It may be helpful to provide a grade management system supplemental to Blackboard, if demand can be identified, and if requirements are sufficiently similar across schools. Currently there are some limitations with Blackboards inbuilt grades management system, Gradecentre. 

  • Transfer: Currently the Student information system (SI-net) does not facilitate direct transfer of grades from the Learning Management System (Blackboard). Marks must be exported to a spreadsheeet and then uploaded manually.  Direct transfer is long standing request from the faculties. Meanwhile ITS has provided a SiNet Merge tool to make sure the order of students is compatible between the systems for the manual transfer.
  • Manipulation: Gradecentre does not currently cater for ‘hurdles’. Many instructors therefore currently export marks to a spreadsheet or alternate systems (e.g. iMark) for manipulation before uploading to SI-net.
  • It is not possible to display the same mark automatically in a number of formats i.e. Raw mark, Percentage, Weighted mark
  • It is only possible to create total columns based on a) summing marks or b) weighted marks, more complex formulas are not possible.
  • Large Classes: Gradecentre does have smartviews to help manage large classes but this could be improved.

Given this functionality requirement would appear to be common across universities, due attention should be given to the possibility this need will be solved by: a) Blackboard; b) another university; or c) an existing Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) system. The possibility that requirements will be too disperate to justify a bespoke solution will also need to be considered. Other universities have hired BAs to design a system but found that the variety of business practices and complexity of the tool that would make the cost of development and change management prohibitive. Further more the recently announced Blackboard "Grades Journey" appears to contain many desirable features that can be built on and may be provided as a free part of the Learn licence (at no extra cost). When Grades Journey is released ITS can use that as a basis to investigate school requirements.