Preparing Test Questions with Blackboard 9.1

I have just spent many frustrating hours setting a test for my students, mainly using questions that I already had within the Blackboard system (imported from the previous version).

Creating questions with Blackboard Learn 9.1 is slow and tedious. This is not helped by a slow response from the server. A facility for efficient offline working is badly needed!

The Pool Canvas, with the abilty to store questions in pools with tags for Topics, Question Types, Categories, Level of Difficulty and Keywords is a very good feature. However, the inability to ‘test run’ the questions from within the Pool Canvas is a serious weakness. There was previously a facility to preview and run the questions from the creation page, but this is no longer available. I found this a particular nuisance when I was creating tests with question sets, as there was no way that I could conveniently check that all questions were operating as I expected. In my test I had five question sets with two or three questions in each, of which one was presented to the student (to discourage students from doing the test together in small groups on adjacent computers in a computer room). Therefore, checking the correct functionality of a question was made a lot more difficult by having to take the test as though I was the student. I had to ‘take’ the test multiple times with different selections of random questions from the question sets.

Apparent bugs in the system continued to cause me a lot of delays, e.g. the message ‘An error occurred. Contact the System Administrator.’ Questions that did not wrap correctly also caused me problems and (as I described in a previous blog) I had to apply a style to set the paragraph width within the HTML code of each question to correct this.

Several times changes that I made to questions were lost. There was too much confusion between the questions in the pool and questions already in a test: as a user I was left in a situation where there was not clarity or certainty about changes having been implemented as expected.

I am very disappointed with this software. I simply cannot continue to waste so much time in doing my job. Sometimes current technology leaves a lot to be desired.