Many of the customers using Genius to manage their learning initiatives typically integrate their instance of the Genius SIS with the Blackboard Learn LMS. Blackboard Learn. Genius looks for two columns: one representing the learner's grade in the course, the other designating whether the course is successfully completed.
This article escribes how Genius is integrated with the “Original Course View” version of Blackboard Learn. This version is sometimes also known as “Learn 9.1”. If the version of Blackboard Learn that you are using is different (e.g. Blackboard Learn Ultra), this article does not apply for you.
When you are finished reviewing this article, you will have learnt how Genius uses specific columns in the Grade Center of a course created in Blackboard Learn to ensure that course completion and grade information flows back from Learn to Genius. You will also have learnt how to set up those columns so that Blackboard and Genius can “talk” to each other, allowing you to “troubleshoot” issues associated with grading and completion in your instance of Genius.
NOTE: For the integration between Blackboard Learn and Genius to work, we highly recommend that you create courses in Genius first. If you create a course in Blackboard first, and then try to integrate with Genius, you will find that this can be a more problematic experience as Genius will have no record of the course in its database.
Grades in Blackboard Learn and Genius
When you visit the Grade Center for a course that is currently underway in a Blackboard Learn environment, you will typically see something like this:
The key columns for Genius are the “Total” column and the “Completed” column. We describe how Genius uses the information in each of these columns below:
The ‘Total’ Column
Genius will extract the column set as the external grade ("Total" column by default in the Blackboard Learn grade center, designated by the green check mark) every 3 hours. The column's primary display can be either a percentage or score. We recommend a percentage to best reflect a learner's performance to date, as a percentage-base grade will translate better to the dashboards and reports used throughout Genius.
The ‘Total’ column should also be calculated as a running total, so it doesn't incorporate incomplete work as a zero score. When Genius checks with Blackboard Learn, it will download the results in the Total column back to its database for presentation in the reports and dashboards for the grade to-date achieved by the Learner in his or her enrollments.
The ‘Completed’ Column
Genius will also look for a column called “Completed”, which designates whether a learner has successfully completed the entire course. As you can imagine, the information in this column is critical, as it will make it possible to ensure that the certificates, completion reports, dashboards and automated communications generated by Genius behave as expected.
The ‘Completed’ column can be filled out manually, or you can use Blackboard Learn to fill it out automatically, as we describe below. Either way, a flag of ‘Completed’ will be interpreted by Genius as that course being successfully completed by the learner. As we describe above, a lot of good things can happen when a course is completed, so it’s time to learn more about how to make sure that the ‘Completed’ flag is added correctly.
NOTE: Both the 'Total' column and the 'Completed' column must be named exactly as described ('Total' and 'Complete'), as Genius performs a search for these columns amongst the LMS' database and then pulls information from them. If the names are different, Genius will not be able to find the columns and use them correctly in the downstream workflows included with our Solution.
How to flag course completions manually?
For every course that exists in its database and that has Blackboard Learn listed as its LMS, Genius will look for a column called “Completed”. The contents of that column will then define the downstream behavior of Genius.
In Blackboard Learn, go to the Grade Center and make sure you are viewing the Full Grade Center. Start by clicking on “Create Column”.
The word “Complete” or the check mark designating “Complete” using the complete/incomplete grading schema tells Genius that the user has successfully completed the course. Every 3 hours, learners with this designation will be moved from ACTIVE status to COMPLETED status in Genius, and made unavailable in the Blackboard Learn course they just completed. They will receive an automatic email from Genius indicating that they have successfully completed the course, and the course will move to their completed course list and their transcript.
When creating this column, make sure that the following options in Blackboard Learn are set. You do not want this column to be included in Grade Center calculations, as it is a text-based column that will typically not play well with the rest of the percentages in the Grade Center. Because this is a back-end process, you do not want to show this column to be shown to your students. Finally, you also do not want to show statistics about this column to your learners, as it is information used in the “back-end” of your process:
An instructor can now flag a course as ‘Complete’ by going into his or her course’s Grade Center and then manually changing the courses’ Completed column by adding text that reads Complete or by checking a box. We note that this operation has to be completed directly within Blackboard Learn. Genius will then detect that the course has been successfully completed and then change its dashboards, reports and certificates accordingly.
How to flag completions automatically?
Flagging completions manually may work for a small group of learners – but what if your learning initiative has hundreds or even thousands of learners? In that case, you can use Blackboard Learn to fill out the Completed column automatically. We describe how this can be accomplished below:
First, make sure that you are in the Blackboard Learn Grade Center and that you are viewing the Full Grade Center. Start by clicking on “Create Calculated Column”, and then add a “Total Column”, as shown in the screenshots below:
Just like we described earlier, Genius will look for a column called 'Completed'. The primary display should be designated as a Letter grade. The column should not be calculated as a running total, so incomplete assignments are counted as zero. All column options should be set to “No”, so the column is not included in the total score, learners don't see it in the grade center, and no statistics are displayed for this column.
Within Blackboard Learn, you would then click on Manage Grading Schemas, and edit the Letter grading schema for the ‘Completed’ column you just created. Delete all the rows in the Letter grading schema, except two. Instead of a letter grade such as "A" or "B", change the display to be either "Complete" or "Incomplete" based on the percentage being above a certain level, as shown in the screenshots below:
In the example below, only learners who have a grade greater than 80% after completing all of the assignments are automatically flagged as Complete.
When Genius pulls data from Blackboard Learn, those enrollments flagged as ‘Complete’ will be updated in Genius. Those learners will be able to issue certificates of completion for their courses, and their completions will be reflected in the Reports generated by Genius for key stakeholders in your organization’s learning initiative.