Blackboard is the Virtual Learning Environment used by Imperial College. It is designed around an American style course and so is horribly mismatched to the style of teaching at Imperial. Blackboard is clearly a very powerful system but its power seems to completely miss the mark of what a lecturer at Imperial needs and wants. Perhaps if Imperial matches its teaching style to Blackboard it would become brilliant. Currently the grading system in Blackboard is not even recommended for use here. So someone has paid an awful lot of money for an inappropriate system that just causes lecturers at Imperial to spend more time than they would have done just putting up their own web site, posting things on their own Facebook course page, etc. A list of my particular current issues with Blackboard looking for solutions is below.
However lets be positive. Surely people have taken a lot of care (OK, at least time) building Blackboard so surely there is a way it get it to add to my teaching? Below are some of the useful links and tips I have picked up.
Course tools - Turnitin assignments. You can select all files by ticking box on left side of the header column to select all docs. A button then appears on the right side around the header row allowing you to download them all. They are put in a zip file and files appear to carry initial and name prepended to them. I found that when downloading the Turnitin versions, I was given the option of the original file which then maintains the quality of the pdf.
grade centre - assignments. Then right click on column of assignment and select download. Currently all physics students appear in this list not just those doing my course so use filter button to only select those with something to download. When on the download page, to be sure I clicked the show all button (bottom right) then clicking the select box in the header column selected all students with something to download. See assignment help.