as allowing teachers to see how many grades have been sent to the Blackboard Learn Grade Center, with a green light showing sent grades, black for graded but unsent, and white for those submissions yet to be graded.

While Mark Strassman, senior vice president of product management for Blackboard, describes the app as a “helpful tool” designed for teachers in response to their needs, reviews of the app on iTunes suggest that teachers are not entirely happy with the rollout.  User PRSACD reports the app as simply “Not very reliable.”  Similar reviews are also listed.

When it’s good, it’s very, very good, but when it’s bad, it’s horrid. I never know if it’s going to work or not. One day, it doesn’t recognize my university, and I can’t log in. The next day, I can log in, but server isn’t responding or assignments/courses can’t download. Other days, all is well. (iPad 2, IOS 8.1, Bb in a hosted environment).

The app is available as a free download for teachers and all those who hold grading rights within a class whose schools currently use the Blackboard system.